eWorld.UI - Matt Hawley

Ramblings of Matt

Installed & Uninstalled 2003 SP1

March 31, 2005 22:51 by matthaw

So I promptly installed 2003 SP1 last night, only to find out that it breaks one of my most used applications…Backup Plus. This application is great, when its working. It allows you to define backup sets, then compress them & store them just about anywhere you wish. For me, that was storing on CD-RW media. Simply installing a packet writer application allowed me to do this.

Ohh, but unfortunately, Backup Plus doesn’t work (currently) with 2003 SP1. I’ve contacted technical support and they merely came back saying that since I cannot register 2 OCX files for the application, that it will not run. Bummer. I hope that I’ve been a loyal customer since 2003 will help persuade them into fixing this problem, or at least finding a workaround.

So, until then, I can’t have 2003 SP1 installed because, frankly, my nightly backups of data are way more important than any security fixes on my server. Ohh how I hate service packs that break applications.



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Sadness with CNet Blogs

March 31, 2005 21:02 by matthaw
Okay, this blog post on CNet is just sad, they’re making fun of the fact that 2 kids in Kansas were going to swap an XBox for a .38–caliber revolver. It seems to me like their down playing the seriousness of the situation just a bit too much. I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed this, but the CNet news articles, which are now blog posts are degrading and degrading fast. This is just another prime example, and I will seriously think about not reading anything that comes from CNet from now on.

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Updated Utility: Unleash It 2.4.1

March 31, 2005 19:27 by matthaw

So with my looming day of working for Microsoft draws nearer, I wanted to make one last effort to get an updated version of Unleash It to fix some issues that have come up since the last release. Mostly, I wanted to do this because I’m not sure of Unleash It’s destiny after I start at Microsoft, so this is the main reason for getting a new version out now. So, here are the updates:

  • Added: Deploying via the systray icon now maximizes the application to show its status.
  • Added: Added the option to retain your plugins during an uninstall.
  • Added: If any errors occur during a deployment, you are notified in the informational message stating how many errors there were.
  • Fixed: Fixed problem where form wasn't displayed on the window if the X/Y coordinates were negative upon the previous shutdown.
  • Fixed: Fixed random error when saving a profile with no active profile currently set.
  • Fixed: Fixed error messages where no default browser is installed and you clicked a link in the about dialog.
  • Fixed: Shuts down applicaiton when Windows is shutting down.
  • Fixed: Fixed the file system transfer logging when copying files.

So, to get the latest version head on over to the site and download it now!

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Road to the Red Pill - Part 2

March 30, 2005 23:43 by matthaw

In Part 1 of “Road to the Red Pill” – I described how my resume was submitted and how my first few interviews went. This part will focus on my remaining interviews. Enjoy!

…nay, it was the beginning of an arduous adventure that strained my brain and kept me on my toes for the next month. Yes, thats right, the on-site interviews. Many have described these as being horrendous days that strain your brain in knowledge, logic, and creative thinking. While in most cases this is true, I was lucky enough to not endure such a hardship. Could it be that Microsoft is starting to ease off the hard questions, or could it be that for the position I was aiming for didn't need it. My personal opinion is that it was the former.

Roughly a week went by from the time that I had my phone interview with the hiring manager to when I was contacted by my scheduling coordinator. During this time I was on the edge of wondering if I was just fed a line, and that I wasn’t really going to get the opportunity of a lifetime to make such a trip out to Redmond to show my expertise. Days came and went, and then I received the email asking for all of my personal information and suggestions for when I could make it out there. Now, at this point, I still hadn’t informed my employer that I was interviewing, so I set out to find either a Friday or Monday that I could make the trip out to Redmond so that it just seemed like I was taking an extended weekend. Another requirement, was that it had to be at least two weeks in advance to secure the appropriate flights for me.

The date was set, February 28th. I would fly out Sunday afternoon and fly back Tuesday morning. Getting the vacation time was just as easy, as I all had to do for getting my on-site interview setup was let them know when & where I wanted to come from / go to, as well as if I wanted a rental car or take a taxi. While some say taking a taxi is best, I’d have to partially agree, as I got lost several times trying to 1) get to building 100 to meet my recruiter and 2) got lost trying to get out of Seattle after visiting the Space Needle. Taking a taxi just merely allows you to worry about the important things, like your upcoming interview. Two weeks+ passed, and I was on my way. I didn’t realize at that point how long taking a plane would actually take…nearly 5 hours going from Chicago to Seattle is just something I’m going to grow to like.

