I asked Jeremy Kelley if such animals existed and sure enough, they do. A great way to keep the pulse of everything coming from those bloggers.



(I think you can leave off the ‘?Type=AllBlogs’ query string and get the same result – but haven’t verified.)

Categories: Blog | MSDN | Technet | Comments [0] | # | Posted on Wednesday, June 3, 2009 7:25:34 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

A blogging friend stopped by my office this morning and one of the first questions was: Where have you been with your blogging as of late?

He is about the 6th person to ask -- so, it's probably about time to give you some explanation.

First, nearly the entire month of October 2007 was devoted to weighing an opportunity I had to join another fantastically great team here at Microsoft. Imagine being given the choice of two huge lollipops both of which are your favorite flavors -- the proverbial kid in a candy store analogy. One of the choices is the team which produces Windows Media Center (I'm a big fan). The other was a team and a hiring manager for whom I have a large amount of respect. In the end, I chose to stay here on the Windows Media Center team -- I didn't feel as though I was quite done with this product and the things I personally want it to do for customers. The move to the other team would have also created a new period of professional relationship building -- I felt I had put my family through that enough with our move to the Pacific Northwest back in mid-2004 (more about that later). It was an *incredible* experience and I'm very glad I took the time to explore a change in career direction. I am very grateful for the advice offered from close friends both internal and external to Microsoft (you know who you are). The only downside is it left me quite a bit frazzled from a career standpoint -- I simply didn't have the energy to post here on the blog during October or the month that followed.

Second, I basically took the month of December 2007 as vacation. I mean a real (almost) complete disconnect from work related things -- this is rare -- just ask my co-workers who find me replying to emails while on vacation. Postings by me on places like http://discuss.mediacentersandbox.com even dropped off quite sharply. Our family traveled back to the East coast to see family and friends and I made a concerted effort to stay offline. When we returned I picked up some sort of flu bug which had me out of work for a complete week, with another two weeks of recovery time during which I didn't have a whole lot of energy. I haven't been that sick in probably 15 years. So, that explains December 2007 and most of January 2008.

Third, it was an incredibly busy time during all of these months (October 2007 - December 2008) from a day job perspective (most blogging is done on nights / weekends). Yes, we are working on the next version of Windows -- no surprise there. The ebb and flow of program management happened to be really flowing instead of ebbing during this time (not that there is much of an ebb anytime here at Microsoft, but there times when it is less busy than normal). I'd like to think I did a pretty good job of managing things, especially given the career churn in October outlined above. But several things had to 'give way' -- and blogging was one of them. And... I can't just blog about what happens in the day job -- no matter how much Mary Jo really wishes I would.

Fourth, I really took a good, hard look during October - December to think about my community involvement, including posting here. There are so many good and great things about blogging -- but one of the few drawbacks is it's really a scattershot method of communication, and the conversations it fosters can amplify the noise. What starts off in one distinct direction can be randomized into multiple other directions far removed from the original. These conversations demonstrate this to be wholly true. I literally worked through each and every comment on those two posts and created a list of feature requests. The list was *incredibly* long and I came to the realization there was absolutely no way I could personally make all of those things happen -- I found this to be incredibly frustrating because I really do like to take action on your feedback. As a result, I decided the posts weren't that incredibly helpful or useful except to allow the community to vent their frustrations. They were way too broad to start, and only got broader as the conversation continued.

Add to that much of the posting here is done on my personal time and took away from family activities. Family is everything. (Some of you are probably thinking: 'Well, DUH! It's amazing how easy it is to lose sight of the obvious.). The sacrifice they made to allow me to take my 'dream job' in 2004 was incredible. My wife and daughters deserve for me to be home physically AND mentally. I've reached a point where a lot of the heavy lifting of establishing myself on a new team is done in many respects -- I can now restore work-life balance to, well, balance. I've made a commitment to them to really be home when I'm home, and I'm beginning to see those dividends return to me in lots of ways. As a result posting here, a majority of which took place when I was at home, will naturally be lessened. Case in point, I'm writing this while at work today instead of tonight at home as was the usual. :-) That feels *really* good from a father and husband perspective.

So, where does that leave us...?

I've decided there will be less broad communication here on the blog and more engagement with individuals in the community on a personal level this year. I'm going to invest my time with a deliberate and constrained group of people, mostly around how our product can be better for all. Some of those direct one:one projects are already underway and you should see the reports on some of them out here in the blogosphere at some point. I'll link to those as folks decide to chat about them publicly, and that's where the majority of my postings for this year will originate. I'll also be making it a point to spend more time with our Community Dev Experts over on http://discuss.mediacentersandbox.com. Finally, any extra brain cycles I have outside of working hours will be spent making in-depth resources available for Windows Media Center customers for the next version.

