Introducing the Visual Studio ALM Rangers – Geoff Gray

Who are you?

I am a Senior Load and Performance Test Consultant with a degree in Computer and Electrical Engineering and more than 20 years’ experience at Microsoft helping companies in the IT industry improve their applications’ stability, maintainability and performance while also teaching them how to manage these environments moving forward. I have supported or taught IIS Debugging, .NET and C# development, Visual Studio testing, and other Microsoft products and disciplines. I have received “Ship-It” awards for Windows 95, Netmeeting 1.0, IIS 4.0, and Visual Studio 2010. I think my most proud accomplishment is the creation and development of the “Modem Diagnostics” control panel applet that started shipping in Windows 95. It stayed in the Windows products for the next 6 years and I can honestly say that I have code that has shipped over 275 million copies.

When I am not doing computer work, I enjoy many hobbies, including scuba diving, bicycling, photography, music, and LEGO. I love spending time with my wife and our two dogs, although we are still trying to get used to being “empty-nesters” since our two boys are now both out on their own. My older step-son is a mechanical engineer and my younger step-son is a combat medic in the army.

What makes you “tick”?

I think the single phrase that best describes me is from Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” The phrase may seem like a good motivational phrase at first, but if you look deeper into it and really think about what Aristotle was saying, you’ll see that it actually defines a self-help system that is extremely simple to define, but can be very difficult to implement. Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you want to become a faster developer or become more proficient navigating Windows and/or Visual Studio. You can go to one of Microsoft’s articles on Keyboard Shortcuts and pick 5 or 10 that will make your daily work easier. Then you can print them on a small strip of paper and tape that to the bottom of your monitor. Now you have a way to start remembering the shortcuts.

I did that for a few years and I found that I started to get a little better with the shortcuts, but I was still not using them regularly, and I often forgot many of them. Then one day I decided to “really learn them.” I picked my top 8, printed a new sheet and taped it to my monitor (just like before). But I added one extra step to my process. Every time I realized that I had just used the mouse to perform a move that was shown on the list, I immediately stopped my work, undid the operation and then redid it with the keyboard shortcut. After 1 week, I had all 8 down and used them consistently. I created the next list of 8 and started learning them the same way. After a month, I was to the point where I could write code without using the mouse at all. Not only had I managed to memorize the keyboard commands, but I had also re-trained my brain to stop reaching for the mouse.

In the above example, using a keyboard shortcut was an “act.” Not using the mouse was the “habit.” I turned the entire process into a habit and became more efficient. Understanding what are acts and what are habits (at a fundamental level) allows me to reshape myself and become better at what I do. In my opinion, that is what defines excellence.

Where you live?

Fort Mill, SC, USA

Why did you join this community?

I joined so I could continue to interact with the best and brightest in order to help shape the future of the Visual Studio line and make people’s DevOps experiences better.

This post is part of an ongoing series of Rangers introductions. SeeRanger Index (Who is Who?)for more details.