When did I become such a tool?

April 28, 2007

“When did I stop being creative?”

The words stumbled out of my mouth leaving behind an aftertaste of shame and contempt. It wasn’t that long ago that I still wrote and drew and played music for fun. It wasn’t that long ago that I always had a pet project going on. Helping on an open source project or helping a non-profit get setup on repurposed systems. But sometime in the recent past, and I really couldn’t put my finger on when, that stopped.

Lately that has been bothering me. Quite a bit, actually. Keeping me up at night wondering at what point these things that had been so meaningful to me just a few short years earlier were suddenly out of my life entirely.

The last time I played the piano was to prove the movers did not break it. The last time before that was almost 2 years earlier. I can’t even tell you the last time I drew anything that was not on a whiteboard, or wrote something that did not contain the word “specification.”

When did my life become so devoid of passion that my only pet projects involved lawn care and programming the DVR?

My wife paused. Lifting her head she stared at me from across the table and in a sympathetic tone, without a trace of condensation or sarcasm, she said “About six years ago.”

My gut reaction was to ask what happened six years ago? What emotional trauma had been inflicted upon my psyche that I abandoned those things that made life special and settled into this tomb of stagnation?

But to even ask would be an obvious defensive mechanism. Denial.

It must have been a slow bleed because I did not notice until about 6 months ago. I was unpacking a box and found a collection of old stories and drawings. Hundreds of pages of stories and poorly drawn pictures. Scores of decidedly amateurish music. Stacks of demo tapes recorded before I realized that my lack of raw talent really would prevent me from going big time. Code snippets from a diku patch I had done for a friend’s mud. Folded print outs of man pages and DNS configuration information for a local church whose token ting network I helped deploy just because they needed the help. Stacks of books I had once treasured. K&R. Stevens. Aho. Stroustrup.

How had I gone from being a hyper-prolific creator of mediocre compositions and altruistic deeds to this? This life where the thought of writing code after hours sounds like punishment and where personal time not spent producing product for my employer seemed wasted.

What was able to drain the marrow of life from my body and leave only hollowed-out shell of the man who once occupied this space?

Six years ago I began working for Microsoft.

The ways I thought about my time changed. How I thought about my career changed. How I thought about my place in the world changed.

Not all for the worse. Microsoft truly is a great place to work if you find the right people and projects. Contrary to popular belief – my day is not filled with meetings where we brainstorm the various new ways to thwart open source development or scare customers. It’s filled with thousands of people who truly believe that they are doing the right thing for the customer and who want nothing more than to deliver the absolute best they can (within the limits of time, resources and politics). Good pay. Great benefits. Smart people.

But there is another side to Microsoft. The side that has held my hand, shielded my eyes and who I allowed to slowly lead me down this path.

The side where you aren’t given time to be creative or perform research that does not address an immediate work item on your schedule. Where you are discouraged from thinking about things other than what is right in front of you at that moment. Where you have 6 weeks to do 16 weeks of work. Where months of hard work can be thrown away because the lawyers won’t let you ship it even though the customers are screaming for it (talk about getting punched in the gut).

The good must outweigh the bad. I don’t want to quit. I want to fix my little corner of the world and teach others to do the same. But I need to start with myself.

Today I am reclaiming a small part of who I once was.

Today I’m starting a pet project. The first of what I hope is many to come.

Moving my family computer from Windows XP to some form of Linux. A symbolic gesture more than anything – but one that will force me to do those things I so sorely miss.

Perform research.



Take action.



Enjoy the results.



[I have added a few additional thoughts on this post]

164 Responses to “When did I become such a tool?”

  1. Denmaru Says:

    Sounds like a good idea – but if you are more on the creative side, maybe you should have a look at MacOS X?

  2. makingtheswitch Says:

    Re: Denmaru (looking at MaxOS X)

    My wife and I talk about getting a Mac once in a while. Since the kids use Macs at school and I had been looking at pricing out a used K2000 keyboard – a an argument for a Mac can be made.

    One of the tipping points towards Linux though was this month’s (05-2007) Keyboard Magazine has an article on Linux and Windows apps so I decided to see what was available before going down the road of an all new machine.

    But – more pragmatically – I could go this route for free (minus the value of my time and a few burnt CDs) whereas even a used iMac was going to be around $300-500+. I’d rather try the free route first.

  3. Dave Says:

    You are about to get the digg effect mate and can i be the first to say well done, you are an inspiration to us all!

  4. jock Says:

    hi, bill gates here..
    i think i’ll switch over the linux too, now that you shown me the light
    hey whats this ? no viruses and adware ? no way ! linux is thaat cool.

  5. mark Says:

    pick up a mac mini, they a great little machines. using a mac has made me love working with computers again. either way, windows does suck the life out of you… good luck!

  6. Josh Says:

    Keep an eye out for the Ubuntu studio distribution coming soon (should be great for creative work), and there is always Planet CCRMA (easily loaded onto a Fedora dist) for some excellent sound apps for the programmer.

  7. LeapFrog Says:

    I spent a couple of afternoons last week downloading, installing, and tweaking the new Ubuntu desktop release. Everything worked perfectly right after installation; this is the first time I can say that about a free Linux distribution.


    If someone wanted a machine for email, calendaring, web browsing, word processing and spreadsheets this OS would now be my recommendation over Windows Vista. By a country mile. I predict that going forward Microsoft’s dominance will start to be hurt by Linux (and OpenOffice) on the desktop.

    Enjoy the experience… I know I did!

  8. Mike Says:

    Easiest transition(i know because i made it just a couple short months ago) will be Ubuntu. The interface is intuitive, you rarely need to use the Terminal to work with applications, the community support is tremendous, and the pool of free software easily competes with the pool of proprietary software available on windows in every sector except gaming.


    enjoy the journey

  9. John B Says:

    Perform research.

    Take action.

    Enjoy the results.

    Never get caught like that again.

  10. John Wells Says:

    Hope you get your life back!
    it sounds like if you want to draw and make music a mac would be he way to go. Back before I got my MacBook I was just like you, Coding some database app and learning assembly. lol. Garage Band and Photoshop + Illustrator/Gimp + Inkscape combo sounds perfect for you. No annoying apt-get and driver installs mucking up the creative flow.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    >Where you are discouraged from thinking about things other than what is right in front of you at that moment.

    A) Where in the heck in MS do you work? Doesn’t sound like anyplace where I’ve worked.
    B) Who’s to say that that this wouldn’t have happened regardless of where you worked?

  12. I am so proud of you. I started using Ubuntu last week after years of WinXP sensationalism. Now I primarily use a OSX box (lesser of two evils?) and an ubuntu machine for a server. Best of luck, mate.

  13. John Says:


    I support MS products on a daily basis. I had felt as you do. I felt apathetic toward things that used to give me joy.

    Using Linux has reinvigorated me. It is fun!

    Have fun looking around. I have found many quality distributions, but I think the greatest joy is trying all of them. Get all of the live ones, little and Big. It reminds you of the power of enthusiasm.

    Discovering the communities that participate for the pure love of technology is refreshing. There is a feeling similar to the software development that existed in the 80s.

  14. Alex Says:

    I enjoyed reading this very much. Thanks for posting.

  15. lulzmaster Says:

    this must be another of microsofts evil but cleverly planned campaigns against open source; i forsee that you will be bashing ubuntu in now+rand(17)*days. also i clearly see the hidden criticism in your words “force me to do those things I so sorely miss.”, “Perform research.”, “Take action.” which is especially at the current level wrong (ubuntu doesn’t need any work on it by default) and equals completely the view microsoft wants people to have.
    thx n goodbai evil marketeer

  16. makingtheswitch Says:

    Re: Anonymous:

    A) For quite a while I was on a highly over-worked and understaffed team. I left that team. I’m happier now.
    B) Might be exactly the same. But I can only change what I know.

  17. “Perform research, take action, and enjoy the results.”

