Tag Archives: developers

How to Make the World a Greener Place

As you may have already read on the Microsoft Live Search Blog, we have initiated a Will Code for Green contest! A few minutes ago, @msngreen tweeted it. It’s all true – you have an opportunity to showcase your skills, improve the planet, and possibly win some dough (the spending kind, not the baking kind).

Are you a developer? Do you know a developer? Have at it!

COMMON TERMS USED IN THESE RULES:

These are the official rules that govern how the Microsoft “Will Code for Green” contest will operate (“Contest”).

In these rules, “we” “our” and “us” refer to Microsoft Corporation and Lockergnome Inc., the Sponsors of the Contest. “You” “yourself,” “I,” “me,” and “my” refers to an eligible Contest entrant.

1. CONTEST DESCRIPTION:

This is a skill-based Contest. The object is to create a publicly-accessible Web site application or “mashup” that will provide users of the application tools and information in one of the following two content categories:

  1. How to deal with the worsening global economy (“Economy Category”)
  2. How to take steps to improve the ecology of the planet Earth (“Ecology Category”)

For purpose of this Contest, each Web application you create and submit in the Contest will be called an “Entry.” All eligible Entries received will be judged using the criteria below, and the judges will select winners to receive prizes as described below.

2. WHAT ARE THE START AND END DATES?

Entries may be submitted from Noon PT on June 1, 2009 until 11:59 PM PT on August 12, 2009 (“Entry Period”). Entries must be received within the Entry Period to be eligible.

3. CAN I ENTER?

You are eligible to enter this Contest if you meet the following requirements at time Entry:

  • You are a legal resident of the 50 United States (including the District of Columbia) and are 18 years or older; and
  • You are NOT an employee of Microsoft Corporation or an employee of a Microsoft subsidiary; and
  • You are NOT involved in any part of the administration and execution of this Contest; and
  • You are NOT an immediate family (parent, sibling, spouse, child) or household member of a Microsoft employee, an employee of a Microsoft subsidiary, or a person involved in any part of the administration and execution of this Contest.
  • This Contest is void outside the geographic area described above and wherever else prohibited by law.

4. WHAT CONSTITUTES AN ELIGIBLE ENTRY?

To be eligible for judging an Entry must meet the following content / technical requirements:

  • The Entry must consume Live Search APIs as described at http://search.live.com/developers
  • The Entry must conform to the Live Search APIs Terms of Use. http://search.live.com/developers/tou.aspx
  • The content displayed by the application and content behaviors within the application must conform to prohibited content guidelines. In addition to a prohibition against collecting personally identifiable information, prohibited content includes but is not limited to images or text that in the sole opinion of Microsoft is found to be offensive or contain any sexually explicit, disparaging, defamatory, libelous, obscene, or other inappropriate content or any content that would present Sponsors in unflattering light.

Aside from utilization of Live Search data/APIs, the Entry is not required to use any other Microsoft technologies in the execution of its function(s), however, if any other Microsoft online services are used the Entry must comply with their terms of use as well.

In addition:

  • Your Entry must be your own original work; and
  • Your Entry cannot have been selected as a winner in any other contest; and
  • You must have obtained any and all consents, approvals or licenses required for you to submit your Entry; and
  • Your Entry must not otherwise violate the rights of any other person or company by using their trademarks, music, logos, names or images without their express written consent.

Other than what is set forth below, we are not claiming any ownership rights to your Entry. However, by submitting your Entry, you:

  • Are granting us an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide right and license to: (i) use, review, assess, test and otherwise analyze your Entry and all its content in connection with this Contest; and (ii) feature your Entry and all into content in connection with the promotion of this Contest in all media (now known or later developed);
  • Agree to sign any necessary documentation that may be required for us and our designees to make use of the rights you granted above;
  • Understand and acknowledge that the Promotion Parties may have developed or commissioned materials similar or identical to your submission and you waive any claims you may have resulting from any similarities to your Entry;
  • Understand that we cannot control the incoming information you will disclose to our representatives in the course of entering, or what our representatives will remember about your Entry. You also understand that we will not restrict work assignments of representatives who have had access to your Entry. By entering this Contest, you agree that use of information in our representatives unaided memories in the development or deployment of our products or services does not create liability for us under this agreement or copyright or trade secret law;
  • Understand that you will not receive any compensation or credit for use of your Entry, other than what is described in these Official Rules

Please note that following the end of this Contest your Entry may be posted on a website selected by us for viewing by visitors to that website.

