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The MCDC (Microsoft Canadian Development Centre) was where I spent most of the day during my trip sitting and focusing on code, drinking Dr Pepper (yet another drink no longer available in South Africa) and bugging Microsoft staff for assistance. I sat next to Willy-Peter in the unofficial VSTS section of the building and as is my luck the other person next to me was yet another South African working for Microsoft, named Adrian (who works on the data warehouse in TFS).
One of the cool Lego based art works inside the MCDC.
The MCDC was just like any development company I’ve seen in South Africa, but what really struck me was seeing how much time is spent on conference calls and see what dedication these people put in to shipping quality products. Weekends and evenings are not time to relax but time to continue pushing.
An evening with Willy-Peter (far left), his two sons and myself in typical Microsoft delivery mode – evenings are for getting more done.
Not only is the work ethic amazing, but the amount of non-coding activities required to deliver a high quality product that they must do is equally amazing. Two aspects really stood out for me, first was the amount of work the SDL (Security Development Lifecycle) adds to the project and how all aspects of a project is checked and re-checked for security issues. The second is that is understood that VSTS release has been delayed because performance and watching how much focus is put into solving the performance issues was really amazing. Listening to the performance improvements that are being made I have no doubt that they will solve it.
However not everything to do with the trip to the MCDC was easy. On a number of days I had to take the trip to and from the MCDC by myself (instead of following Willy-Peter) which started some interesting impromptu tours of Vancouver from the side of the bus (anyone says I got lost, is just a liar). However the public transport system is amazing, there are plenty of busses and trains which are all well sign posted and only once was I unsure how to get back, so a quick SMS to Willy-Peter, who checked the amazing online system.
The view of an oncoming sky train out of the front of a sky train.
The three parts of the public transport that blew me away were the sky trains, which are completely automated, the sea bus (which is a huge boat that ferries people across the river) and the online system. I used the online system for one trip I made, which I will post about in part 4, and you put in the time you want to leave, start and end locations and it figures out a number of routes that include busses, trains and sea busses to get you there.
The sea bus (in the middle of the shot) is coming in to port with Vancouver city in the background.