    I like that. Glad to hear you’ve caught your misdirection in time to blow on the embers. Don’t bother with the K2000, you can do ten as much in half the time with free VSTs and Ableton or Cubase – and if you do it with a laptop, you can take it with you and create when creativity strikes (lunch hours work well). A USB-powered controller that feels ten times better than the K2000s can be had for $200.

  18. Isaac Says:

    Good for you!
    I’m assuming you’re talking about Ubuntu studio .. It’s great stuff. I’ve used Acid and Audition for years, but I switched a year ago.. and making music is FUN again. Hydrogen and Ardour are amazing – you won’t regret it!
    And of course, if you ever have problems don’t forget that there’s a whole community of people waiting to help out in the forums.

  19. matt Says:

    go you. I’m currently switching careers out of software, and it’s bothered me that I might lose some of the drive to do pet projects when my day to day life isn’t writing software anymore.

    Not sure how i’m going to deal with it yet, but “go you” for knocking a few rusty sprockets loose.

  20. John Says:

    Your wife is probably cheating on you. Subconciously, you know it and it’s putting you into a funk but you don’t know it conciously yet.

  21. Nathan Says:

    It takes the troughs to truly appreciate the peaks. It’s enduring to see others “wake-up” to life. So many people never develop the mental capacity/fortitude to make positive long-term changes in their life. Even thought the move to Linux is only a symbolic one, it’s definitely an inspiring one. Good luck with your change!

  22. LiquidBoy Says:

    a truly great blog.. i wish more bloggers wrote like you.

    I look forward to joining you on your journey of rediscovery!

  23. Zigzo Says:

    here is my tribute to you. Reading your blog and commenting from linux… welcome to the good side my friend!

  24. Steven Harper Says:

    Hi, I am an Ubuntu Switcher, I am a programmer for a Large ISP in the UK, I now use Ubuntu at home and at work, I also try to contribute back to the community and am working on the USB modem stuff to get them working for ADSL. For me the switch opened my eyes on what I was missing ; and I enjoy the freshness of Ubuntu. What made me change was when my workplace enforced the mass distribution of Notron onto all PC’s with it set to maximum, because I compile and build lots of code, the Virus software went nuts, making build times go from 47 seconds to 7 minutes, now – same pc- my builds are at 28 seconds with ubuntu. Its a learning experience, but a fun one.


  25. maxt Says:

    I would suggest to “upgrade” to Kubuntu (no reinstall needed) – it looks more userfriendly in my opinion.

    Good luck with the “project”

    Best regards, MaxT

  26. geno Says:

    this is interesting. i’ve very recently come to the same conclusion about my life, how i am terribly bored and how i have no hobbies anymore. it all started after i joined a big corp with all the same politics and deadlines. When i think about it, even the smallest little pet project (i recently setup a firewall/gateway/dhcp server) helped me feel better, more energetic, inspired. if only i can get myself to feel that way about writing code again…

    i’ll work on it

  27. that guy from that place Says:

    i believe in paragraph five, you meant condescension instead of condensation. unless it is normal for your wife to have water beads form on her.

  28. Haywood Jablome Says:

    John, your boyfriend is cheating on you and you know it – his dick tastes like shit! What an asshole…

  29. Wayne Says:

    I’m sorry to say that you’re not going to get you life back with Linux. Linux will suck you in, stealing every bit of free time you have in order to keep it tuned and running all the apps you need, kernel update after kernel update.
    On the other hand, if that’s what you mean by research, then go for it. You’ll be forced to learn a lot of the internals of the beast to make it wirk to your liking.
    Ubuntu out of the box is just a retarded Mac. There’s a good feeling out of being able to have such a powerful thing installed for free on some old hardware, but as a workstation? Nah.
    Keep your XP around just in case. Or get a Mac like previously suggested.

  30. Marc Says:

    you should try Ubuntu Studio: http://ubuntustudio.org/

  31. Tom N Says:

    Why don’t you make it a real project and install Gentoo? My Gentoo system gives me a lot of satisfaction. It runs like a top and takes a lot of tender loving care to keep going. It is truly a labor of love and will be much more rewarding than installing Ubuntu.

  32. Shawn Says:

    Sorry, I don’t buy all of this. Don’t blame work for changing you; you changed yourself. Work is just work; you make the most of it or you don’t. It’s just a job. I suspect any corporation would have made you feel the same. Use Linux or Commodore 64 if it makes you happy. All of this faux over-drama of your migration to Linux is ridiculous.

  33. ivan Says:

    it is great to see, that a (formerly) creative person is getting his creative life back, and that he’s doing this by using linux.
    you’re right! with linux one can be much more creative. linux offers much more abstraction levels to a poweruser/developer.
    there is this much more important effect (for me) than “just works” – it is: “i have the power” (not the OS).
    for a poweruser i would advice to use kde (kubuntu in your case), because (afaik) many people claim, gnome has the “the-user-is-stupid”-philosophy.
    reading your first blogpost, i realized that i for myself stopped being creative since i’m studying at the university, though i’m spending more time at the pc(s) as earlier.
    i want to change this also. (the difference: i’m using linux for years already).
    thank you for inspiration!

  34. James Says:

    Hi makingtheswitch,
    Just being short staffed for a long period of time can drain you. I would like to make the switch to Suse or Ubuntu Studio once released to take the place of my windows machines but I still use Windows for Audio and video editing for now. I have to much equipment and software invested to make the switch right now.
    Take care,

  35. Fable Says:

    Great article! And LOL at the comment from ‘Bill Gates’… 😉

  36. Paul Says:

    Another made up story by a linux fanboi… Microsoft employees and married? You failed right there…

  37. brisr Says:

    Awesome! I am running Ubuntu….. and loving it!

  38. zappepcs Says:

    Dear MS Employee,

    First, I applaud your decision, not because you are switching, but because you are making changes for yourself and your life. Changing OS on your computer is more about making life changes than saying something about Windows vs. Linux. Good for you.

    Balancing hobby time against work time is difficult on good days, but switching OS away from Windows is a huge start; remove the work thoughts from your home and hobby spaces.

    I have found much help on the Internet with Linux, so will you. Another thing that I found really helpful was a buffer time between work and home. As I leave work, mentally I wrap up the day, then dump it like a BSOD. On the way home, I pick out some activity that is mind numbingly simple. For this I have a collection of Lego for building robots, several remote control cars/trucks, and a nicely accessorized SNES game in the family room.

    Any of these, and several more, activities can remove all thoughts of work for me. 45 minutes of trying to successfully jump a F150 over some home made ramp does wonders for memory re-alignment in this manner. Likewise, getting your ass beat by an 8 year old at Super Mario for 30 minutes also does. For some reason when I get the kids involved in building with the Lego it always lasts more than a couple of hours. That one is dangerous time wise.

    I involve kids because they will NOT let me blow it off. It helps keep things on a schedule that I can’t re-order because of some deadline at work that really isn’t a deadline. It can be your kids, your neighbor’s kids, your wife, anyone that won’t let you renege on the activity without a damned good excuse.

    Good luck

  39. Breathe Says:

    Go on a sabbatical, take a break from the corporate world, see new places, meet new people, take a dose of LSD, climb a mountain…

    Perhaps even change your career; you’ll find that coding becomes much more fun when you’re not doing it for a living.

    It takes more than a new OS to get yourself out of such a rut.

  40. Nikola Igniatovic Says:

    Nice thoughts mate. I wondered the same thing about myself. What has made me dull my senses and lose my cretivity. I have found my answer. Now its your time to do so also.