Anyway, I arrived in Seattle at about 6:30 PM and promptly got my bags & rental car. Following the directions to the beautiful hotel I was put up in, I found that commuting will be a major thing I’ll want to try and avoid if I would land a job with “the man.” Upon arriving to the hotel, I checked in, got some free dinner, and went to bed. I had forced myself to stay up to 11 PM (aka 1 AM CST) just so that jet lag wouldn’t be an issue the next day.

With a wakeup call at 6:30 AM the next morning, the day had arrived. I found myself getting more and more nervous. After I finished breakfast, I headed back up to my room, popped in my iPod ear plugs and jammed away for an hour to calm my nerves. This was key – you had to be calm and collected prior to heading out, so if you’re in the same situation, do whatever it takes to make you calm. Then it was off to building 100 where I would meet my recruiter.

Boy, I tell ya what, this building is the worst building to try and find…I ended up missing it and having to go out on the highway to make another round trip to only go in the back way. Seriously, they need to do something about that (another key point on why a taxi should have been taken!).

So finally I arrived, checked in with the secretary, who told me to just sit back and relax. I had arrived at about 8:45, which gave me enough time to calm my nerves again. I’d suggest not arriving much earlier than what I did, as all you’ll do is sit…and wait…and sit…and wait. So finally, my recruiter came and got me. We went back to her office where we had some small talk (god, I’m seriously bad at that, and no I’m not talking about the language) and then went into how my day was going to go. She let me know of all of my interviewers (well, the first 4) and what they’ll be focusing on. And then, she started priming my noggin’ for some of the questions that got asked time and time again – like “Why Microsoft?”

Then I was off. I was lucky enough that all my interviews were in the same building (109, I believe), so I didn’t have to take the recruiting shuttle from place to place…however attempting to park in a jam-packed parking lot is not fun! Anyways, I was on my way for my day long interviews. Like many have stated before, your first interview is probably your worst. I’d have to agree – but not on a technical level, just in general. I fumbled over my answers, and got really nervous, but something may have clicked with my technical background that he liked. This interview focused more along the lines of my creativity and knowledge of the SDLC. Then it was done, phew!

My second interview, oddly enough, was with my primary contact who I sent my resume in. What a relief that was…I really enjoyed finally meeting him and having a great discussion with him. This was along the lines of my more technical interviews. A lot was asked from Scott’s list as well as some other good questions. I’d say that I nailed about 90% of the questions, and my 2 white boarding questions – which btw, was me writing T-SQL code according to a table structure and report they wished to have retrieved.

My third interview was a lunch interview. Don’t be fooled, you get to eat, but don’t let that impede your ability to answer / ask questions of your interviewer. This interview was focused more along the lines of project management skills (since I was applying for a Sr. App. Dev. position). While I thought my answers were sufficient, I later found out that mostly all of my interviewers thought I didn’t have the capabilities yet to hold that position. I promptly agreed because, well, why lie! I’m only 23, so I wasn’t expecting to try and get my hands on a position I couldn’t handle currently. Okay, anyways – back to the story. We finished up lunch and headed back (I think it was at this time that I realized how many BMWs or Mercedes there are in Redmond) where I had about an hour break waiting for my next interview. So, I was stuck in an empty office by myself, and gave my dad a ring to let him know how things were going, then jammed out to more music on my iPod.

My fourth interview went awesome. It was a mix of technical / creativity / logic questions that I just rocked. It was in this interview that I had my first puzzle (rather, logic) question. I don’t want to blow his question for future interviews, so I won’t repeat it, and please don’t ask. Anyway, this interview actually only lasted about 20–30 minutes. After which we sat around and chatted and I got to find out more about the area and the culture. This was truly an uplifting interview, because it made me feel at home and comfortable. It was at this point, I was either going back to the hotel or continuing on with a couple more interviews…the latter was the case.

My fifth interview was also another technically challenging one. Much was asked of my knowledge of the .NET framework internals as well as past technologies. This was a grueling interview, but I felt I came out of it pretty decent. It was in this one that I got my second (and final) puzzle question. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it right away, but after a small point in the right direction, it was like someone had just shined a bright light upon me, as the solution hit me like a freight train.

