Tuesday, January 29, 2008

all hail the queen

now there may be a small faction of viewers out there who are tired of hearing me go on about my daughter, but i can’t help it folks, she rocks my world. watching her become a person is the most fascinating and wonderful thing i’ve ever done: it must be shared.

along those lines, i think that maybe summer has received some bad press. i read the other day that the average baby cries one to four hours a day, and i just want to go on record as saying that—assuming we do not travel in the car—summer cries for well under 30 minutes a day.

one might be tempted to say “what a good baby!” HOWEVER, even though i hate to toot my own horn (me??), a truer statement may be “what a good mommy!” as keeping the screams at bay requires constant vigilance on my part (the correct term for her particular temperament is “high maintenance”).

nearly every effort i expend all day is in the sense of “how can i keep her from crying?” left in the arms of another, she would probably cry all day (just ask bryan). i will say this, though, for summer’s contribution: she has never been inconsolable. she never cries for no apparent reason. thus, from experience (we do spend an inordinate amount of time together), i can coax the sobs and screams to an end—and rather quickly at that.

but what about those 15-20 minutes a day of wailing? those are the times when i try to assert my position as group leader. when i unwisely attempt to impose my will upon hers, and my noncompliance is punished forthright: “insolent fool!” then we both end up saying things we don’t mean, kicking, screaming, storming off angry, pouting…only to rush into one another’s arms minutes later and kiss and make up, professing our undying love.

for the majority, summer is a very happy baby: she loves to smile and laugh and talk and play. she is so smart and strong and funny. she very much enjoys socializing with others, and she wants to see the world. but heed my warning: she wants to see it on her own terms. and she must be obeyed.

summer baby is nothing if not a force to be reckoned with.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Patriot dreams

"With unprecedented speed and cooperation, Congress and the White House forged a deal Thursday to begin rushing tax rebates of $600 to $1,200 to most tax filers by spring, hoping they will spend the money just as quickly and jolt the ailing economy to life." Full story

The only hitch in the plan is the possibility that consumers might actually save the rebate instead of spend it. Ever willing to do her duty for her country, Emily assured me last night that she had already devised several plans for plowing her rebate back into the economy. As proof of her valiance in her long running battle against economic recessions, she showed me this:

This is a snapshot of her discretionary spending envelope (or Mvelope, if you will). For you non-accountant types, the signicant column is the one on the far right. As you can see, it's been in the red, well, indefinitely. In short, bad for me, good for you (and the rest of the world economy).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

treat yourself

i decided to post pictures of bryan and myself this week, to satisfy our own fans.

summer was tucked neatly inside her moby wrap (finally relinquishing center stage), but as you can see, she's quite the camera hog. plus, it's sort of a little game she likes to play to suddenly 'pop' out and frighten unsuspecting passersby. very alien. or space balls. whichever may be your genre of choice. i've had cashiers nearly scream; summer loves it.

for mlkj day, we braved the car ride and went down to issaquah for rootbeer and milkshakes at xxx rootbeer. the rootbeer was great; unfortunately, the giant shake would definitely not pass my dad's thickness test, but we've had worse.

and for interested parties, i would rate the car ride at 50% as far as the screaming goes (meaning she was upset for 50% of her time in the vehicle). bryan and i both felt this to be a great accomplishment for baby sums. it's all about expectations.

Friday, January 18, 2008

baby in the hood

in an effort to off-set bryan's blog-jacking, i thought it expedient to post a picture of summer for her fans.

i get this look a lot. it's the "lady, what do you think you're doing?" look. she is constantly questioning my authority--little firecracker. lucky for her, i am not easily intimidated.
the other look i get frequently is the "this is for babies" look. as we have mentioned before, summer is in a hurry to grow up. how can a ten-week-old be in a hurry to grow up, you ask? i don't know, but she is. if she could talk, she would say:
           --pacifiers are for babies, mom
           --cribs are for babies, mom
           --strollers are for babies, mom
           --car seats are for babies, mom
but alas, she cannot talk, so instead, she just cries. apparently, that is not for "babies."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The curtain comes off: Syndicated Client Starter Kit (aka News Reader SDK) ships!

