8 Bits with Ornella Altunyan!

8 Bits with Ornella Altunyan!
In this episode we are joined by Microsoft Developer Advocate, Ornella Altunyan! Join us to learn about Ornella's journey from Environmental Sciences to Tech!

Listen to the Podcast

8 Bits with Ornella Altunyan - 8 Bits
Learn more at https://8bits.tv

Watch The Live Stream


Chloe Condon  2:00
Hello, welcome back to eight bits, y'all. Brandon, how you doing? It's Wednesday.

Brandon Minnick  2:09
So good. Oh, yes, it is Wednesday. It's the favorite favorite type of week. And yeah, I've been working on a lot of code stuff this week, which is always nice. It's always nice to get heads down back into code is sometimes sometimes your weeks just full of meetings and boring stuff. But yeah, I got the got the thumbs up from my boss and said, Yeah, you know, enjoy the code. So yeah, yeah. Have you been? How's your week?

Chloe Condon  2:40
Oh, good. I've been doing some, some code and stuff to. In particular, I've been playing around with two things. I'm playing around with GitHub Pages, which is my favorite recommendation now for folks when they're like, how do I just make a free website? How do I just make like a static landing page thing. So I've been kind of playing around with that, and no spoilers, but I'm very inspired by previous guests of the show, be jaggy Brian Douglas, who I believe used. It wasn't GitHub Pages, but something similar to do a MySpace, top eight type thing on GitHub. I that's why I'm rocking the kind of the 90s choker here, early 2000s. choker because I've been feeling very nostalgic lately, listening to some Backstreet Boys right before we went live. And I kind of want to, I'm in the process of building something fun with GitHub Pages, just to do a little tutorial on how to make something simple. You know, especially if you're a job seeker looking for work or putting a portfolio together. It's just a really great way to, you know, you get one free with every repo that you make. So easy peasy. So some content coming on that very soon. I know you love GitHub, Brandon.

Brandon Minnick  3:58
I do. I do. I mean, you have the official App of the show. Get trends. Oh, yeah.

Chloe Condon  4:06
The official show sponsored by Brandon.

Brandon Minnick  4:12
It's a free app. But uh, yeah, now I've been getting getting to play around with Azure Functions again. And it's, it's really exciting, especially in our dotnet world, because they have support for dotnet five. And they've got this roadmap for dotnet, six, and seven and eight coming out. And so there's some, some big changes, exciting changes. One of the, one of the things back in the day as your functions used to be at least for dotnet. You're code would run on the same dotnet runtime as Azure function. So as your function and the app, the tool that's running in Azure needed to run dotnet and So, additionally, when it was first created years ago, they said, Hey, easy, we'll just let anybody who wants to use C sharp and dotnet, they'll just use the same runtime. But now, they totally separated those. So they have this new thing called the out of process, or dotnet, isolated runtime where now I can choose whatever version of dotnet I want. And my code will kind of work in this isolated bubble. Whereas it doesn't have to rely on Azure Functions to update their runtime. And so I can update my and I can be on newer major versions, newer patch releases of dotnet. And Azure, the Azure Functions team can slowly do their migrations, because, you know, they have more code and more customers and things to worry about than that. Just me so yeah, finally, getting to play around with that. And publishing functions using the latest version of dotnet dotnet. Five, which is always exciting.

Chloe Condon  5:59
We've got some Azure Functions hype in the chat. Yeah, Azure Functions is freaky. Um, I, I feel like we're like having opposite journeys, because I spent a bunch of bunch of time my first couple years at Microsoft working with Azure Functions. And now, I'm obsessed with logic apps. In particular, the actual reason that I'm wearing one of these early y2k chokers. I, as I've mentioned on the show many times before, I have been building these bots, brands, and they're very important bots, they are all 90s, early 2000, music and pop references, you can go to the link aka.ms slash, it's currently May. And this all started out as kind of like a fun thing to teach previous guests of the show PJ, just how easy it was to make a bot with like low code, no code, but still do it like through Azure. So I have first made its Brittany bots, which is a very, very simple bot that I use to build in Azure Logic Apps. I built it in about 10 minutes with PJ. But literally all it does is every day at 3pm Pacific Standard Time. It tweets, it's Brittany bots. I then got inspired by all of the different bots we were making together on stream and decided to make another logic bot and there's a blog post. I'll be writing about this very, very soon. You can now follow the Twitter account. Is it me yet, I believe, or let's see, it's the Twitter account you can follow is called is it going to be May, which of course is a pop culture reference to the song. And don't worry, I have it queued up and we're only going to play five seconds, so we won't get in trouble. The very popular popular meme, it's it's going to be made that happens. Of course it is now may 5. So here's a little soundbite. Here we go.

Unknown Speaker  8:07
It's gonna be May.

Chloe Condon  8:09
So I built this batch remind you when it is May and when it is not May. So I built this in the days leading up to may 1, and it was tweeting out everyday the same same time, it's going to be may and then for the month of May it will be tweeting to remind you, it's currently May, for the remainder of the month. And this was honestly about I build in about five minutes. It's it's so easy to build a logic app, especially if you've ever dealt with the Twitter API or had to build in the back end, you know how like how much time it takes to like put together a bot. So really simple, easy way to build a bot. You can check out how to get started@aka.ms slash, it's currently May. But I've just been on this fun bot kick lately building all these bots to help students learn how to automate their botting with the power of 90s pop music.

