Friday, 20 July 2007

The boys are coming to town!

Jelle Druyts and Peter Demeyere and a bunch of other Belgians are coming to Seattle for TechReady. Jelle is giving a presentation on the Guidance Automation Toolkit the following week and he’s sticking around for my birthday. This makes me incredibly happy. When I first started working at Microsoft Jelle and I were the rookies and Peter Himschoot and Peter Demeyere were the experienced scary people. After about 2 years a couple of things went pretty wrong at Info Support and in a not to long time span we all left the company but remained friends ever since. I always considered Peter Himschoot to be my mentor, Peter Demeyere an incredible smart guy and Jelle… Well Jelle and I have got a very interesting history. Even when switching jobs in the years after InfoSupport we always ended up at the same company and ever since InfoSupport people always created some kind of competition between us and I’m glad it never got the upper hand. By the way Jelle is also the guy that would lend me his couch when I broke up with a girlfriend (The stories he could tell ). Anyway one of the biggest tests of our friendship probably was when we did our Devdays presentations together. I had just moved out of the house me and Wendy had been living in for the last years, Wendy still lives there so you kinda know what went wrong and I really wasn’t up to giving or preparing any kind of presentation. We ended up in a sprint and finalized the presentation a couple of hours before we went on stage. I don’t think it’s that much different from a lot of presentations but anyways… It was still early days for Visual Studio Team System back then and the prerelease version blew up a couple of time in never before seen ways but … at least Jelle and I had a lot of fun!


I’m incredibly glad to have them over and I’ve been looking forward to this for a couple of months now. Katie knows…

07/20/2007 23:08:07 UTC  #  Comments [6] 

Mentos in Carlsberg

No words needed!

07/20/2007 22:23:28 UTC  #  Comments [0] 

Harry Potter Book


Just another random office conversation:

Steven: I know how the new harry potter book ends

Suzanne: Don't you tell, me! I will beat you up and I'm very serious about that!

07/20/2007 21:27:21 UTC  #  Comments [1] 
 Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Something Zune could have done better

Besides the fact that I absolutely love my Zune, there's one thing that could be better .  When you reinstall your machine to which your Zune is bound, you can either reconnect as a guest after the installation or just erase everything that is one your Zune and start all over.  It's dissapointing... 

07/18/2007 21:20:46 UTC  #  Comments [3] 
 Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Big Brothers Big Sisters of King & Pierce Counties

After talking to Michael Leonard one of our SDET's on our team.  (Well, Michael is not just one of the SDET'S on our team, I call him Michael Bauer.  He's the Jack Bauer of bugs. Michael is the guy I turn to when I want an answer on how the quality of popfly is doing.)  I applied to volunteer at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of King & Pierce Counties.  I'll definitely report on how this works out.

Big Brother
07/17/2007 19:17:16 UTC  #  Comments [0] 

Getting Better

I've been planning on writing a post on my shoulder operation but I just haven't been up for it.

Before Suzanne brought me to the hospital, Murali (one of the developers on our team) detected serious performance degradation on  This caused me to file a high priority ticket to the operations team, just before I left.  One of the implications of filing a high priority ticket is that the coming 24 hours, you need to be available to work with operations team on getting the problem resolved.  Since I was undergoing surgery in about 2 hours that was going to be a bit of a problem, but I asked Murali and John to act on my behalf, and they handled it perfectly.

I made it clear to everybody in the hospital that I get nauseous when I have anesthesia, so eventually I got 2 anti-nausea injections.  My surgeon is, just like me, a man of few words when it comes to getting his job done. 

Doctor Castle: "Do you have any questions?"

Me: "Am I going to be ok?"

Doctor Castle: "Yes"

Me: "That's all I need to know, we'll talk later..."

Doctor Castle: "Sounds good"

He was running a bit ahead on his schedule, and before I knew it I was laying on the operation table. 

Lights out...

When I woke up again, I was feeling pretty nauseous, ant-nausea medication suck everywhere around the world.

After about 10 minutes in the recovery room, Anna arrived to pick me up.  Well,... I wasn't really in a state to be picked up to be honest.  Nauseous and still pretty much under the influence of the anesthesia but I was in a lot of pain. Before I could get additional pain relief I had to get some food in my stomach and I got some pudding. I made Anna to make the airplane noise before I opened my mouth to get some pudding in… She was shocked that I asked her to do that but I guess I was looking sick enough at that time since she made the airplane noise. She did tell me that there would be a time in which she would ask for a big favor, and she would remind me of this moment. After another half hour I stared to become more human again, and the nurse told me that I should try to get my clothes on.

Problem: “Your right arm is just operated and you are in a lot of pain”.

Solution: “Have Anna put on my pants, socks, etc”. That’s where the second big favor comes into play. But I was happy. Imagine John having to put on my pants… that would have sucked!

I forgot to mention that I got my surgery on the hottest day of the year and I was just burning up while I was resting on my couch. Thomas came by to say hi and I fully thought I was engaged in a conversation with him and was answering his questions without him even needing to speak. At one point I realized that I was going nuts, which was a strange sensation.

At the end of the day I own a couple of people a very big thank you:

Suzanne: Thanks for driving me to the hospital

Anna: Thanks for making the airplane noise, putting my clothes on, picking me up, getting my pain killers and taking care of me the first hours out of the hospital

John: Thanks for taking care of me when Anna left, and getting the cookies I wanted

Thomas: Thanks for popping by, checking up on me, and having a non-existing conversation with me.

07/17/2007 18:13:53 UTC  #  Comments [0] 

 Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Last statement of our triage meeting

John: Is there anything else we should be worried about?

A couple of people: Global warming!

John: I just love this group.

07/11/2007 16:56:13 UTC  #  Comments [0] 
 Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Getting my ass kicked in English

I’m on lucky streak of getting my ass kicked in English:

Wes: Why don’t you shut your mouth

Steven: Why don’t I shut it for you? (Thinking I was being tuff)

Wes: Yeah, you do that.

Steven: Crap, I suck at this language

Next time…

07/10/2007 20:50:58 UTC  #  Comments [0] 
 Monday, 09 July 2007

My First Mariners game
I saw my first Mariners game last week (I'm late I know) and although I never expected to actually like baseball, I loved it!

