Friday, December 4, 2009

Windows 7 Contest Winner Trades Vacation for $17,777

The winner of Microsoft’s recent Code 7 contest only heard about the competition about three weeks before it ended, so he urgently requested two weeks’ vacation time from work and barely submitted his winning entry before the deadline.

For his trouble, Benjamin Bondi pocketed the first-place prize of $17,777, along with many other perks.

Bondi, 24, a .NET solution architect living in Haifa, Israel, was announced as the grand prize winner during Microsoft’s recent Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles. His winning application, titled Notes Everywhere, is described as a Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) client that leverages Windows 7 and Windows Azure to manage desktop notes from any location (see video in contest gallery).
Now he plans to commercialize his project - with a sense of humor. In an e-mail, he said "I have a very clear business model (which wasn't revealed during the contest) that requires another few months of development. I'm working these days in finding the appropriate sponsor for this activity, and if you're a nice looking investor between the ages of 20-120, you are more than welcome to contact me for a full demonstration of the future of NotesEverywhere."

He said he almost didn’t make the deadline, partly because he had to learn new technologies such as WPF, Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF), Entity Framework and Windows Azure. He worked on the presentation video on the last day of his vacation, but then it took him about two days to upload it - the upload failed repeatedly until he used another network with more bandwidth. He finally got it submitted on the last day of the contest.

Bondi said he’s going to use the prize money to help complete a house he is building. "The money couldn't have come at a better time (as I just ran out of it)," he said.

What were the biggest coding problems he faced?

"I think I wasted most of my time on GUI design issues," he said. "Technology-wise, everything was quite simple. On the server side, I had issues with the Entity Framework (which is, by the way, truly not production ready in .NET 3.5) and on the client side, some WPF timer and binding issues - but eventually I worked them out."

As the winner, he will be invited to visit the Microsoft campus and meet with developers. He said he will go "if my current workplace will provide me with some extra vacation days (as I already wasted all of them for this year on this project). I'm interested in seeing how Microsoft manages and coordinates so many projects and developers and wonder if they have any special tricks that other companies are not familiar with."

And he’s already looking forward to next year’s PDC. "Who knows? Maybe they'll invite me to demonstrate the real production application in the first or second day keynotes in PDC 2010."

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