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  #1  
Old 06-11-2009, 03:56 PM
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Cruleworld Cruleworld is offline
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Help Ask Dave (A Microsoft Employee)



We have a wonderful thing going on here, a Microsoft employee answering questions. The community is welcome to ask pretty much, but follow the following rules.

Rules:
  • Stay out of Dave's personal life (eg. family, friends, etc.)
  • Do not to ask about Microsoft's future plans, he can't comment about it anyway.
  • Keep the questions in good taste.

If you post a questions that goes with the above stuff we will delete it, so don't waste your time posting it. Besides that ask about anything about products and why features were chosen and stuff...

Last edited by Cruleworld; 11-30-2009 at 09:42 AM.
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  #2  
Old 06-11-2009, 07:26 PM
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Machiventa Machiventa is offline
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What part of the Zune Team are you in and what were you involved with as far as development of the 1st and 2nd generation Zune devices?
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  #3  
Old 06-12-2009, 01:17 AM
DaveMac-MS DaveMac-MS is offline
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Originally Posted by Marvin the Martian View Post
Dave, what's your favorite DAP?
Well, I'd be remiss if I didn't say Zune, wouldn't I? Actually I use a lot of players - I like to keep abreast of the competition - and I fly around 200k miles a year, so I spend a lot of time on planes, in airports and hotels.

I will admit that I have a very soft spot in my heart for the iRiver Clix and Clix2. There were 6 of us in the Digital Media Division of Microsoft (as it was known at the time) that carved off and partnered closely with iRiver to build a best of breed device. Long story how we got there, but we basically took iRiver's product and gave it a very substantial makeover (everything from silicon to packaging).

I still bust out my Clix and Clix2 on occasion for kicks...

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Originally Posted by Machiventa View Post
What part of the Zune Team are you in and what were you involved with as far as development of the 1st and 2nd generation Zune devices?
I'm in Zune business development. There are really three or four of us that span bizdev for Zune - I have a colleague that does all the silicon and hardware bizdev (negotiating with suppliers for components), I have 1-2 colleagues that do music bizdev (negotiating with the labels and studios for the content you find in the Zune Marketplace) and I do accessories, connectivity (in-car and in other places yet to be announced), support marketing programs that need bizdev and some other projects I'll be able to tell you about later.

Other members of our broader team chip in and help - especially if there is a joint opportunity with a partner between Zune and another product like Xbox or Windows - but that's the breakdown of my team (which actually handles a bunch of other stuff - and in total we number 14).

The 1st generation Zune I was involved with peripherally. I was working on PlaysForSure when the 1st generation Zune was in development and joined the effort on a part-time basis a few months after the project was kicked off (which was ~March 2006, I got involved around June 2006). I was still in the Digital Media Division at the time doing automotive connectivity for PlaysForSure devices. I got involved to help define the automotive and "rich host" connectivity for Zune as well, and since I was already spending time travelling to meet the car makers around the world, I added Zune to my pitch and convinced a number of car makers to support Zune connectivity.

Of course, the problem with car makers is that a decision to support a technology this year means it will ship in vehicles 4 years later, so we're just now starting to see the results of that evangelism.

I joined the Zune team full-time just as we were shipping Zune v1, and came on board with responsibility for automotive, connectivity, and active accessories (ie: not cases and cables, but speaker docks and the like).

Cheers, Dave.
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  #4  
Old 06-16-2009, 02:44 PM
m_k m_k is offline
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Originally Posted by DaveMac-MS View Post
I joined the Zune team full-time just as we were shipping Zune v1, and came on board with responsibility for automotive, connectivity, and active accessories (ie: not cases and cables, but speaker docks and the like).
There's something that I have been completely unable to fathom, regarding the Zune FM transmitter/car adapter/charger.

It's definitely the fanciest, slickest such device I've ever seen -- LCD FM tuner display on the transmitter, pushbuttons for presets and tuning, automatic seeking for... and that's where we cross the sanity barrier.

For some odd reason (heavy emphasis on "ODD"), this thing is designed to home in on EXISTING broadcast station frequencies. It does NOT want to let the user set it to an empty (UNUSED) frequency.