We are not responsible for any unauthorized use of your Entry by visitors to this website. While we reserve these rights, we are not obligated to use your Entry for any purpose, even if it has been selected as a winning Entry.

If you (or, if you are a minor, your parent or legal guardian) do not want to grant us these rights to your Entry, please do not enter this Contest.

5. HOW DO I ENTER?

If you wish to participate in this Contest, you must complete the registration Webform, select the Category you’re entering, and include the URL where the judges can find your website application. The website must be publicly accessible, cannot require an id/password to access and the application must remain posted online until August 23, 2009.

We will only accept two Entries per entrant and e-mail address; one per Category.

In other words, two people may not enter using the same email address you each must enter using a unique email address. We are not responsible for Entries that we do not receive for any reason, or for Entries that we receive but are not decipherable for any reason.

We will automatically disqualify:

  • Any incomplete or illegible Entry; and
  • Any Entries that we receive from you that are in excess of the Entry limit described above.

6. HOW ARE WINNERS SELECTED?

All eligible Entries will be posted online at gnomedex.com from 12:01 AM PT on June 1 to 11: 59 PM PT on August 12, 2009 and website visitors will be invited to vote for their favorite application. Each visitor will be limited to one vote per Category.

On or around August 19, a panel of Microsoft judges will review all eligible Entries received and select five Semi-Finalists; 2 from each Category, and 1 from either Category based on the following criteria:

  • 50% effectiveness in helping users address the Category problem
  • 10% innovation in display or usage of Live Search data
  • 20% usability/user interface design
  • 20% customer appeal (would people use this, as determined by initial community voting on gnomedex.com)

All Semi-Finalists will be demonstrated at the Gnomedex conference August 20-22, 2009. Attendees at the Gnomedex conference will be invited to vote to determine a Grand Prize winner in each Category and three runner-up winners from both Categories combined.

The decisions of the judges are final and binding. If we do not receive a sufficient number of Entries meeting the Entry requirements, we may, at our discretion, select fewer winners than described above.

In the event of a tie between any eligible Entries at any level, the tie will be broken by an additional judge who will judge the tied Entries based on the criteria listed above.

8. WHAT ARE THE PRIZES?

The Grand Prize winner in each category (Economy & Ecology) will receive the following:

  • $10,000 Cash
  • A 3-year BizSpark membership (Estimated Retail Value, $100)

3 Runner Up Prizes:

  • $3,000 Cash
  • A 3-year BizSpark membership

We will only award one prize per person during the Entry Period.

If you are selected as a potential winner of this Contest:

  • You must agree to keep your application live on a publicly accessible website until September 22, 2009; and
  • You may not exchange your prize for cash or any other merchandise or services; and
  • You may not designate someone else as the winner. If you are unable or unwilling to accept your prize, we will award it to an alternate potential winner; and
  • If you accept a prize, you will be solely responsible for all applicable taxes related to accepting the prize; and
  • If you are a minor in your place of residence, we may award the prize to your parent/legal guardian on your behalf; and
  • Unless otherwise noted, all prizes are subject to their manufacturers warranty and / or terms and conditions.

If for any reason an advertised prize is unavailable, we reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value as permitted.

9. HOW WILL YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE A WINNER?

If you are a semi-finalist, we will notify you by sending a message to the e-mail address, the phone number, or mailing address (if any) listed on your Entry within seven (7) days of winner determination. If the notification that we send is returned as undeliverable, or you are otherwise unreachable for any reason, we may award the prize to an alternate winner.

If there is a dispute as to who is the potential winner, we will consider the potential winner to be the authorized account holder of the e-mail address used to enter the Contest, or the person residing at the mailing address listed on your mail-in Entry.

