A few sorta random things I recall about some of my past memorable, unorthodox relationships, part #4

My relationship with Michelle Sinclair, formerly known as adult star Belladonna, was an interesting one. It really consisted of her finding interesting poses for pictures that we would take interesting, titillating portraits of. I admit that the pictures were all pretty much her creative ideas, although I found them to be a lot of fun. And each one topped the previous one for how wild it was.

The final pose she wanted to make was essentially a 69 where I was sitting in my iBOT 4000 upright and she was going to be upside down facing me. I didn’t let her do that particular pose because I was worried about her getting kicked out of the Adult Entertainment Expo for that particular pose so I suggested a tamer one instead….

On detection of Time Loss, and losing Audible Badges, and…

As I first mentioned back in blog posts like Audible’s badge model is fascinating to me…. the whole Audible badge model has always fascinated me..

Well, it is safe to say that I am over it now.

After seeing how Amazon and Audible don’t bother to keep track of the Badges or Achievements between platforms or devices or even between some upgrades/updates on a single device, it’s clear that there is no sincere corporate interest in maintaining the charade even if it really wouldn’t cost them very much to do so in the long run.

And so, in the spirit of huge companies that can simultaneously seem to care and fail to give a crap, here follows my rant….

Contrast with how much they care about keeping track of actual purchases of books 📚 and it’s obvious that they don’t mind making the illusion of Badges and Achievements a distant priority.

Not that I have any plans to stop reading any time soon, mind you, which may be why Amazon wouldn’t actually care in the long run.

However, with my multiple sclerosis induced simple partial seizures causing occasional time loss and confusion, the feature of allowing Audible to “Sleep” unless periodically awakened becomes an interesting way to keep from losing track of what I am reading while I am actually reading it, if you know what I mean.

It helps me keep my Time Loss issue under control, in fact.

How kind of them! ;-) (sarcasm kinda implied….)

Some of the pros and cons of a ‘slow motion layoff from Microsoft [while out on disability]’

aka Something Happened, redux..,,,

Have you ever been in a motor vehicle accident where you realized what was going to happen when it was too late to do anything about it except watch the situation unfold messily in front of you?

If your answer to this question is YES, them you know a lot about this last year for me….

I have been out on disability since the end of March 2014, but some time after I was out on disability I was made part of a RIF (Reduction In Force) for Microsoft. Unfortunately for both of us, a lot of the internal tools dealing with stock vesting rules, payroll, health insurance, life insurance, vacation time, and domestic partner data are not properly equipped for dealing with this [apparently?] uncommon scenario that I suppose was never properly tested.

Perhaps they should have given me an extra bonus for testing a scenario they didn’t have proper coverage of? ;-)

Anyhow, three weeks before the official separation associated with the RIF, I get email informing me that my next stock vesting will happen in six weeks. Hmmm….

One silver lining in all of this is they actually paid off all of my stock, both about to be vested and completely unvested. But that was something that actually surprised them.

The other good thing that happened is that the problem with my Microsoft ID that they broke when they turned off my old Blog on blogs.msdn.com that also made all Blogs on that site inaccessible to me reversed itself after the formal separation, bur since that was supposed to not be happening anyway, I guess that was another happy accident too.

Unfortunately my Windows 10 upgrade eligibility was lost that day as well, but I have been assured that it couldn’t possibly be happening, so it must not be, actually. Even though it is.

Similarly, that separation day had yet another consequence, not unlike the Windows 10 instant nonuprgadability. On that same day, my Microsoft Office 15 installation spontaneously found itself having subscription problems. I have been assured by Microsoft support that there is no way that this is possible, or that if it is happening that it is not intentional, and that if it is intentional then it not technically licensed anyway.

At this point I gave up on getting any answers from Microsoft support. The contortions of the non explanation of an explanation kinda proved themselves their own sort of logic. Microsoft style logic, but I guess I can spend a couple of licenses to revalidate what my formal separation has [apparently?] invalidated.

Oh well. And le sigh….

A few sorta random things I recall about some of my past memorable, unorthodox relationships, part #3

Feel free as with the blog post yesterday and the one the day before to ignore all or part of this blog post which is entirely off topic by any reasonable standard….

