RIP Michael J Kaplan (of Sorting It All Out blog)

If MS (Multiple Sclerosis) did not kill him, then another MS (Microsoft) certainly had helped him meet fate.

In his heyday, Michael Kaplan was one of the most popular guys on MSDN (a Microsoft website devoted to software developers.) At Microsoft, Kaplan lead the team on Unicode, languages, software keyboards and internationalization. His MSDN blog Sorting it all out was followed by thousands of developers all over the world. Kaplan explained complex issues and helped out other developers suffering from problems with Unicode and Microsoft Windows software internals. [Microsoft was a member of the Unicode consortium and Kaplan was probably on of its important representative at the organization. The Unicode consortium’s job is to organize the scripts of world’s languages ready for the keyboard.]

Kaplan suffered from multiple sclerosis and moved in a wheelchair. This did not seems to have been a major impediment to his colorful life.

I got introduced to his work when I read an article by him in MSDN library (a software knowledgebase bundled with Visual Studio). Several years later, I learned that he had joined Microsft and was involved in software keyboards of various languages that Microsoft Windows had to support. He had been to India as well. He was a guest speaker at the World Tamil Congress. (His Twitter feed photo has him wearing an angavasthram with which he must have been honored at the event.)

One fine day, I realized that the RSS feed for the blog had not been updated for a long time. (Strangely, when I visited the blog URL, the Microsoft website asked me to log in. I logged in with a hotmail ID but it did not show the blog at all.) Microsoft had deleted the blog – all nine years of it!

Kaplan created SIA2 blog on blogspot, where he posted that the SIAO was gone and cached versions were available from Archive.org. On a WordPress blog that he created, Kaplan explained that he unintentionally courted trouble twice on his blog.

Over that decade, I’ve gone through twenty seven “romantic” relationships (the life of serial monogamy!). I’ve lost relatives, gained nieces, burned bridges, lived through being snowed out for a month, met half a dozen execs and wrote about most of them, had an online nervous breakdown over a best friend passing away and then later finding out she was interested in going out with me.

In all that time and with those thousands and thousands of blogs, there are only two that I sincerely regretted.

The first one saw my manager’s manager’s manager’s HR Generalist put me on Paid Administrative Leave while she worked with experts to determine if VP Brian Valentine was justified in simply firing me (that skip skip level manager defended me in a meeting with Brian that I was not invited to).

In the end, it turned out be mainly due to the art (it was that infamous RSOD post that Slashdot covered because of the art.

The second one was after I was granted a patent that I honestly believed never should have been issued. My manager at the time asked the site admin to take down the entire Blog and he did that so thoroughly that I can’t even look at any Blog on the site!

Then one day, Microsoft informed him that his blog was gone for good and there would be no backups given to him either. (Kaplan clarified this to Spolsky to whom I sent a mail about the sorry saga.) Kaplan could tell his followers on Twitter and probably Facebook what happened to SIAO. Most of them, like me, were on RSS and never knew what happened.

Kaplan wrote about reinflating the blog using Archive.org’s copy. He bought a domain for siao2.com and it almost worked for a while. Someone else did a better job at http://archives.miloush.net/michkap/archive/ and now all siao2.com links redirect to this new archive.

The last update on his Twitter feed is from September 2015. He had apparently died a month later. His Facebook page is gone. In August, Kaplan lost his job at Microsoft as part of Satya Nadella’s Reduction In Force exercise. Microsoft was nasty to him in his final months, when he was “out on disability”.

Just putting it out there if you wanted to email me at my Microsoft email address; it is not valid anymore. I am not dead and really does want any rumors starting up just because Microsoft had other things to do. I had just been sent an email informing me that some stock was going to vest at the end of August… No word yet on the money they owe me for lost and/or damaged stuff, and no word on the 75% of three days plus 60% of three days overpayment that was sent to collections, but I expect that I’ll find out about how they plan to settle that soon enough.

Microsoft was so coy and diplomatic that they asked a collection agency to get back some overpayment!

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