logo Home Contact Resume Writing Technical projects Scout restoration Vintage computing

Book 3

My third book is released! Learn what you'll need to know in order to become an embedded engineer.

Book 2

Check out my second book; learn practical stuff about building robots and control systems around Linux PCs and the Atmel AVR.

Book 1

My first book gives you all the intro you need on developing 32-bit embedded systems on a hobbyist budget.

Wiping Off Microsoft

God knows, I have no idea how I originally got onto Microsoft's mailing lists. I certainly never buy anything from them. When I buy a computer that has Windows preloaded, I reformat it immediately as a Linux-only system. Yet, I am constantly bombarded by them. The bombardment takes two forms; firstly, letters EXACTLY like this one:

Naturally, it is my duty to help Microsoft waste money promoting their ridiculous "embedded" products. And it's my duty to make that cost them as much as possible. I fill out their survey absolutely truthfully: when they ask me what embedded OSes I'm using, and which OSes I am considering for future products, I tell them the facts: proprietary OSes, Linux and sometimes no OS. Under some circumstances I would consider a couple of other products, such as QNX. Under NO circumstances would I consider Windows CE or Windows XP "Embedded" (ROFL). When they ask why I'm filling out the survey, I truthfully tell them "to get the free lamp, and please note that I will never buy or recommend your products to anyone". Yet I still keep getting these damn letters (and lamps) in the mail. I guess everyone is bothered by ONE corporation; most of America gets AOL CD-ROMs in the mail, I get lamps. I have something like thirty of these now:

I obviously would never bring one of these things out in public. People might think I regard Microsoft as a credible embedded solutions provider. And I can't give them away to other people, for much the same reason. Fortunately, one of the fringe benefits of being married is that I regularly have nail polish remover in the house:

The weapon of choice is toilet paper, quite appropriate given what I'm wiping off:

And with a small amount of elbow grease, we have depersonalized the product, successfully cleaned off the insanity, and it can safely be given to friends, colleagues and small children:

So much for the lamps. But even worse than the lamps are the damn recruiters! Here's a typical piece of correspondence between me and a Microsoft "embedded" recruiter:

> Hi Lewin:
> I'm a recruiting consultant onsite with Microsoft. One of my internal
> clients has evaluated your resume and is excited to learn more about
> you. Your background and experience is exceptional. We would love to
> consider you for one of our openings.
> Attached to this email is a screening questionnaire for you to
> complete if you're interested in next steps. The positions in
> question are being aggressively recruited and may close quickly. If
> you are interested in exploring these unique opportunities we will
> need to hear from you as soon as possible.
> This email is personalized for you and not a blanket push for
> information. I will call you once I receive your completed
> questionnaire.
> Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing back from you.

Hello {recruiter name},

Geez. I think, on average, I get a call every six to eight weeks from a
different Microsoft recruiter.

I could not with good conscience work for Microsoft. Among other fatal
issues, I could not continue my writing career if I worked for Microsoft
(since anyone who read any of my work thereafter would assume it was
employer-sponsored; nobody would ever again take me to be unbiased.
Also, historically, Microsoft has been less than kind to employees who
have said negative things about the company in public).

To summarize: No inducement could possibly lead me to accept a job with
Microsoft, except perhaps if I was desperate to find my next meal (and
even then, I'd be using my first paycheck to print resumes and get them
mailed out to other potential employers).

Unsurprisingly, I think you'll find this issue fairly prevalent in the
embedded engineering community.

I think I've been very clear here, and reasonably polite. Certainly, I should have earned removal or (better yet) blacklisting in Microsoft's internal recruitment database. Yet I regularly get calls and emails like the thread I've quoted above. The lady who preceded the fine gentleman above was exceptionally persistent. After I explained the facts of life to her (in roughly the words I've used above), she posited the idea that if I took whatever position she was offering, maybe I could affect Microsoft's products in a positive way. Somehow, I doubt they would listen to a grunt-level new hire telling them "For starters, discontinue all your current products, and spin off a separate company with a different name so it doesn't have all your negative energy. Plus, make every line you write open-source, and adhere to industry standards instead of inventing proprietary protocols". I told her this, and this was her cue to call me and ask me for more information about why I don't want to work for Microsoft or use their products. Plus, she wanted to persuade me to take the position. Sorry. Life's too short. One has no choice but to become rude when these things escalate to such a level. Besides, what part of "don't want to move to WA" don't you understand? Sheesh, people. and all original content herein is © Copyright 2004 by Lewin A.R.W. Edwards. "" is a trademark protected under U.S. and international law. Infringement or attempted dilution of the intellectual property rights held by Lewin A.R.W. Edwards will be prosecuted to the fullest possible extent.