Friday, 27 March 2009

Some pictures from the party

Here's the invite from my party:

Here's the amazing cake that Mateja got for me:

[Note that it's a Dell, and hence running Windows :-)]

And I was so lucky that my mother gave Mateja some very embarassing photos from my childhood, including these:

Photos like these were made into posters and stuck around the walls. Nice.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Dinner at Satnam and Susan's

We went for dinner to Satnam and Susan's house last night. It was a sensational meal, and it was fun to catch up with Austin and Ruth. Satnam is cranking out Michelin-starred meals - you need to get invited! You can see the menu and photos here.


It turns out that my wife is a liar. And keeping things from me. And my friends too.

Last Saturday I turned 28 (in hex). Mateja said that we were going to have a nice family dinner at Cotto to celebrate. But she was lying! Before dinner we went to CB2 for a "quick drink", and in the private room upstairs were forty or so friends waiting to surprise me!!!

I had a wonderful evening! Lots of fun - drinks, Salsa lessons, dancing [thanks to a great "Gavin" playlist by DJ Matt] and an astonishing PC cake.

Thanks to everyone for coming and making a very special evening for me. I'll upload some pictures later. Extra special thanks and love to Mateja who did everything in secret whilst being incredibly busy with lots of other stuff [I wondered why she wasn't coming to bed until 2am some nights...] I'm a lucky hubby :-)

Friday, 20 March 2009


Are you reading this using Internet Explorer 7? If so, then go along to and upgrade! I've been playing with the new version for a couple of days and I have to say that it's a significant improvement - faster rendering, better layout, smarter address bar. Lots of goodness here. (I haven't yet got into the accelerators or web-slices, but I can see that they might be helpful.)

PS: Please spare me the "Chrome/Safari/... is a better browser" comments! I'm just saying IE8 is better than IE7; you can use whichever browser you like.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

A day downtown

Following a wonderful week working with Mads and Erik, I had a free day today (why do airlines still require you to stay over Saturday night?). Naturally I spent it in downtown Seattle - a place where I love to hang out.

Luckily, a little while ago we had a mailing list discussion at work about places to eat and drink in Seattle. I followed Anton's suggestion and tried an espresso at Seattle Coffee Works. This is an authentic indy coffee shop that actually roasts its own coffee. The barrista actually tasted the coffee and rejected the first batch, so he brewed another one for me. It really was a wonderful espresso with proper crema.

I also followed up Don's suggestion and had lunch at Maximilien. This is a real find - right in the market but with a spectacular view over the bay. Luckily it had just stopped raining when I arrived, and whilst I sipped a rather nice local draught beer, the sun came out. It was really beautiful setting for a delicious lunch. Rather amazingly, given the location, it wasn't at all busy. A great find.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Credit crunch

Here's an interesting graphic by the Guardian's Dan Roberts trying to explain diagrammatically the global finance system. (The graphics are very similar to a Ponzi scheme! Ouch.)

Hole in the wall

Whilst eating dinner at PF Changs I watched with everyone else this crazy show on Fox. Check it out!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Terminal 5

I'm writing this entry from building 41 at the mothership in Redmond. I flew out yesterday, so am a little tired, but very excited to be here as always. I'm here primarily to talk with Mads about matters C#, and Erik about some other cool stuff that I can't talk about. It might be daylight savings time in the US but believe it or not it's snowing heavily at the moment! Yikes!

My flight over gave me my first experience of the new terminal five at Heathrow. The terminal itself is very nice. The early problems seem to have disappeared. It was amazingly easy to check in - loads to self-service check-in machines; and a number of fast bag-drop stalls, none of which had a queue of more than one person. Very fast. The queue for security was less slick. That probably took 30mins or so, mainly standing in line. I wish these places could be consistent about whether the laptops have to come out of the bag, and whether they want your shoes off or not. There was a big delay because of this.

The woman behind me had a much worse time: she had a baby in a sling, a bag, a laptop, and baby stuff. The staff didn't seem at all interested in helping her or (here's a radical thought) letting here skip the queue. I had to help her, and even then she got flustered and dropped one of the bottles of milk. Poor woman. To be fair to the staff, I did see them be very efficient and helpful to a woman in a wheelchair, but I don't understand why they can't be more proactive with women travelling alone with tiny babies...

The terminal is very nice - lots of glass and very bright inside. There's a rather excessive amount of shops, but that aside it was very pleasant to sit by the glass, drink a capuccino and chat to my friend Richard on the phone.

The less impressive part was boarding. I was assigned an "A" gate, which is in the main section (not involving a shuttle train). I thought that meant we'd be in one of the planes waiting nearby. But no. We got on a bus and then drove for slightly more than five minutes to the plane. The bus stopped and we then had to queue on the stairs to board the plane. The stairs were uncovered, so we all got cold and wet doing so. Quite who thought that this is a 21st Century way to get on to a plane should be given a slap. Seems to me that they forgot this part of the experience. Why aren't there spurs of the terminal to reach the planes, and then covered walkways on to the plane? Doh!

Fun birthday meal

March is the family month for birthdays - Mateja, Lina, James, Jana and I all have birthdays this month. On Saturday the four of us went to Loch Fynne for lunch. It proved to be a very good place to eat with kids. The girls liked the food (and so they should - it was very fresh, well-cooked fish) and they enjoyed looking at the huge array of shellfish on display. The chefs who prepare the oysters, and seafood platters do so at the front of the restaurant so you can watch them. They were very friendly and enjoyed showing Hana and Lina the different fish. One chef showed Hana how to cut a lobster in half, clean out its brains and prepare it for eating! Yum! We all ate so much we couldn't eat anything else for the rest of the day:-)

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

5 @ MSRC

Yesterday was my fifth anniversary of joining Microsoft Research! (I didn't get much time to think about this yesterday as I was busy with something else.) Microsoft rewards such milestones with an award - currently this is a rather elegant crystal sculpture designed by Hybrid 3. (The blue one is for five years.) Previously, the award used to be a clock - things have definitely improved.

I realized that this is actually the longest I've ever stayed in one job! There are a number of reasons for this, but it is certainly the case that I'm *very* happy at MSRC. It's a fantastic place to work, with great support from management and inspiring colleagues to work with, e.g. I have Sir Tony Hoare in the office next to me, and Luca Cardelli - the author of the very first research paper I read when I was an undergraduate at Imperial - is my manager!