July 23, 2007 at 3:46 am | Posted in Microsoft, Personal | 3 Comments

So I’ve been pretty busy living my life and doing work stuff (hence my lack of updates). But one of the latest things my Alia and I did was go to the Microsoft annual company picnic. Calling it a picnic is a huge understatement. It’s more like a fair. There are loads of fun games for adults and kids! We’ve actually been sore all day today and spent it recovering!

Rather than talk about all the things we did – I figure I should just post some pics ๐Ÿ™‚

Company Picnic 2007 015 Company Picnic 2007 022Company Picnic 2007 064 Company Picnic 2007 067 Company Picnic 2007 076


Axis of Evil Comedy Tour

June 22, 2007 at 6:30 pm | Posted in Middle East, Personal, Seattle | 4 Comments

I recently surprised my wife with two tickets fo the Axis of Evil Comedy tour. They were here for one night only in Seattle and I know Alia loves comedy so we decided to goย (plus – it was a surprise – so I had already bought the tickets!)

Basically the Axis of Evil comedy tour is a group of four Arabs…well technically 3 Arabs and 1 Persian ๐Ÿ™‚ I think they are all Muslim but am not sure. They are: Ahmed Ahmed, Maz Jobrani, Aron Kader, and Dean Obeidallah (Guest star). You can find more information about them and their tour here:

They make fun of being Arabs/Muslims at the current moment in the US.ย  It was some of the most hilarious comedy I’ve ever seen and the crowd was enjoying it too! Their shows pretty much sell out wherever they go, and judging by the attendance to this one it was also sold out! They only have two shows left, so most of you won’t be able to attend so instead you can purchase the Axis of Evil Comedy Tourย DVD!

ย If some of you don’t want to wait for the DVD to ship, you may wish to try the new Unbox service which allows you to rent or download this DVD. Try it out and tell me if it works ๐Ÿ™‚

Occupation 101

June 14, 2007 at 4:37 am | Posted in Middle East, Personal | 10 Comments

I don’t ordinarily like to talk about political things in my blog. It’s usually very personal opinions and its difficult to change people’s opinions on topics and then you just end up arguing. But still, I felt I had to blog about this… 

I recently purchased the DVD called Occupation 101. This is an EXCELLENT documentary that illustrates the dire situation that the Palestinians are living in and the oppression and hardships that they face. The document is very visual and graphic and it disturbed me after watching it. What was also an interesting surprise is that they included a lot of commentary from Israeli’s and Jewish people who sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians.

If you are interested in this topic, or just want to watch a good documentary you can purchase this DVD from Occupation 101 :: Official Site. Hope you enjoy it – and if you’ve seen it (or buy it and see it) I’d like to hear your opinions and discussion in the comments.

Back From Egypt

May 29, 2007 at 11:09 pm | Posted in Egypt, Personal | Comments Off on Back From Egypt

So I spent two relaxing weeks in Egypt. Well to be honest they weren’t that relaxing due to the driving ๐Ÿ™‚ It always stresses me out when I go driving there. But it was great to see my family and friends again.

Some of the highlights of the trip in bullet form:

  • 13-14 hr wait in an Airport is hell! But whats worse is when they tell you your flight has been delayed another 2.5 hrs!
  • I attended Hany’s wedding, I have pics/video but I’ll leave it to him to post it to his blog ๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t been at work one day and there is great demand to see Hany dancing ๐Ÿ˜› There was talk of putting it in a room with a Projector…Hmmm
  • Some purchases I made in Egypt: Egypt (red)ย + Ahly (blue) soccer jerseys – yesย I know blue for Ahly is weird, but I already had bought the Red Egypt shirt (they did not have White) plus – I like Blue :P, I also got some Arabic movie DVDS – I miss Arabic movies, some miscellaneous gifts that represent Egypt (e.g. jewelry boxes, papyrus scrolls, etc.)
  • Lots of playing World of Warcraft – This game is just too addictive and should never have been made ๐Ÿ˜›
  • Egypt is really really hot!
  • Driving a 1300cc car made me appreciate my Mazda3 (2000cc) – What made me appreciate it even more was driving a car with no A/C, and no radio/cassette player ๐Ÿ™‚
  • I forgot that if I want to do a simple task that should take no longer than 30 minutes, then to plan the whole morning for it ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway that’s all for now – Been a while since I blogged – you can all blame WoW for that ๐Ÿ˜›

Virtual Career Fair : Come Visit Microsoft in Second Life

May 12, 2007 at 3:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I’m about to go to the airport in a couple of hours for my flight to Egypt. But I just noticed this and I thought this would be very very cool! Microsoft is going to be hosting a “Virtual Career Fair”. It seems it is not just Microsoft in this career fair as I am noticing other companies too

What’s great though is that if you submit your resume and the interviewers like it. You can do a real interview with Microsoft recruiters right then and there.

