Sunday, November 21, 2004

Darth William

Here's an excerpt from an e-mail I recently sent to my good friend George! (See link at right)

So, I have a problem. Well, yes, I have many problems, thank you for pointing that out. This particular new problem....I don't know how to handle. I've been whiling away my many excess hours I don't spend working playing Half Life 2. Whoops, I meant to type that I've been reading up on people that work in the software industry; sometimes it seems as if my fingers have a life of their own. NO IT DOESN'T EVERYTHING IS FINE MOVE ALONG NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

Anyway, here's the problem (and I'm sure it will be as shocking to you as it was for me): I want to work at Microsoft.

I'm not sure when it happened. One day, I was a happy-go-lucky programmer hell-bent on staying independent and blazing my own trail. I was going to move to Alberta, Canada and start my own software company. That was the plan.

And then, my brain took me aside one day and told me it had changed its mind.
Brain: I don't want to start my own company.
Me: You don't?
Brain: I want to work for Microsoft.
Me: What? Are you kidding me?
Brain: No. I'm dead sexy.
Me: ...
Brain: ...
Me: Did you mean to say that you're dead serious?
Brain: Yeah, what did I say?
Me: You said you were dead sexy.
Brain: Really? Like that guy from that movie?
Me: Yeah, 'Austin Powers'.
Brain: Oh.
Me: Yeah.
Brain: Hm.
Me: Anyway, what brought about this change of heart?
Brain: (Pauses for a moment in thought)....I think....yeah, I'm pretty sure...that it was 'Austin Powers 2'.
OK, I admit, my brain is pretty slow. EVENTUALLY, it told me its reasons, including security (steady paycheck vs unpredictability of owning a business) and the superior treatment programmers receive vs just about anywhere else in the business.

But, but, but....isn't Microsoft .... _EVIL_?

Is it? I don't know. On one hand, I disagree with a lot of their business practices. On the other hand, they have remained profitable every year for far longer than it would seem possible (see also: every other software company in existance). And the business side has a responsibility to remain profitable. And technically, they always follow the letter of the law (if not the spirit). So...evil? Can I go to the dark side? Work for the evil empire?

Apparently so. Oh, sure, I'll tell myself that it's because I want to help change the company from the inside; work to make a superior product; make the world a better place; etc, etc, etc. In reality, it's simply because the other Microsoft programmers I've talked to speak of Microsoft as this...I don't know, holy place or something. Not something that should be avoided, something that should be strived for.

Sigh. I don't know. What do I do? I feel I'm setting myself up for a fall now. The worst part is, it'll be, like, four or five years before I'm even ready for a programming job. I'll be in Japan likely for the next three years (well, two years, 8 months), then one or two years getting my masters (I first thought "Hey, I can get my masters in one year!" And then I thought "Why would I want to rush it? There's so many courses I haven't taken yet!"). So, I'll be 35, and just starting out in the field. Kind of a hard sell.

Ideally, I'd like to live in Canada, and work for Microsoft, programming games. However, as far as I know, there are no Microsoft programming jobs in Canada, and gaming jobs are with subsidiaries of Microsoft (which may not have their philosophy re: coder comforts). So that's not going to work. So, here's what I'll have to do: Move to Canada, start my own software company, and hope to be bought out by Microsoft! Sounds like a plan, ne?

I need coffee so bad right now, it's not even funny.

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