Brandon Minnick  9:04
Yeah, this fun because I I too have fallen in love with Azure Logic Apps, which is again, how you made this Twitter bot. And yeah, I remember when I first heard about Azure Logic Apps, and somebody told me like, yeah, you don't have to write any code. And you can just kind of drag and drop stuff. And my first thought was back to was he called back that I think it's called Dreamweaver where you would build websites, and it would automatically generate the code for you. But like, it didn't work, but it didn't really work. And if you ever looked at the code, like the code was just like, you could tell it was auto generated code. We'll just put it that way. And so you'd have to go in and clean it out. But But yeah, when I first tried out Logic Apps, I kind of wanted to at the same height, same approach, and I was like, ah, I already know how to write code. I know how to do this. I don't need a drag and drop interface. I'm smarter than that.

Chloe Condon  9:59
I'm a developer.

Exactly I mean, if that's what it's for,

Brandon Minnick  10:05
but that it was so easy in saying, like, I had to play around with Twitter bots and have one up and running in just a couple minutes, and it's like, oh, oh, I get it, this is a lot easier.

Chloe Condon  10:16
And I think, you know, over the last like, couple months, when PJ and I were doing kind of a stream series on on how to build bots, there was a very big difference between using an Azure Logic App it taking 10 minutes, and literally going, that was easy, we're done. And then like doing all the work on our own, getting all the API keys that we needed, putting everything securely, you know, committed to GitHub, we didn't even have to like we just logged into our Twitter account through through Azure Logic App. So yeah, shout out to Azure Logic Apps. Again, you can do the Learn module@aka.ms slash, it's currently May. But enough about 90s and early 2000, boy bands and Logic Apps and Azure Functions. Brandon, we have a special special guest today. I'm very, very excited for the show. Shall we bring them in?

Brandon Minnick  11:13
Absolutely. Let's welcome to the show. ornella.

Chloe Condon  11:18
Welcome to the show. Hi,

Ornella Altunyan  11:20
thanks so much for having me.

Chloe Condon  11:22
How is it going over in San Francisco today?

Ornella Altunyan  11:27
It's going you know, it's a really nice sunny day, however, I'm sitting at my computer

Brandon Minnick  11:35
working good employees.

Ornella Altunyan  11:38
Very important.

Chloe Condon  11:40
And you for people who don't know your work, or what you do on the team left the lovely humans at home know what you do here at Microsoft with us?

Ornella Altunyan  11:49
Sure, I'm sorry, I actually just recently started on the cloud advocate team. So I'm working specifically in education, advocacy, and going to be focusing on developer tools, because I worked on VS code before, and also a little bit of an ml. But well, we'll see how it goes. I'm pretty new. So I get to choose my own adventure. And that's all very exciting.

Chloe Condon  12:14
Ah, and you were working on a bunch of really cool VS code stuff. I've actually learned a bunch of things on how to customize and get really specific with how I want my VS code look in. But were like, tell us a little bit about like what you were doing before at Microsoft before we get into your origin story journey to Microsoft.

Ornella Altunyan  12:38
For sure. Um, so when I first started a couple years ago, I was actually a pm on HoloLens on this little team that was building enterprise apps for the HoloLens. And that was really cool. And then I switched over to content development, and worked on VS code and also Visual Studio. So I think what you're talking about clearly are these set of videos that I made a little while ago, where basically it's it's the whole intro series to how to get started with VS code. I think I have a link if you want to check them out. It's aka.ms slash Hello VS code. Thank you, Brandon. I forgot what it was. But yeah, and there you'll see the video that Claire was talking about, which is how to customize your themes and make VS code really, really fun to look at.

Chloe Condon  13:32
Yeah, I love all the like, really I love yes code. I'm in it all the time. But I love when I can customize it and add cute little things like you know, I'm gonna say it VS code. My favorite favorite vs. Code extension. I've just been loving that it's they've been open sourcing the whole thing. If you're not familiar y'all VS code pets, so cute. It's basically a Tamagotchi, you can add to your VS code instance. And if you're not following the folks who are building it and all out in the open and animating these cute characters online, they're these little eight bit clippies and crabs and highly recommend that content out there on the internet.

Ornella Altunyan  14:12
Very cute client. I love talking about vs. Code pets.

Chloe Condon  14:16
Yeah. The chats going wild for vs. Code pets. I've got some big commands here.

Brandon Minnick  14:24
And who doesn't like that? Yeah. Cat walking across the screen.

Ornella Altunyan  14:29
A little crab was

Chloe Condon  14:34
cute. Oh, man, people are probably screaming who are either listening or watching right now let us know if you remember the crabs name in the chat.

Ornella Altunyan  14:45
But yeah, so most recently, I was doing a lot of work over at VS code. And it's one of the other things I worked on is actually the release node. So if you've ever you know, open VS code after release, and you got that really, really long You meant that popped up? I helped with that a lot.

Chloe Condon  15:05
Oh my gosh, I've never thought about like, I always think about the engineers who contributed to the release. But I never think about the actual people writing the release notes. Shout out to those people.

Ornella Altunyan  15:17
Yeah, very Luckily, we have a lot of help. So our, the whole process of VS code is that the engineers write about, you know, whatever that feature they made, which was so helpful. And then I kind of go back in and like, you know, ask them, why people actually want this, and what are the coolest ways to use it? And so I don't know forces me to think you're really intensely about all of the features. And I also get to play with them all, which was really fun.

