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Microsoft Word Creator Was Banned From Casino

Richard Brodie, the original author of Microsoft Word and Microsoft’s 77th employee, is also a professional poker player. He was playing the video poker machines (he plays both the computer and human beings) and hit two royal flushes in a few days, winning $480,000, a nice amount that would keep him on top and playing the game for a while, and he even says the casino’s won back 80% of his video poker winnings. Still, a month ago, Harrah’s sent him a letter that he and a number of other high rollers were banned from entering their locations in Nevada, California and Arizona.

As he reasons, the casinos make a profit on everything that goes on, because the odds are stacked in their favor. Now, the casino was screwing him, banning him because he was one of the few guys making a profit and not losing much to their system. The big problem for him was that the World Series of Poker is held at Harrah’s casinos, and he kind of wanted to participate.

As these things usually do, a very public blog posting righted the wrong, and Harrah’s lifted the ban five days ago and is letting him play in the World Series. He even did decently in his first tournament back, leaving early in the second day of the $5,000 Limit Hold’em (Event #18) of the World Series of Poker. Now I have someone to maybe cheer for when I watch these things.

Speaking of all this, looks like me and the wife will be heading to Atlantic City in a few weeks to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary, which is tomorrow. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year. We’re looking more for seeing some comedians than the gambling, but we’re going during the week, and you wouldn’t believe how lousy the comedy lineups are in AC during the week. If someone can find one “name” comedian performing in mid-week in the first half of July, I’d really appreciate it, and it would help me make my wife happy.

Otherwise, I’ll have her play poker. She’s surprisingly good!
(via Freakonomics > Digg)

June 13th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Corporate, Word, Applications | no comments

Blue Screen Of Death Costume


I am so dressing my kid up as the Blue Screen Of Death. You know. When I have one. I’m not hinting anything!

Anyway, click the image to read the full comic. Love Foxtrot.
(via Digg)

June 13th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Humor, General | no comments

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Bill Gates Finally Graduates From Harvard

Bill Gates got his honorary degree from Harvard, the college he dropped out of so many years ago (32 years to be exact). Gates received the law degree that he never finished (a doctorate, no less!) because he had to start some company and make tens of billions of dollars in personal wealth. Todd Bishop has excerpts from Gates’ commencement address, including:

I’ve been waiting more than 30 years to say this: Dad, I always told you I’d come back and get my degree.

I want to thank Harvard for this honor. I’ll be changing my job next year, and it will be nice to finally have a college degree on my resume. I applaud the graduates for taking a much more direct route to your degrees. For my part, I’m just happy that the Crimson called me ‘Harvard’s most successful dropout.’ I guess that makes me valedictorian of my own special class. I did the best of everyone who failed.

But I also want to be recognized as the guy who got Steve Ballmer to drop out of business school. I’m a bad influence. That’s why I was invited to speak at your graduation. If I had spoken at your orientation, fewer of you might be here today.

Pretty cool.

Here’s some video of Gates talking:

The Wall Street Journal has an article about how Gates wrote his speech. It includes an accompanying video:

Check out the Seattle PI’s photo slideshow from the graduation.

June 13th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Corporate, General | no comments

Video: Hitler Banned From Xbox Live

Xbox 360 Fanboy posted this amusing video showing how mad even dictators get when their accounts get banned from Xbox Live.

The clip comes from Downfall (or Der Untergang), a 2004 film depicting the last day’s of Adolf Hitler. Here’s Wikipedia’s description of the scene (to its conclusion):

In the next meeting with the Generals, Günsche brings in General Keitel’s reply. It seems that all of the main armies are encircled or cannot continue their assault. Hitler is about to leave the room upon hearing this, but he is asked for instructions by Weidling. Hitler states that he will never surrender, and he forbids everyone else to surrender as well. He is led out of the room by Günsche. Hitler tells him that he is about to commit suicide with his new wife, and entrusts Günsche the task of disposing of his remains, so that the Russians cannot “place it in some museum” after the war. Gunsche reluctantly obeys what he conceives as a terrible order.

June 13th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox Live, Xbox, Humor, General | no comments

Interesting Microsoft Domain Registrations

Gary Price has a list of domains Microsoft registered at the beginning of the month:

  •, .net, .org
  •, .net. .org
  •, .net, org

Anyone want to try to guess what these are for?

June 13th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | one comment

Image Hidden In Windows Vista DVD Hologram

Someone at Microsoft snuck in a microscopic photo of three men into the hologram on the disk. Take a look:

DVD Easter Egg

I got word from someone on the inside that they are running a query inside Microsoft, that emails are flying around trying to figure out who put the picture in there. That pretty much means this wasn’t known until now, this wasn’t approved, and there’s some level of concern internally.

