Leaving the ‘Soft

Nine-and-a-half years is a long time to spend doing anything.  It never felt like that much time, because I did such wildly different things at Microsoft.  From testing the object model of Internet Explorer as a college intern to building automation harnesses for API testing of Windows Presentation Foundation to helping architect and build the QA foundation for Silverlight to evangelising a very wide range of developer-focused technology, almost every single day was different at Microsoft.

It’s still strange to think that just over ten years ago, I would have been shocked if anyone would have predicted I’d take a full-time job at Microsoft.  I spent most of my college years writing Perl and C, creating HTML & Javascript-based websites, and admining Linux servers.  I ran my university’s students server, providing hosting and maintenance as well as website creation services for student organizations.  I had a Commodore 64 until I went away to college, and in college I used almost exclusively Linux and Mac OS.  I never used Windows much until I started my internship in Redmond in 2000.

It remains a mystery to me how I got that phone call about interviewing for Microsoft in the first place.  After a surprisingly fun phone interview, I flew to the west coast for the first time in my life.  In my head, I was getting a free trip to Seattle, and all I had to do was talk to some geeks about code for a day.  After a full day of interviews I had two problems: 1) I was so mentally exhausted that I was too tired to visit the Space Needle and 2) I loved it.  How was I supposed to go back to Missouri and tell my Linux friends that I was going to take an internship at Microsoft?

Obviously I survived those conversations.  During my internship, I fell in love with the company and accepted a full-time job offer.  I loved that I could use any technology I wanted (until I moved to Ireland, I still wrote a ton of Perl and Python and built most things on the command line).  I loved the amazing hallway conversations we’d randomly have about tough programming issues.  I loved that all the techie folks I worked with “got me”, had the same sense of humour, were quirky and fun and hilarious.  And I loved that since Microsoft had offices everywhere, I was able to stay with the company and move abroad, something I had been wanting to do for years.  Microsoft is an outstanding company to work for in every respect.

All this goodness, and now I’m walking away.

It’s not about Microsoft technology, people, corporations, customers or anything like that.  It’s just about being a developer who loves learning and wanting to continue building my skills and growing my experience.  It’s time to do something different.  I’m not sure what it will be, but it will definitely involve creating cool, cutting-edge technology that I can share and learn from.

First of all, though, I’m headed on holidays to Nepal and Tibet for three weeks to take some down time and enjoy an exciting part of the world I’ve always wanted to see.

See you back in Dublin in a few weeks.

New Chapter, New Blog

For the last three years, my blog has been at http://blogs.msdn.com/martharotter.  It was appropriate because I started blogging as an experiment to see if I thought I would enjoy evangelism.  I loved it, and kept my blog there since 2007.  Mostly I blogged about new Microsoft technology, initiatives and events for Irish developers my team and I were running, and occasionally personal posts about my life in Ireland or my family or travels.

Friday, September 24th, 2010 was my last day at Microsoft after nine-and-a-half years.  It’s still hard to believe I was there that long.  But now it’s time to do something different, so it seemed appropriate to transfer my blog to a new home and change its focus a bit.  I’ll still blog about the things I’m passionate about such as web and mobile technology, just now with a bit wider lens.

I’m very excited to get back to building and architecting things, so I’m looking forward to creating new projects and blogging about them.  Thanks for joining me here.