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 PostPost subject: Goodbye, everyone! =)        Posted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:37 am 
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It's been a fun 15 years overall, but I've made the decision to check out of this hobby. I will be making a list of my collection in the coming months and will sell things accordingly, so keep your eyes peeled.

With that said, I thought I would impart some words of advice for the go-getters here--namely, things I've done to find some really cool stuff and make some awesome connections over the years. I would've killed for this type of information back when I first seriously got into this hobby, so I hope someone out there digs it!

By far, my favorite and most valuable tool has been LinkedIn. There's something quite poetic about Microsoft having ultimately acquired that platform, what with how much I've used it over the years. Unfortunately, it costs quite a bit to use the LinkedIn now in the ways I used to be able to for no cost at all.

So, the idea is that at some point, there were presumably hundreds to thousands of people at Microsoft during any time frame you're interested in collectibles from, right? Well, LinkedIn allows you to unearth those people by doing searches for...well, whatever you're interested in: Neptune, Longhorn, Blackcomb, Cairo, etc. The key is learning how to search for the right stuff, as well as the wrong stuff!

Searching for "Cairo" alone would likely yield way too many irrelevant results, so try adding in words like "Windows" or "Microsoft". Also, think of variants and acronyms, like MS for "Microsoft" or LH/L.H. for "Longhorn". Insofar as learning how to search for the "wrong" stuff, just like you would with eBay, try searching for misspellings and fat-fingered words! Maybe "Micro soft," "Long horn," or "Longhron" might yield something unique.

Suffice it to say, the Microsoft collectible world is your oyster through LinkedIn alone. I've met so many people through there and obtained so many goodies I would have NEVER found elsewhere, it's nuts. But this isn't even close to being all.

Carrying on with the theme of finding people who have worked on Microsoft projects in the past, there's a wider net you can cast, what with Microsoft always having favored contractors and companies like VOLT Workforce Solutions for testers. With that in mind, we can take to the Google machine and--with some tried-and-true searches to weed out the noise--find some great stuff.

Take this advanced search query for example, which returns results with "Windows Longhorn" on the page, as related to the words "resume" OR "portfolio" in the URL OR page title:

intitle:resume | inurl:resume | intitle:portfolio | inurl:portfolio "Windows Longhorn"

I have hundreds of queries like that one that I've formulated and repeatedly used over the years for all kinds of stuff! Take, for example, one of a handful of queries I used to use to find confidential documents right on Microsoft's own site related to feature roadmaps:

site:microsoft.com NDA | Confidential Roadmap | Cadence filetype:doc | filetype:docx | filetype:ppt | filetype:pptx | filetype:pdf

That one returns results from only microsoft.com, and the results are comprised of .doc, .docx, .ppt, .pptx, or .pdf files with the word "confidential" or the acronym NDA, and the words "roadmap" or "cadence."

Seriously. I have hundreds of queries like this, especially between variants of similar searches that include synonyms, dates, years, etc. (all of which becomes necessary when you factor in the quiet word/character limit Google imposes on searches). Using Google Alerts and other similar notification services, I crafted a well-oiled machine to automate a lot of my search tasks. But at the end of the day, you have to be willing to dive into countless pages of search results to find the diamond in the rough.

Finally with Google, I've had luck over the years with keeping an eye on certain Google Images searches for beta discs/diskettes.

Another tip (especially for those of you who salivate over UI like I do), is to hit portfolio sites--especially these days where you have designers posting their work from projects where NDAs have lifted. Whether it's Dribbble, Cargo Collective, ArtStation, or elsewhere, there's a ton of stuff out there.

Shifting gears a bit, here's a quick story of how I found ~50 GB of unleaked builds. There once existed an FTP search engine that allowed you to search for servers within a location radius you specified (to note, there are even more powerful search engines and tools than that now *hint, hint*). Using it, I decided to target servers in the Redmond/Seattle area in hopes of finding, say, an employee's home server or something of that nature. This was something I'd done off and on for a number of years. One day, I struck gold. There weren't just builds, but also a slew of internal presentations/documents, prototypes, and more. Unfortunately, I lost all of it (and much more) to a hard drive crash; however, I still have that HDD, so if/when the day comes that it's actually affordable to have that drive recovered, I'll have something significant to pop on the FTP, lol. (To note, I already tried replacing the logic board on it with another working model's, and I don't want to risk trying to move the platters to an identical drive myself [especially not being in a sterile environment], so it's a lost cause until it can be repaired.)

