# Six Years At Microsoft

Welcome to another instalment of , this time delivered on the sixth anniversary of my .

After nearly in Microsoft Consulting Services (which is now rebranding itself as Industry Solutions), I have just moved (today) to the worldwide organisation.

I will be joining the Global Innovation, Solution Architecture and Design team, working on building and evolving first-party and third-party solutions for 5G and voice.

Which is a fancy way of saying I’ve been kindly invited into yet another “master troubleshooter”/”organisational interpreter” role, but this time sitting inside the Azure product group and looking out for how what we build is designed, engineered and delivered to telco customers.

## Goodbye, Industry Solutions

The past two years have been a wild ride–I joined what was called the Cross-Domain Delivery team to work with Fortune 500 companies across EMEA, became the goto person for telco solutions, and even as Microsoft Consulting re-cast itself into Industry Solutions and started setting up an approach to telcos all around me, after a while it just made sense to gravitate towards the Azure organisation itself since it takes me closer to the engineering teams and the guts of modern 5G and voice stacks.

After all, it’s that I was finding the consulting part of the job (and the procedural overhead, plus all the paperwork) a tad unsatisfactory–the people were amazing, the customers fascinating, the solutions insanely complex and the teams very rewarding to work with, but in the end I just wasn’t having enough fun.

## Paths Not Traveled

Which is why, back in Spring, I had an offer to work at a FAANG. It was literally a one-in-a-lifetime thing (with a fun backstory I should write about in a few years, but likely ). I had everything lined up: a great opportunity for having immediate impact, good compensation, fully remote, and (most importantly) I enjoyed every single interview and met amazing people.

Then, all of a sudden, I was asked to start on the 17th of May, which was not only shorter than my notice period but would prevent us from having any sort of family vacation (which we ). School would still be going on, , etc.

After a grueling couple of sleepless nights, I decided not to take it.

I will never know how it would have panned out, and I’m realistic enough to not dwell on it since I will never know if it was the right decision career-wise, but it certainly was the best decision family-wise, and that is what matters.

But the fun thing was that, serendipitously, two days later I was told I would be promoted to Chief Architect for Telco Solutions–and that kind of set the tone for .

All in all, the timing for this change couldn’t be more interesting.

In the Wild West that is the modern 5G space, I’m coming “back” right smack in the middle of spectrum auctions (yes, ANACOM, I’m looking at the unsightly mess you’ve made of the Portuguese auction), massive investment cycles and (most importantly) critical network roll-outs, and at a time when Microsoft is making in the space.

So, borrowing a friend’s words, it’s like a forest fire out there (at least metaphorically speaking). And yes, I fully expect to be putting out fires, just like the old days.

Technology-wise, since I worked in 3G/4G packet core and IMS when I was at Vodafone, it’s going to be quite interesting to dive into what 3GPP and the like have been up to over the past ten years–in particular, to try to understand how much they’ve messed up the 5G reference architecture and how it can be sanely re-cast in a cloud native form.

Ever the techology prepper, I’ve obviously kept tabs and have been gradually getting back into things during the past year, but now I can .

Let’s see how it goes, given that I already .

# From Clouds To Raindrops

The other day I was mulling a particularly boring chore I had just finished (one of the many mundane tasks associated with my industry consulting role) and started musing about what I would really like to be doing with my time.

It’s fine.

# Things I'm Waiting For

While we wait for the next Apple event, and having had enough time to reflect on , I think I have a pretty good idea of what I am missing from ‘s current (and currently foreseeable) line up.

# TIL: Barrier, a better Synergy

After using Synergy to drive one of my Surfaces alongside my Mac I was going nuts with the screensaver kicking in while I was on calls–my Mac would go idle and lock my Surface’s screen as well, blanking out the call.

It turned out that for some reason, Synergy doesn’t support disabling screensaver sync anymore (at least not in the license I have).

I initially tried editing the configuration file manually and the feature actually worked (despite not being surfaced in the GUI), but then the app would overwrite my settings upon quit.

Support couldn’t even figure out what I was talking about and asked me to “upgrade” to a version that wouldn’t even accept the setting anymore, So I replaced it with Barrier, which is a fork that, strangely enough, feels a lot more polished overall.

So if you’re still using Synergy 1.x, give it a try.

# A Flash In The Pan

My somewhat optimistic plans for the weekend were dashed by the sudden demise of my ‘s EMMC flash storage, which is hardly unsurprising considering the thing has been running uninterrupted for years–.

# California Streaming

I’ve been brooding and trying to re-adjust to returning to work, so today’s Apple event was an interesting distraction. Some quick thoughts in no particular order:

# Toasty Mood

It’s 28oC indoors, tomorrow’s my last day of summer vacation, and, unsurprisingly, I’m about as keen on returning to work on Monday as stepping on burning coals. In fact, I might actually prefer the novelty of the coals.

# The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5

This is going to be another non-Apple post, but for a good reason: As I wrote about , my lovely, svelte and ultralight died an accidental and ignominious death and I was left without a working “to the metal” machine for low level hacking, i.e. building and flashing and firmware images, messing about with network stuff, fiddling with , etc.

# TIL: Bitwig Studio on Linux

Today I learned that Bitwig Studio has an 8-track license, which I happened to get a hold of (there are occasional offerings and bundles it comes with, and I stumbled upon one of those).

Since Stimming uses it, I was more than a bit curious to check it out, and given I have been , I decided to install the flatpak for version 3 and try it out on my new Linux laptop.

That worked OK (with ALSA audio, by the way), but since the flatpak was quite old I upgraded to version 4.0.1 (via .deb packages) and spent a few hours playing around.

This is by no means a review, just a few notes and quick impressions:

• Touchscreen controls just worked (I will be trying this out on the Mac later, but thought it amusing that I quite like the interaction model on Linux).
• The UX is very smooth. I’m a Logic guy and have dabbled in Ableton, and it was easier to find my way around this than Ableton. Only niggle is that UI element control sizes are on the small side by default.
• I really like the effect stacking UX (which to me is one of Logic‘s current weak points, and the only thing that made me curious about Ableton). Zero trouble getting the hang of it, or the mixer, or any audio post-processing options I could reach.
• 8 tracks is an OK limitation for doodling, but I really wish I could use some of the built-in instruments from the 16-track and full versions.

This last bit was what stuck with me. I can browse through and audition what seems like most of the baseline built-in instruments and that makes for a great demo (and might be a good upsell strategy), but it is incredibly frustrating not to be able to use them in my tracks, especially given Apple’s current pace of near-monthly add-on releases1 for .

All in all, this is worth a second look, and I will try it on my Mac after Summer break and see what I can do with some of my usual VSTs.

But it could be so much nicer if dabbling with the built-in synths was a real possiblitly. Feels like a missed opportunity to win people over.

1. Plus, of course, the sheer amount of stuff you can get indirectly by buying MainStage if you don’t have Logic (which I do). But on iOS alone, things are insane. My iPad is chock full of instrument packs of all kinds these days… ↩︎

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