Monthly Archives: January 2006

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IIS may be Microsoft’s most important product

I’ve been asked a couple of times why I accepted a position working with IIS 7. Someone even quipped that I took it because it was the only job that Microsoft offered me. Quite honestly, if I had my druthers, I would still love to join this team. Obviously, some people can’t understand the importance of this product. This post will serve as the formal answer to the inquiries about my upcoming role.

I believe in my heart that IIS could possibly be the most important product in Microsoft’s arsenal today. If you blindly accept this hypothesis, you need not read any further. However, if the need to provide some supporting evidence to my assertion haunts your dreams, go ahead and finish reading this post before you lay your head on the pillow tonight.

In the book, Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, the authors overtly opine that information is one of the most powerful tools in today’s age. One example given by the duo is that of the ruin of the Ku Klux Klan after WWII. Once the war was over, the “Klan” had started to regain their footing. Stetson Kennedy infiltrated the group and exposed all of their secrets to a popular radio program at the time — Superman. This turned the upsurge in Klan membership on its ugly hooded ear. The book demonstrates time and time again that sunlight is, indeed, the greatest disinfectant.

The proliferation of data in the “information age” is one of my favorite bi-products, or perhaps, the purpose of my very career field. Software applications seek to provide information in a concise form that makes sense to data consumers. Websites such as and provide data that prevents the lay-folk from being ripped off in the same or purchase of a home or car, respectively. Sites such as and provide us with reasonable and free research — and in the case of the later, people actually volunteer their time to build on that knowledge. I have to admit that I am addicted to information. In an instant, I can be searching for stock quotes, searching for health information, getting the latest news headlines, or just reading blogs at any given moment. I can access information on my smart phone, my tablet pc, my notebooks or any number of desktop machines at home. There are even refridgerators with web browsers in them now!

Yes, information is important. But getting information out there in an efficient, reliable, and secure way is the key. I have watched IIS grow from a simple application-level server that leaked memory like crazy and provided a million security vulnerabilities while provided basic database/index server query capabilities (HTX/IDC and IDA/IDQ), to a mixture of kernel-mode listeners and intricate inter-process operations that serve up millions of pages of dynamic information and object requests in a secure environment as though it was bored to tears. The information this product serves up, for the most part, is pure gold and it already does it so well. IIS is, indeed, improving with each and every release.

Some may say the success of IIS is why they question my joining the team. “What else could you possibly do with that product”. While I’m not going to be a developer for IIS 7, I do cherish the opportunity to leave my ideas at the desk of those that can at least consider just what I think can be improved. Depending on what survey you read, Microsoft’s market share of the web server space has plenty of room for improvement. In fact, since the .COM bust, it appears that IIS 7 has been losing its market share. But obviously, market share isn’t everything: “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his soul?” So what else is there? How about increased security and anti-fraud mechanisms? Dissemination of information is only as good as the information being purveyed. Sure IE 7 is going to take up some of the slack here. But couldn’t IIS 7 also provide some of this capability as well? Couldn’t it help protect against spoof sites? Perhaps a combination of IE 7 and IIS 7 would help scuttle the whole phishing business all together.

As I stated in my previous post, I have a million ideas, and at times, I’m overwhelmed with what to do with them. I’m hoping to pour some of this emotion into a product, and I cannot see a better product to be a part of — in whatever capacity I can be of use.

I hope this satisfies some of your curiosity. Thanks for listening.

Tobin.Swallow( Pills.Red );

Doing a google search for “red pill” and microsoft today yielded 55,700 hits. That same search on MSN search yields 14,433. This term, and other variations, are often used on blogs when someone takes a job at Microsoft. I would be naive to think that all of those hits are new employee announcements, but with these sort of numbers, I might have to buy some stock in a red-pill-manufacturing pharmaceutical company. This particular post will increase the count on those searches by 1 and will be counted among the many search hits that ARE about taking a Microsoft job.

Its my pleasure to announce that I will be packing up and moving to the Redmond, WA area to take a position with Microsoft sometime at the beginning of March. The exact date hasn’t been chosen yet but the offer has been made and accepted.

As many of you know, I’ve been running my own business. Things are great. I’m finishing up a contract with IPSwitch in February. I’ve been talking with Mark Dunn about doing some developer training for his company. I have more contracts being offered to me and really, the business is doing fantasitc. So why drop it to go be an employee again? The ideas are too numerous to list but I’ll try to give you the highlights.

