Microsoft – Week 7

My final week has been exhilarating and yet fairly depressing- it’s been hard to say goodbye to the friends and coworkers I’ve been seeing every day for so long now.  Luckily I had a chance to check in with all my different teams I’d worked with over the summer before I left.

I spent my all day Monday with Microsoft Research, working to finish as much as I could of the TouchDevelop extension for Minecraft.  I ended up putting in ten hours of work- rewriting the networking layer to allow for multiplayer support, fixing crashes and other problems I had encountered in testing, and attempting to polish off all loose ends.  It was great to finish off the day being able to see real, concrete progress after investing so many hours developing.

On Tuesday, aside from a quick breakfast in Building 99, I ended up spending seven hours in Building 9 for what was supposed to be a quick fifteen minute checkup on the intro-to-modding session preparations.  A lack of adequate distribution software meant IT was forced to manually install the necessary modding tools on each individual computer (in a stack of over thirty), and this meant that if there were any issues, we’d have to go through another installation sweep of every unit.  Sure enough, there was an issue I spotted as soon as I walked in the door.  The wrong Eclipse installation was installed, meaning that the team’s progress so far was a waste.  It seemed to only get worse from there; I had another set of files I needed installed, and I soon realized that Eclipse workspaces were not portable (or in other words, they were locked to the computer they were created on), meaning I would have to manually set up the workspace on every computer.  Luckily, about two hours of grueling work in, my manager walked in with another co-worker who happened to have a solution to our problem- the creation of a single VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) with all the needed software that we could easily copy onto all the machines.  It worked and within an hour we had accomplished more than we had a good five hours prior.  We were good to go!

On Wednesday I started off in Building 99, moved onto The Commons for lunch and then on to The Visitor Center to shop for gifts for my friends back home, and then I finally returned to Building 99 to finish up a bit more work.  This was also the day before the intro-to-modding session, which forced me to polish off my presentation and review the schedule for the next day.  The amount of time and effort that went into making this session possible blows my mind- I never thought a little class like that would require so much preplanning and logistical organization.

Thursday was easily the busiest day of my week; I slept in as much as I could (which was only about a half an hour more than usual), since I knew what was in store for me for the day.  I started off the morning with my last video session in Redmond Town Center Building 5, and held “puppet Briana” on camera for the last time.  I just barely made it to Building 99 afterwards to catch a bus to the “Intern Envisioning Tour” with the rest of my MSR coworkers.  This experience was remarkable!  The tour took us through prototype software and appliances that would improve life both at home and in the workplace, all of which seemed real and ready to become commonplace.  I enjoyed a final lunch at The Commons, where I finalized the final few remaining preparations for the intro-to-modding session. Aside from a few technical issues we had getting the pixel editing software set up on the computers, the setup went very nicely, and the class itself went even smoother!  Several students had a syntax error here or there that the other interns and I helped them sort out, but regardless everyone managed to complete the projects I had planned for and we finished right on time.  I can’t say the experience transformed me into wanting to become a teacher, but I did have a great time talking about and explaining what I’ve done for so many years to students with similar interests, and I loved seeing their faces light up after playing with the block they had created; that was priceless.

Friday was, unsurprisingly, a very sentimental day for me as I walked around the campus for the last time.  My last real working hours I spent finishing my last few projects with Microsoft Research.  I said goodbye to Peli, whom I luckily will continue to be in contact with regarding a contract offer.  As I left the building, I made the mistake of putting on one of my Bobby Darin playlists and ended up listening to “Softly I Leave You” while I rode on what would be my last shuttle ride; I won’t lie, I was on the verge of tears.  I got off at Building 9 where I said goodbye to my fellow TED interns, cleaned off my desk, and had a heartfelt last farewell with my manager and mentor.  I went onto Building 16 to meet up with a few of my friends for the last time to play some Xbox, which definitely helped cheer me up.  My last few minutes on campus I spent walking the familiar route to Building 9 and dropped off my Microsoft badge on my mentor’s desk, before walking back to my apartment.  It didn’t feel right to leave.

Overall, I am so happy that I was a part of this amazing internship; it truly was an experience of a lifetime.  I have to keep convincing myself that it’s not over and I’ll likely be right back on campus next summer (or perhaps even sooner).  Well that’s it for my Microsoft internship blog series.  I hope you enjoyed reading about my technical ramblings, stories and thoughts about my time spent in Redmond.

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