I got some pictures of its as well, the one with John drinking himself to death with water is my favorite :-)

07/09/2007 20:38:41 UTC  #  Comments [0] 


John and I are watching the Band of Brothers series and in episode 4, Easy Company is being shipped to Eindhoven.  We got in to a bit of a discussion on how to pronounce Eindhoven.  This is about how it went.

Steven: It’s actually pronounced Eindhoven.  (see how I’m writing it correctly)

John: It’s pronounced Eeeinhoeven (or something like that).  That’s how we Brittish pronounce it and that’s why it’s correct.

Steven: I don’t care about your fracking language

John: Obviously, you murder it every day


07/09/2007 03:26:40 UTC  #  Comments [0] 
 Saturday, 07 July 2007

Wes' Birthday Party
Last Friday we had Wes's birthday party. I just got some of the photos from John's camera, so here they are. The photos will prove that I was a bit intoxicated but I guess that's not a crime :-)

07/07/2007 22:04:44 UTC  #  Comments [2] 
 Friday, 06 July 2007

Thomas's Demo on Data Dude

I got Thomas to give a demo on Data Dude today. Vinay and Murali are excited about the product and I'm excited because by using Data Dude we’ll overcome some of the concerns I’ve been having with regards to our database development and deployment. The Popfly team has added Data Dude to its tools today. YAY! 

07/06/2007 21:08:23 UTC  #  Comments [2] 
 Thursday, 05 July 2007

You will be made stronger by adversity

Thomas and I went out for some Chinese food on Monday and this is what my fortune cookie had to say: “You will be made stronger by adversity”. Ugh… I think I’ve had enough of that by now! I’m strong enough stupid fortune cookie.

07/05/2007 18:56:58 UTC  #  Comments [0] 
 Tuesday, 03 July 2007

Shoulder Surgery

A couple of months ago, I went climbing with friends and at one point something really popped in my shoulder. It felt like a muscle shifted but after a couple of doctor visits, the diagnosis was that I had sustained a Labral Tear. The labrum is analogous to the meniscus in the knee. It is a ring of cartilage that attaches to and extends the effective area of the glenoid (the socket of the shoulder). The labrum helps to stabilize the ball-and-socket joint (glenohumeral joint) and serves as an attachment site for ligaments around the shoulder as well as the biceps tendon.

I was planning on continuing to do sports during this summer and get the operation afterwards but the pain was just unbearable and I ended not exercising so there really was no point in postponing it any further. On Wednesday the 11th of July, I’ll be undergoing surgery on my shoulder to fix the tear. During the surgery, the doctor will examine the rim and the biceps tendon. If the injury is confined to the rim itself, without involving the tendon, the shoulder is still stable. The surgeon will remove the torn flap and correct any other associated problems. If the tear extends into the biceps tendon or if the tendon is detached, the result is an unstable joint. The surgeon will need to repair and reattach the tendon using absorbable tacks, wires or sutures.

According to literature my shoulder should be in a sling for about 3 weeks, by my surgeon told me that I should be freed of that thing after a week. I’ve been practicing on typing with 1 hand and driving my car with 1 hand, so don’t be scared if you happen to be in Seattle and you see silver Volkswagen Golf in your rear view mirror. Apparently I should be able to start doing some minor sports-specific exercises after 6 weeks, but I won’t be climbing before 4-5 months. I’ll be glad if I’m able to go cycling again after a week or 6.

Although I have got some really good friends that will take care of me, I have to be honest and confess that I’m really scared…

07/03/2007 22:13:33 UTC  #  Comments [0] 

Transformers the movie

Weston, Matt, John and I went to see the transformers movie last night.  It started at midnight, and we got out of the movie theater at about 2.45.  We had 3rd row seats, which really wasn’t optimal, to make an understatement. I absolutely loved the movie, it was like my childhood fantasies came to life and I remembered how I much I loved the Transformers cartoon as a child.

It really is a good movie, and if you’re a Transformers fan you will definitely love it.

07/03/2007 20:51:18 UTC  #  Comments [0] 

My blog is back!

A couple of weeks ago, I forgot to renew my hosting subscription a couple of weeks ago and my provider took down my website.  When I called them, provided them with the needed currency, they reactivated my account… but my blog wasn't working anymore.  Apparently some configuration settings were reset to their default values and I finally felt like fixing it today!  So yes, I'm back baby!


Lots of things happened: not all good, not all bad and when I have the time I'll tell you about it! 


Ah and just to make you jealous, I'm seeing the Transformers movie tonight!

Autobots roll out!

07/03/2007 01:14:24 UTC  #  Comments [0] 

 Monday, 04 June 2007

Little Brother

Since my office mate Wes is actually younger then my younger brother, I’ve been calling him little brother lately.

This is the kind of talk these young kids have these days:

I'm not little brother… There's a rage inside of me. A rage of which you've never seen the likes before...

I call him scary little brother now

06/04/2007 17:49:55 UTC  #  Comments [0] 
 Thursday, 31 May 2007

Ouch I forgot about that

I went cycling again yesterday, and when I got back on the saddle, the following flashed through my mind: “Ouch I forgot about that”. Yeah my behind isn’t used to riding anymore…


On a brighter note: I started watching “The right stuff” again, which is about the original US Mercury 7 astronauts and their macho, seat-of-the-pants approach to the space program. It’s really long, it takes 193 minutes, but if you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth your time.

05/31/2007 17:30:35 UTC  #  Comments [0] 
 Wednesday, 30 May 2007

New batch of servers came online today.

We brought our new servers for online today. We cycled them in a way that we could test them on a quasi individual basis. With the exception of a little issue on the load balancer, which we can work around, everything was working perfectly. A big burden fell off my shoulders when I saw that everything was working according to plan since a lot of cross group coordination was required to get these servers up and running.

So… up to the next challenge and that will be going to the bank again today…

05/30/2007 23:26:15 UTC  #  Comments [0] 

What do 2 Belgian guys do in Redmond on a Tuesday night?

Get a fridge full of Stella, 2 coaches and practice the lost art of speaking Flemish until 3AM. Good times!

