by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2009/02/02 03:01 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2009/02/02/9388713.aspx
It has been several weeks since my last blog in/on this Blog.
If you are a regular reader, you may have noticed this already, though one of the downsides of the whole RSS/subscription model is that for the most part it is only the act of doing something gets noticed. and under the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" theory, the silent Blog is often not noticed right away.
I generally subscribe to the "squeaky wheel gets replaced" theory, myself. But that is a topic for another day, if at all. It doesn't even apply here, anyway.
So, whether you noticed or not, this blog can act as a ping and an update, of sorts.
Even as I am writing it, I realize that at least half of this blog is not the sort of thing I would read, which is a violation of my general policy about every kind of writing I have done or plan to do. I doubt you will judge me about this as harshly as I judge myself about it, but please keep it mind. :-)
Now as to why I haven't been blogging.
Well, at first I was out of town, as I mentioned (ref: After calling the airline, iBOT a ticket to Vegas!). And way too busy to write.
A topic for another day, or you can read my Facebook note about if if you are so inclined. It is my only note to date so it shouldn't be that hard to find. Treatment here will likely have different emphasis, fewer pictures, and no videos (the videos, which include iBOT tricks, are on YouTube now anyway, due to an interesting problem that may also be a topic for another way).
Then there was my job, and a bunch of work items that came out of the trip, and the attempt (at times successful) to have a life over the subsequent weeks.
Most of these three items are also topics for other days....
It is just that it has really been a year since my life was thrown into catastrophic disarray, when Liz died. And the past year I have been really pondering everything, from my Blog to my job to my career to my life.
I can't report on anything substantive that has come out of this thinking, though it has been valuable.
Most of it is also a topic for another day, if at all.
So anyway, for the record I am going to put some basic information out there for anyone who might have been concerned....
First of all, I still have a job, and was not one of the 1.5% of Microsoft that was laid off recently.
The fact that so many people sent email to my Microsoft email address to ask me if I still had a job is a topic for another day, if at all -- some careful use of logic should explain why this does not make very much sense!
There are several factors related to the layoff that I have opinions about but for now I'm not going to share most of them since it is a sensitive subject and I thyink I'd just piss people off.
Second of all, my job is pretty much the same as what it was. No one in our group was laid off and as far as I know no one's job in the group was altered as a side effect of the layoff.
Though I did have to waste several days of work because of it.
I should explain that.
You see, I was working on a presentation for a group whose first version work was kind of internationally flawed and is being rewritten for their second version, and the PM thought it would be good to get them trained from the start on some of the globalization basics.That PM knew some of it and wanted to learn the rest, and also wanted the team to learn it so they could be right from the very beginning this time. Contact was wiyj bothe me and a PM on our side, but I was asked to do the work on behalf of both.
The fact that it feels good to have your colleagues trust you to represent them in such situations could also be a topic for another day, thoigh probably not until/unless I am working somewhere else -- I can't have PMs I work with thinking they have my feeling good, it would hurt my reputation!
Unfortunately that PM was laid off.
Which gave me a serious sense of vujà dé (my own little personal back formation that I define as being sure one has experienced something before, and that they didn't like it), thinking that contrary to my thoughts in Not so small as to be internationally stupid, Mini might have a point. I mean, if a group tasked with reducing jobs chooses to eliminate both the position and the work of someone who was trying to make sure globalization issues are covered, then perhaps someone agrees with Mini that is one of the reasons why Microsoft is so big. And perhaps that could be on the chopping block when such choices exist and must be made.
Of course I know that it is unlikely that this was the only work this PM had and thus unlikely to lay this out as any kind of strategic thought. It is much more likely to be short-sightedness that someone will either spend ten times as much money (or more) to correct later or customers will pay the price and perhaps inspire QFEs that cost thirty times as much money (or more) to fix then. But this would hardly be the first time that a wrong decision was made in the tech. industry across any company, so that is hardly anything new.
Wiser heads, had they been asked, might have counseled that the training could still have happened, but this was not the only thing changed in the group so that apparently wasn't practical -- there are bigger fish to fry, so to speak.
The net impact is that I lost a few days, but since someone else lost their job I'm not going to worry so much about the days.
