A recap of what went through my mind yesterday as I read the Official Google Blog post about their new home page design and tried out the “updated” page:
- Is this a joke?
- This is terrible.
- If this is real, why is this Google person so excited about it?
- Marissa Mayer wrote the blog post?!?
What am I missing here?
Update: A Googler stopped by the comments section to point out that the post is actually credited to three people, not just Marissa. I missed that on my first reading. Thanks to Darren for bringing that to my attention.
Also, what do you think of the new “fade in on mouse movement” behavior?
If Vista had gotten the reception it actually deserved, and become a brand worth keeping, it seems highly likely that the name would have been retained. And Microsoft knows it, which is why internally, Windows 7 is only version 6.1. Sure, the company has made specious claims that this is to avoid breaking applications with bad version checks, but the logic doesn’t really hold; many of those applications are just as broken by “6″ as they would be by “7,” and if that were such a concern then the minor version wouldn’t change either.
This might make sense to a lay person on a cursory reading, but as usual with software development, reality is full of subtle but important complexities.
Consider the following rather common version checking mistake:
// Our app is designed for XP (5.1) and later
if (majorVersion >= 5 && minorVersion >= 1)
Given the returned version values from Windows XP (reports 5.1), Windows Vista (reports 6.0), and Windows 7 (reports 6.1) – which OSes will this program succeed on?
As of today, Windows 7 is officially the latest commercially available operating system from Microsoft. That’s a pretty cool thing for me in several ways. First of all, when discussing Windows 7 over the last few months I’ve had to add the caveat “and it’ll be available toward the end of October.” On several occasions I’d come close to forgetting that Windows 7 wasn’t already released since my work on it has largely been done for a while and all the people I work with have been running it for months (if not longer). At last I can tell people not only how excited I am about Windows 7, but also that they can go check it out or buy it right now. That’s pretty cool.
Another thing that’s pretty cool is realizing how fast it all seemed to happen. When I first joined the Windows Experience team at the beginning of Windows 7 I was a bit nervous about working on such a large project with a timeline that seemed near to an eternity . I feared that I’d get bored or that the work would drag on and on, and that in the end I’d just be dying to be done. Instead, the time flew by and it was fun. What’s more, our team planned and executed the release so well that it never felt like we needed to scramble to meet a deadline. We even somehow managed to avoid another common pitfall of always wanting to add “just one more thing.” Instead of feeling like it took too long or that we ran out of time to do everything I wanted, this release feels pretty darn close to “just right.” And the experience has given me unending optimism for the work our team will do going forward.
Anyway, what does this all mean for you? Well, for starters you can…
Buy Windows 7 or Windows 7 PCs from the new Microsoft Store.
Check out amazing new machines like the Dell Adamo XPS
Have you tried Windows 7 yet? Will you be buying an upgrade or a new Windows 7 PC this holiday season?
Cool new Windows 7 ads.
If it seems like my blog has turned into a forum for me to vent my frustrations, I apologize. I’ll make more useful posts soon to make up for it, I promise. But in the meantime…
Last month I traded in my car. This involved having the dealer pay off the remainder of my auto loan which was financed through Chase. The dealer told me it would be paid off, the account would be closed, and I wouldn’t have to worry about it any more. Sure enough, the Chase website soon showed my account as closed and paid off. Great, right?
Well, Chase decided last week to withdraw my usual monthly payment amount from my checking account despite the fact that the account was paid off. Apparently their auto-pay system isn’t smart enough to know it shouldn’t draw payments when there’s no balance. Ridiculous to be sure (in the past I’d used Audi Financial and they never had this problem), but I expected I’d just call them and they’d make it right. After all, the payment shows up on my Chase.com page, complete with a transaction number.
Unfortunately it isn’t that simple. They’re insisting that I mail or fax bank records and web site screenshots “proving” that the funds were deducted from my account, even though their own website clearly has a record of the transfer. On the phone they gave me the run around with nonsensical explanations about how they can see all my other payments including the loan pay-off transfer, but not this additional erroneous payment because of “security reasons.” They refuse to accept any of these details via e-mail or over the phone, and insist that I write a “cover letter” explaining the situation with all of my account details.
