Steve Ballmer & the “cult of Microsoft”

July 21, 2006
Someone recently passed this on to me, originally from Break.com:
 
This video’s been going around the Internet – it’s a employee’s recording of SteveB’s opening keynote "excitement" at our annual field sales meeting last year.  I was a little surprised to see it posted online being that this is a company confidential gig, but the content is just his introductory remarks so it doesn’t contain anything revealing.
 
Anything that is, other than his extreme enthusiasm for Microsoft.
 
Steve Ballmer is Microsoft’s CEO.  Many people use Steve’s behavior at company events like this as an example of Microsoft’s weirdness.  The fact of the matter is that Steve has been this way since I first joined the company in the early 90’s and while I see newbies come into the company (especially folks that used to be employed at IBM or Oracle) and find these sort of antics strange, I’ve never found them out of place.
 
This is the culture we have at Microsoft.  And Steve really does love the company.  How do I know?  I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him for long stretches of time, either in staff meetings or in past customer meetings where Steve was the executive representative for my customer.
 
His enthusiasm, believe it or not, is very infectious.  Many Microsoft employees used to refer to our annual field sale meeting as the time to "recharge" the batteries.  It was a very important time for FTEs to get a renewed sense of enthusiasm from those that "know the most about the company".  Naysayers might call this, "getting a refill of the company kool-aid", and maybe they’re right.  All I know is that we believe in what we’re doing, we reject what we don’t believe in, (and believe me – we have a lot of dissenters willing to call b–s— on bad decision making at this company) and we have a lot of fun executing.  These events give us an opportunity for everyone to get onto the same page from some people that everyone in the company respects.
 
Why?  For individuals that are engrained into the culture of Microsoft, while Bill Gates may be the embodiment of the brain & intellect of Microsoft, Steve is the embodiment of the spirit & heart of the company and it’s employees.  Steve symbolizes one of my favorite Japanese quotes:
 
"Lead not through instruction but by example."
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NEWS: And we have liftoff… “YouTube sued over video”

July 18, 2006

Wow.  I’m surprised that this took quite as long as it has.  It’s about time the lawsuits started flying around the Internet about publicly shared video.

LINK:  YouTube sued over video

People have been creating this entire ecosystem around pirated video on Google Video & YouTube and it’s taken a relatively long time for someone to break out the legal whoopin’ stick to sue one of the hosting providers of these pirated videos.

The media, in it’s general circus atmosphere ridiculousness, has been drumming up the hype for sites like these, which blatently host video that violates IP rights all over the Internet.  The sites wink wink, nudge nudge the posting of said content, grin all the while it goes uncontested while the publicity comes in from a popular video’s posting, then after going weeks undetected, when they’re finally caught with copyrighted content posted on their property they sheepishly slink away claiming, "Hey… it’s not our fault people violate our policies.  There’s nothing we can do."  <wink wink nudge nudge> 

And as the video gets taken down, and the hosting company gets served with a cease and desist order, the anarchist, liberal peanut gallery shouts, "Awwwwww… BOOOOO!  Evil corporate demons!  The man is trying to keep us down!  BOOOOOO!"

Folks: 

1) If I copy a PC game and I post it to the Internet, making it freely available to anyone in the world, and subsequently receiving fame and popularity from such a post, this is illegal. 

2) If I rip a MovieDVD or a MusicCD and post it to the Internet, sharing it with the world in an effort to get others to share their multimedia collection with me, this is illegal.

3) If I take your intellectual property, make it available for free for everyone to get on the Internet and subsequently profit through it, in this case through advertisement views, it’s not right.

I’m not saying that YouTube and these video sites aren’t at least making some modicum of an effort to moderate copyrighted video posting… (as weak as that effort may be) and I’m not condemning them for their business.  What I’m saying is that no one should be surprised – least of all them – that the world of capitalism is coming down upon them like Thor’s hammer.  Their popularity stemmed from the bypass of normal commercial exchange:  Content that was once owned and licensed is now distributed without restriction. 

Now it’s coming back to bite them in the ass.


