A Gamer Geek's Cogitations, Conjectures and other Cortical Experiences

Category: Microsoft Page 1 of 4

Biggs On: Microsoft Acquires Activision Blizzard

The gaming community was rocked today when the news broke that Microsoft acquires Activision Blizzard. Assuming this deal actually goes through, and the DOJ doesn’t intervene with another antirust investigation, how does this affect me? I’m quite vocal about my distrust and distaste for anything Microsoft. This news makes my toes curl.

However, Activision Blizzard hasn’t exactly been a paragon of virtue. While Microsoft has their faults, their employees are not running around groping co-workers. I have respect for a company that provides some innovation, but I cannot respect a company that exhibits such disgusting behavior.

Maybe This Is The Right Change

Optimistic as Microsoft Acquires Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard has been struggling for over 6 months now to repair the damage caused by the scandal. During that time the community suffered and many players, including several of my friends, have left the game. After every step forward, new information is found, and we go two steps backwards. Perhaps this is the dramatic change that needs to happen to rectify the sins of the past.

I’ll admit, I was feeling dead inside when the news broke. My wife had an interesting way to explain it though. It’s like when Disney bought Star Wars. At the beginning I had mixed emotions, but now I’m overjoyed. I hope Microsoft makes the right changes to repair the community and bring the game back to life. I imagine Microsoft will be cleaning house of all the people that should have already been fired.

I’ll admit, the gaming division is the lesser evil at Microsoft. As long as it’s XBox that runs the show, I will be cautiously optimistic. My biggest concern is if Microsoft can’t fix the damage. World of Warcraft is the longest running title at Blizzard but its been hemorrhaging players and money for a while. If Microsoft cannot stop the bleeding, WoW might be the first to go.

I’m hoping for the best.

Please share some of your thoughts.

Biggs’ Top 5 Epic Microsoft Fails

I’m going a completely different direction for the August Top Five. Technology. It’s pretty well known among my peers that I am Microsoft’s biggest critic. While I do make a living using their technology that doesn’t mean I drank the proverbial kool-aid. Granted even Apple and Google have had their technical slip-ups but their list isn’t quite as embarrassing as Microsoft’s. The lesson Microsoft seems to fail to learn is that just because someone else is already doing it doesn’t mean they can do it better. X-Box is about the ONLY success story. I digress. Here are my top 5 epic Microsoft fails.

  • Zune – MP3/Music player. This is the default fail everyone thinks of when they think of failed Microsoft products. EPIC FAIL!
  • Windows 8 – If you thought Vista was bad, that “start screen” is a dumpster fire of Teletubby vomit. FAIL!
  • Windows Phone – iPhone/Android competitor. I called this fail out back when it was first announced. Poor Nokia. FAIL!
  • Microsoft Band – FitBit/Garmin competitor. Did people even know Microsoft made a fitness tracker. Probably not. FAIL!
  • Microsoft Teams – Slack/Zoom competitor. The ONLY reason this product is surviving is the pandemic; without COVID this would be (and may still be) another pathetic footnote of failed products. FAIL IN THE MAKING.

The honorable mentions may be fairly obvious; Bing and Internet Explorer/Edge. IE has been a thorn in developers side for decades. Writing code to meet its sloppy standards has made it hated by many in the tech industry. Microsoft should have gotten out of the browser business decades ago. Bing is the Microsoft search engine to compete with Google. So few people were using Bing that Microsoft is actually trying to PAY people to use it with Microsoft Rewards. In fact you even get bonus rewards for using Edge. They are even paying you to use Edge!!! PATHETIC FAIL!


I Have Spoken!

Tech Talk: Lateral Career Development

Lateral Career DevelopmentThis Tech Talk is going to be a little different than prior posts in this category. I’m not going to talk about a new gadget, technology milestone or the latest news headline. I want to know what it takes to achieve lateral career development. You can advance your career along two axes. The common route is vertical by getting a promotion, perhaps a title change and some underlings. You can also advance your career along the horizontal axis (i.e. laterally). This is most often accomplished via some form of training. When you improve a skill set or acquire new skill sets, you are a better asset.

Depending on your employer, lateral career development will not necessarily render more money. I understand for many that is the motivation behind additional training, but usually its training that isn’t very interesting. I’m talking about the kind of training that not only enhances your career but it’s also fun and interesting. There are a plethora of ways to get the training you want; Pluralsight comes to mind. However, this post isn’t about where to get your training (perhaps that can be a future post).

