Hi, I’m Manoj Nathwani. This time last summer, I was working in a boring Job, like the typical 17 year old (you all know what that’s like) where I was asked to compare the prices of the company’s products with several of their competitors. It took me over four LONG days to complete this mammoth task and in thinking I was done, soon realised that all the data and work I had been doing from day one was now out of date! Something needed to change.
I started to realise that this job was almost too repetitive for any person to do and it became one of those robotic tasks that I knew needed to be carried out by a computer. So that’s where the ideas started. I imagined a system that could automate the mundane job of fetching prices off websites and then businesses could take advantage of being up-to-date on their competitors pricing and change theirs accordingly. I already saw this working in the company I was working for, as there were already instances where their products were not competitive enough - and even examples where they were far too cheap. Clearly they needed my help!
I talked to the manager of the company about making a competitor price monitoring system for them - in return for advice on what businesses would want. I then decided to carry out some market research and phoned a number of companies that have an ecommerce website. After speaking to them I realised there was a huge potential for my service so I decided to spend all my time working on it. My Dad helped with setting up the business and finding customers (thanks Dad), which allowed me to spend all my time dedicated to building our service, Price Trakker.
I spent day and night working inside Visual Studio to develop my solution and move forward with my vision. Once I started my course at university I met other students who had skills which I knew I would need, such as building a website for example, which allowed me to get friends involved. Through splitting the workload, it allowed me to spend more time developing our main service and ultimately grow the business.
Whilst studying Computer Science at Brunel University, I discovered it was hard to run a business from inside halls! However, using the right technology, such as Skype, I was easily able to keep in touch with the team. Truthfully though, it was definitely tough balancing university work alongside developing Price Trakker, but I always made sure I was still performing to the best of my ability at university. I needed to learn from my lectures and apply that knowledge to my work to Price Trakker! The hardest thing was probably waking up at a decent time every morning to check my emails…. definitely not the typical life for your regular student!
In February I attended a Microsoft Windows Phone Camp at Brunel, delivered by Ben Nunney, and got given a DreamSpark code that enabled me to get top of the range developer software for free! I was even able to get hold of Visual Studio Professional which helped out with developing my software even further. Free software… what more could you want!?
I found the university phone camp very beneficial and practical as it allowed students to jump straight into designing and developing apps. It also allowed different types of developers or designers to do what they do best; HTML, C# and Visual Basic and combine them to make interesting applications for Windows 8 or Windows Phone. Moreover, attending the events gave me a good connection with the Microsoft Academic team in the UK.
Through keeping in touch with the Microsoft UK Academic Team, I got a chance to speak to Phil Cross about my company and how useful I was finding the developer software provided through DreamSpark. Phil then took it that step further and introduced me to BizSpark, who literally throw all the free software you could ever want to play with (a true developers dream!)
BizSpark is an amazing resource if you are starting your own company; I signed up and two days later we went from several machines to using three servers with Microsoft's new Server 2012 operating system, which I got free from BizSpark. This allowed us to save money on computer power as well as going green by using less machines to run our services.
I still can't believe how easy it was to sign up to BizSpark, we signed up on Friday night and by Monday afternoon we had access to all the latest Microsoft software for free as well as access to events and the ability to network with other technology companies- a resource that is truly invaluable to any budding businesses out there.
I am looking forward to working with Microsoft and the BizSpark team to help me take Price Trakker to the next level! Already I’ve seen it helping to take the stress off the software licensing and allowed us to take care of what matters - our business and technology.
Over the past couple of months Price Trakker has grown beyond our wildest dreams. Literally every business that we approach has shown an interest in Price Trakker and we now have a team of six sales people. We also have interest from several large corporate companies who require high volumes of price monitoring. Thanks to Microsoft and their BizSpark program, deploying large systems is no longer a problem. Not a bad start for a 17 year old boy with a vision, and the right contacts to make it all happen!