    PS. I have ubuntu on my laptop (I stopped using my PC at home cause i feel i want my PC to be with me anywhere) but windows also. My advice is dont give up on any way on windows. Its a great product. Not the greatest but still great. And ubuntu is as great also. Just remember with windows. Dont be a TOOL of windows. Make windows the TOOL. And be a pirate a bit 😉 I know its bad ethics. But live a little 😉

  41. Jon Says:

    Despite what all these folks are suggesting, you might not want to go for Ubuntu. Ubuntu has the Gnome Desktop Environment (colloquially known as simply “gnome”), which, is more similar to OSX than to Windows. Instead I’d suggest that you go with a distribution that has a K Desktop Environment (KDE), which is a great cushion for things if you have grown used to the Windows aesthetic and setup. Personally I prefer the Mandriva Linux distribution for KDE and should you choose to go with GNOME anyway, Ubuntu comes highly endorsed and is one of the most supported and highly usable distros out there.

    As a side note, if you do get a distro with GNOME, download Amarok. Amarok is the BEST audio application there is for Linux.

  42. There’s not much research needed to use Ubuntu, now.

  43. kozmcrae Says:

    What a powerful statement. I’m a linux fan boy but I’m not here to congratulate you on your switch. Have you ever wondered how some people grow old and crotchety? Now you know. You had one foot firmly planted on that path but recognized where you were headed. Your partner and close friends/family are the most important things in your life. Enjoy their company as if you didn’t know if they would be there tomorrow, because you don’t.

  44. Anonymous Says:

    May I say that I trully understand the problem you are describing. I myself work for a huge corporation that has done the exact same thing: IBM.

    The similarities between your story and myself are very interesting. I too was a fellow writer and musician, but as I take out my old notebook and look at the date of my last entry, I realize… It has been over 4 years and I do not understand where the time went. I cannot believe that it is April of 2007.

    IBM is a great company, as long as you work in the right area and with the right people. However, the company that hired me (International Business Machines), is not the company I work for. So much time and effort is spent in trying to point the finger at someone, that it seems this place should be called “International Buck Management” (who can I pass the buck to now?).

    I, unfortunately for my employer, am someone that likes to fix things. Someone that tries to find a creative (and perhaps innovative) solution to the problem at hand. Be it how to ship the product quicker and with less resources, to how to modify business process for proper risk management and record keeping.

    From reading this page, I start to womder whether this is a problem that affects all of corporate america, or if it’s just our two companies. Why are we trying so hard to compete in places we cannot? Why are we attempting to stiffle the spirit of those who think creatively? Why do we completely eliminate future possibilities that may prove invaluable in favor of the “dollar now theory”?

    Do we not realize that it is those very people that can sit in a room and extrapolate innumerable concepts from a simple, yet quirky, idea, the ones that will ensure the future of the industry and of the company for which they work?

    I would like to hear more about the experiences of other people from other companies that may be in the same situation. I trully hope that this is problem only affects a few.

  45. […] them done I mean just look at Digg.com there’s so many great things to read up on like that guy at microsoft who made the switch to ubuntu and blamed microsoft for his ENTIRE lack of passion for living not to mention things like the […]

  46. Mackenzie Says:

    Wayne, you must be thinking of something like Gentoo if there’s infinite amounts of time needed to keep it going. My family, 250 miles away from me and never ever calling for tech support (like they did with Windows), uses Ubuntu. I installed it and came back here to school. It keeps running just fine for them. A little box pops up suggesting updates, you click “apply updates” and they download and install. It’s simple. The most time-consuming is initial setup where you install things like mp3 codecs and your personal favorite applications–just like when you get a new Windows box and install Winamp to replace WMP and Firefox to replace IE. After that, it just runs, and it will run for months without needing to shut down or anything.

    Welcome to the free side 🙂 I just hope you don’t use an ATI graphics card.

  47. MacMan Says:

    Interesting blog, but I don’t think that changing OS will bring your creativity back.

    Go out with your digital camera and start taking pics, or get back on the piano, or do some drawing or writing, or write a cool new app…

    Anyway, good luck with it! 🙂

  48. Bob Says:

    Some people have breakdowns. Some people have breakthroughs. What you just had is a breakthrough. Bad news is it’s often as painful as a breakdown. Don’t dwell on the regrets. Those well meaning, brave and dedicated lads who just came back from Iraq feel the same, only count your lucky starts you have all your limbs. Like that guy in “Hannibal” who cut off his own face to feed it to the dogs – it seemed like a good idea at the time right?

    They lie, they bully, they abuse. They employ psychologists to structure your work so you are driven by fear, guilt and insecurity.

    Microsoft is the epitome of a soul destroying hell hole. You’re too good to be there. Anyone who read Aho and K&R should be leading in the world of code, not following in the shadow of some mediocre jokers who churn out second rate malware defective by design.

    Finish what you started or you really will have regrets. Do what nobody has the balls to tell you must do, quit your job. Start a little database management company or something, find the passion and love for work you obviously have again.

    Better than that, convince a few of your colleagues to quit with you and strike out forming your own open source based enterprise. You could be running the next Google in 10 years.

    Thanks for having the guts to share your wisdom and insight, and good luck in your new life.

  49. Greg Says:

    Wayne, you sound like a right tool. Linux has long passed the “recompile kernels every 5 mins” argument.

    Maybe if you pulled you head out of your windows whatever version and smelled the roses you would wake up.

    Just stick to shouting at passing cars you MS shill….

  50. xi Says:

    Work does change people. We spend about 1/3 of their time at work. The only thing that comes close is sleep. Then a big part of the rest of our time is spend on eating, hygiene, grocery shopping, cooking, and other chores. Even for those who are married and can divide chores among others, there’s not a lot of time left over. For many, work defines who they are. The key is to find “work” that fits who we are, not to let who we are change to fit our work.

  51. Dawn Says:

    What Shawn said.

    There are at least a handful of things that could have taken claim to your ‘creativity’. Switching to Linux wont make you get off your lazy azz.

  52. Bill Balmer Says:

    I too work for Microsoft (4 years). When I hit the same realization about my life/career I bought a new calculater, typed in 55378008, turned it upside down and lol’d. Now when things get tough I have something to remind me that life is good.

  53. Anonymusses Says:

    Get a grip on your life. It’s really that simple. Laughing helps too–take life less seriously. For that, see my url.

  54. Confused Says:

    Am I missing something here? You’re marking a so-called “epiphany” by switching from Windows to Linux? Late April Fool’s Day joke, right? Wow, way to stick it to the man…

  55. Jim Says:

    Don’t let a computer operating system define you. I doubt that your problem will be solved by Ubuntu or Windows or OS X. This is just an ego play, a bit of melodrama. Stop taking yourself, your job and most of all, your computer so seriously. Good luck!

  56. Brandon Says:

    You may consider making a hackintosh as well, now that osx is for use on x86 architecture, you can build yourself a fully functional mac out of PC parts. And then if you wanted you could triple boot some version of linux, Windows, and OSX86.

    check it out:


    For HCL’s, and tons of info.

  57. John Says:

    I somewhat agree with Shawns comment. I’ve been in your same position at least 3 times during my career. This can happen to you no matter where you work. I sought a career change the first time it happened to me, thinking that was the solution. However, I found myself in the same groove about 7 years after the career change. You need more than an OS change to get your priorities back in order. You need a change in work habits and a change in family habits. I don’t know how old you are, but sooner or later, you’ll probably experience this again. It’s what you do now that will help you deal with it again later. I’m guessing that you don’t have kids, but if you do, let them and your wife be the most important thing in your life. The old adage “work to live, not live to work” is always true. Anyhow, good luck with your Linux project. Linux is always good to kick around for a while to occupy your time, but chances are, you’ll be going back to XP or Vista. Look at the real problem and fix it first though.

  58. Ram Sambamurthy Says:

    To Shawn – April 29:

    You sound like you’ve never worked for a company before. At the least learn to respect another man’s view. No one’s asking you to read this blog, so shut up and go do your cynical negations elsewhere.

  59. Deb Johnson Says:

    Good luck and best wishes! Life is too short to be spent on a treadmill of life, not enjoying life. I do hope you find some joy from using Linux. Enjoy Microsoft employment too, but don’t buy the fact that Vista is the latest, greatest. I sure don’t. I take it ALL with a big grain ‘o salt. 🙂 Cheers!