05/30/2007 16:53:03 UTC  #  Comments [3] 

Thomas Delrue is visiting

Thomas is moving into his new apartment in a month and in the meantime he’s staying at our place. I think I’ve been a bit homesick during the previous week and I noticed that I switched to thinking in Flemsih again. We had the chance to talk some Flemish and as real guys do when they’re home alone and no girlfriends around… we made chocolate mouse :-) Let’s hope it turned out OK. Jummie

05/30/2007 07:00:23 UTC  #  Comments [0] 

Congratulations Peter

I finally had the chance to give my previous manager a call today and congratulate him on his new job at Microsoft. It was really good to talk to Peter. I’ve had the chance to work with some amazing people in my career and Peter De Keyser is definitely one of them. The best of luck in this endeavor Peter!

05/30/2007 05:38:24 UTC  #  Comments [0] 

Cycling Again

The weather was amazing today and I was itching to get on my bike all day. Man, I love riding my bike. Since I’ve moved to the US I’ve had a dual feeling every time I went out for a ride. One the one side there’s the joy I get from riding on the other side I miss my regular training partner (I’m linking you here Pieter) and the guys I used to go riding with during the weekend. It wasn’t until I was able to talk about it with a friend it feels like I finally got over it. I loved every second of the ride today and I can’t wait until the next one.

05/30/2007 05:27:11 UTC  #  Comments [2] 

Quotes of the day

Tomorrow we will bring a new batch of servers online. This is going to be particularly exiting since the original batch of servers grew and the configuration changed with the first secret bits of popfly, while this batch consists out of newly configured boxes. Anyway ...I actually wanted to share some funny quotes that were flying around our offices today:


Paramesh: You are smiling, once again!

Paramesh: Are you mocking me again?

05/30/2007 00:55:01 UTC  #  Comments [0] 
 Friday, 25 May 2007

SharePoint and Popfly Integration

I got a mail from Alex Babanov today in which he pointed out Michael Gannotti’s post about SharePoint and Popfly integration. During a screencast which is available from a post he created following demos:
• Creating a simple mashup
• Creating a sharepoint driven news mashup
• Creating a sharepoint driven mapping mashup
• Embedding mashups in sharepoint.
You can find the post here:

Really cool!

05/25/2007 22:14:09 UTC  #  Comments [0] 
 Thursday, 24 May 2007

Introducing the Popfly team

Adam shared a cool mashup of our team with the corresponding carricatures:


05/24/2007 20:56:38 UTC  #  Comments [1] 
 Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Lake Serene

Last weekend I went up to Lake Serene with a bunch of friends: Olivier, Sarah, Heather, Heather's mum, Cecile, John, and a friend of John (sorry I forgot your name).  It was a nice walk in preparation of Rainier but since my back is still not anywhere near carrying my Rainier backpack, I might have to cancel those plans....

Anyway, enjoy the slideshow:


05/23/2007 19:03:05 UTC  #  Comments [0] 

Life after Alpha 1
I thought work was going to slow down a bit after the Alpha release… well I was wrong. I’m just about to finish a 16 hour work day, I’m tired and got so close to finishing my goals for today but it just wasn’t meant to be. Tomorrow will be better! Come to think of it, I need to be in the office at 8AM to finish my feature crew triage or I’ll still have 34 virtually untriaged bugs on my plate during tomorrows triage meeting. So yeah, tomorrow will probably suck again. Didn’t get task A done and didn’t look at task z+1… ugh this sucks.

05/23/2007 06:33:14 UTC  #  Comments [0] 
 Tuesday, 22 May 2007

One of my Popfly ducks showed up on Flickr


One of my Popfly ducks showed up on Flickr.  The celebrity duck is currently hiding from all of its fans in my office:

05/22/2007 00:12:47 UTC  #  Comments [0] 
 Sunday, 20 May 2007

Popfly Team at Maker Faire 2007
The Popfly team is present at the Microsoft Coding4Fun stand at Maker Faire 2007.  Maker Faire is an amazing event and I've got a slide show to prove it:

At one of the Popfly stands we have been giving demo's and on another we help people to create their own Popfly ducks:

05/20/2007 19:47:12 UTC  #  Comments [0] 
 Friday, 18 May 2007

Popfly Alpha is Live!

Our first Popfly alpha is live. At about 23PM last night I removed the IP restrictions on our site and here we are. I had to make sure that me and my date came home on time from a wonderful dinner at the Waterfront , so we could make the teams effort visible to the outside world. The last weeks have been particularly stressful, I’m incredibly lucky to have such understanding friends. It’s my first ever product launch at Microsoft and there are some incredibly anecdotes I want to share with you (there are a lot more of them but those will have to wait for now):

First anecdote:
Yahoo Pipes: honestly most of the PM’s, SDE’s and SDET’s have been so incredibly busy that when Yahoo Pipes was launched they didn’t even have time to look at it. I have never seen it and I know a lot of my colleagues haven’t seen it either. Management and marketing definitely had a look at it, just goes to show who has time to browse the internet

Second Anecdote:
Only yesterday we secured the domain name.

Third Anecdote:
Popfly Explorer: A couple of months ago I wrote the first prototype for Poplfy Explorer in a weekend and just about 3 months ago, we actually started implementing the version that is currently available for download.

Forth Anecdote:
There’s a move going on in Building 41: I think we are currently the only team that’s present in building 41 today since it is actually closed while office moves are being done.

There are so many things I’m proud of in this Popfly Alpha:
Our team, if there is one team that is culturally different it is definitely ours. It’s incredible how interesting it is to see how we have come together as a team and how we have overcome cultural barriers while working on Popfly. I’m sure this would have made a great PHD thesis.
• The website, a lot of effort has gone into thinking about our customers and how to make them have an optimal experience in our product.  Have a look at our team page at:
• Our backend, we’ve made every effort possible to make our backend as scalable as possible and integrate with existing Microsoft platforms.
• Teamwork at Microsoft, we’ve been working with a lot of partners from other divisions to make Popfly happen and it has been really cool to see that people went out of their reach to help out. From my perspective I must really thank Steve Carlson, who’s been an increadible help in getting our servers up and running in our datacenters.
Popfly Explorer, this has been my baby for the last months and together with Jianchun, Vinay on the development site and our entire test team. There’s been less than 3 months between starting the development and shipping it. That must be some kind of record right?  You can download Popfly Explorer here:

BTW.  I have a very limited set of invitations that I can hand out to the community.  If you are interested in receiving one, let me know what you will do with your invitation.

