The Microsoft Store Field Trip – a Dream Come True

In June I wrote an article called I have a dream… I want a Microsoft Store Field Trip.
My daughter is in 5th grade and I have been on a field trip to the Apple store. I dreamed of a field trip to the Microsoft Store. My dream became a reality.
Let me tell you the most important part about the Microsoft field trip. It’s free, it’s educational and it’s cool! It’s beneficial too… the Microsoft Store actually gives back a total of $1,200 in free software.

9AM in the morning. 40 children and 3 adults. Excited and ready for our first Microsoft Store field trip. We went to Century City Mall (Los Angeles, CA). My daughter and I were the only ones on the field trip that have seen Windows 8 previously. We were the only ones that own / have seen and touched the Surface tablet. It was a whole group of eager minds ready to see what Microsoft has to offer. Your first experience with Windows 8 takes your breath away. It’s fast and fluid. It’s responsive and interactive. It’s beautiful operation system and it's cool. It's Windows reimagined.

Some kids asked me why they have games in the store. That simple question led to a great discovery. Almost everybody has heard or may be even owns an Xbox but almost nobody knew it’s a Microsoft product.

Just as the Xbox and the children, educators and professionals don’t know how much Microsoft has to offer. I don't blame them. When I looked online, I couldn’t find information about the field trips offered by the store. The Microsoft Store offers free field trips and workshops. We even received sponsorship for transportation to the store!

There are dozens 2-hour-minicamp workshops that the Microsoft Store offers (for free!). In addition, the Microsoft staff will work with you to customize the content to your needs. Our workshop was an overview of Windows 8, working with Office 2013 and exploring the Market Place (app store) on the Surface tablet. It was extremely beneficial for the kids to learn how to edit photos and make cool presentations.

This field trip to the Microsoft Store is something that every school or non-profit organization should know about. Microsoft offers not only free workshops but free space for events. This for up to 50 people. And listen to the best part- if you organize 10 events in one year, you will win $1,200 in software for your organization. I’m not kidding you. So what are you waiting for?

The staff in the store are friendly, professional and ready to help. They engaged the children with ease.
Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, the Surface and the Microsoft Store… This is news. Microsoft did amazing work. It's pure art but the art needs to be discovered by the community and the generation that will carry us to the future.

Apps like Bing Travel make it exciting and joyful to experience the World. It gives you 360 degree views of tourist attractions around the World. The kids turned and moved with the Surface tablets in their hands to explore Barcelona, Rome, Prague, Athens… I was surprised to find out even cities and sights in Bulgaria are in the Bing Travel app to be explored in 360 degree view.

We learned how easy is to create a high quality movie using Windows phone 8.

Our workshop lasted two hours. I wish we had more time to get to play some Kinect games on the big screen.

It's a super cool store.

The kids learned, they enjoyed, they got inspired. They are the future. It's a great formula- Microsoft educates them now and they bring future to Microsoft.

If you are interested in organizing a workshop or a field trip go to the Microsoft Store locator and find the contact information for your local store.
Are you a parent of school age children? You can help your child's classroom organize a field trip to the Microsoft store (just as I did).

Are you a teacher? Give your students the gift of knowledge and organize the field trip. Help your school get $1,200 in software.
Are you professional? Organize a workshop for you and the people you work with.
I'll tell you one interesting fact you didn't know before. The Microsoft store offers a free game camp for toddlers and you can bring the cupcakes and make it a birthday. You need to invite 10 toddlers and you have the coolest birthday party.

Every attendee received a Microsoft gift bag. There was a cup with the Microsoft logo in each bag and additional goodies. The bag itself is cool. What I love is that the cups are Made in US. What the kids love is that the cups are cool and useful. When we came back to the classroom all the kids were filling their cups with water and taking this with an additional sip of Microsoft koolaid.

I know how you feel. You are in disbelieve that so much can be offered for free. Let me tell you- I was there, I experienced and I still cannot believe it. It's that cool. The kids… they are different. They just accept it and enjoy it. Give them this gift- a field trip to remember and to learn from.
On one last note. The students had to turn in book reports a week later. Several of them used the Office skills they learned on the field trip at home on their own PCs to make their book reports shine.

P.S. Thank you for all the Microsoft people that made this possible and the elementary school teacher that helped putting it together.

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