Q&A's with Steve Hassenplug to share below (see earlier post for Questions 1 and 2):
Q: Do you think the NXT system will be more/less/same 'user-friendly' to the younger designers as the RIS?
SH: They've made a big effort to design a system where kids can have a robot running in 30 minutes. I think they've done that.
One big difference between this Mindstorms kit and the first is that they are also trying to design this so adults can use it. The first time they were just lucky. :) (if you consider a good design as lucky)
Q: Finally, 'paid in bricks' sounds nice - did you enjoy the User Panel experience? Any comments on the joys and/or sorrows of the experience?
SH: First, I do want to point out something that's not clear in your blog. LEGO has created two different groups, the Mindstorms User Panel (MUP) and the Mindstorms Developer Program (MDP). The MUP started with 4 of us, and was expanded to 14.
The MDP will consist of 100 lucky developers who have a chance to start building the next (NXT?) Mindstorms community, even before the product is on the market. Hopefully, by the time the general public is opening their NXTs, there will already be a wealth of information available. I think we're already off to a good start...
To answer your question, it's been a lot of fun, and I'm not spending as much money on my hobby as I had been. :) Of course, that may change in August.
Thanks for asking