Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

eScience & Technical Computing - Web Services and Scientific Research

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Geospatial data support in OData–Strawman proposal


    For those of you interested in Geospatial issues – check out the new strawman proposal for adding Geospatial to the OData protocol.

    Geospatial data support in OData

    This is a strawman proposal. Please challenge it in the OData mailing list.

    OData supports geospatial data types as a new set of primitives. They can be used just like any other primitives - passed in URLs as literals, as types and values for properties, projected in $select, and so on. Like other primitives, there is a set of canonical functions that can be used with them.

    The only restriction, as compared to other primitives, is that geospatial types may not be used as entity keys (see below).

    The rest of this spec goes into more detail about the geospatial type system that we support, how geospatial types are represented in $metadata, how their values are represented in Atom and JSON payloads, how they are represented in URLs, and what canonical functions are defined for them.

    Primitive Types

    Our type system is firmly rooted in the OGC Simple Features geometry type system. We diverge from their type system in only four ways.

    Figure 1: The OGC Simple Features Type Hierarchy


  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    AstroViz 2011 Workshop–June 4 & 5


    If you are a professional or student interested in visualizing astronomy data then you should not miss the Astro-Viz 2011 workshop. We invite participants who span a broad range of interests and expertise, including: visualization and graphics experts, illustrators/animators, planetarium developers and media. The goal for this workshop is discussion on the development of visualization for use in research and education and not just limited to astronomy. Registration is live.
    For more information visit http://ssg.astro.washington.edu/astroviz.shtml

    Astro-Viz 2011 Workshop

    This workshop is dedicated to astronomy visualization. We invite participants who span a broad range of interests and expertise, including, visualization and graphics experts, illustrators and animators, planetarium developers and technical media. Our goal for this workshop is an active discussion on the development of visualization for use in research and education.
    The workshop will be held at the University of Washington's new digital planetarium.
    Areas of discussion will include

    • Open discussion of visualization in astrophysics ranging from interactivity to high-dimensional data
      • Volume and point rendering
      • Interaction with massive data sets
      • Scalable and interactive visualization
    • Outreach and visualization
      • Planetariums/museums
      • Dome visualization
      • Connection between the dome and the classroom
    • Content creation
      • The role of the observatories
      • Generating full dome content
      • Standards and sharing

    AstroViz 2011

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Pushing Data into WWT - via Excel and LCapi


    StickmanUrban2Last week the Worldwide Telescope team put out some tools to support astronomy and earth-system science with a strong emphasis on time-series support and 3-D rendering.  This includes the beta release of new tools and SDK for WWT.  They include:

    WWT Excel Add-in - Excel Add-in ribbon to load location and time-based data into the WWT visualization environment. Such data, for example, can include latitude, longitude, magnitude, and depth for earthquakes or latitude, longitude, and magnitude for disease outbreaks. By installing the WWT Add-In for Excel, you highlight and load your data into WWT in seconds.


    WWT Client Layer Control API (LCapi) – the API to send datasets (time series, images, 3D models, etc) to WWT Windows client to visualize as well controlling the visualization.   This is the API that the Excel Add-in was built on.

    SDK -  documentations, an interactive LCapi sample to demonstrate the LCapi commands,  and image processing tools and libraries to create tile pyramids for rendering in WorldWide Telescope – be it the entire sky or earth or even specific regions.

    It would be great to see folks use/test out the Excel Add-in and LCapi and let us know how it works…feedback and questions are appreciated

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Back from time off…more fun to come


    Today summer seemed to come to an end – the “marine layer” moved in from the coast and brought cool weather and clouds…so much for the last few weeks of nice sunny warm weather.  I’ve been off for the past few months and really tried to stay away from technology, email and blog posting….

