Do it for Katie

A story in honor of Katie Couric's final day at the Today show.

Last month I happened to run into a former member of the shell team who worked on the Windows XP Welcome screen. He told me a story from CES 2001, where Windows XP's interface (code-named Luna) was unveiled. There was going to be a segment on the Today show, and the Welcome screen was going to make an appearance, but the designers wanted to make one last tweak before it showed up on national television.

Two hours before air time.

So with a hard deadline of two hours, my colleague connected back to the computer at the office, made the requested changes, compiled a new binary, transferred it back to Las Vegas, installed it onto a laptop, and handed it over to the production crew. Everybody crossed their fingers.

It worked.

They did it for Katie.

Comments (18)
  1. Brad Corbin says:

    So what was the “one last tweak” they made??

    [I don’t know, and I didn’t bother to ask since it wasn’t relevant to the story. -Raymond]
  2. dpbullington says:

    Im so glad Katie is gone…she was so fake and annoying.

  3. Einswell says:


  4. my. name. is. inigo. montoya. says:

    Great use.

    Of periods.

    For more.




  5. TDL says:

    "Im so glad Katie is gone…she was so fake and annoying."

    All the attributes one looks for in a news anchor.  I guess she’s perfect for her new job.


  6. Don says:

    [I don’t know, and I didn’t bother to ask since it wasn’t relevant to the story. -Raymond]

    completely disagree with your statement, explaining the change made by
    your colleague is critical to the post.  In fact, your title is
    “Do IT for Katie,” yet at the end of the story we do not know what IT
    is?  (Is IT something invented by Dean Kamen :) )  You state
    all the steps that your colleague had to do within 2 hours, yet we have
    no idea what change had to be made, thereby diminishing the time
    crunch/pressure he was under to get the change done.  For all we
    know your colleague may have created a new user called “Katie Couric of
    the Today Show” or added the Today Show logo for the user icon, which
    is not that impressive.  On the other hand if you collegue had to
    right a bunch of code so the Welcome screen would work in a desired way
    on national tv that is much more impressive.

    Here are 2
    examples of a story many of you are probably familar with, one which is
    descriptive and one that removes relevant information.  

    night before Allen was to fly down Gates stayed up all night checking
    the code before making the paper tape. The next morning Allen flew to
    Albuquerque and realized in mid-flight that a change had to be made .
    Allen made the change in machine code on the flight down.

    night before Allen was to fly down Gates stayed up all night checking
    the code before making the paper tape. The next morning Allen flew to
    Albuquerque and realized in mid-flight that he did not have a loader
    (the software to make the Altair talk to the teletype so the paper tape
    with the BASIC could be put into the computer). Allen wrote the loader
    in machine code on the flight down.

    The second version is more
    informative and enjoyable for someone to read.  Letting the reader
    know the changes Allen had to make on the flight is much more dramatic
    then just  saying he had to make some “changes”.

    [It was
    obviously something that required code changes. (Adding a new
    user/picture doesn’t require code changes. You did it when you created
    your account after all and you didn’t need to recompile Windows to do
    it.) And given that it was for television, I would guess that it was
    something visual. Changing the layout of the screen elements or adding
    a new element. But it’s not important what the change was. There is a
    baseline risk level for any change, no matter how small, and that
    baseline risk level easily exceeds two hours. -Raymond
  7. HA HA HA says:

    maynys the nighht ive lied awake in a cold sweat woryign about whehther kajie coric is stil agresive. cuase she dweleth in teh cold of the moon an all taht jive.

    caliban i pray that ur rigght. for all ouour sakes. but especialy for teh cildran.

  8. Nick says:

    I heard about this!

    If, while looking at the Welcome screen, you cross your eyes, squint, and do the "Magic Eye" (TM) trick, a picture of Katie’s face pops out at you.

    That’s just what I heard anyway.

  9. Once upon a time, Katherine Couric was on the D.C. area local news. She was smart, aggressive, and focused. I liked her.

    Then she went to the Today show, where she became *Katie* Couric. She was giggly, gushy, and annoying. I didn’t like her at all.

    I like to think she’s still smart, aggressive, and focused off-camera. Then, at the very least, I don’t lose respect for her altogether.

  10. D says:

    Round here it’s the ‘Fisher Price interface’

  11. RichB says:

    Foolish. The regression potential for such an important presentation sounds too high.

    This isn’t something to be proud of.

  12. > better name "Playskool Mode"

    >> Round here it’s the ‘Fisher Price interface’

    I have several friends who call the default background picture the "Teletubby screen".  Put a big yellow sun up there, and you could use it for the teletubby backdrop.

  13. For those of you complaining about Luna, I’m sure you are aching to go back to the original Win95 interface.  

    I know I’m not.  Luna is far easier on the eyes and much more pleasant to work with than previous versions.


  14. Myria says:

    God I can’t stand Luna.  I called it "Disney Mode" until someone told me the better name "Playskool Mode".  First thing I do on a new logon or new account is switch to Windows Classic.

    I like the Windows Vista glass look, but it’s *such* a resource hog.


  15. ChrisR says:


    Luna gives me a headache, I think because of the very bright colors and the contrast.  It’s not that I’m aching for the classic interface, but it sure beats getting a headache while using the computer 8-14 hours a day.

    I guess all that really means, is that it’s pretty silly to make a broad assertion that "Luna is far easier on the eyes" when you really only mean it’s far easier on <i>your</i> eyes.


  16. MYG says:

    Actually, if I could go back to the NT 3.51 theme on XP I would instantly. At the very least I try to keep all my XP boxes with the classic theme and no gradients animation.

    Its not that I care about the performance but the "flash" just seems to annoy me.

  17. Myria says:

    Is there some way to set winlogon/msgina to use Windows Classic?  I found the flag in the registry to disable luna, but that doesn’t affect the feature sizes and the fonts…

    I wish there were a way to set appearance settings for "All Users".


  18. CRathjen says:

    I don’t mind Luna – but only after I change it from Blue to Silver – much nicer.

    Though lately, I installed the Media Center theme (Royale?) on my XP machine, and while blue, the slightly-glassy look-and-feel makes it decent, as well.

    I still find Vista *vastly* improved, of course – but as was said earlier, here’s hoping the resource consumption improves between now and RTM…

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content