My take on Microsoft-based computing

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Tafiti. Swahili for 'do research'.

Microsoft has just released Tafiti which is a site that “helps people use the Web for research that spans multiple queries and sessions by helping them visualize, store and share the result. “

Since Search is becoming increasingly specialized, across different user scenarios, vertical subject areas and entry points, Tafiti, which uses Silverlight for visualization, and the Windows Live Search engine, will blow you away in its functionality.

With Tafiti, after you enter a search query, you can do the following:

  • Drag interesting results to the shelf on the right. Each box on the shelf can be used to save a related set of results. Shelf contents can be saved and shared.
  • Use the carousel at the bottom left to do different types of searches (image, blog, etc.)
  • Visualize your results using the Tafiti Tree View.

In a short period before the public release of Tafiti that I have used the product, I am very impressed with several items:

  1. The User Interface. This is the best UI I have seen for search. Your search queries come alive! This is the (new) best use of Siverlight I have seen so far, and it does truly enrich your queries, and stimulates your massaging of the presented data to heretofore-unseen levels.
  2. Saved searches. Somebody bite me! This is a much better way of doing searches.
  3. Relevance of presented data. While preliminary, a comparative, albeit non-scientific search revealed that presented data was par with that other search engine.
  4. Speed. On steroids, for once a good thing.

How cool is that?

Tafiti is at

EDIT: Channel 10 has a first look video here. Pretty descriptive.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

John on Technology is now AbsoluteVista

John On Technology is now combined with AbsoluteVista and can be found at . is now served by FeedBurner.

The feed link is here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bora Bora, Tahiti mugs

My mug collection just grew with 2 mugs and a shot glass from Bora Bora.

Thanks Taiwo!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Off point: CSI

I watched CSI: Miami the other day for the 1st time, and what I saw prompted me to watch CSI and CSI: New York to verify that I wasn't dreaming!

Forensic technicians packin' heat?

Are you freakin' kiddin' me?

Just like they are sworn officers of the law?

One name came to mind immediately.

Dennis Fung

Yes, Dennis Fung!

He of the OJ Simpson murder trial.

The guy who botched the forensic evidence. Reportedly.

Can you imagine Dennis Fung, or even the coroner of Los Angeles County talking to former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman in the same way the CSI droids talk to actual police officers?

Fuhrman, or any sworn police officer, would not, and should not hesitate to shoot those punks immediately!

Couldn't f-ing believe what I was watching!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

AbsoluteVista: Have mercy?

AbsoluteVista: Have mercy?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Jim Allchin's last post at Microsoft

Full text:

As most of you know, today is my last day as a fulltime employee at Microsoft. It’s been an exciting 16+ years and all I can say is that I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be in this industry and at Microsoft. What an incredible chance to work with such a great set of people. I was also very fortunate to be in an environment that allowed me to work on a team that was able to have such a positive and significant impact on the way people play and work with technology.

What’s truly amazing to me is that we are just at the beginning for what technology will be able to do.   The next 50 years are going to be much more exciting than the last 50 (and that’s saying a lot!) when you consider the potential impact technology advances will have on people and businesses.

Lots of people have been asking me what comes next. In the long term, I can tell you honestly that I don’t know. While the term “retire” has been used to describe people at all stages of their lives as they leave a job, for a guy my age it’s a pretty strange term. I’m not exactly the golfing type. I am looking forward to spending time with my family and frankly getting some rest.

While I don’t know what I will be up to in the long term (although charity will be one key focus), I have a pretty good sense of what I will be doing in the near term, so I thought I would share what I think a typical day might look like.

