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    Hurry up and grab your name on Outlook.com

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    Microsoft launched a completely new email service few weeks ago called Outlook.com

    Microsoft launched a completely new email service few weeks ago with limited ads, unlimited storage and built in Skype. It’s called Outlook.com, and it’s simple and clean.

    Does this look like your email address: thomas91@domain.com ? Have you been trying for years to get a good username for your email?  This is your chance! You might even get your firstname@outlook.com or your lastname@outlook.com, but you’d better move fast!

    Outlook.com has features like integrated SkyDrive where you can view and edit your documents and Image gallery from one place. Social media is integrated with Outlook so you can add contacts from your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Skype (coming soon.) You can interact and chat with friends from one place. My favorite feature is the newsletter and coupons handling: you can set options like “delete all my coupons and newsletter after 3 days”, or even “keep the latest email and delete the rest.” If you think about it, that’s a nice option, normally the older offers and newsletters are outdated when you receive a new one. By enabling this feature you keep your email clean. Check out this video showing the new outlook.com built from scratch.

     

    I’m on it . Try it out.

    - Outlook.com

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    Atari goes HTML5 and we can help you do the same!

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    Not only can you now play HTML5 Atari games you can build your own! We’ve got code and workshops to help!

    centipedeSmallOkay I am going to admit to my age for a moment. I remember bugging my dad to buy me Pong. Pong was released in 1972 and Atari released and inspired many generations of gamers and game developers. There was a time you needed an Atari 2600 to play these games, but today with help from Grant Skinner (a Canuck who has infiltrated the upper echelons of the Microsoft development world) we are launching Atari Arcade! Pong, Asteroids, Centipede all done with HTML5 on Internet Explorer 10 (multi-player too so bring it on! my twitter handle is hockeygeekgirl, word of warning I used to rock at Centipede!)

    Now here’s the really cool part! Not only can you procrastinate by playing video games there is an Atari software development kit as well! Yup, I can’t wait to start playing with this! Just go the Developer behind the scenes section of the site and you will find all sorts of great JavaScript libraries and tutorials for building HTML5 games you can even leverage touch! ( Did I mention you can build Windows 8 games with HTML5 as well, just sayin’)

    Of course, it’s one thing to tell yourself, yeah that would be cool I’ll do it sometime. The best way to find time for it is to give yourself a little jumpstart, something to get you rolling. Well we’ve got that too! We’ll be doing CreateJS Workshops across Canada so you can learn how to build Atari games! Sign up here! There’s more details about the CreateJS workshops and the cool stuff Atari and Grant have teamed up to accomplish here and meanwhile to whet your appetite here’s a little behind the scenes video of how this all came to happen with some neat insights into Atari.

     

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    Imagine Cup 2013 is here – Canada let’s get coding!

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    The categories in Imagine Cup are more flexible than ever! Taking a project course? Building a game? Got a good business idea? Your code could take you to world finals in St. Petersburg Russia!

    They just announced the rules and competitions for Imagine Cup 2013 and this is the year to enter! We’re still sorting out what we are doing in Canada in terms of a local final (we’re doing our best to make sure there is a Canadian team at the worlds again). Whatever happens at the Canadian level the categories for entering are all driven by the world wide Imagine Cup rules and competitions that were announced today. So you can start planning your entry today. I’m really excited about some of the new categories! Let me give you a quick overview.

    Don’t forget we’ll be providing resources and having events to help you get coding on Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Azure, all skills you can use to enter Imagine Cup 2013!

    Games

    I have travelled across Canada and seen so many amazing games built by Canadian students. But last year you could only enter the games category if your game followed the Imagine Cup theme “Change the World”, there were also multiple game categories with different rules. This year it is simple, build an awesome game! Windows 8? Windows Phone? Xbox Indie Games? Kinect? You’ll be judged on whether your game is fun, innovative, the execution, and its business viability.

    Innovation

    Facebook and Microsoft, just two companies that were created by students, yet none of them would have qualified for the Imagine Cup because they weren’t tied to the theme of changing the world. Well with the innovation category we’re looking to see what amazing things you can do with Microsoft technology: Windows 8? Windows Phone? Azure? .NET? Kinect? Xbox Indie Games? You’ll be judged on innovation, impact, and execution. So that idea you’ve had in your head, that project you were planning for senior year? This is the year to enter it in Imagine Cup!

    World Citizenship

    This is similar to the Software Design category of years past. We’ve been blown away year after year by the ideas students have come up with and developed to help others using Microsoft technologies and we want that to continue! So the Citizenship category asks you what can you do to make the world a better place through technology. Entries are judged based on Impact, feasibility, and execution. Use Windows 8, Windows Phone, ASP.NET, Azure, you decide!

    The Challenges…

    Challenges are usually a slightly different sort of competition, but they can still get you to world finals in Russia! If you don’t have time to build a full project with a team, this might be the best way for you to compete.

    Windows 8 Challenge

    Pass the quiz on Windows 8 knowledge, build a Windows 8 app. Apps will be judged based on Topic definition and business viability, Windows Experience and User Design Experience, Windows 8 platform Originality and Innovation. The top 3 entries worldwide will fly to the world finals to show the world what they’ve accomplished!

    Windows Azure Challenge

    Pass the quiz on Windows Azure knowledge, build a cloud based app, and you could find yourself in St. Petersburg! Apps will be judged on Originality and Innovation, Windows Azure Platform Functionality and Solution Detailed Design, and User Experience. The top 3 entries worldwide will attend the world finals.