    There is so much that has gone on while I was away…

    and more just starting

    So what did I do – here’s the short list

    • studied the movement of grains of sand while laying face down on a lounger – tough keeping your eyelids open, especially with the sun beating down on you.
    • put on a mask and snorkel to look at underwater creatures/fish – tough work, but beautiful Smile
    • Was in Walla Walla when it was named the Friendliest small town in America – and have to agree that it is very friendly – had a great time there…enjoy the sweet onions and wineries
    • caught up on sleep…sleep is so over rated until you have time for it
    • went to Whistler and did the longest continuous lift system on the globe – Whistler to Blackcomb via the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola 
    • Spent time with oceanographers and technologists at Oregon State University – wow was I impressed with the state of the art work they are doing – also went to a few West Coast Baseball League games while there
    • watched in amazement the 5.8 Virginia, USA Earthquake and Hurricane Irene
    • thought a lot about scientific data – have more thoughts to share in later blog posts….

    It’s good to be back…..

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    PDFs on Docs.com


    I just realized that Docs.com has support for PDFs – so to test it out, I put up a copy of The Fourth Paradigm book MSR put out and the Silverlight viewer works great – no need for a plugin.  Try it out and see what you think….

    Here’s the link to the original blog post about the PDF support – the neat part was to see the example below – links to the original press release for Windows 1.0.

    Support for PDF files

    We want to help you share rich and meaningful content with your friends.

    Starting today, you may now upload PDF files directly to docs.com to share with your Facebook friends.

    Docs.com strives first and foremost to be a tremendous social experience. The ability to seamlessly create a document, invite your Facebook friends to view or edit, and receive feedback and comments is extremely powerful. As you may know, Office 2010 allows you to save your work to PDF. Given this great enhancement to Office, we think it only makes sense for Docs.com to allow you to share your PDF files with your friends to capture their feedback and comments. And, like the Office docs you can already share, we believe the social interaction that docs.com enables will enrich your PDF files.

    Over the past several months, we’ve built a Silverlight viewer that will allow you to read PDF files directly within docs.com. Although we’re in the early stages, with improvements on the horizon, we hope you’ll like the performance and fidelity of the in-browser PDF viewing experience. For a browser-based viewer, it renders documents beautifully. Here is an example.

    As always, please let us know if you experience any problems. If you do not have Silverlight installed, you may do so here. Or, if you choose not to install Silverlight, you can download and view any PDF on your PC or Mac.

    Search Improvements, PDF, User Generated Templates « Docs.com Blog

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    .NET Bio: the new name for Microsoft Biology Foundation and now open source

    .Net Bio samples9.png

    Microsoft Research is putting .NET Bio, a bioinformatics toolkit into the Outercurve Foundation, allowing community involvement in the future of this open-source project.

    See the full post by Simon Mercer describing the transfer to Outercurve as a new Research Accelerator and the new functionality being included in this release.

    There is a training event this week on .NET BIO (10/20-21) at UCSD.



    .NET Bio logoThe Microsoft Biology Foundation (MBF) has undergone a significant transformation since it was first released. Over time, it’s become clear that a new name was also in order. So today, I am pleased to announce that MBF will now be known as .NET Bio. In addition to the new name, .NET Bio will also have a new location: the Outercurve Foundation. This move is the next logical step in the life of the project: transferring its ownership to a nonprofit foundation that is dedicated to open-source software underscores our community-led philosophy; while Microsoft will continue to contribute to the code, it will do so as one among a growing community of users and contributors.


    Users can perform a range of tasks with .NET Bio, including:

    • Importing DNA, RNA, or protein sequences from files with a variety of standard data formats, including FASTA, FASTQ, GFF, GenBank, and BED.
    • Constructing sequences from scratch.
    • Manipulating sequences in various ways, such as adding or removing elements or generating a complement.
    • Analyzing sequences by using algorithms such as Smith-Waterman and Needleman-Wunsch.
    • Submitting sequence data to remote websites (for example, a Basic Local Alignment Search Tool [BLAST] website) for analysis.
    • Outputting sequence data in any supported file format, regardless of the input format.

