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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Imagine Cup: an Unlikely But Sure Opportunity to Evangelize

Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending Microsoft's Imagine Cup competition as a Microsoft Student Insider. While I was there, Sunday rolled around and with it, the obligation to go to Mass that day. So you're probably wondering: what does this have to do with evangelizing and spreading the gospel?

It turns out that I was not the only Catholic present there at the competition. There, I found out some of the competitors were Catholic as well. Since I had done research before that to find out where the nearest Catholic church was to where we were staying, I remarked that I knew where the nearest Catholic church was and told them the Mass times, and then I invited them to join me at the Mass time I was going to. I also met a facilitator there that was Catholic as well.

When it came around to Sunday, breakfast was scheduled to be at the Microsoft Store in Bellvue, so I decided to use it as a "checkpoint" to see who was coming with me to Mass. The only one that ended up joining me was the facilitator. We had an interesting talk about computers and Catholicism while we were walking to Mass. Mass went well (it was a "first Communion Mass", where there children there making their first Holy Communion), except for some liturgical abuses I observed. Afterwards, my friend, the facilitator, gave me some helpful tips for acing a Microsoft interview, as I had an interview with Microsoft scheduled after I got back from Mass.

It was interesting to find other Catholics at an event like this that loved the Catholicism and the  Church as much as I did. At a competition where computers and software are the subject matter, you would think that is isn't exactly an opportunity to share our faith and the Gospel with others, but there will always be a way (even though you might not discover it). Next year, I will be sure put this information out ahead of time so that even more Catholics attending will be able to attend Mass while at the Imagine Cup. This all proves one thing: there are always opportunities to evangelize and to share our faith with others, even when it doesn't look like it on the surface.

Do you have any stories where you found opportunities to evangelize and share the faith and the gospel in an unlikely situation? Feel free to share it in the combo box. You can also follow me on twitter (username is @rctechgeek).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Imagine Cup 2012: We have a Winner

I know you've been waiting for a while to find out who our dear winners are for this year's Imagine Cup competition. Well, without further ado, here are our winners:

First, we have a new award this year at Imagine Cup, the Azure award.  This award is part of the new Windows Azure contest. This award goes to LegenDairy, a team from Brigham Young University.

Game Design - Windows Phone:
4th: Panther Games Team Alpha
3rd: Wasabi Ninja
2nd: Pigmaster
1st: Drexal Dragons

Game Design - Xbox
4th: Zigers
3rd: Credit No Credit
2nd: Digital Infinity
1st: Dr. Fishbowl

Software Design
4th: KinectMath
3rd: Physically Kinected
2nd: The Miracle Workers
1st: FlashFood

Again, congratulations to all of our winners and hope that the winners of Software Design do well at the world finals this summer in Australia.

Current Skydrive Users: Your Amount of Storage has DecreasedF

Thanks to a helpful hint on Twitter, I just found out that Microsoft has decreased the amount of storage that skydrive offers for free from 25gb to 7gb. However, for a limited time, you can increase the amount of storage from 7gb back to 25gb. I am not sure, but I think this applies to existing users only. If this is true for new users as well, please let me know. To do so, just go to and login (if you're not logged in already.

This change makes sense because with windows phone and windows 8, skydrive integration is big, giving people more of a reason to use skydrive as opposed to services such as Dropbox. The number of users is also growing and Microsoft could be using this as an opportunity to consolidate resources.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Imagine Cup 2012: Who Moves on to Round 2

So you're all wondering who is moving up to round 2 of the Imagine Cup. Well, I now have the results for you.

In Game Design - Xbox segment, we have Zigers, Dr. Fishbowl, Digital Infinity, and Credit no Credit.

In Game Design - Windows Phone segment, we have Drexal Dragons, Wasabi Ninja,Panther Games Team Alpha, and Pigmaster.

In Software Design, we have Physically Kincted, The Miracle Workers, Flashfood, and KinectMath.

Tomorrow, each of these teams will go in front of judges once again to decide who wins. Until then, everyone here at the Imagine Cup will have the chance to relax and enjoy the evening.

Imagine Cup 2012: Scrutiny and Relaxation

Yesterday, the first round of the competition happened and each team was in the hands of the judges. Some of the teams had neat ideas for games. One team I saw, Wasabi Ninja, used the camera in the phone in conjunction with a face detection algorithm to hide enemies and show them only on the "infected faces". I haven't seen many games use the camera as part of the game, so this kind-of made them special.