First off, my entire career has been built around Microsoft. I started coding on an ATARI-800XL in Microsoft BASIC when I was in 5th grade. I’ve used Microsoft development technologies almost exclusively in my life. To be a part of the worlds largest and most successful software company is a great opportunity.

Second, I have ideas — a LOT of ideas. Anyone that has known me for any length of time knows that I am constantly coming up with ideas only to see someone else implement them months or years later. Being a one-man shop makes it very difficult to see those ideas through. Being at Microsoft, I will be able to have that satisfaction of giving my feedback to a company that can debate these ideas, improve/revamp them, and implement them if I’m lucky enough. I know this will happen because Microsoft Learning has consistently listened to and implemented advice that I’ve given on the developer certification exams.

Third, I LOVE soda.

Fourth, the team I met was fantastic. I have always wanted to work among the best and the brightest. While I don’t really fit that category, I’ll likely be mistaken for being smart just for working there. Its not just the folks working at Microsoft either. A recent census bureau survey showed that Seattle was the most-educated city in the US — with a majority (51.3%) of the population holding bachelor’s degrees!

Fifth, the area is absolutely beautiful and inspiring. In Charlotte, when a developer buys land to build houses, they completely strip the trees on the entire lay of the land, and start plopping down houses. If you get a chance, go check out Virtual Earth and pan around with the “birds eye view“. You’ll see that there are trees everywhere — making it a very attractive area. On top of that, you add boating in the sound, hiking in the mountains, and one of the best downtown areas in the country. There’s a lot to do and see.

Lastly, the benefits are great. Ask any employee what they think about the benifits at Microsoft and they will tell you that they are beyond comparison. I make a great living working for myself, and no company can beat this as a non-partner/full time employee. That said, Microsoft’s total package of compensation w/benefits is pretty competitive to other full time positions.

Overall, I can’t wait to get started. I’m looking forward to diving in torso first. Look out Redmond — here I come!

Sirius-ly paying for radio

I’ve been an XM listener for a about a year. When I bought my XM, however, I said that I felt that Sirius would be the overall victor in the race for the best programming. There is going to be a long debate about whether Sirius or XM has already or will win that race any time soon. The choice couldn’t be any clearer for me though. I went out and bought a Sirius radio tonight. That means I’ll be paying about $26 a month for radio — both XM and Sirius. So why pay for radio? Mostly because I travel a lot and need to be entertained to avoid taking a mid-freeway nap. Anyone else paying for both radios? Anyone have a preference yet? I know Bill is paying for more XM subscriptions than the entire west coast but hasn’t sprung for one Sirius subscription yet.

MVP Award

I just got an email today stating that I was awarded a Microsoft MVP award. This is an honor. In the past, this award was mainly given to the folks who posted a ton of replies to forums and newsgroups (whether the responses were right or wrong). Microsoft has made a shift to try to reward people who do a lot of local work too. I’ve been highly involved with the local code camps, user groups and the like. I’m very excited to receive this award and I look forward to continuing participation in the year ahead.

Tuesday, January 17th – Greenville .NET user group

I’ve been having a blast presenting the latest and greatest Microsoft development tools and technologies to the entire state of South Carolina. In October, I was asked at the last minute to give a presentation on the new features of ASP.NET 2.0 to the Columbia, South Carolina .NET user group. In November, I had the pleasure of presenting Visual Studio 2005 Team System to the Greenville, SC user group. I ended the year doing ASP.NET 2.0 again for the Charleston .NET user group in December. I’ll be continuing this tour by presenting ASP.NET 2.0 to the Greenville .NET user group meeting this month. If you are interested in learning about some of the newest and best features of ASP.NET 2.0, come on out and visit the guild. We’d be glad to have you out.

RFID-proof wallet!

When the anthrax scares popped up some time after the attacks on the world trade center, our nation was astonished to find that all of our biological concerns could be solved with plastic sheeting and — duct tape. Duct tape is like a modern day snake oil — its great for everything. So when I read today that you could block RFID intrusion with it, I wasn’t the least bit suprised

I carry a couple of security cards in my wallet that use RFID tags. While these tags make it easy for me to gain access to sites which I’ve been given access to, its an increasing security risk to cary these things in your wallet. Let’s hear it for duct tape bringing us peace of mind once again!