KC Lemson

By KC Lemson [MS]

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  • Blog Post: When you write code, you write bugs. Period.

    Larry has a great post about the myth of zero defects . As a release manager (or rather, bean counter), the issues discussed there are part of my daily life. One interesting aspect of bug management that may not be immediately obvious has to do with automation. Years ago, product teams at Microsoft didn...
  • Blog Post: It takes longer to write short things than to write long things.

    That is all.
  • Blog Post: Building and shipping software at Microsoft

    I gave a presentation to our MVPs on how the Exchange team builds software yesterday. Assuming the participants aren't just stroking my ego, it went pretty well. Often customers are surprised why their pet DCR isn't implemented in the same release as when they request it; I think there's a perception...
  • Blog Post: And continuing on that thought…

    I was playing around with photos.live.com, added some photos… and clicked on the very nice large bolded “Upload” word twice before realizing that it was simply happy text, trying to guide me towards the upload button. Aghhh.
  • Blog Post: It's live...

    They made a bunch of updates to the "Meet people who work at Microsoft" page, and I'm on the latest update: http://members.microsoft.com/careers/mslife/meetpeople/ . I like the way mine turned out, although I did do a lot of heavy editing as the first version they had from my interview made me sound...
  • Blog Post: There's no such thing as a simple feature

    W henever I think about designing seemingly simple features, I reflect back on this to remind myself how nothing is as simple as it seems: For Exchange 2000 Service Pack 2, I was tasked with speccing out a feature - type-down search. In Outlook and Windows Explorer, this is the feature whereby you can...
  • Blog Post: What it's like to be a Program Manager at Microsoft...

    I got a big kick out of this thread on Joel Spolsky's forum , such as the part about how PMs manipulate developers. I have to admit, I've played the “Oh what a smart idea you just had, Mr./Ms. Developer!” card more than once, but that's usually because I was being honest, and I think it's...
  • Blog Post: Should Microsoft add features in service packs?

    This is an issue that gets debated around the company from time to time, and there are many people on both sides of the fence who feel passionately about it. In Exchange 2000 SP1, we did add a few features . In Exchange 2000 SP2, we added even more (I was the program manager for most of the new features...
  • Blog Post: Tripped up by imprecise terminology

    In OWA 2000 SP2, we added some registry keys to control certain behavior related to attachments. We needed the keys to be set by default, so I talked to the setup team, and they agreed to make the change. I sent them a mini speclet where I described that we'd have the registry keys under HKLM\System...
  • Blog Post: Interviewing & testing/program management at microsoft

    Today's tip reminded me of something: when I was a tester in the Outlook group and did interviews, testing NLP was one of my standard interview questions. I liked using it for interviews because it's something that you'd be able to grasp quickly even if you'd never used Outlook before. I'd seen...
  • Blog Post: How do you manage your mail?

    3 months before I moved out here and started working at Microsoft, a friend of mine told me: "KC, you need a pilot... because you have the organizational Zen, but not the tools required to implement it". Little did I know that I would shortly find that tool, and it would be Outlook. I apparently give...
  • Blog Post: Words to live by: "Start with the little dragons"

    As I stepped off the elevator this morning, a coworker shared those words with me. "When you're slaying dragons, start with the little ones." He tells his kids every morning that he's off to slay some dragons. He likes to start with the little ones, because they don't put up near the same fight...
  • Blog Post: Bad design is everywhere

    I was trying to paypal some money to my sister a minute ago, and I sat at the payment page wondering what I’d done wrong. A one minute task suddenly took five minutes as I scratched my head and clicked around to see what I’d missed. Here’s what I saw – can you figure out why I thought something was wrong...
  • Blog Post: So long Exchange, hello Exchange

    I haven't been blogging much recently, and there's a reason for that. Omar's recent post reminded me that I needed to blog this. I'm changing jobs... Starting in a couple of weeks, I will no longer be a program manager in Exchange. Instead, I will be the release manager for Exchange, which is a funky...
  • Blog Post: What is it exactly that you *do* here?

    Starting next week, I'll be a release manager, as I mentioned before . And I know that it's not necessarily obvious to folks outside microsoft what release managers do. Well, Raymond has a post recently that explains one part of the job : During the run-up to Windows XP Service Pack 2 Beta in December...
  • Blog Post: A release manager's bag of tricks

    So, like I mentioned a while back , I'm now a professional bean counter[1]. And as a release manager, I need to find scalable ways of keeping track of the work that several hundred program managers, developers, testers and writers on the Exchange team are doing. The trick is that I can't afford to get...
  • Blog Post: Joel Spolsky's latest article

    Is a nice read , covering a lot of interesting topics, some of the more meaningful points as I see them: The most valuable course he ever took was the one he dropped after one lecture. It was valuable because it convinced him he shouldn't go to grad school for CS. I had a similar experience myself...
  • Blog Post: How to get someone to answer your questions

    I learned a wonderful trick today that completely resonates with me, and I wanted to share it. Perhaps I should start a new program management category for this kind of thing, seems like I've been writing about it a lot recently. The problem: You have a question. You need an answer. You know the person...
  • Blog Post: What is the sense of simplicity?

    A coworker recently forwarded around this article from the New Yorker that talks about feature creep and consumer behavior: You might think, then, that companies could avoid feature creep by just paying attention to what customers really want. But that’s where the trouble begins, because although...
  • Blog Post: Action item deliverable drive to resolution coordination asks disambiguation...

    I blogged over the weekend about being a PM , and Adam links to today's dilbert which does a good job of summing up the job :-)
  • Blog Post: A new tool for helping put your Task Preparation Sheets together

    I am in charge of a program whereby I give out small gifts to folks on the Exchange team once a month as an incentive. I've been giving out Amazon.com gift certificates, but I haven't seen them actually act as much of an incentive. Sure, everyone likes to get gift certificates for stores like Amazon...
  • Blog Post: Switching jobs within Microsoft

    Gretchen blogged about this a while back and I thought I'd share my experiences, since I've done this a few times in a variety of ways: My seven year anniversary at Microsoft is this year, and in those 7 years I've had 5 jobs. That sounds like a lot, but it doesn't involve many interviews and overall...
  • Blog Post: Strategies for being a program manager

    PMing is an odd thing. Sometimes it's difficult to figure out what you did all week, especially if you don't want to use words like 'unblocked', 'enabled' and 'drove'. You might spend a large portion of your time simply following up with other people to get them to respond to your questions (get used...