Last day at Microsoft

Yes you`re reading it right, as of May 5th I am no longer working at Microsoft. Didn`t see that one coming? Neither did I. As part of the latest round of global lay-offs in which probably some 3000 jobs were lost, I also was told my job was made redundant. So here I am at home thinking about what I`m going to do next. Does that mean I`ll going all Mac etc all of a sudden is what people ask me most, next to the question about what plans are for the future. It`s too soon to tell what the future will bring but I have no grudge against Microsoft so the answer is no I don`t intend to change my opininion on what I`ve been doing the last few years. I always enjoyed working here there and especially my last job felt like a good bet for the future… I still think it is but probably it was just too soon.

Next up? Some time off, talk to people about possible opportunities, write that paper I had been thinking about for a long time and probably blog a bit more again. I sure have the time now. And train a bit more to be able to get up that Mont Ventoux with my racebike in August, all on the plan. In the jobhunt I`m pretty open about what and where that can be right now – full time or project-based, employee or independent, Belgium or elsewhere. Time will tell. In case you think you have or know something for me, feel free to let me know in the comments or via email (kris@crossthebreeze.com) or just help me spread the word that I`m jobhunting by a simple Retweet or something similar. Thanks in advance.

Probably some more updates on all this soon, the jobhunt starts now. Wish me luck ;) Here is more about me on LinkedIn in case you want to know more.

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MSN.GR Meetup

I have to say, if I got to name what I like to do most in my job at Microsoft then it is stuff like this. Yesterday we had a meetup at the Microsoft office in Athens to with Greek bloggers to talk about the upcoming release of MSN.GR. Typically we will talk a bit about what it is that we have been working on over the last few weeks and months to then open it up the a discussion about what people think about it, what they like, what they don’t like or what might be missing in their opinion etc.

MSN.GR

And I can hear you say ‘portals are dead’ and ‘why do we need another portal’ but I genuinely believe there is a place and an audience for sites like this, and I also believe that with this concept of the more ‘social portal’ that we try to build (where there is a deep integration between the MSN content and the Windows Live sharing and communication services) we have a product that differentiates from the competition as well.

Valia, Giorgos & Thodoris

Obviously the part that interests me most of all is the discussion piece after showing the product. I quite enjoyed the discussion and I think some valid points were raised, all making for a pretty engaging conversation.

If there’s one thing that I didn’t like about this then it is the fact that I took quite a bit more photos than I uploaded to the Flickr set, but let’s just say my already poor photographic skills seemed to have let me down a bit yesterday ;) Oh and yeah, both Stefanos and myself tried to arrange for a Tweetup later that night but we didn’t get to eventually. Nevertheless, great time in Athens, hope I can be back soon. Thanks all for joining us – to be continued.

Microsoft Advertising

Although most of my work is related to some of Microsoft’s biggest consumer brands such as Windows Live, MSN, etc I also do (more and more actually) work for Microsoft Advertising. What does Microsoft have to offer to advertisers? Many of you might remember “Bring The Love Back”, today we have created another little 90 seconds video that explains a bit more what it is we do at Microsoft Advertising, check it out:

I’ve also set up a Twitter account for Microsoft Advertising Europe, offering another way to get in touch with us so follow us in case you are interested in advertising and curious about what we have to offer.

Future vision

Microsoft’s Business Division president Stephen Elop unveiled the latest production from Microsoft Office Labs called “2019″ at the Wharton Business Technology Conference last week. Here’s a video of what our researchers think the future of business might look like:

futurevision

Full story and 5-minute long version of this video ‘i started something’.

TechFest ‘09

Microsoft Research is currently having it’s annual gathering in Redmond, showing the world some of the latest projects they’ve been working on – TechFest 2009.

“TechFest is an annual event that brings researchers from Microsoft Research’s labs around the world to Redmond to share their latest work with Microsoft product teams. Attendees experience some of the freshest, most innovative technologies emerging from Microsoft’s research efforts. The event provides a forum in which product teams and researchers can discuss the novel work occurring in the labs, thereby encouraging effective technology transfer into Microsoft products.”