In a nutshell: I'm hoping less here becomes more in a real, tangible sense for Windows Media Center customers.

Categories: Be Smart | Blog | Career | Windows Media Center | Comments [8] | # | Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2008 9:39:56 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)   

That went pretty smoothly -- thanks Scott, Omar and the rest of the dasBlog development team for putting together 2.0. You guys ROCK...!

Also using Windows Live Writer for the first time with this post. Configuration with dasBlog was an absolute snap. Blogging just got a whole lot easier.


Categories: Blog | dasBlog | Windows Live Writer | Comments [1] | # | Posted on Saturday, August 18, 2007 6:11:14 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I'm a regular follower of the Adobe blog over at http://blogs.adobe.com/ and generally speaking I learn a lot (note I'm a passionate Adobe products user, particularly PhotoShop and Illustrator). Every once in a while they throw rocks towards Microsoft, and it does leave me with a bad taste. Case in point: In 'Why Apollo?' Andrew Shebanow writes...

"I normally don't like to do those "me too" sorts of posts Microsoft folks seem to specialize in, where you just say "look at this great article my coworker wrote". To me, its always seemed like a rather distasteful way to do PageRank/TechMeme manipulation."

As for me, when I link to another Microsoft employee blog it's because I found the information helpful or new. For example, Aaron Stebner recently posted Mailbag: How can I create a loading page for an MCML application? and I linked to it from our team platform blog here.


  1. I didn't know Aaron was working on this, and thought it was quite neat, and that others would find it highly useful.
  2. I try to make it a point to aggregate all great technical docs in one place on our Windows Media Center Platform Team blog (makes search easier).
  3. There are bound to be folks who subscribe to our platform team blog but NOT Aarons blog -- they might not see this great resource unless I link.

Furthermore, I don't link to every one of Aarons posts (like this one, or that one or the one over here which is related to Windows Media Center development). For the most part, where and when I link is highly correlated to my opinion of the value of the material. It's not part of some uber conspiracy to manipulate the system. And I don't think most Microsoft bloggers link for the sake of linking.

Andrew, I don't think I would have discovered Why Apollo? or Mike Chambers had you not linked. That's exactly WHY you want to link -- to show your readers who you read, or listen to, or respect -- even if they happen to work for the same company you do.

I don't think it's distateful -- it's actually respectful in most cases.

Besides, you can always unsubscribe if you find the linking to be gratuitous.

Categories: Blog | Comments [3] | # | Posted on Friday, March 30, 2007 7:24:04 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)   

I had the good fortune of attending the launch party for Robert Scoble and Shel Israel's book 'Naked Conversations' (the venue was absolutely spectacular). What a blast -- I was able to meet many folks I either subscribe to in Newsgator or will starting tonight. I always find it refreshing to hang out with others from the blogosphere, and verbally converse with the people behind the keyboard and wifi.

My apologies in advance for the shameless name dropping here. I thought I would share some of the things I learned tonight (in the order I learned them).

Frank Shaw goes out of his way to use Microsoft beta software. Frank is Executive Vice President at Waggener Edstrom, the company which helps Microsoft handle public relations. My view of PR folks totally changed tonight after speaking with Frank. Before tonight I largely viewed our PR folks as spinmeisters. Frank showed me they can be just as bought in to the vision as me. Refreshing. Robert is right -- he should start a blog.

Stephen Toulouse (his personal blog is here) always has a tough crowd whenever he walks into a meeting at Microsoft. You see, he is part of the Microsoft Security Response Center. When he walks in, pretty much all the oxygen gets sucked out of the room because he might be delivering bad news on the security front (although, increasingly his news is good news). He also works for a team which seemingly gets tons of flaming arrows shot at them on a daily basis from all fronts. I could tell he was passionate about making sure consumers felt confident in our products on the security front.

Chris Pirillo reminded me again (in his usual low key, non-passionate, laissez-faire, introverted, quiet conversational style) our products simply have to work for customers. In my opinion, every product group should bring him in to spend just 15 minutes on an alpha quality product -- you will get more good nuggets of actionable feedback (and expletives) in that amount of time than in 4 weeks of usability studies. I also learned Media Center is already more complex than it needs to be, and many wonderful features are undiscoverable, even for bright geeks like Chris. We gotta work on that now and as our features grow.

