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Friday, May 20, 2005

Reaching NorthWest Station

The day had arrived. It was time for us to go to Microsoft and showcase what we have been doing so far. Our flight was scheduled for Seattle at 9:40 am. Previous day we had decided that me and Puneet would go to NorthWest Station where Thomas would pick us up. We had to be there by 8 am. That means 19th was an early startup. I woke up at 5:30 and was ready by 6. Puneet got up and we were ready with everything by 6:40. We had to catch Bus 52 to reach Downtown. From there we picked up Bus 214 to NorthWest Station. Although we had got the bus schedule the previous day there was some mismatch regarding stop names. However we figured it out and got to NorthWest in time. I think we reached by 7:30. That gave us a leeway of half hour to start rolling the camera. Took a couple shots for warmup.

Case of missing Passport

Thomas was on time at 8 and we got into his car and headed towards George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Our plane was to depart from Terminal C. Finding parking at that terminal was tough and we got to level 4 before finding a free spot. That done, we got down to the check-in counter for Continental Airlines. Somehow the guy who was to check-in my luggage got me delayed because of some stuff related to re-arrangement of seats. Finally that was done and I got my boarding pass. Here is where the action begins for me. A nightmare. I reached the security check and put all my stuff into the tub. This is where I tried to put the passport and the boarding pass into my pocket. Alas one of the more important items doesn't make it to the pocket. After I clear the security check, I think I am all set. I go upto Puneet and Thomas who are already through the check and walk towards our gate. As we reach to the branch at the hallway, I realize I am missing something. It just came as a brainwave. My pocket felt light. No wonder, my passport was missing. That gave me creeps. I immediately opened up my bag and started throwing things out. I knew I had the passport in hand when I came to the security check. So I thought to myself that I must have lost it near the security check area. I rushed back like mad because there was only 20 minutes left for departure. My folks advised me not to come since I could enter Seattle but for getting back I would need my Passport. One more option they suggested was to take the next flight. I was not in mood for any of those. I had to get my stuff back and be on the same scheduled flight. When I got to the security check, I asked one of the officials whom I remembered had checked by bag. I told them that I had lost my Passsport here. Fortunately that lady handed me a piece of paper which had my name written on it. I wondered how did they know that. That is when I saw her walking back from the counter with my Passport. Praise the lord. This was awesome. Even before I started thinking of what I had to do next, the answers are ready: No need to think anymore. Such a relief. With 15 minutes left for departure, I rushed back to gate C-43 and spotted my folks out there just entering the plane. I knew I was in.
I guess I needed some reality check from somewhere. This whole incident really got me on my toes. Literally.

At last at Redmond

Rest of the flight was pretty cool. Cool in terms of the temperature inside the plane and also in terms of excitement. Took couple shots of the land from the plane. With some of the land-shots, it looked as if I was looking at the Google Map, live in action. The ride was pretty bumpy with all those winds. I guess we reached Seattle half hour late. Well we reached, thats important. From there it was a ride to Redmond with the Shuttle Express. We were put up at the Mariott, Residence Inn. This is a cozy place and pretty laid back. Our room was more like an apartment and had all the basic facilities. I guess it's pretty much standard here.

Dinner at Claim-Jumper

In the evening Brad Jensen called us and told us that he would take us out. He also invited a couple of other Microsoft guys, namely Vito and Brian. Both these guys had considerable experience with Windows development. Vito was on the XBox, DirectX division and Brian was one of the VPs. Don't remember the division. We had a long dinner. Brad, Vito and Brian are good entertainers and kept us awake with lot of stories from their past. That was interesting. I was happy to talk to Vito as he explained me about the internal processes that Microsoft follows. Got to learn a lot about their development process and the kind of the tools that they use for development. The bottomline was Automation. Vito admitted that they have a huge and complex automated system for continuous integration. He also explained why Agile practices were not really applicable for a large team. It was interesting to know that Microsoft does not lay down any particular hierarchy and standardization of processes for every project. It is per-project based.

After we got back from dinner, we asked Vito to have a look at our application and give us some feedback. He was going to be one of the judges on the day of the competition. We got pretty good feedback, both negative and positive. I guess this will help in shaping our presentation a little more and be more prepared for the kind of questions that can be asked. For the next day's fair, we need a foam board to support our poster. Vito said he would arrange for one. Sure he did by 1pm in the morning. I like this guy for his enthusiasm.

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