Chris Henley is a fun and energetic representative of Microsoft. He works on the Developer Platform Evangelist team at Microsoft as an IT Professional Evangelist in the western region and is the co-author of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Administration Instant Reference from Sybex press. Chris is a regular speaker and presenter at user groups, Technet events, and major conferences around the US.
He has extensive experience in the world of computer networks. He is passionate about the way that technology helps people. He has an entertaining and insightful style of communicating technical information and of making difficult concepts easy to understand. He is an expert in server architecture and network design. He loves to push the envelope of what we think about computers, and what software can do. Chris spends his spare time playing XBOX360 with his wife and kids, fly fishing, camping, hiking, and searching for the best chocolate cake on planet earth.
My wife and I (along with most of the parents we know) debate the value of letting our daughters play with Barbies. Like it or not Barbie promotes all kinds of ideas through imaginative play. Barbie has everything! Ask any girl what kind of car Barbie drives and they all know it’s a Corvette. Ask who Barbies boyfriend is, and every kid knows it’s the perfectly sculpted (right down to the hair with so much gel in it that it looks like plastic, no wait it actually is plastic) Ken. Barbie has her own pool, and an endless array of clothes that, at my house anyway, always seem to be in a twisted mess at the bottom of the Barbie box (Barbie doesn’t Iron!) Then again who needs to iron when your wrinkly clothes look that good on you. Barbie has a perfect (albeit physically unattainable) body! At our house Barbie and her friends seem to spend most of their time naked, maybe that’s because she can never find a matching outfit amongst all those clothes in the bottom of the Barbie box, or maybe because nothing is ever ironed. I am not really sure.
A month or so ago I came across the new Computer Engineer Barbie. At first I was not sure what to think. I guess that over the years Barbie has been cast in just about every career role so why not this one. Barbie is all about fantasy and dreams so why not. Computer engineer Barbie! Now you can have it all and the mind to match! Not to mention a laptop that matches your shoes. ( I tell my youngest daughter it’s a Windows 7 Laptop cause Barbie only uses the best.)
Computer engineer Barbie has already had some effects (I’m not sure whether they are negative or positive exactly) on me. She is what every computer engineer hopes is really out there, and yet we all fear! In my case I dreamed about a blond perfectly formed computer engineer coming in to my office for a job interview. She has it all! I look out the window and there is a yellow Corvette in the parking lot. Strangely the only fault I can find with her are that her clothes are all wrinkled, wonder how that happened, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Then I wake up in a cold sweat hoping I haven’t been talking in my sleep.
I am sure that when my daughter and her friends play with Computer Engineer Barbie she will end up as a work from home employee spending most of her time naked on the sundeck wearing only her sunglasses and a strategically placed pink laptop.
When my oldest daughter was 3 my wife and I decided it would be all right if our daughter entered the world of playing with Barbie. Better to have supervised play than to ignore the reality of Barbie. And so it began.
My wife and I love to build things and so we decided that in light of the fact that the Barbie Mansion you could buy in stores was built out of cardboard and pink plastic, that we could build something so much better. We would build a house for Barbie! We would build her a Mansion worthy to be called such. First, it had to be built well. Real Wood! It had to have real carpet, wood, tile, and paint. It had to have a garage (for the Corvette), a Pool/Sun Deck, kitchen, Living room, loft, and bedrooms. It had to be built to Barbies Scale. We decided on a classic Georgian Mansion, and went to work. The mansion was huge! It was a lot of work, and when it was done it was the best Christmas present our daughter received that year. My daughters have spent the past 9 years playing with that Barbie Mansion. Friends came to our house to play in the “Real” Barbie mansion. If I could do it all over again I would not change a thing. I still love the Barbie mansion and the time I have spent playing Barbies with my daughters (yes grown men can play with Barbies.) I imagine that the Barbie mansion will be around for my grandchildren to play with and hopefully its one of the reasons that they will love to come to my house.
***Side note. If you build the Real Barbie mansion please know you will be keeping it forever. If you buy the cheap one from the store you don’t feel guilty throwing it away after 2 years when it breaks.
If your trying to find the perfect gift for a young girl, a college student who just can’t quite pick their major, or that special IT Guy in your life (I promise he wont be able to takes his eyes off her because its like coming face to face with Santa Clause or the Easter bunny, only so much better) then look no further. This is it! Whatever else people say about her, Barbie has got IT going on!