Mark\’s Rants, Raves And Other Things ;)

Rants and raves about things that interest me

Archive for September, 2006

Watch out drivers on Washington State roads (and anywhere else in the US in fact)….

Posted by Mark Sztainbok on September 7, 2006

as from today I am 100% legal to drive here in Seattle!

Today I sat my driving test with Department of Licensing and passed the test with only a few points lost for hitting the kerb when parallel parking and reversing around a corner (which supposedly simulates reversing out of a driveway).

Admittedly I think I had a relatively easy test as it simply involved driving about 3 side streets near the DOL office in Kirkland, where I sat the test, and only took about 10 minutes to do. Not a traffic light or main road in sight….

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Microsoft Day 1 – NEO Part 1

Posted by Mark Sztainbok on September 5, 2006

Today was my first day working at Microsoft. On second thoughts, working is probably a very loose term for today as today was the first day of New Employment Orientation aka NEO and very little work actually took place.

I arrived this morning at 8:30am at Microsoft Building 122. Upon entry, I was given a sticker with my name, manager, contact details for my manager and personnel number and proceeded to the first stage of administration for the day, the I-9 form.

The I-9 form is a form which an employer in the US has to keep which states that you are eligible to work in the US and indicates that you are who you say you are. The form was relatively easy to fill out and proving my employment eligibility and identity was simply a matter of handing over my passport with my visa and I-94 departure record (the card you fill out when you arrive and gets stapled to your passport).

The next stage was filling out a form that acknowledged that I had received, reviewed and signed electronic versions of my offer letter, application for employment and employment agreement and agree to those documents.

This was followed by a relatively short web form which asks some basic information for your personnel record such as name, address, social security number, visa status, etc. Once submitted, it also activated my personnel record in the system and started the process which allows me to receive pay and benefits.

The last stage was having my photo taken for my cardkey.

Following this, there was a short break before the main presentation where you could have some breakfast, which consisted of fruit and danishes, with the option to have a coffee (which was in a urn and was supposedly Starbucks – not that that means that it is any good!) and tea (which surprisingly didn’t seem to have any normal or English Breakfast tea).

The presentation started at 9:30am and covered some basic topics such as the organisation of Microsoft and Microsoft culture. There was also a guest speaker who was a recent new employee who shared some of his experiences in his first months of working at Microsoft.

Next came lunch, which was a boxed lunch provided by Microsoft Catering. Luckily, I was one of the first people out of the room (you can’t really keep me away from food ;)) and had pick of what I wanted. In the end, I decided to go the Traditional Deli Roast Beef. Upon opening the box, I found the following:

  1. Roast beef, tomato, lettuce and cheese sandwich in an onion roll. The cheese was quickly removed as there is something very unnatural about bright orange coloured cheese….
  2. Sachet of mayo
  3. Sachet of Dijon mustard
  4. Bottle of Dasani water
  5. Packet of plain Lay’s chips
  6. Chocolate cookie
  7. Bag of baby carrots
  8. A boiled lolly
  9. A napkin
  10. A knife
  11. A wet towelette

Being a nice day, I decided to sit outside and eat my lunch, which was surprisingly filling.

Following lunch, we were given a presentation about all the benefits provided by Microsoft such as health and dental, insurances, etc. This was followed by a talk about security at Microsoft, a look at some of the important websites that you may need to use such as the HR and IT intranet websites and lastly a look at payroll, commuting and the Microsoft Company Store. Overall the presentation finished at around 3:30pm.

The day finished with a trip to the Microsoft Visitor Center (damn you Americans and your bastardisation of the English language!), which has some relatively cool stuff such as a gesture based map screen,  and the Microsoft Company Store. For those who don’t know, the Microsoft Company Store provides Microsoft hardware, books and software at a massive discount to employees e.g. Windows XP Professional costs $20 for an upgrade version or $35 for a full version. There are some limits with how much you can buy but they are relatively high and would be quite difficult to reach. They also restrict the number of purchases of operating systems to prevent people reselling them and/or piracy.

I did manage to meet a few people as well including another Australian from Melbourne so the day was relatively useful and interesting.

Tomorrow, NEO continues and then I finally get to go meet my new manager and start setting up my computer, etc. in my office.

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