You snooze, you lose

Like most companies, Microsoft has an in-house “newspaper”.  In our case, it’s called the “MicroNews”.  It’s been published weekly every week since I started (I remember one of the articles in the first one I got was announcing that Microsoft had finally gotten large enough to fully occupy the Northup Way building).  It has the usual corporate PR stuff, birth and wedding announcements, pieces about interesting things that employees are doing (there’s a production of The Importance of Being Earnest starting next week on campus, for example).  Basically the same stuff you’d expect in a in-house newspaper.

At some point, a number of the employees at Microsoft decided that the MicroNews was too boring, so they came up with an “alternate” version, called the MicroSnooze.  The Microsnooze was where you got the REAL information about what was happening at Microsoft.  You had articles announcing the new Microsoft shuttle buses (the campus had gotten so large that we were using dirigibles).  It’s also where you discovered the REAL story behind the name Microsoft Windows (We were going to call it Doors, but someone lost the key). 

One of my co-workers  was nice enough to drop by a copy of the ‘snooz from 1995.  In it, you find:

            Lengthy Court Battles Expected as Microsoft Sues Itself – a report on Microsoft suing itself in district court, complete with quotes from “Very Senior Corporate Attorney Drew Blank”.
            New Consumer Title Offers Support, Reassurance – a report on Microsoft Mom™.
            An announcement that Microsoft is giving away a corporate Vice Presidency in a United Way raffle.

And the following letter to the editor:

listen to me!
all over the company people are looking for ways to reduce waste, both to save costs and lessen environmental impacts.  however, one of the most conspicuous forms of waste is staring us right in the face.  i mean, of course, excess use of capital letters.

it’s a fact that most of our senior executives already know – capital letters are largely unnecessary, since they tend to duplicate information that’s already expressed adequately via punctuation, capital letters use extra toner when printed, and contribute significantly to the incidence of repetitive stress injuries.

most importantly, capital letters use substantially more monitor energy than their lower case counterparts (on average 1.8 times the amount, weighting the average for character distribution in english).  consider the following: on my 15-inch monitor, I have an average of 141 capital letters on my display at any given time.  computing this based on a nine-hour work day, five days a week per employee (conservative for the typical microsoft employee), and factoring in what microsoft pays puget power per kilowatt-hour in its redmond-area locations, i estimated that using capital letters costs Microsoft an average of $72,000 per year per employee, and that doesn’t even count people with more than one monitor in their offices or our assorted test labs.

so my advice is, just say N-O to capital letters, we’ll all be glad that you did.

ss. lemmings

Originally the Microsnooze came out whenever the guys writing it felt like it, but over the years, it’s sort-of become an April first tradition.  Nowadays it’s published by the same team that publishes the MicroNews, but it still has some of the original irreverent tone.


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