  60. […] When did I become such a tool? “When did I stop being creative?” The words stumbled out of my mouth leaving behind an aftertaste of shame and […] […]

  61. Schanie Ken Says:

    Such feelings run across the corporate work culture worldwide. Most feel a life jam and make compromises. The fact you are thinking & making efforts to come out of the life jam situation while working & loving it at the same time is the practical & sensible attitude. That is natural quality of human spirit & must be preserved by all of us. That effort, that consciuosness is more important and I wish it catches on.
    It is for the corporate world to think on similar lines, balancing profits, value, competition & work culture that creates a ennobling work culture across all levels & does not create life jam environments. May be it will be achieved in future.

  62. Michael Says:

    Reading you loud and clear. My creativity, personal projects and music compositions stopped the same day my first child was born, over 3 years ago now. Just as I was slowly getting my groove back, my second child was born.

    That said, I love them both too much and the ‘sacrifice’ was hardly comparable to the joy I get from them.

  63. Jon Says:

    I am in a similar position as you. I was hired at Intel right out of college and it’s been a great opportunity for me; learning from expert programmers and working on big projects. I have noticed that I put all of my effort into work, and less on pet projects such as creating websites on the side for non-profits or just for a few extra bucks. Thank you for the inspirational message!

  64. jim Says:

    Don’t get too hung up on what’s running on your box, as opposed to what you’re with the box. Lots of creative outlets to play with on whatever operating system you end up using.
    And don’t give up on your music “recorded before I realized that my lack of raw talent really would prevent me from going big time.” From what I hear on the radio, 90% of those who’ve made it to the big time shouldn’t be there either!
    Keep on kicking at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.

  65. Dan Warne Says:

    “without a trace of condensation or sarcasm, she said “About six years ago.”

    I hate to rain on your parade but I think the word you were looking for there was condescension 😉

  66. Great post. I have to say people in the US really lose sight of the important things. I worked at a bank for about 4 years and I have met a countless number of people who fell into the same trap of making work the first priority in their life. To the point where they are consumed by it.

    I am in dental school right now and it amazes me the number of people who abandon their personal life just so they can get the best grades and bragging rights during school. While they are doing that, I’m cruising by with mostly high B’s, a few A’s and a singular C. But who cares about grades? During the same period I am writing music, painting, learning to program, learning French and enjoying my life as much as I can. The truly important things are right in front of us. While others are in the books rehashing and not truly learning anything new (trust me most of the stuff we learn is just to pass the boards, nothing is actually useful in a clinical setting), I am learning things that I enjoy. Things that matter to me and most importantly things that I can have small pet projects with, no different than yourself.

    On another note, I am a Mac user, and while I whole heartedly love recommending one I also say go for Linux. If you enjoy it, you enjoy it. I install it every once in a while to mess with it and then when I’m ready for some real work, I go back to OS X. I do the same with Windows as well too. It is something that I like doing.

    Mohannad Hashem

  67. CaptJerk Says:

    You should try jerking off. It’s a great stress reliever that allows us all to continue with our meaningless lives.

  68. unloud Says:

    Since you are the creative type, you might want to try out Ubuntu Studio when it comes out in the next few weeks. . .


  69. geck Says:

    Congrats on the move to linux! I can relate, it happens on both sides of the fence, I work at an open source shop, and I find myself, in my spare time, working on crap for work.. not paying attention to what else is out there, outside of my computer at times. I solved that with mac, just so I have something different and refreshing to play with (plus it’s a unix!) it really encourages me to get back into audio and use all the toys I found. Anyways, if you’re thinking about mac, I suggest checking out a mac mini and the products from m-audio, lots of good, inexpensive USB peripherals that are windows and mac and might inspire you to get back into music (namely the ozone).

  70. A Friend Says:

    Sounds like the next step will be quitting Microsoft. There really is a bigger world out there than the ‘critical’ problems of daily coding.

    Best wishes for a brighter future.

  71. NMC Says:

    Making the switch to Linux is perhaps the best thing you can do to re-inspire your love of creativity. My situation was similar to yours, even though I have never worked at Microsoft. But after years of being a dedicated Microsoft customer, learning every aspect of the operating system I could, I began to realize my love of computers and technology was dead. It all became boring to me. That was when I decided it was time to try something new.

    Along came Ubuntu, and six months later I can honestly say that my love of computers has returned. I still can’t believe how much I’ve been missing these past several years. But most of all, I found that Linux doesn’t limit me; I can do what I want with it and make it completely personalized to my tastes, right down to the kernel.
    As long as you go into it with an open mind, you won’t be disappointed. My recommendation is to try the latest Ubuntu release, 7.04, and then go from there. You may even find it’s not the right distribution for you, but it is a good place to start.

  72. […] to Linux A Microsoft employee wondering why he had lost his creativity found a solution: he switched to Linux.  I think this is enlightening on both operating systems and on corporate culture in […]

  73. […] again how easily manipulated they can be, one of today’s more popular stories is this crap by this guy who adds a little extra juice to sexually stimulate the kids – he’s a Microsoft […]

  74. think twice Says:

    @makingtheswitch & #46 (IBM employee)

    First, thanks for sharing your experience. And while I am not so much worried about your tool or platform (IMHO,they are so similar anyway and I really cannot see why one OS would inflict creativity and priorities in life more than another) I share your concern about the whole work thing. It is all to easy to get caught up, esp. if you tend to care about things and have a passion for your field/job. And then, I must say, these corporations (I worked for IBM for almost 6yrs) do a good job in locking you down, or “holding your hand”. I had very much the same experience and back then, I never questioned. And the reason why I left was I did not feel rewarded for all the hard work. Anyway, for all of you out there, take this as a warning before getting engaged at one of the big consulting companies or the other “big” brand names. They do a good job in having a good image externally first, then once you are there you get blue-washed and next thing you know is that life sucks and you are old. Keep the change going and just make sure to remind yourself, that life is there outside of this particular company.

    Pace, J.

  75. Bull Says:


  76. Saran Says:

    I see this trend growing. I just made the switch to Ubuntu last Thursday after properly burning the ISO (stupid Nero), Anyway, I’ve enjoyed it thusfar and is so much better than XP. Only complaint I have about it is that iTunes is not yet supported. But it looks like Jobs may release it due to growing popularity and it will be a blow to Microsoft’s Windows Vista.

    I have only been using it for less than a week but I already have made another switcher, a couple waiting for me to help switch and a couple undecided.

    IMHO Vista was too late in coming out and that made people expect more. If we had seen something of Vista’s performance in 2005 at the latest we would have been moderatly happy. Vista seems old now and hopefully Windows Seven and Vienna (if MS didnt change the name again) will better.


  77. Random Guy Says:

    As a Microsoft employee who was facing the exact same crisis awhile ago, I feel your pain. I once thought as you did, that I could “make my corner” of the world better and spread the love to others. I tried for years to do this and failed. Best of luck, but I recommend you find another place to work before you lose yourself entirely.

  78. Anonymous Coward Says:

    Ok, it is possible to have the best of both worlds. For years I have been a sysadmin of Solaris, Windows, and Linux servers over the years. I am heavily skilled in Solaris, but I do love to maintain WIndows environments too. It can be done without the guilt. Just find a way to integrate what you are currently doing with MS products into other areas.

    Recently I switched jobs and I am now on a mostly Windows team and they focus on Windows and Citrix. It was recommended to me that I maintain a Citrix environment at home to play with (they do have developers licenses for free) so I did.

    I went 180 degrees from what they suggested. Using Linux, I installed VMware player and then installed Windows Server 2003 inside that, then on that server installed an entire Citrix Farm using nothing more than virtual machines inside of Linux. I have an entire Windows Active Directory domain, Citrix components, and member servers all in a virtual environment under Linux. I am publishing MS Office, Google Earth, etc.. all from a single Linux server but with multiple Windows Server 2003 servers running inside of it.