If you are a potential winner, we may require you to sign an affidavit of eligibility, liability/publicity release and W-9 tax form. If you do not complete the required forms as instructed and/or return the required forms within the time period listed on the winner notification message, we may disqualify you and select an alternate winner.

10. WHAT OTHER CONDITIONS ARE YOU ARE AGREEING TO BY ENTERING THIS CONTEST?

By entering this Contest you agree:

  • To abide by these Official Rules; and
  • To release and hold Microsoft and their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, employees and agents from any and all liability or any injury, loss or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with this Contest or any prize won; and
  • That Microsoft’s decisions will be final and binding on all matters related to this Contest; and
  • That, by accepting a prize, Microsoft may use of your proper name and state of residence online and in print, or in any other media, in connection with this Contest, without payment or compensation to you, except where prohibited by law.

12. WHAT LAWS GOVERN THE WAY THIS CONTEST IS EXECUTED AND ADMINISTRATED?

This Contest will be governed by the laws of the State of Washington, and you consent to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of the courts of the State of Washington for any disputes arising out of this Contest.

13. WHAT IF SOMETHING UNEXPECTED HAPPENS AND THE CONTEST CAN’T RUN AS PLANNED?

If someone cheats, or a virus, bug, catastrophic event, or any other unforeseen or unexpected event that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled, (also referred to as force majeure) affects the fairness and / or integrity of this Contest, we reserve the right to cancel, change or suspend this Contest. This right is reserved whether the event is due to human or technical error. If a solution cannot be found to restore the integrity of the Contest, we reserve the right to select winners from among all eligible Entries received before we had to cancel, change or suspend the Contest.

If you attempt to compromise the integrity or the legitimate operation of this Contest by hacking or by cheating or committing fraud in ANY way, we may seek damages from you to the fullest extent permitted by law. Further, we may ban you from participating in any of our future Contest, so please play fairly.

12. HOW CAN YOU FIND OUT WHO WON?

We will post the names of confirmed major winners online at gnomedex.com. This list will remain posted until Sept 22, 2009.

13. WHO IS SPONSORING THIS CONTEST?

Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052

Lockergnome.com
1420 NW Gilman Blvd. #2543
Issaquah, WA 98027

Are OSs and Developers Ruining PC Gaming?

The following Email was sent to me recently from Intrepid. He brings up some very interesting points, and I wanted to pass them along. What’s your take? Leave me a follow up comment to this post, or send me an Email yourself to [email protected] I’d love to hear your thoughts.

After reading an article about Epic moving to consoles rather than staying with PCs because of a lack of purchases in the PC gaming market, I got to thinking.

With consoles, programmers and graphic designers know what the system can handle. They know there is a set requirement as to what the hardware and software can take. Developers know where to “max out”, you could say, with graphics and what lines of code are unnecessary. There are no variables in the system hardware or whats running on the system, so they have a guideline to follow.

However, when it comes to PC gaming, are developers still pushing the limit, or are they trying to keep the content and overall graphics down so more consumers will be able to play? We see Crysis, and its insane hardware specs to run it on maximum settings, but what other developers are following suite? We know the majority of computers being purchased are coming packed with Vista, and that OEMs are throwing in the least amount of RAM as possible with the already memory hogging machine. What are you going to be able to play on that? If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to throw an emulator on there and pray its even compatible with your OS.

I’m beginning to learn why more and more consoles are being sold over gaming PC’s. When you buy a console and throw your game in, you know 99% of the time its going to work, unless of course you receive a defective system or disk. These can easily be replaced if need be, but ultimately, you know its going to work. With PCs, however, a consumer turns the box on its side and is exposed to a bunch of PC jargon they don’t understand. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of the consumers buying PC games from BestBuy, Target, etc. even know what a video card is! “How much RAM do you think I have”, is echoed through out stores everywhere. How is a sales rep supposed to answer that? Consumers just don’t know.

I just hope that OSs, *cough* Vista *cough* get their hardware compatibility in line if its going to get thrown out on every rig leaving stores. Also, I’m praying… praying, that developers will not begin to create games of horrible quality to enable it their software to be played on these horrid machines. Most developers may even leave PC gaming behind once they make a cross platform game such as Epic, and then notice the difference in sales.