Finally, I made it to my last interview. This was with the hiring manager that I previously had a phone interview with. This was also more of a laid back interview in which he strived mostly on letting me know how I did during the day. He also focused on how I would handle things if hired on by Microsoft (like how I would step up my project management skills or continue learning new technologies). This was another one of those uplifting interviews where I felt confident in myself that I had done a good job. Towards the end, he stated that there was just one more interview – the GM of the division, but he was out of the country on business, and that it would have to wait until a phone interview. So, I was escorted out and my on-site interviews were done.

That next Wednesday, I was contacted by my recruiter with a statement I’ll never forget “You’re interviews seemed favorable.” Favorable? Hmm, I guess thats good, I mean “favorable” indicates something that is better than “good”…doesn’t it? Well, needless to say, it was good, and she just wanted to confirm a final phone interview with me as well. Wow, a final phone interview. And so it was set, for that Friday – oh but as that day came, I was called by my interviewer only to have him push back our interview (good reasons though, he had just returned from a 38 hour flight and wasn’t feeling too great). So, it was rescheduled for the following Wednesday.

That next Wednesday seemed like it took forever to get there. Everyone was asking me Friday / Saturday how things went, only to be dissapointed when they found out I had to wait until Wednesday for it. Yes, people were getting anxious, me included. When it finally did come, I had about a 15 minute interview which summed up to “You did good with me” from my interviewer. Cool, I said to myself, but what does that mean!

Ohh, but everything was answered that next Friday when I received a phone call from my recruiter stating that an offer was forthcoming. Wow, an offer was forthcoming…I had made it…I’ll be working for “the man.”



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Want more than a 15 Second Interval in FogBugz?

March 30, 2005 19:35 by matthaw

With the FogBugz 4.0 release, they disbanded (currently) the idea of polling intervals for retrieving mail. While this means less things to manage, it does pose problems with filling up the error log with messages stating it cannot connect to the mail server. However, that messages is just erroneous because things still function, it just so happens its getting hit WAAY to often than what some servers would allow.

So, someone posted to the FogBugz discussion forums for a solution, and someone came up with the code to make it poll every 5 minutes. So, I implemented the code, and found out that it only retrieves 1 email message (per mailbox) every 5 minutes, therefore if you have 30 messages in a single mailbox, its going to take 150 minutes. 150 MINUTES! Are you insane? That just wont cut it in the real world.

So, I started doing a bit of hackery and came up with a solution that will retrieve all email in each mailbox for each 5 minute polling interval. I also changed some code that will send out chunks of 10 emails (from the MailQueue) every time the heartbeat.asp page is called. So, what I’ve created is what everyone is wanting.

You can check out the post here for the code to implement everything described above.



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Road to the Red Pill - Part 1

March 30, 2005 17:58 by matthaw

It all started towards the middle of January 2005 when the SMS&P division purchased the source code for my custom controls. Needless to say, I was awe-struck when I noticed that the man, yes Microsoft, wanted the source to my controls. Of course, following my natural instinct of being nosy, I started a conversation with that person (name shall remain nameless unless he states otherwise) over the whole purchase to validate (to myself I guess) that Microsoft is really purchasing it.

So after a few email's and my slyly joking around about MS being my dream job and he stating there are several openings in their division, he promptly asked me to submit my resume. Sure, I procrastinated for about another week before actually sending off to him because I didn’t actually think he was serious – boy was I wrong. A few more email's from him stating for me to seriously turn in my resume persuaded me to sit down a Saturday afternoon and prepare my first professional resume (those that don’t know, I started at Integrity as an intern, so I never needed a resume aside from the crappy one I put together nearly 5 years ago now). After I sent it off, my contact assured me that he sent it to his hiring manager, who proceeded to send it off to the recruiters – in which they should be contacting me within the next few days for a screening call.

Heh, okay – so at this point I was just proud that I finally did what I had been telling myself to do for quite some time, submit my resume to Microsoft. I was content with just that and really wasn’t expecting a call from the recruiter. Ohh, but that next day, my phone rings and its my (first) recruiter who asked a ton of preliminary questions to gauge my knowledge, passion, and desire to work for Microsoft. About an hour later, my recruiter stated that he would be passing his recommendation on, and will be setting up my first phone interview with the hiring manager. Wow, a phone interview. Thats all I thought for the next few days…and so the wheels started turning on if this could actually become a reality. I started getting excited and the girlfriend (at this time) was starting to scared.

So a few days past and I hadn’t gotten my followup email from my recruiter, so thinking out of the box, I contacted gretchen to ask if she could figure out who my recruiter was and get me his contact information. Much to my surprise, she came through and got me everything I needed (Thanks gretchen!) So I promptly followed up with my recruiter at that point, who responded quickly and stated he was my recruiter. Phew – now that that was settled, I never heard from him again. Rather, I heard from my coordinator from then on (well, until after my Redmond interviews) only to find out later that he had been let go – could I have been his last recruitee?

