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bill gates announces on channel8 a program called '' which is enabling students of higher education to obtain microsoft developer and designer tools for no charge!

over at the channel8 downloads page you'll see what is available: visual studio professional, expression studio, windows server 2003 standard, and xna game studio.  wow.  for now this is available in United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Germany, France, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Belgium.  the program looks to bring more countries on in the future so check back.

there is a student verification process that you have to go through and some of the frequently asked questions are available on the DreamSpark FAQ

what a great way to enable our future technologists to develop great software using great tools!

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one of the great things about being a part of a community is being able to affect other communities.  during these installfests that are happening around the country, some have remembered the time of year and thinking of ways to give back to other communities.

my counterpart in chicago, dave bost, set up accepting donations for toys for tots at some of his installfests.  when i read that i thought that was such a great idea.  we (the royal we as in the technical communities) often only think of our bits/bytes and i think this was a great inspiration to help others.

turns out my local user group is also already thinking in that way as well!  scott cate had partnered with interface technical training to do an eBay auction benefiting children and technology.  Interface is a managed gold training partner for microsoft (among other things they do as well) and a HUGE supporter of the local technical communities...all of them.  so this year they've donated 2 vouchers for training courses for the auction.  now, you might be thinking, "i can get training anywhere" and you might be right.  one thing i like about interface is they are never satisfied with the norm :-).  their dev trainers are names you might have heard of before: dan wahlin, mike Palermo, simon allardice, jennifer campion.  yeah, a few names on the circuit, authors, MVPs, and rockstars.  their content is specific and not canned.  this really is a great opportunity to learn from the best.

so scott set up an eBay auction for these vouchers.  the winner(s) will get some great training.  what does it benefit?  well, scott has chose to take the proceeds and purchase computers for children organizations to help replace older ones or perhaps introduce something new to these children.  great idea.  keeps the geek in all of us :-).

so if you want to bid on some great training and benefit some kids, bid on the auctions!

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check out the beta of the microsoft download site.  it is built on ...some media streaming happening as well as some of the subtle interactions done in silverlight.

if you click on the browse downloads link you can see some of it as well as other new navigation areas...

good to see microsoft starting to implement it in broader sites.

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this week at devconnections a few of my comrades were there and started to spread the word about our planning on something we are doing in the western united states.  we're calling it 'the code trip' and the plan is simple, get us (the developer evangelists who interact with our community groups) out hitting the streets and talking code.  we're in planning stages right now for sure, and brewing up some things for our stops.  we want our communities to participate in that planning.  have a good idea?  let us know.  want to ride on the RV for a leg?  let us know.  you can subscribe to our RSS feed at http://thecodetrip.com.  you can also submit ideas there as well.  we're on twitter and facebook so you can follow along.

our plan is to hit the cities west of the rocky mountains (that's the regional area i cover) in the US.  we'll stop at major cities and hopefully you'll tell us where else to stop.  we'll have an interactive online experience for you to see what we are up to, view podcasts and other media as well as download applications and samples. 

we'll be giving away a ton of swag at the events, etc.  in fact, let's start small -- blog about the code trip, send me a link (or leave the link in the comments here) and i'll send you some code trip stickers.  okay it isn't an xbox 360 (yet) but it is what i have in hand right now.  be sure to include where to send them to and i'll hook your user group up with some stickers for laptops or whatever.

we really are shaping a lot of this now so please if you have suggestions for what you would like to see, we'd love to hear about them.  be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed and Twitter so that you also can stay up-to-date on how the plans are progressing as well as when the trip hits the road about what we are doing!

even in this preliminary discussion and planning i've already gotten some flame mail (anonymous of course).  it can be summed up into roughly two categories:

-you suck
-the site sucks
-you are copying adobe (referring to the adobe onair tour)

let me address these three categories.

you suck:
thanks. i appreciate the feedback and continue to strive not to suck. your reminder helps.

the site sucks:
got a few comments (mixed really) about the site sucking as well as people liking the idea.  the current one there is temporary.  if you don't like it, that's fine, it won't be there long.  i like it.  bottom line: it isn't the final one.

you are copying <fill-in-any-vendor-that-reaches-out-to-their-customers-but-namely-adobe>:
really? that's shocking. i guess then that adobe stole it from def leppard. i didn't realize there was a patent on tours. but seriously speaking, i'll be blatantly honest. the onair tour was/is a great idea. getting software organizations out in the streets and talking to their developers always benefits the developer. i'm actually glad to see adobe finally having more of a community feel. microsoft has had field developer relationship groups for the past 10 years (maybe longer than that but that is how far back i can remember). we've had a constant tour (microsoft across america - updated: picture and info here from the start of MSFT across america) that visits cities every quarter and travel in a branded bus which demonstrates various technologies.  there was a comment about our marketing sucking so we had to steal someone's (adobe) idea.  maybe our marketing does suck because nobody knew about the existing microsoft across america bus that has been around for a while.  hmmm...maybe adobe copied?  joking of course.  i really don't care.  like i said, when any company gets out and talks to their customers, as well as giving their customers a platform for talking about their experiences, that is awesome.  that is one of our goals and i'm sure is/was one of adobe's.  my hat goes off to ryan stewart, mike chambers, mike downey and the other product/program managers and evangelists that were on the tour.  i think they are doing good things for adobe.  i hope adobe continues to invest in field evangelism like microsoft has had -- if they do, we (developers) all win. 

so there you have it, my raw opinion.  if you choose to continue to berate me, that's your right, but be fair and use facts, don't assume you know me personally.  i've got tough skin though so if you continue to feel the need to anonymous act go for it, i won't respond anonymously, but if you want to have a conversation like adults, please identify yourself in your post and we'll continue the conversation.

i'm excited to be empowered to do this in my group.  my team is excited.  we want to have some fun and talk about the things you are doing as well as talk about some of the exciting things microsoft is working on like , LINQ, Windows Live services, Windows Mobile developments...and some other surprises we have up our sleeves!

oh yeah, and to address a few questions i got in email (between the "you're a f*ing idiot" sentences there actually were questions): yes any event we have will be free; yes we will have stuff to give away; good food -- i wasn't at any stop that adobe had (apparently phoenix wasn't important enough even though they drove through) so i don't know what kind of food they had, but we'll do our best.  this is being funded by my team and not some behemoth budget (unless anyone from other microsoft teams wants to kick in :-) -- you know my alias), so we'll do our best. 

please keep the feedback coming.  positive and negative are welcome.  anonymous rants filled with explicatives i think waste everyone's time and are simply put: lame.  if you're going to be that negative and personal attacks, then at least have some basis.

remember to visit http://thecodetrip.com and subscribe for updates!

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the osi today announced the approval of two microsoft open source licenses, the Ms-PL (Microsoft Public License) and the Ms-RL (Microsoft Reciprocal License).  the osi process is one that is in the open and allowed microsoft and open source communities to discuss the nature of the licenses in an open forum.  as a result of that process, the licenses (after being renamed to the above) were approved.  the licenses were submitted to the osi on 10 aug 2007.

this means that ironruby is officially an open source project :-)

UPDATE: you may have noticed the "public license" -- no that isn't a typo.  this is what the community process suggested the permissive license be renamed to for osi approval...so permissive license == public license.

UPDATE2: (old) community license == (new) receiprocal license

you can read more about it here: osi approves microsoft license submissions.