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June 03, 2006

The Microsoft Code: Chapter 4

Continued from Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3.

VirgilI let out a low whistle. "47 hex is 71 decimal. I don't believe it."

RobertLa knew a lot of numeric symbolism, but had never come across anything significant about 71, especially relating to Microsoft. "What's so special about 71?"

VirgilI shot him a look. "You don't get out much, do you? Look, you must know about the Microsoft career levels. Junior people are in the low 60s, then if you keep getting promoted you might wind up at level 70. Right?"

RobertLa nodded.

"OK, so then what happens after level 70? What if you get promoted from that?"

RobertLa had heard some vague rumors about this. "I think you jump up, don't you? To level 80 or something?"

VirgilI grinned. "Right, that's what they want you to think. But it turns out that there is one guy who got promoted from level 70 to level 71…nobody knows why…but he's the only level 71 developer in the company. And I know who he is."

"And do you think he's at work now?" RobertLa said, wonder filling his voice.

"I'm sure he is," replied VirgilI. "If you're level 71, I don't think you leave the office much."

* * *

The level 71 developer was indeed in his office, which was a clutter of plaques, Lego models, obsolete manuals, and empty Diet Coke cans. He was seated at his desk, wearing a polo shirt that showed five colored balls on the front, with the words "April Fool's Day 2006" underneath.

"Hi guys," said the level 71 developer. "What can I do for you?"

VirgilI quickly explained the situation. The level 71 developer rubbed his jaw and thought for a moment. Then he said, "I think there's something I should show you."

He burrowed through the papers piled on his desk, pulled one out, and handed it to RobertLa. It had a geometric pattern of some sort on it. Looking closer, he saw the following:

VirgilI peered at it. "If you squint at it sort of funny, it looks like the word 'Microsoft'. Is that the new logo or something?"

The level 71 developer smiled. "Right, it says Microsoft. But when I turn it over, what does it say?" With a practiced flip of his wrist, he rotated the picture 180 degrees.

RobertLa recoiled, stunned. He could feel his breath shortening, his pulse quickening, his eyes watering. A sick feeling began to radiate outward from his solar plexus. His knees felt weak and he could feel beads of sweat forming on his brow. A burning sensation grew in his eyes, and his heart began to beat faster. He gasped. "But this can only mean…it must mean…"

"Well, nothing much, actually," said the level 71 developer. "I just thought it was cool. Anyway, what were we talking about…oh right, JacquesS. I don't know him…but now that you mention it I might have gotten email from him."

RobertLa moved behind him. "It would have been sent not that long ago. It's probably still in your Inbox."

"In my Inbox?" the level 71 developer snorted. "No way. I've got an Outlook rule for email from people in test who have direct reports that I haven't sent email to in the last 14 days. Don't you have a rule like that? Don't you use Outlook rules? I can't believe it when people don't use Outlook rules."

RobertLa looked down, feeling embarrassed.

The level 71 developer swiveled in his chair and looked at VirgilI. "Well, you must use Outlook rules, right? I've got a rule for everything. See, it just puts it in one of these subfolders. It's really easy, I think people don't use Outlook rules because they're scared of them…" He was scanning his Outlook folder list, still muttering about rules.

"Do you have Desktop Search installed?" asked VirgilI. "Then you could probably find it pretty fast."

The level 71 developer waved his hand dismissively. "I don't need that. I just need to find the folder where I put it…hang on, let me try searching in Outlook."

VirgilI snorted. "Please. At least use the Advanced Find. The default Find just puts up that little box. I don't know what it really does."

"I agree," said the level 71 developer. "OK, let me search for email from JacquesS…of course it won't let me search on his email address, I have to type his name. You know, back when I started, we didn't even know people's names, only email addresses! Those were the days. That reminds me of something—"

RobertLa interrupted. "This is fascinating, but did you find the email yet?"

"Hang on…yes, here it is. OH!" He put his hands to his mouth, aghast. "It had no subject line! Boy, he's lucky, I was just about to add a rule about that. When people don't put a subject line on an email I just think—"

VirgilI leaned in. "What does the email say?"

The level 71 developer double-clicked on the empty subject line. "Here it is. It says…ummm…I'm not sure what that means."

Neither RobertLa nor VirgilI could tell what it meant either. On the screen in front of them glowed a single line of text:


To be continued...

Posted by AdamBa at June 3, 2006 11:39 PM

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Nice story, I liked it. Keep on going man!

Posted by: Adrian Godong at June 4, 2006 09:23 PM

My guess, Level 71 developer == Larry Osterman.

Posted by: Andrew at June 5, 2006 10:03 AM