A Canuck In The Machine

Mark Relph - Senior Director - Startup and VC Team

March, 2008

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    PR: Microsoft Canada Announces Blue Sky Award

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    Inaugural award recognizes significant contributions made by the technology community

    MISSISSAUGA, ON – March 17, 2008 - Microsoft Canada Co. is pleased to announce the creation of an ISV Innovation Award – the Blue Sky Award – recognizing exciting, cutting-edge solutions developed on the Microsoft-based platform. The award is open to ISVs yet to achieve Certified or Gold Certified Partners status. In developing this award, Microsoft Canada is helping to recognize innovation by creating a forum for leading Canadian software developers to showcase their outstanding achievements.

    People are the lifeblood of today’s businesses – their passion and ideas have the power to part clouds and create a world of limitless opportunity. The Blue Sky Award is designed to celebrate their innovation and the leading-edge applications they inspire.

    "Independent software developers lead the cutting edge of technology innovation in Canada," says Mark Relph, Vice President of the Developer & Platform Evangelism, Microsoft Canada. "The Blue Sky award allows Microsoft to provide ISVs with the opportunity to showcase their outstanding achievements and to recognize their efforts."

    Entrants will be judged on the unique use of technology, the real-life challenge they are solving and the market potential. The winner will receive a customized engagement plan to support their software development, which includes:

    • Software development resources
    • Business development resources
    • Public awareness campaign
    • Exposure to other Microsoft-based resources both in Canada and Redmond, including access to senior executives, developer evangelists and partner account managers

    “We are pleased that Microsoft is creating awareness around our desire to innovate and contribute to Canadian society and the economy. As a Microsoft ISV, we have seen the many benefits of developing on the Microsoft-based platform,” says Julian Spillane, CEO, Frozen North Productions Inc.

    About the Award
    For more information on the Blue Sky Award please visit: http://www.microsoft.com/canada/bluesky or click here to view the award information video.

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    ICE08: Community Watch

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    Yesterday I had a chance to speak on a panel at ICE08.  My fellow panelists included Amber MacArthur (ex-CityTV, new media strategist, video blogger and all round great person), Kris Krug (aka kk+, President of Rain City Studios and one of the best known photographers in Canada – check out Static Photography) and it was hosted by Eli Singer from SEGAL Communications

     

    (thanks to photojunkie for the pic)

     

    It was a great discussion and we covered a lot of ground including:

    • our definitions of “community”
    • why should people think about building communities
    • how to invest / how to build
    • what happens when it goes wrong
    • great success stories
    • great failure stories

    It was nice to be able to have a discussion on a topic I am very passionate about with 2 people who are so active in the community in Canada.  Oh ya - we were able to avoid the Mac vs. PC debate :-)

    I think the ICE folks recorded the session, so hopefully I will be able to share it down the road.

     

    Thanks to David for getting me involved.

     

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    Well, this picture sums it up for my Leafs…..

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    Nik Antropov

    @ TSN.ca

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    More On Rick’s VC Events

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    Jevon at StartupNorth comments some more on the VC Forums Rick is running across the country.

    Rick Segal is going on tour. The idea? Get the message out there about what he, and other VCs, are looking for when they evaluate new opportunities, and help entrepreneurs get a better understanding of what VCs try to do. He will also be providing some useful tools, like sample term sheets.  This comes as there has been more publicity about the performance of private Venture Capital funds in Canada, and a significant amount of discussion about whether or not it is a good idea to start a company in Canada.”

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    Microsoft’s Blue Sky ISV Award

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    Some blog coverage here and here and press coverage here.  

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    Rick Segal’s VC Roundtables

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    My good friend and Canadian VC extraordinaire Rick Segal has started a set of interesting events called the “VC Roundtables”.  His idea – build a great environment for startups and entrepeneurs to meet with a VC and discuss how to grow their businesses.  Rick is doing this on his own time and own dime.  He’s smart – you should go and participate.

    Here is the schedule:

    http://ricksegal.typepad.com/pmv/2008/03/vc-roundtable-1.html

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    Rick Talks Dreamspark

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    Rick Segal talks Dreamspark over here

     

    DreamSpark: A Great Program for Students and You

    Students. They are the best investment in time, money, and resources you can make when it comes to making the world a better place and, in more practical terms, getting great minds working on business problems. Your business problems.

    Microsoft has announced a super program (DreamSpark) whereby students can get a full set of developer products at no charge.

    From the original announcement:

    The Microsoft DreamSpark program, available at http://channel8.msdn.com, launched in 10 11 countries - Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. , Canada and the U.S. For more information on the products and how the program will expand to high school students, please visit PressPass for more details.

