Intern Voice: Think outside your work responsibilities by Yen Ho


    Think outside your work responsibilities

    Hey! My name is Yen and I’m a co-op student at the University of Waterloo currently interning on the Enterprise Marketing team at Microsoft. One of many reasons why I enjoy coming into work every morning is because we have a vibrant and connected co-op community – we all try to support one another in our work and volunteer initiatives, which I think fosters a fun and healthy work environment. I hope to provide some advice and pass on lessons I have learned (observations, mistakes, and all!) throughout my co-op term because as the High School Musical cast would put it “We’re all in this together”.

    Advice #1 – Try something new and conquer fears

    I am one of those students that enjoy doing presentations but oddly enough, public speaking is one of my fears along with probably every other student. Although I took a public speaking course at Waterloo that sparked an interest in completing a minor in Speech Communication, I still get nervous before presentations.

    Luckily enough on my first day, my predecessor encouraged me to join a club she was involved with - Toastmasters at Microsoft - to improve my public speaking and leadership skills and meet other employees across the organization. Needless to say, I debated for a couple of weeks before joining and it’s now a meeting I look forward too! These meetings modeled my public speaking course where the audience provides the presenter with constructive feedback in a tactful manner but this club and its members create an exceptionally supportive environment that makes you want to come back every two weeks. So far, I’ve only presented table topics where I have to present an impromptu speech on a topic chosen by the Table Topics Master (all of which revolved around the Kardashians… but that’s another story), which allowed me to build my confidence in front of my work colleagues. Through listening to other presentations and the feedback provided by the evaluators, you learn at what your audience picks up on while you’re presenting and learn how it’s important to think before you speak.

    My advice is to get yourself out there and learn something new (or refine a skill or two) because you never know what you’ll learn, what new interests you’ll pick up, and who you’ll meet. At first mention, it didn’t seem like a club I would want to join but as with every co-op term, I try to step outside of my comfort zone and do something new. Public speaking isn’t a skill used for presentations in the classroom or for work meetings, but it’s a critical soft skill that is important for us to communicate effectively with different audiences. Toastmasters has introduced me to employees who I don’t interact with on a daily basis and it has allowed me to interact with those who I do see regularly in a different context. I’m looking forward to setting a goal of completing 3 major speeches this year with Toastmasters – and I guess I have to go through with this now as it’s online ;)

    - Yen Ho

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    Intern Voice: A Windows Phone 7 development success story by Stephanie Martel


    Hi, my name is Stephanie and I have been a co-op at Microsoft for approximately 6 months. As a University of Waterloo student this is my last co-op before I graduate and I couldn’t have asked for a more challenging or more exciting job. Working here has brought about some amazing opportunities. I have developed some amazing friendships with other co-ops and various managers across the organization.

    I currently work on the Marketing Communications team whose primary focus is to support the promotional aspects of campaigns across the business. I have been exposed to some AMAZING stories along the way that have truly inspired me. The one story that always keeps coming back up in my head is about two University students just like you and me called Jake Poznanski and Sam Kaufmann. These two student developers started developing for the Windows Phone 7 after many attempts of trying to work with the PC Android toolkit. After a “horrifying” experience they swiftly shifted to developing for the Windows Phone 7 platform. Aside from being developers and students at a prestigious East Coast university Jake and Sam grossed over $12,000.00 from their Windows Phone 7 apps.

    I have heard of so many student developers, like Jake and Sam, talk about developing apps for the chance to make a little bit of cash on the side. The great thing about the Windows Phone 7 MarketPlace is that, unlike its competitors, it is less saturated with random apps. Apps have the opportunity to stand out on the Windows Phone 7 platform since the new platform means that there is “room for improvement among currently offered apps” (Jake and Sam, 2010).

    In my opinion a lot of Jake and Sam’s success came from being among the first in the Windows MarketPlace to create well known “staple” app games. That is why I believe the sooner we (college/university students) get our apps into the Windows MarketPlace, the more money we will potentially be able to make.

    The world is our oyster.

    Check out the full case study of Jake Poznanski and Sam Kauffman here!

    - Stephanie Martel

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    Get Mango Beta


    If you’re a registered developer on the AppHub (http://create.msdn.com), you should have already acquired both Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Beta 2 and Windows Phone OS 7.1 build 7661, better known as Mango. This is a beta build, but it is stable enough to get your started on testing apps for the next OS update.

    If you’re not a registered developer… wait… what?! You’re not a registered developer?

    Alright, this is not the end of the world. Just follow these simple steps:

    • Be sure that you have a Live ID by registering on http://www.live.net.
    • Use that Live ID to register at http://create.msdn.com
    • Since you’re a student, be sure to chose Student as your entity as you’re eligible to use your DreamSpark (http://www.dreamspark.com) account to waive the registration fee.
    • Download the tools, flash your phone (be sure to follow the instructions) and start developing apps!

    As a new registrant you will have to wait patiently until the next batch of invites for the Mango beta update are sent out. This shouldn’t take more than a week or two.

    And remember, as a student you don’t pay any fees to develop for the Windows Phone 7 marketplace and yet you are allowed to monetize on your apps.

