Western Washington Power Outage

Just a report to let you all know we did lose power during the severe windstorm that hit western Washington last Thursday, Dec 14.

Our power went out just after midnight, Friday morning. I was surfing the web at the time and was caught off guard by the eerie darkness inside and ouside our home. The power had been flickering on and off much of the evening but we have uninterruptible power supplies on all our essential equipment so the computers kept going without a hitch.

Once the power went completely out I thought, “Dang, I hope it comes back on soon. I have more surfing to do.” Minutes later the depleted power supplies started shutting down (so much for “uninterruptible”) and I sat in my home office in complete darkness thinking, “This is not good.”

We spent the next day-and-a-half doing some very different and very interesting living. Thankfully we have gas fireplaces, a gas range, a gas water heater and a gas grill. We also had a fairly good stock of food in the fridge and pantry. The problem wasn’t bathing, heat or food for us, thank goodness. The problem was zero Internet, zero TV and zero light once it hit 4PM each day. Very manageable all things considered.

Friday morning and afternoon we busied ourselves with chores we’d put off for TV watching and Internet surfing several times before. This included hanging some photos, reading and cleaning the kitchen. On Friday evening we visited with some friends in Renton since they had power and we didn’t care to sit around in a dark house waiting to fall asleep. Our other friends who live in Federal Way were there with their small children as well to escape the dark & sub-freezing temperatures. It was nice to watch some TV and steal some of their neighbor’s wi-fi. We brought Cougar Mountain cookie dough I purchased in a fund raiser early in the week and other perishables and made an event out of it. (The Oatmeal Raisin Cinnamaon cookies were a big hit.)

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One Year on the Job: The Office Move + RC Release

Here I sit on Day 4 of my three week pseudo-vacation which happens to be the one-year anniversary of my move to marketing from engineering. What better way to spend some vacation time than reflecting on ways to wrap-up the longest running and most consistently reported series on my blog (i.e., the “On the Job” posts)?

Rather than attempt to summarize the year in an all-in-one round-up post, I choose to let the individual monthly posts stand on their own. Rather than attempt to portend what the future holds, I prefer to let the future do what it does best which is make liars out of all of us. (Just review my 2006 predictions and resolutions for proof of that last point…my record 2-8-3.)

Instead, I will focus the last post of this series on events that happened today.

The Office Move

People at work who have been at the company at least a year routinely joke about 3 things a new hire is likely to experience more than any other:

  1. A re-org
  2. A change in managers
  3. An office move

The joke is these things, which often happen together or in rapid succession, occur way too frequently in our workplace.

A new hire I am not, but, as luck would have it, our group packed up our offices to prepare for our office move today! I went in on one of my pseudo days off to pack. I’m an old hand at the office move by now so I still had all the boxes from my 4 previous office moves at the ready. The boxes are getting a little wobbly but there is now so much tape on them they are effectively waterproof & bulletproof. I was finished packing in an hour.

I have had an office in “The Building Housing the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything” (Building 42, aka, home of the .NET Development Platform) since 2000. There was a break when I spent about a year in Building 41 from 2002-2003. But, I have called Building 42 home most my career though I have move offices five times within 42 alone.

My new home away from home will be in Building 17. The offices are bigger, the parking is probably a tad worse, and the nearest cafeteria could use a makeover — thankfully there are several others nearby to choose from. In terms of proximity, it is much closer to the Executive Briefing & Conference centers however it is much farther from the engineering teams back in 42 creating the products I market and home to many of my friends.

I’m going to miss 42. Road trip!

RC Release

What more fitting and proper way to end year one than an office move?

How about also shipping the Release Candidate (RC) of the primary product I have focused on during the past year? That’s right. ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 officially hit RC status today as well! Pretty cool. Mental note: Don’t attempt to ship a product while on vacation and during an office — the three are mutually exclusive.

/ / /

I could not have written a better script to the end of my first year and beginning of the next set of challenges and opportunities that await.

In the interest of full disclosure, we did experience a mini re-org back in October which included my return to people management as detailed in the October post. I did not change managers this year so I successfully avoided the dreaded trifecta.

There is always next year…

Tip: Opening Tabs and Tab Groups in Internet Explorer 7

So you have installed the latest version of Internet Explorer, IE7, and you are excited about the space-saving and navigational benefits of tabbed browsing. These tips are for you…

Quickly Opening Links in New Tabs

There are several ways to open links in tabs while browsing the Web, including:

  1. Click the “New Tab” placeholder on the tab toolbar (see the image below), copy & paste the new link into the address bar, hit Enter;
  2. Hold down the Ctrl key and left-click the link;
  3. Right-click on the link and choose “Open in New Tab;”
  4. Middle-click the link.

New Tab in IE7

My personal favorite is #4 since it is fast and requires a single action. It is about time the middle mouse button actually does something useful in IE7. (Middle-click works the same in Firefox as well.)

