Just came back from Auckland yesterday at around 21:30. We managed to get the 2nd place in the final. The team from Waikato got the 1st place; the team from AUT got 3rd.
We began our trip to Auckland at 8:30 on Thursday morning. Mark took us to the airport in his car.(thanks Mark) Our plane took off at 9:45 and arrived in Auckland at 11:45. Microsoft arranged a taxi for us in the airport, it cost more than 70 to get to the Microsoft NZ headquarters! Thanks to Microsoft, everything is covered 🙂 We had pizza for lunch in Microsoft, and we met quite a few people there including Mike and Nigel, who were our judges in the NZ semi-final. We then took a tour of the Microsoft NZ headquarter; their working environment is really relaxing. We then spent the afternoon testing our application, before heading off to dinner at the Vivace. Vivace is a very fancy restaurant at the Auckland City Center. They have lots of candles everywhere in the restaurant. The food was one of the best I have tried so far, not too sure about the price though…… After dinner, Chaks and I spent the whole night testing (I had a nap before the sun rise) and debugging our application, making sure its ready for the final presentation. We ordered two bows of shoestring at 4 in the morning. They cost 7 dollars each, and 5 dollars for the delivery fee!!! The hotel we stayed in was quite nice, the room was huge…the view is great…but we didn’t have time to enjoy the things they offered. Our team went back to the Microsoft Headquarters at around 8:30in the morning where we had a “Microsoft Breakfast“. Since our presentation is at 10:10, we didn’t have much time to practice. The conference room where we did our presentation was full of guests from the industry and academic field(around 50 of them). Our presentation was quite smooth, but we didn’t manage to show the video that we have made because we ran out of time. After the presentation, we had an hour to spare, so we went to the harbor and took some photos. The result was announced at around 12:30; they announce the 2nd place first…which was us, then the 3rd place, and then the 1st place. We were very pleased about our prize (each of us got: XBOX360 + a game + Vista Ultimate + Office 2007 Standard Edition + 1 year of MSDN subscription), but also a bit disappointed because we didn’t get the 1st place. After the announcement, we had a phone interview with Otago Daily Times, then we head off to the Sky Tower in the ciy. I didn’t go up to the top because I was having a chat with my friend from my high school in China. Since we got a taxi waiting for us at 15:30, we didn’t spend too much time walking around in the city. Our taxi driver even rang us up because there was a traffic jam on the motorway, so we walked back to Microsoft as quickly as we could to pick up our bags. The whole trip ended as our taxi drove away from Microsoft. The first thing we found was that the XBOX360 was actually quite heavy…a lot heavier than what I thought.
I learnt a lot during this competition…specially about the .net platform and what it could do. After this competition, I am certainly going to spend my spare time learning the .net languages (especially C#). I also had a taste of what it was like to be working in a team…this is something that I couldn’t learn from the textbooks.
Finally, I want to thank Microsoft for providing the opportunity for us to take part in such a great competition. I want to thanks my team mates for all their hard work; I learnt a lot from every single one of them:) Also I want to thank my Uni, the University of Otago for giving us so much help. I hope the Otago team next year can win the NZ and world final.
Here are our photos of the trip: