Posts filed under '7. Microsoft Tips'

Xenconvert – Side-by-Side error on Windows Server 2008 R2

This post describes how to fix the Side-by-side error when you try to run Citrix Xenconvert

Continue Reading 1 comment May 11th, 2011

My Recent Job Interview with Google at the ‘Plex’

Outside The GooglePlex

Well I kept it a big secret from you all because I didn’t want to jinx myself – but I was invited recently to an interview with Google (it was the ‘exciting little company‘ I spoke about a couple months back in a post about an upcoming interview).

The position was to be based at Mountain View, California, and as part of the great Webmaster support team – along with neat and very bright people like Adam Lasnik, Vanessa Fox, Aaron D’Souza and Matt Cutts.

The position was ‘Webmaster Trends Analyst’, something I felt uniquely attracted to – I’ve a strong background in stats (from my undergraduate degree and time running scientific trials with the Sugar industry), have run several ecommerce sites and have a Master’s Degree in Computer and Comms Engineering – as well as being a regular poster on the Google Webmaster Forums – so I love hearing about what other folks are up to.

It was an exciting opportunity – so accordingly I took some valuable time off my PhD to prepare – before hopping on the plane for the 13 hour flight to San Francisco.

It was a great experience, but unfortunately I didn’t get the position.

I was disappointed.

As I wrote to one of my contacts about it:-

“so, either I’ll start looking for work again or I’ll bite my bum, put the pedal to the metal and get back into the PhD.

G was going to be a great fit because working with people like yourself would have been a ‘learning’ experience rather than just a job – I hate the 9-5 ‘office worker’ style culture of uni, but love the learning side.

My main problem when it comes to being hired is that of previous job experience..

I start to look like a jack of all trades but an expert at none.

Imho I thought that would be what would get me the job with G, as I’ve been told it makes me a pretty powerful educator – and a great interface between nutty engineer / scientist types and the general public.”

But let me take a step back here for a moment – I need to emphasise that I found the whole experience incredibly rejuvenating and irregardless of the fact I wasn’t successful, I still feel honoured.

If Google were to turn around today and say they wanted to employ me, I’d say yes in an heartbeat.

Why? Because any company that actually recruits internationally for a position known as ‘Webmaster Trends Analyst’ is a company that has a conscience. I don’t see such a position advertised at Yahoo. I don’t see such a position advertised at MSN… actually, I don’t see such a position advertised ANYWHERE.

When I was going through the interviews, one of the interviewers (and I hope I’m not out of line here) actually spoke about the fact that Google pulls together information from heaps of different resources (blogs, forums etc) on a regular basis and tries to quantitatively (from qualitative signals) assess ‘webmaster sentiment’ – and use it as an early warning system to alert them if things (like an algorithm change for instance) have had any unforseen impact. That made me sit back and go ‘wow’.

I count myself very lucky to have been interviewed by a great company with a social conscience like Google and dearly hope an opportunity pops up soon and I get another crack at it (You can contact me if you know of one).

But enough of that – the whole experience was a complete blast – let me show you a few photos.

This first photo is the centre of the Googleplex – it’s a neat place. I like the fact that I seem to have captured a black crow in mid-flight right below the Google sign 🙂

The GooglePlex

Took this photo on a toilet break at the ‘plex’ – judging from the pace of the interview I figured that time is a commodity in short supply at the googleplex, but this pic (right above the urinal) really rammed it home “Testing on the Toilet” – an A4 page giving thought provoking code tips to the engineers. 🙂

“Testing on the Toilet” - Google takes their debugging seriously :)

I got the opportunity to do a fair bit of sight seeing while I was there…

Highway 101

The Golden Gate Bridge (with me in front of it).

You’ll notice in all of these photos that I’m wearing one of two shirts – bloody Qantas sent all my luggage to Helsinki on the way over, so I had only a pair of shorts, a pair of moleskins, the shirt I wore on the plane and one I bought for the interview (this one) for the whole trip – don’t get me started about QANTAS.

The Golden Gate

Across the Golden gate bridge from San Fran is a beaut spot called ‘Reyes Point’ – here’s a photo looking back towards San Fran from there (with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background).

A View From Reyes Point Across the Bay to Golden Gate Bridge

A pretty flower at Reyes point – I believe the plant is called Pigface – why, I don’t know 🙂

A Pretty Flower - Why do they call this plant ‘Pig Face’?

A ‘Hummer Limousine’ – Wow!

Hummer - Limousine

Another pretty flower in San Fran (are you a REAL Aussie! That’s so COOL! I want a photo with you!!) – the people were very friendly at “Kell’s Bar” – I love a good Irish Pub, and this one was a beauty – it’s just off Columbus.

Friendly People

The owner (right) and head barman of Kell’s Bar..

The Staff at Kell’s

They shouted me quite a few Guinness’s – here I think that magical brown ale is starting to have its curative effects 🙂 (I am not too sure whether the spooky red eyes were caused by the camera or the Gazillion pints of Guinness)

16 Gazillion Pints of Guiness Later..

The morning after – one of those famous cable trams in San Fran.

One of those Cable Car’s San Fran is famous for

My Hotel was right in the centre of SF (Sutter and Powell) – I got it for a nightly rate of like $69 – it was fantastic

My Hotel

Just a pretty picture of one of the brass fire hydrants they have all over the place in San Fran.

Just a Pretty Picture

Some San Fran street art- this was in Chinatown – San Fran has the best Chinatown I’ve seen in any international city – I felt like I was back in Beijing.

Some San Fran Street Art

On the way out of San Fran – you can see the city itself and the Bay Bridge top RHS.

