View Full Version : A Tale of Two Cities - Day the Third to Morning the Fifth - Microsoft

10-12-2008, 07:39 AM
This part deals with my entire training course in a fairly logical order, although it is not strictly in time order, so please bear with me. As the training course took up so much of my day, I've decided to merge all 2 1/2 days into 1 part for ease of reading, plus separate days would end being very short posts.

The training course was run by Microsoft, which meant that I got the opportunity to have a reasonable look at some of their facilities, which were incredible. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed (at this time) to talk about exactly what I learnt on the training course, so please don't ask me as I'll only tell you that I can't tell you. This should be due to change soon by the end of this month I believe, but at this point in time, it's going to be a fairly short portion of my TR. I'll probably update this a little once I am able to talk about it, as it may (or may not be) of interest to some people here.

The hotel I stayed on was situated directly on the Microsoft campus, although it was still a good 5 / 10 minute walk or so away from the building I actually needed to be in (the Microsoft campus is just that large). It's a gorgeously green place though, with tree lined streets and avenues all around.

What I can talk about, however, is the hospitality provided by Microsoft to their guests, which was amazing beyond belief. Every morning, they provided a huge breakfast buffet of rolls, croissants, cereals, jams and spreads, cakes, pastries, american muffins, fresh fruit (melon, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries) and drinks including tea, coffee, fruit juice and soft drinks (coke, sprite etc).

Lunch was also fully provided. This was something different each day, but was always a hot meal that you could help yourself to as much or as little as you wanted. Day 1 was a chinese with rice and two or three different options to choose from. Day 2 was a kind of barbecue chicken with a vegetable stirfry, while Day 3 was a bolognese type dish with vast amounts of garlic bread. Of what I ate, the food was very good, especially the garlic bread (I ate far too much of this as I'm not fond of bolognese and pasta) and the chicken.

Dinner, as with lunch, was also fully provided. This was provided away from the main Microsoft site, as we were taken out both evenings for so called "dinner and social" events on both occasions.

The first night, we travelled to Microsoft's sales offices which are spread across many floors of a rather large building in Bellevue. At the very top of this building, Microsoft have a kind of social lounge, where they provided us with a huge dinner (amazing food with steak, chicken and a couple of other dishes, with potatoes and vegetables, plus a big selection of brownies, lemon cheesecake and other such fantastic desserts). On top of this, we were also provided with a free bar from which you could request most drinks made quite strongly :) Looking out from the balcony provided some amazing views, including views right back to downtown Seattle (the small skyscrapers in the very far distance in the middle of the first picture.

We were also provided with a magician who seemed to specialise in close up magic and appeared to favour card magic. His tricks were very clever and well presented, with very little repeat of tricks throughout the entire 3 hours or so that we were there. Most of his tricks were above and beyond those that you would usually see, for example one trick had a set of 4 cards change their backing 3 or 4 times throughout the length of the trick.

The evening also provided an opportunity to talk to some of the other people on the course, which was interesting as gave the chance to find out about some of the other companies involved and what they do, as well as what they were doing with what we were learning about. A number of large and well known computing companies were represented at the event, including Intel and BT to name but two.

The second night's dinner and social event was a trip to a bowling alley in Seattle, where they had hired out the entire bottom floor, just for us. The food this time was various pizzas, so I opted out as this is not something I like, although I didn't feel too bad about this as I'd stocked up quite a lot at lunch time anyway.

We were again provided with an unlimited free bar, meaning that we were well fed and watered once again. Finally, they provided us with unlimited free bowling, which worked out to be about 4 games each over the course of the entire evening. Bowling is something I thoroughly enjoy and don't do as much of as I used to (and would like to do), as I used to bowl about 4 games a week while I was at college because I could go at the cheap time when it was 2.50 a game, plus I was able to get hold of buy 1 get 1 free vouchers making it 5 for 4 games. Even so, some of that obviously still remains, as if I remember rightly, 3 of my 4 scores were over 100 which is a reasonable night for me, with one of them being about 140 or so.

We had a great evening with the bowling, although I was very tired when we finally got back because there was an accident on the freeway (causing entertaining scenes of cars both reversing down it to try to return to the previous junction and one or two even managed a complete U-turn!?). Being tired didn't really help though, as I had to be packed ready to check out first thing in the morning, so I could head to the last day of the course, then head onwards to the airport immediately after.

Overall, I loved the training course. It was quite informal, giving me plenty of time to surf the web etc during it and provided some interesting material that looks really interesting to work with. The hospitality was fantastic, plus being able to work at Microsoft is quite a privilege for me, especially as they are one of the most famous computing companies around.

Even so, I was happy to be away from Redmond at about 3 o clock and heading off back to the airport, ready to move on the Anaheim and the holiday part of my trip.

A Small World
10-12-2008, 08:20 AM
Another fantastic report with some wonderful pictures - especially the sunset.

Im looking forward to hearing more about your course (but probably wont understand anything you tell me)

10-12-2008, 08:41 AM
Sounds a fabulous course and the views look spectacular, looking forward now to the Disney part of your trip.

10-12-2008, 09:00 AM
Sounds like it was a fun course to be on. The hospitality sounds like no expense spared:thumbsup2 but then it was probably pocket change for Microsoft:rotfl2:

10-12-2008, 09:40 AM
Sounds great so far, love the monorail and Space Needle in Seattle. I thought Microsoft would be fun. I always remember going to a meeting at their Reading offices and getting well fed and watered, and playing Xbox 360 before it was released to the public - great.

This is pretty common hospitality for the big boys - SAP feeds people very well too.

10-12-2008, 10:55 AM
I always remember going to a meeting at their Reading offices and getting well fed and watered, and playing Xbox 360 before it was released to the public - great.

Oh yes - I didn't get a chance to play, but they had a big room with a huge projection TV, sofas, XBOX 360 with rock band on it and a lot of games set up...

I also forgot to mention the freezer with ice cream in it (also free) :banana:

10-12-2008, 02:20 PM
Looking forward to the next installment :)

10-12-2008, 02:26 PM
Sounds like it was a fun course to be on. The hospitality sounds like no expense spared:thumbsup2 but then it was probably pocket change for Microsoft:rotfl2:

Indeed it was...

For anybody who knows a little about computers, this will make sense in describing their hospitality at times:

At the end of our course, we got given a small memory stick to keep, which was a 2gb memory stick. A nice touch, as they look good and probably didn't cost them too much (maybe 20 each, if that).

At an event they are holding at the end of this month, it is rumoured that every person going (and there will be way more people going than were on my course) will be receiving a 160gb hard drive to keep... Now these don't go cheap (I think their at least 50 each, if not more).

julie 'o'
10-12-2008, 02:39 PM
Wow, what a fantastic start to your trip, love the views of Seattle,looking forward to next installment:)