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Selling My Soul to Patterns & Practices

So, the time has finally come for this rambling, itinerant, and semi-competent author-stroke-developer-stroke-trainer to cast aside his independence, sell his soul to the devil, and throw his lot in with the people who have provided him with the platforms and tools that supported him for the past too-many-years-to-remember. Yep, I've just accepted a full time position with the patterns & practices division of Microsoft. Of course, I can't actually start until all the legalities, existing contracts, and other related stuff are sorted, but I confidently expect to be wearing the blue badge sometime this year. The moving finger writes, and having writ grinds exceeding slow... or something like that anyway.

But, for the time being at least, it's goodbye to writing books and doing training and any other odd jobs I can find to earn the occasional measly crust. I can concentrate on creating "guidance" in its myriad of exhilarating electronic forms. Mind you, I just finished reading a great book called "The Meaning of Everything" (Simon Winchester, ISBN: 0-1951-7500X). It's the story of the Oxford English Dictionary, a book that it took them 67 years to get finished. My ongoing record of nearly finishing most projects almost on time is therefore quite good in comparison.

I've been working on and off with various teams within the p&p group for a few years, and so they must reckon I can get something right now and then. Or else it's so they can beat me with a big stick (actually it's a Spork, but that's a different story) when I slow down or get distracted. Probably it's in the contract somewhere - maybe I should have read it before I signed it. Still, it could be worse. And it's not like I had much choice anyway, once someone let slip to my wife that they have a facility to buy wine at a discount. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "I'm thinking of taking a job at Microsoft...". It's a great opportunity..."
Her: "Mmmmm?" (this is the expected response when Coronation Street in on TV).
Me: "They have a great health plan..."
Her: "Whatever..."
Me: "And I'll get a pension..."
Her: "Yeah...Mmmm..."
Me: "And there's discount booze..."
Her: "Take it."

It does look like I'm going to be in the interesting position of having a "host manager" as well as a "real manager". That's mainly 'cos I managed to persuade them that, as I've been doing the job as a contractor for the last few years from a back bedroom in the desolate (but strikingly beautiful) surroundings of rural Derbyshire, maybe it would be a good idea to just carry on. So I'll be employed by the Reading (that's pronounced "Red-ding") office here in England, but work for the guys tucked away in the woods of Redmond campus. They say I'll even have a desk (notice that's "desk", not "office") in Reading. I wonder if I can get it into the back my car without anyone noticing...

As the Redmond time zone is eight hours behind mine, I guess I can also look forward to continuing "time-shifted" working days, and the equivalent of full-time jet lag without even having to leave the house. Mind you, it has some not-generally-appreciated advantages. I can wander about in my slippers for the first few hours of the day looking like death warmed up (my usual pre-coffee-break state), safe in the knowledge that I'll make it all up by still being involved in conference calls and documentation updates until the early hours of the next day. I can even take "the long way round" on my way to work by going downstairs to make a cuppa first - or even drive to the newsagents to pick up my morning paper.

Of course, the change will have some significant impact. I can't remain an MVP, so the rather pompous collection of certificates on my office wall will cease growing, and I'll miss the interesting MVP open days followed by a (usually alcoholic) dinner and night out in a posh hotel. I'll also miss the conference trips to exotic places, though having been to Orlando and Vegas with ASP.NET Connections at least five times each, it will probably be a nice change to use the holiday/vacation time (yes, I'll actually get holidays!) to go somewhere different. In fact, my car is starting to get old so maybe we need to go on holiday to Scotland again so I can buy another (see You Take the High Road, and I'll Just Break Down in Edinburgh for an explanation).

What's really worrying, however, is that I might have to write a lot more about technical things in my diary - you know, stuff like enterprise architecture, dependency injection, health modeling, application instrumentation, and other exciting things - instead of just rambling incoherently about nothing much at all. Maybe that will be the real challenge after all...

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