How to pimp your XBox360

July 17, 2006
So you wanna pimp out your Xbox360.  Or you want to surprise your kid and get a "real player’s Xbox360"… not just one of these beige "stock units" that everyone else on the block has.
 
Some of you may know that my 3 Xbox360s are tricked out but the question everyone asks me is, "Where’d you get all that gear?"  Well, here’s where I get all my parts from.  It’s pretty much "do it yourself" and it’s really easy.
 
Faceplates:
 
Complete Cases Replacement:
 
LED-lit "Tricked out" Complete Case Replacement:

The Wing Kong Exchange

July 17, 2006

When I get tired, my mind regresses back to a simpler time when all I had to do is worry about school work and the cute girl that sat in front of me in AP English. Today, I was dragging a bunch of books out of the
closet at work and I started to think about the greatest movie ever created: BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA

This movie is just begging for a sequel. I swear I’d be on that in a flash. I keep thinking of Jack Burton, played by Kurt Russell, yelling into his CB while he’s driving his 18 wheeler down a rainy highway, "You just listen to the Pork Chop Express and take his advice on a dark and stormy night…"

Remember that this was all before the advent of the Internet. I’ve never actually typed in the words, "Big Trouble in Little China" or "Pork Chop Express" into Live Search or Google or any search engine for
that matter. So return to my desk and do a quick search and I stumble upon this:

http://www.wingkong.net/shirts/index.html

Oh joy of joys! A Dragon of the Black Pool Leather Jacket! Pork Chop Express t-shirts! Egg Foo Yong Tours t-shirts! And a black shirt that has a picture of Jack Burton on it that reads" "Yes sir, the check is in the mail…"!

If you get this… if you find this funny… if you doubled over in laughter when you saw these, track me down on the Internet or just comment, because my God: I think I nearly died of oxygen deprivation I was laughing so hard! Must… Buy… Jacket! I swear, when I was a kid, I watched this movie over and over again. Not because I wanted to, mind you but because where I lived, it was the only damned movie that the station seemed to have the rights to play. I didn’t even understand half the campy jokes they have in the movie, but now I view the movie in a completely different light.

I now look back on that flick as an adult now, with a certain amount of fondness. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better: http://www.wingkong.net/southpark/index.html

It’s times like these, I just love the Internet. I really do. Crap like this makes up for an awful lot of garbage out there.


25 Reasons Why attending UCLA is so special

July 5, 2006
[I found this at 3:48AM this morning and just had to blog it.]
 
Here are 25 major reasons why attending UCLA is so special:
 
1. UCLA finished as the #1 overall Collegiate Athletic Program of the 20th Century and is #1 into the 2000’s.
 
2. Into the 2004 school year, UCLA led all colleges in NCAA team championships won with 90. All 90 championships have been won since 1950. No school can match UCLA’s variety of successful teams.
 
3. Since the 1976 Olympics, UCLA has produced more Olympians and Olympic Medals than any other university. UCLA was #1 in overall gold medals among all college since 1976 going into the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
 
4. Since the 1997-98 academic year (1997-98 thru 2003-2004), UCLA has been the nation’s most popular university to attend, with over 40,000 applications for admission currently. More students apply here than any other college for UCLA’s 4,000 admission spots per school year. The average student applying has over a 4.0 gpa and 1200 SAT.
 
5. In the latest U.S. News & World Report survey on top academic universities across the nation, UCLA is among the Top 4 public universities. UCLA has five times as many individual academic departments ranked in the Top 10 as its cross-town rival from USC. In fact, UCLA had over 60 more departments ranked in the Top 20 in the annual academic survey. Several UCLA academic departments rank with the Ivy Leagues in overall recognition and prestige.
 
6. UCLA won the National Championship in football in 1954. The Bruin men’s basketball team has won a record 11 NCAA titles. The Bruins have appeared in more championship games than any other school. UCLA won the 1978 Women’s Basketball National Collegiate Championship, the first major university to ever do so in front of a record crowd of 9,351 that stood for 8 years. UCLA is one of only a handful of universities that have won national championships in football and basketball.
 
