Dividends, Bloggers, and Elevators

Today MSFT announced a dividend, surprisingly. This ought to please the politicians. I explained last year why dividends are completely inconsequential, but I think this might be a positive thing. Issuing a dividend converts the “pile of cash that the company is sitting on” into a “pile of cash that the shareholders are sitting on”. Those two are the same, for all practical purposes, but I predict that the psychological difference of the latter will come into play next time there is talk about handing out that pile of cash to citizens of California. Paying the cash directly to shareholders (who then invest it back) is a concrete demonstration that this is their money that California is after.

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I’ve never really kept a blog roll, for various reasons. Now I am realizing that my “bloggers who happen to work at Microsoft” blog roll could be a maintenance challenge. I think I can keep up with new bloggers coming online, but I also want to be responsive when people like Keith Ballingerend up switching domains or people like Mike Deem tragically decide to stop posting. Others on the list have been keeping a list longer than me, and no doubt have the same issues. I might just store the list as OPML feed list and transform to my page using XSLT. It’s possible even though my blog is statically rendered, but would require some care to avoid breaking the 5% who still do not use IE.

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Once when participating in an interview loop at Microsoft, I observed the interviewer asking the candidate about elevator design. This was a year or two after I started, but I think about it often. The intent is to have the candidate talk about elevator control system and propose some things that could be done to make the elevator “better”. There is no right answer, of course, and half of the point is toobserve that the candidate realizes that there are different definitions of “better” (cheap to run, shortest average trip wait, shortest trip wait for particular groups, etc.). Today while riding the elevator up from the P3 level of our parking garage, I was mildly annoyed that the elevator was not waiting for me as it normally does, “because P3 is virtually empty so the stupid elevator should know that there is a higher probability of new cars coming in on that level”. I dismissed the idea that a full P2 indicated heavier traffic, since this is not an in-out parking lot, but some still might suggest that the elevator base its position on rate of flow (negative or positive)rather than simply checking how empty a level is. However, I think that the emptiness check has one nice side-effect. It gives priority to people who are arriving at work, rushing them along and building momentum for an energetic day — and it slows down people who are leaving, so that they can ruminate a bit and wind down on their way to the car, and they might even bump into someone and get some last-minute work done, squeezing out a bit more productivity.

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