This is positively absurd. If their system didn’t clearly have a record of the transaction I’d be more forgiving, but it knows it transferred the money. It knows the date and time and has a transaction number! Apparently that number is useless, and might as well just be a made up figure, according to the server reps I’ve spoken to.
So my question is this… after two 10+ minute phone calls, the time it takes to prepare a “cover letter,” and the time and effort to find access to a fax machine (heck I don’t even have a phone line), can I bill Chase for my time? What about charging interest? They’ve obviously been generating interest on my money which they essentially stole from my account. Has anyone had experience with situations like this? Is there any viable recourse that will make up for my lost time and money while also perhaps encouraging Chase to get their act together?
Yesterday afternoon some long awaited details about my team’s upcoming office move made their way out to the team. At Microsoft, it’s a common practice to divvy up offices based on seniority – meaning those who have been at the company the longest get the first shot at window offices, and those who are newest get the last choice (often this means farthest from a natural light source). Note that seniority in this context does not include factors like level / title or where you are on the management hiearchy (though I’m sure there’s some point on the way up where you’re able to “pull rank”). For example, I am not a manager but I’m higher on the office allocation list than one of our development leads who joined the company 6 months after I did.
As a result of all this, when word of an office move arrives it is a safe bet that at least half the team will immediately begin compiling their own personal seniority list. The goal of course being to see where they fall and estimate their chances at a window office. Among the colleagues I share a hallway with, yesterday’s list compilation was group effort.
It occured to me that a lot of effort is duplicated at times like this. For example, I’ve heard that each team’s admin was working feverishly on various logistics for the move, including compilation of just such a seniority list. I began to wonder if there were any crafty admins out there who indirectly delegate this task by simply walking the hallway roughly 20 minutes after the move announcement is sent out and appropriating one of the various excel spreadsheets the team members had invariably just produced.
A bit of trivia:
In my roughly 4.5 years at Microsoft I have occupied 8 office locations.
Most of my office moves roughly correspond with a change in manager.
The longest I stayed in a particular office (my current one) was 1.5-2 years.
The shortest was about a month.
My office history includes being doubled up in an interior office, sitting in a “shared workspace” environment (basically a big room with about 8-10 fancy / large cubicle setups and a big common area with a projector and conference table), having rather nice window office for a few months, and most recently having a more run-of-the-mill interior office.
This time around, I fell exactly at the middle of the seniority list. Most likely this means I’ll have my pick of non-window offices.
Additional trivia: The gap between me and the most senior person on the team is about 15 years.
I think I’m giving up on trying to get a iPhone 3G S. In fact, I’m really tempted to ditch AT&T altogether and get one of those fancy new Windows Phones coming out next month on Verizon or Sprint. Why? Well, AT&T’s sales / service people have been extraordinarily awful since my iPhone was stolen back in February.
When I went to get my phone replaced, I was informed that I would have to pay the “full price” for a new phone since I had just used my upgrade eligibility to get the iPhone 3G last summer. That wasn’t unexpected… I had gotten a discount on the BlackJack I bought when I first switched to AT&T in 2006, then paid the full price for an iPhone in 2007, then got a 3G in 2008 at the significantly discounted price. I was frustrated that there wasn’t a better option for dealing with a stolen phone, but I didn’t really expect AT&T to subsidize another phone 7 or 8 months later.