    Why? I still get to play with Linux, I have learned all I need to know about Windows Server 2003 and Citrix, all while still using my Linux server. Just to keep my skills fresh I also installed a Solaris server in the VMware on the Linux server just to play with and keep current. I also noticed that Citrix has a Solaris component to it and I am installing that now even though my current job doesn’t require it. It is another skill I have just picked up because of my blending my skills.

    Doing all of the above keeps my skills and my interests in focus. Yes, my primary job is now Windows and Citrix, but by blending the personal side of my research, I learned about Linux, VMWare, Windows, Solaris, and Citrix all in one sitting.

    I guess what I am trying to get at is don’t let your employer dictate what you love. If you love digging through code from an open source project, do it. Just don’t do it on company time. Also, don’t get so bogged down into that project that it starts impacting your ability to work for your current employer. *BLEND*. I blend my projects at home so that both my employer and myself benefit from the learning experience.

    You never know, by blending your interests, it could lead into new areas of research in your environment. Just a few days ago someone in our organization inquired about Citrix on Solaris. I mentioned that I have briefly toyed with that. Any day now I expect to receive an email about deploying some of our Citrix stuff in Solaris. Talk about full circle.

    Will it blend? Of course it can!

  79. Michael Christenson II Says:


    I would have to say that the normal process of pass the buck is very common in corporations globally. I’ve just come back from a client in England and that company has some serious issues. The really sad part is they are one of the largest tv production houses out there.

    From my experience, it is the small teams, freelance or otherwise, that actually enjoy their lives after, and even during, work.

    I’ve determined never to do work for large companies ever again. My soul was sucked dry for almost 8 years and it took quite a bit of time to gain some life back.

    Some possible steps to take, beyond changing software or OS’s, would be to:

    * Spend time doing something with your hands; grow something; construct something out of wood; et cetera
    * Engage your wife in these activities
    * Get in your car and drive randomly for a few days; getting as far away from home as possible
    * Get back into your community or church work (for the blog author in particular)

    No need to quit the job unless you can’t escape the press every now and then. Although my goal is to stay freelancing as much as possible, and never have to retreat back to that world, it is really hard to get established this way. Save the heart ache if you don’t have to do it. I had to do it.

    Good luck on your travels through life.

  80. Stranger Says:

    This rings to true for me aswell. Right down to not playing my bass guitar.

    I just quit a high paying corporate due to the fact it was smoothering my persnal life. The job was good, the people fantastic, but I was bringing things home on my mind, and not doing the things I love anymore.

    I just got donated a HTPC, installed SUSE on it, VMWare and have started tinkering. Web servers, DB servers, etc.. just to get me going again.

    I also brought a MacBook (its killer BTW), and have just installed Abletons Live to do some music tinkering again.

    So I know exactly how you feel ano wish you the best.

  81. yuriy Says:

    An interesting read.

    I myself have been using Windows for about 12 years – since I was 6. About 1.5 weeks ago I installed Ubuntu 7.04 as a second OS on my laptop. I used it for about a week and loved pretty much everything. I could do everything I could do in Windows. My only problem (and the reason I got rid of Ubuntu and went back to Windows) was that I could not run Photoshop. Working as a web-designer and developer, Photoshop is an absolute must. Unfortunately I did not succeed in getting it to run under Wine or CrossOver. (I tried several versions.) Other than that, Ubuntu is a great distro – very user friendly. The learning curve if quite heavy, but once you get past the first few days you really start to enjoy it.

  82. Nikhil Says:

    Seeing that you are from Windows, I would recommend you use Kubuntu. Gnome’s lack of configuration and convoluted simplifications are not meant for programmers, who are power users and like to tweak every aspect of the system.

    No offence to Gnome, its just made for a different class of people.

  83. MzK Says:

    Tell me, if you want to be creative and get your life back… why not spend more more time with your wife or your music ??

    I’m a Mac guy, and I don’t even think you should switch. All you need is less PC, more life.

  84. jason stiles Says:

    8. Bill Gates – April 29, 2007

    You’re fire.
    9. Bill Gates – April 29, 2007

    You’re fired.

    You know at first you might think these comments are from some joker pretending to be Bill Gates, but think about it. When did Bill Gates get anything right the first time. (or even the 6th for that matter) No my friend this is the real Bill and I think you might be fired.

  85. Tom McBaum Says:

    I agree with Shawn. It’s not Microsoft, it’s you. And as for switching to Linux, don’t waste your time — the “creative” software is lousy, relative to Mac OS X or Windows (and anyone who claims otherwise is in denial). I agree with the posters who said that a switch to Mac would better suit your “epiphany.”

    And grow a life, suck it in and tell your boss that you will henceforth be spending no less than 10% of your time on career development, and take some soul-enriching courses. Microsoft has generous training allowances, as you must know.

  86. Swaroop Says:

    You just did the right thing..

  87. AnotherMSFTDude Says:

    I’ve done something like this about 1.5 years ago. Only I switched to Mac, and later switched my wife to Mac as well. We still use Windows every now and then (using Parallels), but for as long as I work at Microsoft, there will be no dedicated Windows machine in my home. I also have a Linux server (based on Fedora Core 6 – it’s better structured than Ubuntu, IMO). I wouldn’t run Linux on the desktop – there are too few good apps aside from the browser.

    Now if I switch employers (say, go to Google) and my employer uses Linux at work, that may change things – I’ll probably set up a Windows server. As far as desktop – Mac owns the space IMO. Always did, always will.

    To folks who don’t understand why, here’s why. I do it for four reasons:
    1. I enforce work/life balance this way.
    2. I like to know what’s out there, so that we don’t reinvent the wheel over and over again, poorly.
    3. I genuinely like Macs better for creative work – photo, video, audio – it’s their bread and butter.
    4. I want to have something to fall back on if I move past Microsoft. Face it, a lot of companies out there use UNIX. I know UNIX. This makes me employable outside Redmond, WA.

  88. Anonymous Says:

    Not that I’m bored of flaming OS wars…

    but perhaps you should consider a hobby not related to computers. Sounds like you’re burnt out. Perhaps even time for a career change?

    No matter what, best of luck to you in finding your own personal happiness.

  89. Orion Says:

    Come on it’s not that bad, maybe you’re not happy with the team you’re in. Become a lead and have all the other ics get the work done for you – that will give you some time 🙂

    Nobody said you can’t think up ideas and see them in action. You need to think them up and then back them up with some value proposition. If there is no customer value in it – face it it’s like you said – research.

    Forget you’re working for Microsoft. Look at it like you’re working to make software the world can use. It’s always greener on the other side of the fence. You’re inspiration can only come from within and soon it will influence others too.

  90. […] did I become such a tool? « Making the Switch When did I become such a tool? « Making the Switch What was able to drain the marrow of life from my body and leave only hollowed-out shell of the man […]

  91. Fuck you Says:

    Quit your lame ass bitching and get a real job.
    99.99% of Americans work… Yeah that is right
    with your hands… In they army they would call you
    a fag and thrash you till you weep you fucking pussy!~

  92. LJP Says:

    I’ve been thinking about doing the same thing. Nice one. I hope more people make the switch. It’s nice to not be forced into using an operating system that is annoying (sharing and permissions anyone?)

  93. […] screwed when your own employees advocate not using your products. One Microsoft employee announces his switch from Windows to Linux, for reasons almost spiritual in their profundity. …there is another side to Microsoft. The […]

  94. Srikanth Says:

    Switch to Ubuntu. That’s what I did. Now I don’t even care if windows isn’t on my bootloader menu…I guess it’s a good thing… blocked the only path to enter the wicked world of Micro$oft.

  95. wraptinweb Says:

    I’ve enjoyed and appreciated your story – and it has only just started. One modest posting and look at the wide range of responses! Well done. I’m not sure if this helps but …

    In one sense it’s not about the computer or the operating system – it’s about adding an element of creativity back into your life. Experimentation, fun. In order to achieve this, the one OS you cannot use is the one you work on every day.

