I have a dream… I want a Microsoft Store Field Trip

It was at the start of the school year when my daughter went to a field trip to the Apple Store. I happened to be one of those lucky parents to accompany the class. I couldn’t help but admire how smart is of Apple to open their doors to the future buying force. It was 10AM when we arrived. The kids were given yellow t-shirts and split in teams of 4-5 kids and the fun began. One Apple store employee was designated to each team- they took videos of the kids doing faces, poses and having fun… on an iPad.
Than the iPad was connected to a Mac and using the Apple software there was a cute little trailer created. The movies were burned into CDs and each child was given a copy of their own team trailer. The kids were ecstatic. Every child wanted an iPad, a Mac and Apple video software. I saw a parent buy right there on the spot a Mac. This is a level 1 dangerous-to-the-rest-parent. I heard Mommy, I really want to make videos. I really need a Mac.

And the Apple store offers these field trips to elementary schools all the time- our school takes the students every year… this is a great cultivating experience. Children embrace technology and they will be soon of age to buy. You have the cool factor working too.

I have a dream… I want a Microsoft Store Field Trip. I want Microsoft to invite elementary school children and spoil them the way Apple does. I will sign up for this field trip, I will take photos and I’ll probably be a level 1 dangerous-to-the-rest-parent :)

P.S. By the way, I’m ashamed to say but I still haven’t visited a Microsoft Store myself. Waiting for the field trip.

Windows Phone Hackathons Are Better Than a Party

My life changed for the better in 2011 at TechEd North America (Atlanta GA). I was walking on the expo floor and I met The Sociable Geek Daniel Egan at the Windows Phone booth. I got a beautiful Samsung Focus phone in my hands and I was mesmerized. I had watched some webcasts earlier and I wanted to get into the mobile development. I wanted one of those puppies as well. When you have a goal or a dream, the Universe sends you the way to get there. Daniel told me about the Hackathon he was organizing that evening and that I could win one of those phones. I was there… I ditched a party to go to the hackathon.

I have never done a better decision in my life… it was much better than the great party I’ve missed.

It was exciting. It ended at midnight but I had the most beautiful phone in my hands. I had an inspiration. I made new friends and I learned about opportunities. There are hackathons not only once a year at TechEd and in Atlanta but in LA and many other locations.
Windows Phone Hackathon
At the end of March 2012 I took my 10 year old daughter and 14 year old nephew at a Windows Phone Hackathon in Los Angeles. It felt natural. I saw the same excitement in their eyes as I’ve felt. They were hooked… They found a person to inspire them too. Bret Stateham is a Microsoft evangelist and he quietly guided them.

Several weeks ago we went to a Nokia hackathon in San Diego. There was a set back- the kids were rejected at first by email, they were too young. There was a student contest but you had to be 18 or older to participate! My 14 year old nephew stayed home. My 10 year old daughter is not the type to get discouraged by a rejection. She reassured me I don’t care if I can compete, I’m coming to learn. So she came and we were nicely surprised. Nokia’s people had a gift for her. Everybody – participants and organizers- made her feel welcome and loved. Daniel Egan spent time helping her. It was a blast. Better than a party, she agrees…
(Ina was impressed: Mommy, I want to start work… Look at Nokia’s cafeteria… You all have much better place to eat lunch than us at school.)
Nokia's Hackathon
The other day we went to the Uplinq Hackathon. Ina was rejected again from competing but still she was allowed to come. There were some setbacks… I got a badge, she didn’t. Everybody got a backpack with a t-shirt, she didn’t… Bret Stateham saved the day at that moment- he gave Ina his own bag and t-shirt. It was a kind sweet gesture that will always be remembered.
There were 300 windows phones given- to everybody that was at the Hackathon but not Ina. Because she is too young…

Ina got a sharpie and wrote her name on my badge. The next morning she looked sad when I was getting ready to go to the Uplinq conference. She was registered and her picture was on the Uplinq catalog but she was not allowed to attend the sessions. She just wanted the chance to learn… The keynote session was beautiful- I couldn’t stop thinking how inspiring it would’ve been to watch it together with Ina.
As I said, she is not easy to discourage thankfully. I can not help but think that one day Qualcomm (the organizer of Uplinq) will want people just like her working for them. I somehow think Ina would love to work for Microsoft- if you encourage the next generation, you will get back a return on your investment.