If you’d like a look then you can sign-up for a free 14 day Competitor Price Watch service and see how you can save time and make more money. If you have an ecommerce website then you need Price Trakker, and you can see some sample reports here.
We brought 9 students into TVP last month who had won the Top App Competition on Windows Phone last academic year. I just came across Danny Brown’s blog post about the event and thought you may be interested in reading about it!
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Come one come all - submissions to the Windows Store are now open to all developers! And guess what? For students, that access comes at no cost. Just like the Windows Phone Marketplace, you can submit free and paid for apps as a student without having to buy a developer registration, and get all the other benefits around in app purchasing and advertising right out of the box. Ok, so it doesn't come in a box. But you know what we mean.
On top of this 'big announcement' we’re also announcing a number of additional subscription program offerings that recognize and thank developers for their interest and commitment to Windows. All eligible MSDN subscribers receive a free, one-year Windows Store developer account as part of their MSDN benefits. (Eligible subscriptions include Visual Studio Professional, Test Professional, Premium, Ultimate, and BizSpark.). So even if you're getting ready to leave education and start your own business, or go work in the technology industry, you're covered.
Throughout the Windows Store preview stages, we’ve seen fantastic interest from individual developers, large development houses and component and service providers. And as we’ve opened up new markets for on boarding and expanded our invitations, we’ve seen a great increase in both the number and diversity of apps—all during our preview milestones, before broad availability of the OS and before even the first production Windows 8 PC is in the market. And the Windows 8 PCs are on the way, with many unveiled recently at IFA.
If you’ve already signed up—fantastic. We’re ready for your app. Haven’t signed up yet? Getting started is easy—just go to www.dreamspark.com and click the 'Register on the Windows Store' link. Keep using your DreamSpark credentials the whole way through and you'll be fine. You do need to provide debit or credit card details but rest assured - you won't be charged and once you've put them in you'll notice the balance due update to £0. Not got access to DreamSpark? Drop firstname.lastname@example.org an email and we can help.
The dev tools are free, the SDK is ready, and we have a ton of great supporting content to help you build your app and submit it for Store certification. Sign up now, reserve your app names—we look forward to seeing your app in the Store in time for the general availability of Windows 8!
In case you think we make these up the photo on the left is of Chris and his app development partner Rob Hannay at the AEL in Microsoft HQ here in Reading. Chris is the one on the left.
Here we go then……
Fill in the survey before you go from the win8.msregistration.com website when you register this will give you a good idea of some/all of the things that they are going to test on the day.
· Does the app conform to “Windows 8 UI” design guidelines?
· If you do something that might not make sure you have a good reason why.
· This is something that they will test on the tablet, will the app play nice if people flow through it quickly.
· Will the touch keyboard cover up required controls?
· Will the app behave if terminated or suspended by the system.
· Return to how the user expects.
· Does the app have a “beautifully” braded tile?
· Is the branding consistent throughout the app?
· One liners might get through the AEL but may be rejected by the store certification.
· The app should pass the WACK. Mine didn’t but this was because of an error that I nor the tester could figure out on the day.
· If you are using the network then make sure you have a fallback plan for if the user has no network connection. Display a message, cache data… don’t let the app just crash.
· There are guidelines in the docs but make sure it’s not unreasonable for what the app is doing.
· Make sure you use the simulator to test your app at all resolutions/screen sizes they will test this, so make sure that the app works.
· If you can break it they can break it and you don’t want them to break it. Even if it doesn’t break at the AEL it might break when it goes for store certification and that will mean 1.5 days wasted before you even find out.
· It’s a good chance to get to play with the app on a tablet.
· They are there to give you constructive feedback.
· Take notes.
If you are writing an App and want to come in and have our engineers go through the App with you then register here
I posted on Facebook asking if anyone had experience of Liverpool Uni, Physics and the city and got this great response from Jay at Liverpool on 24th August which was much more than I could have expected. Some good insights for ANY student going to uni I have not edited the post in any way!
