I don't personally know you, Dare, but I am a voracious reader of your blog, and I respect and estimate you a lot… so I thought I'll comment some of your thoughts here (hope you don't mind, and I hope the trackback works ). I'll do it because your writings often make me think, because I do have similar thoughts, because I feel like writing some more than a comment this time.
1) [...] learn a new programming language: [...]
Sure, why not ?
IronPython interests me too. Of course Python is widely used, a porting on .Net is interesting… but we need to see where it will end up in practice…
This kind of ports are always a bit whacky, IMHO… I read in the release notes: "[...] Most of the standard Python library is not currently implemented, so it is unlikely that many existing Python scripts will run successfully under this release of IronPython 1.0 Beta [...]"
Right, I mean… this cross platform ports of stuff is always deluding in one or another way…. to me, at least.
I was also excited about MONO so I could run my C# (and ASP.Net) stuff on Linux for example… and yeah what they have done IS impressive, as some stuff simply works out of the box (I've got the small standalone application I described on my other blog (the risky one) compiled on Windows, then copied it and I'm running that off my linux server, for example, without much trouble… ) but you always need to be very careful about what references you use in your projects as not everything is implemented and will actually work…
Also, setting up mod_mono on Apache has been a pain and even once it is set up it is nowhere as flexible as using Visual Studio with IIS6….
So this kind of cross-porting is definitely INTERESTING, often in an achademic sense, but we'll see what happens about real usage (and usability) of these solutions….
If you want something really different, though, I would suggest taking a look at Ruby / Rails. It might piss off some more people (see resolution #4), so be warned…
2) [...]Write More Articles: [...]
[...] Looking back on various articles I've written it's clear that since joining MSN and getting a new girlfriend my output has reduced. I only wrote two articles last year compared to a minimum of five or six in previous years. [...]
Sure since I got in Microsoft I have the same. It's not Microsoft's fault, but I've got a couple of ideas about a number of reasons why this happens:
- Some stuff you do is confidential, so you simply can't talk about it (even though some people on the very blogs.msdn.com seem to be writing about those anyway all the times: "not yet published KB articles", for example IS confidential information last time I checked…. I might be wrong on this one, and I won't link to anyone nor say names to protect the innocents But I've noticed this behavious several times…)
- Some other stuff would only be your opinion, but working at Microsoft your opinion can be misinterpreted/misquoted/used against you and the company.. so troubles also there. In fact, I was free to just get an idea and blog about it without getting all troubled about who reads that and what would they think about that, and… whatever including what I am saying in this very list. Examples: I was interviewing people in the security community, writing about open source things… all stuff I now think twice before doing. Sometimes even thinking twice is not enough, and I should think three times…
- Sometimes there might be unwritten rules about WHO has got the authority to blog/write about some topic so people tend to shut up in that case too. But they might be right, when there's people with authority let them speak…
Some other times you solved a problem but I feel it is just not interesting enough, and that it more or less IS already documented (this happens in my case, not sure about you). When the documentation IS out there is a very good point. In fact, many times I find a lot more stuff on the public web by using Google or MSN Search on site:microsoft.com rather than by searching on the internal KB. This is actually very good of Microsoft, and there are A LOT of resources out there in the open with pretty much everything you need to know to solve your problems… in general, our documentation rocks, so why bother solving *and writing about) obscure problems ? Some colleague has already done it most of the times!
Of course this is not always the case, and sometimes stuff are not documented, and in the latter case… well, you can usually go back to #1 in this list…. (I've got specific examples here, but they are confidential…)
The TIME element is an interesting thing: at Microsoft I work more than I did in other places. This does not mean Microsoft makes me work too much. I actually enjoy being busy, and my idea about this is that you work more in general when on the vendor side of the IT market. I was working a lot in my previous jobs, then I have been less busy when I passed to the "customer" side or fence for a couple of years, and I was actually getting a little bored, and that's part of why I changed. Being on the vendor side (especially in Services) you are supposed to be the expert and face the customers everyday…. so you need to study more, be prepared.
Also, I am very busy with my family lately (you might be with your girlfirend just as much, since you mention her ). This issue is of course personal, but since I moved back to my own country I need to do a lot more out of work too to help out my wife while she learns the language…
Some of the above reasons (those related to your work at least) might explain why you decided to move your blog to a private domain from blogs.msdn.com
I have had a private blog (this one) way before even joining Microsoft. Then when I got in, I got the idea that a corporate one would be cool… but then with it comes a big responsibility as you are under a "flagship" site, really. Sure, everybody knows who you are anyway, but it is less… you get what I mean. In fact I feel better writing "at home" (but that would be better said in the "resolution number 4", below…).
Of course some other reasons might be the case for you, I don't know.
3) [...] Come Up With New Career Goals:[...]
[...]When I was in school, my dream was to become a well-known technology guru like Don Box or Scott Meyers then get paid consulting gigs to be the hero that comes in to fix peoples problems and tell them how to build their software. Since then, I've seen a lot of the people who I once idolized end up working in the b0rg cube. In conversations with Don Box, he's mentioned that the life isn't as glamorous as I assumed.[...]"
You know, he's probably right…
"[...] It's going to be time for my mid-year review and discussion with my boss in a couple of weeks. I hope I have a clearer idea where I want to go by then [...]"
That is an issue, I never know what to say in those reviews anyway… I should work on that too…
4) [...] Piss of Less People with my Writing: [...]
[...]Whatever. I've already gotten two angry emails from different folks at work about stuff I've written online and it isn't even the first week of the year. Maybe next year. [...]
Welcome to the club
Oh well, look at the comments you received on your blog about it That should bring your morale up a bit….
That's happening to everybody, especially when you don't conform to just repeating their pre-made speeches and just use your mind and speak out your own ideas.
See the examples I mentioned about refraining from writing some stuff at point #2…
Leaving jokes aside now, though, for what I can see so far, Microsoft luckily is open enough and DOES let you say this stuff enough, doesn't it ?….
…sure, every time I post something like this on the web (or on a public mailing list, or lately even internally) I've got that thrill that says to me: "holy shit, I am going to get fired this time…". But then it has not happenened yet (maybe I haven't pissed them off ENOUGH yet ?).
Let's hope they don't really get worried by people's opinion but the look at a couple of more practical/humane things, like:
1) he's doing his job all right, customers ARE happy (in my case);
2) he's got a family to feed…
Anyway, KEEP UP THE AWESOME WORK !