A Better Way to Search MSDN

I have previously ranted about the Search capabilities of MSDN, so I decided to try and do something about it. I have created a Smart Search for MSDN page, which modifies a search engine query to greatly improve the hit rate. Well, at least it works for me: I tried all of the bad examples from…


What does "pdb is obsolete" really mean?

If your Visual Studio debugger says this to you, it either means Your PDB really is obsolete Your debugger is obsolete 1. It gets expensive in terms of testing and (sometimes) development to read every single old PDB format, so with each release the C++ team determine what is the oldest PDB they can read…


Microsoft Product Names: How They Are Chosen I Wonder?

There is a great interview on PVRBlog with the creator of the TiVo name and mascot. It describes the process by which the names were whittled down and decided on. Although I have no clue how this process actually works at Microsoft, here is how I think it might for one of our products: Tech…


Class Action Lawsuits: What a Waste of Time!

I just got an email announcing a settlement for a Netflix class action lawsuit. If I sign up, I get one extra DVD in my rental queue, for one month. Woop de woo. I’m dancing in my chair. If I read the settlement right, I see the defendent gets $2000, and the defendent’s lawyer gets $2,528,000….


Need Two Camera Baby Monitor

I am pleased to announce that early next year there will be a new member of the Pennell family. This is of course a time of joy, not least of which because I get to buy some more gear. Specifically I need a baby monitor that supports two cameras. As far as I can tell,…


What am I working on? iHD, that’s what

So what have I been working on that I haven’t been able to blog about? iHD, that’s what! Its the interactivity layer for the next generation DVD format, and I’m really excited by HD-DVD, with its greatly improved picture quality, capacity, and of course interactivity. Now that Microsoft has officially announced our position, I can…


Places where software should never fail: Your Dentists

There are certain places where software should never fail. Obvious ones like aircraft, missile control systems etc. Well here’s a new one: when you are lying in a dentist’s chair, mouth wired up, with a tooth freshly dremeled away, and the dentist and his assistant are staring, speechless, at their special PC’s screen. This was…


Shock! Horror! Microsoft release usable keyboards!

Many of us at Microsoft have hated our own keyboards for a number of years. I personally am a natural keyboard fan, and I hoarded the original “good” Natural Keyboard and the only decent follow-up, the Natural Keyboard Pro. Since these great keyboards were produced, the MS keyboards went downhill fast for me. The first…


10 Years at Microsoft

I started at Microsoft the day after Labour Day, 1995 (which I soon learned was spelled Labor Day). This was about a week after the Windows 95 launch, so things were still pretty crazy on campus. It took years for the football (er, soccer) fields to recover from that, and in recent years the turf…


10 Years in the USA

When I arrived here, ten years ago today:I was singleI was childlessI had lived in tiny house in Milton Keynes, EnglandThat house contained no actual PCs, but it did have a computer with a 1200 baud modemI had two email accounts (on BIX and CIX)I had recently owned a right hand drive carI had worked…