    Microsoft Biology Foundation Evolves into New Toolkit: .NET Bio - Microsoft Research Connections Blog

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Big Data and LINQ in CACM


    Just read the The World According to LINQ article in October’s Communications of the ACM – Erik Meijer does a really good job describing LINQ and how it can be used with Big Data from my different data sources – ie. DBs, REST services and other unstructured data sources…also describes the mathematical foundations of LINQ….

    The World According to LINQ

    [article image]

    Erik Meijer

    Big data is about more than size, and LINQ is more than up to the task.

    Programmers building Web- and cloud-based applications wire together data from many different sources such as sensors, social networks, user interfaces, spreadsheets, and stock tickers.  Most of this data does not fit in the closed and clean world of traditional relational databases.  it is too big, unstructured, denormalized, and streaming in real time.  Presenting a unified programming model across all these disparate data models and query languages seems impossible at first.  By focusing on the commonalities instead of thee differences, however, most data sources will accept some form of computation to filter and transform collections of data.

    Erik Meijer. 2011. The world according to LINQ. Commun. ACM 54, 10 (October 2011), 45-51. DOI=10.1145/2001269.2001285 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2001269.2001285

    The World According to LINQ | October 2011 | Communications of the ACM

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    The Fourth Paradigm book now available in Portuguese


    imageEarlier today I had the pleasure to give the kickoff talk for the release of The Fourth Paradigm book in Portuguese.  Being able to highlight the thinking's of Jim Gray on which the book is based and the scientists who wrote articles for the book was a real privilege for me.

    1. Thousand years ago – Experimental Science
      Description of natural phenomena
    2. Last few hundred years – Theoretical Science
      Newton’s Laws, Maxwell’s Equations…
    3. Last few decades – Computational Science
      Simulation of complex phenomena
    4. Today – Data-Intensive Science (The Fourth Paradigm)
      Scientists overwhelmed with data sets from many different sources

    It was also fortuitous and coincidental that earlier this week AGU EOS published the article Mountain hydrology, snow color, and the fourth paradigm by Jeff Dozier from University of California, Santa Barbara


  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Continuing a Commitment to Carbon Disclosure


    It’s really good to see Microsoft’s commitment to reducing the companies carbon footprint being recognized by the Carbon Disclosure Project. 

    Continuing a Commitment to Carbon Disclosure

    Last week the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) issued its annual climate change report that ranks the greenhouse gas emissions of many of the world’s largest public companies. At Microsoft we’ve remained committed to the principles of carbon disclosure— diligently reporting our carbon emissions, energy and now water use through the CDP for the last eight years

    From CDP S&P 500 Climate Change Report

    Continuing a Commitment to Carbon Disclosure - Software Enabled Earth - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Fully data-constrained terrestrial carbon model - view and comment on the paper


    If you’re interested in how carbon impacts the overall climate models – you’ll really be interested in the paper just published by Matthew Smith, et al - our Microsoft Researchers from our Computational Ecology and Environmental Science Group (CEES) in Cambridge England.  Not only can you view the paper, but can also provide comments and discuss the paper at the Biogeosciences site. 


    The climate dependence of the terrestrial carbon cycle; including parameter and structural uncertainties