I loved San Fran – it was such a vibrant colourful city – I hope to go back there someday soon.

San Fran From Above - on my way home

QANTAS strikes again – I had to wait 18 hours for my flight back – by the time I took this photo (the time on my watch is AM by the way) we’d been locked in LA airport with no food or refreshments all night waiting for our plane which was recursively only going to be ‘another twenty minutes’ all night.

Some rather unfortunate baggage handler had managed to run into the wing with the mobile stairs, causing severe damage to the port side aileron.

I felt sorry for the parents with little kids – the time on my watch is AM – roughly 20 hours after the plane was meant to leave.

Bloody Qantas.. 5am in the morning - still waiting

33 comments June 18th, 2007

Solution – No Sound in CNN Video

Have you lost the sound when watching videos? In particular, have you lost sound when watching videos from This tutorial might help you!

The problem seemed to start quite randomly – One day I hit the website, and all of a sudden I found to my suprise that I could watch, but not hear, CNN video – I tried mucking around with the speaker volume – no avail.

At first I thought it might have been some sneaky ploy by CNN to get me to subscribe to their paid video service, but I’ve since learnt it is a codec problem caused by an automatic update to windows media player.

I found the following solution, and it seems to have brought back the sound in CNN videos..

No Sound when Watching Video

Recently I mysteriously lost all sound when I clicked on video feeds from the CNN website. It was quite strange, as I didn’t have the same problem from any other news website, just CNN.

I have found the solution. Apparently the problem is caused by a faulty / deprecated codec in an update to windows media player.

The Cure? A new Codec!

To get around the problem, you need to install a new codec.

The best one I have found is called codec all-in-one – it is free, and it seems to work well, but a google search may turn up other alternatives that work equally as well.

You can download the all-in-one codec here – please let me know if the link doesn’t work.



18 comments April 8th, 2007

How to Get the Games Working in Vista

Windows Vista has no Games?

So I helped one of my friends buy a new laptop yesterday – it’s a beauty – An Acer TM5625WSMi laptop with a 17 inch screen, Intel Core Duo 2Ghz, 1Gb RAM, 160Gb Harddrive – the works – all for about $US1500 – highly recommended.

Unhappy Children – where’s the games Mom?

Deb’s really happy with the purchase, but her 10yo daughter is PISSED OFF! 🙂 I got an upset phone call – there is NO GAMES!

So I did a bit of a search, and I found that Vista DOES have games – all the old classics like minesweeper, solitaire, frecell, Spider Solitaire and Hearts, along with a crop of groovy new ones. There’s more on the new vista games here.

Anyway, I sent that link to Deb and she informed me that there was an item in the start menu called games, but that it didn’t actually have anything in it – so.. back to Google…

Make Vista Games Work – Allow or Deny?

After a bit of Googling, I realised that Deb’s computer has Vista Business installed. It seems that Vista Business has the games turned off by default (the bloody kill joys) to try and improve productivity (ha ha) but there is a way to get them working.

Solution – How to turn on the Games in Vista Business

So here’s the instructions if your 10 year old is complaining too (or you are bored at work) :-

  1. Click on the start menu, and then click ‘control panel’
  2. Click on the ‘program’ group.
  3. Click ‘turn windows features on or off’ (you’ll need to be logged in as an administrator to do that – it’s usually the first user you created, but if not, this primer may help)
  4. Click the games box, and hit ok. Wait a little while as it has a think..
  5. Close the control panel, click the start menu and then click ‘all programs’ – you should see the games folder is now full of the great new vista games.



6 comments March 19th, 2007

Can I use Microsoft Office 2007 on more than one computer?

Microsoft Office 2007

I recently bought Microsoft Office 2007. I have to say, they have done a very good job. The package as a whole installs very easily, and I really like the new ‘Web 2.0’ style interface.

Can Microsoft Office 2007 be used on Multiple Computers?

One concern I did have was whether or not I’d be able to use Office 2007 on the various computers I have (for instance my laptop as well as my main desktop).

This is a really valid concern, as I understand Microsoft’s other new release, Vista is quite strictly a ‘one computer only’ package.

I Googled to try and find this out, and turned up no answer, so like every good ‘experimenter’ I just went ahead and tried it.

The answer is YES – you can use one copy of Microsoft Office on up to 3 personal computers – although each copy requires ‘activation’ over the internet, which probably means that Microsoft records information about each computer to make sure that the package is only installed the three times.

How does Office 2007 activation work?

This makes me wonder.. how do they implement the 3 copies restriction? Off the top of my head I can think of only three ways:-

  1. The copy can only be activated 3 times – period.
  2. Microsoft records the IP address of each activation, and a reasonable number of activations allowed from up to 3 different IP addresses (not unlimited, but more than 3).
  3. Microsoft records the MAC address (Medium Access Control – each network card has a unique ‘DNA’ code that can be used to uniquely identify individual computers operating under the same IP address – but it can be faked).

If it is the first, as I suspect, you can probably expect that if you happen to install vista down the track, or have to reinstall Office 2007, that you’ll use up your 3 activations pretty quickly.

What to do if you can no longer activate Microsoft Office 2007?

If that’s the case, don’t despair, as I have had the same thing happen before, and one phone call to Microsoft Support to explain the situation has usually been sufficient to reset the activation limit.

The other two possibilities are both preferable, although I’d suspect they wouldn’t have used the IP technique, as many people have dynamic IP‘s, which means their IP address is changed by their internet service provider on a fairly regular basis, mostly (I suspect) to make it harder for people to put web servers on their home internet connection (although, like everything, that can still be done with a little ‘know-how’ 🙂 )



34 comments March 18th, 2007

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