TechEd North America 2011–Day 0

(Disclosure: Like most things Microsoft related, I am attending TechEd as a guest of the Microsoft Corporation. Flight, hotel, meals, and conference pass have been provided by Microsoft.)

I’m writing this post from 10,000 feet above the ground using GoGo Inflight Internet as I fly from Phoenix to Atlanta. (So cool!) I’m on my way to Atlanta for Microsoft’s TechEd North America conference.

TechEd is one of the premier conferences for IT professionals and developers alike. Obviously since it is being put on by Microsoft, it focuses on Microsoft technologies. This year, Robert Wahbe and Jason Zander will be keynoting the event and as my friend Mary Jo Foley has noted on her blog, we’ll probably see some cool stuff around SQL Server, Visual Studio (I hear there is a Kinect + VS demo!), and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some more info about the future of System Center and its role in facilitating public / private cloud interaction as well as management and consolidation in the datacenter.

I’ll be spending most of my time in sessions this week and will do my best to update everyone with the highlights. Also, I’ll be bringing a preview of what will be seen at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals this summer.

Hey students, want free Microsoft development tools?

dreamsparkIf your answer to the question is yes, than have I got a deal for you!

Microsoft has a program called DreamSpark. The DreamSpark program is a way for you as a student to gain access to Microsoft technologies that you can then use to create amazing applications for the PC, the cloud, and the phone.

Dreamspark includes some really amazing things such as:

  • Visual Studio 2010 Professional
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard
  • Expression Studio 4 Ultimate
  • SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition
  • Robotics Developer Studio 2008 R3
  • Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools
  • Virtual Lab training for SQL Server, Visual Studio, and Visual Basic
  • IT Academy Student Pass
  • 1 Year free membership to the App Hub and Windows Phone Marketplace (Yes, FREE! There is no $99 fee for students to build and sell Windows Phone 7 apps.)

All it takes to join DreamSpark is sign up, get verified as a student, and download the software.

I highly encourage any student that wants to get hands on experience with Microsoft technologies to sign up for Dreamspark and start playing and creating.

To find out more about DreamSpark, visit http://www.dreamspark.com

Imagine Cup 2010 Wrap-up

(I totally meant to have this posted right after the Imagine Cup finals, but due to some blog issues, and work, the posting schedule slipped. –Tom)

Wow, what a week! I’ve just finished attending the 2010 Microsoft Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in Warsaw, Poland. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with students from all over the world, meet the top executives for Microsoft worldwide, have lunch with education ministers and dignitaries from all over the world, and see some some incredible projects at this year’s Imagine Cup.

At the World Festival on Thursday evening, Jon Perera announced that the 2011 Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals will be held in New York, New York. After Perera’s introduction, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to this year’s finalists via video, and congratulated them on their accomplishments, and talked about how excited she was that the Imagine Cup will be in the USA.  This is incredibly exciting to see the Imagine Cup travelling to the United States. I highly encourage all tech students to compete in the Imagine Cup competition. I’m not sure when the Imagine Cup website will be updated with information for next year’s competition, but keep checking www.imaginecup.com for updated information.

I want to take a moment to thank the City of Warsaw and the government and country of Poland for their wonderful hospitality. Warsaw is such a beautiful city. Throughout the week there were events at different venues within Warsaw. We were at the Palace of Culture and Science, the Warsaw Opera House, a castle in the beautiful town of Pultusk, and several hotels in the city center. The event concluded with an awesome party at the Platinum Nightclub, and after partying into the wee hours of the morning, I returned to the hotel for a few hours of shut eye before heading off to the airport.

One of the biggest takeaways from the Imagine Cup is that no matter how young or how old, students have the power to create innovative solutions to the world’s problems through software. I was totally blown away by how awesome these projects were. Quite a few of the projects are already being looked at by world governments and the private sector. Most of the teams that made it to the final round of judging said that they are working on plans bring their projects to market, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for that.

I want to thank Jacek Murawski (General Manager Microsoft Poland), Jon Perera (General Manager Microsoft Education), the entire corporate Microsoft Imagine Cup team, and the team in Poland that worked to pull off an incredible event. I also want to thank everyone at Microsoft and Waggener-Edstrom for making this trip possible. I had a great time, and I look forward to the 2011 Imagine Cup.

The 2010 Windows Phone 7 Rockstars

Beastware-01Earlier this year the Windows Phone team along with the Imagine Cup announced the Windows Phone 7 Rockstar award for this year’s Imagine Cup competition. Participants were given one month to design a Windows Phone 7 application either in Silverlight or using the XNA Game Studio.