    M. J. Smith, M. C. Vanderwel, V. Lyutsarev, S. Emmott, and D. W. Purves
    Computational Science Laboratory, Microsoft Research Cambridge, 7 J. J. Thompson Avenue, Cambridge, CB3 0FB, UK
    Abstract. The feedback between climate and the terrestrial carbon cycle will be a key determinant of the dynamics of the Earth System over the coming decades and centuries. However Earth System Model projections of the terrestrial carbon-balance vary widely over these timescales. This is largely due to differences in their carbon cycle models. A major goal in biogeosciences is therefore to improve understanding of the terrestrial carbon cycle to enable better constrained projections. Essential to achieving this goal will be assessing the empirical support for alternative models of component processes, identifying key uncertainties and inconsistencies, and ultimately identifying the models that are most consistent with empirical evidence. To begin meeting these requirements we data-constrained all parameters of all component processes within a global terrestrial carbon model. Our goals were to assess the climate dependencies obtained for different component processes when all parameters have been inferred from empirical data, assess whether these were consistent with current knowledge and understanding, assess the importance of different data sets and the model structure for inferring those dependencies, assess the predictive accuracy of the model, and to identify a methodology by which alternative component models could be compared within the same framework in future. Although formulated as differential equations describing carbon fluxes through plant and soil pools, the model was fitted assuming the carbon pools were in states of dynamic equilibrium (input rates equal output rates). Thus, the parameterised model is of the equilibrium terrestrial carbon cycle. All but 2 of the 12 component processes to the model were inferred to have strong climate dependencies although it was not possible to data-constrain all parameters indicating some potentially redundant details. Similar climate dependencies were obtained for most processes whether inferred individually from their corresponding data sets or using the full terrestrial carbon model and all available data sets, indicating a strong overall consistency in the information provided by different data sets under the assumed model formulation. A notable exception was plant mortality, in which qualitatively different climate dependencies were inferred depending on the model formulation and data sets used, highlighting this component as the major structural uncertainty in the model. All but two component processes predicted empirical data better than a null model in which no climate dependency was assumed. Equilibrium plant carbon was predicted especially well (explaining around 70% of the variation in the withheld evaluation data). We discuss the advantages of our approach in relation to advancing our understanding of the carbon cycle and enabling Earth System Models make better constrained projections.

    BGD - Abstract - The climate dependence of the terrestrial carbon cycle; including parameter and structural uncertainties

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Build 2012 on Channel 9–great streaming info



    imageEven if you weren’t able to get a registration for //Build/ 2012 – the streaming sessions are a great experience.  You can watch the sessions live, like the Azure sessions happening today – or the prerecorded sessions like Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 from yesterday. 



    Build 2012 | Channel 9

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Big Compute comes to Windows Azure (via HPC Pack 2012)


    Last week at SuperCompter2012, the Windows Azure team showed off it’s Big Compute support by placing in the Top 500 Supercomputer list. 

    You can get more details on it in Bill Hilf’s blog post - Windows Azure Benchmarks Show Top Performance for Big Compute


    Today, we are pleased to announce the fourth release of our compute cluster solution since 2006. Microsoft HPC Pack 2012 is used to manage compute clusters with dedicated servers, part-time servers, desktop computers, and hybrid deployments with Windows Azure. Clusters can be entirely on-premises, can be extended to the cloud on a schedule or on demand, or be can be all in the cloud and active only when needed.                                                                                                                                                                  

    The new release provides support for Windows Server 2012. Features include Windows Azure VPN integration for access to on-premises resources, such as license servers, new job execution control for dependencies, new job scheduling policies for memory and cores, new monitoring tools, and utilities to help manage data staging.

    Microsoft HPC Pack 2012 will be available in December 2012.

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    AGU 2012–Environment and large displays are fun


    This week many of us from the Microsoft Research Earth, Energy and Science team are down at AGU2012 enjoying all that the American Geophysical Union’s 45th annual Fall Meeting has.  MSR has been a participant for many years and really enjoy connecting with scientists and researchers to discuss their scientific challenges. 

    In the Microsoft Research booth this year we have experts from many different areas available to talk about challenges with collecting, visualizing and managing data.  We also have Windows 8 and Office 2013 running on the machines to show what is possible from Surface devices, Desktops, and really large touch screens like the 82'” one from Perceptive Pixel in the booth. 

    You think a tablet is a touch device?  Just touch one of these and you’ll realize that pads are mini compared to the 82" Smile


    Also we are hosting the following FireSide Chats at the booth tomorrow – Wednesday.