How Do You Transition Your Career or Integrate Your New Training?

Unfortunately this post also will not answer that question. I’m legitimately asking. In some cases integrating your new training can happen fairly naturally. For example if you are a .NET developer and you completed training on Angular development. Those two technologies are so tightly coupled, finding an opportunity to implement your new skill is going to be easy. I know that because I have done it.

On the other hand, what if you are a .NET developer and you completed training on iOS or Android? These two technologies are obviously two completely different worlds. I’m not necessarily suggesting a permanent transition. It might be for some but personally I want to increase my skills beyond .NET (and perhaps even my value to my employer). The challenge is overcoming the pigeon-hole of so much time working in one technology.

This kind of lateral career development can be stymied by various factors. Priority, budget, opportunity or even employee perception can be a factor. Of course the obvious hindrance is experience. The developers with more experience are the first to be selected for the project. It goes back to that age-old conundrum “you need experience to get the job but you need the job to get the experience“. Your expertise is more cost-effective on a project where you can be the most efficient.

How Do You Get on a Relevant Project?

Again I’m legitimately asking! Obviously this is beyond your control. I imagine certain things have to align properly. First you need people who are willing to let someone with little to no experience work on a project. Then, of course, the right opportunity has to come along. It will probably have to be something that is low risk and has a flexible timeline.

I’m curious if anyone has had any recent success expanding into other technological paradigms. Working in the same technology every day for several years starts to feel pretty stale and mundane. I understand that mundane usually means job security but it kills ambition. I found this quote by T.S. Eliot – “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” Sometimes you have to push yourself to get to the next level but it does help if there is someone willing to take a chance on you.

Perhaps that’s all it takes to make that lateral move; someone who recognizes your potential and gives you a shot. The greater the risk the greater the reward. I guess, in the meantime, you keep working on those projects at home. It will help keep your skills sharp and you have the free reign to push the envelope a little bit.


apple_logo-263x300The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do
– Steve Jobs

Microsoft Edge is Egregious

microsoft_releases_windows_10I thought about making this a Tech Talk topic but I want those posts to be more informational and less opinionated. I’m also going to preface this post by saying that I did give Edge an honest try so I feel I’m being unbiased but I will admit, I probably wasn’t as open minded as I could have been when I was using Edge. I’m not going to berate Microsoft either for trying to “force” you to use Edge by making it your default browser upon upgrading. Despite Mozilla’s attempt at a flame war, if you paid attention to the install you could easily prevent that from happening and I’m not going to fault Microsoft for trying to change your default browser. They want people to try Edge and setting it as the default makes good business sense but they were wise to give you the option to switch it off.

minion_whatOk, enough giving Edge the benefit of the doubt because, as the title of this post suggests, I don’t have many nice things to say about Edge. In fact I straight up don’t like it. It doesn’t feel like a modern browser (which I’ve mentioned before). It’s so plain and boring. It has terrible space utilization (like all the blank space when you click/tap on the settings menu). Initially it does feel like it performs as well as Chrome but once you toggle all the suggested privacy settings it definitely feels slower (and its recommended that you turn off those privacy settings).

I think the most cognitive dissonant thing about this browser is that Microsoft is trying so hard to distant it from Internet Explorer but the icons look almost identical. Also, Edge still struggles with a lot of web sites (which is common for debutante browsers) but its suggestion is then to view the site in Internet Explorer. Doh! Also, as a developer, I’m really, really not looking forward to having to code for yet another browser’s idiosyncrasies.

Now, so I don’t go out on a completely sour note I do think that considering the performance of a browser fresh out of the gate, Edge does have a slight “edge” (see what I did there 🙂 ). Since its performance is pretty close to that of Chrome, it has room to improve and could become stiff competition in the browser wars, as long as Microsoft doesn’t screw it up.

I say might as well give it a try if you are on the fence about it, you might like it better than I did, which is fair. Everyone knows I’m pretty critical and not easily pleased by Microsoft. As improvements are released I might give it another test run but in the mean time I will stick with Chrome.


minion_keboard_smI could get so much more accomplished if I only had minions!

Tech Talk: Tech Pipe Bombs


CM Punk is an amazing athlete and was known for his pipe bombs on WWE

Last week Microsoft and Logitech dropped a couple of pipe bombs on the tech industry. One was unexpected, the other … well, let’s just say I wasn’t terribly surprised. It’s going to be interesting for me to talk about both of these companies because I love everything Logitech creates but my relationship with Microsoft has been a little tumultuous lately. Either way, it was a pretty big shake-up for the mobile and computer industry.

