I’m now back home from Cambridge after attending the third and final Microsoft Student Partners (MSP’s) Event for 2006/2007. And what can I say, other than it was absolutely great it’s just a shame it was the last event for the MSP’s of 2006/2007.
I arrived in Cambridge yesterday at around 9:00 as myself and Ryan (a MSP) were going to do some shopping before we needed to be at the Microsoft Research Labs Building at 12:00.
However this didn’t quite go to plan as unfortunately Ryan’s trains were delayed. So he ended up arriving at Microsoft Research Building just in time to catch the end of lunch which was from 12:00 – 13:00. It also turned out that while I was exploring Cambridge that Grant (a MSP) was actually already at the hotel at the bar area. If I had known that I could at the time I could have joined up with him.
After having lunch and talking to fellow MSP’s it was time for our first Presentation.
Our first session of the day was “Introduction and Overview of Microsoft Research, Cambridge” and was presented by Fabien Petitcolas from the External Research Office. He gave us an introduction to the Microsoft Research Group at Cambridge as well as what other Microsoft Research divisions are doing around the world. As well as this he also talked about:
Our second session was “Systems & Network: Peer-to-peer networks” and was presented by Christos Gkantsidis a researcher from the Cambridge Systems and Networking Group. He talked about P2P Networks and how they have evolved. As well as this he also talked a little about Mesh Networks and how they are being used.
Our third session was “Machine Learning” and was presented by Phil Trelford from the Machine Learning and Perception Group. He talked about some of the stuff he had been doing within the Applied Games Group with Ralf, Thore, Onno and Joaquin. As well as this he also asked a MSP (Ian) to come up and have a go at Project Gotham on his XBOX360. This way he could show us the TrueSkill algorithm which is used by a number of popular XBox360 games to match up players of similar skill. You can find out more about Trueskill’s ranking and matchmaking algorithms here
After this third presentation we had a break so we could yet again discuss what everyone has been doing lately.
Our fourth session which was “Programming: Principles & Tools: F#” and was presented by Don Syme. He explained to us what FSharp (F#) the programming language is all about and how it could be used.
Our fifth session was “New Concept in the Home” and was presented by Tim Regan from the Digital Systems Group. He discussed what happens in his group as well as what we can expect in the future. Videos he showed included a video showing a Super Multitasking Phone which is quite funny, you can check it out here.
Our sixth and less technical session was “Recruitment Overview” and was presented by Peter Key. This session was about how to get into Microsoft Research and what the benefits are.
Our seventh and last presentation was “What’s next after MSP Life?” and was presented by Amin Islam and Fernando Loizdes, both of which are MSP’s. Basically they wanted to know what we thought about the Microsoft Student Partners Programme this year, so we could all pass on our comments to the next lot of MSP’s. There was definitely some good feedback thrown out here.
By this time it was now 17:30 and it was time for one more session, this was the “MSP Award Ceremony”, in which the top scoring MSP’s and hardest working MSP’s got various prizes. As well as this all the MSP’s got their Microsoft Student Partners Glass Award and reference letter.
After finishing all the sessions it was time to travel to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the centre of Cambridge, some of us took our cars while others boarded the coach provided, quite a lot of traffic on the way to the hotel, but eventually we all made it.
Unfortunately myself and my MSP room buddy Will had some problems actually trying to get a room. Will arrived first and checked in but apparently they couldn’t find him on the system, only me. Then I arrived and as I was trying to check in but this time they couldn’t find me, only him.
We went upstairs together and tried the key cards but yet again no luck.
So yet again did we went downstairs to ask for new key cards, this time the receptionist gave us a different room. Again we went upstairs, this time to try this new room and hurray the key cards worked, but whoops as we walked into a room we noticed that it was already occupied with someone else’s baggage in we quickly left!
Again we went downstairs and again they gave us a new set of key cards along with a new room, but yet again did they mess up, the keys worked but it was yet again occupied and this time it was worse the occupant was inside luckily we hadn’t got very far only opened the door to notice it was occupied!
Straight away we went downstairs this time not very happy at all, as we had already been up and down more than enough times and we had already been in two rooms which had been occupied.