    Wednesday 10:00am -10:30 am   

    Real-Time Water System Management   Prof Barbara Minsker & Jong Sung Lee 
      The goal of this project is developing a prototype near-real-time decision support system for river modeling and management in Texas that can serve as a national and international model to promote more sustainable and resilient water systems
    Wed 2:00 pm - 2:30 pm         
    BING: An introduction to Microsoft’s Bing Maps Platform
        Erik Lindeman  & Ryan Eckardt 
      In this session Microsoft will provide an overview of the Bing Maps Platform, its features and how they can be used in a wide range of applications.
    Wednesday 3:30pm -4:00pm  
    Gadgeteer Steven Johnston
      Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer is an open-source toolkit for building small electronic devices using the .NET Micro Framework and Visual Studio or Visual C# Express.
    Wednesday 5:00pm - 5:30pm   
    DATA MANAGEMENT 101 Carly Strasser
      Tips and tools for managing your research data better

    Also glad to see the support for Windows Phone and all HTML apps via the link http://app.core-apps.com/agu-fm12 on that AGU program guide.

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Astronomy to go: UW readies new portable planetarium | Powered by Worldwide Telescope


    The team that created the astronomy department's traveling planetarium. From left they are doctoral student Nell Byler, undergraduate Justin Gailey, doctoral student Phil Rosenfeld and lecturer Oliver Fraser.It’s great to see the University of Washington planetarium  showcased in this UW Today article.  The UW team headed up by Phil Rosenfield has really figured out how to bring Astronomy to the students directly and really engage them.  The WWT team at MSR is excited to see students learn about Astronomy and see in in the GoDomes.

     Astronomy to go: UW readies new portable planetarium | UW Today

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Start PowerPivot in Excel 2013 add-in


    This is a good article if you’ve updated to Excel 2013 and want to update your PowerPivot models.

    Start PowerPivot in Excel 2013 add-in

    Important    This feature isn’t available in Office on a Windows RT PC. Want to see what version of Office you're using?

    PowerPivot in Excel 2013 is an add-in you can use to perform powerful data analysis in Excel 2013. The add-in is available in Microsoft Office Professional Plus. It’s built-into Excel 2013 but is not enabled. Here’s how you enable PowerPivot before you use it for the first time.

    1. Go to File > Options > Add-Ins.
    2. In the Manage box, click COM Add-ins> Go.
    3. Check the Microsoft Office PowerPivot for Excel 2013 box, and then click OK. If you have other versions of the PowerPivot add-in installed, those versions are also listed in the COM Add-ins list. Be sure to select the PowerPivot add-in for Excel 2013.

    Start PowerPivot in Excel 2013 add-in - Excel - Office.com

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    A tool for Data Science - Microsoft "Data Explorer" Preview for Excel now available


    Functionality and features for Excel 2013 just keeps getting better, especially when you realize that Self-Service BI can enable Self-Service SI (Science Intelligence) – the latest is the release of the Microsoft "Data Explorer" Preview for Excel which give you a “intuitive and consistent experience for discovering, combining, and refining data across a wide variety of sources including relational, structured and semi-structured, OData, Web, Hadoop, Azure Marketplace, and more.”

    There is a good overview and tutorial available at the Data Explorer help site.   I also like all the datasets that can be connected to directly…what other data types/file types would help on the Science side?


    PREVIEW NOW AVAILABLE: Microsoft "Data Explorer" Preview for Excel: Try the upcoming capabilities for Self-Service BI with the Microsoft "Data Explorer" Preview for Excel. This preview gives you an early look into upcoming features that simplify access to public and corporate data. Now you can easily discover, combine, and refine data for better analysis in Excel.


    Microsoft Data Explorer Preview for Excel

    Office Preview | Microsoft BI

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    More Excel 2013 Goodies - Data Mining Add-ins for Microsoft Office


    After posting about Data Explorer yesterday – I thought about other add-ins for Excel that make hard problems easier…and that lead me back to the SQLServerDataMining.com site….it’s great to see that the SQL Server 2012 Data Mining Add-ins for Office (with 64-bit Support) is available for Office 2013. 

