• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Learn to create Windows 8 apps with HTML and JS with UBelly


    As we announced almost a month ago, the Windows 8 consumer preview is now available to download and develop for. However, the Windows Store won’t be open for apps until Windows 8 is available for consumer release.



    Ubelly are offering the opportunity to get in early…

    Last week we on the Ubelly blog they discussed how to get started with Windows 8 development.


    Ubelly have announced that they will be also be hosting a series of Windows 8 Camps, where people will learn how to build a Metro Style app using HTML and JS, as well as a primer on the Metro design language, and getting your app ready for the Windows Store. Once you have the idea for your app, you can join the Windows 8 Developer Linked In Group to get your app into the Windows Store.

    The Ubelly team be holding the Windows 8 Camps across 4 different cities, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Brighton. The camps are free to attend, and will offer a hands-on approach to learning Windows 8 app development. Keen? Register below to come along!

    Register for the Birmingham Windows 8 Camp – 20 May 2012
    Register for the Manchester Windows 8 Camp – 22 May 2012
    Register for the Edinburgh Windows 8 Camp – 24 May 2012
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Big Data.. Big Opportunity


    Last week I attended The 2012 Eduserv Symposium. The event was focused on 'Big Data' and discussed whether Big Data represents a challenge or an opportunity and how we can best make use of it. This year's event was held at the Royal College of Physicians.

    The key message from the introduction was the importance of uncoupling the issues of Big Data from the industry hype. Throughout the event the Gartner 3 V’s (velocity, volume and variety of data ) were discussed in depth.

    Volume as a defining attribute of Big Data

    Whilst it is fairly obvious that data volume is the primary attribute of big data, people often ask for a definitive quantity in GB, TB, PB etc. that would qualify as big data.

    Whilst simplest answer is to give a data volume, for example 50TBytes which today present represents a reasonably large and expensive dataware house –this answer of course changes as the technology changes over time due to Moore’s Law.

    But it’s also worth thinking about what it is you are looking as data, for instance for a large library of photographs the actual data contained in all the images themselves is very large for instance a RAW File from a Nikon D300 is about 25MB, so library with 2 million such images would be about 50TBytes , but the meta data describing those images isn’t that large perhaps 2GBytes.

    So to someone actually searching the images for content, e.g. using facial recognition find all the photos of Adele, then that is a big data problem, but if the photos have already been labelled and tagged as being of Adele then that isn’t really a big data challenge as you are only search the Meta data.

    Data Feed Velocity as a defining attribute of Big Data

    Big data can be described by its velocity or speed. Or you may prefer to think of it as the frequency of data generation or frequency of data delivery. For example, think of the stream of data coming off of any kind of sensor, say thermometers sensing temperature, microphones listening for movement in a secure area, or video cameras scanning for a specific face in a crowd. This isn’t new; many firms have been collecting click stream data off of Web sites for years, using streaming data to make purchase recommendations to Web visitors. With sensor and Web data flying at you relentlessly in real time, data volumes get big in a hurry.

    Technologies such as Stream Insight are well positioned for certain types of streaming data, whilst other applications may need specialist development or tools.

    Data Feed Variety.

    A proliferation of data types from social, machine to machine, and mobile sources add new data types to traditional transactional data. Data no longer fits into neat, easy to consume structures. New types include content, geo-spatial, hardware data points, location based, log data, machine data, metrics, mobile, physical data points, process, RFID’s, search, sentiment, streaming data, social, text, and web. The addition of unstructured data such as speech, text, and language increasingly complicate the ability to categorize data. Some technologies that deal with unstructured data include data mining, text analytics, and noisy text analytics.

    A key message was Big Data and the role of the Data Scientist, was not limited to the computer Scientist of the future as Big Data is of use to all disciplines.

    Please find below a quick overview deck of how we see the Big Data opportunity at Microsoft.

    Case Study

    A interesting case study is Klout Data Services Firm Uses Microsoft BI and Hadoop to Boost Insight into Big Data

    Klout wanted to give consumers, brands, and partners faster, more detailed insight into hundreds of terabytes of social-network data. It also wanted to boost efficiency. To do so, Klout deployed a business intelligence solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise and Apache Hadoop. As a result, Klout processes data queries in near real time, minimizes costs, boosts efficiency, increases insight, and facilitates innovation.