It seems to rely heavily on the FM "capture effect" i.e., when two transmissions are present on the same frequency, the receiver's discriminator will lock onto the stronger of the two signals.

Even though the little transmitter's power is a tiny fraction of any broadcast station transmitter's output, due to the inverse square law, its EFFECTIVE strength will generally be stronger, since it's located so much closer to the receiver.

The problem is hinted at in the word "generally" -- when you have two signals contending for the same frequency, it ain't pretty. They will contend for the receiver's attention, there will be degradation of whichever of the two is chosen by the receiver, and, as the car MOVES, the various signals will vary... check the relevant forums for scads of posts from people complaining about how they can get it to work OK in their driveway, but have it go nuts as they drive -- or, it'll work OK in one location, but as they move to another, it'll go all flakey. Apparently it NEEDS a broadcast signal to piggyback.

The thing I find the the most amazing (or amusing) about this whole thing -- apart from the fact that this design was developed in the first place -- is that the FCC *approved* something that by design walks over the signals of licensed broadcast stations. An "innocent bystander" in another vehicle (or, walking down the sidewalk with a portable radio) will have HIS signal taken over any time a Zune-transmitter-equipped vehicle, tuned to "ride" the same station, drives by.

What on earth were they thinking? Common sense dictates that you want to have your FM modulator set to an UNUSED frequency, BETWEEN existing broadcast stations. This is the kind of surrealistic design I'd expect to see written up as an April Fool's joke ("Press Release: The Flotsamjetolacorp development team has patented a new type of FM modulator, which distinguishes itself by automatically seeking out EXISTING, IN-USE frequencies to use for its OWN transmissions!")

The next-most amazing thing is that when I first hooked it up to my Zune, the very first thing it did was to update its own firmware (an FM modulator with FIRMWARE? Gadzooks!) -- and, it STILL had the lunatic tuning scheme!

Can you shed ANY light on why they've done this? Frankly, as pretty as this thing is, the only REAL use I can think of for it is as a car-charger cord -- and, IF it's possible to dig into it, and fish out the audio line-level lines from the docking port (and, disable the transmitter), I'd add a cable and plug so that I could connect it to my car radio's Aux input jack.

Most likely though I'll probably try to sell it on ebay -- and feel guilty about unloading something with such a crazy design defect onto an unuspecting buyer.
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  #5  
Old 06-16-2009, 04:03 PM
jkj1962 jkj1962 is offline
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Originally Posted by m_k View Post
For some odd reason (heavy emphasis on "ODD"), this thing is designed to home in on EXISTING broadcast station frequencies. It does NOT want to let the user set it to an empty (UNUSED) frequency.
I didn't think mine worked that way...I'll have to re-check this.

UPDATE: I have the V2 Car Kit, and mine doesn't do that, it homes in on UNUSED frequencies. I hadn't noticed before, but it will count up the frequency, then stop and back up to an unused one. I tried it several times, and every frequency it selected was either unused or used by a far-off station. It never selected a strong station. And it will let you step the frequency manually and save 2 presets. It's kind of handy, too, that the control box is magnetic, since it sticks to my dash closer to the antenna.

I did however discover my Zune 16 isn't holding a charge anymore. That makes the second one in 4 months. As soon as service.zune.net is back up, I'll have to contact them.

Last edited by jkj1962; 06-16-2009 at 05:20 PM. Reason: Did some experimenting.
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  #6  
Old 06-16-2009, 05:46 PM
DaveMac-MS DaveMac-MS is offline
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Originally Posted by m_k View Post
For some odd reason (heavy emphasis on "ODD"), this thing is designed to home in on EXISTING broadcast station frequencies. It does NOT want to let the user set it to an empty (UNUSED) frequency.

<snip...>

The next-most amazing thing is that when I first hooked it up to my Zune, the very first thing it did was to update its own firmware (an FM modulator with FIRMWARE? Gadzooks!) -- and, it STILL had the lunatic tuning scheme!
Hi M_K - actually it is supposed to find existing (taken) frequencies and then backup an increment or two to find a blank station. The logic is that major stations aren't usually on consecutive frequencies (like 102.7 and 102.9) if it can be avoided.

