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May 31, 2006

The Microsoft Code: Chapter 2

Continued from Chapter 1.

RobertLa stared at the Post-It note pad. On the top sheet, in a hurried scrawl, were the words:


He recoiled at the sight. What was his name doing there, in the middle of a crime scene? He looked at VirgilI. "Any idea what the first part means?"

VirgilI shook his head. "No. Given what the second part says, I was hoping you would know."

"Did you contact Waggener-Edstrom?"

"Why would I do that?" VirgilI asked.

"They’re Microsoft’s PR firm. The note implies that you should call them and they should email me."

VirgilI rolled his eyes. "We’re treating this as an internal issue for now. No press, no PR agency. Look, this guy just won a Gold Star and then he goes and puts a giant self-inflicted wound in his career. I don't know who could scare him like that, but somebody with that kind of power would have to be pretty high up in management."

RobertLa considered the note. "Excavate green herbs." It made no sense. They were in the middle of Microsoft’s heavily-landscaped main campus; as far as he knew, there were no herbs growing anyway nearby. "Maybe we’re supposed to find new employees named Herb."

"And then what? Dig under their desks?" VirgilI snorted. "No, it means something else."

RobertLa looked around the lab. The computers were all running different operating systems and applications, the better to put stress on the network. Each display showed variations on the typical Microsoft server application design: tree hierarchy on the left, central area with a graphical representation of the system; actions on the right. One machine, however, showed something different: just a plain black window with a few white characters displayed near the top, following by a blinking cursor.

He peered in. "What’s this? An old DOS machine?"

VirgilI looked over at the machine. "No, it’s running that newfangled PowerShell. Used to be called Monad…we got involved when somebody claimed they had cracked it. Turned out to be total bunk, but I remember what the product looked like.

RobertLa had a vague recollection of the incident. PowerShell was going to ship with some server product…was it SQL Server? Or maybe Exchange. Yes, it was Exchange…suddenly he snapped his fingers.

"Excavate green herbs…I’ve got it! It’s an anagram for ‘Exchange Server Beta’". This machine is running the beta of Exchange 12, that’s why it was a PowerShell prompt. JacquesS was directing us to this machine!!" He looked at the machine excitedly, but could discern nothing unusual about it. On a whim he pressed up arrow to see if JacquesS had left a command in the history buffer, but it was a new window.

VirgilI approached the machine. The monitor, as with all lab monitors, was covered in dust. Really a terrible environment, anybody with allergies would have an immediate attack. He saw that someone had made a feeble attempt to clean this particular monitor, but it was a weak attempt, it looked as if a child had attempted to draw on the screen…wait, there WAS something written on the dust.

"Robert, come over here…see if you get the light striking the monitor just the right way? There’s something written in the dust!"

Now RobertLa could see it too. But if he was hoping that the writing would clear up the mystery, he was wrong. What was written on the monitor only added to the confusion.

* * *

Susan sat at her desk, gazing idly out the window. Her job as an administrative assistant wasn’t the most exciting, but at least her office afforded her a nice view of Lake Bill. The new parts of campus were largely bland; Lake Bill, in the open area between Buildings 1, 2, 3, and 4, had a pleasing asymmetry to it, as if it really had existed before Microsoft decided to construct its new headquarters around it.

Here came a man walking alongside the lake. A typical Microsoftie, greasy hair and a nervous tic. He seemed to be looking for something. Had he left a juggling ball somewhere? Parked his unicycle for later retrieval? Now he was nearing the large rock that jutted out into the lake near Building 2. Wait a minute. Susan felt her pulse quicken. Was he really doing what she thought he was going?

With a shock she realized that he was. Skin tingling, nerves jangling, she got down on her hands and knees and retrieved the sealed envelope taped to the bottom of her desk. The man who had visited her right after she moved into the office hadn’t explained much. Just left the envelope and some simple instructions.

Susan tore open the envelope and looked down at the paper inside. Four numbers, all five digits. Internal Microsoft extensions. She pressed the button to turn on her speakerphone, then thought better and picked up the handset. Trembling, keeping an eye on the man by the lake, she began to dial the first number.

To be continued...

Posted by AdamBa at May 31, 2006 11:28 PM

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Hilarious. Can't wait to read the next instalment :-D

Posted by: Anonymous1 at June 1, 2006 04:09 AM