Why go to Mars? Let’s make the Northeast habitable first

Alarming, this finding from Cornell that the landing site of the Spirit, in the Gusev crater on Mars, was warmer yesterday afternoon than 14 major points in the Northeast. For the record, the landing site was 12° F, while the warmest city noted, Providence, RI, was only 9° F, while of course Mount Washington, NH, weighed in at -36° F.

Which is before wind chill.

Kind of puts Bruce Sterling’s comments about needing to settle the Gobi Desert before we go to Mars in the proper perspective. Maybe what we should really do is wait for global warming to make the Northeast habitable first.

On helping customers, or the questions we get

Joe Bork posted a hilarious list of real and made up questions that people ask him when they learn he works for Microsoft. My favorites:

  • How to use Word’s Mail Merge feature
  • How to use Excel’s PivotTable feature
  • How to use PowerPoint’s Slide Transition feature
  • How to use Outlook’s Journal feature
  • What that one error message means, come on, I know, the one with the buttons and the exclamation point thingy
  • Do I read Slashdot too, and how does it feel to be an assimilated corporate drone carrying out the evil, subversive plans of a massive, soulless company that is racing towards its own inevitable doom because of the undeniable goodness and purity of the free (as in speech, not as in beer) software movement
  • How much free (as in beer, not as in speech) pop I drink
  • Have I heard this one great Microsoft joke yet, it is really very clever, okay stop them if I’ve heard it

I think it’s pretty obvious why I like the last four items. The first four items? It reminds me (as if talking to people over the holidays weren’t enough to remind me) that each of us is an ambassador of the company, which for many people means that we are their one chance at a personal connection with software they try to use to get things done.

Which is why I don’t mind answering questions about Office features, if I know the answer, or helping people find their answers in Office Online or the Knowledge Base if I don’t. Generally I end up learning something too.