I’m very excited to be able to announce that the first ever Windows Phone 7 Rockstars hail from my home country, the United States. Eric Lo and Christian Hood, from the Advanced Techology Academy, a public magnet high school in Las Vegas, Nevada, have won the 2010 Imagine Cup Windows Phone 7 Rockstar award.

Their project, Droid Assault, is a two-dimensional Windows Phone 7 game written in XNA using C#, that involves a player controlling a machine that destroys other machines using the accelerometer functionality in Windows Phone 7.

Team Beastware plans to publish their game on the Windows Phone Marketplace in time for the launch of Windows Phone 7 devices. I highly encourage everyone to check out their game, and to give them a huge congratulations in their accomplishments.

You can find Team Beastware on the web at http://beastware.co.cc

Microsoft to give BizSpark to all Imagine Cup Finalists for free!

imageTonight at the finalist presentations at the Warsaw Opera House, Jean-Philippe Courtois, President of Microsoft International, announced that all of the Imagine Cup 2010 Finalists would receive membership in Microsoft’s BizSpark program for free.

The Microsoft BizSpark program provides members with access to the latest software development tools and platforms, connects members to investors, government agencies, and consultants worldwide. Members are also provided with support from a technical, sales, and marketing perspective. For more information about BizSpark, visit http://www.bizspark.com.

Through the Imagine Cup and the BizSpark programs these students are well prepared to take their games, embedded devices, Windows Phone 7 applications, and other applications to market, and to have the tools and knowledge required to build a successful business to promote and sell their software.

Congratulations to all Imagine Cup finalists and I look forward to seeing your businesses grow!

Imagine Cup 2010: Game Design Finalist Presentations

As I write this post, I’m sitting in the audience for the Game Design Finalist presentations. I must say that there have been some really awesome games presented. I give my congratulations to all the teams that are here in the final round.

All of the finalists here are presenting their games to 5 judges and an audience of a few hundred people, and they are holding up under all the pressure. These teams are truly showing their expertise in software development as well as their passion for helping the world in meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

The finalists are Team NomNom Productions from Belgium, Team By Implication from the Philippines, and Team Gears Studio from France. I’ve included trailers of their games below, and I’ll post the announcement of the winner tomorrow night. I’m also working on finding out from the teams if their games will be available for download and / or purchase.

Team By Implication

Introducing Team USA

Here at the Imagine Cup the United States is represented in the Software Design, Embedded Design, Touch and Tablet Accessibility, and Windows Phone 7 “Rockstar” competition categories. Here is a short description of each team and their project.

Software Design

Team Name: Team Mobilife

Team Members: Kayvon Ghaffari, Wilson To, Helena Xu

Project Description: Mobilife introduces innovative application technologies into the market of mobile medicine by pairing the Windows Mobile platform with computer-assisted intravital microscopy to provide on-field analysis of the human microcirculation to detect developing microangiopathy in children.

Embedded Design

Team Name: Team Vaccine

Team Members: Patricia Day, Shawn McGhee

Project Description: Project Vaccine Tracker helps children around the world. There is a potential to save tens of thousands (or more) children from preventable diseases by providing a solution to the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, Kenya Partnership and others to effectively record and track immunizations in remote regions of less developed and developing countries.

Touch and Tablet Accessibility

Team Name: OneView

Team Members: Shaun Kane, Kristen Shinohara

Project Description: OneView is a Tablet PC application that enables blind and sighted students to collaboratively solve problems. It combines a sketching interface with a synchronized audio-based interface to enable students with different abilities to work together effectively.

Team Name: Team Note-Taker

Team Members: David Hayden, Andrew Kelley

Project Description: The Note-Taker Project solves issues that students with visual impairment have by combining a custom-designed pan, tilt and zoom camera, and a Tablet PC that supports both pen and multitouch input. Users simultaneously view live video and take notes on a split-screen interface.

Windows Phone 7 “Rockstar”

Team Name: Beastware

Team Members: Christian Hood, Eric Lo

Project Description: Beastware is a 2-D game that involves the player controlling a machine that destroys other machines by using an accelerometer. The objective of the game is to destroy as many enemies as possible before your health runs out. Players have three actions they can perform: shoot, repair and defend. The shoot action fires bullets in the direction of the machine. The repair action restores a small amount of health instantly. The defend action reduces the amount of damage taken for a short period of time.

