CNET says I am #1!

Well I alone cannot take all of the credit but check out this link to a video.  CNET has their top technology Easter Eggs of all time and I was part of #1.  For those of you who do not know an Easter Egg is a fun little something added into computer hardware or software or now places like DVD menus.  In software it is common to list the list of people who worked on the product.  This might be done in the form of a game.
Starting with Excel 5.0 I was the primary tester of the Easter eggs written into XL.  The reason was that I was working on the charting code and the charting developers were the ones who primarily wrote the eggs.  Wes Cherry (who wrote the version of solitaire that is included with Windows) and Matt Bamberger wrote the Easter Egg which was a set of swirling dots that would spin around and spell out the names of each person who at worked on the product.  I believe it was based off of a screen saver that they had originally wrote for the Mac.  This Easter Egg also shipped in MS Graph 5.0.  We had this working on both Windows and the Mac versions.
In Excel 95 (7.0) it was the "Hall of Tortured Souls" which was made to look like the video game Doom that we were all playing at the time.  Jason Allen and I think Mike Coulson were the devs on that one and you can see the developers faces in the "hidden" room at the end of the path.
Excel 97 (8.0) was the award winning flight simulator.  You could fly all over a landscape and then fly up to a big rock where the name of those that worked on XL scrolled by.  Randy Davis did the dev work on it.  Testing on this like the previous eggs involved making sure first and foremost that it would not crash and that second it really could do no harm.  Lastly it was making sure we had the right names on the list and of course that they were spelled correctly.  One of the problems found was that it would crash if you did not have direct X on the machine.  Direct X was a set of libraries that were used by games and in many cases those running business software might not have direct X on their computers.  We fixed tihs problem before we released the product.  The second problem and actually one that I did not catch was something that rumor has it to the end of Easter Eggs as a whole in Office applications.  Many large companies run Office software over terminal servers where on computer hosts the software that all of the clients share.  At the time terminal servers were not good at graphics intensive applications and in fact if you had even more than one client running something like the flight simulator via direct X it would spike the CPU to 100% use and then other clients would run as extremely slow speeds.  Even if I could have found this or knew about there was little we could do other perhaps not run the flight simulator at all.  Word got back to our senior VP that in one major "company" that will remain nameless via a person high up in their company that their servers were slowing to a crawl and that our flight sim was to blame.  This of course meant the end of easter eggs and every team was called in and told that for the next service pack all of the easter eggs would have to go.  As such you see many sites that say that even when they follow the steps that are all over the web to run an egg it does not work for them.  It is of course that they are running a service pack and not the original version of Office ’97.  At the same time word was coming down from above about no more eggs we were finishing up Office 2000.  I guess I should have pointed out that we did not start work on an egg until we were literally days away from shipping the product.  Before that point the developers and I were too busy to even work on things other than making sure Excel was ready for customers.  For Office 2000 we had a really great egg based off of the game Age of Empire and you could have little units of your arm go around they would build up structures that would reveal the names of people who worked on the product.  I also remember the Word team had a great memorial for a tester who had strangely been killed when his family was on a visit to Disneyland.  We did get a compromise that we would just have a list of the names scroll by but in the end we pulled those from the first service pack of XL 2000 and since then there have been no credit or at least ones that I knew or worked on.
There is one other set of credits that I worked on outside of Excel directly and that was with the Office Web Components which was a set of Excel functionality in an Active X control.  I think that honestly these were my favorite but I think very few people ever knew about them.  In OWC we actually had a little game you could play simular to the game spy hunter where you could drive a car, shoot at your enemies, and also lay down an oil slick.  These were also pulled when we released the first service pack for Office 2000.
It feels great to be part of something that was picked #1.  I thought the top 4 were kind of lame however in that it was a buch of websites which you could create or change at any time.  There really is no reason that anyone could do that at any time and our was the only one that took a lot of effort to change and also create.

About Aaron Bregel

Just trying to get by
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