I studied Ancient History there - I graduated this year, and I'm staying on for an MA, because the Uni is excellent. In terms of real advice, I'm somewhat abnormal, but:
i) Don't drink too much - Liverpool is a big drinking city, and it's a common mistake to think 1st year doesn't count so you don't need to work. In my experience, people who didn't work for first year didn't understand 2nd/3rd year. That's unfashionable advice, but unfortunately it often comes down to a simple choice: drink or get a good degree. ii) Get into the music scene, Liverpool has a fantastic one, and make some good mates you can enjoy it with - the first people you meet will likely not last, but you'll find others during the year. Similarly pick up some hobbies, and test out a variety of clubs (they usually let you come for 3 weeks before paying to join). iii) Get to know the staff. I've seen so many people put in a bad situation and unable to appeal (for example, against plagiarism), because they don't know the staff. If you know & are nice to the staff it's not only going to make it easier to appeal against stuff, but it also tends to put your marks up a bit (though I really shouldn't say this). This is particularly true for Liverpool because the faculty-central admin division at the moment is leaving a lot of the decisions up to minor staff members. iv) Do your work early. This seems lame, but it really is easier and better. It takes the same amount of time to do a good piece late as it does early, and it's likely to be better if it's done early. That way it's out of the way and you can spend your time doing stuff that you want, and you feel good about yourself. I used to do mine so that it'd be finished a week or so early, then leave it until the day before and do a final proof read, maybe switch some things around. v) You should look into on-campus halls, they've built a new multi-million pound halls right next to the Sydney Jones Library, and it looks lovely. It's meant to have a restaurant, shops, etc, plus the rooms look very nicely built.
Applications are now open!
The Microsoft Student Partner Programme recognises top young minds from around the world that are passionate about technology. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to develop real-world skills to help you succeed in your future career, to help others learn about the technology of today and tomorrow, and to connect with other like-minded students, all whilst having a ton of fun along the way. The program is our way of encouraging students who are interested in building a closer relationship with Microsoft, and those who are simply hooked on technology, or talking about it to others to develop their skills further.
CLICK HERE TO APPLY! This downloads an Excel spreadheet for you to complete – then send it back to me here on email@example.com and we’ll be in touch!
So what exactly is a Microsoft Student Partner?
As a team we are responsible for helping students and start-ups design, create and publish great quality apps for Windows 8, Windows Azure and Windows Phone. An MSP’s role is to help us achieve this by:
So we are looking for students who:
We do want to encourage discussion and debate about technology and hence your experiences and opinions are extremely valuable. If you want to share your passion and develop industry-leading skills, we want to hear from you.
What will you get in return?
As part of your role as an MSP you will receive the following
How do we select MSPs?
The application process will open in August 2012 and we’ll review applications in September. Subsequent selection will take place until the end of December 2012.
To consider applying for the MSP Program, you must be:
What are we looking for?
All MSPs should have the following basic qualities:
What’s the fine print?
How to apply?
Applications for the 2012-2013 Academic Year are now open. To apply for the Microsoft UK MSP programme, please refer to the competencies required and the responsibilities above.
Complete the application form by clicking here. This downloads an Excel spreadheet for you to complete – then send it back to me here on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch!
·You will need to provide contact details from an academic member of your department or the professional who you have worked with in the technology industry
For all questions regarding the Microsoft UK program, please email email@example.com
There has been some great progress from students with app development on Windows 8. In order to get your App into store before General Availability (GA) of Windows 8 there is a process to go through – but it is free and its called the App Excellence Lab (AEL) process.
Here’s what we need you to do.
If you are still at the “just starting” point then the UK Windows 8 Landing Page has some great resources including physical developer camps – there may be one near you.
Windows 8 available for developers and new developer content based upon final code is now available in the Windows Dev Centre: http://dev.windows.com.
The Windows 8 available for developers blog details how to get a 90 day evaluation version of Windows 8 if you’re not part of TechNet, MSDN or DreamSpark Premium for institutional administrators.