Logitech Re-branding Itself


The new Logitech logo

The biggest surprise was Logitech re-branding itself as “Logi”. I have read all of the various reasons the company decided to do this but I still don’t know if I like the new branding. I have enjoyed Logitech’s products for so long that its going to be difficult for my brain to associate “Logi” and “Logitech” as the same entity, especially when all the logos change. I get why they did it. Our world has become so integrated with technology that it almost seems barbaric to do anything without it (even simply taking a walk now has some technology association).

I imagine its going to be a while before we stop calling it “Logitech”; I know that’s the name I’m going to use for a while (ex: I still call it “Sears Tower“). Also, how does one even pronounce “Logi”? Is it like “logic” without the “c” (i.e. “lodgie”)? Or “loggy”? It can’t be “loogie”, that’s just gross! My guess is “lodgie” but that sounds so childish to me. There wasn’t a corporate buy-out that prompted this change so they are still going to manufacturer the same outstanding products. Hopefully this new branding won’t damage their sales because there’s nothing comparable out there.

Microsoft Killed Nokia


Microsoft of Borg

Now the not-so-surprising news. Windows Phone is officially dead (*cough*about time*cough*)! Microsoft performed a huge layoff, 7800 folks are now looking for new jobs, and most of them were part of the Nokia buyout/phone business. I feel kind of bad for Nokia because they made decent phones … then they started running Windows 8 mobile exclusively. It’s interesting because when I heard Microsoft make the deal to “help” Nokia by providing the OS, I predicted that they would end up buying Nokia (I’m kicking myself for not buying Nokia stock, which would now be Microsoft stock). I also predicted that the Windows Phone wouldn’t survive and is another failed venture, just like the Zune. Sometimes, I hate being right.

It’s also interesting because this seemed like such a surprise to so many people. It was talked about on most news feeds for a couple of days as if it were the most earth-shattering pimp bomb to come out of Redmond since Bill Gates announced his retirement. Obviously I’m not a fan of the Windows Phone but that’s isn’t why I think this was the right decision for Satya Nadella to make for Microsoft. When you have a failing product or a product that just can’t compete, the smarter thing to do is cut it loose, especially when your direct competitor is taking 92% of the profits in the industry. Every company goes through peaks and valleys and Microsoft’s recent moves suggest, to me, that they are trying to climb out of their current valley (perpetrated by said failed smartphone and Windows 8).

The futures of both of these companies is going to be an interesting thing to watch because they made some pretty difficult and paradigm-shifting changes. Don’t get me wrong, I hope the best for both of these companies; one keeps me happy and productive, the other keeps me employed.


Did Fitbit Make America Healthier?

I talk about my Fitbit a lot because over the past 2+ years it has helped me to lose over 50 lbs and keep it off. In that time I know, literally, almost 100+ people that are using Fitbits to get into better shape. I know there are millions more out there just based on the premise that Fitbit is now trading stock publicly and you see Fitbit commercials during prime time television. Today I know it isn’t just Fitbit that is causing more Americans to become healthier; Nike, BodyFit, Apple’s HealthKit, even the Microsoft Band (for the 3 people that have one) are also contributors. So I don’t think Fitbit single-handedly made America healthier, but I think it was the catalyst. Seriously, if only Fitbit had stock I could have bought 2 years ago!

I had tried so many different fads, diets and programs to try to lose weight and get into shape, I was even offered monetary rewards one time; but nothing I tried seemed to work. I don’t know what it was about the Fitbit that turned it around for me, but I’m glad it worked. I wish I knew the statistics of obesity in America right now and I’m curious if they have gone down (since I’m not a professional blogger and I don’t write for the AP, I don’t feel like doing the research myself – I guess that qualifies me to work for CNN *rim-shot*).

These things do have a tendency to fade away as it will no longer be “trendy” to use a fitness tracker, but hopefully the numbers keep rising. I know I do what I can to encourage friends, family and co-workers to keep walking and working out to help them become healthier. I think its pretty hilarious though that all of Michelle Obama’s “efforts” to reduce obesity hasn’t had the same impact as a tiny, electronic device (especially since I still see King Size candy bars and I still drink 16+ ounces of pop every day). It just goes to show you that even a tiny device is much more influential than a tiny mind 😉

Keep Walking My Friends (in the voice of the Dos Equis guy)

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