Chloe Condon  15:46
I got an answer to the crabs name it is feriss. Ferriss, a crab. Yeah. And I think like, it's interesting. Having come to tech from a non traditional background, I'm much more interested in release notes than I ever was, like, 10 years ago. So even when I'm playing Animal Crossing, now, I am very interested in the release notes, because I want to know, okay, what has been updated? What can I look forward to? Like, I love release notes as a feature. Now, I always just thought it was a lot of weird fine print and text that I'd have to click through, but shout out to release notes. Yeah,

Ornella Altunyan  16:25
I think they can be awesome.

Brandon Minnick  16:28
Yeah, I love them, too. But there's this, there's this trend going on, at least in the more in the mobile world, where the release notes will not just say like, performance improvements and updates. It's like, okay, but like, like, give me like, give me like, I mean, let's be honest, not everybody's reading release notes. But I love it. Because it's like, I kind of look at it, like, you get this free gift, like somebody made something. And they're giving it to you. And I'm like, ooh, like new presence and kind of like digging through the release notes to see what, what I got. And then it's Yeah, just every performance improvements.

Chloe Condon  17:06
Come over here. Come over here, right now, I think for Christmas. Like, print out all the release notes in a book. Okay. I'm just picturing you like reading, like printed out newspaper release,

Ornella Altunyan  17:21
you can like spiral bound. Give you a little highlighter on the side. So you can

Chloe Condon  17:27
Brandon's hobbies include deep diving into vintage release notes, I love this life for you and your retirement graduate.

Brandon Minnick  17:38
Send them a rocking chair, like a nice cold glass of lemonade.

Chloe Condon  17:43
reading notes for Windows

Brandon Minnick  17:45
kids in my lawn.

Chloe Condon  17:49
So are Noah you have a really interesting path to Microsoft and into tech. We always talk on this show kind of about folks origin stories, how they ended up working at Microsoft are working in tech. And you know that that up and down journey that is not always the most clear. I know, you have a really unique one, would you like to tell us about it?

Ornella Altunyan  18:16
Sure, um, I think you know, in the past couple years, it's probably been a little less unique. But when it started, it was pretty weird. And so when I was a first year at Pomona College, which is where I went to undergrad, or thought I was going to major in environmental analysis. And on the first day of the intro class, I was sitting there and the professor was showing us what he called, you know, the the most fundamental video of environmental analysis ever. And then he showed us an aerial pan of the Grand Canyon for 15 minutes. And then the DVD broke. And then he told us that we just have to imagine the rest. And I was sitting on my computer and I dropped the class as I was still sitting in the room.

Chloe Condon  19:12
That's that's a big decision.

Ornella Altunyan  19:15
At the time, though, it seemed like so inconsequential. Like I was just like, I don't really want to be here. I don't really think the classes that I take, you know, first semester of my first year actually matters. So like, whatever, no worries. And I think even before we got to school, they had us come up with a list of classes that we wanted to take during our time there based on like the catalog and it was actually really fun activity. And one of the ones for me was intro to CS because I just had heard so much about, you know, people being interested in computer science, but had literally no idea what it was. Um, I was on the robotics team in high school, which is a nerdy fun fact about me.

Chloe Condon  19:58
I wish I had products in high school, that sounds amazing.

Ornella Altunyan  20:04
But I like lead the business part of it like I just like didn't i didn't actually care about the engineering of the robot, like I just like wanted to, you know, I made like these cute little bow ties to raise money. Anyways, it was

Chloe Condon  20:17
amazing. You're like, scale.

Ornella Altunyan  20:22
So I had no interest really in engineering. And then I took this intro to CS class. And my professors were three women. And I was just like, so inspired by them, still in touch with them. They're really, really awesome. And then halfway into the semester, me and two of my friends, we built like a blood alcohol calculate calculator app at the hackathon, where every time you took a drink at a party, you push this huge red button that said, drank and it would like calculate it for you. And then at a certain if it passed, like above a certain threshold, it would text we use Twilio, and it would like text, your emergency contact with your location

Chloe Condon  21:11
I love. Love is very useful app.

This app,

Ornella Altunyan  21:17
this is great. Anyway, it was such a joke. And then we ended up winning and we were so confused. And that is like really when I learned that if you win a college hackathon and have like even one semester of experience, like you can get a job. Like it was a surprise. And then I got a job at a startup that summer coding and it was just so strange. Like I never really saw it becoming a thing for me. And then it's so quickly did

Chloe Condon  21:50
that's so interesting, because you know, I mentor a lot of folks who've gone to boot camps, or who are students who are in college, and they're always asking me, how do I get a job at Microsoft? How do I get a job at a startup? How do I get my first job, and you'll get a lot of different advice. When you're first starting out, people will say contribute to open source or like have a bunch of projects in your portfolio or, you know, do XYZ and there's no one formula, but one that I hear all the time is participate in hackathons. And that is a great, great way to get noticed and to have something on your resume to show for especially when you have nothing on there. So I think that's so cool that you were able to kind of do that experience for fun and come out on the other end with a lot of opportunities and like a new found kind of interest. And it sounds like it was such a fun, playful app to build. Probably really enjoyed making it right.