    The Data Mining Add-ins allow you to harness the power of SQL Server 2012 predictive analytics in Excel and Visio and they have been updated to include 64-bit support for Office 2010, and now Office 2013 as well. Use Table Analysis Tools to get insight with a couple of clicks. Or dive into the Data Mining Client for full-lifecycle data mining, and then visualize your models in Visio.


    Download Microsoft® SQL Server® 2012 SP1 Data Mining Add-ins for Microsoft® Office® from Official Microsoft Download Center

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Connecting the Science dots at TechFest 2013


    During this years annual Microsoft Research TechFest, where Microsoft Research exposes compelling research projects to employees and guests, there are a couple Science related projects being highlighted.  The Computational Ecology and Environmental Science (CEES) group at our Microsoft Research Cambridge lab is demoing some very interesting projects.

    Geo-Database Applications at the Speed of Thought

    In 2012, Microsoft formed a unique partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. Central to the partnership is creating the Red List Threat Mapping Tool -- a spatial database application that enables experts and decision-makers around the world to find, map, explore, add, modify, and notate the various threats to any focal species. This SQL Server 2012 application enables visitors to query global biodiversity, protected area, and threat databases in real time. New software is being built to make it easy for anyone to construct these kinds of geo-data applications "at the speed of thought," without having to write a line of code. The software natively understands spatial data and spatial search, introduces a new, iterative search method, and produces databases that remain flexible, so that all aspects of the database and the application can be modified at any time.

    Predictive Decision-Making at the Speed of Thought

    Since 2007, the Computational Ecology and Environmental Science (CEES) group at Microsoft Research Cambridge has been pursuing the fundamental research needed to build predictive models of critical global environmental systems. Such predictions are needed urgently at a variety of scales—and to support effective decision-making, they must include uncertainty. In recent years, the philosophy of how to make such predictions has become clear: A “defensible modeling pipeline” is needed in which data and models are integrated in a Bayesian context and which is transparent and repeatable enough to stand up in court. The technology, though, is lagging far behind, making this pipeline impossible to build for all but the most technically savvy. Enter CEES Distribution Modeler, a browser app that enables users to visualize data, define a complex model, parameterize it using Bayesian methods, make predictions with uncertainty, and then share all that in a fully transparent and repeatable form.

    TechFest 2013 - Microsoft Research

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Two Big Telescopes in Austin for SXSW and one Big Screen


    Today starts South by Southwest Interactive and the Worldwide Telescope team is working with NASA and the SpaceWP_20130308_025 Telescope Science Institute to delivery a exhibit around the James Webb Space Telescope that is close to out of this world.   There is the full scale model of the JWST and the wall sized display of the Worldwide Telescope. 


    Seeing Your World Through a Different Light

    WorldWide Telescope at South by SouthwestAs the saying goes: everything is bigger in Texas. And coming this weekend, March 8 to 10, there will be a couple of Texas-sized telescopes at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival in Austin. Housed in the mammoth NASA Experience Tent, a wall-sized display will show off Microsoft Research’s WorldWide Telescope (WWT), demonstrating the amazing capabilities of the world’s largest virtual telescope. Outside, on the lawn of the Long Center, there will be a full-scale model of the next generation of the Hubble Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)—a truly impressive piece of engineering that’s the size of a tennis court.

    Microsoft Research is partnering with NASA, Northrop Grumman, and the Space Telescope Science Institute to offer a truly interactive exhibit, with University of Austin astronomy students on hand to show off details of the JWST model on Microsoft Surface devices. Meanwhile, WWT will provide festival goers with an immersive virtual experience as they fly through the universe and explore the planets and stars. As you may know, the WWT brings together imagery from the world’s best ground and space-based telescopes and combines it with 3-D navigation. It also includes guided tours of interesting places in the sky, created and narrated by astronomers and educators.


