Sunday, May 27, 2007

Microsoft Imagine Cup 2007 India final: Review

It all started with me getting a call from microsoft inviting me to come and watch the event which was to take place at Air force auditorium, Delhi. Frankly speaking i was not at all interested in going to watch the event as i knew that the projects would be build on .NET only and i don't like .NET at all. But then, the lady on the phone said the golden words. She said, "You are going to get a Free DVD of windows Vista for personal use, free lunch and tickets to watch the movie Spiderman 3". I was already planning to go and watch the movie the next day which incidentally was the release date (5 may 2007) of the movie and getting printed DVDs of windows Vista was also to my liking. So, i agreed to go to watch the event along with a few of my friends. I was in for a big surprise.
The first thing i noticed when i reached the venue was that the persons who were managing the event and were at the reception were pretty bad at management and things were haywire everywhere. Then, they didn't have my name on some kind of list they had. When i told them that i had got a call from microsoft to come and watch the event they said they knew nothing of that sort and i would not get the movie tickets. I would still get Windows Vista for which i would have to fill in a form. When i had a look on the form i realized that we were net getting any printed DVDs but instead i would get a userid which i can use to download it from microsoft's website. Aargh!! this sucks. I came in the hope that i would get printed DVDs and free spiderman tickets but instead i got none. I tried to console myself that atleast there was free lunch and knowledge to gain. Little did i know what was to come later.
The projects that were on display had some genuine good ideas although one can't say that they were really innovative but yes they were good. I would give a brief description of the top three. Remember that the theme of this years imagine cup was "Education for all" so all the project had to do something with education.

  1. Aabha: (3rd) This was supposed to be a integrated web based educational system with facilities has facilities for Multilingual Text Summarization, digital lecture board, online handwriting recognition and Speech to text and text to speech facilities. The text summarization part was really and maybe was the only reason the team got the third place. The rest of the things were pathetic jokes just using .NET frameworks apis and doing nothing more.
  2. eduGrid: (2nd, my pick) This project aimed to answer the what and why questions given a database and some collaboration using grid computing as the backend. Although not innovative in any way they were doing something of my interest and according to me going in the right direction.
  3. Recog: (1st) This project aimed to improve learning by clustering information and showing how these clusters correlate with each other and to what extent. Good idea but nothing innovative. I believe what was going on is a simple keyword matching going on to find to what extend the keywords match in between different clusters which were nothing clustered but simple data with certain key word defined. The only thing i believe which got them the first prize was their snappy GUI.
The teams had worked hard and i hope Team Recog wins the first prize in korea. Nothing against any team just my 2 cents :).
There was also initially a panel discussion on "What is required to spur innovation among indian students". This discussion was good and to the point.
Coming to lunch. The lunch was managed horribly. There were too many people and too few plates which had been arranged. There was no planning whatsoever. I had to wait half an hour for more plates to come. Total disappointment!!! :(
At the and there was too much commotion at the counter where we had to submit our completed forms to get the userids. Sigh, another example of bad management.

Final Toughts
Although the event on the whole was all right the management was horrible. Microsoft is a big company and can't afford to do such kind of mistakes especially when it is facing so much heat from the market already. This is in contrast to the world finals of 2006 which also happened in Delhi and i was fortunate enough to attend. The event was very, very well managed. And they had got beer there :D. Maybe they have some kind of prejudice against India. I went empty handed and came back empty handed. You might also think that i am greedy or something but then when you have the prospect of getting a $250 worth of software for free who isn't?

PS:It has been around 25 days and me and my friends are still waiting for the userids to come.

13 Comments:

Abhishek said...

Hi!

Im Abhishek from Team eduGRID...seems like you didnt quite appreciate the innovation, eh? (LOL)...anyways...we had a pretty nice stay at Delhi for the IC finals.
btw...u mentioned that our project had some bearing on what u were doing...r u doin anything related to this field?

Regards,
Abhishek Kumar

sandeep said...

My interest vary over a lot of things. From kernel level programming to web technologies.
Ya, although i said that there was no innovation that is a fact just google and i don't know how many such things you will find. I really appreciate hard work and i believe all of you have put decent hard work in all of these so hats of to you.
Were you the one who quoted "we can make a horse come to drink water to the well and can't take the well to the horse" :) Well said BTW>

Abhishek said...

lol...something that just propped up in mind at the time :D

sandeep said...