    I have a different environment from yours – OSX – but I bought it for a different reason. I want to develop OSS and do pretty corporate work and I want a protected, cossetted and reliable environment. So many Mac fanatics seem to miss the point about “of course there’s variety – as long as you like white”.

    From your comments, however, you have supported OSS in the past and look like you might enjoy the ability to make hardware and software decisions for yourself. Sounds like linux to me. It’s a great environment for those who want to “tinker”. Oh, and before I get burned at the stake by the linux inquisition let me add that this does not imply that linux *needs* tinkering to work – merely that it can be fun.

    And maybe that’s the word you are needing to add to the list – fun. That is what is missing from work in a large corporation (and many smaller ones too!). The best way to kill fun is to work long hours and have tight deadlines. Senior managers who left fun behind years ago look askance at the sound of laughter (clearly someone who is not working hard enough). Pushing the boundary even a minor distance leads to a view that a person “isn’t taking their job seriously”. The word “seriously” is now a literal requirement. The pottering and tinkering and playing and writing and drawing you did in the past was also fun… and set up some of the skills you use now. This experiment might make you more productive back at MS too.

    Don’t let the comments get to you. If your life revolves around computers then changes should start there. If someone else thinks your computer or OS is irrelevant then they just don’t get it. The suggestion about adding other outlets like photography is good. Music and computing seem to be a reliable fit.

    Who you work for is almost incidental. This is about life balance and not the OS religious wars that flame and inflame almost any discussion where OS is mentioned in passing. Good luck.

  96. Anon Says:

    This was well written. It sounds heart-felt, and I hope it leads to you finding yourself.

    I need to take this journey too, but I have a feeling my time is yet to come. Denial you said…perhaps it’s too true.

  97. I do research at work anyway.

    I previously justified it by saying: It was this behaviour that made me worth hiring in the first place, I mustn’t now devalue myself to my employer.

    But about half the time I end up using my sneaky research in real work to the advantage of my employer – (it may help that my job is doing things I like).

    So I recognise what you say and support your efforts to keep doing something different to see what happens.

  98. ervin Says:

    Not really about the switch, but the recognition that something went wrong. Start your life over, begin to _live_, not only exist. I made this recently, too; I have some new hobbies like horse riding, biking, and I feel like reborn.
    …but… use Ubuntu, too 😛

  99. Amr Hamdy Says:

    Hoping that you enjoy Linux. It changed my whole life 2 years ago.
    It really can make life happier.
    I enjoyed reading your article, the way you write is really interesting 🙂

  100. Ryan Says:

    Don’t get a mac.

    +1 for linux

  101. Peter B Says:

    I’m glad that I found your story. It offered me a little insight into my own Monday Morning Blues. I’m a small business owner who got into this business because I loved what I was doing. After 15 years or so, I realize that I am no longer doing what I really love… I’m just a businessman. Time to back up a bit and refresh my soul. But anyway, welcome to the Linux world. It’s a refreshing break from the mainstream media madness! I use it a home and have been trying to infiltrate the office system with it, to the dismay of the less adventurous associates.

  102. Ohio Says:

    Nice post. I work at a F100 company and experience the same thing. Here are two pet projects I recently undertook.

    1. Standing up a virtual Ubuntu LAMP server utilizing the free version of VMWARE on a Windows Server so I could get Drupal up and running.

    2. I started taking Cello lessons.

  103. […] a Microsoft employee who has decided that he needs to try something new for his own peace of mind. And the new thing he’s trying is […]

  104. Breach Says:

    All I can say is good for you. I hope your employer realizes that this can only be productive and result in a better employee in the long run.

    Have fun!!

  105. pinguy Says:


    Dream Linux

    Sabayon Linux


    These distros are my favourite and a bit of the underdog compared to Ubuntu.

  106. I don’t see linux makes one more creative really. but good job at trying something new.

  107. […] a Microsoft employee who has decided that he needs to try something new for his own peace of mind. And the new thing he’s trying is […]

  108. Stephen Says:

    You know what. If you really want something different, GET THE HELL AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER(S)!

    Go outside! Get some daylight. Go for a bicycle ride or play frisbee or go for a hike past where the pavement ends.

    There’s more to life than sitting in front of a keyboard and a glowing box. 🙂

  109. Anon Says:

    I had the same problem, but with another company. But instead of switching to another os I’m thinking: http://arcadecontrols.com/arcade.htm

  110. kuriharu Says:

    I think this is typical of working for any corporation or big company. I don’t do any really creative work, but I wasn’t hired to do that. This author, being a developer, is probably used to a certain level of creativity. But if he were a sysadmin or network engineer he’d be used to not doing anything creative.

  111. ex-softie Says:

    I think your best bet is to quit and join an early stage company. I did that from MS after 8 years and it totally energized me. I got my “groove” back and made a lot money too but that wasn’t the reason I did it. When there are only 5 other people, you wear many hats and have to be both creative and mercenary with your time. And when success comes, it’s your success. There is nothing like a small team against the world!


    Let me get out my calculator and calculate how much time you have just wasted…

  113. Joshua Jacobsen Says:

    I think of computers as vaguely like girlfriends. Amiga was the love of my life — the OS that made me happy, but died a tragical death. Microsoft is the nondescript girlfriend — I keep breaking up, thinking “there has to be something better,” and I come crawling back when there isn’t. Apple is the bitchy, pretty girl that can’t do anything… I periodically lust for it, but after a few months in the relationship, I leave it, swearing “never again!” Linux is like the artistic vegetarian chick with strong beliefs… It’s exciting, but it has limitations that I’m not happy with, ideals that I don’t always want to live with, it’s not always practical, and I’m not sure if the relationship is going to go anywhere.

    That having been said, I’ve switched my laptop to Ubuntu a couple months ago, and I’ve been pretty happy. I don’t think it’s ready for “the consumer” yet, as a few glitches have inexplicably developed after a few weeks, and I often have to use a Windows computer to accomplish something I want to do, but… I’m still really excited about it.

  114. Gene Stillman Says:

    Some here have missed the entire point.

    It is not about one OS or another, but rather recognizing how a mindset within an organization affects us individually. Changing the OS or any other aspect of life involves internal changes, understanding our internal concepts, desires, and goals.

    His friends and spouse had seen him change through the years, and now he sees it too. The switch of OS is just a subtopic here, it is just a tool. Much more important is how he has changed within himself and his outlook on life. Kudos to him.

  115. fakebill Says:

    Two things:
    #1 Everyone who is pretending to be me (Bill Gates) stop it right now. I’m suing all of you. If you don’t believe I’m the real Bill then look at my blog (fakebill.wordpress.com)
    #2 YOU’RE FIRED! It was nice working with you. Goodbye.

  116. dennis parrott Says:

    I 2nd/3rd/nth the switch to Ubuntu….

    for me, the tipping point in jettisoning WIndows as the primary OS was when I went to do a very simple thing — check what TiVo files I had already uploaded to prepare to upload others and clean up files no longer required on the TiVo (all these files being lodged on external USB discs) — which ended up taking several hours because of the totally retarded USB device management subsystem in WinXP. XP just doesn’t know what to do with an external USB device; the web is littered with people going “help me – WIndows will not read/write to my device any more!”.

    that combined with the fact that a treasured IBM T40 running WinXP Pro would FREAK OUT every time a USB 2.0 device got near its ports after it got repaired! and IBM could only tell me that my drivers should OK for the repaired machine. (bunk!)

