Xbox Support Sets the Standard

I had a relatively simple question about my Xbox Live account, earlier today, but the answer just wasn’t clear to me. So I hopped on the online and asked the support rep. I had an answer within minutes and was on to the next thing. Mark was a big help. But it got me thinking… I’ve contact Microsoft’s support team a few times in the last few years, and every time they’ve been a huge help. All too often when I call one company or another for support, they find a scape goat. “It must be your internet connection,” they’ll say, or “have you replaced the batteries?” I’ve been asked. Whether it’s for a few hundred dollars in a game console, or thousands of dollars on an enterprise server, I have to work with tech support all the time, and the Xbox Support team continues to deliver the best experience. Continue reading “Xbox Support Sets the Standard”

That time I almost worked for Microsoft as Xbox Support

This blog post is actually quite personal, I’ve only told this story to a few people. It seemed weird to “brag” about the job I didn’t go for. But it seems like a good time to share my story. If you’re uncomfortable with oversharing, stop now. Continue reading “That time I almost worked for Microsoft as Xbox Support”

Getting to know Microsoft's new CEO, Satya Nadella

Everyone, say hello to Satya Nadella. He has just been named the new CEO of Microsoft. Only the third CEO in company history, Nadella has been with Microsoft for 22 years.

He is well known for his role on the enterprise end of the spectrum. Particularly, over the last quarter-decade, he has been responsible for a lot of what makes Azure a great cloud platform. He is credited with making sure the infrastructure, including the ability to run Windows Server, SQL Server, and Visual Studio within the cloud. His educational background is at The University of Chicago, where he attended the Booth School of Business. While at Microsoft, he was a Senior VP in MBS (focusing on Dynamics and Office Small Business), then the President of the Server & Tools business, which is when he was making his big cloud push.

This should give us a clear idea of what Nadella going to focus on. Does this mean he will jettison other divisions like Windows Phone and Xbox? Doubtful. But we will very likely see more cloud integration and dependence on making the Xbox a “service” rather than simply a gaming or entertainment platform. Software as a Service (SaaS) and the ability to charge monthly fees for products like Windows and Office have been a long time goal for Microsoft, generating a steady stream of revenue. As much as the consumer may not like it, the entire industry has been trying to go this way for years. We can expect to see a push in this direction, as I expect Nadella will dive in more quickly than his predecessors, who were dipping their toes in.

If you really want to get to know Satya Nadella, learn about him from his MSDN blogs of years past.

2014 – The Districts – The Districts EP

I wrote about The Districts in 2012, after hearing their 2011 album Kitchen Songs, and I thought they sounded promising. It turns out, I was on to something, as the regional band just made their national debut. Following up 2012’s Telephone, the band is putting out their first nation-wide EP release, self-titled The Districts. RollingStone is writing about the boys, and even has the entire EP available for streaming.

The new EP features some familiars to anybody who has heard their Telephone album, and for those who recall Kitchen Songs, you will be pleased to know that their sound hasn’t changed much. The musicians are extremely talented and are maturing at a quick rate. Lyla promises to turn some heads with hypnotic refrains and guitar talent that joins with the vocals that let you know you’re listening to someone as unique as The Districts. Funeral Beds, without question the first single off of the album, has a humble, folksy sound to it, harmonica included. But it has no shame in building on itself until you can’t help but tap your foot along with the music until you feel your whole body wanting to join in. The building in the song, however, is subtle. It sneaks up on you. It doesn’t become more rocous until near the very end of the track, but the whole time you feel it coming, and what is building is more your anticipation of it than the song itself.

A couple of new songs join the ones you know and love, and Rocking Chair really helps set the tone for newcomers to the band. In this track, the boys genuinely seem to be having a good time. It’s a more fun sound than they have had to date and feels to me like they are just happy to be sharing their music with a wider audience. The closing track, Stay Open, is another new song and yet again features the lyrical brilliance that I have come to love. I have had limited listens so far, these are first impressions of the new album, but I like to see how hard The Districts’ members are working to make sure their band takes off. Look for them at SXSW 2014, and until then, check out The Districts EP.