7. The most successful active coach in NCAA history is UCLA’s Al Scates, with a record 18 NCAA men’s volleyball titles. Scates is believed to be the only current NCAA coach to have won titles in five decades – 60’s (two USVBA’s), 70’s (seven NCAA’s), 80’s (six NCAA’s) and 90’s (four NCAA’s) and the first title of the new millennium (2000). He has over 1,000 career victories.
 
8. Since the early 1970’s, UCLA is the only Division I university to never have had a head coach leave for another Division I college coaching job. This stability in coaching is because UCLA is the nation’s No. 1 school to desire to be a head coach. If a head coach leaves UCLA, it is usually for a position in professional sports.
 
9. If you add the current UCLA professional players in major league baseball, pro football, pro basketball, pro soccer, tennis and pro beach volleyball, there are more Bruin representatives playing professionally than any other school by a wide margin.
 
10. Michelle Kwan, the 2000 World Figure Skating Champion, attends UCLA around Olympic training. In the summer L.A. Laker Kobe Bryant has taken classes here. Sean Astin of ‘Lord of the Rings’ fame was an English honor student here. Numerous celebrities, including actress Heather Locklear and Academy Award winner Tim Robbins, have attended UCLA. There are numerous famous individuals who are attending or who have attended UCLA that are constantly in the public eye.
 
11. The internet was invented at UCLA. This university awards more doctoral degrees to minority students than any other college. UCLA was the first university in the Western United States at which open-heart surgery was performed. UCLA’s Medical Center has been ranked No. 1 on the West Coast every year since 1989. It is the #1 on-campus college facility in the nation.
 
12. Since national athletic department overall sports rankings began in 1971, UCLA is the only university to be ranked in the Top 6 every year. Only one other school has ranked in the Top 10 every year. UCLA was honored 21 times as the No. 1 men’s or No. 1 women’s program, more than double of any other university. The first time a combined athletic program was recognized, it was UCLA. Since the Director’s Cup rankings
began in 1993-94, UCLA has ranked in the Top 6 every year, a record matched by only one other.
 
13. UCLA is the only university to produce an NFL player who has helped his team win three consecutive Super Bowls — Ken Norton, Jr. — and a quarterback who has won three Super Bowls in four years — Troy Aikman. In 36 of the 38 years the Super Bowl has been played, UCLA has had a player in the game and most times on the championship team.
 
14. On the USA Women’s Beach Volleyball Professional Tour, a UCLA player has been in the championship match at every event from April 1993 through the start of the 2004 season — over 11 years and almost 200 tournaments. A UCLA player has won over 80% of the USA women’s pro beach events. UCLA has produced the teams currently ranked among the top 3 in 2004 Olympic qualification –Holly McPeak/Elaine Youngs and Jenny Johnson-Jordan/Annett Buckner-Davis. 1996 Olympians Linda Hanley, Elaine Youngs and Holly McPeak (also 2000) are both UCLA graduates. UCLA has also dominated men’s beach volleyball with the top three all-time win leaders–Karch Kiraly, Sinjin Smith and Kent Steffes all being Bruin graduates. Kiraly is the only 3-time Olympic gold medalist in VB.
 
15. When ‘Sports Illustrated’ rated the nation’s collegiate athletic programs for the first time, UCLA was selected No. 1. UCLA was recognized for its balance in academics, athletics and social life. UCLA remains a national fixture when thinking of top schools.
 
16. UCLA’s Paul Caligiuri scored the goal that advanced the USA team to the 1990 World Cup in Italy, its first appearance in decades. In virtually every international USA match since that time, UCLA has had more players on the USA team than any other college. A record five former Bruins –Cobi Jones, Brad Friedel, Eddie Lewis, Frankie Hedjuk, and Joe-Max Moore were contributing members for the 2002 USA World Cup squad that advanced to the quarterfinals.
 
