work Archives

July 18, 2004

Introduction to the Evil Empire

I survived my first week of work! Finally, my account is activated everywhere (except the MicroNews Ads site, which I can live without for now), I have a cardkey and I have a parking permit. I've been doing a lot of introductory stuff, like setting up my machines, reading specs, reading testplans, etc. Even though I did an internship last summer, I'm on a different subteam, so things are done differently, and there's new stuff for me to learn. Oh, and orientation on Monday was a horrible 6 hours. I'd seen all of their inspirational videos from the intern orientation, and essentially the only thing that was useful was the discussion of benefits, which I could just as easily have read myself.

So for the last year, everyone who has asked what I did at Microsoft has gotten a semi-vague answer along the lines of, "I'm a tester on Web.NET for a product that has not been released yet." Well, since the beta version of the next Visual Studio has come out, I'm able to say more now. First, I guess I'll elaborate on my position. I'm an SDE/T (Software Design Engineer in Test), which means I write a lot of code to automate testcases, find bugs, and perhaps do internal development. While this means I technically don't contribute directly to the finished product, I find that there's a little of everything involved in the job: I test, I write code, and I write specs and testplans.

The next question I usually get is, "What is Web.NET?" Well, to make things even more confusing, there was some team restructuring while I was gone, and now there's a new name for the team that's longer and hard to remember. I think it's something like "Web Tools and Services." Whatever, it's on my office door. Essentially, this is a team under the Visual Studio division (which I often refer to as "DevDiv") that includes ASP.NET, Visual Web Developer (which I'm under), and a recent addition of IIS.

Visual Web Developer is a new product that will be released with VS 2005. One of its main goals is to try to make ASP.NET more popular and to make it easier to develop powerful web applications without having to write as much code. If you're interested, a beta version of this product is available. There's also a free mini version called WebMatrix that's available on the ASP.NET website. As a tester, I "own" specific areas of the product that I'm responsible for testing thoroughly, and I was told on my first day that I'll be inheriting the Gridview control (a more powerful version of the Datagrid control in v1.x), and perhaps other databound controls. It's a pretty good control, so I'm happy with that. I remember trying to make it crash the application last year. :)

So that's a little about what I do, for those of you who are curious. Last summer, I was on the design time side, but now I have to do design time and run time testing, which are done differently in automation, so I've got a whole new set of tools to learn. Oh, and this site isn't powered by Visual Web Developer or ASP.NET. :) I'm too cheap to pay for Windows hosting.

July 23, 2004

Llamas and Mama's

Well, I now have access to MicroNewsAds, and I've been browsing the listings there. The large boats and expensive houses for sale do indeed exist, but I found the "Pets" section even more interesting. There were a lot of horses for sale (which I suppose is to be expected), but there were also seven llamas, too. Wonder how my cat would get along with one of those...

Yesterday, I went to a Microsoft event for interns, new hires, and some alumni from Purdue and UIUC. Getting over to Seattle was a real pain, since there was a Mariner's game that night, which meant even more traffic than the usual 520 rush hour deal. We left Microsoft at 4:45 and didn't get to Pioneer Square until about 5:45. We went on the Underground Tour, which was amusing and interesting. There seemed to be a recurring "toilet/feces" theme throughout Seattle's history, or at least the version of it that we got. Afterwards, we went to Mama's Mexican Kitchen for food (and in the case of many people in our group, drinks). Microsoft paid for all of it, which was quite nice.

I'll follow up with more details about work later, but I need to get things done for now.

August 18, 2004

Automation Station

Well, since work seems to be occupying quite a chunk of my life, I suppose it's worth spending a little time talking about it, now that I'm more settled in and have a better concept of what I'm supposed to be doing here.

First, I guess, a little bit more about my controls. Currently, I have three controls that I "own," all of them data-related. I started out with the GridView control, which is new to ASP 2.0. Next, I got the legacy DataGrid control from ASP 1.x (GridView is the new version of DataGrid. They render similarly, but GridView allows the user to do things with a whole lot less code). Finally, I got DetailsView, another ASP 2.0 control that is similar to GridView, except it only shows one record at a time.

Some screenshots that I took from one of the Microsoft articles (I'm not responsible for the poor quality):

This is what the GridView control looks like on the design surface. Tasks like paging and sorting can easily be done with the click of a checkbox; formerly on the DataGrid, you would have to write the code behind that functionality.

This is what the DetailsView control looks like rendered, in both ReadOnly mode (left) and EditMode (right).

More about all of this can be found at The v1.x tutorials are pretty good, and there are also some beta docs available for v2.0.

November 23, 2004

What we REALLY do at Microsoft

Not a whole lot to report that's out of the ordinary. Work is work. We had a subteam lunch today, and I discovered that I'm one of two unmarried people on my subteam, and I'm the only one who was born in America. (There were eight people there)

One of my friends had a birthday in November, so we did this to her office. She and her officemate had fun working the next day. :) This sort of thing is not uncommon at all around here, particularly if someone's getting married.

