She did it again… winning the Windows 8 hackathon

Several weeks ago we went to a Windows 8 hackathon with my 10 year old daughter. We had no plan to compete. We just wanted to learn and be part of this fun event. The event started at 9AM on a quiet August Saturday. Most of our friends were at the beach. We were in the Microsoft office in Irvine and the room was almost full.
I will be honest with you, my daughter Ina was bored. She told me her baby brother is having more fun in the park. It still hurts repeating this unreasonable complain. I’m a hackathon fan, a religiously faithful enthusiast and I cannot imagine anything more fun on a Saturday. But I understand it- she didn’t have a project in mind, she was surrounded by adults and everybody was busy writing code.

Here comes the game changer. Quietly Matt Harrington, a Microsoft evangelist from San Francisco, comes to the podium for a small presentation before lunch. He actually mentions the only 10 year old in the room and he wants to show us something cool. Scirra is a tool. It’s software from the UK… that writes Java Script for you. You can make a game without messing with Java Script code! You create objects and give them properties, you add events and behaviors. Simple and easy. Matt announces you can make your own game with this tool in 2h.

That’s all Ina needed.

She did it. Hard work till 8PM and there it was- the Cyclopes game for Windows 8. You control a guy on the screen by moving the arrow keys and you can shoot with the space key. Cyclopes come from all directions and if they touch you, you lose. If you shoot at one of them 3 times you kill it. The point counter works. The game was functional and fun but she was still not convinced she has enough to present and compete. Microsoft was giving a free Xbox game to every participant and that helped. She just wanted the game. It didn’t cross her (or my) mind she may win the big prize. I asked Daniel Egan, the famous Microsoft evangelist from LA, to talk to Ina and give her some courage. He did – he got to Ina faster and easier than I could’ve done in hours. (I wish I can call him for help this week as Ina is running for school president and has to make a speech.)

Ina gets on the stage and first thanks Matt Harrington “Matt’s presentation really inspired me today”.
Everybody in the room voted- picking 5 best apps. Ina made it to the top- a Samsung Windows 8 slate, a $500 gift card and an inspirational memory to keep in her young heart.

The story speaks for itself. I was speechless, proud and happy. Michael Palermo, a Microsoft evangelist from Arizona, tweeted the next day:
@nia_angelina Thank you Nia! Congrats to that phenom daughter of yours for winning the slate and $500 at the hackathon! #win8appdev

Oh well, I’m full of so much appreciation for the precious Microsoft’s evangelists and the hackathon community! You should’ve been there. There are more to come- be there and get inspired!

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