Once that was done, we all went out to Seattle for the 50th anniversary of the world fair. There, each team got their picture taken and an "interview video" was recorded. After that we all met at the space needle for a tour on a duck. The funny thing about the duck is that it only moves at 38mph max.

Dinner that night was at Lucky Strikes in Lincoln Square, where we were treated to an evening of bowling, food, and fellowship. I left near the end of the time there since I had an interview with Microsoft the next today.

Today (Sunday), I woke up and went to Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. After that, I went back to Lincoln Square for my interview with Microsoft. Luckily for me, Microsoft had a session on Microsoft recruiting and what to look for. After that, anyone at Imagine Cup who wanted an interview for an internship or full-time job got one, and everyone was partitioned into time blocks. So many people fighting for so few positions makes it difficult to be sure you got the job.

Currently in the standings overall, we have Digital Infinity, ICsquared, and Team Minitrus at first, second, and third, with Team Minitrus leading the pack for Windows Phone. This can change at any time, and you can make it happen. Just go to the Imagine Cup page on Facebook, and vote for your favorite team. I will add that you must have a facebook account to vote. You only have a short amount of time to cast your vote, so do it now if you haven't already.

Later today, we will find out who passed and will be moving on to Round 2 of presentations.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Message for all Catholics at Imagine Cup

I would like for all Catholics at the Imagine Cup to know that the nearest Catholic church is Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Sunday Mass times are at 9:00 and 11:00. I will be attending the 9:00 Mass, so if you would like to join me I you are welcome to.

Imagine Cup 2012: It Begins

Well folks, it's that time of year again, the time to determine the finalists in the United States branch of the Imagine cup. Throughout the year, many people have been working on various projects for this year's competition. After 2 rounds of elimination, we have 22 team with a total of 76 people. Over the course of this year's competition, I will be covering windows phone game design. With that, let's meet the teams that I will be covering. To see the other teams, please visit (Please Note: you must have a facebook account if you want to access the link). Please also vote for you favorite team (use the same facebook link given above).

First, we have Pigmaster from University of California, Los Angeles with Word Hog. "Word Hog is a kid’s game about a group of pigs who need the player’s help to write a paper for a school project. The player controls a trampoline where pigs bounce toward bubbles to collect items such as letters. The second part of the game is a puzzle where the pigs can use those letters to create words, shift the letters around, or discard letters. "

Next, we have Panther Games Team Alpha from Santa Ana College and Chapman University with Children of War” (CoW). "The team created a game “Children of War” (CoW) that is based upon struggles in Africa between villages and rebel groups. The game puts the player into the shoes of a Ugandan child living in a village and the player must sneak past rebels and obstacles, rescue other children, and lead them all to safety in a race before dawn."

Then, we have Wasabi Ninja from University of Houston with Wasabi Ninja. "The team created an augmented reality based first person shooter game for Windows Phone 7. The player takes the role as Phagy, a nanomachine engineered specifically to destroy harmful materials in the water systems of developing countries."

Next, we have New Games Plus from University of California, Davis with RE-TREE. "RE-TREE focuses on the problems of deforestation. The player is a college student who decides to save the trees after an environmentally conscious professor teaches him about deforestation. The player uses weapons from the professor to defeat such enemies as loggers, scientists, lawyers, and a CEO, in the end coming to terms with the fact that the only way to cope with deforestation is to explore new and current technologies. "

Then, we have Team Mintrus from University of Louisville with Pandemic. "Pandemic is an AIDS-based tower defense game educating users about AIDS. The player plays as a specific character, and the unique setting – inside the human body. Each of the levels in this game resembles the story of an individual suffering from various methods of contraction."

Last, we have Drexel Dragons from Drexel University with Math Dash. "The team created the game “Math Dash”, a solution that helps students learn through game play. The game teaches students while engaging them in their normal activities and integrates learning with fun."

Last night started off with a keynote address from Major Nelson, a developer on the Xbox team. The point of his keynote address was that we are living in the golden age of software. Games are successful because they combine the elements of media with storytelling. It's the storytelling that really drives a game to be successful.

 I am curious to see how these teams will present the experience of their games to the judges and what the reception will be like. Anyway, stay tuned for more, as things are just heating up. I will be posting periodica1 updates on my Twitter acccount (@rctechgeek), so feel free to follow me to stay posted. Don't forget to vote for your favorite Imagine Cup team.

If you have any questions or comments about Imagine Cup, feel free to comment below in the comment box or e-mail me at

(quotes taken from project descriptions on teams' section on Imagine Cup Facebook page)