    Products: Students will be able to download any of the following software products via Channel 8:

    Microsoft developer tools· Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition· Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition· XNA Game Studio 2.0· 12-month free membership in the XNA Creators Club
    Microsoft designer tools Expression Studio, including:· Expression Web· Expression Blend· Expression Design· Expression Media
    Microsoft platform resources· SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition· Windows Server, Standard Edition

    Canada is right there with an announcement here. Kudos to Daniel Shaprio and my buddy Mark Relph for getting this into Canada.  And kudos to Microsoft for getting this program going especially the migration to high school students.

    From that announcement:

    "The program will expand in the next six months to college students in many more countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe. Microsoft DreamSpark will be expanded to include high school students by late 2008.  Upon launch, students with a valid ISIC (International Student ID Card) will be accepted.  These cards can be obtained at 132 ISIC offices across Canada. Students can find a nearby location at www.isic.org. We will be rolling out a number of other verification means over the next 12 months."

    Why you should care

    • Many (many!) anti-Microsoft people will say this is a response to "free" everything available on the Internet.  My response? So what.  Outside of our echo chamber, things like this are important because we need to make learning technology as friction free as possible.  I'm delighted that potentially hundreds of bright minds will be working on games, new web sites, services, etc.  They are thinking of things to do with all of this technology you and I don't even know about.
    • This is your future employee/team resource pool and they are getting trained/excited on somebody else's dime.  MSFT people, cover your eyes for a minute.  If  you want to engage a bunch of students on some projects, they can sign up for this program, get the tools for free, work on it, and you aren't paying for developer tools.  There is an approximately zero chance the licensing cops will come at you.  If there is something you want to commercialize, simply use the properly licensed tools you already have via the MSDN subscription and Bob's yer uncle.  In short, this is a very good program that your company/start-up and that local educational institution can use to get more talent into the workforce; your workforce.

    The download details on DreamSpark can be found on Channel8 is here.

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    MIX08 - The Big List Of Downloads

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    Check Ryan's good post on all the goodies coming out of MIX this year.

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    MIX08: The real lesson learned.....

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    I'm on the flight home, reflecting on the key take-away from MIX08.

    • What is it that Microsoft has shown real commitment to standards in IE8?  No.
    • What is it that the momentum behind Silverlight in tremendous?  No.
    • What is it that Windows Server 2008 is the best platform for PHP?  No.

     

    What then?

     

    Easy.  I'm simply not as good a blackjack player as I like to believe.  Oh, and that my least favourite number is now 12.  :-(

     

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    MIX08 - Day 2 Keynote - Steve Ballmer Q&A with Guy Kawasaki

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    Watch Steve Ballmer and Guy Kawasaki Live

     

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    MIX08 - Hard Rock "Deep Zoom" Demo

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    This one rocked.  Ryan talks about it here:  http://blogs.msdn.com/stoey/archive/2008/03/05/mix08-silverlight-2-deep-zoom-live-at-hard-rock-memorabilia-site.aspx

     

    There was an astounding demo during the Mix08 keynote this morning showcasing Silverlight "Deep Zoom" technology. The best part is you can check it out for yourself right now. Head over to the Hard Rock Memorabilia site and you'll have to install Silverlight 2 (only takes a moment).

    Then you'll see this page with a few hundred high resolution photos from the Hard Rock memorabilia collection. Simply use your mouse to zoom in. I mean REALLY zoom in...

    Check it out:

    The main page where you can just zoom and fly around to various photos:

    image

     

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    MIX08: Day 1 Keynote Recap

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    From: http://www.visitmix.com/blogs/News/MIX08-Day-1-Keynote-Recap/

     

    "During today's keynote, we highlighted our newest Web tools and technologies, including the release of Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1, Silverlight 2 Beta, Expression Studio 2 Beta and a preview of SQL Server Data Services (SSDS). Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie took the stage this morning to share his vision for how Web developers and designers can deliver seamless connected experiences across the continuum of Web applications, rich clients and mobile devices.

    Ozzie was joined onstage by Scott Guthrie, who discussed advances in Silverlight and Expression Studio that bridge the developer/designer workflow and provide a common development model, making it easier to deliver richer, more interactive Web experiences. Also on stage was Dean Hachamovitch, who demonstrated Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1, highlighting new features and functionality.

    Demonstrating their support for Silverlight, customers and partners also took part in the keynote, including AOL, Aston Martin, Cirque du Soleil, DoubleClick, Hard Rock, Move Networks and NBCOlympics.com on MSN.

    Download Internet Explorer 8, Silverlight 2 and Expression Studio 2 today and join the discussion here, on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere on the Web."

     

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    From VisitMIX.com - New in IE8: Web Slices

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    this was announced in the keynote this morning.

