Friday, August 17, 2007

Looking back (and a little forward too)
Listen

From now on, all posts on my blog will be in English.

The past year

The past year has been quite an experience for a sixteen-year-old boy like me (btw, almost 17!).

It all started last June (2006). I had read in the letter that came with the 13th issue of Microsoft .Net Magazine that they were still looking for Belgian authors. For those who don’t know this: .Net Magazine is a magazine that is distributed for free, by Microsoft, every three months in Belgium and in The Netherlands.
So I simply wrote an article about a hot subject (wpf) and I sent it to Tom Mertens at the beginning of August. I asked if it was good enough to be published in the magazine (my plan b was to translate and publish it on the code project). After two weeks, Tom replied that he had been out of the office for a few weeks and he said that he would take a look at it.
After all, it still took another three weeks before the head editor contacted me. My article would be published in the December 2006 issue.

But Tom hadn’t only sent my article to the editor of .Net Magazine. In November Walter Stiers contacted me, he told me he was an Academic Relations Manager at Microsoft and he wanted to meet me. We arranged a meeting at my place and he told me about the Microsoft student partners program (MSP).
Soon it turned out that Walter is a very pleasant man who supports students by really making time for them. He’s awesome!!

In December I decided to participate in the Imagine Cup, a huge contest, organized by Microsoft allover the world. Together with a friend I made DigitalVerbs (a project we had been working on together before) look a little more futuristic and we submitted it in the Software Design Invitational (the toughest one of the nine categories in the Imagine Cup). Thanks to the brilliant support of Walter Stiers, we made it to the Belgian finals. We became third and we've won 800 euros. (more about this on www.digitalverbs.be and www.imaginecup.com)

In the meanwhile I was invited as a VIP community member on the Developer and IT Pro Days in March. Over there I learned a lot and I met great people. It was another fantastic experience!

This year

So I had a great year, but what’s next?

Well I’m working on a new article and I guess I’ll simply do the same as last year… So maybe it will appear soon in .Net Magazine or on the code project.

The theme of the Imagine Cup 2008 is: “Imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment” and the finals will be in Paris, France. There’s a big chance that I will be participating in one or more categories (maybe Interface Design); but probably I won’t participate in the Software Design Invitational. As I said SDI is the toughest invitational and it takes a lot of time and effort to create a good entry from scratch. The lack of a great idea and the lack of a great team are as important reasons as the lack of time. There’s at least one thing I’ve learned about the Imagine Cup itself: a really good working team (a leader, a developer, a designer, a mentor …) is indispensable to stand any chance in Software Design.

Next year is my last year in high school; and it seems that it will be a busy year. I’ve got to write an end work, some sort of (small) thesis. I’m also going to Italy in November and in February I will be a member of our schools delegation in our sister school in Banjul, The Gambia, Africa. Not much time left for big projects, but hopefully more spare moments for small projects (for example posting on this blog from time to time).

Thanks

Last, but not least, I want to thank Walter Stiers, Tom Mertens, Robert Fransen and all other guys at Microsoft for supporting me and for making all of this possible.