In any case, I hope you enjoy Popfly! We will be on booth duty at Maker Faire this weekend, so if you are there com and say hi.

05/18/2007 18:08:24 UTC  #  Comments [3] 
 Monday, 07 May 2007

Smith Rock, my side of the story

On Friday I went to see the new Spiderman movie with the team. It really wasn’t that great to be honest but I didn’t get to see the end since me, Katie, Oliver and Sahra had agreed to leave around 3:30PM. I walked out of the cinema at about 3.45PM and Oliver left for Mercer Island to pick up Sahra. This is where delay 1 occurred, Sahra wasn’t quite yet ready. She obviously didn’t expect us to be on time.

And off we went direction Smith Rock Oregon, my Golf was stacked to the top but we were happy we were finally on our way. I can’t really remember but at about 6PM or 7PM we stopped off to get some food at the worst place for a quick eating stop: a French restaurant. During our 1.5 hour dinner, I found myself with my foot in my mouth after making an unfair comment to Katie. She knows I’m sorry and that I’m trying hard to work to get the sarcastic part of me out of my system. Someone’s hugely responsible for that but I don’t even think he would realize it when he reads this. To be honest, it sucks! So things were not going that great for me at the moment but they got better. Since I just wanted to get there and we were on a pretty much deserted road, I stepped up the pace a bit. Katie told me that her stepdad once told her: “Are you trying to make this thing take off?” and she rightfully used it on me. Not that much later a cop had the same idea and I got pulled over for the first time in the US, the first time ever in the world I think but I could be forgetting something. He clocked me at 80MPH where I should only have gone 55, which was pretty bad and stupid. I thought of using the: “But in Germany it’s allowed” excuse but I wisely kept my mouth shut. I felt like I was in a gumball race when the trucks that we had passed raced by, on I just couldn’t help thinking: stoepid! 240 Dollars later, we were back on our way.
Somewhere along the road Sahra took over the car and looking back on it that was a very stupid idea. Nothing happened but… In any case I took over the last part of the trip and we safely arrived in Smith Rock at about 1PM. At this time nobody I felt like everyone was in a state of pissed off ness. We looked for a camping spot and when me and Katie started setting up our tent Olivier and Sahra arrived and squeezed their tent next to ours, which didn’t really gave me much choice but to sleep on a rock. We got all setup in the tent and at about 2PM I got really pissed off by people who were still chatting like teenagers, so I asked them with all due respect to shut up since it was 2PM. It froze that night but I was pretty warm thanks to my sleeping bag. Sahra wasn’t and at about 6AM Olivier came in my tent to ask the car keys and tell me they were going to spend the rest of the night in a hotel. When Katie woke up not that much later she told me she had been cold all night as well and hadn’t slept much, so I gave her my sleeping bag which appeared to be a lot warmer then hers. By this time we were both warm and we got some hours of sleep before waking up again.

Okey, Saturday morning. We took a nice hike to where we wanted to start climbing and it was time to get the shoes on. If you ever had climbing shoes that are a good fit (for climbing shoes), you know this means pure pain. My shoes are smaller than my feet, to give you an idea. I think we made a bad choice in picking our first climb since the climb-on was pretty hard and the rock was leaning forward which makes for bad falls. I always feel a bit scared when climbing this type of rock and so was Katie. She really impressed the pants off me by overcoming her fear and getting on the rock. She hadn’t been outdoor climbing for a long time, and it’s really impressive to see someone overcome their fear and give something like that a try. I made a bit of mistake while cleaning the route but having a backup for every step you make pretty much makes it fool proof, so I was fine coming down. It did take me a whole lot longer than it should but at least I’m still alive. At the end of the day I tried a harder route which made me pull on my shoulder again and that wasn’t a good idea, it’s not totally healed yet. During the day we discovered that the fact that nothing on this trip was planned really well would bite us again: Sarha and Oliver wanted to be back at Sunday 12PM, Katie needed to be back at 7PM because she still had work to do. Me? I just wanted to have a good time and avoid conflict, drama or whatever this weekend. The decision was made to leave at 1PM and no later.

We ended the day by cooking tortilla’s for a Mexican liberation day, can’t remember the name but it was a good excuse for drinking. After our self-made dinner we went over to a sports bar in Bend, which was soo much fun. You really feel like you’ve entered hillbilly home ground. We started playing pool and soon we were having a conversation with a really really drunk guy, who apparently live in Spain for a while. He was fascinated by the fact that I came from Belgium but he couldn’t remember it for longer than 2 minutes. He was impressed multiple times during the following half hour. The sad part of the story is that he still managed to kick my ass at pool. He just won because I chocked on the last shot but in all honesty when that guy isn’t drunk he would have mopped the floor with me. During our game of pool a random drunk guy fell of his bar stool and when Katie walked up to the bar to get some change, he asked her the following: “Hey are you trying to make out with me?”. The answer was of course No. After my defeat we played a hunting game, the photo’s will follow but let me tell you. Get out of the area when I have a gun cause I’ll probably hit everything else than the thing I’m trying to hit. We left and on our way back we stopped off at Fred Meyer to get some medicine. Thank god for Fred Meyer, they are still open at 11PM on a Saturday. I realized that I had forgot my Visa card at the sports bar and after picking that up we could finally return to our tent. That night we had Olivier’s sleeping bag as well to keep us extra warm, so we were both sleeping fine. We had the third sleeping bag laying on top of us and it was nice and toasty. At one point during the night I hear Katie saying: “I’m cold”, she grabs the sleeping bag and that was it, I was cold again. But she never woke up while she did it, and I was surprised, cold and laughing at the same time. The next morning she was utterly surprised when I told her what had happened. We spend some time chatting in the tent and those moments combined with the sports bar were probably the most fun of the entire weekend.