Not wanting to wait (as I’m quite dependent on my phone these days), I agreed to pay for the phone. I also looked at the HTC Fuze, but was told that the price would be basically the same, roughly $400. So I decided to buy a new iPhone 3G 8GB (smaller than my original 16GB, but it saved me $100 and I didn’t really need all that space for my usage). As I was checking out, the salesman handed me a sheet of paper and said I needed to sign. “What’s this for?” I asked, as it looked like a service agreement and I knew I wasn’t buying one of those. He said, “Oh, this is just something Apple makes us to whenever we sell a phone, you have to re-sign your existing contract. Any other phone you wouldn’t have to sign it, I don’t even know why they do it.” I thought that was weird, but shrugged and signed it anyway. But before I did I asked an important clarifying question: “This won’t affect my upgrade eligibility, right? If it does I’ll just buy a used phone or get my 1G iPhone back and use that until this summer since I assume there will be a new model.” I was incredibly explicit about this question, and he was very explicit in his response: “Nope, you’ll still be able to upgrade.” Great. So I bought the phone and went about my business.
Fast forward to June when I decided to grab a 3G S. This part I’ve written about before in detail. Well, I did as suggested and went back to the AT&T store in Bellevue. There I was told that I couldn’t get the full discount, but that I could get the “early upgrade” discount, which I think means $399 for the smaller 3G S model. Fine, that seems good enough to me. But they’re out of stock. The sales guy asks me if I want to back-order one, and I say yes. He starts the process, but hits some kind of roadblock. He says, “Sorry, I can’t order one right now and get you the discount, but if you come back when they’re in stock we can do it.” Fine, whatever. I call the place a couple weeks later and am told they’re in stock. I show up to buy the phone, someone starts ringing up my purchase, and then they hit a problem in their software, saying that I can’t get the discount until sometime next year.
She calls over a manager who explains to me that because I got a discount back in February, I can’t get another one so soon. Wait a minute, what discount? I was told I was paying full price in February, and was explicitly told by an employee of that store that my upgrade eligibility would not be affected. I explain this to the manager who insists that none of his employees would have done that, and basically accuses me of lying. I pressed the issue and he said he couldn’t do anything about it, but that he would contact his “regional supervisor” or something and request that they do some kind of override for me. He says it’s too late to reach that person today but that he’ll take my e-mail and phone number and get back to me.
I waited. I never got a call. I never got an e-mail.
I went back a few weeks later and got the same run around. This time I was told the manager wasn’t in, and was given his card. I haven’t written to him yet, I’ve been too busy, and I’m pretty disenchanted with the whole prospect.
I’ve been a pretty good AT&T customer for several years now. I pay extra for text messages that cost them nothing. I never make late payments (except when their useless AutoPay system kept screwing up, so I gave up on using that ages ago). Last year I paid a ton to to them to use my phone while I was in Europe (when I probably should have just unlocked it and bought a pay-as-you-go SIM there).
What bugs me more than not getting the discount is that they’ve made a habit of lying to me and giving me the run around instead of being straight with me. First, when the salesman told me that buying the replacement phone wouldn’t affect my upgrade eligibility. Second, when I was told I could get the discount if I came back when they were in stock. And then once again when I was told that the manager would try to help me out and get back to me.
Given the hostile treatment I’ve received I may terminate my contract early, pay whatever ETF there is, and switch to another carrier – if only in protest to the way I’ve been treated by the Bellevue AT&T store employees. So which phones and carriers look like the best options to you? Palm Pre? The new HTC Leo looks pretty sweet, but they don’t have any details on who will carry it or when. Let’s hope it’s not AT&T…
I got a sneak peek at this yesterday at the 2009 Company Meeting before its first airing last night. Check it out:
What do you think? Good way to build some excitement?
P.S. – Everytime I hear that song, I think of G.O.B from Arrested Development.
Andrew Garcia is about a week late to the party, but has posted an article about why he thinks Apple is building Google Voice-like functionality into a future version of MobileMe.
This is, of course, something I (and others) wrote about last week. Unfortunately Andrew doesn’t bring any new evidence to the table and just echoes the same theory. So I guess the best we can do at this point is wait and see if the FCC investigation started on Friday sheds any light on the situation.
Anyway, this makes me wonder why it took so long for a mainstream tech blog to catch on? Is everyone just that anxious to vilify AT&T?