Si-Mi.com are a relatively new startup coming out of Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne is probably Australia's cultural hub, so it's fitting that a site supporting artists would be based there. Featuring all user-generated content, Si-Mi's motto is "Be Seen. Get Paid" - instead of a wealthy few getting paid for the hard work of others (as seems to be the case for most user-generated content sites), downloaders actually pay for content from Si-Mi, and the creators of that content get a hefty cut of the proceeds (si-Mi obviously need to take a small cut of the proceeds to cover costs and make profit). Whilst the advertising revenue model seems to be dominating the internet, I think Si-Mi definitely have a place in the market for people who want good quality, original content on demand and who wish to directly support artists (and developers).

So why is this in the MSOZACADEMIC blog? Well, we're running a competition in conjunction with SiMi to encourage young developers / web designers to learn to build Vista sidebar gadgets. It all started off as a student partner from University of Melbourne wanting to show some of his friends how to build a gadget. Students at other uni's got ahold of it and were similarly interested, so we decided to run a competition. Si-Mi said they wanted to help out, and we had interest from TAFE and a few high schools, so the competition is now open for 'young developers' age 18 to 30.

Here's the deal - build a Vista Sidebar gadget. Upload it here as a zip file. The best entries (both the ones that get the most downloads and the ones that get the best reaction from competition judges) go in the draw to win a Visual Studio backpack choc full of MS goodies (including a copy of Vista Ultimate). Runners up receive a copy of Vista Ultimate. There are 20 prizes to be given away, so get your entries in and you have a pretty good chane to win. (Sorry, the competition is only open to Australian audience due to budget limitations)

There's a whole gang of resources to learn how to build sidebar gadgets, they only take a little bit of html and js skill to build, and can be built in under an hour (for a simple one) so no-one has an excuse - Vista Ultimate retails for around AU$800, so if you spend 4 hours building a runner up entry, you're effectively being paid $200 an hour ;)

See http://www.si-mi.com/sidebarnameddesire for more details

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