Today’s blog post, unlike the previous two blog posts, is not based on a specific romantic relationship. It is more based on an interesting career shift that led to several unique opportunities and the chance to play a small role in a movie that technically led to me having a Bacon Number of THREE.

I will start with some of the blogging and talking that I had been doing for a long time about accessibility, both within Microsoft and basically everywhere (by which I mean EVERYWHERE, by the way!).

It led to an interesting invitation to a conference happening in Las Vegas at the same time as CES (the Consumer Electronics Show), known as AEE (the Adult Entertainment Expo). It was basically a techie working for an adult movie company looking at the future needs related to accessibility standards for movies (both DVDs and online). He wanted to know if I could stop by the AEE when I was at CES anyway so I could talk about accessibility with him.

I broke the news to him that I hadn’t been to CES in years. Although surprised, he quickly offered a trade show pass for AEE as well as hotel/travel/meal coverage, if I was willing to meet with him.

Now I should pause to explain the rules about moonlighting for Microsoft employees, since I clearly wouldn’t be doing this on behalf of Microsoft. The rules are pretty simple:

• I should not claim to represent Microsoft in any way whatsoever, and

• I should not be distracted from any of my work for Microsoft that would cause me to “lose focus”, and

• I should not be in competition with any project or product or group within Microsoft, including MCS (Microsoft Consulting Services).

All of this was simple enough to do, and I had several great meetings every morning of the conference, after which I spent time meeting many different stars in the industry, as well as several production company owners and directors.

It culminated in my meeting Faye Reagan (originally her name was Faye Jillian Henning, something I learned from her before the pornwikileaks scandal told everyone), several tricks with her on my lap atop the iBOT 4000, a seat at the Girlfriends Films table on the floor of the AVN awards, and eventually a role as Faye Reagan’s fiancé with KC Kelly as my mother who she has an affair with in a movie!

Now I’ve seen her several times since then and she has consistently introduced me as her “faux fiancé”. ;-)

And I have worked with several different companies on ways to integrate subtitles, captions, and dubbing into DVD and online content, always using open source technologies that have nothing to do with any of the work that I have ever done for Microsoft….

My “relationship” with Faye Reagan wasn’t technically a real one, although I will always remember that time of my life fondly….


A few sorta random things I recall about some of my past memorable, unorthodox relationships, part #2

Feel free as with the blog post yesterday to ignore all or part of this blog post which is entirely off topic by any reasonable standard….

Fast forward a few years, and I was now working as president of Trigeminal Software and aa a contract developer for Microsoft. The year was 1999 and I was making a great living doing Y2K reviews/repairs for companies other than Microsoft and many of the Microsoft contracts that I blogged about here and here.

Then I decided that having a grown up job really ought to go along with grown up things like a corporate logo and a slightly more impressive website than the one that I had up that was authored in Notepad.

I hired a designer to do both and she did an excellent job that I was quite pleased with and I asked her if she wanted to be my webmaster and take formal named credit for the work and such.

I should mention at this point that we hadn’t even met in person.

She stopped me, admitted that she had previously worked as an adult film star, and expressed concerned that her past might affect my company’s reputation or Microsoft’s.

She obviously didn’t understand how the geek subculture worked.  ;-)

But we compromised by having her take the job as my Webmistress and she even created a small avatar for the site while she held the job:

She also gave me the cool binary geek background image:

or the version of the logo with the pronunciation (confusion about that has always been a problem for non medical clients, including Microsoft):

Eventually we met and shortly afterwards started dating/having a kinda romantic relationship. Once again I was exposed to an entirely different viewpoint of the world that I found utterly fascinating, and I also learned how unrealistic sex actually is in an adult film — not just for people outside the industry (which I already knew myself from my own experience!)  but for people inside it as well.

I recently blogged about this relationship here.

A small number of people at Microsoft knew about it and about the autographed movie poster hanging on the wall in my office there. I don’t think most people even realized it…. ;-)

I am not including the poster here because her name and likeness is nobody else’s business!