My next TabletPC might very well be an OQO Model 01+ -- Moshen Chan from OQO was walking around with one and letting folks play. Hooked. I wish my Toshiba M200 Tablet PC wasn't so well made so I would have an excuse to get this puppy right now. If someone there knows the young man from OQO, please let me know so I can give him props. Want to get people to join the conversation? Have a cool piece of hardware in your hands and pass it around.

The mobile space is HOT. Vikram Dendi showed me his tricked out Windows Mobile 5.0 Smart Phone. I'm hoping he will take some time in the next couple of weeks to help me trick out my new i-Mate K-JAM (aka HTC Wizard / QTEK 9100). Actually, I've never seen so many Smart Phones in one place -- I think they erected a new cell tower outside while we were there to handle the volume. Robert and Chris had a ScoblePhone v2 (aka Cingular 2125 / HTC Faraday).

If there is another team at Microsoft as interesting to me as Media Center it has to be Jeff Sandquist's (I mean, seriously, Channel9 + Robert Scoble + Duncan Mackenzie for starters -- 'nuff said). We had the briefest of conversations this evening, but as usual, new things are brewing. It's always something new on Jeff's team -- those guys have way too much fun (if there is such a thing).

Buzz Bruggeman gave me perhaps the best elevator pitch I've heard in the past year. I've heard about ActiveWords for some time now, but have never gotten around to investigate what it is, what it does or how it can help me. So I asked Buzz. His response: "It's software which speaks your language. Install ActiveWords, type or write CNN and boom! you're at CNN." Sold. I've got to work on my elevator pitch for Media Center so it can be this compelling. One word of advice, Buzz -- get the ActiveWords installer digitally signed. Right now it states 'Unknown Publisher' which is typically a show stopper for me, but I'm installing anyway since you did such a good job of convincing me with only two sentences.

And finally, I've got a Robert Scoble autographed copy of Naked Conversations. What did he write...?

"Charlie, Keep the world blogging about Media Center? Thanks & Enjoy, Robert Scoble"

Classy. Thanks again, Robert, for inspiring me.

And by the way, the book has to be good. They weren't giving away copies to be signed as might be expected (Microsoft gives away free swag at these types of events all the time). We had to pay for our copies like anyone else -- that speaks volumes about the value of the content. I'm starting the first chapter tonight.

Categories: Blog | Comments [0] | # | Posted on Sunday, January 22, 2006 7:40:44 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)   

I don't add folks to my blogroll very often, and the traffic my links might provide wouldn't really add up to a hill of beans for anyone who is represented. Even so, I believe the people I keep here on a permanent basis should be those who are reputable sources of information you can trust.

Therefore, I'm happy to welcome the following folks to my blogroll...

Aaron Stebner -- Aaron is doing a wonderful job helping the community with Emerald install and media playback issues. His mastery of all things setup is fantastic and he has personally helped me on more than one occasion with Visual Studio and partner machine setups. The great thing about Aaron: He is 10 times more helpful in person than he is on his blog, and is one of the most positive people I have ever met. Aaron and I are going to have the pleasure of working closer together over the coming year as we march closer to the launch of Media Center for Windows Vista. Stay tuned. :-)

David Fleischman -- David is one of those great guys who helps us get software actually out the door and into your hands. Software impacting millions of customers doesn't happen overnight, and his latest post Adding a Feature to Media Center gives you some great insight into that process.  The comments in that post are worth their weight in gold if you play a part in shipping great software.

Ed Bott -- I've had the pleasure of having lunch with Ed once, and it was refreshing -- for someone so smart, he's about as humble and unassuming as they come. His blog is one of the most informative and authoritative ones out there -- you come away satisfied with almost every post he makes. I consider his taking the time to create a Media Center specific feed quite a compliment to our product. I aspire to have my own writing be as concise and clear as his -- I've got a long way to go. I have no idea why it has taken me so long to add him to my list -- he should have been there on day one.

Peter Rosser -- I'll confess I don't know Peter well at all, which kind of means I'm breaking the rule I outline in my opening paragraph. His office is between mine and the front door / cafeteria / rest rooms, so I pass by it a good bit. His monitor is always filled with code, and he is almost always sitting there intently focused on same. He is a Software Design Engineer on our Media Center TV team -- that means he is wicked smart (all of them are - you have to be if you are going to get TV working in Windows). Seriously, anyone who writes code like this has to be a wiz. I only hope the code I write is 1/100th as sharp. As it is, I'm still trying to figure out what his blog title means -- I think it has something to do with the Da Vinci Code.

Categories: Media Center | Blog | Comments [1] | # | Posted on Saturday, November 5, 2005 5:55:08 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)   
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