The Future

The purpose of this blog is to understand the flaws in my thinking. As part of that, I encourage criticism of my ideas, as well as the ideas of others. While this blog started before I began as a student at Nebraska, I have been very fortunate that this habit of criticism has been reinforced. My adviser once said, “It may be a Midwest thing, but people here would rather help make something better, rather than just write and be read.” Both online and offline, I am happiest when dealing with serious people who want things to be better. (I am also temperamentally unsuited to being a yes-man, especially when it comes to stroking someone’s ego over getting to the truth.)

So it was that, after repeatedly complaining about a ‘feature’ in Microsoft Office, a friend who worked there came to be, and suggested that if I was so sure I was right, I should actually bother to demonstrate how Microsoft could be wrong. Using information available from official Microsoft sources, such as Channel 9, Microsoft Research, and MSDN Blogs, I did exactly that. Specifically, I conducted a simulation study to show how Microsoft could be getting the positive results from its statistical tests, while in fact the most reliable users of the product where the most hurt. I was able to meet with a PhD working for Microsoft who had one of those titles that just sound cool.

Given my upcoming graduation, I was of course nervous. Was my friend correct, that Microsoft (like my blog and University friends) was interested in doing things better? Or would I be told that there is crazy in your own house and then there’s crazy on my front lawn, and asked to leave?

The meeting went very well.

I was given the name of a more senior researcher at Microsoft. I searched online, and found his program of research at the company. As much as I want an exciting workplace, I do not want to waste my time with vain people who cannot take friendly criticism, so I tried the same trick again. Another simulation study, another finding which was the opposite of the ‘right answer.’ I sent it in.

30 minutes later, I receive an email. We need to talk.

Long story short, the folks at Microsoft I have talked to seem to be my type of people. I will begin working at the newest wing of the campus in Redmond next month.

Before then I am having the time of my life. I have already added Wyoming and Montana, Idaho, and Oregon to my list of visited states. I am going to a Major League Baseball game in a few minutes. I will fly to China tomorrow. I will get to act as tour guide to other Nebraska who are working in Beijing this summer, attend a wedding in Taiwan (“The Free Zone of the Republic of China”) and visit a friend in Singapore, traveling across the Strait to Malaysia, and visiting his family in Thailand.

I am really excited to be working with this collection of very sharp and bright individuals. I am looking forward to the rest of this ‘summer vacation’ before work officially beginsΒ  — and I could not leave out my brother’s wedding in Niagara Falls.

This is going to be a great summer!

13 thoughts on “The Future”

  1. Congrats!

    As a taxpayer I am glad you will not be on the dole and should be in a nice high tax bracket.

    As a blogger/reader I look forward to the future interesting posts on your blog and any inside video footage of the dance styling of Steve Balmer.

    As a friend, I am happy for your success and jealous of your summer travel adventures!

  2. Did you ever think it would happen this way?

    I guess this is a good example of an observation I made: If you work hard and have an interest in learning and constantly improving, things will usually work out, sometimes in unexpected ways.

    Although I don’t know you very well (besides this blog) ,I kinda figured you’d do more than just sit out your time in American academia.

    Very inspiring

  3. You continue to be an inspiration to us all!

    BTW: Will you be in NE/SD around July 22nd? We’re commencing the second loop of our Summer 2010 “Old Skool” Road Trip, where I will officially log my 50th state (ND). Departing CO on the 22nd of July and heading NNE….

  4. Michael & Steve,


    Though I must say, having now spent some time in a place where the environment does not try to kill you most of the year, I can understand some affection for it! πŸ™‚


    That’s my second day of work in Redmond, sorry. πŸ™‚ I think I fly out there the preceding Saturday.


    Thank you for your kindness, and warm thoughts. It does seem to have worked out that way. πŸ™‚

  5. Belated congratulations!

    Computer science——-> Political Science——> Educational Psychology = Microsoft!

    I am sure you will make your mark there Dan!

  6. The crazy part (as that chain really begins with Front Page -> Perl -> MIS) is that every step was critical.

    Brilliant political science professors like John Hibbing, Kevin Smith, and Beth Theiss-Morse were required, as well as the astounding educational psychology faculty at Nebraska.

    Let’s hope the mark isn’t a front page expose in The Economist…. “Inside the Collapse”!

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