    Microsoft Research Connections Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Behind the WorldWide Telescope Theater at SXSW


    This WorldWide Telescope at South by Southwestpast weekend at SXSW, Microsoft and the WorldWide Telescope team worked with NASA, Northrop Grumman and the Space Telescope Science Institute to deliver a one of a kind exhibit around the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). 

    The two main anchors of the exhibit was the physical model of the JWST and the WorldWide Telescope Theater.  Over the 3 days the WWT Theater hosted over 70 talks using WWT Tours, PowerPoint, and live Skype QnAs – all on a 20 million pixel wall sized display wall.  

    Behind the scenes – this immersive experience was pulled together by Microsoft WP_20130308_005Research and our partners for the theater – Epson, NVIDA and Scalable Display Technologies.  The 8 Epson projectors worked flawlessly pumping out pixels for over 14 hours a day and this was in a tent without air conditioning and lots of humidity – especially during the first two days of rain.  The 8 projectors were driven by 2 NVIDIA Quadro K5000’s in a single PC.   The display wall needed the DirectX 11 support to show off the latest WWT Eclipse Alpha build that leverages DX11.  Delivering all those pixels to the display wall was one piece, but to make the images seamless and immersive the Scalable Display Manager (SDM) was used.  The (SDM) software with it’s EasyBlend technology, made it a snap to wrap and blend the pixels coming from the individual projectors into a really seamless experience. 

    This whole setup allowed the team to utilize the wall as a very, very large WP_20130310_023Windows desktop and take advantage of all the Windows applications for the presentations – including

    • PowerPoint 2013, which takes advantage of DirectX and hardware acceleration and was able to handle the unique aspect ratio so the whole display was used for content
    • Skype – probably the largest Skype image for Skype session on a desktop you’ve ever seen
    • OneNote 2013 – used for displaying notes and twitter names for a NASA Social at SXSWWP_20130310_001
    • SkyDrive – was used to deliver PowerPoint presentations and WorldWide Telescope Tours to machine driving the display wall and kept them in sync – so edits were always captured
    • WorldWide Telescope – used to deliver tours exclusive created for the JWST SXSW exhibit. 

    While most of you might not need to create a wall sized display like this one – it shows how desktop technologies created for Windows scales to create immersive experiences.  Let me know if you decide to create one….

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Data Science in a Box using IPython–up and running on Azure with LinuxVM


    Interested in getting up and running quickly with data science computing using Python and IPython notebook – Wenming has created a series of blog posting to step you through getting up and running with a IPython notebook on Azure very quickly.  

    The first three blog posts of the series are out – take a look and test it out:

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Using Worldwide Telescope in a Master/Slave configuration



    Config File for Slave Config.xml

    The other day I was asked about putting Worldwide Telescope in a Master/Slave configuration so the client machine can control a larger display showcasing the WWT imagery in full screen.   The photos show me controlling a desktop machine with my Surface Pro.  Here’s the steps to do it.

    On the Slave Machine:  (One you want to control)
    - Create a “wwtconfig” directory in c:\ – ie. c:\wwtconfig
    - Ensure the directory isn’t read only
    - Create a config.xml file in the c:\wwtconfig directory with the following XML


      <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
            <Device MonitorCountX="1" MonitorCountY="1" 
                    MonitorX="0" MonitorY="0" 
                    Width="1600" Height="1200" 
                    ConfigFile="" BlendFile="" DistortionGrid="" /> 

    On the Master Machine
    - Start Worldwide Telescope
    - Set it into “Master” mode – click on Settings > Advanced menu and select Master Controller

    Then they should be paired up.  The Slave machine will be in full screen mode – to get out of it, hit esc, and then close out the WWT window.  I usually then rename the config file to be able to start WWT up and run it normally. 

