Tagged! Again!

March 14, 2007 at 4:32 pm | Posted in Personal | 9 Comments

So I have been tagged again by Hany! Too many of these tag games going around…but luckily – I end up killing them as I have no one else to tag 🙂 I remember getting these types of Fwd’s in the mail…I guess it is now evolving into blogs to match the whole Web 2.0 thing…So anyway, here is more information than you probably ever wanted to know about me:

SECTION 1 – Last 1s?
1. last beverage? Orange Juice
2. last phone call? Hany – but I got his voicemail
3. last instant message? Some guy at work – but socially, Zekri
4. last cd played? Grey’s Anatomy Season 2 soundtrack
5. last time you cried? Not sure – maybe a few weeks ago? (now i bet you’re all wondering why)
6. last text message? My sister – it was her birthday
Section 2 – 6 Have You Evers:
1. dated someone twice? Nope
2. been cheated on? Nope
3. kissed someone & regretted it? Nope
4. lost someone special? yeah – who hasn’t?
5. been depressed? yeah of course – but i avoid it a lot now
6. been drunk and threw up? The people who I would want them to know the answer to this – well they already know 😛

Section 3 – List 3 Favorite Colors
1. Blue
2. Black
3. Green

Section 4 – This month have you
1. Made a new friend? Well maybe not this month (March) but over the past couple of months, yeah
2. Fallen out of love? No Way!
3. Laughed until you cried? I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that hard
4. Met someone who changed your life? Nope
5. Found out who your true friends were? I found that out a long time ago
6. Is there something you want to tell someone? yeah – Mohab…I loved hanging out at your house…those were the good old days 🙂
7. Would you kiss anyone on your top friends? This question is stupid – you don’t say “top” friends – you say “best friends” – thats #1 – #2 it should be “Would you kiss anyone of your best friends?” – and yes I would as long as they are male and its on the cheek 😛
8. How many people on your top friends do you know in real life? All of them
9. How many kids do you want to have? I think 2 is a great number
10. Do you have any pets? I used to have a dog named Beau. We had to put him up for adoption when my wife went to work. I miss him.
11. Do you wanna change your name? Naaah
12. What did you do for your last birthday? Hmmm, I really don’t remember – I think I spent it at my family’s house
13. What time did you wake up today? 6.50 am!!!
14.What were you doing at midnight last night? On my way to bed
15. Name something you CANNOT wait for? I can’t wait until I become a millionaire 😛
16. Last time you saw your father? Last August when I left Egypt
17. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life? Nothing
18.What are you listening to right now? Nothing
19. Have you ever talked to Tom? Yes
20. Have you ever talked about someone behind their back? Who hasn’t?
21.What’s the last piece of clothing you borrowed from anyone? Sweatpants from Kareem el-Ayat – I still have them
22. Who’s getting on your nerves right now? Nobody
23. Most visited webpage? news.bbc.co.uk
24. Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi of course
25. Have you kissed or been kissed by anyone in the past week? Yep
26. Mac or PC? Well – even before I was at MS – I’ve always liked PCs more than Macs. You just can’t customize a Mac the same way you can a PC (all my desktop PCs have been custom made)…

Microsoft TechFest 2007

March 9, 2007 at 5:38 pm | Posted in Microsoft | 2 Comments

I attended Microsoft TechFest the other day with Hany and Meshref. For those that don’t know, TechFest is an annual Microsot-employee conference (although this year they allowed some members of the press to attend) that highlights the  research being done by Microsoft researchers around the world.

As many of you know, I love gadgets and technology! As it’s a Microsoft employee-only event, there are a lot of confidential things that I can’t disclose – but there are some things that have been mentioned by the press already (since they were invited) so I will just talk about those 🙂

– Personal Audio Space – This is an amazing technology where basically there is an array of speakers in front of you and somehow, it creates your own individual audio space. If you stand in this exact spot, you will hear a certain piece of music and if you take just one or two steps to the right you can hear another totally different piece of music. People can stand close to each other and hear different things. And if you stand outside of these two spots, you will hear nothing! I definately need one of these at home, so I can listen to the TV without waking my wife up (right now I use wireless headphones!)

Asirra – This product was just released a few days ago. Basically, you’ve all probably seen those CAPTCHA blocks where you have to enter certain characters for a website to verify if you are human. If you make this image too simple, then there are image recognizers out there that can fool the website. If you make it too complex, then the humans won’t be able to pass it. Enter Asirra. They use images of cats and dogs. They have 12 pictures of cats and dogs, and if you identify all the cats correctly you pass. This is very easy for humans to do, but much harder for software. The trick is though, you need a huge database of images for this to work (if you only had 10 images for example, then a human can manually classify them and let his malicious software run)…Anyway, the researchers teamed up with petfinder.com to get over 2,000,000 images to do this. Also there is a cute little ‘adopt me’ link under each image, so if you like one of the pets you can adopt it right away 🙂 One slight problem with the adoption thing though – what if the pet is not in the same area as you (very likely!) hmmm…

There is A LOT more which you can find more about in the Techfest website. Some other really fascinating things had to do with Surface Computing initiatives. That stuff was just mind blowing…

A new Microsoft Research Center is opening in Egypt by the way. It’s focus will be on Applied Research and is only one of two centers of its kind that Microsoft has. They are currently hiring and looking for talented individuals so if you are interested (or even just want more information about it), please contact me and I will try to put you in touch with the right people.