Ornella Altunyan  22:47
Yeah, I mean, like, I think we were supposed to stay up all night. And we didn't, you know, we're just like,

Brandon Minnick  22:56
even in the comments here, Mojo 586 was asking, how do we get students excited about bots and AI? This sounds like a project that will get students excited about it,

Chloe Condon  23:07
add fun and entertainment, you know, we were talking about Azure Functions earlier, one of my very, very first projects with Azure Functions that I used to do a workshop of was a fake boyfriend app, where it was very similar to what I was just talking about using Azure Functions and the Twilio API to text your phone number or call your phone number at a conference or an event and I would do these workshops and people would repurpose it and I found that a lot of folks would like you know, put fun spins on it like a smash bot or Smash Mouth you know, Shrek version of the app or you know, like adding different silly pop culture references. So I'm of the School of sprinkle some fun into it. Like, you know, as your functions may not be the most interesting thing for a student to hear. But what about Azure Functions? featuring the music of BTS? I don't know what do kids like?

Brandon Minnick  24:03
It's so true. I remember when when I was in college, I the the fun assignments were drawn, draw a triangle on the screen, programmatically, right? console app. It's like, Oh, okay.

Ornella Altunyan  24:18
Yeah, we made like snake and like Space Invaders. Like that was really the one I still liked. Getting a CS degree was one we just made games. And then after that, it just got so boring.

Chloe Condon  24:31
I think that's why I enjoy working with students because I do feel like there is a way to have a lot more fun and be playful because you have to be like to get students interested in especially in some of the more mundane basics of computer science. You have to make it appealing, but I like doing that with adults too. Because I think we forget that adults like to have fun too, right? Like when we're learning a new technology. It's a little bit more fun if it has some instincts sprinkled into it

Ornella Altunyan  25:00
I think, um, I think the best way to get someone excited about computer science is to think about another interest that you have, and then figure out a way to incorporate that into something you can make with coding. So like, I realized in college that CES was not enough for me. And it, like I just alluded to got really boring. And I didn't really care about the theoretical stuff. And so I took a double major in digital media studies. And that was really, really helpful, because I got to both play with like the intersection of art and technology, but also kind of understand why people use technology the way they do, which had like some, a little bit of sociology, but I thought that was really interesting. And so I think that's a really, really good way to get people into coding is just to combine it with other things you're passionate about.

Brandon Minnick  25:57
Absolutely, that's, that's always my first recommendation, anytime somebody is looking to get into code is like, yes, you're gonna have to learn how to write the code, or you have to learn JavaScript, C sharp and frameworks. But what I what I found really helped me, especially when I was learning to make mobile apps was making a mobile app and making one, you know, wasn't for work. It was just something I was excited about. It's still in the App Store. It's called pundi. Anybody enjoys puns. We don't publish new puns as much anymore. But yeah, we used to publish a new pun every Monday. But yeah, and this all just came about because I was encouraged to do it by my manager at Xamarin at the time. And when I was thinking about I said, like, what what mobile app Am I going to make? And I said, Well, this guy's got a website called Monday, Monday, Comm. I've been a big fan for years. And I always wish he had an app. Maybe I'll make an app for him. And that's exactly how it started. And I was just so I'm so passionate about it. so consumed with it, that all my nights and weekends, I couldn't wait to get done with work to get into this code. And, and yeah, I learned so much just by going through it and doing it. And because you can, you could read a book, you can read documentation, but really until you kind of get released for me until I get my hands on it, and really use it in an app. That's where I really start to become knowledgeable and learn that expertise. So yeah, I always recommend that to anybody learning anything new is like, what what can you make? So you're going to be learning these skills? Do you want to make a website about like, hey, fill in the blank, you know, and let's, let's, let's make that website, even though you know nothing about learning to code right now. And nothing about websites will figure it out along the way.

Chloe Condon  27:58
I think I've always made because I'm just more of a left brain I come in from the creative world type person. I was that weirdo in my boot camp, when I was going through all the demos and examples of like, zooming in CSS animations, using like, a cartoon image from a slot or something like, I feel like I cannot learn without those fun elements to it. So I am right there with you all. Like if I'm enjoying myself, that I'm tricking my brain into learning and like, that's what I love to see. I think tik tok is really cool for this. So I'm very old. But like seeing a lot of content from younger generation, folks who are using computer scientists are using things like bots or machine learning. In particular, there was a really cool tech talk that I saw of person who had done machine learning on drag queen images, to do predictions of what you know what a computer thinks a drag queen looks like. So based on off of training data, and also one of our co workers, a cloud advocate, a shout out to Amy Amy Boyd has a really, really great machine learning blog and tutorial and talk that she used to give on using the data from the popular reality show love Island, which is everywhere she is to predict different outcomes. So I think However, you can put something modern and applicable to it. It's way more interesting and relevant for just not only just students but any kind of learner to be like, oh, that seems really cool. Like, you know, an Amazon dash button is cool, but what about a fake boyfriend app? Sounds like party.