     


    First Look at IE8 Activities and WebSlices

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    MIX08: Watch The Keynote Live

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    Watch the Live Streaming Keynote: Ray Ozzie, Dean Hachamovitch, and Scott Guthrie

     

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    CDN UX Blog: MIX08 "Canada Represents"

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    I have already seen the gents from ConceptShare tonight, so we know the Canucks are in Vegas.

    Paul has a good post on the UX Blog about everything we are doing at MIX:

     

    "Well, the days have given way to hours with respect to the countdown to this year's edition of MIX, which kicks off on March 5 in Las Vegas.  If you're not familiar with the MIX conference, it's an annual event that Microsoft has hosted to celebrate web development, design and user experience as well as to host discussions on the strategy and direction the web is taking with noted visionaries and world-renowned speakers.  If you haven't already, I invite you to take a look at the main MIX site and the MIX08 subsite for more information.

    There's going to be a lot going on at MIX this year.  There will be some big announcements (some of which we haven't even been privy to!), awesome sessions on a myriad of topics ranging from design to development to the business of user experience and a great opportunity to network with others around the world who will be attending.

    So, what is Microsoft's Canadian contingent doing?  Well there are "a few things" planned.  :)  First, we'll be blogging.  Check out this blog and other blogs (listed below); we'll be giving you updates on the conference from there - everything from announcements to interesting news and interviews with attendees.  Second, if you're Canadian and you've registered for MIX (which, by the way, sold out early last month), you should have gotten an email with an invitation to a Canadian Registrant party hosted by Microsoft Canada.  Meet us there - we'd love to talk to you!  Finally, we'll be onsite and spending time with Canadians that are participating in the event.  If you see us, say hi; we'd love to chat and talk!

    All of the keynotes and sessions will be available online at the MIX site.  The Keynote on March 5 (with Ray Ozzie, Scott Guthrie and Dean Hachamovitch) and March 6 (with Steve Ballmer and Guy Kawasaki) will both be broadcast live on the site, while the breakout sessions will be available 24 hours after they happen.  Take a look at the session agenda as there is a tonne of great content that will be waiting for you throughout the week.

    So, with that said, here are a few handy resources for those of you interested in following the MIX conference, either in person as someone attending or watching the event from the web at home or work:

    Speaker Bios:  http://www.visitmix.com/2008/bios.aspx"

     

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    Next Up: MIX 2008 in Las Vegas

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    blings_9_25_c  The Vancouver stop of the Heroes Happen Here Launch is complete (it was a great success!) and I am en route to Las Vegas for MIX08.  MIX is our big event for web developers, designers and anyone interested in the future of the web.  I was there last year and it was a great event.  The most notable difference from other events is the palpable "industry / non-MSFT" feeling to the event.   Think about all the great things of a PDC / Teched type event combined with the cool factor of a Web 2.0 conference. 

    My team and I are down for a variety of reasons.  We will be doing a lot of press, meeting with several analysts in attendance, hosting key customers and of course soaking in all the announcements.

    Nothing is completely official, but we anticipate that we will hear big things about:

    • Silverlight
    • IE8
    • Expression
    • IIS
    • Windows Live / cloud strategy

    The entire event is held at the Venetian Hotel - so we likely won't get much sleep either.  ;-)

    Watch for full coverage this week.  I will post as often as I can (as will the rest of the team)

     

     

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    HHH_CA: Heroes Happen Here {Vancouver}

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    Another day, another city.  Vancouver was stop #2 for the "big show" version of the launch events.  No Kevin Turner this time and instead Steven "Guggs" Guggenheimer was our keynote speaker.  1400 people showed up for the day, which is a bit of a Vancouver record for us.  Space is really hard to come by in Vancouver right now since the convention centre is not online yet, so the event was held at the Westin Bayshore.  This worked out well and I think the overall logistics of the event were actually better than Toronto. 

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    HHH_CA: Thanks Toronto For Coming Out!

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    A big thanks to everyone who attended the Launch in Toronto.  It was a really great day.  Kevin Turner and all the track presenters were solid.  The demos were awesome, the customer videos worked and the overall "tone" of the day was on target.  (It's about you, not us)  We were also very pleased with the participation in the Community Connection event the night before.  I heard the discussions and best practice sharing conversations were very valuable. 

    I would say the single biggest learning we had from the day was how we allocate space across the tracks.  We know (and apologize for) the smaller developer and architect track rooms.  We won't make that mistake again in the future.

    The teams will be posted a ton of the content, including video, on the blogs over the next few weeks.  Ruth on our team was podcasting up a storm, so watch for that content coming out on the IT Pro blogs very soon as well. 

     

     

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