Dan Appleman: Kibitzing and Commentary

My personal blog

A Pluralsight Campfire Tale

As one of the authors who has a course featured as one of the 36 Camp Pluralsight courses, I guess that makes me one of the camp counselors. And since it’s a camp, and this week’s challenge is sharing a story, it seems to me the perfect time for that age old camp tradition – telling stories by the campfire.
So gather up your blanket, grab your S’mores, and listen as I tell you about the terrible incident of the random cubicle, that happened RIGHT HERE AT CAMP.
It was shortly after he finished the course Careers in IT: How to Get Your First Job that he was assigned his first cubicle. He was thrilled to finally have his own stapler, and eagerly spent his first days connecting with his fellow employees using Practical Networking. He quickly became popular, well known for posting pictures of how his coworkers might look years from now using the skills he learned with Age Progression in Photoshop.
He may have lived out his career in happiness, had he not been injured one day during a Docker Deep Dive, shattering his little finger in the process. Swearing vengeance on the world for his painful Introduction to Virtualization, he became a developer.
It was then that workers became to quietly vanish, one by one. Developers who had built their skills taking C# Fundamentals with C# 5.0 were disposed of efficiently with IDisposable Best Practices for C# Developers. Even those who prepared to defend themselves with Tactical Design Patterns in .NET: Managing Responsibilities were quickly gulped into oblivion using JavaScript Build Automation with Gulp.js. Some tried to dodge his attacks using Agile Fundamentals, but they too fell parallel to the others into C# Concurrent Collections in the nearby graveyard.
Finally, nobody was left. Just an empty office, each cubicle silent, with dust building slowly on the desk and stapler within.
And you, here at camp, may think you’re safe sitting around the fire. But don’t be so sure. Not only is it dangerous to light a campfire in an office cubicle, but what you don’t know is that the killer, the one who caused everyone to vanish, started his path of mayhem in THIS VERY CUBICLE!
Run! Run! Your knowledge won’t help you now – it’s already become obsolete. Your only hope is to quickly take Learning Technology in the Information Age and maybe you’ll be able to find a different job in a different office for more money. At least until he, or someone like him, strikes again!

If Microsoft Ran The Economy

One of the major criticisms I’ve heard over the administration’s plan to regulate the financial industry is that it might “stifle innovation”. This puzzled me, as it seems excessive “innovation” is what got us into this recession in the first place. But if innovation in the financial industry is, in fact, a good thing – it seems logical that said industry should be run not by bankers, and not by government bureaucrats, but rather by an organization that has expertise in managing innovation. Following this logic one can’t help but wonder what the economy would be like if it were a Microsoft product….
There are no sub-prime loans in the Microsoft economy. Nothing sub-prime would ever be shipped. True, many customers would end up with version 1.0 loans that would occasionally run into problems – payments might mysteriously fail to get recorded or interest rates change without logical reason. But don’t worry – everyone could get their loan upgraded for a nominal cost when a new version comes out – refinancing would go smoothly for 99.5% of customers, only a small number would crash into spontaneous foreclosure.
Microsoft loans will come with legal agreements as long and incomprehensible as any we see today. And just like today, nobody would read them. Unlike today, it would never matter.
Derivatives and Credit Default Swaps
Microsoft has extensive experience creating incredibly complex products that almost nobody understands (COM, WCF, etc.), which makes it the ideal organization to take over the development and marketing of financial derivatives. However, unlike today’s financial products, Microsoft derivatives would undergo extensive testing both internally and through a massive pre-release beta and preview program to customers ranging from individuals to the largest banks.
With thousands of amateurs and experts able to download and examine every derivative and credit default swap before release, most potential problems will be discovered long before they are actually deployed. Sure, they will ship with some bugs, but the odds of bugs significant enough to crash the economy will be very small. Any such serious bugs discovered after release will be quickly patched using the Microsoft automatic update service for financial instruments, that will be included with every copy.
Executive Bonuses
Microsoft licenses products generally by machine or user. Microsoft doesn’t care if you are using Word to write a 3rd grade paper or a billion dollar contract, so it won’t care if a Microsoft fund has a thousand dollars or a trillion. From loans to hedge funds, once you’ve bought the product, there are no further charges (other than support or upgrade fees). Fees for financial products will be based on number of customers, but not the size of the product. Fees and costs will drop – and large bonuses and salaries will vanish. Of course Microsoft product managers will be paid a decent salary, and will have some company stock options that might become worth something someday. But the days of huge executive bonuses at institutions that are losing money will be over.
The overall economy
Our existing economy is a complex and bloated system with a long history of solid growth and productivity punctuated by booms and crashes. Microsoft Windows is also a complex and bloated system with a long history of solid growth and productivity punctuated by booms and crashes.
However, unlike the real economy, when the Windows run economy stutters, most of the time it can be fixed in short order with a quick reboot. Those rare crashes that occur are typically also solved by a reboot, and only occasionally need a complete reformat and restore.
Imagine an economy that can be rebooted in hours instead of years. One with extensive documentation and transparency as provided by MSFN (Microsoft Financial Network).
The mind boggles at the possibilities. The Bernie Madoff’s of the world would have no chance in an economy where dozens of vendors sell SAV (Securities anti-virus) software. Hundreds of thousands of developers will build financial products for the new economic system (run your own bank, publish your own credit card). And there would be no secrets – anything you ever wanted to know about the economy or any financial product or institution would be instantly available to view – on Google of course…

Microsoft + Yahoo = Microhoo?

Every now and then a news item comes by that I find just hysterical. Not so hysterical, mind you, that it couldn’t happen. But funny nonetheless.
I could not resist speculating on the consequences of a merger between Microsoft and Yahoo, to be named, I presume, Microhoo. First, the new company will need a logo, which will inevitably look something like this:

The advantages of such a merger is hard to deny. I can easily picture Steve Ballmer in a cowboy suit yelling “Microhoo!” in their T.V. commercials, while a chorus of CGI characters chant “where do you want to search today?”.
Frankly, it’s hard to see the benefits to Microsoft of such an arrangement, other than to provide the Office folks with a model for yet another completely new and incompatible user interface for Office 2009, this one with each application so full of custom user definable configurable widgets that the only thing missing will be space for the actual application content (not to mention the incorporation of annoying popup and layered adds that will appear on documents while you work on them).
The benefits to Yahoo, however, are undeniable and should strike terror into the execs at Google. With insight from Microsoft’s marketing folks, Yahoo will quickly be able to launch a new search service modeled after Microsoft’s product development techniques – one that is able to search sites that will not be launched for several years yet.
Will Googleclick (Google’s new name after purchasing DoubleClick) be able to use it’s total knowledge of the intimate details of every person’s life be able to overcome the challenge of Microhoo’s total control over every piece of computer hardware in the universe?
Only time will tell..