Ornella Altunyan  29:41
Totally. If you haven't already checked out the VS code Tick Tock. You should it's really really funny. Okay. Oh, so much. Um, well, I haven't checked it out in a while. I decided to delete tik tok from my phone for personal reasons I was spending so much time just like in the depths and shanties

Chloe Condon  30:09

Ornella Altunyan  30:12
everything if skincare they were really getting me down the skincare rabbit hole the power play algorithm yeah like all these like girls are a halls like literally I just it was too much I was buying so many things because I saw them on tik tok. Yeah, so what have we been doing there? We just started like do wedding people on Tick tock, which is really, really fun. And we were doing a little bit of a series around like day in the life of different roles at Microsoft. I did one for content development. I think I even made a release tic toc for one of the releases where I like talked about all the new features but yeah, there's there's a big team of people working on it and it's it's just really fun to get to share ideas and chat about Tick Tock all the time.

Chloe Condon  31:09
I've yet to like dip my toe into Tick Tock proper people send me a lot of tech talks. But I think I'm scared to add it to my phone because no one boy

Ornella Altunyan  31:20
should be you should be

Chloe Condon  31:23
and I hear Broadway tik tok is I almost got sucked in for Ratatouille the musical we've Of course discuss this on the show many a time but yeah, like it's there's so much weird, interesting rabbit holes to go down of interests that I have never even thought of before.

Ornella Altunyan  31:45
Yeah, my mom has started using Tick Tock and I think like whatever cleaning Tick Tock has really sector and there'll be like five ways to get your pots brand spanking new. And she like she just like sends me all of them in tax every day. And I'm like, Are you trying to send a message like, What's going on here?

Brandon Minnick  32:07
I got to clean out my pots mom.

Chloe Condon  32:10
I need to check out the tick tock though, that sounds like content. Maybe I'll just subscribe to VS code Tick Tock?

Ornella Altunyan  32:17
Well, it's the thing is, it's not really about what you follow. It's about the for you page, that's where the algorithm gets you scrolling for two hours.

Chloe Condon  32:30
So you mentioned your art interests? Do you get to kind of combine any of your art with the tech stuff that you do nowadays.

Ornella Altunyan  32:43
So one of the reasons I was really excited about this role that I'm in right now is because I'm hoping to do that more. And I really haven't gotten a chance at work. But some things I think the coolest thing I've worked on was probably my college thesis, which was a while ago now. So it's kind of lame that I'm still talking about it. But um, that was like I saw I did an immersive art installation, and then I like coded it. So it was just like a really fun way to do the intersection of art and technology.

Chloe Condon  33:17
So explain this piece, the sensor, like, okay,

Ornella Altunyan  33:21
I tried to find a photo and I couldn't find one. But basically, you walk into your room. And there's like three projections on the walls that you're facing, one on each. And so basically, it tells the story of my family's kind of like, leaving the country where they were born and eventually settling in America. And so my mom tells the story. And it's all everything that you hear and see as in Russian, if you just stand kind of like on the outskirts of the room. But then as you walk closer to the production's there's motion sensors in the room, and they flip to English, and so kind of like the the message I was going for was like, if you don't engage with people who are different from you, then you won't really ever get to understand them. And I think that was a pretty powerful message.

Chloe Condon  34:16
So break down. This is so interesting, because digital art is feels like such a new space, right? Like, like only really a handful of people who can understand the logistics of technology and what's capable with it and then like be able to build that. So with these two degrees that you got, or I guess to emphasis is that you did? What's the process of making a piece like that, like how did you? How does one create something like that?

Ornella Altunyan  34:46
Yeah, so I took this random, such a bizarre class in college, about robots but like specifically robots related to the environment. And anyway, we learned how to program Arduino is using this programming language called processing, which is actually really, really cool. And I would highly recommend it to beginners. And it's kind of like a, like watered down Java with like, it's just so much easier to learn. And that's how I learned to do like, kind of like the motion sensor def and, um, yeah, basically had to just program the Arduinos to flip the video, like reels to the other, like, video content. That was the file that was uploaded, when the motion sensor was triggered. Wow. It's like literally just an if then statement. So not that difficult. But there's a lot of like, really, really large scale immersive installations now. Like, I think Claire was talking to you about team lab or something. And team lab,

Chloe Condon  36:03
what a cool, like, if anybody ever gets a chance to go to a team lab exhibit, I got to see one in San Jose a couple years ago. I think it's currently in Japan. What a fantastic, you know, intersection of art, and tech, like, we see a little bit of it on stage and theatre. But when you're able to actually touch and draw and move and have different lights and productions and screens interact with you What a treat, what a dream.

Ornella Altunyan  36:34
Yeah. So I think stuff like that is really, really awesome and will become more pervasive, because it's really easy to make, like large scale public art. And that way, I'm someone who really inspires me is one of my friends that I went, I met up Mona. Her name is my man. And she is like a creative technologist. And she just made this awesome, like NFT our thing. And she's always making really cool stuff. But yeah, I think she's high on the list of people that inspire my interest and have cool stuff going on.

Chloe Condon  37:16
That's like a really interesting point about like, artists, so relevant in tech right now with NF T's.

Ornella Altunyan  37:21

Chloe Condon  37:23
Yeah, I don't know how I feel about it.

Ornella Altunyan  37:31
They're working on it.

