New MSFT Bloggers

Today I announce the arrival on the public blog scene of one of the originalXML gangsters at MSFT, Omri Gazitt. He’s posting some good content due to being home on paternity leave. Notice the greek symbol on his page gives a hint that his name is not pronounced starting with “ahh”. Also notice that he correctly says “X Window System”, which immediately indicates he is a class above the average slashdot punk. At least ten other new MSFT bloggers on my list since I last announced an update as well. The list is admittedly skewed toward XML people, but covers almost every role at MSFT and haspeople based in more than ten countries.

Weblogger Meetup

The dinner last night at Crossroads was great fun. I really enjoy that sort of thing. When I got there around 7 there were already a ton of people there. Scoble+Gentile is a big draw I think. First I got the curry lamb and papadums and took my seat. I started talking to Mike Sax about P2P and DOM-based programming models, thenwith Eric and Adam, both with their Macintosh laptops. Then a bunch of other people, many of whom are listed on Sam Gentile’s blog. Got to talk in person with Robert McLaws about the XmlWriter problems he’s been having. One big surprise was seeing Jim Blizzard there, a pal from my days in the field. Talking with him is the perfect cure for creeping cynicism; like an instant morale boost. The guy rocks! About 8 of us were still there when security shut down the building andkicked us out.

Triumph Brewery and Restaurant, Etc.

Triumph Brewing Co. on Friday night. I visited on a tip from a blog reader, and am glad I did. Triumph is at 138 Nassau in downtown Princeton, and sells itself as a sort of Northwest-style brewpub and restaurant. The quest was on to determine whether a place in Jersey could deliver the true Northwest experience. The layout of the restaurant is nice;a long variety of seating choices from semi-private to open, fromfloor with high ceilings to balcony. First on the agenda was the housebeer. I tried the honey wheat ale, and was really impressed. It was great! Next to the dinner menu. Some good choices, it’s a shame my stomach only has so much room. They have burgers andfish-n-chips, but most of the menu seems to be a bit more pretentious. Other than the mediterranean specialties like taboulleh and hommous, the menu looks like it could have come from any of the typical northwest-style places in Seattle. For appetizer, Iordered the”charred filet mignon”, which is basically slices of raw beef served like tapas charred on the edges and rubbed in some marinade and spices. The whole thing was sitting on a bed of mushrooms; very tasty. Then came the entree, “herbed canelloni”. This is essentially a couple of crepes stuffed with light cheeses, sitting in a tomato-based sauce, topped with some very fresh herbs, and grilled artichoke hearts at the side. I forgot what else I ate/drank, but it was all good. I was mopping up the last of the canelloni when the band started playing. They had some local zydeco band playing, and I realized I had never listened to zydeco live before. What a crowd-pleaser! The music rolls in, cutting through the air in sheets, and you hear the sounds with your whole body. Between the beats, you pick out individual conversations clearly from across the room, hear the buzz of excited voices. Everywhere around you are happy faces, people moving to the music. I leftsatisfied and happy, and will certainly be back next time I’m in the area.

~

Since I had never spent any length of time in New Jersey before, I noticed a few interesting (to me) things:

  • The Jersey Shore (I generalize from having visited only three beaches) forbids dogs, rollerblades, skateboards, and bicycles. Seaside Heights lets you ride bikes on the boardwalk; but only before 9AM.
  • In Seattle, lots of people have dogs, dogs are allowed most places. In New Jersey, dogs are forbidden most places.
  • It is impossible to pump your own gas. Don’t even try; just let the guy do it.
  • In Seattle, there are signs everywhere with a phone number to call to report people who drive illegally in the carpool lanes. In Jersey, there are no carpool lanes, but signs let you know to call #77 to report aggressive drivers.
  • Starbucks in Princeton are at 100 Nassau and at Princeton Junction. Neither is a T-Mobile Hotspot. Borders Books at Quaker Bridge Mall is a T-Mobile Hotspot. Coffee Beanery in Quaker Bridge Mall has the crappiest lattes I have ever tasted, and I have tasted crappy lattes.
  • There is no Costco in Princeton. Closest Costco to Princeton is in Edison. When Costco tried to build a store near Princeton, the locals fired up the political machinery and drove Costco away. Edison/Menlo Parkhas two Starbucks and a Nordstrom, to round out the representation of Washington-based stores.
  • SW Edison on Route 27 isChinatown. SW New Brunswick on Route 27 is Mexicantown.
  • There are no black or hispanic peoplein Princeton. There are lots of black and hispanic peoplein New Jersey, at least from my observations driving in Trenton, Edison, New Brunswick, Newark, etc. but communities seem to be extremely segregated. In Princeton, police are everywhere.
  • In Princeton, there are detour signseverywhere, but you can ignore them all. Cherry Hill Road is not closed, Elm Road is not closed, the bridge is not really out, and so on. There are many obsolete road signs that have not been removed. For example, one sign warns that Leigh Rd. will be closed in September 2002, and another warns that Elm will be closed in November 2002. Why doesn’t some citizen spraypaint them over at least? In Princeton, police are everywhere.
  • NJT Rail from Princeton toManhattanis pretty cool;definitely better than driving. I missed the NYC .NET User Groupsince NJT cancelled routes due to wiredown, but on the days it was working it was fast and cheap and clean — not scary at all. Commuting from Princeton to Manhattan or Philly would take not much more time than commuting from east side of Lake Washington (Redmond, Bellevue, etc.)to Seattle.