I will be speaking at Reflections|Projections 2009

The way to get me to show up at your conference is to invite me. The folks who run the Reflections|Projections 2009 conference figured that out. I will be there on Friday the 16th for the job fair in the Siebel Atrium, and my talk How Microsoft is Different from School is scheduled for Saturday morning at 11:15. Attendance is free, but that's not much consolation seeing as you first have to get there.

It's always a weird situation I find myself in when I'm invited to give a talk at a conference, because if I give a talk on the stuff I usually write about, you'll get something like a one-hour discussion of the finer points of programming scrollbars. (A talk not even I would attend.) As a result, conference talks always take me a bit "out of my element", forcing me to pick some topic I don't usually talk about which still fits in with the overall tone of the other talks.

Reflections|Projections is particularly scary for me, because, I mean, look at the other speakers: The co-founder of reddit. Principal Architect for webOS. Author of the Robot Vision Toolkit. And the topics: Cloud computing, Google Chrome, the myth of the genius programmer. These people do big things, and these topics are big topics.

On the other hand, I do small things.

It took me a while to find a topic, and then once I found it, I had to do a bunch of research because, well, it's been a long time since I was in school. I interviewed a bunch of colleagues who came to Microsoft directly out of school within the past two years to steal^H^H^H^H^Hdraw upon their experiences and then put the stories together into a talk. If you think about it, for this subject matter, I'm going to be a total poser!

We'll see how that goes.

(Actually, it's not total poser-tude, since I do have personal knowledge of how things are done at Microsoft. The provocative title is just a hook.)

Comments (15)
  1. Homer Simpien says:

    I, for one, actually look forward to seeing the video of this presentation.  I’ve been out of school for over a decade and so it will be interesting to see both what recent graduates had as their experience in school today, along with the environment that exists at MS today.  I don’t think that to be "poser-ish" at all.  I think a lot of visitors to this blog would find that interesting.  Although, it would be great if you could start out your presentation with some pre-emptive snarky comment!!

  2. Puckdropper says:

    Since you write your blog posts in advance, allow me to welcome you to Illinois in advance.  :-)

    I look forward to your talk, and hope it will be worth the drive.  

  3. Joel Jordan says:

    I gave a talk there a couple of years ago. It’s very laid back, and the expectations are low. Students are used to lectures from their professors, after all.

    The student organizers spent the evenings playing video games and chair racing with Randall Munroe of xkcd fame. Then, I got to see Randall and Jeffrey Ullman toss logic puzzles back and forth at dinner. Good times.

  4. poser says:

    Only poseurs spell the word ‘poser’!

  5. Tom says:

    Shoot, all it takes is an invitation?  Let me set up a projector in the conference room at work and we can call it a conference!

  6. Brian says:

    Your provocative title needs a long and boring subtitle, Raymond!

    [D’oh, you’re right! -Raymond]
  7. Nick says:

    I’m surprised Microsoft doesn’t foot the bill for at least some of these talks you’re asked to give. It seems like a few paid working days plus travel costs (a pitance for them, really) is a good bargain for going out and talking about the company in a good light.

    Yes, while I’m sure you’re providing a good and honest service to the people at the lecture, it’s also a nice big advertisement for Microsoft and it’s products. Unless, of course, you’re telling everyone to boycott MS and go work for Apple.

    [Microsoft Recruiting is covering this one (hence my duties at the Job Fair). -Raymond]
  8. ACM @ UIUC looks forward to seeing you at Reflectins | Projections. Don’t forget to stop by the Mechmania Programming Competition (shameless self-promotion)!


  9. silky says:

    ‘Principle Architect for webOS’ links to the same person as ‘myth of the genius programmer’ (which, unless it’s a mistake, implies it’s not a myth).

    Also, popularity doesn’t mean someone is doing something ‘big’; it just means a lot of people like it; this is generally trivial to achieve and not really interesting (at least to me).

  10. RF says:

    The link for “Principal Architect for WebOS” should be http://www.acm.uiuc.edu/conference/2009/speakers/tsuk.html

    [Oops. Thanks. -Raymond]
  11. Tim Jarvis says:


    Some time ago a lady in our support dept couldn’t answer one of our customers questions, she passed it onto me, cc’ing in the customer, she said in the email "Hi Tim, I have this poser for you…<snip the custs question>"

    The customer took great offense, he thought that our support lady was very dis-respectful and after some angry exchanges, our support lady was horrified to realise that the cust thought she had called him a "poseur"

  12. Neil says:

    Not that I’d be able to get to it, but personally I’d prefer the talk on the finer points of programming scrollbars.

  13. Mo Kudeki says:

    Glad to hear we managed the tricky task of getting you to show up at Reflections|Projections 2009 by inviting you :)  We’re all very excited to meet you in just over a week and hear your talk!  Welcome to Chambana!

  14. Andy Visser says:

    You will be in the company of my favorite web-comic author (and holder of a masters in computational linguistics) Ryan North, author of Dinosaur Comics (http://qwantz.com).

    Not to be too Fred Rodgers, but you are both special!

  15. Josh says:

    Wow, I did MechMania way back in 1997 – 99 or something like that – and it was part of reflections|projections then too. Glad to see they’re still doing it :)

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