Chloe Condon  37:32
Yeah, it's something I guess, as an artist, I think of it as I understand putting value behind something on the internet. But But who? But why, like, Why? Why so why so much? I don't know. But I do love memes. So I go back and forth on that no, like me,

Ornella Altunyan  37:56
I think there's something cool about it in terms of like democratizing the ability to own a piece of art. I mean, that's something that's just like outside of the realm of possibility for so many people. And so, NF T's kind of open that door in a way that is pretty new. But I'm also someone who's really conscious about sustainability, and it is tough to hear the impact of, you know, mining, all of the Ethereum, but I think they're working on it, and I think it could be a really, really cool thing once they figure out that piece of the puzzle.

Chloe Condon  38:35
Once they figure it out. I'm gonna look into getting the NF T for the IKEA monkey original image.

Ornella Altunyan  38:42
I thought you were gonna say Clippy

Chloe Condon  38:44
Oh, maybe not too bad. It's complicated because I it's not it can an NF t does it have to be a still image? Or can it be like

Ornella Altunyan  38:52
a you know, I think it can be I guess

Chloe Condon  38:54
what is the statue of limitations with sentient paperclips come to life. Look into this.

Ornella Altunyan  39:03
uncharted territory here is your own path. Yeah.

Brandon Minnick  39:09
There are rumors on the internet that Chloe is Clippy. And all I know is I've never seen Chloe and Clippy in the same room at the same time.

Ornella Altunyan  39:20
Good point.

Chloe Condon  39:24
Anyway, man, well, I love this. I love that like you have come like your degree had two very different sides to it, right? Like the very creative side of things and the very like deeply technical piece of things. And the way that you're able to incorporate that now into what you do is really fun. I think that's really good inspiration to for folks who are tuning in, who may be students or getting started in their student journey and maybe going into To the class and not being afraid to go, you know what this isn't for me. I'm going to pursue this. I think that's a very mature thing to be able to come to realize right there in the room. Do you have any advice for students or for, you know, learners who, who maybe come to that crossroads and decide to make a change like that on their focus?

Ornella Altunyan  40:24
Yeah, I mean, I think my view on things is that, in order to find out what you like, you have to do a lot of things that you don't like, first, we love them. And so I personally feel as though if I'm learning something, like a new skill that's interesting to me, or if I'm growing something like being pushed out of my comfort zone in some way, then the work that I have done is not for nothing, even if I didn't really enjoy doing it. And I think it's, it's really, really hard to find your passion. And I can't say that I've figured that out for myself. I think it's impossible. But I do think it's really possible to do something that you're growing in and learning new skills and and can kind of figure out whether you like it or not, if that makes sense. So I think, you know, there's something to be said about every experience that you have in your academic journey, or in your career journey. And it doesn't necessarily have to be the perfect one, or the best one in order to still get something worthwhile out of it.

Chloe Condon  41:38
One of my favorite quotes is from the musical, of course, from the musical. And Cinderella says, How do you know what you want till you get what you want, and you see if you like it. And I feel like that's such just great advice to even think about, because how do you know, if you like something like, you could dream your whole entire life that you want to be a zookeeper. And then you finally get to work with animals and you're like, I am allergic to elephants, I cannot do this. And I love keeping that in mind, especially for any folks out there who are starting their tech journey, or maybe thinking they want to pursue something else. What's really cool about the tech industry is technology is changing all the time. So you can work on machine learning for a while and then think you know what, like, this is really cool. Now I work want to work on this new area of study. So that's what makes me so so excited about like you being vulnerable with sharing that with with the that you can go into a class and go, this is not for me, like especially when the stakes are high. And you're like, should I change my major? How do I do this? It's never dinner now.

Ornella Altunyan  42:50
Are they though? I don't take anything seriously.

Brandon Minnick  42:56
What's that point about? Not knowing what you want, until you've gotten it? Because I was just thinking back and if if you saw the the movie sold the new Pixar movie? Oh, yeah,

Ornella Altunyan  43:09
I haven't seen that.

Brandon Minnick  43:10
Love it, highly recommend it. But let's see. That's that's a giveaway too much. But the the passion of the main character is he's a he's a pianist, and he just wants to. He wants to be the best piano player and he wants to play in the best nightclubs. And he's just been struggling to get there his whole life. And then part of the journey is, once it gets there, he just kind of looks around it. Yes. So what's next, and they say, we come back tomorrow night, we do it all over again. And it kind of hits him that he finally got what he wants. But he's not sure if it's what he actually wanted all along. And I've been in that same situation. It's like, wow, like, I've worked my whole life just to get this. But now what it's like, we just keep going. It's like, so yeah, even even if you do have those goals, even. Even once you get there, things can absolutely change. And that's okay. There's there's no failure in that. It's all all good things. And I love the quote from Thomas Edison. That said, after he spent years trying to figure out how to make a light bulb. He said, we didn't, we didn't have 10,000 failures. We just found 10,000 ways that didn't work. And we were learning along the entire way. And but now we have the light bulb so yeah, we're always learning. There's got to be failures along the way. Sometimes you get what you are aspiring for. It turns out it's not what you actually wanted, but yeah, just keep going. That's kind of the fun and in life.

Ornella Altunyan  44:56
Yeah, totally. I feel really grateful to Be in a role now, though, where I get to explore kind of like some intersections of both art and also like other parts of I would say I'd call it the humanities, and like a more interdisciplinary approach to technology I find to be really useful. And some, something I just worked on recently was this blog post about how to use GitHub for not code things. Which I think a lot of people overlook, because, you know, it's such a developer tool, like it's really meant for you to collaborate on code. And so, um, one of my co workers and I Dimitri, we wrote this blog post about how to use GitHub to collaborate on research papers. And people just, I think, are intimidated by, you know, the technology. But at the end of the day, it really is just version control. And it's so helpful for so many different things.