Basically a lot of geekery, but worth watching. One of the projects that was shown yesterday which I found rather cool is panoramic video stitching software – Qik meets Photosynth as TechCrunch calls it (although it’s probably more Qik meets ICE* but anyway). Check out their video:

*ICE is short for Image Composite Editor, an advanced panoramic image stitcher which is also coming from Microsoft Research and worth a look on its own (free download).

A survey about love

My wife and I we don’t ‘do Valentine’. We don’t seem to be very representative for the country we live in though, as data shows that celebrating Valentine’s Day is more popular in Belgium than anywhere else in Europe. We’ve done a survey on that topic (together with Cross Tabs) on MSN/Windows Live in 16 EMEA countries which had over 78.000 respondents (Updated with link). We thought that with Valentine’s Day coming up it would be interesting to find out how flirting & dating has evolved in the digital age that is the 21st Century. And given the current crisis we were also curious how much that would impact your Valentine’s celebration. All of that resulted in some interesting data and I decided to put the key highlights in a presentation for your viewing pleasure:

People clearly find it easier to say ‘I love you’ over email, IM or txt messages than face to face as also this research points out (from the press release):

“The majority of people across Europe (66%) admit that they find it easier to flirt over IM than face-to-face, with shy South Africans much preferring this method of flirting (78%) closely followed by Arabia (77%), Turkey (76%) and Ireland (72%). Saying ‘I Love You’ for the first time is never easy, so it comes as no surprise that 1 in 3 have actively declared their love for someone over instant messenger rather than face-to-face. Cupids in the Netherlands (61%), Denmark (42%), Portugal (41%) and Spain (40%) top the league table for saying ‘I love you’ in cyberspace.”

Like I said earlier we also looked at how much impact the recession would have on the spending for Valentine’s Day and although that day is traditionally a time to ‘splash some cash’, spendings in most countries will fall by almost 10% on average (see table below). I couldn’t help noticing though that European men spend on average 33% more on Valentine’s Day than European women ;)

lovesurvey

There was a lot more data about this per country and everything which I obviously can’t all post here, but I should be able to point you to the right direction in case you’re wondering about more details (participating countries in the table above btw.). Once I get a link to the press release (which has also more data) I’ll add it right here as well.

Update: Here’s the press release with some additional data

The point cloud

This is so cool, it’s not the first time I’ve written about Photosynth but while I was playing with this new Silverlight viewer for Photosynth I got a little into this ‘point cloud’ views and again, must say that this really is awesome.

So I’m looking at this Photosynth (196 photos and 98% synthy – so a good one) and look at one of the photos in the collection:

synth1

We’ve all seen that right? ;) Then if we press ‘P’ we switch the viewer to this point cloud mode resulting in:

synth

And that – and this is the really cool part – will enable you to look at these objects from an angle that you actually don’t have photos of like this:

synth3

Yes Photosynth remains one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Go check it out for yourself.

Business card v.2

I still have to order new business cards after I changed jobs early October. I didn’t just want the corporate default though so instead I waited until this week to add some gapingvoid magic to it. The front of the card will still be the classic Microsoft design but on the back I will have this (see below) from now on. It sort of says the same as on the front but just in another language :) Can’t wait to get these printed.

hughcard_small

And in case you wonder where the ‘geek marketer’ comes from, read this.

Live Mesh in Paris

Okay so you already know that the Blue Monster is coming to Paris, now I’m also happy to announce that Live Mesh is coming to LeWeb in Paris as well next week. And with a twist:

“We’re pleased to announce that to celebrate LeWeb’08 and Microsoft’s official partnership with the event, we are providing attendees exclusive access to 30GB of free Live Mesh online storage.  To claim your 30GB storage on Live Mesh please stop by the Live Mesh booth in the Microsoft zone and register with either myself (James Senior), Angus Logan or Jeff Hansen.

Attendees will also be getting exclusive access to Live Mesh for Windows Mobile and Mac, again stop by the booth for more info.”

meshparis

Yet another reason to come and see us at the Microsoft booth thanks to the guys from Live Mesh!