Brian Johnson's Startup Developer Blog


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    30 to Launch Azure at Seed Philly!


    Back in February we had a great series of Windows Phone 7 talks we did at Seed Philly that culminated in a demo night where startups showed off some pretty interesting Windows Phone 7 applications. During the weeks that we held the event, we heard from attendees, “Why don’t you do this with Azure?”

    Well, now we are. Once again we’re holding a 30 to Launch event in Philly, this time focused on Azure. We’ll give you some instruction to get started and we’ll finish with a pitch nigh so you can show off what you’ve been working on.

    I’ll be there for all three nights of the event and I’m really looking forward to seeing what everybody comes up with. Sign up for the program at this link.

    Here are the details:

    30 to Launch Azure Challenge

    What is this?

    During the month of April and May we are throwing down a Windows Azure app challenge in Seed Philly. Join us over 3 weeks to build your Azure app!

    Azure App Challenge Onsite Details

    Location: SeedPhilly
    Time: 6:00pm-10:00pm
    Dates: May 3, 17, 23
    Presented By: Microsoft
    Meet your host: Brian Johnson Senior Developer Evangelist


    Why should I care?

    You could go home with an Xbox 360+Kinect Bundle*! And you’ll learn how to develop applications for Windows Azure.

    What are the details?
    • We will be hosting three sessions in the 30 days. (Read on each week below to learn more!)
    • As you learn, develop a new application prototype and a 2 minute presentation about your app.
    • At the last session, pitch your app to the class and the best pitch (audience judged) gets and Xbox 360+Kinect 250GB Bundle!



    Week 1 & 2 (Both sessions on May 3)

    Get started on Windows Azure!
    Date: May 3, 2012
    Time: 6-10:00pm
    6:00-7:30 pm
    Session 1. Getting Started with Windows Azure
    (food and drinks provided)

    • Introduction to Cloud and 30 to Launch
    • Overview of the Azure Platform
    • Azure Platform Core Services
    • Azure Roles
    • Azure Storage
    • Azure Setup and Tools
    • Supported Development Languages
    • Azure Scale
    • Discussion

    7:30-10:00pm (On May 3)
    Session 2. Get Coding!

    • Set up your Azure account and get started.

    Week 3

    Office Hours
    Date: May 17, 2012
    Time: 6:00-9:00pm
    Session 3: Come answer your questions on W8 (food and drinks provided)
    Speaker: Brian Johnson

    Week 4

    Pitch Day!
    Date: May 23, 2012
    Time: 6:00-9:00pm
    Session 4: Pitch your App and hear feedback from others (food and drinks provided)
    Speaker: Brian Johnson

    *No Purchase Necessary. Open only to hobbyists, professionals, or developers in the field of software tech who are legal residents of the 50 U.S. or D.C. 18+. Microsoft is committed to complying with government gift and ethics rules and therefore government employees are not eligible. Game ends 5/23/12. For more details, see the Official Rules.

    If you can’t make it to Philly for this event, you can still participate in the online event. Just go to the 30 to Launch site for more details.


    Event Report – Startup Weekend Tampa



    Startup Weekend Tampa – April 13-15, 2012 clip_image003
    (Quick Note – At Microsoft we do event reports when we participate in big community events so we can share experiences and let our co-workers know what we’re up. This was really a fantastic event so I wanted to share a little wider.) (Video and results available)
    Photo Link

    • 130 Participants
    • 200+ Attendees
    • 40+ hours in the MSFT Tampa offices
    • 14 Teams
    • 6 New BizSpark Startups (so far)
    • 4 New Azure (so far)

    Startup Weekend Tampa was held in the Microsoft Offices in Tampa, Florida over the weekend of April 13th. 130 startup participants formed 14 teams and each team spent the weekend creating a product and pitch for the close of the event on Sunday night.