The career fair will be held in Second Life. I’ve personally never used it, but from my understanding its a large 3D social world where you can basically do anything you want. It’s so popular, a lot of companies have some sort of presence in there.

If you’re interested, give it a shot. You’ve got nothing to lose, but you must hurry! Deadline to submit resume’s is May 14th (that’s why I’m posting this now – because by the time I get to Egypt the deadline would have passed!) 

Technical Careers @ Microsoft : Come Visit Microsoft in Second Life

Going to Egypt

May 11, 2007 at 8:01 pm | Posted in Egypt, Personal | 1 Comment

I will be travelling to Egypt for a couple of weeks tomorrow…Some of you may know this already…but I’m mentioning it here in case I still haven’t mentioned it to someone!

I am looking forward to coming back to Egypt as I miss it quite more than I expected! Looking forward to seeing all my friends again. If you want to meet up, email me or leave me a comment – I don’t know my cell phone number there yet, so you won’t be able to call ๐Ÿ˜›

Shisha, Belly Dancing and Seattle

April 29, 2007 at 10:20 pm | Posted in Personal, Seattle | 14 Comments

Last week, Hany’s brother was in town and was in the mood for Shisha…My wife and I had discovered this shisha place in Seattle (there are very few of them!) called Zeina so we decided to take Hany and his brother there…

I miss Shisha a lot the place reminds my wife and I of home a little…The price of a shisha is a bit outrageous (17$ without tax!!) but well worth the price when you haven’t had it for a while…Anyway – when we got there it was very packed (which is strange for this place)…Luckily we were able to find seats…After a short while they started playing Arabic music which is always nice to listen to…

We then discovered the reason why it was so packed. A belly dancer came out to entertain the crowds, and the people went wild. It was entertaining as we certainly did not expect this to happen and its interesting to see a foreigner doing belly dancing…I only had my cell phone with me, but I managed to get some pics of the event (I’d like to include more pics in my blog as they are lots of fun to take!) I recently purchased a digital camera, so expect a lot more…


Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid

April 16, 2007 at 5:28 am | Posted in Egypt | 1 Comment

Peace Notย Apartheidย Iย am currently reading the book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheidย by former US President Jimmy Carter. I personally enjoy the modern politics of the Middle East, so I find this book to be quite interesting.

While I am only half way through this book, it basically summarizes the history of the Middle East Conflict and presents the Palestinian side. It is actually quite refreshing to see an American public figure (and a former US president at that too) present the Arab and Palestinian side of the equation. This book has caused a lot of criticism in the US and Jimmy Carter and his centre have been (unfairly) attacked for the ideas and thoughts presented in this book. It is hard to get a balanced view of the situation in the Middle East, and yet this book attempts to rectify that.

As well, in case some of my readers don’t know…Jimmy Carter was the president who brokered the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.

Anyway, I strongly recommend that people get this book and give it a read.

6-month Microsoft Anniversary

April 9, 2007 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Microsoft, Personal | 9 Comments

This is a few days late (it happened last week) but it was my 6-month Microsoft anniversary…Generally, at this stage, I feel a lot more comfortable with what I’m doing and don’t feel like I’m “drinking from the firehose” anymore. As part of this achievement, I thought I would post 5 tips/observations for new people coming to Microsoft ๐Ÿ™‚

1. You need really good time management skills in order to get work done! You can skip meetings and/or trainings you really don’t need to attend in order to get more work done! Also, sometimes you just need to close Outlook as well as email can be very distracting.

2. Foosball is a great way to socialize and make new friends! You definately meet people who you otherwise would never have met! It can also sometimes cause unwanted visibility by higher ups ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Ask Hany about it!)