Microsoft doesn’t like easter eggs in its products, doesn’t like surprises that could make it look unprofessional or just be embaressing. Larry Osterman said, “Nowadays, adding an easter egg to a Microsoft OS is immediate grounds for termination”. Jeremy Mazner has more:

Leading up the release of Windows 2000, Microsoft starting getting a lot more serious about selling servers into the government and large enterprise markets. These guys saw NT 4 as the first really credible enterprise-class product from MS, and were evaluating Win2k to see how things were progressing.

The story, as I recall it, is that one of these customers had some strong words for our easter eggs, suggesting that any company that could let such things frivolous things into their products wasn’t doing a very good software engineering job, and thus couldn’t be trusted to run an enterprise-scale business.

The argument never made much sense to me. Easter eggs, at least on teams I worked on, were never anywhere near critical-path code. And they often seem to have been pretty well tested by every member of the product team who wanted to verify their name showed up. Maybe there’s some story I don’t know about how an Easter egg caused a perf hit, or crash or something (I bet if such a story existed, Raymond would know it.). In any event, it seemed like we one day got this email that said “no more Easter eggs ever again”, and that was pretty much the end of it.

Wikipedia has a whole article on Microsoft easter eggs, starting with a note that there have been few easter eggs since 2002.

So, if your company has a policy against easter eggs, to the point where many consider it a fireable offence, is this something someone could get fired for? Yeah, probably. The fact that it took five months for this to get caught shows the problem: There could have been anything there. Whoever stuck in that photo could have stuck in a penis, and Microsoft will probably feel the need to go with overkill to prevent that ever happening.

It really depends on who did it. If a senior exec and a number of others conspired on this, they might get away with a public reprimand, while if a small designer did it, he might get canned. It’s a shame, but those are the breaks when you work at a $287 billion company. Fun is for smaller companies, I guess.

UPDATE: Aw man, there are multiple images! Not good.

UPDATE 2: Bink has some good closeups.

June 13th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Corporate, Windows, General | 16 comments

OneNote Success Stories

It’s no secret I love OneNote, the most innovative application added to Microsoft Office in many years, and don’t hesitate to show off how great it is. Don’t believe me? Daniel Escapa has a bunch of links to people who have said some great things recently praising OneNote.

Some examples:

I’ve used OneNote since Friday and already I’m addicted. Everything I want is right here in this one, handy dandy little program.

This leads me onto my now-favourite-application


this app is stunning, it blew myself and colleagues away with hand writing search and recognition. I could write/scribble something on the screen, and my friend could scribble it in and OneNote would find it.

But the fancy content is not the killer feature (although they are sufficiently rich and easy to use that I don’t secretly pine for wiki markup like I used to). What’s killer are the sharing capabilities; specifically in three areas:

  1. Between computers: I take my laptop to meetings, but it’s obviously much more comfortable typing on my desktop (where I have a lot more screen real estate not to mention an ultra-comfy keyboard). So I keep copies of OneNote open on my desktop and laptop, set my notebook to be shared between computers, and it automatically keeps in sync between the two in near-real-time.
  2. Between colleagues: instead of a wiki page, we can share a notebook that’s stored on a SharePoint site. We can work on the notebook offline, and when we’re online it periodically syncs to the server, marking who made what changes as we go.
  3. Live sharing: in a meeting, if we want to collaborate on note-taking, one of us just has to mark their notebook for live sharing, then sends each of us (e.g. via IM or e-mail) their IP and some password they make up. We connect to their machine and voila! real-time collaborative editing of the full-featured notebook!

I’m sure there are other tools out there that do similar things like note-taking (Google Notebook), or realtime collaborative editing (SubEthaEdit), but I was impressed that one cohesive package Just Worked.

Microsoft One’fuckin’Note is the future!

I want to start a family with my new love: Microsoft OneNote 2007

Tell me how cool this piece of software is!

There are plenty more of these. People who use OneNote extensively tend to love it, so why don’t you?

June 13th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | OneNote, Applications, General | one comment

Microsoft Releasing Office Mobile 2007

Microsoft plans to release in the third quarter a free download of Office Mobile 2007, an update to the Microsoft Office programs used on its mobile devices. The software will be available not just for Windows Mobile 6, but for all Windows Mobile 5.0 devices that have the older versions of Office Mobile. The update doesn’t bring a lot of new features, but it does allow the opening of Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2007 XML format documents.
(via Download Squad)

June 13th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | one comment