Long time blog readers (hi Susanne) may be wondering if our blog has completely devolved into a stream of baby photos and parental musings. The short answer is that it’s a difficult tide to swim against. Fortunately, the baby photos we took this week looked a lot like the photos we took last week so I’ve been given license to write a post on a work related topic:

The Syndicated Client Experience Starter Kit has shipped!

Those of you who are reading the blog out of a sense of familial obligation can stop reading now. Otherwise, brace yourselves, for I’ve employed one of my favorite formats, the FAQ:

What is the Syndicated Client Experience (SCE) Starter Kit?

Simply put, it’s a way to quickly build really sexy apps in WPF. You provide the content (photos, videos, text, etc) via a feed and you get a fantastic user experience for free. With a little bit of styling, you’ll have a highly customized app that will convey your brand with unprecedented fidelity.

What can you tell me about the genesis of the project?
The SCE Starter Kit begins with the New York Times’ Times Reader. I joined WPF a few weeks before Times Reader went public. Bill Gates had given his blessing to the product and there was a lot of enthusiasm for this new way of consuming news content.

The easiest response to the ensuing interest from publishers and developers would have been to write a white paper detailing the Times Reader development experience. However, most publishers have neither the development resources nor the risk appetite to build one of these applications from the ground up. Thus, we envisioned a starter kit which would perform all the heavy lifting right out of the box.

What’s with the name?
msdnreaderSexy, eh? Honestly, I wasn’t there during the final name meeting (full disclosure: I now work for MSNBC, a Microsoft/NBC joint venture). I was present during other naming sessions though. Oddly enough, a lot of the good names ended up having acronyms that were inappropriate for general consumption.

For much of the life of the starter kit, it was known as the “News Reader Starter Kit” or just “NewsReader”. As the project progressed, it became clear that the name NewsReader implied too narrow a scope. I think “Syndicated Content” does a somewhat better job at conveying the broad potential uses of the product at the risk of being completely incomprehensible to the average person.

What was your involvement?
I joined the WPF team as a Program Manager (PM). To this day, I still have a hard time articulating what a PM does. In an (over)simplified view of the world, developers write code, testers test code, and PM’s do everything else required to get the product out the door. For the starter kit, this meant coalescing disparate ideas to create a coherent vision, writing specs, creating schedules, helping out early adopters, pulling office pranks (it boosts morale, I swear) , writing docs, writing sketchy code that breaks the project upon check in, and much, much more.

What were some of the highlights of the project?
The conference room: Early in our involvement with the Seattle PI Reader app, we had a meeting in the downtown office of the Seattle PI with the publisher, Roger Oglesby, and the managing editor, David McCumber. These days, I recall little of the meeting but I do remember that view of the Puget Sound as a storm rolled in was ridiculous.

The little sign: Chris Han and I went on a road show in the Midwest to talk to potential early adopters. In the lobby of one company was a black sign with pressed on letters that said:

Chris Han
Bryan Wheeler

The people: This project was pulled off by a small, close knit team. The starter kit devs were rock stars. Their designs were brilliant and their code is pure art (if you find it to be otherwise, I take responsibility for imposing the constraints that forced their hands). In addition, I loved working with early adopters all over the world (UK, South Africa, Australia, France, Italy, Japan, Korea, etc).
Any lowlights?
Working with long distance partners doesn’t always mesh well with the Redmond culture (we never schedule meetings before 10AM). I recall a 5AM conference call with some UK based developers at Conchango (fantastic devs, by the way). Fortunately, their British accents lulled my wife back to sleep after I decided to drag the speakerphone upstairs.
Tell me more!
I've far exceeded my blog quota for the week. In the meantime, you can look at what others have to say:

More to come...

Monday, January 14, 2008

she will be loved

the wheeler clan at summer's blessing.

our little blue-eyed bird.

the same dress her mama was blessed in not but 24 years ago.