When I am reading a blog or article containing several external links, I middle-click on each link that interests me to launch it in a separate tab. After reading each topic I then close its tab and avoid the painfully slow click-read-back, click-read-back mambo. Middle-clicking anywhere on a tab closes it as well — no need to click the ‘X’.

Saving Tabs as Tab Groups

If you want to save the tabs you have opened in your current session for later viewing, you can choose “Add Tab Group to Favorites” from the “Favorites” menu. If you don’t want to clutter your Favorites or only want a one-time save, just close the browser and, when prompted, choose the option to open the same tabs/sites the next time you start IE under “Show Options” (see the animation below).

New Tab in IE7

Opening a tab group saved under Favorites requires a bit of work:

  1. Press Alt+C to open the “Favorites Center”
  2. Right-click on the folder containing the favorites you want to open as a group
  3. Choose “Open in Tab Group”

Hopefully the IE team will address this issue in a future release by allowing tab groups to be opened directly from the Favorites menu as well.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. 100 Years and Counting

One of my fraternity brothers (’06, Juan!) sent the following around to several of us today. This type of event only happens, well, every 100 years and I thought it worthwhile to share.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. - A Century of Leadership

Since its founding on December 4, 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has supplied voice and vision to the struggle of African-Americans and people of color around the world. Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African-Americans, was founded at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York by seven college men who recognized the need for a strong bond of Brotherhood among African descendants in this country. The visionary founders, known as the “Jewels” of the Fraternity, are Henry Arthur Callis, Charles Henry Chapman, Eugene Kinckle Jones, George Biddle Kelley, Nathaniel Allison Murray, Robert Harold Ogle, and Vertner Woodson Tandy.

The Fraternity initially served as a study and support group for minority students who faced racial prejudice, both educationally and socially, at Cornell. The Jewel founders and early leaders of the Fraternity succeeded in laying a firm foundation for Alpha Phi Alpha’s principles of scholarship, fellowship, good character, and the uplifting of humanity. Alpha Phi Alpha chapters were developed at other colleges and universities, many of them historically black institutions, soon after the founding at Cornell.

The fraternity expanded when a second chapter was chartered at Howard University in 1907.  Beginning in 1908, the Howard chapter became the prototype for six of the remaining eight members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Today, there are over 700 Alpha chapters in the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the West Indies.  While continuing to stress academic excellence among its members, Alpha also recognized the need to help correct the educational, economic, political, and social injustices faced by African-Americans.

Alpha Phi Alpha evolved into a service organization and has provided leadership and service during the Great Depression, World Wars, Civil Rights Movements, and addresses social issues such as apartheid and urban housing, and other economic, cultural, and political issues affecting people of color. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is a project of Alpha Phi Alpha and the fraternity jointly leads philanthropic programming initiatives with March of Dimes, Head Start, Boy Scouts of America and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Alpha Phi Alpha has long stood at the forefront of the African-American community’s fight for civil rights through leaders such as: W.E.B. Du Bois, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Edward Brooke, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young, William Gray, Paul Robeson, and numerous other American leaders are among the men who have lived the fraternity’s principles: Manly Deeds, Scholarship, and Love for All Mankind.

Today, December 4, 2006, marks 100 years of Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity, Inc. which stands as a shining, enduring example of something uplifting and inspiring in American history. OK, time for a commercial break…

When Alphas aren’t doing their thing academically and professionally, we like to have a good time like any other fraternal organization. In the spirit of “Alphas After Hours,” the following is a video of college bros from my undergraduate chapter (“Rheckless” Rho Nu) competing in a strolling** contest back in September. The final round, at the 5 minute point of the video, is filthy…they do a puppet master routine and literally flip a bro without missing a beat.

Now before you dismiss Alpha Phi Alpha as your average band of drinking, partying and unruly misogynists and miscreants; you should know the Rho Nu chapter spans MIT, Harvard and Tufts. Therefore, every person in that video is an above-average drinking, partying and unruly teacher, engineer, researcher, lawyer, doctor, business leader or slacker of tomorrow. OK, the occasional misogynist and miscreant does slip through. :ashamed: 

Happy Centennial Founder’s Day to all my fellow A-Phi-A bros around the world! Continue to move onward & upward toward The Light.


** – Strolling is a choreographed activity typically performed at college parties where fraternity (or sorority) members navigate a path from one end of the party to the other performing moves that showcase their fraternal pride, energy & creativity.

Strolling should not be confused with Stepping which usually is done on a stage, has much longer routines, involves elaborate uniforms & props, includes chanting and has lots of, ummm, stepping. Here is an example of a sorority stepshow.

Of course Alphas are the best strollers and steppers. Jamie Foxx, Carlos Santana, Ludacris and Cuba Gooding, Jr. all agree…see Alphas stepping for yourself.