10 Years at the "Evil Empire", Still Hotfooting Nitrous

Today marks my 10th anniversary at Microsoft, and it has been a crazy but exciting time that I wouldn’t trade for any job in the world. I’ll not bore you with a retrospective of all the projects I’ve worked on (how did I end up working on so many different things anyway?), but one of the most important periods of my time at Microsoft is drawing to a delayed but final close, and I can’t leave it completely without commemorating it somehow. No, I’m not changing teams—I’m having more fun working on the Entity Framework as part of the Data Programmability team than ever. The source of this momentous change is that my favorite t-shirt of all time is finally falling apart and I’m going to have to retire it.


A t-shirt? Yes, that’s what I said. This isn’t just any t-shirt, it’s my Netdocs “Hotfooting Nitrous” t-shirt, and every time I wear it I think of the great people, the great product (even if it never made it to the outside world), and the important lessons I learned while working there. 


The story of "Hotfooting Nitrous": NetDocs was a huge, ambitious project, but one key part was an email and calendaring product designed to rival Outlook but built on a completely new technology platform. As the product started coming together, an important goal was to reach the point where we could all dogfood our email as a forcing function to figure out issues and address them (if a Microsoft team can do all of its email and calendaring using a product, then it's pretty darn functional). During one of the early internal releases when spell checking was first turned on there was a bug such that spell checking happened automatically when an email message was sent, and misspelled words were not only flagged but automatically replaced by the spell checker’s best guess of the correct spelling. Before this issue was found and corrected, the dev manager used that build to send an email to the entire team telling them that everyone should be “Dogfooding NetDocs”. The resulting message that arrived in everyone's mailbox said that we should be “Hotfooting Nitrous”. This phrase was so serendipitous, that we had t-shirts made for everyone on the dev team to commemorate the event.


Someday when I’m feeling especially nostalgic maybe I’ll regale you with stores about other memborable events like the office re-decoration efforts “Agent Orange” and “Shishirbert” or the mental associations I have between Outlook and a magic 8-ball, but for now let me just leave all of you with the wish that you will have a job half so wonderful as I have found my time at Microsoft to be (warts and all), and a wish for myself that the next 10 years at Microsoft will be as great as the last 10.