Jeff Barr: it was good to have several projects going simultaneously to make the best of your your time.
Jeff and my experiences are a lot alike. First, I was in the same geographic area at the same basic time (Greenbelt until summer of 78, Gaithersburg starting summer of 81: in between I completed both my senior year of high school and four years of college). I did punch cards, both FORTRAN and COBOL, face down, nine edge first, continuation in column 72. And I learned the same lesson about always wanting to have several projects going at all times, which brings me to the subject at hand...
As promised, Microsoft provided me with a credible offer.
From their perspective, it was generous financially, the position offered represented a half step up professionally, and down the road enabled a significant growth opportunity for me to increase both my influence and compensation, though they were up front that my unwillingness to relocate might ultimately limit that potential somewhat.
From my perspective, what was offered was not only essentially a lateral move, it was one where I would feel like I had to prove myself once again. Financially, the offer was certainly more than adequate, but do I really want to be exposed to the possibility of a LIFO approach in a future resource action, particularly in the current job market? (Of course, I’m told that would never happen, and I believe sincerely. I also remember IBM circa 1993, something that Microsoft has yet to experience).
But the problem is deeper than that. Some aspects of trying to fit a round peg into a square hole are to be expected. That’s fine, but at this point in my career, I simply don’t want to be put into any hole. We talked about getting improved Rails support into Azure. That certainly sounds like fun. For a little variety, I could do PHP and Python too. Of course, I’d be able to do more than that, and over time my job would expand, but initially I would be expected to be focused on a specific area.
Now lets look at what I would be giving up. My current job and my current manager are ideal for me. One day I can be talking to a person in Lotus in Boston about XForms. The next day I could be talking to somebody in Austin about ARIA. The next day I could be talking to somebody in Raleigh about a licensing issue with a Rational tool. And if Dalibor continues with his hits and runs, tomorrow I could be very well talking to somebody in Hursley about the JDK. And that’s just this past week or so. Next week it could be a completely different set of people. And if the rumors are correct, I could soon be doing cool cloud stuff with Tim Bray.
And that’s just within IBM. I’m also involved with Rails, Mozilla, Apache, ECMA, IETF, W3C... Each of these activities have intersection points within IBM. Intersection points spanning divisions. Some of these tasks I could take with me, but in many cases without obvious intersection points at Microsoft. Furthermore, at least one of those tasks is in question.
This reminds me of a joke. Transplanting brains is easy. It’s reattaching brains that is a bit more difficult.
So — while it is not my intent to slam any doors — for now, my expectation is that I am staying at IBM for at least a while longer.
I think you made the right choice.
Location: Everything happens in Redmond. The organization is geographically distributed like IBM. You would be at a disadvantage if you don’t move to the Seattle area.
Hole shape: No matter what shape of hole that you were promised, you will be expected to fit in the standard Microsoft hole. I am sure that the people making you an offer mean what they say, but the organization machinery will not care about all of this.
Well, I have to say I’m a little relieved. I think you’re doing great work chairing the HTML WG, and I was concerned that that might be disrupted, or at least undermined, if you started working for Microsoft (if only because of perception). Now we don’t need to choose between you and ChrisW... then again, that leaves only ChrisW advocating SVG at Microsoft. :)
IIRC from my rusty FORTRAN-IV, continuation was column 6. Also, the last 8 columns (73-80) were reserved for line numbering, and Computing Center staff advised to print a copy of all significantly sized programs with fresh line numbers. In this way they could use a simple sort job to restore the program would our youth and impetus make us drop the card-box while running up or down the stairs. I can remember distinctly the amazing number of stair flights at UAM “Facultad de Ciencias”... :)
I tended to have several instances of the same project running in parallel, instead of several project. While this habit improved my parallel thinking abilities significantly, it has not proved so useful in other aspects of life later on...
Santiago: I changed it to 72, which is what it was in 370 assembler, a language I programmed in through much of the 80s. I had forgotten about the sequence numbers, that brings back memories of desk sized machines whose sole purpose was to sort card decks that had been dropped. Ah, good times.
I hate to see folks like yourself, who in my mind represent openness and all things good in computer science, be gobbled up by Microsoft. Microsoft is so closed and out-of-touch that you would be just a trophy for them.
I was a Microsoft .NET developer and technologist for many years, as far back as the .NET beta days. I because dissatisfied with their way of doing business and keeping their technology so private that I moved away to open source technologies such as Ruby, Rails, Python and others and have not regretted it. As a computer science major in college the OSS world feels so much more like what I thought of when I was in college practicing to become a computer scientist. Microsoft just makes CS feel dirty.
/shane: Sam Ruby turns down MS; declared non-person
In a stunning move of corporate hubris, a MS spokesperson has declared Sam Ruby is “not a real person“. Could this be retribution for Mr. Ruby’s refusal of their recent job offer, even though “it was generous financially“? Or are consipracy...