    Startup Weekend events were held in a number of cities worldwide over the same weekend, including Mega Startup Weekend in Silicon Valley, Startup Weekend Notre Dame, and Startup Weekend Deli, India. Attendees, organizers, and other participants communicated between the events through Twitter. clip_image004

    In Tampa, I invited all of the teams in the event into the Microsoft BizSpark program, and by the end of the weekend, we had 5 new BizSpark Startups. Three of these were running on new Azure accounts and one was demoing their Kinect-based augmented reality application.

    On Sunday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn visited the offices and saw demos from some of the participating teams.

    Teams presenting in the final pitch session included:

    • ClipCite - A text-based Web clipper that clips sites and organizes your content. It also allows you to search topics to find other clippings that will help speed up your research. (BizSpark) (Azure)
    • Quote Sheet - Mobile app that helps you keep track of quotes.
    • SchoolCal - A social calendar for schools that allows groups to share events.
    • Oroomeo - A retractable room divider that is portable, compact and customizable.
    • - Instant coupons for social actions.
    • JitJab - A cloud-based public chat that allows people to easily join the conversation on any web-based application. (BizSpark) (Azure)
    • The Dirty Sheets - A microblog for funny hookup stories.
    • Bitcoin Trust Authority - Consolidated complaint and feedback platform on Bitcoin businesses. (BizSpark) (Azure)
    • Holistic Healthiness - Assess data to provide users with a health score and ranks them against larger variables (demographics, location, age, etc.). Provides holistic health services recommendations based on results.
    • Trivia Wars - Mobile board games
    • Easely - An online marketplace for art in which buyers and seller can come together on a local level. (Investigating Azure) (BizSpark)
    • SignWaive - Liability waiver and payment processing application that integrates with a CRM system. (BizSpark)(Azure )
    • Augment Games - An augmented reality gaming company focused on education. (Kinect Based Augmented Reality) (Investigating Azure) (BizSpark)

    You can see a replay of the final pitches at the Startup Weekend Tampa home page.

    This was a very successful event and working with the startup community in Central Florida is an absolute joy. This is the second Startup Weekend held at the Microsoft Offices in Tampa, the first being held last July.

    I’m really looking forward to working with the new BizSpark companies that pitched this weekend. If you didn’t get a chance to sign up your company for BizSpark, just drop me a note at

    Huge thanks to the organizers of the event, Susie Steiner, Kim Randall, and Ryan Sullivan. You really made this a great event for the attendees and you make it easy for us to continue to support these events from the Microsoft Office in Tampa.



    Windows Azure Learning Path


    Great new content from the expert team I’m involved with around Azure. Check out all the new content here:

    Windows Azure Learning Path

    imageWe have aggregated a set of resources for a structured learning of cloud computing through a set of courses designed to hone your skills progressively. Each course is comprised of a set of hands-on labs and videos that focus on Windows Azure that is Microsoft public cloud.


    Testing against IE for Startups


    I tell this to startups all the time. You need to test your sites and products against IE, even if that isn’t your preferred browser. CNET posted a story today that shows the increasing usage of IE on the desktop. You can check out the story here:

    Microsoft's IE reclaims lost ground in browser battle

    Internet Explorer resumed growth in browser usage in March, reversing a years-long slide at least for now. IE9 in particular grew fast, but Microsoft is weak in mobile browsing.


    One of the easiest ways to test against IE is to use the Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Images available from the Microsoft Download Center. To use these, just set up a Windows 7 machine with Virtual PC and use the images here for testing:

    Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Image

    In order to help web designers and web developers test their websites in older versions of Internet Explorer, we've provided the following VHD with Windows set up with the specified version of Internet Explorer. The images are patched with the latest security updates and are otherwise clean installs of the operating system with very few modifications.

    These images will allow you to test your sites and apps against IE7, IE8, IE9, and even IE6 on Windows XP.

    Setting these up is pretty easy. I would be glad to do a video if anybody wants to see how this looks on the PC.


    Tampa Hackathons: METRO FRIDAY for Win8 or Windows Phone in April


    This sounds like a ton of fun.

