Trying to wrangle a site visit to Paul Allen’s superyacht “Octopus”

Raymond Chen

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen passed away last year. And up for sale is his superyacht Octopus. I can’t find the Craigslist link, but if you’re interested, I’m sure you can have your people contact his people.

Back in the day, a bug was filed that went something like this: “New mail arrival sound does not play after network transitions from satellite to hard-wired.”

The bug was reproducible only on Paul Allen’s yacht.

The developer who was assigned this bug tried very hard to convince his management that the only way to debug this problem was for him to be flown out to the yacht in order to debug it in person.

The request was denied.

Bonus chatter: There is the occasional employee who does get to make a site visit to Bill Gates’s house. I’ve never visited myself, but I’m told that your activities on site are very tightly controlled. No peeking into the closets!

Bonus bonus chatter: Bill does venture outside his fortress of solitude from time to time. People generally leave him alone. Many years ago, we spotted him with his family at a restaurant, a few tables away from our own. Nobody bothered him. A guy deserves to have a nice dinner with his family.


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  • Patrick Tousignant 1

    Many years ago, I went to see a movie with Bill. No really. He sat right next to me.I thought about introducing myself as one of his minions, but decided that bothering him on date night would be a career-limiting move.
    The movie was “Chicago”.

  • cheong00 1

    Wondering after the developer assigned the bug was denied request to yacht access, did he/she cleared the bug?

  • Alex Cohn 1

    Some while ago, our panorama smartphone feature had hard time passing the QA. The testers were sitting in small cubicles in a crowded open space, and stitching the computers and keyboards on their desk never looked good. The bug reports were full of angry frustration.I explained to them that this mobile app should be tested in different setup, and proposed to convince their manager to let them spend few days testing it on the beach. I am not sure if the QA team received the necessary permissions, but at least this episode changed their attitude, and the feature was cleared for production.

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