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Whistle while you work

I got back to Seattle on Thursday night, only to find that I couldn’t actually get all the way home due to ice on the roads. I had to park my car a block and a half away in a nearby parking lot because the snow (!) that fell on Wednesday had been packed down and subsequently frozen into a solid sheet of ice. What is with this year’s weather anyway? Snow, ice, wind, torrential rain, gale-force winds, more snow, more ice — what’s next?!
Anyway, as far as work goes, MacWorld was pretty good this year. I met a number of interesting folks in the Microsoft Blogger Lounge and answered a ton of questions over at the main Microsoft booth. Apparently I’m a “docile developer” — I’m glad that Brandon liked the personal tech support. On Tuesday evening I got to chat with Jacqui Cheng of Ars Technica at the Microsoft Press Party. Apparently Jade had wandered off to someother event so I didn’t get to experience the full snark effect, but Jacqui and her friend Herschell (sp?) were quite pleasant to talk to. I’ve been following a few threads on the Ars Macintosh forum, where a few commenters insist on dragging the MacBU through the mud as often as they can (and you can see a few of their comments on some of my other posts here). Somehow Jacqui and I got to talking about the perceptions you get as you scan people’s comments. So many of them are negative that it is easy to get kinda down about blogging. I mean, who really wants to share some personal insights only to get cursed out all the time? It’s a little odd, but most of the positive comments I get are sent to me in private email, whereas the people who have some issue or complaint about me or the MacBU usually post public comments (dare I call them diatribes, at times?). Jacqui said she’s noted the same thing with her columns on Ars. I wonder why that is? Are there any human behaviorists reading this who care to hazard a guess?
On Wednesday at the Blogger Lounge I spent a long time talking with Eric Albert, a former Microsoft employee (although not with the MacBU) who’s now been involved with development on both the Intel Macs and the new iPhone. We chatted about the development of Xcode, including his perceptions of how easily 3rd party (ie, non-Apple) developers would be able to switch their codebases to it (hint — not as easily as Steve Jobs said!) and the various experiences we’ve both had with various chip and system architectures. I asked him about working on the iPhone, and aside from the normal “I can’t tell you that” sorts of stuff, it sounds pretty cool. He had some funny anecdotes to share about the secrecy involved, including having to stand guard around the demo model with his coat flared out for privacy at 5 or 6am the morning of the keynote as someone else ran through the demo to ensure it worked! (Here you can see Eric chatting with Nadyne and myself. I’m in the center wearing black with the yellow Office logo all over my shirt, Nadyne the red-haired woman to my left, and Eric is facing us wearing a grey shirt.)
Oh, and I’d like to welcome all you Macintouch and MacFixIt readers — it seems that my post on VB is making the rounds again. I guess that will be my 15 minutes of Internet fame, doled out in little bits a month or so at a time. Some of the comments I’ve seen recently about Office 2008 wonder why we didn’t demo much in the booth at MacWorld. I’m not in any position to answer that, but I do know there’s a lot more to Office 2008 than you’ve seen. There are a bunch of screenshots that show visuals for features we haven’t demoed publicly yet. By the way, all those rows of buttons in the Elements Gallery collapse — they are only expanded while you are working in the EG, so it doesn’t take up so much screen real estate on a permanent basis. I’ve asked some folks in MacBU to get a screenshot of the default state so you can see the difference. In the meantime, AppleInsider has a few rough camera shots from our booth demo that show the EG in a collapsed state.
So beyond all that, what’s up? Lots more coding at work. My manager and I got a large new chunk of code to link on Friday that we’ve been working on for several weeks, and that removes the block on the Excel converter work I’m scheduled to do next. I’ve got some work to do on integrating Cocoa nibs into our localization process, so that we can apply localization transforms to them automatically, rather than doing them by hand each time the English nib changes, which in turn lets us autogenerate a complete localized build every day (something that we haven’t had working for the internal builds yet this cycle, yeesh!)
Ok, I’d better go to sleep so I can get something done tomorrow. If you hear me whistling on the bus tomorrow morning, say hi!

7 replies on “Whistle while you work”

I’d guess that people positive about you and your comments want to get to know you personally without exposing themselves to the same crap you get from the nay-sayers. The negative posters are more interested in showing off publicly: they think almost eveyone believes what hey do so they’ll get plaudits and public acknowledgment from slamming you publicly. Even if it’s genuine (they have suffered from a real bug), they hope hundreds will join in.
There are surely a few positive commenters who want others to know how they feel. But most aren’t interested in either appreciation or condemnation, nor in being well-known or notorious. They just want to tell you what they appreciate, without drawing attention to themselves. (The equivalent people on the negative side won’t write about it at all: to write you privately slamming you would be too uncomfortable.)

Since you mentioned your VB post and the ongoing response to it, I wonder if you might provide an update about the response you got to your “suggestion box” post of August 10th (“So tell us what you want”).
I’m not a techie, but it seems a lot of good suggestions were offered — RealBASIC integration, open sourcing VBA, etc. Are any of them being considered? Are the decisions preventing their implementation technical or corporate?
It seems that an awful lot of the negative “mojo” you’ve experienced lately has centered around this particular cross-platform issue. Also, I suspect the heightened competitive tensions between Apple and MS (e.g. Apple’s anti-PC advertising and Vista’s anti-virtualization EULA restrictions) have spilled onto MBU. Unfairly, I agree, but an unfortunate fact.
With all this as a backdrop, some update and an indication that MBU is responding to customer input on VBA in a practical way might help alleviate some of the angst.
P.S. for the record, I’m a big MacOffice fan, having bought every version since Office 2k1 out out my own pocket. I don’t really care about VB — it’s not an issue at my workplace. I do, however, care deeply about cross-platform compatibility.
Office is still a very important product for the Mac, and my biggest concern as a Mac user is that Office might be limited as a response to competition with Apple on the rest of the Redmond campus, rather than technical or business reasons.
Please give post an update on the suggestions you received and what, if any, you are looking at implementing.
Thanks

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