Additionally, a speaking gig in Amsterdam for SDGN (Software Development Group Netherlands) where a few of my colleagues wanted to search for a copy of one of her movies, which I adamantly refused to watch on principle even if we did find it (thankfully, we didn’t).

Eventually, we parted ways and for a short while I wouldn’t need to travel to southern California quite so regularly, though I got past that eventually (a topic for another blog post on another day!).

A few sorta random things I recall about some of my past memorable, unorthodox relationships, part #1

Feel free to ignore all or part of this blog post which is entirely off topic by any reasonable standard….

It all started with Valerie, the physical therapist in training who was working as a dancer when I lived in Columbus (previously mentioned in Stripping is an interesting job (aka On the meaning of meaningless, aka All Mn characters are non-spacing, but some are more non-spacing than others)) if you are curious….

I have had many people ask me over the years to fill in more of the story here, thus explaining the raison d’être of this very blog post….

The reason why my friends and I happened to be there is that one of us was getting over a recent breakup and had been inspired by the episode of Friends where Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) was inspired to go to a strip club for the very same reason.

The club had discoverable rules like customers could touch dancers but the vice versa was not true, and that customers were encouraged to buy the dancers drinks 🍸 that were *very* watered down and mostly split between the dancer and the club while at the same time to drink lots themselves within reason.

I was kinda amused by the whole charade that was being played out and when Val asked me what was so funny and I explained why, she was herself amused by my insight into what was going on, asking me more questions about myself and so forth.

I learned that she was going to school to be a physical therapist and when I explained that I was doing transcription for some neurologists and neurosurgeons who often ordered physical therapy she loved the double entendres like “work hardening” and “using gait belts on each other” that made us laugh while everyone else thought that we were crazy…

I still have a few gait belts from that wild time, you know? ;-)  We ended up breaking the rules and going out for several months outside of the club, while occasionally having as much fun as we dared *inside* the club without getting me kicked out or her fired. I even learned how she could dance for someone else while “aiming” it at me, some times to tease me and other times to frustrate me and make going home with each other later even more exciting. Sometimes I would have another lady dance for me and play the same game with Val too, with the other dancer our unindicted co-conspirator in this game we were playing with each other.

I learned a lot about not having to feel jealous and how to use those who were around us to express our own feelings for each other and enjoying ourselves the whole time.

When we finally *did* move on, it was on really good terms (now that I think about it better terms than usual!), with the following rule: as soon as one of us could dance with someone else and not have it be about each other, we would move on.

And eventually we did so, although I did attend her graduation months later and we had one last wild night to fuel our imaginations of this unorthodox relationship we shared…. ;-)

More sustainable translation in movies, like in ‘Sushi – The Global Catch’

It starts with a movie with an agenda, something common on Pivot.TV.

Sushi – The Global Catch

Now I am or at least used to be much more about the Saki than the sushi or sashimi.

You can think of it as an exercise in forensic localization, trying to determine the intended source and target languages.

It is easy in cases like this:

But it is much more complicated in other cases.

It seriously contrasts embedded subtitles like in Japanese and Polish versus captions like in Australian English, Californian English, Canadian English, and Texan English.

The easiest way to see the difference is to look at the Japanese people speaking English for JAL vs. Japanese people speaking English otherwise.

Clearly they are contrasting what they think are mutually intelligible language speakers.

Now speaking personally, I find having them both turned on to be pretty distracting, but I think many people might find it easy to understand, especially if it is what they are used to seeing.

The movie will be on Pivot.TV once again tonight for those who may be interested….

A thoughtful pause for the Demise of the (never shipped rev. of the) Microsoft Office Assistant that some called Nazi Pup

Just for the record, I’m not claiming that it was a conspiracy really.

It just turned out that the various animations and looks in various directions and ways to point in various directions at different things that so many might have found to be endearing caused some responsible program managers I respect to feel genuine concern.

Most refused to acknowledge that there was a problem, as those in denial often dig in their heels.

Until one day, one of those responsible program managers sent a specific ActiveX script to someone at Microsoft PR.

Super Pup was neutered within days. And neutered with extreme prejudice, if you catch my drift.

It was my pleasure to be able to help in the small way that I was able to.