3. It is sometimes faster to just walk to another building rather than take the shuttle (especially if the weather is good!)

4. Every Tuesday and Thursday there are friendly soccer matches on the field during the day. It’s a great fun way to get some exercise in and again meet new people ๐Ÿ™‚

5. When walking the corridors at Microsoft, its fun to look at the window-office people. They are usually more “established” and thus have much better decorated offices (and usually a ton of interesting awards)

Hope you like the list ๐Ÿ™‚

What does an SDET do?

March 31, 2007 at 7:49 pm | Posted in Microsoft, Software development | 44 Comments

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now but I’ve just been so busy at work at the moment, I just haven’t had the time.

In this post I want to cover what the role of an SDET at Microsoft is. As most of you already know, I am an SDET, or Software Development Engineer in Test, with the Windows Serviceability team at Microsoft.

Unfortunately, sometimes people call this person a ‘Tester’ which I find to be a bit incorrect, as the job does not involve only testing. In previous companies that I have been in, you typically have the software developer who creates the code for the software, and then you have a tester who tests the software through black-box testing. In case you don’t know what black box testing is, basically the tester does not get to look at the code and just tests the software interface that is presented to him/her. This is not what an SDET does at Microsoft…Typically, most teams have Software Test Engineers (STE) that do this kind of testing. It is their job to test the software, identify failures, analyze the log files, and report bugs to the SDET.

At this point in time, you are probably thinking so what is the the role of the SDET…Well, here is a list of what I think to be the important aspects of being an SDET:

  • Developing new tests. This is pretty much one of the biggest things that an SDET has. They must work with the developers and PMs in order to identify what needs to be tests in new or existing features in the product. The SDET has full access to the code and the design of the component, so typically this is considered white box testing. Being able to look and understand the source code allows you to develop much better and more targeted tests as you can see what the typical boundaries are, how the code works, and what code paths need to be tested more than others.
  • In-Depth knowledge of the code. Sometimes you need to know the code even better than the developers. Usually when a new developer comes onto a team, he doesn’t necessarily have to understand every aspect of the code…just usually his area, or the area that he’s writing – so when he gets a bug report he can easily fix it. The SDET does not have this luxury, he needs to not only understand every aspect of the product, but as well he needs to know how it interacts with all other components (and when you are dealing with a product as large as Windows, the challenge can be immense!!)
  • Excellent debugging skills. Debugging code can be a huge field by itself. I’ve attended a couple of courses at Microsoft, and it can become really complicated and advanced. But to be a good SDET you need good debugging skills. You need to be able to take a failure in a test case and then troubleshoot it down to the problem function. This can sometimes get tricky when you are dealing with threads, timing issues that disappear under a debugger, or memory corruption.
  • Writing Code. Some people think that an SDET doesn’t really need to learn or write code, but that is far from the truth. A good SDET will write lots of code. An excellent way of testing involves using automated test suites. It actually is a necessity when you are dealing with hundreds, and thousands of test cases. SDET’s are the ones that write these automation suites, and write the necessary code to test their components. In addition to this, SDET’s write tools and utilities that help them in their jobs (for example, a tool that will generate logs, or fuzzers to test their programs). Also, some SDET’s participate in miscellaneous projects that pop that seek volunteers (for example for diagnostic tools that help product support).
  • Enjoy breaking things. Developers typically create and hate it when they find a bug in their code. SDET’s have the opposite mentality…They usually like to find new and interesting ways of breaking the software and are very happy when they find a new bug. Ever since I was a child (much to my parents anger) I loved taking things apart to try and figure out what makes them tick. You need this type of mentality in order to be a great SDET.
  • Being a good consumer advocate. It is the SDET’s responsibility to make sure that we are shipping the highest quality code possible. It is his/her responsibility to advocate the right bugs to fix and to reject the ones that would introduce too much risk to the customers. It is a very big and very real responsibility that an SDET faces with every bug found.

There is a lot more useful and great information found in the following JobsBlog article which describes the role well. It also identifies what a recruiter looks for when looking for an SDET.

In addition, if you wish to learn more technical information about testing. I found the following books to be excellent and would strongly recommend reading them:

If you have any questions about the role, or if you wish to discuss it here – please feel free to. I am looking for as much feedback as possible!

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