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Interview with SilverlightShow Eco Contest Grand Prize Winner

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0 comments   /   posted by Svetla Stoycheva on Mar 11, 2010
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Categories: Misc

The 3 winners in SilverlightShow Eco Contest are already getting packed for MIX10 in Vegas! Before they fly away, we catch them to talk about their expectations for MIX, sessions they would be most willing to attend, people they would like to meet there, and of course - how it feels to be a winner in such a competitive and challenging contest!

Meet the Grand Prize winner Daniel James!

Q. Daniel - please introduce yourself for those members of SilverlightShow community who haven't had the chance to meet you.

A. I am an American / Canadian, with a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems from Miami of Ohio.  After graduating from university a few years ago, I moved to Canada and wrote a handful of small applications to help pay bills while I looked for work. As it turned out, I did well enough selling this software online that I completely forgot about finding a traditional job.

For the last few months, I’ve set aside my projects and have focused heavily on Silverlight. I really think this is going to be a huge technology and I’d like to establish myself early. I’ve been building my own application and game framework for Silverlight, and I participate in every major Silverlight competition I can find.

Q. How did you get the idea about the green application you submitted in our contest? What kind of information sources did you use, did anyone help you with the idea or implementation?

A. My wife and I discussed various ideas over lunch one day and eventually settled on the idea of a visualization of CO2 emissions. She is very involved with what I do and we often plan new projects together. We decided this idea would be sufficiently geeky to earn originality points and (if done well), could still be aesthetically attractive.

It took about two days to gather the data and another week to implement the application. I read IPCC reports and noted points of interest. I gathered data from the US Department of Energy’s statistics division and read through some textbooks to make sure I had a decent grasp of the basics. I even found a couple graduate-level course websites that calculated projections as I had planned to do.

I decided I would mimic the calculations done in the university courses but present the results in a graphical form.

Q. You got the Grand Prize based on the voting of 5 Silverlight professionals. Did you expect this award, and why?

A. There was clearly a lot of talent in the competition so the Grand Prize was a long shot. My real objective was to create something that might stick in the minds of the judges. Everyone in the community knows these guys and it would be nice if the judges were vaguely aware of something I wrote.

Q. What do you think about the Eco contest in general? Was it a good idea, or the Eco topic is perhaps not that close to the heart of the average developer?
A. If the Eco-topic isn’t of interest to developers, then it should be. The environment is all about data / information and programmers often love that sort of thing. Silverlight is great for data visualization and there are terabytes of Government data online just waiting to be turned into something meaningful.

It was also a fair challenge.  With such a specific theme, contestants needed to really plan before they developed.  You couldn’t just throw up some project you previously built and tweak it for the contest.

Q. There's less than a week left until MIX in Vegas. How do you feel about this event - is this the first time you attend MIX? What are your professional expectations towards the event?

A. I’ve never been to MIX before, but I’ve seen most of the past presentations online. This sounds like an exciting year, with a lot of things coming out at once. I hope to leave MIX with a few exciting project ideas I can start on right away when I get home.

Q. Do you already have a list of sessions you would like to attend? Any specific topics you are impatient to hear about?

A. I am of course very interested in the phone sessions, like everyone else.  I’d really love to write some of the first applications for the platform.
The multiplayer game session sounds fun.  I’ve already built a socket-based Silverlight game & server, but I’d like to see the newer Silverlight 4 or Azure implementation options.
The sessions on Facebook and BizSpark are also on my must-see list.

Q. Many IT professionals come to MIX to mainly network with other people in their field, and benefit from the connections created later on in their professional future. Do you usually mix with people at such events, and who would you like to connect with?

A. I’m not much of a designer so it would be nice to meet others who can handle graphics well.  The other contestants were generally better at design so I’d like to meet with them.

It would also be nice to meet the pros, since I read their blogs / books all the time.  It would be great to talk with MVPs.  I think meeting some of these experts would be a useful motivator more than anything else.

Q. SilverlightShow will be announcing more contests (and award more event passes) very soon. We are also currently running a draw for a free pass to Vancouver Silverlight Tour event. What is the next professional event you would be really enthusiastic to attend?
A. As a Canadian resident, any excuse to visit Vancouver is great. Tech-Ed has to be the next major conference I’ll be watching. If Microsoft eventually releases a tablet, then I’d really want to attend the following PDC.

One has to keep in mind that I am just one person, so it often makes more economic sense to watch the videos online and just buy the presenters’ book.

Thanks, Daniel, for this interview. We'd be happy to talk to you again after the event, and have you share your impressions from MIX and Las Vegas! Wish you success in your professional development and in the next SilverlightShow contests you might join!



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