In fact, if that PM wants a recommendation and/or reference inside or outside of MS, I made it clear I'd do it. The entire issue, starting from when it was first brought up, was done professionally and technically with a methodical understanding of many of the previous mistakes, an understanding of a need to know more, a recognition of the need to address them, and a passion for both quality and correct behavior that anyone interested in good results would be proud to have.
This is, I think, a case of "friendly fire" incidental to the layoff itself. If I were hiring, this person wouldn't need to look for a job.
Had it been up to me it wouldn't have been my choice if I were given the directive to lay people off, but there are probably very good reasons why executives don't request that list from me (even beyond the fact that they probably don't know it exists). Let's leave it as read that my list would have been significantly shorter than the one they used, but mine still would have saved Microsoft more money.
But anyway, I said I wasn't going to talk about the layoff. So I'll stop now.
Back to my list....
Third of all, this Blog has a flaw in it.
It starts with the name.
Sorting it all Out.
Now taking my interest in collation and moving it to a multi-level pun is to my way of thinking kind of cool. Not as cool in my opinion as the WinFS Team Blog's name (What's in Store), but with the same kind of intent.
Certainly not as cool as the whole GM-approved Architect of Sorts job title thing, which I still think is pretty cute.
But then it is therein that the problem lies.
I mean, in the 2887 or so blogs in this Blog, only some have had anything to do with collation in the general sense, and most of the rest were not about any kind of attempt to order, cross-reference, or categorize information in any of the senses that either sorting or collation would cover.
Me? I'm the sort of person who prefers the Exchange client/Schedule+ combo to Outlook, because I liked the ability to say yes to every meeting invite (which made the meeting owner feel good) and also miss every meeting I didn't feel like going to (with the affirmative defense of "oh sorry, I didn't have Schedule+ running!" if anyone asked why I wasn't there). I don't need my life to be as orderly as all that.
So here in this blog, I have been trying to do so many things:
And so much of that is unordered, and it is prioritized (if you can call it that) only by a disconnected yet occasionally logical process that I have come to think of as disassociative linkage (hat tip to colleague Jennifer Gentleman who is the first person I used the term on, to describe the thought process I witnessed on a couple of occasions!).
Which is to say, not really prioritized in any real sense that can be measured or referenced or cataloged or explained or understood.
So I think it might time to change the name of this Blog.
You know, to set aside the cute joke and try to come up with something that really does capture things a better.
I'm still working on this, and of course lots of other things. And that will be the topic for another day. One I might actually get to! :-)
All of which leads to the bigger issue, one that the name issue kind distracts me from. This is whether the Blog is the best way for me to accomplish whatever it is I'm trying to do.
For now I think it serves a need, and I am really reluctant to not fill that need just because I'm feeling uncertain about what to do. So within the next few days I'll be putting all of the blogs that were going to go up back into rotation, and maybe I'll even cover some of the topics mentioned above, to the delight and/or dismay of some of the regular readers.
Things should be back to normal (whatever that is) soon, provided I still have a job after the PTB read this blog, of course....
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# Abdusalam on 2 Feb 2009 9:54 AM:
Wow! It's been really a long time that you've not been blogging here. And it's great to know that you're still working for M$.
Welcome back =)
# Mihai on 2 Feb 2009 12:10 PM:
"sent email to my Microsoft email address to ask me if I still had a job"
Well, it is the best that some can do.
You have no other email that the MS one that we know about.
And since in most companies the email addresses of ex-employees get deleted quite fast, a bounced email would have been an answer.
The next best thing would have probably been Facebook, but hey, one at the time ...
# Pavanaja U B on 2 Feb 2009 10:13 PM:
"silent Blog is often not noticed right away" -good quote. I have alread tweeted it -twitter.com/pavanaja
I was alsowondering what happenned to you. I opened your blog today with the decision that I will send you a persnal email if I don't see any update from you.
# Jonny on 2 Feb 2009 10:31 PM:
I very much missed your stream of consciousness.
Can I suggest "The Write Stuff" as a blog name. Seems to fit many of your bullet points.
2009/02/16 In search of: SiaO's mythology
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