This is my last post this year, and as such it is a good time to reflect on the last roughly two months at Microsoft.  Here's what I've learned so far:

  • Relationships are extremely important, and you should never burn any bridges.  People move around here a lot, so just because you are leaving a group to work on something completely different does not mean you will never be working with your former colleagues ever again.
  • Microsoft is truly a global company.  I am on a mail alias that our group uses to get feedback on our documents.  We get mail in numerous languages, some of which I recognize and others that I couldn't even tell you what language it is!
  • Everything runs on email here, sometimes even when a different communication medium would be best.  I think I shock some people when I actually want to talk face to face.  For me, a 5 minute conversation can often communicate much more than a 2 day long email exchange.
  • Microsoft's insurance is the best I've ever seen.  It is so cool to be able to pick up a prescription and owe nothing!
  • Microsoft really shuts down the last two weeks of the year.  I've seen other companies that do this as well (IBM comes to mind), but it is really, really quiet around here at this time of year.  To give some indication, I normally have about 75 that come in from the time I leave at night to the time I arrive in the morning, this morning I had about 8.
  • Incandescent light makes an office nicer.  I went to Ikea and picked up a couple of lamps and put them in my office.  They make the place so much nicer than the overhead flourescent lights.  I highly recommend this upgrade.
  • OneNote is a really good tool for taking notes.  Try this product out, it is a great replacement for pads of paper.  The only downside is that I don't have a tablet PC, and therefore I have to type my notes, which makes a fair amount of noise.  Otherwise, if you set up OneNote with a good useable system, it will really help you stay organized.
  • Use rules and folders in Outlook.  This is really basic, but I have never been one to use rules to sort incoming mail.  I always thought that if I put mail into any folder other than the inbox, I would never get around to looking at it at all.  Actually, this is sort of the case, in that I don't review all of my distribution list folders every day, but I do scan them and stay up to date more than I thought I would.

Finally, I would like to remind everyone to do what you can to support the people in south Asia who are having anything but a happy new year.  I would strongly ask that you take a moment and make an online donation to one of the many relief agencies who are working to help tsunami victims.  You can find a list of and links to reputable charities that are working in the area at www.interaction.org.

Here's hoping for a safer and happier 2005!  See you next year...