The Windows Dev Center, now contains brand new overviews and migration guides for apps built on RP as well as..
The Windows engineering and Windows Store teams are blogging regularly at the following sites
· Windows 8 app developer blog: Get coding and design best practices and tips, and updates on events and offers for developers.
· Windows Store for developers blog: Get all the latest news on doing business in the Windows Store.
As all of you saw, last week we had a group of 26 lucky students who got that chance to come into the Microsoft HQ for the AppsinAugust programme. The competition was stiff and we had a lot of great candidates to choose from. The 26 winners had their chance to not only display their ideas and talents in app making, but to turn these ideas and visions into a reality. Below is Matthew Price’s account of his experience.
Hi all! My names Matthew Price @mprice86 and I am a 2nd year HND student at SERC Downpatrick, Northern Ireland. In my spare time I love to blog, programme, and write my own music. In this post I wanted to give you a little insight into the Apps in August Programme and try and explain just how amazing the whole experience was.
Apps in August was (as it turned out) a concept quickly dreamed up by Phil Cross, Ben Nunney and Natasha Joseph over coffee; which for anyone who drinks coffee knows, is when all the best ideas happen. At no stage however, did AppsinAugust feel unprepared or cobbled together; had we not been told otherwise, there was no indication that this event had not been taking place for years already.
The beginning of any project is often the most important phase and it was Monday, August 6th at Microsoft UK HQ (in Reading) that this event started both to take shape, and to shape those attending. The first day was ostensibly an introduction to the campus and the event; establishing Microsoft and their offices as (most likely) being the most impressive place that any of us has had the pleasure to work. The sprawling campus, the open and inviting office spaces, and the welcoming and enthusiastic staff all set the tone for what was to be a thoroughly entertaining and educational three days. The virtually unlimited, free drinks did play role here too; but perhaps more for some than others.
Consisting of a few “welcome” talks, some introductory guidance and a very pleasant lunch on the lawn; day one set the tone and the mood for the remainder of the event. I am sure that any of the lucky attendees would agree that even the shuttle bus ride into the campus was a pretty special experience. Dinner followed, after an opportunity to refresh at the hotel, and provided a most welcome opportunity for both students and staff to mingle, talk and generally get better acquainted.
Day two was when things started to get serious. Attendees divided themselves into project groups based on skills, background and ideas; with everyone getting the chance to work on more or less any project that they desired. There was a talk on Modern UI (formerly Windows 8 UI) design style, which highlighted the importance of proper design. It should be said that this talk did not stick rigidly to a “follow these rules” formula, but served to highlight the flexibility that is afforded within the (relatively open) confines of the Modern UI design language. Then there was time provided for individual and group planning work, with assistance on hand for those who needed it; and extra time set aside to ensure the best possible groupings on projects. After all, the ultimate goal here is to ensure that there will be student produced applications in the Windows 8 Store before general availability. Once again, in the evening there was a meal laid on in Reading with more time for discussion and bonding between attendees and the staff.
In summary; there are many words that could be used to describe the experience of the last few days, none of which could really do justice to just how enlightening, impressive and inspirational it all was. If you did not have the chance to take part this year, then all I can recommend is that you keep your eyes and ears open for any future events in a similar vein. If you have any level of interest or skill in programming then there can be no excuse for not applying. The opportunity on offer here is enormous; do not pass up your chance to take part in something amazing.
Ever had an idea for an app, game, or great bit of technology - but not had the time or the skills to make it happen?
Next month we're running something called Apps in August (original name, right?) where a group of students will be coming to Microsoft HQ to create some amazing apps for Windows 8. We're in the process of selecting the students who are coming in - and now our focus is turning to giving them some great ideas for applications they can design, build, and publish to the store.
So, we thought, why not match up students with app ideas to the students coming in for Apps in August?
Here's how it's going to work...
A few things to note...
We look forward to seeing your ideas!