Express Software

The voting booth for that Made in Express contest is now open. Twelve finalists, as linked below. I have to give every one of these guys “props” for participating, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to turn off the snark filter:

Tim Shay – Here’s YARS (Yet Another Radio Station), claiming that it was NJAORS (Not Just Another Online Radio Station). I’m not quite sure what’s wrong with Last.fm? That, and… Tim proves that all Microsoft platform developers translate UI as “unimportant interface.” Suggestion: find a Web interface partner.

Sanchez Roman Canlas – For those of you who think that Microsoft Agent is teh shiz, you can place John C. Dvorak a curmudgeon chat bot on your desktop. Cute, but… about 10 years too late. Maybe if my real-life therapist wasn’t so darn entertaining, I might like the desktop curmudgeon bot a bit more. Suggestion: no comment.

Mark Johnson – He’s got a community-based video remix tool. So, this is a Web-based video editing tool? If so, that’s very cool – and very needed. Mark hasn’t uploaded any files for us to see, though. Suggestion: drop the remix/mashup thing, focus on the basic editing features.

Edmon Begoli – Let’s throw Web services at the X-10 protocol. Not a bad idea, although I think home automation is still 20 years away – and the products have to get 1000% more reliable. The big problem with X-10 is the brand association – pop-unders, anyone? Suggestion: develop it for all wireless home automation protocols, not just X-10.

Daniel Crenna – A “poker bot” is nice if you like the game. I, however, live in the state of Washington – where it is now illegal to discuss, write, or think about poker. Suggestion: polish the UI, release it as the first video poker game that doesn’t try to upsell you.

Ali Khalid – Dude, an instant (live) IM translation plugin is long overdue. This is the most original idea in the entire “Made in Express” contest. It shouldn’t be an MSN plugin, it should be a Trillian plugin. Microsoft Research allegedly developed a similar tool a few years ago, but never released it! Suggestion: don’t stop until this works with every IM client out there.

Douglas Steen – As a “visual learner,” I appreciate the concept – but his execution leaves something to be desired. Couldn’t figure ‘er out, got confused, kept clicking, got more confused. Suggestion: make it more imagey, less texty.

Chris Fuenty – How many of you don’t already have an IRC client? Here’s an AJAX-driven Internet Relay Chat script. On the surface, it’s rather blase – but I’d give my left nut to eliminate all Web-based Java (and ActiveX) IRC Web applets. Suggestion: work on the interface, send it to chat mods for suggestions, domainte the Web-based IRC chatosphere.

Ernie Hall – What kid wouldn’t want his or her own all-terrain, self-maneuverable robot? The problem with robots, however, is that they’re not very sexy. Suggestion: slap a camera on it and let it videocast adventures.

Jonas Martinsson – Newspaperize your fave feeds into PDF. Still has a long way to go, but I’d say that sample output is quite nifty. The only thing that keeps me from installing and recommending the app wholeheartedly is the need to install SQL Server 2005 Express Edition first – which I’m not going to do on my desktop. Suggestion: push forward with this one, but rely on something else for feed information storage (sorry, but installing SQL is overkill for users like myself).

Daniel Bryars – How are you feeling right now? That’s the questions all playlists should ask, and don’t. Song ratings should be based on emotion, not stars. Milton’s got a good idea here, but the Windows Media Player team will promptly ignore it. Suggestion: make it a WMP plugin.

Neil Bamber – Watch out, we’ve got another relationship tracking system on our hands! The only way you’re going to get my attention with these types of tools is by completely automating the “friendship management” process (which is never likely to happen). I don’t even use Outlook Journal, and I live in Outlook. Suggestion: look at all the Web-based social networks out there and then do something really different.

There you go – my gut reactions. A few gems, a few gomers. I’d really like to see Mark, Jonas, Ali, and Daniel continue their work (seriously, they MUST keep me posted). Next time, Microsoft should select six male developers and six female developers as finalists – unless fewer than six female developers stepped forward in the first place?