May 10, 2005

We ship(ped) Beta 2!

It's been awhile since I've updated this page because life has kept me relatively busy. The work stuff is the easiest to write about right now, so I'll start with that.

Download Visual Web Developer Beta 2 and ASP.NET 2.0 Beta 2! These are the products that I've been working on. The ASP.NET forums provide great community support, and you can sometimes find me posting on the Data Forums. It's a bit of a nerve-wracking time, right after we ship, because the customers get their hands on our product, and we testers wait to see if there's some horrible bug in our areas that the customers catch and we didn't. So far, so good with mine. :)

Dealing with customers has never been a strength of mine, and I'm sure that all of my teammates from my EPICS days are laughing at the fact that I have to communicate with customers now. It's particularly frustrating when someone prefaces a "bug" report with, "Your Beta 2 sucks! Why are there bugs?" or gives a series of nonsensical repro steps that I'm somehow supposed to understand and follow. But there are benefits as well: I get to see how the customers are using my controls, and they come up with ideas that I never would have.

June 15, 2005

GridView, my way.

January 16, 2006

Long due work update

Well, a lot of things have happened since I updated last about work. The first thing was that I was happily sent to PDC 2005 in Los Angeles this past September. I spent most of my time helping people out with the hands on labs and attempted to answer customer questions. Since ASP.NET 2.0 has been pretty well advertised in the community, with usable beta downloads, most of the excitement in our area was about Atlas, the brand new thing. It's the ASP.NET team's hand in the AJAX pool that's become so popular lately. One of our architects has put up a pretty cool site called Virtual Places that showcases what you can do with Virtual Earth + Atlas.

The next big thing was that Visual Studio 2005 and .NET Framework v2.0 (Codename: Whidbey) finally shipped in November, and we were given three days off in October as well as a nice ship party. I'm looking forward to my first ship-it award!

And finally, I was asked if I was interested in changing over to the IIS team, since they're short testers, and ASP.NET has slightly less of a workload now that the big release is done. I decided that working on something new would be interesting and probably the right career move, so I'm now a tester on the new Admin UI for IIS7! I can't find screenshots online, which probably means I'm not allowed to post them, but I'll say that it's brand new and really cool! Unfortunately, it also means I have to fight my resistence to new operating systems and do most of my work on a Longhorn machine. Oh well.

June 1, 2006

Yay for IIS7!

We finally shipped our first public beta! (Okay, so why is our stock still not going up?) So now I can show a (slightly out-of-date) screenshot of what I work on: click! Also, check out the site (striving to be cooler than ASP.NET =P). Can you pick me out on the team picture?

January 21, 2008

IIS7 visits Spain

Welcome to 2008! It's a new year, which presents a prime opportunity to make a resolution to blog more often. I'd like to aim for at least one entry per month, but old habits die hard... it's taken me 21 days to write the first entry, and it's an entry that should have been written over a month ago to begin with...

Our team sends people to quite a few conferences around the globe, especially with the release of Windows Server 2008 coming up. As a tester who refuses to give talks, there aren't super high odds for me being sent anywhere interesting, but when they started taking names of people who were interested in TechEd Europe, I decided... why not? I don't have kids, I don't need a visa to go to Europe, and I already have a passport. Prime candidate! I was fortunate enough to be selected to attend TechEd Europe ITForum (for IT professionals) in Barcelona.

Working booth duty is actually pretty tiring stuff. It's generally about two people per shift, so you have to use the bathroom or shove lunch in your stomach quickly, just in case a big rush of people comes in to overwhelm your partner. Lots of time on your feet, lots of time talking to people... not my strongest point. But it's cool to listen to all of the questions and realize what customers focus on when the product leaves our hands and goes to them, and it definitely boosts morale to hear that people actually like what we're doing. It's easy to get too focused on the feature areas I work on when I'm isolated in product-team-world, and opportunities like this help me see a bigger picture. Hopefully I'll be able to do this again sometime soon!

After the week in Barcelona, Mike and I took off to southern Spain to visit some cities in Andalucia. I'll probably make a separate post about that later, but for now... a geeky tradition, making IIS7 visit places around the world. You can click on the images to enlarge.

(left to right, then top to bottom: Alcazaba, Malaga; Alhambra, Granada; Alhambra, Granada; Bullring, Ronda)

January 30, 2008

Release of Microsoft Web Deployment Tool tech preview

After many months of hard work from all disciplines, we've released the first public tech preview of the Microsoft Web Deployment Tool, so I can finally blog about what has been keeping me so busy. The tool provides functionality for the migration scenario, which is something that customers have been asking about for awhile. So far, the responses have been good... over 10,000 downloads within the first few days, and not too many issues reported.

Check it out for yourself... my team's blog is here and the x86 download site is here.

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