It might go something like this:

  • 7:00 AM: Breakfast with my sons. Ended up doing a product comparison review of the various cereals we had in our pantry. Sugar does beat the natural stuff and my suspicions about the impact of packaging on the post purchase experience were spot on. It turns out the box does matter.
  • 7:40 AM: Kids off to school.
  • 7:45 AM: Went to check email. Only two pieces.
  • 7:46 AM: Checked network connection to see why I am not getting any email. Everything working perfectly.
  • 8:00 AM:  Went to clean up the playroom so that it’s organized for when the kids get home. Ended up building an application to sort the Legos using a SQL Server backend and a Windows Presentation Foundation front-end on Windows Vista. Can’t decide whether the primary index of the database should be color or size of the piece. While searching the web discovered that Lego means “I put together” in Latin.
  • 9:30 AM: Spent 45 minutes looking around the house for the big refrigerator with the free soda just like Microsoft – was unable to find it.
  • 10:15 AM:  Worked on my Windows logo latch hook rug – another couple days and I’ll finish the red.
  • 11:00 AM:  Watched Rachel Ray – god is she engaging.  Maybe she should do the launch of the next version of Windows.
  • 11:30 AM: Checked mail again. No messages.
  • 11:31 AM: Turned off Spam filter.
  • 12:00 PM: Went out to lunch with my wife. Was surprised to see so many other people out for lunch during the week. I wonder if they have been buzzing around for all of these years that I have been in building 26.
  • 1:30 PM: Went to check out the Apple store at University Village to see what all of the hype was about. Ended up demoing Windows Vista for all of the employees (and a few customers). All they could say was “Wow.” Ended up leading a group of them over to BestBuy to help them pick out new PCs with Windows Vista pre-loaded. Need to go to the Bellevue store tomorrow.
  • 3:00 PM: Checked email. 150 unread messages. Unfortunately, 149 of them were spam.
  • 3:10 PM:  Turned Spam filter back on.
  • 3:15 PM: Went to drive the afternoon carpool run. Spent 20 minutes waiting in line behind other parents whose kids weren’t even outside yet. Need to write paper about Next Generation Carpool Queuing solution (NGCQ) that integrates Windows Live Presence with the driveway scheduler. Must get appointment with school principal when it’s done.
  • 4:00 PM: Home with the boys. Went to the playroom to help them build a train layout. Ended up doing interoperability test to study compatibility issues related to using Thomas trains on Brio track. Turns out while they work, the trains perform better on their native platform. Need to try Brio trains on Thomas track tomorrow.
  • 4:30 PM: After a phone call with my Mom, I decided I needed to configure her account as a standard user for Windows Vista. This gives new meaning to “parental controls”, but a son has to do what a son has to do.
  • 5:00 PM: Dinner with the family. After they finished asking who was this strange man sitting at the dinner table, we had a great conversation about the kids’ day. May have spent too much time asking them “how they would have done things better” and “what do they see as their key areas for growth.”
  • 6:45 PM: Read kids a bedtime story. They seem to be recently interested in “chapter books.” I was amazed by how quickly they feel asleep when I read them one of my favorite classics, “The Theory of Recursive Functions and Effective Computability” by Rogers.
  • 7:30 PM: Checked email. Again. No new email.
  • 7:31 PM:  Turned Spam filter off again.
  • 8:00 PM:  Went down to my music room to play my guitar. Dozed off on the couch.

Anyway, on a serious note, a few months ago, when I decided to start blogging, a lot of people thought I was crazy. It was certainly an experiment, but in the end it’s been very rewarding for me, and I hope that you’ve enjoyed it as well. I’m about to walk out the door, so clicking “post” on this blog will be my last official act as a Microsoft employee.

I love this company, and I have the utmost confidence that the great people here will continue to bring their creativity, passion, and drive to building world-class software that help our customers do amazing things.

See you on the Internet,


From the Windows Vista Team Blog

Monday, January 29, 2007

Thanks, Jim Allchin

Thank you and farewell.

Over the years, anyone with any knowledge of Windows has come to appreciate and respect the way Jim Allchin managed the team.

On the client side, Jim was tasked with preserving and extending the most important, and undoubtedly the most valuable brand in technology, Windows.

And what a remarkable job he has done!

While America slept, and contrary to the beliefs of mainstream media, Jim and his team delivered several updates to Windows since the debut of XP:

  • Windows XP Service Pack 1 & 2
  • Windows XP x64
  • Windows XP Media Center Edition
  • Windows XP Starter Edition
  • Windows XP Tablet PC Edition
  • Windows XP, Ultra-mobile PC edition.

As he rides off into the sunset of his life at Microsoft, Jim Allchin leaves with the knowledge that his indelible mark is upon the next version of Windows, Windows Vista™, and the way most of the world would be computing for the next several years.

Thank you, Jim.