During the rest of Sunday we went to pick up Sahra and Olivier, had breakfast in a real American diner and visited some waterfalls. This is what made me not enjoy my Sunday: Although we had agreed that we would leave at 1PM, I constantly felt the pressure from Sahra and Olivier to stay longer and Katie to leave on time. It was just a problem of not setting expectations before we left but I felt like I was stuck in the middle and I felt like shit. Anyway we finally left for Seattle at 1.15PM and we arrived back at my place at about 8.30PM. Coming back my roommate told me that he’s not happy that I’m out of the house so much. Let’s keep it to that. So what is the summary of this weekend?
• I really hate it when plans keep changing
• When you don’t have a good excuse be on time
• We really need to set expectations for the next trips (ETD, ETA both forth and back)
• I’m looking forward to taking Katie out camping without any stress and drama, we’ll have a blast.
• I just want things to be OK for a while without constant stress and drama, if I have to I’ll go camping on my own
• My shoulder is not OK
• My back is not OK, I need to see a doctor and figure out if climbing Rainier is a responsible option
• BFF means Best Friends Forever. Olivier told me we still need to have the BFF talk and Katie wants to get us matching necklaces of a broken heart. Isn’t that nice :-)
• I love Smith Rock but I’m not going there again if it’s not for a 3 day trip, the drive is too long.
• I like my friends but they can drive me crazy
• My roommate is not happy
• I try to be there for everyone but apparently that’s not the approach since nobody seems to be happy
• According to Cosmopolitan Katie is the best girlfriend a guy can whish for
• I’m tired, stressed and need another weekend to compensate for this one

05/07/2007 19:19:09 UTC  #  Comments [4] 
 Friday, 04 May 2007

Vlaanderen boven

I'm teaching Wes to sing Raymond van het Groenewoud's 'Vlaanderen Boven'.  We've been playing it all the time this morning.  Good times, good times.  What's the plan for the rest of the day?  See the chiropractor, see the Spiderman movie, and go camping in Smith Rock.  Sounds awesome doesn't it :-)

05/04/2007 18:51:28 UTC  #  Comments [0] 
 Thursday, 03 May 2007

Going climbing to Smith Rock this weekend

After a rather troubled weekend, I never really got into the swing of things this week. Just a random list of things I was up to this week:
• Got a really nice mail thanking me for keeping the kids happy during a baby shower. (Does it mean I’m a natural dad or just a big kid myself? Not sure)
• Got the chance to hang out with Oliver during the last couple of days, Katie cooked a wonderful dinner on Monday and the 3 of us had a very open and heartwarming conversation
• Saw someone fall during climbing resulting in a horrible compound fracture of her ankle (this scared the sh*t out of me)
• One of our programs ran the first time against a production like infrastructure (I want to tell more but I can’t, so don’t ask)
• Wanted to go cycling in Leuven (I even have the picture we took on top of the Madeleine as my background)
• Tried to send money over to one of my Belgian bank accounts (it just sucks in so many ways and I’m really starting to dislike some people)
• Filled in my US taxes, I got an extension so I’m not that worried (I think)
• Learned that I was late filling in my Belgian taxes but that it can be fixed without me being killed (KPMG Belgium really did a poor job in helping me out with that, 1/10. Honestly the help I got sucked!)
• Climbed like a 500kg stone, might have had something to do with the fact that I’m way too tired at the moment.
• Went to see the chiropractor a couple of times, my back is getting better and I can pop it myself :-) (I’m the coolest kid on the block)
• Writing scenarios and being randomized by a lot of necessary stuff that someone has to do or someone has to decide upon. (I’ll have to explore this deeper in a future post).
• Got frustrated for skipping on cycling this week. (It starts at 5AM, can you blame me?)

I’m still struggling through this workweek and I need to finalize some scenarios by the end of the day. In any case I’ll be glad when it is Friday 13.30 when my team is going to see the new Spiderman movie and after that I’m heading off to Smith Rock with Sarha, Olivier, and Katie. My goals for this weekend: Clear my mind, spend some quiet time, survive the 6 hour drive to Smith Rock, lot’s of sun, some hiking, some climbing, really committing to the climbs I start, some drinking, camping, get to know Katie's outdoorsy side a bit better, getting rested and enjoying life with some of nicest people on the planet, survive the 6 hour drive to Seattle.

PS There are some pictures of this weekend as well, when we went to see a tulip festival. Have a look at them at

05/03/2007 19:11:22 UTC  #  Comments [4] 
 Tuesday, 24 April 2007

I hate my back

My back has been really troubling me during the past months but now it's getting ridiculous. It’s hurting so much I could cry, even after taking more than the advised number of pain killers. I’m getting in a mode of being pissed off about this, and it needs to get fixed. I got an appointment with a chiropractor, that was advice to me by my GPM, today and hopefully that will relieve the pain. I’m getting seriously tired of being injured and I bet Katie is getting tired of me complaying about it. Looking for a solution, I came up with following possible answers:

1. Get my back amputated

2. Loose about 7 kilos, that would bring me down to 74kg

3. Take Yoga classes, apparently that’s a really good back pain and stress relieving activity

I think I’ll go for the combination of 2 and 3.

04/24/2007 17:21:05 UTC  #  Comments [7] 
 Monday, 23 April 2007

I hate my office mate


I promised Wes, who is the PM responsible for the Visual Studio Express SKU’s and my office mate, that I would blog about how much I hate him. I actually don’t since he’s a nice guy, but don’t tell him or it will go to his head, and I’ll get "Steven loooooves me comments" all day. Just as a remark we are both still as straight as something straight :-) Katie calls it man love, and I agree.  There's nothing wrong with that :-).

We had this weird incident once when I walked in the office at Sunday 11PM to get some work done and I saw a light in my office… I entered and we both almost got a heart attack. Scary? Yes, and you can give it other names as well.

He’s been working day and night, weekdays and weekends to get the Visual Studio Express SKU’s released and you can download them here: Nice job Wes!

