Some of the cool things about running a .NET User Group is I get asked from time to time, to help facilitate a special event. With the new Windows Phone coming out right around the corner, Microsoft has really been ramping up on getting developers up to speed. The development model for the Windows Phone is totally different, allowing you to create apps in either Silverlight, XNA, or HTML/JavaScript, using the free versions of Visual Studio for Mobile Development and Expression Blend for Mobile. Daniel Egan contacted me and asked if the Inland Empire .NET User's Group would like to host the Unleashed event in our area.

Hmm, I said, let me think about it.."of course!" was the response, so onward I started.

I needed a room, so first contacted DeVry University in Colton, CA who hosts our regular meetings - "sure" they said, "when?". Then, "I get how much for food?", ok arrange for some special catering of authentic Salvadoran desayuno (breakfast), almuerzo (lunch) and cena (dinner). Set up a survey to handle the registration - not the best idea, this had to be quick, like 5 minutes quick. Then find some speakers.

I have a budding "stable" of speakers in the User Group and decided to ask Matt Penner, Oscar Azmitia, Dustin Davis, and Al Pascual to present. Al wasn't available until the evening so he became a judge for the contest.

40 people RSVP'd which probably meant about 20 would actually show up, and this is what happened. But the twenty who did were top notch people. Smart, energetic, polite, creative, and interestingly dressed. One person, had never - and I mean, never - had started Visual Studio before in his life was there.

The agenda was looking pretty rough:

8:00 8:30 Registration, breakfast
8:30 8:45 Introduction and Welcome
8:45 10:15 Session 1 Presentation
10:15 11:15 Session 1 Hands on Lab
11:15 12:15 Session 2 Presentation
12:15 12:45 Lunch
12:45 1:45 Session 2 Hands on Lab
1:45 2:00 Break
2:00 3:30 Session 3 Presentation
3:30 5:00 Session 3 Hands on Lab
5:00 5:30 Dinner
5:00 7:25 Contest starts
7:30 8:00: Judging, awards, wrap up

With only twenty people, the sessions just flew by, and we decided to push the start of the contest up to 3:30. This contest was pretty amazing. Each participant had X hours to design, build, and deploy a Windows Phone app with the prizes being 1st /$500, 2nd / $200, and 3rd / $100. We ended up with seven top notch applications:

"DM Tracker" -  Michael Campbell
"Photo Trix" - Jason Crosby
"Tower of Hanoi" - Ayyappan Nagender
"My News" - Carlos Figueroa
"Cook with what you have" - Jose Mata
"Dictionary" - Jorge Contreras
"People Finder" - Reuben Yasay

with the final three being:

3rd Prize - Jorge Contreras, "Dictionary" - a cool app to allow English as a second language speakers the ability to find a word, get a picture, and hear it pronounced
2nd Prize - Michael Campbell, "DM Tracker" - a nice app to help diabetic patients keep track of their blood sugar readings and insulin injections.
1st Prize - Jason Crosby, "PhotoTrix" - a nifty little app which allows you to do some cool effects on pictures then upload them to Facebook

Here are some random shots from during the day.

Ayyappan NagenderReuben Yasay and Michael CampbellCarmina JohnsonCarlos Figueroa Jorge ContrerasGilbert VanegasOscar AzmitiaCarlos Figueroa Volkan and Cigdem UzunJose MataMatt PennerMichael Campbell

And, the guy who had never opened Visual Studio before that morning? My friend Jose Mata with his "Cook with what you have" app, came in fourth, which earned him a round of applause from the group.

A User Group isn't a one person thing, but is a community led by a core group of members. I couldn't have done this without these people: Matt Penner, Al Pascual, Dustin Davis, Oscar Azmitia, Erin Jacobs at Microsoft (my right hand during this), and of course, mi bella esposa, Carmina Johnson.