Chloe Condon  46:02
Yeah, and Dimitri does a lot of really cool stuff with our technology, as well shout out to our co workers, Dmitry Thomas, some of the first examples I saw here using Microsoft things of art and machine learning some really cool stuff.

Ornella Altunyan  46:19
Yeah, he's awesome.

Brandon Minnick  46:21
Yeah. And for anybody listening along, you can find this@aka.ms slash GitHub for the number four, research. And that'll take you right to the blog post where or Noah has links to everything, everything you'll need to know to get into it.

Ornella Altunyan  46:38
Yeah. Also link to Demetrius website, if you want to check out his cool experiments.

Chloe Condon  46:43
Yes. And we have to make sure we did tease on Twitter that we would have a special guest cameo on the show of the canine, right. Is that

Ornella Altunyan  46:59
true? It is true. Let me just go grab.

Chloe Condon  47:03
For anybody who is listening to the podcast right now. You do have to go to our website a bit stop TV and look at the episode page for the show. Because the screencap that we got for this episode is one of the best screenshots I think I've ever seen. He's mid lick in this image here.

Brandon Minnick  47:24
We'll say welcome back to the show. So there's

Chloe Condon  47:31
I mean, we got a yawn. We got a


Ornella Altunyan  47:36
A very good boy.

Are you a good boy?

She makes a lot of noises.

Chloe Condon  47:42
Did you get Franklin during the pandemic?

Ornella Altunyan  47:45
I did. Franklin is a COVID adoption and he keeps me company every single day. Alright, here's it. Here he goes. A lot of yawning a lot of syang we're not really sure what's so bad in his life that he needs to sigh all the time. But um, yeah, Franklin's from a local rescue in San Francisco called Mudville. And they only have senior dogs have the rescue. And it's a really, really great place. Basically, you can like tell them, you know exactly what kind of dog that you're looking for. And then all of these, like senior volunteers will match you with a dog that they think will be perfect for you. And they're all so cute.

Chloe Condon  48:36
It's like mud matchmaking. Exactly. I feel like I just gave a keynote. Last Friday, an animal crossing conference where I said, I feel like I have my life together. And Animal Crossing not so much in real life. The idea of having to take care of a dog, in addition to myself during the pandemic feels like quite a lot. How has it been to have a new animal during all of this? I guess it's a great year for dogs, right? staying at home with dog all day.

Ornella Altunyan  49:09
Oh, yeah. It's a fantastic year for Franklin. Um, I think, you know, one of the best things about adopting a senior dog is that they just sleep most of the day. But the really special thing about Franklin is that whenever you say the word WA Lk, he gets so jazzed up, he's so ready to go. And I think that's actually been one of the better parts about quarantine is that I always have an excuse to go outside. I always have someone to go for a walk with, you know, like, all the memes about like, the stupid little daily walk and stuff like mine is in mine is really fun because I get to have Franklin and he only likes food and people. He doesn't like other dogs. So he's made a lot of enemies. Around the main streets of San Francisco. People still love him because he's cute.

Chloe Condon  50:05
So I just did the math in my head. And it sounds like you are on boarded to our team during the pandemic, what was it like to join a new team? remotely? And you've probably not met a lot of your teammates in person, right?

Ornella Altunyan  50:22
Yeah, exactly. I think Cody and Brian and you guys might be the only people I've met in person.

Brandon Minnick  50:28
And that was, I feel almost just happened chance because the day when we were still in the office, we just happen to sit near each other.

Ornella Altunyan  50:39
I showed up one day, and they were like, Who is this? What are you doing here, and then fast forward to a year later, and we're all on the same teams, that's a happy accident. And, you know, I feel like having had some time to adapt to remote work, it's not that bad. You know, we're not really seeing people in person. So it's a lot easier to keep doing that than to have to, like just freshly start that and also join a new team at the same time. And I also think, you know, at Microsoft, everyone kind of knows everyone or, like, know, someone who knows someone. And so it's really lovely to just get introduced to a lot of awesome people when you join a new team. Um, so I don't think it's been that bad. But it's definitely hard to like, you know, collaborate to like the fullest extent, online, but I think we're all getting the hang of it. Because it's been so long.

Chloe Condon  51:41
I always just put my team into together mode whenever I can to feel like we're all hanging out together just to get the feeling that we're shoulder to shoulder, you know,

Brandon Minnick  51:51
it's it's funny, I, yes, for anybody who hasn't seen it yet. Microsoft Teams, the video chat app in it has this thing called together mode, where they'll, I assume they're using some sort of AI machine learning, but they'll take everybody's video feed, cut out your background behind you. And then place everybody in a room or in a theater together. They

Chloe Condon  52:17
do it for like Major League Baseball, and like I've seen in

Brandon Minnick  52:24
the NBA with the NBA was doing the bubble and fans couldn't attend in person. They showed him in together mode. And you know, when it first came out, is if memory serves that came out, well before the pandemic started. Yeah, yeah, I've ever seen it. I was like, well, that's like cool, but super cheesy, and probably never gonna use it. And then a couple weeks, couple months in the pandemic, I just hadn't seen people. And so it was always using together mode. It's like what we're all hanging out together.