04/23/2007 18:29:27 UTC  #  Comments [1] 

Pretty Amazing Weekend
Ok, I just have to share this. I had the most amazing weekend. On Friday at 5PM, our team movie hadn’t finished yet, Olivier and me took off for Vanatage. We got ourselves “some” Stella’s and giant amount of ribs. Talk about having boy time! After a 2 hour drive we arrived and set up our tent, made a fire and started cooking the ribs. I have to admit Olivier did most of the cooking but I morally supported him. After finishing the ribs we tossed some bananas wrapped in aluminum foil in the fire and that ended our gourmet dinner . Saturday morning Olivier P, Sorya, Heather, Siong (not sure how to spell his name) and Cliff (not sure how to spell his name as well) arrived. Oliver me and Heather started the morning at Sunshine wall and we climbed and chatted about life. Heather is now officially part of the personal live advice group that Olivier and I started. We went down to where Olivier P and Sorya were climbing and we had lunch with them. In the afternoon Sorya and I did some nice climbs and had a really good chat. I have to say that going climbing with my friends is so incredibly fun. I totally love them. We took off for Seattle at about 4.30PM, Oliver had to go to a birthday party with Sahra and I went to see a movie with Katie at a friend’s apartment. I got there about 1.5 hours late, but I was still in time for the movie. I have to tell, Katie made the most amazing tiramisu cupcakes. Since I had been in the desert for most of the day, I thought it was a good idea to rehydrate on wine. Sounds like a plan right? After the movie we went bowling and I’m definitely a better bowler when I had my portion of wine. The evening ended with me being victorious in a bowling game. Well it actually ended differently but I don’t wanna tell. I don’t want to sound too much like “my dear diary” so I won’t blog about Sunday but it involved an amazing girl, brunch, shopping for underpants and socks, a soccer game, the last half hour of Rocky V, etc. I postponed my first date with Katie to go watch this movie with John. I think she understand why now. Go Rocko! I have a lot of respect for Stallone. I totally lived this weekend on high. Monday involves getting my ass kicked for scenarios that I’m still working on that should have been done but I really have been randomized too much and getting my ass kicked in a squash league game at 7AM. Yay, can’t wait for Monday…

04/23/2007 06:40:14 UTC  #  Comments [4] 
 Friday, 20 April 2007

Team Spirit at Microsoft

It’s about 4 PM on a Friday and we are have our weekly hour of team fun. What does this involve? Beverages and watching office space today. Oh and Suzanne made popcorn…. I would call that a good start to the weekend.

04/20/2007 23:39:26 UTC  #  Comments [0] 
 Thursday, 19 April 2007

Changes in my blogging style

When I first started my blog I wanted to focus on writing about technical stuff and avoid writing about anything personal. The last months it changed a bit since I wanted to keep friends and family updated on what was going on and I didn’t have time to actually dig and make write down some technical content.

So one of the things I’m actually considering blogging more about is in what is involved in relocating from Belgium to the US and start your life over again. I’ve had numerous conversations with Thomas about this (he made the move about 2.5 years ago). He’s actually got a schedule for all the stages a person goes through. It’s a lot tougher than I originally had anticipated but it’s been totally worth it.

Why all this rambling? I had a bit of a weird night yesterday and I would compare my current situation to a big tree that you pull out of the ground and plant it back somewhere else. It definitely takes time to get all of your roots back in the right place and be solid again. I’ve been lucky to make a lot of good friends over the past half year and I really need to thank them for being there for me when I’m about to fall over. I’m lucky to have Katherine catching me and being understanding when I wasn’t exactly the rock solid oak I want to be.

04/19/2007 23:17:07 UTC  #  Comments [3] 

Cycling and playing soccer again

This weekend I’ll be playing my first soccer game in years. I’m pretty excited about it and scared at the same time. It’s going to be a coed game and I’m not sure how that goes. One big difference: Sliding tackles are not allowed. If there was one thing I was good at (and yes it was probably the only thing I was good at), it was a sliding tackle. But in any case I’m looking forward to it. I still need to fit it in with my climbing plans since my friends have been planning another climbing trip to Vantage this weekend. Who can say no to camping, hard rocks, nice friends, and lots of sun? Well not me but my shoulder might bail on me, so I’m still considering whether it’s a bad or a very bad decision to go :-) But I really need some quiet time at the moment, and the desert is the best place to get it.

On another note: Since I got to the US I haven’t been cycling for more than 5 times, and there are 3 good reasons for this:

1. The weather hasn’t really been cycling friendly
2. Back injury. Slight arthritis in 2 vertebrae’s (MS Word is sure about the spelling, I’m rather surprised)
3. Pieter lives too far to go cycling with. I really do miss those cycling trips bro

But during Easter brunch, I got invited to go cycling with Katie’s cousin and some of his friends. I was and still am super excited about this. But these guys went incredibly fast (they have been training since January) and they start riding at 5AM. Can you believe that? So I had to get up at 4.15AM and jump in the car at 4.30 without breakfast of course. Not sure if that was a good or a bad decision, since my stomach probably doesn’t tolerate food at that time but after an hour of cycling it just seemed stupid that I skipped it. So I really struggled during the entire ride to keep up with them, but I’ll do a lot better in a couple of weeks and since the hills aren’t that steep (no way like the Galibier), I’ll definitely be able to hurt them within a couple of months. But the plan for tomorrow is: Keep up with them, so I find my way back home!

04/19/2007 00:39:28 UTC  #  Comments [2] 
 Tuesday, 17 April 2007

I promised Thomas


I promised Thomas that I would blog about our last game squash today.  I was feeling pretty good of breaking my losing streak which has been going for so long now that I should actually call it a habit.  I even used my new racquet today but no avail... I lost. Again…

Next time ....

04/17/2007 21:43:46 UTC  #  Comments [5] 

 Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Update Required


Pfff I’ve been incredibly busy during the last weeks. (I have about 5 minutes to write this post) It all started with trying to do the team a favour by taking on more work than humanly possible, which I’ve learned is not a good idea. I ended up sleeping about 4 hours a night or less and got crap in the end and had to let David and Tom down. I did my ultimate best to avoid this but I probably would have killed myself trying to fly over to Belgium and back in 3 days. Anyways…

I’ve also had the fortune to have great friends that introduced me into the wonderfull world of climbing:

Picture of Vantage


Sahra (Vantage)

Olivier (Vantage)

Cecile (Vantage)

Steven (Vantage)

Smith Rock

Group picture (Smith Rock)

Olivier (Smith Rock)

Sahra (Smith Rock)

Steven (Smith Rock)  At about this time I broke something in my right shoulder, auch!

Steven (Smith Rock)


A couple of weeks ago I had the great pleasure to see my friend Redo again.  He was in Seattle for the MVP summit and the man travelled in style!

This is us looking rather wasted in a Japanese restaurant.  We weren't even drunk, a career as a photo model is not in the cards I'm afraid.