    Windows Phone Challenge

    Pass the quiz on Windows Phone knowledge, build a Windows phone app. Apps will be judged based on Innovation and feasibility, Solution design architecture and functionality, and utility and delight. The top 3 entries worldwide will fly to the world finals.

    Could you enter?

    Are you a student at least 16 years of age? Undergraduate or graduate student it doesn’t matter. You can have a team of up to 4 students and one faculty member. Find out more at the Imagine Cup website, this is the year to enter Imagine Cup! Find out more then Dream it! Build it! Live it!

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    If you watched CTV Olympics coverage, you used Azure!

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    IMG_2599Many media companies covering the London 2012 Olympics used Azure media services.

    I admit it, I am an Olympic junkie. I was cheering Canada on in everything from synchronized diving to Tae Kwon Do. I always think it’s cool to find out how things happen behind the scenes at a massive event like the Olympics. Just imagine the challenges a TV company faces supporting Olympic coverage. How many hits on your website? how many people streaming video? It’s a huge jump from your normal number of viewers but you don’t want to go out and buy 500 more servers because after the Olympics are over, everything goes back to normal. So how do you handle it?

    In April, Microsoft announced Windows Azure Media services which could be used to support broadcasters. For the London Olympics they partnered to create the first completely cloud based delivery model which supported several media outlets including Canada’s own CTV.

    You can read all the details here if you are interested in learning more about how it worked. If you appreciate what’s required to handle massive peak capacity you’ll enjoy finding out how they made it all happen!

    Don’t forget you can try out Azure yourself, anyone can access a free trial here, if you are taking a course and the professor or instructor wants to use Azure, they can apply for 180 day free academic Azure passes here so that all the students have access to Azure for the full course.

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    Building a Windows 8 app? Pick your favorite flavour!

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    IMG_3158When building an app for Windows 8, you have three programming models to choose from: .NET, HTML/CSS JavaScript, or C++

    My husband likes cherry ice cream. My son likes chocolate. I like mint chocolate chip. Our favorite ice cream shops sell all three flavours, so we all leave happy!

    When I started coding, I quickly discovered that a big part of development was making choices. I also discovered myself frustrated when working with tools and platforms that did not give me choices and forced me down a specific path.

    When Microsoft first released .NET, I liked having the option to code in VB or C#. Though many hard core programmers scoffed at VB, it was a language familiar to many and supporting it allowed more programmers to move to the .NET platform without having to learn a new programming language. If you were a C programmer you tended to gravitate to C#, if you were a Visual Basic programmer you coded in VB .NET

    If you want to develop for Windows 8, you have no less than three options to choose from. If you are a web developer you can bring your HTML/CSS & JavaScript skills straight to Windows 8. If you are a hard core programmer you can build an app with C++. If you’ve already been building Windows Phone apps, or coded with Silverlight, or ASP.NET apps you can build an app with C # or VB .NET

    HTML/CSS and JavaScript

    Websites have been built with HTML, CSS and JavaScript for years. In the past few years the trend has been towards HTML5. Microsoft started to enter the HTML5 world with Internet Explorer 9. IE9 added a lot of support to HTML5 features, and IE10 took it even further. Windows 8 also continues the trend of supporting HTML5. If you haven’t explored it yet, HTML5 is more than just new markup tags like <video> and <audio> it includes improvements to CSS (like media queries to handle different screen sizes) and updates to JavaScript. HTML5 has been gaining in popularity in the web space because it does not require any plug ins and every year more HTML5 features are being supported by more browsers.

    If you’ve been coding HTML, HTML5, CSS or JavaScript you can use those same programming skills to build a Windows 8 app. Check out the Roadmap for Windows 8 apps using JavaScript to learn more.

    C++

    I admit it, C++ scares me a little bit, but it’s a great programming language. I just haven’t spent much time using it. It’s very popular for gaming, and with DirectX and C++ you can build great games for Windows 8. (You can build great games with HTML5/CSS as well!) If you are a C++ programmer you can build apps for the Windows 8 store using C++. Check out the Roadmap for Windows 8 apps using C++ to learn more.

    C# and Visual Basic .NET

    If you are already familiar with the .NET framework, you may find it easiest to develop your apps in C# or VB .Net. For more information on getting started with Windows 8 apps using .NET check out the Roadmap for Windows 8 apps using C# or Visual Basic. By the way, if you’ve already coded with Java, C# will seem very familiar.

    So which is best?

    What do you think I am going to answer? Yup, you guessed it. The answer is: “It depends.” There are always situations where one programming language presents an advantage over another, sometimes it is just a question of personal preference. What I do want to make clear is that Windows 8 includes an incredible array of built in functionality you can access in your code through APIs which we refer to as Windows Runtime or WinRT. This library which allows you to do cool stuff like capture a picture from a webcam or display a file picker, can be accessed by any of the programming models listed above. Thanks to some clever code behind the scenes, you use C# to call the API from C# code, you use JavaScript to call the API from JavaScript code, and you guessed it, you use C++ to call the API from C++ Code. So regardless of the model you choose, you will have access to the WinRT library and all its functionality.

    Pick the option which will get you up and coding the fastest. Windows 8 is here, and you can publish apps to the Windows 8 store. Download Windows 8 today and find your favorite flavor!

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