Okay – getting on with the story…so that next week I was scheduled to talk with the hiring manager for the SMS&P division. I was truly nervous, and took an extended lunch to ensure I had ample time for the interview and actually eating. Overall, my initial phone interview went very well. I was asked about my past experience doing .NET development, discussed my personal business, discussed relocation, and well…I don’t remember much else, but I do remember asking if he knew when a decision would be made to advance further into the interview process. Much to my surprise he quickly responded stating that he did want me to come out Redmond for a days worth of interviews. Needless to say, I was on a high after that. I started getting more excited and my girlfriend started getting even more scared, but this wasn’t the end...

Stay tuned, part 2 of “Road to the Red Pill” will be coming out shortly.



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Rounding Down

March 29, 2005 22:30 by matthaw

Ohh, I bet your thinking this is a technical post, well…its not.

So, just over 3 days left at my current employer, and things are starting to round down for me. Less and less priorities at work (in fact, I am merely here for transitioning purposes to the remaining [few] applications left) has made this week pretty laid back for me. However, since I am going from one thing to another, I am finding that by the end of the day, I’m just plain tired. After reading one of Rory’s latest, it has finally dawned on me why I’m so tired.

However, setting work aside, its been an interesting last two weeks coordinating things with my relocation specialist, the insurance company (for relocation), the household moving company, the car moving company, the rental assistance specialists, and the PO box company (for temporary mail forwarding), that I’m finally glad things have all gotten settled. There’s finally hard dates for our relocation – April 4 – packers come, April 5 – house & car movers come, April 6 – my fiance and I leave for Washington. While it has been kind of crazy getting things coordinated, I couldn’t imagine doing it myself, so much props goes to my relocation specialist.

I think that if I had to relocate on myself, that there is no way I would have been able to do it in 3 weeks, not to mention that we don’t have to do a lick of packing (yeah, thats right – and what we do pack has to be checked out by the packers, seriously – if you’re moving long distance, get the packers to do it!). I’m only dredding having to tear down our 2 desks, entertainment center, and storage closet – you have to personally take all particle board furniture apart yourself (and later put it back together yourself) because of the possibility for damage. Seriously, its going to take us a few nights to get everything torn down, our entertainment center alone took us 4 hours to put together, I can only imagine reassembling it without instructions.

So yeah, life has been chaotic in the past few weeks, and I’m just going to be happy when its all over with and we’re out in WA with a new job under my belt. Until later when I post my experiences of interviewing…



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Rory Engaged

March 29, 2005 22:13 by matthaw
Yup, thats right Aydika’s “Not his girlfriend anymore.” Congrats Rory!

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When GhostDoc Fails...

March 22, 2005 18:20 by matthaw

Since pictures are worth a thousand words…

AlreadyScheduled

As you can see, GhostDoc isn’t 100% accurate on creating decent documentation.

Update – here’s a better one that really makes me chuckle…

ToString



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Becoming A Blue Badge

March 18, 2005 16:58 by matthaw

So today marks my two week notice to my current employer, Integrity Technology Solutions. Over the last two months, I’ve been interviewing with Microsoft and have accepted an offer for an Application Developer position in the SMS&P division (which, if you don’t know, is their Small & Medium Sized Businesses & Partner Program division).

Wow, its been such a journey to finally make it to my life long dream company, in fact it’s still a dream to me that I even got an offer. I personally set out in January to just submit my resume just so I couldn’t say I never did, and now my fiance and I will be making the westward-bound trek to Washington.

As far as my interviewing – 10 interviews, including 1 screening call, 2 phone interviews & 7 on site interviews, it was one hell of an arduous journey. I do have to say that the interview process was more hype in the community than it actually was. I didn’t get any crazy questions like “how many manhole covers are there in NY city” – but, I did receive 2 brain teasers.

So yeah, my last day is April 1, with a new start date of April 11. We’ll be moving probably on April 5 & 6th out to our temporary housing until we find more of a permanent residence. So, if your out there at the MS campus, maybe we’ll bump into each other. I’d definitely like to meet any of my MS readers, so you can always get in touch with me using the contact link to the left.

I will definitely be posting more about the entire process later, I just wanted to finally get the global world aware that I’ve gone to heaven, so to speak.



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