It only comes around once a year…

I blogged a few years ago about how I did an April Fool's edition of my college's ACM's newsletter. What I neglected to mention in that post is that I actually came up with the idea in September of that year, and I became the editor of the newsletter that month for the express intention of waiting it out until April so that I could write the darned article.

I'm not sure how best to interpret this story: either I'm incredibly persistent, or I have very few good ideas and thus when I sense a good one, I figure I might as well hold on.

Anyway, I bring this up because for the last two and a half years, I've put together a weekly email to the exchange team (innovatively named "The Weekly Exchange") that covers project status across all the teams intermixed with some funky graphics, contests, and interesting tidbits to keep people reading. It's been a pretty good experiment to see exactly what you need to do to get people to actually read blankety-blank status mails in all their inherent awfulness.

One of the perks is that I decided soon after starting that I was going to make a tradition of doing an April Fool's edition of the WE. I was recently rereading some of the old editions and thought it'd be fun to share some of the bits we had in them over the last few years.

Unfortunately I've had to censor this quite a bit because, well, it pokes fun at companies and people that I really don't want to poke at in public 🙂 So here are some of the tidbits remaining from this year's April Fool's WE, I'll post the other two years some other time. I realize that many of these are without context but I hope some folks still find them amusing.

  • ExBPA has been simplified so that it is no longer so confusing for customers to know exactly what they need to fix. Rather than the thousands of rules of varying complexity, all of the checks that ExBPA does will be consolidated into a single rule with 42,000 conditions that will rate a server as either “Good” or “Dude, you gotta fix this”.

  • Marketing has completed the focus groups and come up with a final name for Messaging Policies. They will heretofore be referred to as “Messaging Rul3zzz!!”.

  • The ExISE team’s performance testing has determined that JET is unable to handle consumption of all 64 bits, so we will be unable to consume twice the memory of Exchange 2003 as we had previously thought. The JET team is investigating writing a monad cmdlet to support manual configuration of how many bits we are able to use, and hope to be able to get up to 48.[1]

  • Due to the regional requirements from the emerging markets the Exchange team has decided to not only ship E12 on DVD. In order to meet the needs of those customers E12 will also be available on floppiess, 3263 in total.

  • Outlook 12 has just checked in a warning that happens when your PST reaches two terabytes. Two terabytes oughtta be enough for anybody.

  • Randy Jackson, one of the judges on American Idol, has been granted a copyright on the word “dog”. To avoid possible legal issues or licensing fees, we need to rename “DogFood” to something else. Current options include “GiraffeFood” and “RabbitFood”.

  • As a team building experience starting in April, Edge Dev/Test/PM will switch jobs. Devs will do the testing, PMs will do the coding and testers will do the… what do PMs do anyway?

  • The Edge team has developed one last M4 feature, currently called Clueless Sender Counter Measures. Senders who Reply All to a large DL with meaningless banter will face accelerating punishments. 1st offense: all items in the offending sender’s Deleted Items folder are returned to their original locations. 2nd offense: all the offending sender’s custom rules are deleted. 3rd offense: mail is sent to all contacts from the offending sender’s account asking them to use the telephone instead of email for future correspondence.

  • UM notable checkins this week include: The Naughty Word Exclusion List (seven dirty words that you’re not allowed to say to your Exchange server) and the ability to choose from multiple “personalities” for your UM server: Male, Female and MC Hawking.

  • S/MIME has been cut for E12, and as a mitigation for the customers who were depending on those features, we will be implementing “Exchange ActivePowerEncryption” which uses a special “rot-13” encryption that MSR came up with. For an extra layer of security, passwords will be base64-encrypted before the Exchange ActivePowerEncryption happens.

  • After the latest round of performance testing, ExISE has determined that the root cause of most of Exchange’s performance problems over the last few years can be traced to one single cause: wasted threads. As a result of this breakthrough, they will be updating the code to make E12 be single-threaded.

  • Instead of the Exchange 12 DVD, we accidentally shipped a DVD of the build team karaoke night. We’re letting customers know that we will get the right DVD out tonight. Also, they get to keep the karaoke DVD for FREE!

  • The E14 persona and roles research has begun, and early results are coming in. We are seeing a trend towards “zero administration” systems. Based on pressures to reduce their IT TCO and outsourcing budgets at the same time, the LORG customers are asking for full AI self-managed systems.  Our E14 challenge will be to create SW robot/agents that will set up and administer each users’ communication solutions without any human administrator intervention. Risk factors include a chance that a novice administrator might unintentionally start a war by trying to create a routing group connector to E2K3.

  • In an attempt to allow employees to achieve work/life balance, a new BPA prereq has been checked in that will prevent installations of E12 from happening during working hours.

  • Now that the FrontBridge has shipped their first product, DaveTh has declared that it is finally ok to treat the new guys like regular MS employees. Welcome aboard, folks! Your elevator passes can be picked up from your admin; don't forget to pick up a "Get out of a wedgie free" card while you're at it.

  • We’ve settled on an ad campaign for E12! For advertising Exchange Server 2007 Human Email Edition, our new slogan will be:
    “Users? Who needs them!” This campaign will be targeted at the IT pros and show them all the ways in which they can control, censor and otherwise annoy the heck out of the users who so often plague them with requests for features and assistance. As part of this campaign we’ll be creating a new customer-facing character identity for the public Exchange Blog: The Exchange BOFH!

  • To parallel the “code obfuscation” technology that exists today, Monad provides you with a “logging obfuscation” option that makes the logs unreadable to the average customer for security purposes.  Simply use a “/confuse” switch when running any Monad script.  Exchange has tried this “unreadable log” idea in Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2000. Unfortunately, with Exchange 5.5 we found that it resulted in a double-negative, thus making the logging actually readable. We are working with the SE team to see if this can be addressed in Exchange 5.5 SP8.

[1] The funny bit about this story is that no fewer than three people sent in the exact same joke about using less than 64 of the bits.

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