    METRO FRIDAY hackathons for Win8 or Windows Phone - Tampa - April 2012

     it pro camp

    I like hackathons. Lots of interaction that wasn't planned. You get to see some really cool project. And you get to code.
    Hackathons are very simply an event where folks sit around and co-work on their projects with specific goals in mind.
    I also love Windows Phone and Windows 8. So I thought to myself, hmmm, "have big meeting room", "have some Fridays open", why not runs some open hackathons!.
    So with that, the esteemed Jim Blizzard and myself came up with the idea for METRO FRIDAY HACKATHONS.

    What: Hackathon for Metro Styled Apps on Win8 or Windows Phone
    When: 900AM to 800PM - all day, April 6, 20, and 27
    What: Open format hackathon focused on Metro for Windows 8 or Windows Phone
    Where: Microsoft Office, 5426 Bay Center Drive, Suite 700, Tampa, FL 33609 - directions

    Ideas on what you could do
    Publish your app during the hackathon! (this qualifies you for some special drawings!)
    Evaluate your app for SDK 7.1.1 256mb emulator compatibility
    Work on a project with experienced folks to help you. Jim Blizzard for Windows 8, Joe Healy for Windows Phone
    Jump start your Windows 8 or Windows Phone Developer Experience Cowork for a Day!


    Ars Technica: Create a Bootable Windows 8 USB Thumb Drive


    I’m going to build one of these today. Just need to dig up a 30GB+ storage drive.

    Ordering "Windows to Go": how to create a bootable Windows 8 USB thumb drive

    Microsoft's Windows 8 Consumer Preview is called that for a reason—there isn't a lot on the surface that looks very compelling about the new operating system to business users. The revelation that Microsoft would not support domains or other administrative features on Windows 8 for ARM devices dumped cold water on many enterprise customers' hopes for a single, unified way to manage users and systems across desktop and mobile devices.

    Also found tons of good Windows 8 information to take a look at in the Download Center.


    HTML5 Drag and Drop for SharePoint


    Really good article in MSDN Magazine this month by Andrey Markeev. Check it out:

    Adding HTML5 Drag and Drop to SharePoint Lists

    Microsoft SharePoint is an enterprise platform with a long history and vast variety of features, which is why it can’t always react quickly enough to follow emerging Web technology trends. Despite a wide enterprise adoption of SharePoint and a huge effort to provide a broad number of features, SharePoint still lags behind modern CMS products in terms of immersive UIs, such as HTML5 and CSS3.

    In my opinion, HTML5 is not only a hot new technology, but it truly has many practical benefits: it’s easy, convenient and rich—and it’s supported, more or less, by all the modern browsers (including mobile device browsers). Additionally, HTML5 and JavaScript are becoming major technologies for desktop programming in Windows.

    Found this via MSDN Flash.


    Updated BizSpark News App


    Well, I haven’t actually updated the app, but I have updated the feeds going into it. The BizSpark Team Blogs have changed and so I’ve updated the RSS feed that gets pulled into BizSpark news to pick up the latest from the team. You can get the app here if you haven’t seen it before.



    East Region BizSpark Startup Kinvey Closes $2M Round


    Awesome news. Hacker Chick, Abby Fichtner, has some details in the Microsoft BizSpark blog. Congats to Kinvey!

    Kinvey, Backend as a Service, Closes $2M Round

    We knew Kinvey was up to all good things when Atlas Venture’s Fred Destin introduced their Boston 2011 TechStars Demo Day presentation with the surprise announcement that he was leading their seed round with a $1 million investment.

    (Okay, we actually had a pretty good idea long before that as we watched them evolve their ideas on how to help developers create Bad asS apps).

    And so we’re extremely excited (if not terribly surprised) to share that they just closed out that seed round at $2M. In the words of TechCrunch, Kinvey aims to let developers skip past all the boring database-building and get right into the fun stuff.

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