Visiting Uncle Bill

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Hi everyone!

Just got back from a weeklong trip to Seattle, where I spent a few days at the Microsoft headquarters, as an invited guest of Microsoft's for a CIO Summit on Technology Innovations. It was a really great time - I took a few pictures (it was difficult to take pictures inside of Microsoft, as they frowned upon it), and I'll share the story/events with all of you.

Arrived at the Hyatt Regency Belvue on Monday afternoon. Nice place - nothing extravagant:

The room did have a flatscreen TV, though:

They also had a small gift basket:

Inside of it were some goodies:

The room had an OK view:

So on Monday night, Microsoft took our group (about 300 people) to dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Everything was no charge - we had $60 fillets, appetizers, side dishes, desert, and all the fixin's. No wonder a copy of Windows is $400 these days....

When we got back to the hotel (around 1am), this was parked in front of the hotel:

That's a Lamborghini Gallardo.... a cool $180k... there was a different one in front of the hotel each night - on one of the nights, the license plate read, "SFTWARE" (software). Nice...

On Tuesday, we attended our first day of conferences. We were on the Microsoft campus, in the "Executive Briefing Center" building. It was a huge building, #48 of 160-ish buildings that Microsoft has on its Redmond campus. The building was nothing but conference rooms and banquet rooms... here's a picture from the lobby area:

Immediately to my left in the photo was a section of the Berlin wall that measured about 15' tall and 6' wide by about 10' deep. They had all sorts of interesting art and timepieces on display throughout the building.

We were in the Kodiak Room, which seated about 300 people:

I sat in the second row from the front. Whenever you wanted to ask a question, you placed a flag near your name plate, and a person with a microphone (there were 3-4 people with mics running around) would hand you the microphone so that others could hear your question. They were also broadcasting the sessions to a room nearby, where additional people were watching from.

Microsoft didn't leave us for wanting when it came to food... we had breakfast, snacks, lunch, and all of the softdrinks you could imagine available to us. There were coolers the size of my kitchen that held every imaginable drink on the planet - everything from water to Diet Mt Dew to vitamin water to juice, milk, and so on. They even had "Silk" (soy milk)...

Here's what I had for lunch on Tuesday:

Tuesday night, Microsoft took us to the Newcastle Golf Club, an ultra-exclusive golf club in the hills ouf Redmond/Bellvue. They hosted a wine-makers dinner for us. There were about 10 local wineries on hand that had samples of their wines, along with cheese, crackers, fruit, snacks, and a nice dinner. Here are a few pictures:

The winemakers' tent:

The view from a balcony at the club:

The Seattle skyline in the distance:

My ugly mug, with a glass of wine from a small winery that only makes a total of 300 cases of wine per year. I'm guessing the wine was about $200/bottle?

Our food:

We left the dinner at around 9pm local time. Microsoft also gave us free copies of Vista Ultimate, a cool laptop bag, and a 4GB memory stick (USB). They definitely took care of us!

We ducked out a little early to go site seeing, and hit the infamous Fish Market.

Here are some pictures, they're pretty self explanatory:

We ate dinner Wednesday night at a place called "Joey's." Fantastic restaurant -- superb. We slept-in on Thursday and then flew home Thursday afternoon. It was a great trip; I learned a lot, met a lot of great folks, and had a blast at Microsoft's headquarters. It definitely improved my opinion of them - they have some cool stuff coming in the near future.

Friday was business as usual at work, and then today, I spent the day fixing-up someone's house with about 40 of my coworkers, as part of our annual "Rebuilding Together" event. I think we're going to the dog park tomorrow...

That's about it. :-)

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