May 20, 2005
Woke up early as we had to be downstairs early for breakfast, registration, and the keynote presentation. That morning we woke up to find a bill under our door (they wanted us to check out), so we went downstairs early to find the event coordinator. We asked one of the hotel staff where this person was, they didn’t know, but they were the even coordinator for the hotel. We explained to her that we wanted to stay at the Marriott instead of the Residence Inn if that would be possible. She quickly said that it would not be a problem for us to continue staying at the Marriott. She walked away and updated our keys for us.
Since we made sure to get down there early, I got was one of the first to register and get all badge and voucher to spend up $120 at the Microsoft Company Store. I was introduced to the Microsoft person in charge or running this part of the Imagine Cup, who told me that I would be the only High School Team in the Software Design Invitational, and Since I am the only one on my team, I am the only High School student there (Except for the guy who won the IT Invitational, and the high school students demonstrating their Visual Gaming Invitational entry). I a novice programmer who has never taken a programming or computer science class would be going up against those who seeking their undergraduate or graduate degrees in the subject.
Soon the keynote presentation got started and we were filled in with all we needed to know for today’s events. One of the people from the team that won the US Nationals last year and got a trip to Brazil our of it, spoke to us about what the whole experience was like. Soon after that some people from the Windows Mobile 5.0 team did many demos of Windows Mobile 5.0 and its capabilities. Also some of the Visual Studio 2005 team was there to demonstrate some new features of that product as well. They closed with showing who we would be competing against tomorrow and who our judges would be for that competition. At that time I was slated to be going against Carnegie-Mellon and Georgia Tech.
As we left the conference room to head towards the shuttle busses, they handed everyone a nice O’GIO laptop backpack with the Imagine Cup logo on it, a nice certificate and some training DVDs. We all got on the busses and headed over to the Microsoft Campus where we would be visiting the Company Store and Museum. I found out while waiting go in that the Imagine Cup people were looking for me after the keynote presentation to do an interview for MSDN’s Channel 9 Blog, but I had been in my room at time getting some last minute items. We went to the Company Store first and use one of the vouchers we had to get a copy of XP Pro for only $35 which was good as now my server computer can finally have a more legal copy of Windows on it. The prices in that store were great! I really wish I could have spent more and bought a new keyboard and mouse and just about everything else that I could really use! After that we went to the Museum, which is right below the store. They had a wall in one corner showing Microsoft through the decades and had computers running DOS, Windows 3.11, 95, etc and some even forgotten products like Microsoft Bob. They also had some interactive games and a darkened room that had XBOXs and PCs with the latest Microsoft games to play. They greatest thing there was that wall of PocketPCs on it that made up the Windows Mobile logo. We finished up at the museum and then we headed back out to the bus. From the museum we would be heading to Building 40 on the Microsoft Campus.
We got to Building 40 and began to set up my table for the project fair. Microsoft provided a decent box lunch (salad) for us as we set up. My table didn’t take much time to setup (only a few small foam boards and the flat screen monitor they provided to show my PowerPoint presentation on. I was in the corner of the room, between the high school students there showing off their Visual Gaming Invitational project and next to the Boston University team. It looked like I probably got less foot traffic than some of the other teams (all of us in this room got less than the teams in the room over in the cafeteria next door), but still many people came by and asked some really good questions. Sometimes I couldn’t answer some questions (like why didn’t I use this or that), because I am just not as skilled as those people were….I am just a high school student learning and these were all college graduates with degrees in the field.
Luckily as the 2-hour session went by, a camera crew came by and got a demo of my software and took some video of my set up. Also later the editor of a Microsoft Computer Science Teacher Website came by and interviewed me for that website (I don’t remember what the web site was…maybe someone knows what I am talking about?). I also went by the other project fair room to check out the competition. I talked with some of the other teams about their projects like Washington State’s Song Seller program (allows you to resell downloaded music) and one of the teams from Virginia Commonwealth University, which had a program which helped collect data on immunized people around the world, especially those in remote areas. Also talked with them about the whole Real ID thing briefly, as their program could load up data from a barcode on a driver’s license. After that the fair was practically over and at 4-o’clock I packed up and headed back out to the bus. The bus took us back to the Residence Inn, so we had to walk over to the Marriott. No one else followed, which meant we were the only team left in this hotel!
Later that night Microsoft was hosting a Halo 2 Party in one of the conference rooms with big 40-50 inch plasma TVs. I had decided not to go as I had to tweak my presentation from today into the presentation I would be using tomorrow for the judging. Also I had a bug to fix and I needed to get working on many other loose ends in my program. Since dinner was supposed to be pizza at the Halo 2 Party, my Dad and I decided we would try the Claim Jumper. We got there and the inside of the place is huge compared to the what it seemed like on the outside. We ordered up some garlic toast for the appetizer, which we expected to be like 4 or 6 slices of toast. Instead it was like 8 huge pieces cut in two, for a grand total of 16 slices!! That’s a lot of garlic toast! Soon our food was brought out and we started to wish that we hadn’t ordered the appetizer. The amount of food was huge. I got chicken strips and the steak fries and there was more than I could definitely eat (but then I just ate 8 slices of garlic toast). My Dad had much bigger portions on his plate, big thing of potatoes, a good sized chunk of meatloaf and a biscuit the size of Texas! That was the biggest biscuit I had ever seen, it almost was the same size as the pile of meatloaf. We definitely got our money’s worth that night. As we were about to walk back to the hotel, it began to rain….so we waited for a while then headed back. As soon as I got back to the hotel room I started working on the presentation and program. After a while I was getting mad for something just wasn’t working right. The exercise room was down the hall so I went down there and lifted some weights. As I headed back to the room my key wouldn’t work. At first I thought maybe I have the wrong room. Well I didn’t and after a second of thinking (my brain is almost fried at this point) I knocked and was let in. We called down to the front desk and found out while our stay was extended, the keys were only good until 9pm, so they sent some new keys in just a few minutes. I got back to work and got where I could for the night and then finally went to bed sometime between 12 and 1 that morning.