The bulk of the rest of this blog post is cobbled together VB and VBSript pieces of code that cannot run unless you have a lot of references you can’t have and have a bunch of stuff installed that won’t recreate the problem.

Instead, I am going to rely on your memory of the Office Assistant and your imagination of what it might have been able to do if certain steps hadn’t been taken to assure the neutering of Super^H^H^H^H^H Nazi Pup….

char.play “Acknowledge ‘ acknowledges something
char.play “Alert” ‘ looks alert
char.play “Blink” ‘ blinks
char.play “Confused” ‘ looks confused
char.play “Decline” ‘ declines something
char.play “DontRecognize” ‘ looks like he doesn’t recognize something
char.play “Hearing_1” ‘ looks like he is listening (left)
char.play “Hearing_2” ‘ looks like he is listening (right)
char.play “Hearing_3” ‘ looks like he is listening (both sides)
char.play “Hearing_4” ‘ looks like he is listening
char.play “Pleased” ‘ looks pleased
char.play “Sad” ‘ looks sad
char.play “Surprised” ‘ looks surprised
char.play “Uncertain” ‘ looks uncertain


char.play “GestureUp” ‘Gestures Up
char.play “GestureRight” ‘Gestures Right
char.play “GestureLeft” ‘Gestures Left
char.play “GestureDown” ‘Gestures Down
char.play “Explain” ‘Explains Something
char.play “GetAttention” ‘Gets the users attention
char.play “Greet” ‘Greets the User
char.play “Announce” ‘Announces something
char.play “Congratulate_1” ‘Congratulates user
char.play “Congratulate_2” ‘Congratulates user
char.play “DoMagic1” ‘Does Magic
char.play “DoMagic2” ‘Does Magic
char.play “StartListening” ‘Starts Listening
char.play “StopListening” ‘Stops Listening
char.play “Think” ‘Makes him look like he is thinking
char.play “Blink” ‘Makes him blink his eyes


char.play “LookDown” ‘Looks Down
char.play “LookDownBlink” ‘Looks and Blinks
char.play “LookDownReturn” ‘Stops looking and returns to rest pose
char.play “LookUp” ‘Looks Up
char.play “LookUpBlink” ‘Looks and Blinks
char.play “LookUpReturn” ‘Stops looking and returns to rest pose
char.play “LookRight” ‘Looks to the Right
char.play “LookRightBlink” ‘Looks and Blinks
char.play “LookRightReturn” Stops looking and returns to rest pose
char.play “LookLeft” ‘Looks to the Left
char.play “LookLeftBlink” ‘Looks and Blinks
char.play “LookLeftReturn” ‘Stops looking and returns to rest

Never underestimate the power of Microsoft PR (Public Relations), much greater overall than the power of Microsoft HR (Human Resources) and Microsoft LCA (Legal and Corporate Affairs).

Or the power of a really effective animation created by a very creative program manager with a little help from a wily lowly contract developer with some might say too time on his hands.

And now you too know the story, thanks to the expiration of NDAs of former contract developers…. ;-)

It was almost 10⅓ years ago when I blogged about a ‘Red Screen of Death’ aka RSoD, and…

As the title indicates, it was > 10 years and < 4 months ago when I blogged about an RSoD.

I should set the scene.

A former colleague of mine had what he believed to be a great way to remove a small chunk of the NLS registry keys/values that we no longer used and which seemed needlessly redundant.

My response was, “No, it would be a bad idea.”

He seemed nonplused by my lack of enthusiasm since this was going to be Longhorn, and reducing needless registry bloat was everyone’s responsibility.

“It has been there since Windows NT 3.1,” I insisted, “so someone is depending on it, even if we aren’t anymore.”

He didn’t want to check with Bryan. Or Rob. Or Neill. Or Jamie. He just wanted to try to build and install a copy of Longhorn that was without that chunk of registry.

Pleas about customer dependence and backwards compatibility were also ignored. He was going to do it.

The result was a little bit of recovered art, as shown below:

And him admitting that I was right. Epically so, in fact.

The errors in his thought process and a BBSpot article about the next 25 years of Windows led to the blog post Longhorn on Virtual PC 2004 dated May 7th, 2005.

