posted by Wendy the Mighty


So, it seems that a number of people are terribly interested in what goes on in the deep, dark, depths of Microsoft.  Well, I gotta tell you.  You can ask every single person here at Microsoft that same question, and you would get a vastly different answer every time (grin).  So, I will give you my answer, or at least a reasonable facsimile of one, by relaying the time table of a single day as spent by me.  Specifically, a day I had last week.  If you get bored, skip to the end.  Or better yet, I’ll just tell you.  It was Mrs. White.  In the library.  With the candlestick.  😛

7:00am – Wake Up.  Rising at this unholy hour (as my coworkers can attest) is an absolute anomaly for me.  I am in the middle of testing a current build of Messenger and generally stay late to communicate with China.  However, my sleep schedule, much like my diet, is subject to change at any given moment and with great frequency.

8:30am – Arrive at work, grab my hot chocolate from the Automatic Hot Chocolate Dispenser (AHCD, pronounced "auwk-ed"), and head to my office.

8:35am – I begin pawing through my huge amounts of email.  I am in an odd situation, currently, having some responsibility in four separate iterations of Messenger: the current release, the next release, the next-next release, and a "special" build.  The "special" build is one that happens when a feature is SO big, or touches SO many areas, that it is worked on separately for a bit.  And no, I am not telling you what the feature is (locks up her lips and throws away the key).  At least not yet anyway.  As for me working on four iterations of Messenger…  Well, generally, one is working on one or two iterations of Messenger.  But as I said, I am in an odd situation.

9:30am – Yes, still pawing through mail, but I have a meeting with one of my feature teams working on the next-next iteration of Messenger (Yes, this is a little confusing – this build, that build, the other build – but hey!  Welcome to my life!).  We are working on a SuperCool™ new feature, that I will blog the heck out of… when I am allowed to.  For now, it is suffice to say that the meeting ran an hour with massive discussion, heckling, and Greco-Roman wrestling (ok, I made that last one up, but wouldn’t that be cool?!?) and we were all very excited when we left.  This is not an uncommon occurrence.  I love next and next-next meetings.  It’s like getting a super big dose of motivation, inspiration, and anticipation all in one fell swoop.  WOOSH!!!!  Much like jumping off a plane when you didn’t pack the parachute yourself (grin).  I’ve always landed, but there’s always a risk!

10:30am – In addition to preparing for future Messenger releases, I am currently in a test pass with the current release, so I quickly hunt through my spreadsheets and try to squeeze in as many test cases as I can before someone interrupts me.  A "test case" is a scenario we testers create in order to test the look and feel, the behavior, the security, etc, of a specific feature of Messenger.  Some feature areas can squeak by with under a hundred cases, and some take hundreds just to test a single aspect of the feature.  Most of my areas hover around the one hundred count, but I have a few that literally take a few spreadsheets just to list the titles.  So, here I am testing madly…. which lasts about 5 minutes, as someone interrupts me almost immediately.

10:35am – A fellow SDET who is looking for a few quick code reviews on their test case automation enters my office (why do these things have doors?!?).  Now, for those not in the know, an SDET is a weird kind of animal in the software world.   SDET stands for Software Development Engineer in Test and should not be confused with SDEs, or just plain ol’ Software Development Engineers.  SDEs are the developers who code Messenger.  SDETs are developers who code the tools necessary to test Messenger… and then they also test Messenger.  So we are like SDEs, only better (grin).  KIDDING!!  Kidding.   I am kidding.  I like giving my SDE teammates a little what-for.  Keeps them on their toes!  Heh heh.

So, I have pity on my coworker and agree to look over their work.  Reviewing their code is something I have been meaning to get to, but have been (and am still, frankly) just madly booked, but I cave and quickly begin to go over their code.  Which turns into a bit of a mistake since I then wind up code reviewing for a few others as well.  Heh heh.  Well, as a wise man – or woman – or automatically generated quote machine – once said, "No good deed goes unpunished."  And as it was written, so it was (grin).

11:40am – Code reviews behind me, and lunch staring me in the face, I return to my test cases.  I get through a grand total of two before I hit a bug.  The bug is NOT a Messenger bug, but something seems to be whonky with one or more of the servers I am hitting while testing.  I file a tracking bug, spend some time to try to narrow down which servers are causing the whonkiness and then alert the appropriate team.  This, unfortunately, takes quite a bit of time, but it’s occurring "in the world" so is of a higher priority than me getting my lunch on time.  I mean, I suppose I COULD write an email to our bazillions of users saying something to the effect of "Hi!  So sorry a few of you may experience this whonky behavior, but I was feeling peckish and wanted to get some snackies before I did anything about it.  Thanks ever so much!".  I think people would respond badly, no?!?  Duty before diet!  Well, unless the cafeteria is serving Paleek Paneer.  I love Paleek Paneer.  Can’t get enough of it.  Would swim in it if I could.

12:45pm – I take off to the cafeteria.  The cafeterias around Microsoft are pretty cool.  A bunch of them have special sections, in which a specific restaurant is given space.  The cafeteria nearest me has Ivar’s and they make a Caesar’s Salad that makes me cry like a little girl, with or without the Salmon.  This is what I buy and bring back to my office. 

Yay!  What a morning, n’est pas?  Various email sorted, meeting on a future Messenger release attended (in which pleasant chaos and mayhem ensued), code reviews done, test cases run, bugs filed.  Caesar’s Salad consumption in progress.  Yes a full morning, here in the Seattle suburb, and there is even more to come!

Stay tuned for my next blog, in which I will proceed thru the afternoon and into the early evening.  I won’t tell you what happens, but I will tell you that no blood is shed, no animals are hurt at any point, and I do make it home in one piece.  Well, virtually in one piece.  Technically, I suppose,  my laptop really isn’t part of me… it just feels like it is.



Wendy the Mighty
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