:D it would be nice if i could have your opinion on the event as a whole. What were your overall experience and like. i am never enthusiastic about microsoft technologies so would never ever participate in such an event so it would be nice to have opinion from other people :)

Ankit said...

Hi
It seems you are quite annoyed with microsoft as they didnt provide you the movie tickets and dvds .I was also present at the event it is true that the event was not well managed surely they didnt seemed to be prepared well,but you cannot say that the projects done were bad especially the top three because these are the projects that represent our country at the international level . By saying that they only won because of their GUI or their projects were pathetic you are proving nothing but just undermining their hard work and commitment they showed to develop the projects . So in place of just criticizing the top three teams you should try to do some constructive work.

and finally .NET is not such bad it seems you need to learn more and appreciate innovations .Hope you get the movie tickets next year ;)

sandeep said...

Who said that i don't respect hard work? Is GUI creation less difficult? GUI is the most important part of the application and IMHO the people who came first stressed more on the GUI(was there any thing else in there project? i m willing to enter a debate for this). All the project i saw lack many things and that is the fact whether you agree or not. I don't crib about not getting the movie. And about vista. Genuine Vista DVDs are so easy to come by as if they are peanuts and person who's college/university has MSDNAA knows that. But the fact remains. Talking about innovation there was none. Did you see the last years imagine cup finals? You would have known what innovation is. I am damn sure that team recog is not going to win the world finals but since they are from my own country i still support them and hope against hope that i am wrong and team RECOG wins. And about .NET, i don't like .NET simply because till now it is not very portable. And if .NET is that good how many applications do you see written in .NET. .NET is only for a companies inhouse applications and nothing else. If i am asked to learn between java and .NET i would happily go for java(because of it's mobile benifits) otherwise i won't learn anything.

Ankit said...

I too agree taht the projects lacked various things but I suppose they would definitely work to make it a complete product ( all three teams). The 2006 event that you are refering about is the world finals .The recog must be working to make a better impact there I believe
Finally ,dont get angry I too now believe that you dont crib about the dvds and tickets .
It was just the free beer that you were missing.Better luck next time ;)

sandeep said...

I don't get angry on anything whatsoever. People who know Sandeep know that. You can have a go at me anytime and i won't say a thing.
My belief is that criticism keeps a person going (sometime even pointless criticism helps) This post was posted just because i think there is community out there who should know and o couldn't find a review or anything about imagine cup. I initially decided to post about bad management only, but then i thought that people should get a frank opinion of what people actually thought so they can work out well next time.

Abhishek said...

whoaa....
This is turning out to be a forum of some sorts...lol

Lots of points have been raised and any discussion will hurt the feelings of ppl on one side of the border or the other(:P).

Whether you support .net or not, I think everyone would agree that the very existence of different platforms forces competition and leads to performance levels that probably would not have existed sans the competition. It keeps emerging standards in check and spurs the explosion of features (of the kind we have witnessed in j2ee first and .net later).

I do not wish to debate on this now...but as far as my IC experience goes, It was my first time and I had no expectations whatsoever. Moroever I had my semester final Xams goin on at the time and had to skip 2 of my Xams for the competition....So the general feeling was that "I better do something there or else Ill end up with a screwed semester!"

Neways, the event offered more than what we had expected. And from my side Id thank the organizers to have put up a pleasant stay for us.

sandeep said...

Lol, so true. Had there been any good forums in india i would have happily posted the article there. If you know of any then you can do that and post a link here then maybe we can have a discussion there. India so desperately needs a site like slashdot. A site which has a much more indian prespective.
For a first timer coming 2nd in the national event is not at all bad. Good for you.

Ankit said...

For a first timer coming 2nd in the national event is not at all bad.Good for you.

Not bad!!!
what did you expect.Come on a second place at the Microsoft India finals is a great achievement.And what do you mean by good for you I am unable to understand .It's not a small thing So be generous while appreciating.;)

sandeep said...

that was just a way of saying. Appreciation is always good in anyway it comes. i hope you understand :)

Abhishek Kumar said...

Thanx a ton ankit and sandeep too...ive been writing about my experience @ IC 2007. In case you're interested, its here:
http://xploretech.blogspot.com/2007/06/lookback-at-our-experience-imagine-cup.html