This error in my decision making process led to

• a minor Microsoft PR gaffe based on a /. article inspired by Joi Ito;

• a Microsoft HR person putting me on paid administrative leave for a week while they decided if my Blog should survive;

• a VP named Brian, my manager’s manager’s manager’s manager  reportedly asking was there any reason to not fire me;

• being reprimanded for the error by my manager’s manager’s manager for the PR snafu atop the negative Longhorn press already building, but recommending that the Red Screen of Death blog post not be removed;

• someone from LCA sending me email informing me that I was in violation of the beta by posting that particular screenshot.

Lesson learned, until another blog post many years later.

Looking back at the old blog post retrospectively, I will concede that I made Longhorn a punch line joke for a brief news cycle, but it was many  other more powerful people who made both Longhorn and Vista jokes for many years. I am not really the villain in this story…. ;-)

I guess it turns out I -was- Bad Attrition after all, to -some- folks at Microsoft, at least! ;-)

Today’s blog post will start with an introduction, one about the four basic types of projects at Microsoft:

1) ones that are considered strategic to Microsoft’s strategies;

2) ones that are considered important to Microsoft’s goals;

3)ones that are merely considered to be interesting to Microsoft;

4) ones about which Microsoft doesn’t really give even a lone rat’s ass.

And there are really no other kinds of projects, from Microsoft’s point of view.

Obviously, some people would accuse me of vastly oversimplifying the situation. But what list on the Internet is not guilty of such a misdemeanor as providing some simplifying assumptions to make the overall narrative easier to describe and explain?

Another issue that is almost Microsoft policy is that it has the resources to make huge mistakes and yet be able to recover from them.

And finally, Microsoft is often forced to recategorize a project after a mistake is finally realized. You can probably realize the vast number of times that such a recategorization has happened in the past.

For example:

• how many times has Microsoft had a great idea but jumped into it too early?

• how many times have they won a market but not realized its true potential so that a competitor could rush in and clean their clocks?

• how many times has Microsoft been right but failed in the actual implementation to provide a compelling solution so that a competitor could sweep in with something better?

• how many times have they taken the lessons of one successful project and assumed [incorrectly] that they would apply to another?

• how many times have they just been completely wrong?

• how many times have mistakes in licensing or other reimbursement methods led others to vault past them by simply appearing less greedy (whether or not they actually in fact were)?

• how many times they got it right but that same “maximize the profits” mentality takes literally years to overcome?

You get the idea. In fact, I’m sure you can think of exact projects that fell into each of these buckets and more.

Whether it is EAI or IDN or MSKLC or font subletting or any of the other things about which I blather, I often wonder how much money they plan to burn through before they get it.

Then there was just as the most recent example the msg that I got the other day, just after I was laid off but before I lost my MSFT email account:

Hi Michael,

Nice to see your latest blog posts on MSKLC. Windows 10 has shipped, of course, and now is the time to try to plug for an update to MSKLC.
We’re all about being data driven here, and the current tide is moving toward more focused language support rather than thinking broadly. So I’m particularly interested to look for ways to justify the 1.5 or 2.0 version of MSKLC with numbers. You have often quoted 2M downloads. Is that a number you got from the DL center folks. I’d like to be able to point to that as a metric for investment here. I expect I should be able to pull a current number for that.

 Also of interest would be applications of MSKLC in EDU or Enterprise environments where people are extending the keyboard for English or other major markets.

I realized that some people at Microsoft understand that there are things that people ought to pay attention to, who are trying to find some argument to get things done. And they are asking me.

Suddenly I realize that my larger goal, to be thought of by some of those at Microsoft who I respect to be what those who speak fluent HR’ese would call ***Bad attrition***.

Because as they search for answers to questions that

• I can answer (but they never asked before the RIF);

• I *have* answered in a Blog that they fought to shut down;

that I WAS bad attrition, whether the Powers That Be™ at Microsoft realize it or not.

Oh well. Maybe there is a way they can get me some consulting hours to make up for their lapses. Or they could just read this Blog! ;-)

A blog about all the things that the old Blog was about!