At Microsoft’s Technology Center in Chicago

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Carlos and I flew into Chicago midday yesterday, and a winter storm came in right after us.

We’re at Microsoft’s Technology Center on Wacker drive, and our work area on the 23rd floor has a wall of windows with a great view of the city.  We watched the sky get darker in the afternoon as the snow marched in.  After work, our dinner table looked out on the river and the city streets as the white stuff accumulated.  What a peaceful, relaxing way to spend the holidays – visiting, that is, not living here or commuting in it.

This morning, as I walked the couple of blocks from the hotel to the MTC, I had a great time looking around and shooting pictures.  Fresh snow is gorgeous before everybody (like, uh, me) trudges through it and leaves dirty footprints and slush.  The poor folks who have to come in an hour from now, well, that’s another story.

Our visit to the MTC comes right before deploying a new in-house application.  We’ve struggled with some performance problems in the SQL and the code – nothing we couldn’t solve with time, but we haven’t been able to get the dedicated hardware time or the dedicated staff time.  Our Microsoft contacts saw what was going on and responded by offering us time up at the MTC with their gurus.

That solved the dedicated hardware time, and we thought it would solve the dedicated staff time by forcing our guys to sit in a conference room thousands of miles away from day-to-day production needs, just focusing on getting the job done.  Not so much – we still had dueling teams of execs trying to get us to prioritize one project over another, even with us flying here to this standalone environment!  Funny.

Yesterday, I focused on getting a new VMware environment up (part of the deliverables are to show the performance difference between a virtual app server and a physical one), building a few application servers, and whiteboarding the ETL process with the Microsoft guys.  Today, we’re shooting for performance benchmarks on our from-scratch environment.

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