As all of you saw, last week we had a group of 26 lucky students who got that chance to come into the Microsoft HQ for the AppsinAugust programme. The competition was stiff and we had a lot of great candidates to choose from. The 26 winners had their chance to not only display their ideas and talents in app making, but to turn these ideas and visions into a reality. Below is Matthew Price’s account of his experience.
Hi all! My names Matthew Price @mprice86 and I am a 2nd year HND student at SERC Downpatrick, Northern Ireland. In my spare time I love to blog, programme, and write my own music. In this post I wanted to give you a little insight into the Apps in August Programme and try and explain just how amazing the whole experience was.
Apps in August was (as it turned out) a concept quickly dreamed up by Phil Cross, Ben Nunney and Natasha Joseph over coffee; which for anyone who drinks coffee knows, is when all the best ideas happen. At no stage however, did AppsinAugust feel unprepared or cobbled together; had we not been told otherwise, there was no indication that this event had not been taking place for years already.
The beginning of any project is often the most important phase and it was Monday, August 6th at Microsoft UK HQ (in Reading) that this event started both to take shape, and to shape those attending. The first day was ostensibly an introduction to the campus and the event; establishing Microsoft and their offices as (most likely) being the most impressive place that any of us has had the pleasure to work. The sprawling campus, the open and inviting office spaces, and the welcoming and enthusiastic staff all set the tone for what was to be a thoroughly entertaining and educational three days. The virtually unlimited, free drinks did play role here too; but perhaps more for some than others.
Consisting of a few “welcome” talks, some introductory guidance and a very pleasant lunch on the lawn; day one set the tone and the mood for the remainder of the event. I am sure that any of the lucky attendees would agree that even the shuttle bus ride into the campus was a pretty special experience. Dinner followed, after an opportunity to refresh at the hotel, and provided a most welcome opportunity for both students and staff to mingle, talk and generally get better acquainted.
Day two was when things started to get serious. Attendees divided themselves into project groups based on skills, background and ideas; with everyone getting the chance to work on more or less any project that they desired. There was a talk on Modern UI (formerly Windows 8 UI) design style, which highlighted the importance of proper design. It should be said that this talk did not stick rigidly to a “follow these rules” formula, but served to highlight the flexibility that is afforded within the (relatively open) confines of the Modern UI design language. Then there was time provided for individual and group planning work, with assistance on hand for those who needed it; and extra time set aside to ensure the best possible groupings on projects. After all, the ultimate goal here is to ensure that there will be student produced applications in the Windows 8 Store before general availability. Once again, in the evening there was a meal laid on in Reading with more time for discussion and bonding between attendees and the staff.
In summary; there are many words that could be used to describe the experience of the last few days, none of which could really do justice to just how enlightening, impressive and inspirational it all was. If you did not have the chance to take part this year, then all I can recommend is that you keep your eyes and ears open for any future events in a similar vein. If you have any level of interest or skill in programming then there can be no excuse for not applying. The opportunity on offer here is enormous; do not pass up your chance to take part in something amazing.