If your device isn't behaving like that, let me know.

As for the firmware upgrade - I'm actually pretty proud of that. We get firmware updates sent down to the device from Marketplace, and then when you next connect to the accessory, the device updates the firmware on the accessory. I reckon that's pretty cool.

Cheers, Dave.
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  #7  
Old 06-16-2009, 06:02 PM
jkj1962 jkj1962 is offline
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Originally Posted by DaveMac-MS View Post
Hi M_K - actually it is supposed to find existing (taken) frequencies and then backup an increment or two to find a blank station. The logic is that major stations aren't usually on consecutive frequencies (like 102.7 and 102.9) if it can be avoided.
That is what I find mine does.

Quote:
As for the firmware upgrade - I'm actually pretty proud of that. We get firmware updates sent down to the device from Marketplace, and then when you next connect to the accessory, the device updates the firmware on the accessory. I reckon that's pretty cool.
The only thing cooler might be including the desktop software on the device and having it install from it. On flash players you would have the option to delete it afterwards to save space.

Not my idea, I have an RCA Digital Voice Recorder that does this.
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  #8  
Old 06-17-2009, 12:42 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveMac-MS View Post
As for the firmware upgrade - I'm actually pretty proud of that. We get firmware updates sent down to the device from Marketplace, and then when you next connect to the accessory, the device updates the firmware on the accessory. I reckon that's pretty cool.

Cheers, Dave.
Does it ask before it downloads and/or updates your player?

I'd hate to just want a simple transfer of a song and then it starts a firmware update
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  #9  
Old 06-12-2009, 01:33 AM
DaveMac-MS DaveMac-MS is offline
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Someone asked me "Describe your first day at Microsoft and how did you wind up in the Zune team?" - or something like that at least.

My first day at Microsoft was SCARY. I'm actually Australian and MS had flown out to Australia to interview candidates. I was working as an intern consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers at the time, and was contacted by MS asking whether I'd be interested in interviewing. I passed the phone interviews and so they flew out and we did a face-to-face interview loop in Sydney.

The thing I remember most about the loop is that they kept asking me programming/coding questions, and I kept telling them that I wasn't a programmer. I'd studied electronic engineering in school - bachelor & masters - but hadn't done more than a semester of Pascal. When they tried to hire me to be a "Software Development Engineer in Test", I freaked out - I couldn't code! Don't worry they said, you'll get training at MS.

So I moved from Australia to Seattle, had a couple of days to get settled (instead of orienting myself in Seattle, I flew down to Vegas and partied like crazy - but that's another story) and then on my first day I showed up for "New Employee Orientation". It was a room full of people - maybe 150 - and so I scanned the room, found a seat, and sat down.

We had to fill out a bunch of paperwork, then watch a series of videos about MS. Finally they announced that we had a special guest speaker - it was Steve Ballmer - and so he came bouncing out and fired us all up.

We had lunch and then had to report back to our new teams. I was petrified because I was sure my new manager was going to ask me to program something and of course, I would be no match for Microsoft programmers. But, he was already aware of the gaping hole in my resume and had me signed up for coding class.

Anyhow - fast forward 9 years - I spent a year being a tester in Visual Studio, then I moved to Windows to become a program manager in printing & imaging (printers, scanners, digital cameras). We shipped XP, then Server 2003, then the team split into the print team and the imaging team. I went with imaging - taking ownership for digital cameras, and then took on digital media players as well. When the PlaysForSure program kicked off, I took that on before we expanded the team and I did that along with a few other projects (throughout my career I have done a bunch of standards work for MS in various capacities - Bluetooth, UPnP, USB, CEA, etc...) until finally moving to the Zune team.

I moved to Zune because it had a startup mentality, some good friends had moved over and were having a blast, and because I wanted to be involved in starting and growing a business. At the time I had decided to leave Windows to join Zune, I had narrowed my decision down to Zune or a new effort Microsoft was starting up called "HealthVault". Some good friends of mine went to HV from Windows as well (this was after we'd shipped Vista and the old-timers were moving on to new projects), so it was a tough choice. The HV team continues to do great work, and I catch up with those guys too infrequently.

