Pike Place Market, Seattle

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of heading out to Seattle to hang out with my fellow Microsoft Champions and pick the brains of a few folks from Microsoft. My sense of adventure is strong, so from the minute we landed I was already making plans to head out and see the city. Since I haven’t spent a lot of time on the west coast, so I was curious to see all of the things that my friends find bewitching.

The bloggers that make up the Microsoft Champions program are diverse, so I had the opportunity to get to know people outside of my usual circle, and learn how they make the most of technology in their every day lives. Although most of it was powered by Microsoft, it wasn’t all platform specific which I appreciated. I thought my Galaxy Gear might explode when I walked into the research building, but there was never an air of “us vs them”. Especially in that facility, I felt an overwhelming sense of passionate people doing really cool things.

To get to the point, here are the 8 things I learned (and observed) during the Microsoft Champions Summit:

  1. Seattle is really, really beautiful. I knew that it would be, but I didn’t realize exactly how breathtaking it would be. The colors are so much richer, the food so much fresher, and there are flowers everywhere.
  2. The blogosphere is full of remarkable women. Sili, for example, is helping Kristin from Fashion Style Beauty create a database so she can keep track of her beauty products, their review status, and expiration dates. Imagine how that could translate for your closet or contacts. I’m fascinated by the process! Another new friend, Serena, has an entire blog devoted to soups. Talk about carving out your own niche! I also discovered that Tumblr stars are just as lovely in real life as you might imagine them to be. Nicole Loher is a total gem who just happens to look exactly like Lorde.
  3. Remember that whole Mac vs PC rivalry? Microsoft Office’s newly released apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and One Note) have been downloaded over 12 million times from the App Store. We live in a new world where you should expect the same performance and experience across all of your devices, no matter the operating system.
  4. Remember the snappy (pun intended) Microsoft Surface commercials? I finally got to play with one and I can happily confirm that the tablet makes that satisfying clicking sound when connecting to the keyboard. More gushing on my new Surface Pro 2 soon, because I’m absolutely in love.
  5. The folks from We Are Juxt are incredible. They’re a community of mobile photography enthusiasts who create captivating images with just their cell phones. It was so refreshing to see people making the most of their devices as opposed to upgrading to the latest and greatest, a stark contrast to the fashion set. The two women that we had the pleasure of having a hands on tutorial with said they prefer shooting with their Nokia Lumia 1020s than their professional DSLRs. It was such a refreshing reminder that expensive is not always better, and there is so much more power in our hands than we know.
  6. OneNote is the best thing to happen to my workflow since headphones and wireless mouses (mice?). It’s similar in concept to Evernote, but without all of the linear or storage constraints. For example, for today’s status call with a client, I inserted all of the files and screenshots that I needed to refer to during the call so there wasn’t a need to click all over my computer to reference a spreadsheet or data points. You can also make it full screen for the truly distracted.
  7. Speaking of OneNote, if you don’t have a Windows phone, you’ll want to perk up. Built into OneNote for iPad, there’s a nifty little featured called Office Lens. It allows you to take a photo of anything (a whiteboard, receipt, menu, document, etc) into a digital file. It’s a pretty nifty way to merge the online and offline.
  8. All of the Microsoft Champions in attendance were given a Surface Pro 2 as a part of the event, and I absolutely love mine. I’ve tried similar 2-in-1 devices before, but none of them made sense the way that the Surface Pro 2 function & design does. I can’t wait to tell you all of the things I love about it and chat a bit about the Surface Pro 3 in an upcoming post.

It was such a honor to get an up close look at a company that produces products I’ve used my whole life. We had a great adventure at Pike Place Market with our Windows Phones. I used the Nokia Lumia 925 to take the photos during our trip (including the one above). Look out for that post soon, too!