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    WorldWide Telescope and Kinect on really big screen at SC11


    WP_000206For the last couple of days at Supercomputer 2011 we’ve been demoing WorldWide Telescope being driven via Kinect for Windows – probably the single largest Kinect driven application out there.  While we’ve done something like this before (ie. Mix’11), this time we partnered with Scalable Display Technologies and NVIDIA to create a 18x7 foot single machine display. The whole demo is powered with one PC, connected to two Nvidia Quadro Plex devices to drive 8 projectors.  The projector alignment and blending was accomplished via the Scalable Display Manager software.  This made it one very large desktop – if you look in the bottom right corner of the screen you can see the notification bar Smile 

    Beyond it being a great demo, it also showcased how this could be built with shipping technologies in a short time.


  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    "Data Explorer"– Clean, Mashup, and Publish your Science Data


    Dealing with scientific data can be challenging – especially since it’s in many different formats, files etc.  The SQL Labs release of Microsoft Codename “Data Explorer” looks to be a tool that can help bring together many different data sets in a more straight forward way.  Not only is it an easy to use tool to bring the datasets together, you can also publish it out in a number of ways to make it easy to share the insight/results with others.

    there is both a:

    Check out the "Data Explorer" Learning Page for more details on how to use it as well as the Official Blog

    Microsoft Codename "Data Explorer"
    Gain new insights from your data

    Have you ever had trouble finding data you needed? Or combining data from different, incompatible sources? How about sharing the results with others in a web-friendly way? If so, we want you to try Microsoft Codename “Data Explorer”.
    With "Data Explorer" you can:

    • Identify the data you care about from the sources you work with (e.g. Excel spreadsheets, files, SQL Server databases).
    • Discover relevant data and services via automatic recommendations from the Windows Azure Marketplace.
    • Enrich your data by combining it and visualizing the results.
    • Collaborate with your colleagues to refine the data.
    • Publish the results to share them with others or power solutions.
    Discover Enrich Publish

    Automatically discover data, as we recommend datasets and data services from the Windows Azure Marketplace. Rather than spending your time looking for data, let us bring the data to you.

    Easily enrich your data by combining it with data from other places. Use visualization tools to gain insights into your business.

    Seamlessly publish your results and share them with colleagues. Generate data feeds that can be consumed by other tools. Continue your analysis in other tools, such as Excel or PowerPivot. Control what you share with whom, securely.

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Learn Windows Azure Next Tuesday (Dec 13th)


    Don’t miss the Learn Windows Azure event next Tuesday, Dec 13th….

    Learn Windows Azure Next Tuesday (Dec 13th)

    Next Tuesday, Dec 13th we’ll be holding a special Learn Windows Azure training event for developers.  It will provide a great way to learn Windows Azure and what it provides.  You can attend the event either by watching it streamed LIVE online, or by attending in person (on the Microsoft Redmond Campus).  Both options are completely free.

    Learn Window Azure Event

    top_imageDuring the Learn Windows Azure event attendees will learn how to start building great cloud based applications using Windows Azure.

    I’ll be kicking off the day with a 90 minute keynote that will provide an overview of Windows Azure, during which I’ll explain the concepts behind it and the core features and benefits it provides.  I’ll also walkthrough how to build applications for it using .NET, Visual Studio and the Windows Azure SDK (with lots of demos of it in action).

    We’ll then spend the rest of the day drilling into more depth on Cloud Data and Storage, how to use the Visual Studio Windows Azure Tools, how to Build Scalable Cloud Applications, and close off with an Q&A panel with myself, Dave Campbell and Mark Russinovich.

    Register Now for Free

    The free Learn Windows Azure event will start at 9am (PST) on Dec 13th.  You’ll be able to watch the entire event live on Channel9 or attend it in person.  Both options are completely free.

    • Register now to watch online or attend the event in person for FREE

    Learn Windows Azure Next Tuesday (Dec 13th) - ScottGu's Blog

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