Anyhow - probably WAY more than you wanted to know, but there you have it.

Cheers, Dave.
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  #10  
Old 06-12-2009, 02:38 AM
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Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
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OK, Dave:
If you had a new CD and you were going to rip it(lossy), what would be your codec and bitrate of choice?

This could perhaps be a 2 part question, as in one case if you were using a small capacity flash device, and another choice if you were using a HDD device.

I'm just curious if in using multiple devices, in different settings all over the place, if you've happened to grow fond of any one codec over the rest.
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  #11  
Old 06-12-2009, 04:39 AM
DaveMac-MS DaveMac-MS is offline
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Originally Posted by Marvin the Martian View Post
OK, Dave:
If you had a new CD and you were going to rip it(lossy), what would be your codec and bitrate of choice?

This could perhaps be a 2 part question, as in one case if you were using a small capacity flash device, and another choice if you were using a HDD device.

I'm just curious if in using multiple devices, in different settings all over the place, if you've happened to grow fond of any one codec over the rest.
Actually I'm not that much of an audiophile - which is ironic since I maintain a home studio and used to do a fair bit of recording, including of myself (I'm a pianist).

Anyhow, back in the day I sat down and ripped ALL my CDs in WMA, 192k. For me that was the right mix of high enough resolution, small enough size. That was probably 3 or 4 years ago now. Subsequent CDs I started to rip in WMA VBR, on the 135-215kbps setting, and now the occasional CD I come across I'll do in WMA VBR on the best quality setting (240-355kbps).

I have a media server at home which serves up TV, music & pics through the house. It has 4TB of storage, so one day I'll re-rip everything in lossless formats. However, I have to confess that when I recently discovered ~12 CDs I forgot to rip - I instead opted to just download them from Zune, it was so much quicker than sitting at my PC feeding it CDs...

Cheers, Dave.
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  #12  
Old 06-12-2009, 02:31 PM
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Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveMac-MS View Post
Actually I'm not that much of an audiophile - which is ironic since I maintain a home studio and used to do a fair bit of recording, including of myself (I'm a pianist).

Anyhow, back in the day I sat down and ripped ALL my CDs in WMA, 192k. For me that was the right mix of high enough resolution, small enough size. That was probably 3 or 4 years ago now. Subsequent CDs I started to rip in WMA VBR, on the 135-215kbps setting, and now the occasional CD I come across I'll do in WMA VBR on the best quality setting (240-355kbps).

I have a media server at home which serves up TV, music & pics through the house. It has 4TB of storage, so one day I'll re-rip everything in lossless formats. However, I have to confess that when I recently discovered ~12 CDs I forgot to rip - I instead opted to just download them from Zune, it was so much quicker than sitting at my PC feeding it CDs...

Cheers, Dave.
The WMA VBR actually does work pretty well.....36% of my collection is in that format, actually(some 85-145, some 135-215). All the CD's I had before I had a DAP I ripped with it.

Since then, I've gone with LAME, for the extra battery life and universal compatibility, but those old rips work well enough that I'm not re-ripping them all.
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  #13  
Old 06-16-2009, 02:52 PM
m_k m_k is offline
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Originally Posted by DaveMac-MS View Post
Anyhow - fast forward 9 years - I spent a year being a tester in Visual Studio
Were you involved with the pre-dot-net VS?

In an earlier life, I was "in that world" -- in fact, my name in mentioned once or twice in the Visual Studio help files (VS 5 or 6, I forget which, tempus fugit!) in reference to some magazine articles I'd written which the MSFT helpfile writers found worthy of citing.
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Old 06-12-2009, 03:16 PM
DaveMac-MS DaveMac-MS is offline
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Ya, for sure. In my case the most I'm between charges is a 14.5hr flight, so battery life is less of a concern as portability, ease and laziness (not wanting to re-rip existing content).

Cheers, Dave.