Speaking of FTPs, there's the time I scored an unleaked LH build on a now-defunct Microsoft FTP that was once used to share files with partners. Ooo, and then the multiple times I found amazing internal stuff on the MS Research FTP (which is still open to the public now, but heavily watched). The list goes on and on, lol.

Anyway, the point of all of this is to get you to think creatively and set up some long-term search plans. Play the long game. Just because you don't find something with a particular search one day, doesn't mean it won't ever yield anything for you. Also, operate under the premise that there IS something awesome out there right now that no one has unearthed yet. Whether it's in an open index on someone's personal portfolio, or something sitting in a box in the basement of someone on LinkedIn, if you're willing to put in the effort, you will be rewarded for it! ^^

All of that is just the tip of the iceberg of how I came to make contacts at Microsoft, find confidential information to post on MSFTKitchen back in the day, unearth mock-up images and videos, and so on and so forth. I don't divulge this stuff lightly, as I spent years and years crafting and honing these and other research techniques that ultimately gave me the edge to operate competitively as a source in the community, and fruitfully for my own personal gain. Search is a very, very powerful thing when you learn how to harness it.

I hope this post inspires someone new to go forth and carry this torch--especially someone who is as passionate about this stuff in the context of Microsoft as I used to be in the LH days.

So, that's my big sign-off. I'll be fully winding down over the next year or so, sharing some stuff and selling off other things, but I've yammered on enough for the time being, so off to bed I go. More later. =)

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 PostPost subject: Re: Goodbye, everyone! =)        Posted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:09 am 
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Bye! What You Will Going To Do¿


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 PostPost subject: Re: Goodbye, everyone! =)        Posted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:20 am 
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What specific search terms did you use, so that I can get a good start on this?

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 PostPost subject: Re: Goodbye, everyone! =)        Posted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:02 pm 
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I have a buddy that does the drive recovery if ur every interested. last time I paid $60 that was for pulling platters from drive. that was mainly for shipping n parts

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 PostPost subject: Re: Goodbye, everyone! =)        Posted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:19 pm 
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What were the reason(s) that made you decide to "check out of this hobby"?

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 PostPost subject: Re: Goodbye, everyone! =)        Posted: Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:44 am 
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TuneableSumo876 wrote:
What were the reason(s) that made you decide to "check out of this hobby"?


We moved recently and while packing, I realized how cumbersome and pointless it had become for me to have all this stuff I don't actually care much about any longer. It became more about the thrill of the chase than actually having the goods. Combine that with the fact that I really couldn't care less about Windows these days, I've made a very conscious decision to move on.

I've been checked out for so long from the general pulse of this community that I'm sure very few people around here these days even know who I am (which is mind-blowing to me only to the extent that it makes me reflect on just how much time has passed).

This has absolutely nothing to do with community politics, "drama," or whatever else might be going on. I'm really glad to see all the history this place has procured and made available to everyone; it's a wonderful achievement and awesome snapshot of past relics.

So, yeah. This is just me having grown away from it all. The vast majority of my time and interest these days is devoted to my career and my personal hobby of reverse engineering games and software. So that's what I'm choosing to invest my time and money in (whether it's education, tooling, or otherwise). It's what fulfills me these days. ^^

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 PostPost subject: Re: Goodbye, everyone! =)        Posted: Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:28 pm 
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I hope you have a wonderful now hobby or career, wish you good luck and thank you for all the contributions you made to the beta scene over the years. I hope in your collection and in your corrupt disk drive are some gems that no members here can even think of.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Goodbye, everyone! =)        Posted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:44 pm 
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TuneableSumo876 wrote:
What were the reason(s) that made you decide to "check out of this hobby"?


In all fairness, lots of people have stopped doing betas and the abandonware scene because of the drama or other issues.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Goodbye, everyone! =)        Posted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:33 am 
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Whatever the reason of you "checking out" we wish you good luck in all your endeavors and hope you drop us a thought from time to time.

Take care.

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