There is nothing better than a Windows Phone Hackathon, may be Windows 8 Hackathon but that’s in our future :)

The Windows 8 Opportunity

This post is long overdue.

June 5, 2012
Excellence Lab with a Microsoft PFE
Attending: Ina, 10 year old developer

Ina, my 10 year old developer and daughter, managed to get a token for an early submission to the Windows 8 store.
I had my excellence lab several weeks earlier and I failed. My meeting with the Microsoft PFE was still one of the best things that has happened to me- he helped me understand the ‘fast and fluid design’ Microsoft has in mind. I fell in love with the Metro design. I honestly love all the requirements- from that moment on I embraced them.

I have to mention here that my daughter received amazing support and encouragement from the Microsoft’s evangelists Alice Pang, Michael Palermo and Jerry Nixon. We participated in an Accelerator Lab and it was an eye opening experience for her. I can not say enough about the motivation and efforts the Microsoft evangelist go through to help. I have to mention two more names of people that helped her indirectly- Jeremy Foster and Michael Johnson- Microsoft evenangelists that have answered many of my questions about Windows 8 development. Jeremy Foster has spent hours of his time trying to help me remotely!
I have come to the conclusion that Microsoft evangelists and PFEs are the best of the best and they are real time heros. They are really there to help you and you are not in this alone!

My experience became an asset for my daughter. I helped her. The Metro development is not a cup of tea for a 10 year old, I admit. She worked with me and thanked me for the help. Here is a print shot of the Party Trends app we plan to publish to the Store:

Party Trends

The Uplinq CodeFest

I went to the Uplinq Codefest the other day. I was impressed by the resources Qualcomm invests in developers. $50,000 was given to the winners of the contest! Applause to Qualcomm!!! I expected a fierce battle and it was interesting to see it unfold. I came with my 10 year old daughter who is a developer and she has won alone and as a part of a team several hackathons. It was disappointing to hear she was not allowed to compete in the Qualcomm challenge (you have to be 18 or older) but it was understandable. We both decided for me not to compete this time- we were sorry for it later though. If you are a developer and you are around, you should compete. At least we both enjoyed being part of the hackathon and seeing the action in person.

The hackathon challenge went till 11:30PM. The participation of Windows Phone developers in the contest was overwhelming. Let’s say that half of the participants were Windows Phone developers and one of the 5 categories was for Windows Phone. The total number of participants was around 30! I was proud to say the Windows Phone developers’ demos were great.

I liked that the demos were timed and limited to 3 minutes! Thanks Heaven! It was shocking that half of the presentation time was spent in PowerPoint. I understand that the apps don’t need to be completed but I believe PowerPoint should be banned from hackathons. If the PowerPoint use cannot be limited, band it, give paper and crayons to the kids that are learning the SDKs. It’s purely ridiculous to compete on a PowerPoint presentation, especially when you can win $5K and you are one of 3 or 4 competitors in a category. One more change I would do if I’m a hackathon organizer- you have to compete on a new application each time. Be nice to all of us, we come to many hackathons, we don’t want to see the same app and hear the same pitch over and over again.

Overall it was a great experience. I learned one thing- never say no to participating when the prize is right! Qualcomm technologies rock, Qualcomm is a big sponsor and I pray the day will come when they will allow young developers to participate and learn. We all need to invest in the future.

Mark Russinovich’s Trojan Horse Novel

Trojan Horse Novel

I am one lucky girl. I received an advance copy of the book that I have been dreaming to read. Mark Russinovich’s Trojan Horse novel. After reading Zero Day from the same author I was hooked.
It has been terribly busy in my life the last week and I feel guilty for not finishing the book the moment I got it but I’m enjoying it.
It is suspenseful, it is intriguing, it is inspiring. It makes you question every computer and any device connected to the Internet.
It’s a must-read for every person in technology.
P.S. I bought a copy of Zero Day for my boss for Christmas. The Trojan Horse is scheduled to be released in September.

I’m very careful giving my comments about the book without spoinling the fun for you :) Here is what I think in short:

AwesomeExperience( smartHuman @markrussinovich )
{
GreatBook TheTrojanHorse;
TheTrojanHorse = (Politics+Technology+Multiculture+Action)*Sexy*Suspense;
Return #TheTrojanHorse;
}