    I installed Ubuntu 7.04 on that laptop and it works like a champ. the USB problem went away as if by magic. I installed VirtualBox to run an old copy of Win2K for the few bits of Windows software I can’t replace with Linux equivalents (Photoshop CS2 being the primary one). you know I could not be happier with how it runs. (well, if the T40 had a Core Duo instead of a Pentium M but that was the hot chip for its day)

    I like this so well that my desktop machine will get a hardware makeover; more memory, another hard drive, a new video card and a nice big LCD and then get the Ubuntu/VirtualBox makeover.

    with Ubuntu & VirtualBox I get the best of both worlds. and one more thing, Ubuntu is easy enough to show a computer newbie how to use pretty quickly…

    as for the fact that your superiors have ground the soul out of your job, well, get used to it. that is pretty much the rule at companies, large and small. it is rare you find that place where you can do what you do and have some creativity and soul as well…

  117. w Says:

    I have the same thing. I’m a programmer and my creativity really fell as my professional life took off 10 years ago. I think part of it is just getting older and gaining experience. Few of us end up with the luxury to pursue purely creative professions. And as you grow and gain experience at work you realize how naive your creative efforts really were. It really takes the motivation out…
    And then there’s the vodka…. 🙂

  118. […] of rival companies to start using Ubuntu, but one particular Microsoft employee decided to make a switch for his personal […]

  119. Billy D Says:

    I hear what you are saying but despite all the things you mention including some of the comments made by people here one thing you cannot deny is that Microsoft products do work well together and are excellent for businesses.

    Yes there should be a free and open market and for the most part there is but do people really want Windows XP without Media Player? or would you rather have a media player in your OS for free? The EU guys would say dont give it. The same happened a few years back with the IE integration, some folks would have the consumer paying.

    Whatever you decide MS is not evil and you are right they are just giving the people what they want (maybe they should make it cheaper….a little) Linux is interesting and I have dappled my feet in the water but I wouldnt be happy giving it to my 150 users its still not ready for the desktop without training whereas our conversion from 2000 to XP had zero training.

  120. […] When did I become such a tool? « Making the Switch One Microsoft Employee Documents His Switch from Windows to Linux (tags: microsoft linux blogs blog creativity education interesting job lost) […]

  121. Sakke Says:

    Good luck for your project. I will be reading your blog.

    Installing Linux (Ubuntu) two years ago put fun back to my computer hobby. I hope it does the same trick to you too.

  122. Anonymous Says:

    A friend of mine recently left MS, and interviewed at several places. It’s interesting how other companies that are supposedly “Not Evil” do the exact same things that suck up our lives. “Benefits” like a laundry service, or free meals, or whatever, really are just attempts to keep you at work, working; sacrificing your personal life.

    Fact of life she learned and I have taken to heart, any company will take what you give it. Google, Apple, you name it. It sounds like you are learning that it is your responsibility to hold MS accountable for the promises of Work/Life balance.

    I will say, it isn’t like that all over MS. If your particular group is not allowing for a good Work/Life balance, then start checking out the other areas of MS. I’m very happy in the group I’m in and if I’m asked to do something that would put my personal passions in jepoardy, I say something, and have no fear of reprisal.

  123. cyber_rigger Says:

    Companies are starting to preinstall Linux.


    The softie crowd is no longer leading.
    They have become (sometimes annoying) followers.

  124. MB Says:

    I can’t believe i was thinking of joining MS. I think your post has shown me the all but forgotten light in OS. No more illegal downloads for me man, I’ll make my own software if i can’t find it.

  125. As someone who has been dual-booting for a year, I too, look forward to reading future posts. Between work and life I don’t have as much ‘tech time’ as I used to that allows me to sit down for a weekend and master something. So my Linux education has been slow but steady.

    I’ve got one foot in the boat. By next year, I should have both feet in!

  126. Bradley Williams Says:

    Taking a flying leap into the fire is the way I prefer it. I do consulting for a small/poor rural parish (county) in Louisiana. We have Zero budget, and tons of creativity. Everything we do requires a person as a whole and all the special talents that come with that person to complete a project. So start small to get into the habit again, then feel free to get a running start and take the flying leap into the unknown. I am picking up programming again after a 12 year hiatus. Quite the daunting task, I know, but the support and challenges of squeezing the last bit of juice out of a rig is boring and routine anymore. I need new challenges, even though the boring puts bread on the table and gas in the cars. I just need something new. So I feel the pain, the need for a fresh breath.

  127. […] this very interesting article “When did i stop being creative?” […]

  128. Seth Brown Says:

    Ok, so you’re probably going to reject this, but if you’re looking to renew your soul, Ubuntu isn’t going to cut it. You need Slackware, man. It’s a spiritual experience. Being baptised, re-born, achieving enlightment, all that. Ubuntu will teach you nothing. Pick a worthy goal. Learn something.

  129. Custom Built Says:

    Just to say, Mac != Creative. I’ll pit my PC Photoshopping, web design, writing, and photography, against any trendy mac-whore hippy. Quit buying into the commercials. Besides your own computer and case-modding it is more creative than buying a ruthlessly pimped corporate “group-think” lifestyle accesory. You are not your fricken mac!

  130. Senator Frito Says:

    All I can say is “wow!” I mean, what you just wrote about is something I have seen working in my soul for several years: A kind of degradation of life, darkening of the eyes and loss of creativity. I ask myself the same questions, like, “Where did it go? What am accomplishing?”

    I, too, have been seeing it happening and it has only recently become apparent to me that I must change it, one way or another.

    So, in the midst of doing that thing which is consuming you, you made a symbolic shift; whatever it is, it is the thing that seems opposite or contrary–if I understood correctly.

    From my own perspective (sorry, the only one I have) I don’t think its the computers. Paradigm shifting seems an over-talked about concept (to me), but I suppose its useful–and in this case, the thrill and struggle of negotiating a ‘foreign’ operating system, be it Linux, Solaris 10, AIX, or an old Apple IIe (first loves never fade…), would probably stimulate some great creativity in a tired Microsoft developer–More to the point, though, in my world, it wasn’t so much what *it* was as *who* I was and am: The things I loved then are, surprisingly, still things I love. And I have added other favorite things, even if I did stop enjoying all that for so many years….blah, blah….too many words

    It isn’t for me to comment on the quality or choice of your (or anyone else’s) actions, but I will say: Go for it and don’t stop. If for any other reason than the fact that you deserve to be happy and live.

    P.S. I am printing this blog entry and framing it–and Bradley’s reply.

  131. […] First time I saw a Microsoft employee blogging about his desire to recapture a lost past. See https://makingtheswitch.wordpress.com/2007/04/28/when-did-i-become-such-a-tool/ […]

  132. […] Microsoft employee blogs about switching from Windows to Ubuntu at home […]

  133. […] er en kendt sag, at Microsofts ansatte blogger. En af dem kommer nu ud af skabet i sin blog og fortæller om, hvordan han er skiftet til Ubuntu. […]

  134. […] Microsofts ansatte blogger, og en af dem fortæller om, hvordan han en dag fik nok. Han erkendte, at han helt var stoppet med at være kreativ, efter at han var blevet ansat hos Microsoft.Derfor tog han en rask beslutning: Væk med vanetænkningen, ud med Windows XP og ind med Linux Ubuntu.Jo, indrømmer han i en kommentar. Han havde overvejet Mac OSX, men ønskede ikke at investere i ny hardware lige nu.Læs Making the Switch's blog om at skifte fra Windows til Linux.  […]

  135. […] Earlier this year Dell did a poll asking what customers want. Turns out they want Linux. Having Dell sell Linux boxes will make a big difference in helping Linux gain acceptance among regular consumers. They haven’t actually announced Linux models yet, but they do have instructions on how to install Ubuntu Feisty Fawn. Toshiba is also considering selling Linux boxes. Meanwhile, a Microsoft employee blogs about running Linux at home. […]

  136. Paulie Says:

    I too left Windows and the NTFS world behind on my primary desktop and my laptop. Before I nuked XP i used the P2V util from VMWare to create a VM out of my gutted XP box leaving only tools like Photoshop and Dreamweaver behind. Now I use VMWare Workstation 5.5.? for Linux and it runs flawlessly under Ubuntu 6.10.