Chloe Condon  52:54
That's the best way to take a group picture. It's the only way to take the group picture. I'm concerned that doesn't look like The Brady Bunch. And it has now become a staple meme. For me. Whenever I see a group photo that either looks like a class photo, or just like people posing with each other. I'm like, Oh, it's me in together mode in teams.

Brandon Minnick  53:17
Or in the comments, we had a question. What are what are some of the tips for folks onboarding virtually?

Ornella Altunyan  53:26
Great question. And, really, the number one tip I have is to meet with every single person on your team, whether they're the same role as you a different role as you like. Any, any person that you're going to either interact with a lot or interact with a little bit, just to get to know and it doesn't have to be like a business conversation. Like, obviously, it's helpful to know what their role is and how you might interact. But I don't know, I feel like in this period of time, where we're all like, at home, like it's great to know if they have pets, or you know, if they're like little kid is going to be in the video frame or like what they like to cook for dinner. You know, it's it's just a really good way to get to know people. And I feel like it's a lot of like the watercooler conversations that we're used to in the office that aren't really happening anymore. And I think just getting to know people as the number one thing and then you have all these people who are so ready to help you when you're working on something and you don't know who to ask like my person Chloe, who I message 50 times a day.

Chloe Condon  54:39
Yeah, onboarding from afar, you know, life has changed in the last year really over a year but it used to be you could kind of like lean over or tap someone on the shoulder and ask them a question or ask them while you're having a coffee or a snack but I love that advice of of reaching out to everyone and asking for help because how do People know what you need help with, if you don't ask.

Brandon Minnick  55:02
Yeah. And also just found it brings back that, oh, it's that moment of serendipity where you're back in the office, we could just we'd be chatting and you kind of stumble into something you didn't really expect. So something where it's like, oh, yeah, you know, I've been working on this all day. And somebody else will chime in, like, oh, I've been doing that for years. And like, how can I help? Or here's a really cool blog post that I found on it. That's super helpful. And yeah, having those one on one meetings, I just had one. This is with, there's a new member of the Azure notification subs team. And yeah, just chatting about what I do, what she's doing what she's looking to do with the product. And we just stumbled upon a couple of collaborations and with the new version of dotnet, six coming out, like how can we have Azure notification hub samples for what we're calling dotnet Maui, and we're going to do it, but it would just never would have happened if she didn't put just a 30 minute video chat on my calendar. And I'm, I'm so glad she did.

Ornella Altunyan  56:11
Hi. Yeah, I

think the other tip is asking people what they want help working on. And I would not recommend this in non onboarding times, because otherwise, you'll just get a bunch of people asking you to do stuff. Um, but when you're trying to learn about the space and the people, I think one of the best things you can do is like collaborate with someone on a project, because you're learning a process as well as like about the product. So I think that has been really helpful for me, too.

Chloe Condon  56:41
I think I made this joke to you the other day or not, but you know, those bots that go on to your Instagram all the time, and they're like dm for a collab? Oh, yeah. I always love I hate those bots. But I love the idea of if you just make your own content and put it on your own Twitter, or blog or whatever, it just goes out to whoever already follows you. But I love collabing with people, not the Instagram sense, but because then you not only learn something from each other, but like, that whole audience gets to take a look at what you're doing as well. So it's been so cool to see all the fun things you're working on and collabing with

Ornella Altunyan  57:19
MDM and to collab

Chloe Condon  57:24
if people want to check out all your upcoming collabs where can they find you on the interwebs? Um,

Ornella Altunyan  57:31
I think the best place would probably be Twitter. My handle is ornella.com. You can see it in my little name tag here.

Brandon Minnick  57:42
So do TCM.

Ornella Altunyan  57:43
Yes. And I tweet about many other things, not really about tech. But if I do have a new piece of content, or I am working on something cool. I will also tweet it there. And there's lots of Franklin photos.

Chloe Condon  57:59
So exciting.

Brandon Minnick  58:02
Photos during them.

Chloe Condon  58:06
I love that and what is up next for ornella what do you what are you going to be working on and sharing with the lovely people? will it be? Franklin bones fetching Twilio?

Ornella Altunyan  58:24
Oh, wait, I'm definitely gonna make a live cam of him. Yes, he really just stays in his bed. But then he'll burrow sometimes. And it's it's really fun to watch. And I'm working with some people on the team on an intro to machine learning learn module. And what else? some other stuff that I'm not remembering right now. But I think that's the most exciting thing because I don't really know machine learning and it's a really fun learning opportunity for me. And getting to know how we make the content.

Chloe Condon  59:00
So much fun. I can't wait for all the upcoming collabs

Ornella Altunyan  59:07
we're gonna do something weird.

Chloe Condon  59:09
Oh, we're gonna collab it's going to happen. Maybe we'll do a Franklin bot. Stay tuned. Everyone.

Brandon Minnick  59:17
Follow or know on Twitter to see when it drops.

Chloe Condon  59:20
Yes. Thanks so much for coming on the show today. ornella. That is all the time that we have for today. But until next week, y'all, the countdown begins. And we cannot wait to see all the awesome things that you're going to be doing here on the team.

Ornella Altunyan  59:38
Thanks so much for having me. You guys in the office someday.

Brandon Minnick  59:43
See you next week.