Thursday, October 29, 2015

Another year at Microsoft, another position change

A little over a year ago, I moved from Bing to DX, part of Microsoft's evangelism group to work on a project that still has not yet been disclosed. Tomorrow will be my last day within DX as I move to the Windows and Devices Group (WDG) to work yet again on some truly big data + machine learning.

In Bing, I worked on a few projects utilizing Microsoft's Cosmos distributed and massively parallel processing system before moving over to do some tented work on Azure and websites and other secret things. Starting next week, I'll once again be doing severely large-scale work in analytics and prediction, with some natural language stuff thrown in for good measure. Or so I'm lead to understand.

The position sort of fell into my lap, so it's with some trepidation that I'm leaving a project where I get to do some cool stuff and implement a lot of neat features -- which, of course, I can't yet discuss. Maybe once my soon-to-be-former team goes public, I'll do some blog posts about what I've been doing.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Climbing Mount Saint Helens

Yesterday, I climbed Mount Saint Helens with my friends Tim and Mike. We started at Climber's Bivouac at 6am. After about an hour, when starting to get above much of the dense forest, we got an amazing view of the sunrise.

Sunrise looking at Mt. Adams (left) and Mt. Hood (right)

Looking through the trees at a layered sunrise.

In short order, we reached the treeline and the start of the very rocky, ashy incline up the mountain.

Mike looking up the trail
It quickly turned to a straight shot up the mountain over decently sized boulders.

When we started off, it was rather foggy at Climber's Bivouac. Throughout the day, the clouds stayed down at the bottom, providing a beautiful blanket across the national forest.

Scrambling up all the volcanic rock made some form of gloves a very useful addition to my gear for the day.

A couple years ago, I bought the boys some small stuffed black bears at REI. Reed's bear "Junior" somehow got lost in some of my gear, so I had a stowaway for the day.

The last 1000' or so vertical feet was through very soft ash and gravel. Here, I'm looking down the mountain at Mike, Tim, and the dozens of other climbers.

At the top, the wind varied from nil to extremely strong, blasting sand into our faces. Between that and the sun, I'm a super squinty guy.

We had an amazing view of the crater, lava dome, etc. I tried to get a few decent panoramas to try to illustrate how incredible the sight is. Here's a decent stitch; the steam coming out of the middle is, I believe, methane gas.

I got a quick shot at the top showing how windy it was:

It took us a little over five hours (6:00-11:20) to get to the top. The descent back to the Bivouac took until 15:00, but not without a few more photo ops:
Looking back up the mountain during the descent

Junior was on the mountain illegally, as he didn't have his own permit.