Imagine Cup 2010 World Finals have begun

clip_image002Last night marked the opening of the 2010 Imagine Cup World Finals at the Palace of Culture in downtown Warsaw.

400 students, plus mentors, judges, press, and Microsoft employees gathered at the Palace of Culture to celebrate the beginning on the world finals. Attendees were greeted by Jacek Murawski, General Manager for Microsoft Poland, who talked about the change of the world that students competing are contributing to. Murawski told the story of his family and talked about his two young children, saying that he was counting on the students here today to change the world for the better for his children.

Murawski then introduced Waldemar Pawlak, Deputy Prime Minister of Poland who thanked the students for coming to Warsaw, discussed the fact that Poland is the only nation in the European Union with a growing economy, and encouraged the students to talk to one another, to learn from one another, and to explore the culture here in Poland. Pawlak then ended his speech by congratulating the students and thanking Microsoft for its support of students.

Jon Perera, General Manager for Microsoft’s worldwide education efforts then addressed the students. He talked to them about their efforts so far, he congratulated them on coming this far, and he talked about the Imagine Cup as whole. Perera announced that 325,000 students from more than 100 countries competed in this year’s Imagine Cup. Perera said today’s students have access to technologies that didn’t exist just a few years ago. He talked about technologies like Windows Azure, Windows Phone 7, and Silverlight. As the competition begins, Perera encouraged students to take 20 minutes and either by themselves or with their teams, go off somewhere away from the noise and reflect on their journey, to take it all in, and to have a moment to themselves.

Perera was then joined on stage by Murawski and Deputy Prime Minister Pawlak for the ribbon cutting with marked the official opening of the 2010 Imagine Cup World Finals. After the ribbon cutting, students were then treated to a concert by local band Zakopower.

Today students will begin competing and tonight an announcement will be made for the teams that are advancing to the second round.

I’m leavin’ on a Jet Plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again…

I’m at the airport here in Phoenix waiting for my first flight into Chicago, then it will be on into Warsaw from there.

The 2010 International Microsoft Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals start tomorrow evening at 6pm, Warsaw time. I’ll be joining the delegation from the United States, and will focus primarily on competitions that teams from the US are in.

I’m really excited as one of the teams competing this year is a team from Arizona State University (Go Devils!), so expect a little bit of bias. Winking smile (Just kidding!)

I plan on taking tons of photos, and hopefully uploading them daily. They’ll be uploaded to my Picasa Web Album, which is accessible at the following link, http://picasaweb.google.com/taziegma.

Teams competing in the Imagine Cup finals from the United States are:

Software DesignTeam Mobilife
     -Wilson To – University of California – Davis
     -Jason Wakizaka – University of California – Davis
     -Helena Xu – University of California – Los Angeles
     -Kayvon Ghaffari – University of California – San Diego

Embedded DesignTeam Vaccine
     -Shawn McGhee  – University of Arkansas – Little Rock
     -Trish Day  – University of Arkansas – Little Rock

Touch & Tablet AccessibilityOneView
     -Kristen Shinohara  – University of Washington
     -Shaun Kane  – University of Washington

Touch and Tablet AccessibilityTeam Note-Taker
     –
Andrew Kelley – Arizona State University
     -David Hayden – Arizona State University

Windows Mobile 7 RockstarBeastware
     -Christian Hood – Advanced Technology Academy
     -Eric Lo – Advanced Technology Academy

I’ll be updating next from Warsaw!

Getting Ready for Warsaw

Next week in Warsaw, Poland, Microsoft is holding the 2010 international Imagine Cup World Finals. I’ve been invited to attend and write about the competition as a member of the Microsoft Student Insiders program. (Full disclosure: Microsoft’s PR firm, Waggener-Edstrom, is covering the expenses associated with this trip.)

The Imagine Cup is a competition in which students create software that can be used to potentially change the world for the better. Each year the competition is held there is a theme, and this year’s theme is Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems.”

Based on this theme, Microsoft has chosen the United Nations Eight Millennium Development Goals as the set of tough problems that students have the opportunity to help solve. For a list of the goals, visit the Imagine Cup website.

Students compete in one of five categories. Software Design, Embedded Development, Game Design, Digital Media, and the IT Challenge. The top finalists in these categories will be in Poland next week competing for the top prizes in each of their competitions.

I’ll be there along with the finalists reporting on the competitions and taking in the sights and sounds of Poland. Follow along here on the blog, on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #ImagineCup or myself @tziegmann.