    As usual, if you have any questions, let us know.

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    Intern Voice: Mary’s first take on WP7


    Hey there!

    My name's Mary and I am a university student that just started as an intern with the DPE team here at Microsoft! One of the cool perks that I get from working here is that I get to play with a Dell Venue Pro to get a feel for WP7 for the next few months!!! Coming from an iPhone 4, this is sure to be an interesting transition! Oh, and did I mention that I woke up at 4am and then lined up for 10 hours to get my iPhone 4? So yes, this will be a very interesting indeed. (If you're wondering, I got a micro-SIM card adapter to get it to work on the WP7!)

    For starters, here are some first thoughts:

    • The Dell Venue Pro has got a pretty sleek design but it is a bit bigger in comparison to the iPhone 4.
    • It also has a slide out QWERTY keyboard in addition to the on-screen keyboard… though I think I’ll prefer the touchscreen keyboard since I’ve gotten so used to it on the iPhone 4, so we will see how well the WP7 deciphers my fat finger’s typing! Haha.
    • I loooove how you can personalize the colour scheme. :) First thing I did was set my phone to a hot pink theme with the black background… Don’t judge! :P
    • I need to get used to swiping up/down to find the apps vs. left/right like on the iPhone!

    Join me as I learn to use the phone and hunt down cool apps (GAMES!) and functions on WP7! :) PLEEEASE let me know if you have any good tips on getting used to the phone, or any good recommendations on apps! :)



    - Mary Lee

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    What’s In the Cloud: Lead from Fersh



    Yesterday, I posted my first of several interviews with Canadian developers who are working with Windows Azure on the Canadian Developer Connection. I thought I would share the interview with you as well since it was with a digital media start-up company run by students out of the Ryerson Digital Media Zone in Toronto, Ontario. Check out their story, be inspired, and think how you can take your application or your app idea and go global without having to learn new platforms and more importantly, without requiring money to invest up front.

    If you’re a student start-up just getting started or you just have an idea that you’d like to develop further, I’d love to hear from you and see how I can help! I had the pleasure of having several discussions with the members of Fersh (the below was just one of them) about technologies, business models, etc. Feel free to send me an email or find me on Twitter at any time. Let’s connect and see what’s possible.


    Lead is a worldwide leaderboard platform which developers can integrate into their games to engage its users. Lead provides
    a consistent reliable service and a growing ecosystem of products for developers regardless of the platform on which they develop. Lead is developed by Fersh, a student digital multimedia start-up operating out of the Ryerson Digital Media Zone in Toronto, Ontario. Fersh’s portfolio includes a number of award-winning mobile games, applications and developer resources. Fersh offers a range of products and services including consulting and customized software solutions across several platforms.

    I had a chance to sit down with one of Lead’s developers and Ryerson’s Microsoft Student Partner (MSP), Kowsheek Mahmood (@aredkid) to find out how he and his team built Lead using Windows Azure.

    Jonathan: Kowsheek, when you and the team were designing Lead, what was the rationale behind your decision to develop for the Cloud, and more specifically, to use Windows Azure?

    Kowsheek: Being a start-up company with constrained funding, it was not feasible for us to have multiple dedicated servers for Lead. Furthermore, since we wanted Lead to provide a consistent experience across geographical locations, a distributed solution was the right fit.
    At Fersh we use Microsoft technologies to develop our applications which range from games to mobile and web applications. We chose Windows Azure because we could use our existing knowledge of the technologies involved and leverage them well. Also, Windows Azure provided for high availability and a flexible utility-style service, that fulfilled our requirements and was affordable.

    Jonathan: What Windows Azure services are you using? How are you using them?

    Kowsheek: We are using Windows Azure Compute Web Role instances to host the frontend site, as well as our simple but really powerful API with developers will integrate in their games. SQL Azure hosts our databases in which we store the leaderboard data for each game using the API. We are also using Blob Storage and the Content Delivery Network (CDN) for static content, distributed to different geographic regions.

    Jonathan: During development, did you run into anything that was not obvious and required you to do some research? What were your findings? Hopefully, other developers will be able to use your findings to solve similar issues.

    Kowsheek: While working with the ASP.NET Membership service, initially it wasn't clear how the database on SQL Azure would have to be built. A quick Bing search showed that there is a tool similar to the regular tool called "aspnet_regsqlazure" that builds the database. You can find out more in this support article. Once we downloaded the proper files and ran them against the database, all was well.

    Jonathan: Lastly, what were some of the lessons you and your team learned as part of ramping up to use Windows Azure or actually developing for Windows Azure?

    Kowsheek: Initially, dedicated servers seemed feasible but after taking into consideration things like scalability and reliability, the hosting solutions seemed to fall short, so it always serves well to consider all the requirements and available options from the get-go.

    That’s it for today’s interview with Kowsheek Mahmood of Fersh about their application Lead. Lead is currently in Alpha release but has already been integrated into several games, such as the popular Windows Phone 7 game Sudoku3D (Facebook, Twitter). If you’re a game developer, Lead is definitely something to check out. Perhaps you could even participate in testing Lead.

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