So last week Jan and Daphne flew into town and I picked them up on a beautiful Seattle afternoon.  Katie had planned an incredible Sunday for them, which included watching the waterfalls, an amazing brunch, visiting downtown Seattle, Pike Place Market, and a trip on a sailboat on Lake Union and Lake Washington:

Jan, Daphne and Steven during breakfast at the waterfalls

Jan and Daphne doing their best to get the Space need in the picture. (it's the small pointy thingy in the background)


Jan, looking like the Dutch stud he is.

Katie, being her adventures self took command over the boat.

Cute... what can I say?

Me after getting hit with the beam in the head.  Don't worry Katie helped me out with a bacon bandage.

So after getting my shoulder all messed up and getting hit in the face, I got sick...  Luckely I was feeling a bit better this weekend and I was very happy to join Katie to her family Easter brunch:

Me and Peter playing basketball

Me and Katie

Katie and Lucy.  The two cutest girls around.

04/11/2007 00:50:39 UTC  #  Comments [4] 
 Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Best practices for adapting Team System to fit your projects Project Management, Project Processes and Reporting needs

Since I’ve started working for Microsoft, I have been dividing my time between 3 big focus areas: functional area (want to tell but still a secret), operations (everything from getting servers to making sure that our software is deployed on them), process customization. Anybody who has talked to me about Visual Studio Team System, knows that I love the product and the potential it has to be customized to fit your process. So I’m excited to be the host of a sessions on VSTS customization during the Microsoft Developer & IT Pro Days 2007 in Belgium. The challenge: Be at Microsoft on Monday and Friday, get on time in Belgium for my presentation, be alive and awake during my session, be alive and awake during bowling and drinks on Wednesday evening, fly back to Seattle, be alive and awake on Friday (preferably in my office). My PUM got us a Swiss knife, and the MacGyver tune is playing in my head while realizing this is a crazy plan. Looking forward to it:

Best practices for adapting Team System to fit your projects Project Management, Project Processes and Reporting needs

No one process fits all software projects, even within one organization. Regulatory environment, business risk, technology risk, team skills, team size, geographic distribution, and project size all play a role in determining the right fit of a process to a project. During this session you will learn how to take this diversity into account, and choose or adapt the available methodologies for the reality your team is working in. We'll explore and demonstrate some proven techniques and recommendations for using Team System to manage and monitor your projects.

I need your help to make this session as interesting as possible. What do you want to know and learn about VSTS customization during this session? Send me a mail, leave a comment, try telepathy, send me a letter, leave me a message on my phone, whatever but let me know!

Satisfy your Technical Curiosity!

See you there? I hope so!

02/14/2007 21:43:14 UTC  #  Comments [2] 
 Thursday, 01 February 2007

Some Pictures


Friends have been asking me to put up some pictures of my US life, so here you go:


This is the house me and John are living in.  Our goal is to get onto Microsoft Cribs.  Date Picture: 11/28/2006



If you have a big kitchen, friends sometimes just want to have dinner in the kitchen... Date Pictures: 1/22/2007


What a beautiful view, the beach and mountains look nice as well… Date Picture: 1/27/2007

We went to see the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit in the museum of flight. I’ll have to add the pictures of the exhibit later since they are still on the camera but this is me and the Harrier jet which is capable of vertical/short takeoff and landing. As a teenager I was fascinated by this plane so it was great to finally see it. Both the museum of flight and the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit were great, I really enjoyed it. (Thanks to Katie for getting me there)   Date Picture: 1/27/2007

02/01/2007 18:54:03 UTC  #  Comments [5] 

 Thursday, 18 January 2007

Settling in

After failing my US driver test the first time (I’ve got great excuses that will convince you that I was set up), and postponing the next test for weeks, I finally passed my US driver test today. So drinks will probably be on me tonight and I won’t be driving :-). When John passed his test, we went out for drinks but he was the designated driver, and I got plastered. Well I hope he’s driving again today :-)

01/18/2007 23:12:39 UTC  #  Comments [4] 
 Thursday, 11 January 2007

Seattle covered in snow. (again)


Yesterday afternoon snow started falling down again. Unluckily enough I was focused on getting some server stuff done and just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse… somebody told me to look out the window. The roads were covered in snow and the traffic jam extended into the garages. This is an extract of a mail a received on the garage traffic jam:

If you are leaving please remember to keep your engine off as much as possible while in the garage.  I just got off the phone with life safety a little bit ago they are now running the fans and will have someone down there to remind people.  It’s currently taking upwards of an hour just to exit the parking lot, please plan accordingly and be safe. 

But the funniest mail contained this extract:

Anybody still here that's headed to Seattle in a vehicle they believe can make it? I would love a ride.

Although it can be great to get snowed in it isn’t that nice to get snowed in at work :-)

01/11/2007 17:03:38 UTC  #  Comments [4] 
 Saturday, 06 January 2007

New Tires, new start
Everybody has been asking me if I gained a lot of weight since I moved to the US… well it depends on how you define a lot, but I can still fit in most of my pants but definitely not all of them. During the month before I left to the US and the last couple of months, I have been mainly focused on getting my life organized again. So I haven’t been cycling or exercising nearly as much as I wanted to. In fact I only went cycling twice since I’ve been here. Last week I brought my bike in of a major overhaul and besides the fact that it looks like new again, I also had my tires replaced with “rain” tires. Last year I went to the French Alps with a couple of buddies and we did some of the most legendary climbs of the Tour De France, I was in reasonable shape but since I’m definitely more the sprinter/Flandrien type, I suffered and wasn’t doing nearly as good in the ranking as I wanted. This year the same guys are planning to go to the Pyrenees, and I’m aiming for victory… Pfffw that is a bold statement but if you know me at all, you know I’m not really shy for making bold statements… well I’m going to back this one up. How you might ask? Well this is the global plan: I’m leaving my car at home from now on and I’ll be cycling to work, which is about 11 miles and if I’m not mistaken that should be approx 18km. I got my subscription to the Pro Sport Club, where I want to go for indoor cycling, squash and badminton, each one time a week and a Wes (colleague PM, the guy behind VS Express on our team) has challenged me to play racket ball. When we were playing squash he told me: “Man, I feel so European now”, well I’ll probably feel very American when playing racket ball. Within a couple of weeks I plan to join my Microsoft buddies on their cycling trips and although it doesn’t seem to be well thought through right yet, I’ll start refining it as we go. That is the approach we followed and are still following on our team and it is working out pretty well in software development, so I’ll see how it goes in training. As far as news on my project goes, stay tuned… it’s looking promising :-) As far as technical things goes, I’ll be posting some custom vsts reports we will be using on our team pretty soon. (hopefully this weekend)