Last edited by DaveMac-MS; 06-12-2009 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 06-12-2009, 06:47 PM
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Machiventa Machiventa is offline
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Any ideas how the Zune name and logo came about? Any other names you can remember that almost made the cut?
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Old 06-12-2009, 08:20 PM
DaveMac-MS DaveMac-MS is offline
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Any ideas how the Zune name and logo came about? Any other names you can remember that almost made the cut?
Yup, like I'm sure every other product name from a Fortune 500 company these days, a ton of research went into marketability, domain name availability, translation into a 100 languages (does it mean a swear word in some other language), is it trademark-able, etc...

Its both a long-winded and highly secretive process. I wasn't involved in it.

As for other names, I'm sure there were a bunch that were considered, but aside from project code names (usually cities, nouns, animals, etc...) I only ever knew of Zune.

Cheers, Dave.
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  #17  
Old 06-12-2009, 10:51 PM
Ricardo Dawkins Ricardo Dawkins is offline
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I joined the Zune team full-time just as we were shipping Zune v1, and came on board with responsibility for automotive, connectivity, and active accessories (ie: not cases and cables, but speaker docks and the like).
so, you are one of the culprits of the issues between the Kicker z500 and VAF octavio speakers docks with zune devices....

I kid....I kid....I kid
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Old 06-14-2009, 06:33 PM
DaveMac-MS DaveMac-MS is offline
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so, you are one of the culprits of the issues between the Kicker z500 and VAF octavio speakers docks with zune devices....

I kid....I kid....I kid
Thanks for forwarding the links - I checked them out. I actually wasn't aware of the Kicker issue, and I notice that a Kicker representative stepped in to figure out the problem:

http://www.zunescene.mobi/forums/ind...2240#msg482240

As for the VAF unit - I actually have one of those, and VAF issued a firmware update subsequently to fix a few bugs. If anyone is in need of help on the VAF unit, I can help more directly - send me mail at aussie@zune.net and we'll sort you out.

Speaking frankly, some fault lies on both sides here. For accessory vendors like VAF and Kicker, we publish specifications and details on connectivity so they can make a solid, working product. What has happened is that vendors have discovered they can use the connector on the bottom of the device in undocumented ways to add functionality. That's great while it works - but they don't tell us what they've done AND conversely, they might argue that we haven't explicitly told them what they CAN'T do with the connector.

We need to be more prescriptive in our documentation, and they need to stop doing things that aren't supported in the documentation. Otherwise these situations come along. We're aware of this, and working (both sides) to ensure it doesn't happen in the future.

Cheers, Dave.
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Old 06-14-2009, 11:08 PM
Ricardo Dawkins Ricardo Dawkins is offline
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Originally Posted by DaveMac-MS View Post
Thanks for forwarding the links - I checked them out. I actually wasn't aware of the Kicker issue, and I notice that a Kicker representative stepped in to figure out the problem:

http://www.zunescene.mobi/forums/ind...2240#msg482240

As for the VAF unit - I actually have one of those, and VAF issued a firmware update subsequently to fix a few bugs. If anyone is in need of help on the VAF unit, I can help more directly - send me mail at aussie@zune.net and we'll sort you out.

Speaking frankly, some fault lies on both sides here. For accessory vendors like VAF and Kicker, we publish specifications and details on connectivity so they can make a solid, working product. What has happened is that vendors have discovered they can use the connector on the bottom of the device in undocumented ways to add functionality. That's great while it works - but they don't tell us what they've done AND conversely, they might argue that we haven't explicitly told them what they CAN'T do with the connector.

We need to be more prescriptive in our documentation, and they need to stop doing things that aren't supported in the documentation. Otherwise these situations come along. We're aware of this, and working (both sides) to ensure it doesn't happen in the future.

Cheers, Dave.
Good and through response. I'm impressed.
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  #20  
Old 06-13-2009, 05:11 AM
Olley Olley is offline
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"Active accessories". I like the term. Is an active accessory different than a passive one? Maybe those "active accessories" are accessories for an active user? Armbands, Nike shoe inserts, etc.?
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