    Business Needs

    Klout helps clients make sense of the hundreds of terabytes of data generated each day by more than 1 billion signals on 15 leading social networks including Facebook and LinkedIn. The data that Klout analyzes is generated by the more than 100 million people who are indexed by the firm. This includes Klout members and the people that they interact with on social sites. Individuals join Klout to understand their influence on the web, which is rated on a scale from 1 to 100. They also sign up to participate in campaigns where they can receive gifts and free services. More than 3,500 data partners also join Klout to better understand consumers and network trends including changes in demand and how peoples’ influence might affect word-of-mouth advertising.

    To deliver the level of insight that customers seek and yet meet the budget constraints of a startup firm, Klout maintained a custom infrastructure based on the open-source Apache Hadoop framework, which provides distributed processing of large data sets. The solution included a separate silo for the data from each social network. To manage queries, Klout used custom web services, each with distinct business logic, to extract data from the silos and deliver it as a data mashup.

    Maintaining Hadoop and the custom web services to support business intelligence (BI) was complex and time-consuming for the team. The solution also hindered data insight. For example, accessing detailed information from Hadoop required extra development, and so mashups often lacked the level of detail that users sought. In addition, people often waited minutes, or sometimes hours, for queries to process, and they could only obtain information based on predetermined templates.

    Klout wanted to update its infrastructure to speed efficiency and support custom BI. Engineers sought technologies that could deliver mission-critical availability and still scale to meet big-data growth and performance requirements.


    In 2011, Klout decided to implement a BI solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise data management software and the open-source Hive data warehouse system.  Based on employees’ previous experience with the Microsoft BI platform, Klout also knew that SQL Server offers excellent compatibility with third-party software and it can handle the data scale and query performance needed to manage big-data sets.

    In August 2011, engineers implemented a data warehouse with Hive, which consolidates data from all of the network silos hosted by Hadoop. In addition, Klout deployed SQL Server 2012 on a system that runs the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating system to take advantage of Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services. Engineers use it to manage all business logic required to facilitate multidimensional online analytical processing (MOLAP). Data is stored in multidimensional cubes, which helps preserve detail and speed analysis. To provide high availability, Klout replicates the database to a secondary system using SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn.

    At the time that Klout was initially deploying its solution, SQL Server 2012 and Hive could not communicate directly. To work around this issue, engineers set up a temporary relational database that runs MySQL 5.5 software. It includes data from the previous 30 days and serves as a staging area for data exchange and analysis. Klout engineers are currently working to implement the new open database connectivity driver in SQL Server 2012 to directly join Hive with SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services. In addition, to enhance insight Klout plans to work with Microsoft to incorporate other Microsoft BI tools into its solution, such as Microsoft SQL Server Power Pivot for Microsoft Excel.


    With its new solution, Klout expects to boost efficiency, reduce expenses, expand insight, and support innovation.

    Speeds Efficiency and Cuts Costs By taking advantage of the Microsoft platform for BI, users will be able to get the data they seek in near real time.

    Facilitates Innovation

    Klout is implementing the flexible and scalable infrastructure it needs to continue to push the limits of data analysis.

    This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    FreeBSD Support on Hyper-V



    Microsoft and partners NetApp and Citrix announced upcoming native support for FreeBSD support on Windows Server Hyper-V.

    This move continues Microsoft’s commitment to extend support across platforms to the Windows Server Hyper-V solution, making it easier for more customers to realize the benefits of server virtualization and more easily adopt cloud computing.

    This will allow FreeBSD to run as a first-class guest on Windows Server Hyper-V. The drivers and associated source code will be released early this summer under the BSD license, and will initially work with FreeBSD 8.2 and 8.3 on Windows Server 2008 R2.

    You can read more about this on the Openness blog.

    You can read the full interview with Joe CaraDonna, the Technical Director of Core Operating Systems at NetApp, here.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    University of Southampton sends a Nokia Lumia 800 to 105,000 feet




    We have been working closely with Steven Johnston and András Sóbester members of the Astra Research team from Southampton University over the past year, since last April when the team ASTRA team launched the first Windows Phone device with huge success.