01/06/2007 20:58:37 UTC  #  Comments [7] 
 Monday, 18 December 2006

Power blackout post from Thursday

The past months I’ve had some pretty compelling reasons to excuse me from blogging (they seem trivial now but at the time they were pretty important) but this evening I have none. Why is that you might ask… Well since about 8PM we are having a massive power outage in our area, which are probably the cause of the enormous winds that we have been witnessing for the last two days. Yesterday we had a power outage in a couple of buildings at Microsoft during my one on one with John and today it happened at home while watching transporter 2. Which is probably not the most cultural movie one could watch but there is a good explanation for that: We (me and my roommate John, who is a UX researcher at Microsoft) are suffering from a bit of an overload of watching the Rocky movies during the last few days: Rocky I (what an amazing movie, it really brings out the alpha male in a guy, and probably some girls as well but that’s just scary…) on Monday, Rocky II on Tuesday and Rocky III on Wednesday…

On a personal note:

I have had a really good time since I have been here. I’ve got a great roommate (I hope he is not reading this or he’ll get all cocky on me) who has become a good friend in the last months. John started the same day as I did and we met at NEO (New Employee Orientation). [Reviewers note: This really sounds way to gay, you do not want to disappoint your female fans for no reason, so change this]. I wasn’t looking forward to living in an apartment, and John wasn’t either so we decided to rent a house together. We got pretty lucky and found an amazing house, the pictures will speak for itself. Did you know the generator for the house got stolen the day before we moved in… that’s no biggy said the guy who rents the place… I think I’ll give him a call tomorrow.

In the last couple of weeks I got to know some of my colleagues better and also met some of John’s colleagues and their friends. It has been really fun to get to know them and on Thanksgiving a bunch of us went to Canada and what happened there is a bit of a secret :-) but I must say (people who know me can definitely confirm this) although I don’t blush easily some of the conversations we had… or was it the cold weather, who knows

I have been missing some of my friends (having lunch every day with Pieter, seeing who cries first Gert or me during our verbal battles, going cycling with the guys, man did I get homesick when I saw the mails passing by on who wanted to go riding last weekend, so much more). The good news for me is that I went out training for the first time in months again after reading the mails, there is not one flat mile in the direct neighborhood, which will come in handy since the guys were thinking on going to the Pyrenees this summer.

Back to the power outage:

OK, so the power fell out and we needed some light… problem, no candles and we forgot where we had put the matches… after looking for them with a tiny flashlight we decided it getting new ones was a better idea… Quiz question: What is the biggest problem with closed electrical gates when you don’t have any power… Jups, they are not really easy to open but we got out, we got some matches and candles and we got one of the fireplaces in one of the two living rooms working. So here I am, it could be romantic and if Joanna was a good-looking female version of John, which might have been the case :-) Ok, enough silly blabbering about the power outage, it is time for some silly blabbering about work.

Work babbling:

It is really hard for me to talk about work since; I cannot discuss the project I’m working on but it is really cool :-) and I’ll probably have to finish this in another post but I’ll try to write up a summery. The first day I had NEO, during which new employees get a bunch of information on how Microsoft operates, the benefits, legal stuff, how to get fired really fast, how to get fired really fast while needing a legal assistance on your way out (apparently selling the our source code on EBay is not a good idea) , etc. What really surprised me is to which extend Microsoft goes to help out its employees. For example: I got a free subscription to the best sport club I’ve ever been to, the doctor and dentists are free within the Microsoft network, saving plan, etc). During the second day we got to pack out our desktops and I had a talk with my group program manager (Mr. John Montgomery, sorry about the Mr John ). Ah yes, we are the guys who started on our team on the same day: Andy Sterland (you might know him from TechEd Europe a 2 years ago, the Imagine cup or Channel 9), and Murali Potluri (really smart guy, who used to work on the J# team). John told me to take it easy the first couple of weeks and get everything sorted out, driver license, social security, finding a place to live, etc… During the second day he called me and Andy into his office and told us that we should decide between the two of us who was going to handle the client and who the server part of the application. Andy and I never have a problem coming to an agreement and after about the… “what do you want to do”, I would like to do the client, that’s great cause I wanted to do the server, things were decided. So on day 2 we hit the ground running as John said it so appropriately and we have been running ever since… but that is something for another post, since I’m running out of power.

If this is not the style of writing you would like to see… let me know and I’ll see on how I can change this… if you did, I like you already.

12/18/2006 00:02:21 UTC  #  Comments [2] 
 Sunday, 17 December 2006

Funny way to get reminded that I haven't been blogging


I haven’t been keeping my blog up all that well for the past months and this what my roommate has to say about that:

John Payne [3:40 PM]:

hey dude whats your blog address

John Payne [3:40 PM]:

link you on my page

John Payne [3:40 PM]:

mine is

Steven Wilssens [3:41 PM]:

John Payne [3:44 PM]:

hey where are all the great things you were going say about me!!

Steven Wilssens [3:44 PM]:

I still need to post them

Steven Wilssens [3:45 PM]:

might consider changing them

John Payne [3:45 PM]:

cant believe it!

John Payne [3:45 PM]:

you've been spounting about all the time you have been spending on your blog!

John Payne [3:45 PM]:

an I read two senteces

John Payne [3:45 PM]:

sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo dissapointed

John Payne [3:45 PM]:

I am also sooooooooooooooooooooohungry!

Steven Wilssens [3:46 PM]:

I have the thing on my laptop

Steven Wilssens [3:47 PM]:

(BTW, you bossing me around is being added to that post)

John Payne [3:47 PM]:

yeah right!

John Payne [3:48 PM]:

Just wanted you to get yo ass moving you lazy blegiumer

John Payne [3:48 PM]:

I'm coming on down their fully powered and loaded!




Guess I’ll have to get back in the swing of things…

12/17/2006 23:53:29 UTC  #  Comments [0] 

Power Outage in Seattle area

Haven’t had any power, heating, etc for the last couple of days thanks to the friendly weather in the Seattle area, but we are still alive :-)

12/17/2006 04:21:55 UTC  #  Comments [16]