Eventually we got another new room, and were assured it would be ok this time; to make sure of this one of the senior members of staff took us there and explained what the problem was (same last name as someone else). Thank god it was all ok this time.
But still I think that the Cambridge Crowne Plaza Hotel could have done better a better job at handling this situation, ok so one of the rooms was occupied by someone else with the same last name, but what about the first two rooms we tried various times to get into to, did these people have the same last name too. I doubt it, and if they did surely the receptionist should have checked this at the start. Also after our bad situation there’s a lot the Hotel could have done to make our stay a little more better after that initial bad experience, for example complimentary drinks or something of the sought. Considering the Cambridge Crowne Plaza Hotel is a four star hotel I’m disappointed they didn’t….
Anyhow after a nice shower and change of clothes it was time to hit the town with fellow MSP’s for our evening meal at an Italian Restaurant called “Strada”. This had very nice food I must say! 🙂
We had all now finished our meals and it was time to head back to hotel, but instead of doing that we of course decided to head out bar/pub hunting. However this was quite a task. We even asked a tramp (who asked us for money for dog food) where there were places to drink nearby (we offered money “for dog food” in exchange for locations of pubs/bars) he told us how to get to a wetherspoons, unfortunately though we never found it. Funny thing is after walking around in circles we saw him walk past us again… maybe he tricked us! 😉
Eventually we came across some clubs but from looking at the CTV screens which they had outside it looked dead so we decided not to pay the entry fee, instead we walked on. After some more searching we came across a bar named “La Raza” which looked pretty good so we headed in. After some (or maybe a bit more for some) a group of us headed out in search of a livelier pub.
Unfortunately we had no luck so we headed back to the hotel in the hope that the hotel bar would be open all night, no luck there though, so after some pondering on what to do we decided that we (9 guys and 1 girl – emma) would head to Emma’s room. Here we had some fun and amongst other things (see pic below) we tried to see if there was any late night or 24 hour of licenses open in Cambridge.
Unfortunately we were yet again out of luck eventually another group of MSP’s arrived but they didn’t bring any drinks with them either and eventually they left, by this time it was already pretty late or better said early morning and we were running out of things to do (not even the film could satisfy us those of you in the room know what I am talking about haha ;)) so we decided to split up and head back to our rooms.
Morning awakened us and it was time to get some breakfast and check out of the hotel so we could go punting with a treasure hunt on the River Cam. Though this wasn’t treasure hunting as we expected it to be, that is looking for things along the river, instead we had to try and decipher a bunch of cryptic questions which were asked on a sheet the answers were to be found on the way – that is we were given clues. One easy example being: Running water is head but what way is the water wheel.
My team didn’t get many answers correct however we did have a hell of a lot of fun at punting, from having our oar stolen (replaced with a piece of wood) by another MSP Team to having our pole getting stuck in the mud a couple of times which ended up getting the better of Will. (see pic below)
After the punting it was Barbeque (BBQ) Time that of which was very tasty indeed.
And then that was it, all over, the soon coming of an end of a great year of being a Microsoft Student Partner. All is left now is for me to wrap up a couple of off stuff I want to get finished off, like adding some tags to the photos I took of the event. Check them out here. (got to love the photos)
But before I do so, I would like to give a big thanks to the whole of the Microsoft UK Academic Alliance Team, thanks for everything, especially you Stuart and Matt! 😀
And also a big thanks to all the Microsoft Student Partners (MSP’s) for 2006/2007. You have gave me such a great experience, as per the Microsoft Student Partner Programme 06/07 Yearbook:
||Imperial College, London
||Imperial College, London
||Liverpool John Moors University
||Nottingham Trent University
||University of Abertay
||University of Bath
||University of Birmingham
||University of Bradford
||University of Derby
||University of Derby
||University of Greenwich
||University of Hertfordshire
||University of Hull
||University of Hull
||University of Kent
||University of Leicester
||University of Lincoln
||University of Manchester
||University of Plymouth
||University of Reading
||University of Reading
||University of Sheffield
||University of Ulster
||University of Wales, Swansea
||University of Westminster
||University of Wolverhampton