    I am proud of the NTFS separation, everything is now EXT3. I even use rsync to keep files up to date between the laptop and desktop.

    The wife loves it too, claims the Internet is faster, haha… The kids love the cheesy games, Tux Racer is a huge hit!

    I run Feisty in a virtual machine and create a snap shot every so often.

    Hardware issues on my Dell XPS M140 laptop: None
    Hardware issues on my Dell XPS Gen3: None (i could list the ATI video card issue with the X800, but there is a work around and i am not a 3D gamer, so who cares…)

    It just works…

  137. […] link happily stabs away at one of my own phobias for the future. Another piece on component programming, […]

  138. blah Says:

    blah blah blah!!

  139. Peter D Says:

    Blame blame blame. Go out and do something, man. An OS has nothing to do with your malaise, nor does M$FT. You are the architect of your life. If you’ve built a substandard dwelling, who’s to blame?

    Play music. Write a book. Have sex. Sing. Change careers. But don’t bore everyone with your weak-kneed maundering about the evils of corporate life.

  140. Joe H Says:

    C’mon people, the post is a bit melodramatic, yes, but nowhere does he say that he expects Linux to change his life for him. He’s saying that, in a moment of clarity, he realized that he’s been caught in a funk. The defining characteristic of the funk is that he no longer takes on pet projects or does creative things for the sake of being creative. If installing Linux has been on his mind for a while and he’s just been blocking it out, then it will make a good first step in reclaiming his motivation to take on pet projects.

  141. Trevor Says:

    Haha. About once a year I pick up my guitar and think I’ll get back into it. I’ll try to spend the afternoon in my workshop. I’ll promise myself I’ll get out climbing more this year. I’ll decide to redesign my old website and get it back up, problem is I’ll do it right this time and start on the Use Case diagrams and Sequence diagrams.

    5 months ago I switched the family computer from XP to Linux.

    Welcome to the club.

  142. J Says:

    Good for you, I dumped Windows about three years ago.

    I’m not saying this lightly; people used to call me “Mr Windows” because I knew just about EVERYTHING about Windows. I started writing code for Windows 3.0 in C and eventually wrote all manner of things for it, device drivers, applications, TCP/IP stacks… Up until Windows 2000, I knew what EVERY file in the Windows folder did, and how it did it.

    Like I said, people called me Mr Windows.

    But three years ago, after being bitten by XP’s activation scheme after a hardware component failure on my system, I realised that I had been locked out of my computer, and what I wanted to know amounted only to what MS ‘permitted’ me to know.

    So I switched to Linux, and it has brought my thirst of learning back.

    Mostly because you can go right down to the source for every problem, if you have to. Also POSIX is much better thought-out than the Win32 and other Win-APIs could EVER be.

    So good luck to you! You WILL recover I believe.

    PS – 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

  143. wilson ng Says:

    So you worked too hard on your job.

    and the employer was microsoft.

    People overwork for all kinds of companies everyday.

    But i still fail to see how using Linux on your desktop will give you freedom. I think if you are harassed and overwork, you either take a vacation, readjust your attitude and perspective, or quit your job.

  144. Phair Says:

    Even Microsoft employes knows Linux is better than Windows.

  145. Phair Says:

    Yep, Windows is crap everyone knows this from Bill Gates to Linus Torvalds passing inside NASA and U.S. Army.

  146. […] Take a look at this blog to see what I mean […]

  147. […] the PCs in my house over to Linux, specifically Ubuntu. Why? Well recently Brandon sent me a post of a fellow Microsoftie who was tired of it all. Of course he was only a six year veteran; let’s see how he feels […]

  148. Mike Says:

    I notice the same thing at my company as well. (I work for a smaller software company in Redmond.) I think it’s because in our company culture the only readily acceptable hobby outside of work is raising a family. I didn’t do anything much outside of work for like 5 years there then I started doing some serious indie game development (doing programming for them). I’ve always loved game programming and never really dived into it until then and I loved it. I ended up doing that for a little over 4 years while working at my day job (I’ve been there for almost 10 years now.) For me there was a big transition period of taking on a new big interesting corporate job and balancing who you are with what is acceptable at work. But even now I feel the weird embarrassment of admitting that I’m an indie game developer on the side to my colleges at work, so I don’t mention it often and only to people I really trust.

    It’s an odd thing. I sort of feel guilty for getting away with it. I’m not sure I understand exactly where that guilt comes from, but I think a lot of it is that it makes me feel like an outsider because I’m not fully mentally invested in the day job like I think most people are, or appear to be — with the notable, already mentioned, exception of their open devotion to their families.

    As a side note, I started seriously using Linux at home about 3 years ago. It is a great project to learn how to use it effectively. You’ll probably end up learning a lot of interesting stuff about OS’s and about software design in general along the way. I know I did and I’ve had been programming professionally for a while. It can be very rewarding and that knowledge has been very handy in my day job even though we pretty much only use Windows — as I’m sure you do too ;). Just have fun with it and if that ends up to loose your interest look to where your fancy takes you.

  149. capi Says:

    i’d suggest dyne:bolic.
    i’ve been slugging my way to xubuntu… then I found out dyne:bolic. and life made sense.
    it makes you feel, i don’t know, curious, alive…

  150. […] —————————————- Making the switch é o nome do blog de um (ex?) funcionário da Microsoft que resolveu trocar o Windows do patrão pelo Ubuntu. Meu inglês não é muito bom, mas eu consegui pescar algumas coisas: parece que o cara começou a trabalhar na Microsoft há seis anos, mas de repente viu que, apesar de ser um bom lugar para se trabalhar, eles vedam os olhos dos funcionários, impedindo-os de pensar de outra forma, fazendo-os gastar 6 semanas em um projeto que levaria 16 – segundo ele mesmo disse. […]

  151. I’m also an ubuntu user. Good stuff. I appreciated this post, it was a good read. I finally installed ubuntu for my work machines, No complaints. 🙂

  152. Mike Says:

    Yesterday I got a fortune that said, “A relaxed mind is a creative mind.” Which made me think of your post here this morning. I’ve been reading The Joy of Not Working ( http://www.thejoyofnotworking.com/ ). I’d recommend it to you. It’s quite good and illustrates a lot important ideas around how we get sucked into not having a life outside of work as well as giving tools for overcoming it. Looks like you’re well on your way to doing this now anyway but there’s some great inspiration in there. I think it’s teaching me to finally relax a bit in my life and just feel good about doing what inspires me.

  153. In regards to Mike’s comment, he quotes The Joy of Not Working, of which I am the author.

    Here are a few quotations about leisure that may help people relax more.

    He enjoys true leisure who has time to improve his soul’s estate.
    — Henry David Thoreau

    Leisure consists in all those virtuous activities by which a man grows morally, intellectually, and spiritually. It is that which makes a
    life worth living.
    — Cicero

    It is impossible to enjoy idling unless there is plenty of work to do.
    — Jerome K. Jerome (1859 – 1927)

    To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the best product of civilization.
    — Bertrand Russell

    Leisure may prove to be a curse rather than a blessing, unless education teaches a flippant world leisure is not a synonym for entertainment.
    — William J. Bogan

    To have no aptitude for leisure is to have no aptitude for life.
    — from How
    to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free

    Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast — you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.
    — Eddie Cantor

    Note: These quotations come from:

    The Retirement Quotes Café


    Retirement Quotes and More

    Ernie Zelinski

  154. thanks for the GREAT post! Very useful…

  155. Idetrorce Says:

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

  156. Porcho Says:

    One year’s passed since you decided to do something about your life, and you haven’t written in your blog lately. How are you now?

  157. This is one of my favorite quotes about work that I have used in several of my books including my latestCareer Success Without a Real Job: The Career Book for People Too Smart to Work in Corporations

    You are what you do. If you do boring, stupid, monotonous work, chances are you’ll end up boring, stupid, and monotonous.
    — Bob Black

    Ernie Zelinski
    Author of How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free


    Career Success Without a Real Job

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