The snow has arrived (here in Redmond, at least), and people are starting to wind down for the holidays. No doubt you're dreading the arrival of Aunt Mabel for an extended stay and are planning an opportunity to escape to a remote hideaway cave and finally get a chance to explore some new technologies!
Two groups want to capitalize on the extra free time you may have, and have announced a couple of pretty neat contests to which you might well want to pay attention.
First up is Lab49. I don't think I've written about this company before, but they're one of the hottest WPF development houses out there. Based in New York and London, they focus on the financial sector and have a very healthy business creating WPF applications that visualize complex data sets. Today they announced a WPF innovation contest with some awesome prizes including a top-notch Alienware developer workstation, two nights in New York, an Xbox 360 Elite, a signed T-shirt from the WPF team (I must get round to organizing that!), copies of Windows Vista Ultimate. The first 25 submissions will receive over $500 worth of prizes, and there's a $100 discount off Xceed's DataGrid for every single entrant. I particularly like the nature of this challenge; participants download a sample dataset from their servers and have to come up with an innovative visualization using WPF. It's great to have a focus, and they've picked a good one that will lead you to explore many powerful facets of WPF (animation, templates, graphics, dataset manipulation). This is a pretty sweet contest that will hopefully galvanize a few of you to spend more time learning WPF.
Secondly, INETA Europe (the International .NET Association) have launched a Silverlight contest that will be open to entrants from many European countries including UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. Again, there are some hot prizes including three tickets to MIX08, MSDN subscriptions and a number of books and developer tools. The parameters of this contest are significantly looser than the Lab49 contest - there aren't any specific objectives, but entries will be judged for originality, design, usability and technical execution.
Have fun out there - look forward to seeing some of the results. Now, about that T-shirt...