Tagged! Five things you didn’t know about me…

February 28, 2007 at 10:22 pm | Posted in Personal | 2 Comments

Wow – I got so many comments on my previous post I can’t keep up 🙂 Actually – I got none! But I know I have many readers out there…Hmm, I guess I’ll take your votes as ‘indifferent’ then…

 Well, Hany has tagged me to post 5 things most people do not know about me…Hmm this should be interesting…Some of you may know these things already as there is nothing out there that nobody knows about me already…

1. I used to live in England for approximately the first 10 years of my life. I loved living there and it was really fun. I then went on to Kuwait (right after the Gulf War) and stayed there for around 6-7 years. When I went to Kuwait I had a really heavy British accent. I was made fun of a lot (I had gone to an American school) so I lost my accent pretty quickly.

2. I was very very very naughty as a child apparently. I loved playing with things (taking them apart, touching them, breaking them, etc.) – I still do 🙂

3. Had I not pursued Computer Science as my career, I think I would have gone into Political Science. I find international relations and politics very interesting…

4. I love watching movies. I am a big movie fan, and if I could, I would probably see all the movies that are in the cinema…

5. This one is a given, which I assume everyone knows but I love my wife very very very much 🙂

So who else will I tag? umm – no one. The problem with me is that most of my friends do not blog!!! Which is a shame…The only people who do blog have been tagged already. So I guess this “chain” must end somewhere, and it might as well be me..

It’s been a while…

February 27, 2007 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Personal | 5 Comments

So it has been a while since I last posted. Not sure why, but there is not much to say that is new in my life.

 So instead, what I’ll do is ask you guys about something (so leave comments!)…Do you guys think I should split my blog to one that is technical (on blogs.msdn.com) and then keep this one as my personal blog? Or do you think I should just keep writing technical and non-technical posts to this blog? (I haven’t posted anything too technical yet, I know – but in the future I might).

 So tell me what you think 🙂

Microsoft Puzzle Hunt

February 14, 2007 at 4:44 pm | Posted in Microsoft | 4 Comments

It has been a while since I posted due to a severe lack of free time. But today I will tell you about an event at Microsoft that I participated in. It is called a Puzzle Hunt, where basically you make a team of 12 players and then you have to solve puzzles as part of a ‘story’ to get to the final prize. The theme for this year was ‘Atlantis’ and you have 36 hours from the start to finish it. It’s not ONLY about sitting in a room solving puzzles. Frequently you figure out a clue and are required to go somewhere and do something.

 My initial team had a few drop-outs and lack of interest by people – so we merged with another team. We met together at like 8.30am on Saturday (!!!) and began doing the Puzzles. One thing I noticed is some of these puzzles were REALLY REALLY obscure. For example, sometimes you are given a bunch of pictures and no instructions whatsoever and are supposed to figure out an answer. In some cases we were given a CD or some audio and expected to figure things out.

Some of my favorite puzzles though was one where we were given very rough sketches of some Microsoft buildings. When we go to those buildings and stand at the same angle as the artist, we see some letters posted in the Windows of the building. You put them in the sketch (which has some numbers) and then line up the letters according to the numbers – You get a message that says ‘Back of Poster of the Second most popular in Message’ (very roughly). We look at the back of one of the posters of the second most popular letter in the message (S) and we found a picture of the Parthenon (which was the answer).

 Another one of my favorites involved a message telling us to take a swim in the pro club gym (Note: we had to derive this message from a puzzle, but I won’t bore you with the details)…Anyway, Meshref and I went to the gym to “take a swim” 🙂 There were some discs hidden at the bottom of the pool which we needed to collect in order to solve the answer (which we got!). It was great.

 In the end we managed to solve around 17 Puzzles I believe (out of maybe like 50). We also placed 58 out of 75 teams (not so bad considering we didnt have a full team (mainly 6 active people and they ask for a team of 12!) and that many of us were first-timers)…

The Wow Starts Now

January 30, 2007 at 6:07 pm | Posted in Microsoft | 1 Comment

The Wow Starts Now. Need I say anything else?

 But seriously, Microsoft just released Vista and Office 2007. It is a great accomplishment. I went to the release party at one of the MS Cafe’s with Hany. It was packed and we decided to just leave. I watched the launch on a live webcast instead.

I wasn’t a big fan of the slogan – but its growing on me (especially as when some people challenged me to come up with something better my mind drew a blank). One of the things that I now like about the slogan that its pretty much true. If you try Vista, I guarantee you will “wow” at some of the features. Go out, buy it, and seriously give it a try. Its worth it. Every time I use XP at home I get really frustrated now. One of my absolute favorite features is the ‘Search’ feature built-in to the start menu. It is fantastic and saves a lot of time. Also, for the first time ever you can buy and download Vista online (http://windowsmarketplace.com/)

 The new Office on the other hand is great. I’ve been using the Beta at home (and the released at work) for quite a while now and I must say the new Ribbon interface simplifies a lot of things. I actually wish that Outlook would switch to the new Ribbon UI. It takes a bit of getting used to at first, but it is quite easy after that.

It’s quite an exciting time at Microsoft and for me “The Work Starts Now” 🙂 I plan on installing Vista Ultimate on my laptop sometime soon (just need to back things up first). I can’t wait to show my wife DreamScene (you can set movies as your background for the desktop). The trick is not to put a movie with a lot of movement in it. I’ve been beta testing it internally and have seen some of the potential movies for background and it is very beautiful. This will come out as an Ultimate-only extra though so you may want to get that version instead.

Have anyone of you tried Vista or Office 2007 yet? Do you plan to soon? What are your favorite features?

 UPDATE: Hany has a much better article about it (with pictures!) here. It is a must read!

Microsoft Interview with a December Candidate

January 26, 2007 at 3:14 am | Posted in Egypt, Microsoft | 6 Comments

I am sure some of you may be wondering about what the interview process is like. On the JobsBlog Priya has an interview with one of the candidates she met and interviewed in Egypt. Her name is Mona and she was offered a position as SDET in the .NET Developer team.

I noticed one thing though…they now do the interviews it seems at the Smart Village (I am guessing at Microsoft HQ there)…Mine was done at the Four Seasons…Much better setting in my opinion 😉

Anyway, I thought some of you might be interested as Microsoft will be interviewing in Egypt in March and I know some of you are interested! If you know me and would like a referral don’t hesitate to ask…Good luck, and if she can do it then so can you!

Also, I wanted to point out Moe Shall’s blog. He got accepted too this past December and has just started a blog, so you may want to keep track of it to see his story.

Slight layout change

January 24, 2007 at 6:10 am | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Slight layout change

I just did a very small re-organization to the sidebar on the blog. I put a gadget for ‘Top Posts’, that way instead of having to dig for some of my posts, you automatically get to see the most popular ones (its calculated dynamically, so I dont have to manually update it). I also moved the Most Recent Posts a bit further down as you can just browse the page and see the most recent ones.

 Hope you guys like the change.

Microsoft US Recruiting from Egypt again

January 19, 2007 at 8:25 am | Posted in Egypt, Microsoft | 10 Comments

I have good news for people in Egypt who are interested in joining Microsoft here in Redmond, Washington. Microsoft will be coming back to Egypt for one last time, before they take a break until the end of the year. They will be interviewing in Egypt sometime in March.

I do not know which team is coming to Egypt. Sorry. But the team that came to Egypt in December was part of the Developer Division (the team that works on Visual Studio and compilers, etc.) I know some people may wish to know which team they are applying for, but keep in mind, its very flexible here to change teams. In fact its encouraged usually for you to move around and find the best place for you. Plus, when they are interviewing you, they not only look for a fit in the team that is interviewing you, but they could also find you a position in a different team.

Anyway, enough of my talking…so you want to apply…what do you need to do? It is very simple. Send your resume to egyptres@microsoft.com and if you know me you can also send me your CV personally, and I can send it directly to the recruiter responsible for Egypt (with a recommendation).

Good luck and remember – 7 people got accepted last December (in my round it was only 3) so its improving. Unfortunately, nobody I knew got accepted. Hany knows all 7 of them!!! I’d really like to have someone I know get accepted this time around! So get those CVs in.

Oh yeah, and they are due by Feb 9th please as they need to take time to schedule and conduct phone interviews before they come in February.

My First Accident (I love my Mazda!)

January 11, 2007 at 5:42 am | Posted in Personal, Seattle | 4 Comments

So, in case you don’t know – it just started snowing a few hours ago in Seattle/Redmond. It was about the time to go home and Hany and I decided to stay at work until the traffic clears up.

 First of all – the snow is amazing. It’s several inches already and looks cool. Had some snow fights, and some people went down and did snowmen.

 Anyway, we decided to go home at one point figuring its just going to get worse. So we leave. I was able to get out of the garage under our building just fine, but Hany’s car (A VW Golf) had great difficulties at maximum RPM. I had to wait like 10 minutes for him to make it up the ramp 😛

Sooooo…for some reason, we decide Hany drives behind me and I’ll lead the way home. So as we are leaving the MS campus, I slow down and come to a standstill on a speedbump on the road. Then I see Hany’s car coming closer and closer…I try to move, but my wheels just spin on ice. Hany did a nice swerve into the other lane, but managed to hit me nonetheless 🙂 It was a very minor scratch on both of our cars, thank god 🙂

We decide to continue, but Hany’s car is having extreme difficulty getting any sort of traction. So we turn around and return his car to the garage (with great difficulty) and then we took my car home.

 I love my Mazda 🙂 Even in Snow, it works perfectly and got me home safe and sound. Great engineering.

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