Track change (a.k.a. A new job that has a few things in common with the old one)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/03/13 03:01 -04:00, original URI:

My job at Microsoft has largely (for the last 55 months or so that I have been doing it for Microsoft as a full-time employee) been work falling into three broad categories:

  1. A core chunk of Windows NLS and .NET internationalization, supporting most often collations and keyboard layouts but at other times pieces such as cultures and locales -- what one might call the build it all in so everything can work right piece;
  2. A piece of the tool work to support the extensibility of the platform,as well as the planning of the direction, scope, and execution of the providing of those tools -- what one might call the open it all up and get out of the way piece;
  3. Connections with both internal and external customers who are making use of international functionality, through presentations, samples, product reviews, spec reviews, meetings, emails, and even blogging -- what one might call the making sure the customer gets where they need to piece.

Now the sizes of these pieces varied from day to day, but if you averaged it all out I think each ended up being roughly equal in the amount of time spent. In theory they have always all been a part of my job; I was nominally hired to do #1 while I was literally working on #2, and told quite explicitly by my manager that all of my efforts on #3 which predated my employment would be supported and encouraged in the future.

Anyway, Windows International just went through something of a rather interesting re-org, and now each of these "jobs" was actually in a separate team. I realized that while I had for so long been doing what is essentially three different jobs, that I would likely just need to pick one and get it over with (before someone else or even worse circumstances was going to choose for me!).

There is a lot of incredible and rewarding work in each of them and has been for several years, and to be frank the choice is not easy.

Does it count as vacillating if you actually make the decision and then make it again, differently?


Or do they call that something else? :-)

In the end (and after meeting with countless people with which I have had countless conversations!), with all three of these efforts going on, the honest truth is that the one that I most need to be doing is to continue contributing to the third one, the one that is all about making sure the customer gets where they need to, especially since part of that work is helping to identify and assist with the kind pf problem I have mentioned previously in posts like Open it all up, get out of the way, and then what happens? and Subsets of subsets of subsets of subsets of subsets and Thinking about MUI is making me bipolar. It is something that has been more and more on my mind (obviously) as I have realized that a feature is only as cool when people pick it up when it makes sense!

Plus, this way I can be part of the effort to make sure that all the work done by those other two groups can make it to customers, and the many folks inside of Microsoft who used to tentatively send email referencing some post and asking what they should do in their situation don't have to send the mail so tentatively -- since that is now even more part of my job than ever before!

And of course there is also the fact that I can keep blogging about a lot of it just like before, along with whatever other random stuff interests me. So if you from time to time see a special focus in some of the posts on getting the international functionality in software to work right for the people using it, then you can just shake your head at how I must have my work on the brain. :-)

Now the work is not exactly the same, since now it will be a lot more coordinated. Though to be honest that really appeals to me, as a little planning can really just make things better in this case (I have my blog and all to fill my needs for randomosity!). 

A lot of the people signed up to help are actually just like me in that this is the kind of work they have been doing a whole bunch of, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can do as a team....

As for the other 2/3 of my old job?

Well, that is in very good hands on the respective teams on which they sit, in both Redmond and Dublin. And even though I may not be in their weekly dev meetings or conference calls, I am sure I'll still be talking with them about their work  -- especially since some of my new job really is putting their work to good use!

Hell, for now my office will still be in the same place! So even the candy dish will be right where it was before, for anyone in the building feeling peckish....

Which is not to say that there won't be some frustrations associated with moving on. I mean, it is hard to say which will bother me more between e.g. people modifying collation in ways that don't appeal to me or people modifying tools like MSKLC in some way that doesn't appeal to me either. Probably both will bother me equally, modified of course by both a) customer impact and b) how much of it is me thinking it's just a different choice than I would make versus me thinking they have introduced a regression/bug. :-)

Handling that kind of thing well can maybe be my stretch committment. But I've seen the likes of Neill Clift, Phil Lucido, Rob Earhart, and others do it, so I figure a regular guy like me should be able to take a swing at it....

In any case, I am still sorting it all out and will continue to do so right here in this blog. Because even my new job bears a remarkable resemblance to parts of the old one!


This post brought to you by  (U+2f5e, a.k.a. KANGXI RADICAL PROFOUND)

# kevinowen on 13 Mar 2007 11:23 AM:


I've been reading your blog pretty much since the beginning, and though I've only rarely posted comments, I've always enjoyed it. I have to say that I've found your blog to be one of the most interesting and informative out of all of the MSDN blogs. Any time I have an internationalization question, this is the first place that I go to look for an answer. The information and advice that you've posted over the years have proven invaluable.

Keep up the great work, and best of luck sorting it all out in your new role!

# Dean Harding on 13 Mar 2007 6:18 PM:

Great news, Michael! I'm sure this is the best thing that could've happened to you :) Good luck, and I'll sure stick around to see how it all turns out ;)

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2007/05/31 Something .NET does less intuitively than they ought

2007/03/24 It was déjà vu, man. Pure déjà vu....

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