17. The Pac-10 named UCLA’s Natalie Williams as its first female Athlete of the Decade for her All-America play in both volleyball and basketball. She followed a long line of multi-sport Bruin athletes which included stars such as Jackie-Joyner-Kersee, Rafer Johnson, Jackie Robinson, Ann Meyers-Drysdale, Jonathan Ogden, Kristee Porter, Freddie Mitchell (football & baseball), Lauren Fendrick (volleyball & softball), Whitney Jones (soccer and basketball) and current athletes like Jarrad Page (football and baseball), Ryan Hollins (basketball and track & field), Matt McKinney (basketball and volleyball) and Brittany Ringel (volleyball and basketball). UCLA’s Quarter Academic System makes multi-sport student-athletes a strong possibility.
 
18. UCLA was the first university in history to win seven consecutive football bowl games. UCLA has played in the Rose Bowl game in five straight decades. UCLA traditionally produces at least one first round NFL draft choice.
 
19. UCLA’s is situated in one of the nicest areas in Southern California, just five miles from the Pacific Ocean. The campus is surrounded by Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Westwood and Brentwood. The average home price within a three-mile radius of the Bruin campus is valued at almost $2 million dollars. The average year-round temperature is 74 degrees with little humidity.
 
20. Located in the nation’s No. 2 media market, UCLA student-athletes receive national exposure as well as local coverage from a dozen newspapers, seven television stations and cable networks such as ESPN and Fox Sports Net. UCLA’s web site is one of the 10 most looked at college sites in the nation. The UCLA Daily Bruin is as large as any college newspaper in the nation for parents to be able to follow their sons or daughters on a regular basis.
 
21. In the sport of tennis, UCLA is the only university to have two players from the same school play for the prestigious Wimbledon title–Jimmy Connors and Arthur Ashe in 1975. On the collegiate level, UCLA has been one of the two most dominant programs, winning numerous team and individual titles.
 
22. The UCLA job placement system for college students to locate full-time and part-time jobs plus internships is #1 in the nation as an important academic resource. UCLA is a clear No. 1 in placement of its students and student-athletes in these positions, and the Quarter System allows internship experience with class credit around playing sport seasons. The most internships are in business, communications, and science.
 
23. UCLA had the longest streak in NCAA history for consecutive winning seasons in the sport of men’s basketball, a record that lasted over 50 years in length dating back to 1948-49 and extending through 2002. No other major program was/is close to that figure.
 
24. UCLA is the university/country that has produced the women’s 100-meter dash winner in four straight Olympics – Evelyn Ashford in 1984, Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988 and Gail Devers in 1992 and 1996. UCLA is the only university to produce Olympic gold medalists in the decathlon (Rafer Johnson in 1960) and heptathlon (Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 1988 & 1992).
 
25. When you combine UCLA’s prestigious academics (its graduates average over $75,000 per year in income), a great all-around athletic program that produces championships and professional athletes, and an incredible social life so close to the beach, there is no university that can match the "total package" that UCLA offers. 

COMMENTARY: Why a new blog?

July 3, 2006
Back in 1999, I had a blog that I ran on Blogger for a few years until they got acquired by Google.  Microsoft started up their blogging service and so I started up my primary blog site on MSN Spaces.
 
I also branched off and did http://sake101.spaces.msn.com – a blog exclusively for sake information but I realized that I really need something to satisfy my need to just do a complete and total core dump.  And frankly, none of my other two blogs really were appropriate places to talk about personal topics that are important to me like Animal Shelters, the Game Console wars, livin’ large in Las Vegas, UCLA sports, why Macromedia Video sucks… stuff like that.
 
So enter http://kurtsthoughts.spaces.msn.com.  I consider this a real diary.  And don’t be offended if I start to really go off on topics – uncensored.  Seriously.  I’m not gonna link this sh-t to any of my other blogs.  This is not a customer-friendly place to be, and I’m not writing as a Microsoft employee any more.  I’ll be blogging in between doses of the Microsoft kool-aid and I’m not wearing my ‘Borg’ helmet.
 
’cause hey… if Scoble, Rory, and others can do it…