    Over the past year, the ASTRA Atmospheric Science Through Robotic Aircraft research team, are now using a number of Microsoft technologies including, Microsoft .Net Gadgeteer, Windows Embedded, Windows Azure and Windows Phone.

    The Astra team recently launched a new project which included Windows Azure and a Nokia Lumia 800 device, the device was mounted onto a weather balloon to carry out some experiments whilst in flight. The balloon and device reached a height of 105,000 feet, with a temperatures of -61C and maintained data connectivity at 8km above Earth with the Windows Azure cloud completing data capture and analysis of the flight, the results will be used to help create balloon flight trajectory prediction software that can then be used to guide other missions, like weather balloons.


    The experiments completed by ASTRA (Atmospheric Science Through Robotic Aircraft) project investigates new technologies for making low cost observations of the parameters of the atmosphere and their latest experiment, further details of the project can be found at Nokia Conversations blog,

    The balloon and payload travelled for 2 hours and 22 minutes on a journey over South Wales en route to Cornwall. It took some quite pretty pictures along the way too.

    2012-03-16-14-21-26 _DSC7969
    _DSC7972 2012-03-16-14-25-05
    2012-03-16-14-26-53 2012-03-16-15-25-28
    2012-03-16-15-35-35 2012-03-16-15-51-44

    A small selection of the 2GB image set is available to download.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Visual Studio Achievements Gamification in the classroom


    Back in January this year, we announced Visual Studio Achievements for Developers – a fun way bringing Xbox LIVE-like points to everyday programming tasks. The fascinating program makes sure your students hard day’s work doesn’t go unnoticed and after over 80,000 downloads since the initial release, As your aware from my previous blog we have now extended the game to enroll developers working on Windows Azure.

    The Visual Studio Achievements Extension has now been updated to include fifteen new achievements, all focused on exercising features of Windows Azure. Using the extension, various achievements are unlocked based on your activity. When you unlock an achievement, Visual Studio lets you know visually with a pop-up. In addition, your Channel 9 profile is updated with any achievements you earn. So, head over to Channel9, sign up for an account and download the plugin.


    There are 15 new Azure achievements, such as publishing to Windows Azure from Visual Studio (Heading into the Cloud), using page blobs (Attack of the Blob), using SQL Azure (Database Darling) and configuring start up tasks (It’s My Party). Two of the achievements – Phone in the Cloud and Game in the Cloud – require use of Windows Azure toolkits.

    You might also want to check Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone – a Windows Phone app that allows you to view Visual Studio Achievements on the go.

    The Windows Phone application developed by Den Delimarsky allows viewing Visual Studio Achievements on the go. The source code for the application is available on Codeplex. You can choose to pull the source and compile a XAP yourself, and then side-load it on your phone.

    Interestingly, Den has authored a great series of blog posts about this project on DZone with details on each of the different areas, passing on some lessons learned in building this app.

    Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone – Developing the core
    Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone – What it looks like
    Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone – User details & official project page
    Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone – Storage
    Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone – Basic User Comparison
    Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone – Final notes before the beta

    You can also Download the app directly from the Windows Phone MarketPlace the app is called VSA.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Small Basic – A great tool for introducing programming




    Microsoft Small Basic is, in my opinion, one of the really cool platforms for introducing programming to younger students. A FREE simple IDE, a simple subset of BASIC, and built in turtle graphics all resonate with me. And a number of teachers around the world seem to agree.

    What is really great is that we have some Excellent curriculum support. This includes a complete set of PowerPoint presentation with notes for teachers . There are other resources available

    Get Started with Small Basic

    Microsoft Small Basic puts the fun back into computer programming. With a friendly development environment that is very easy to master, it eases students of all ages into the world of programming.

    Read the Small Basic FAQ

    Download Small Basic from DreamSpark.com

    Use the Getting Started Guide to start learning Small Basic

    Use the curriculum to expand your knowledge

    Read sample chapters from e-books to dive deep into Small Basic

    Ask Questions in the Forums

    Stay informed about Small Basic by reading our blog


    Small Basic Curriculum Resources – Tutorials and Guides.


    If you use this curriculum or anything else associated with Small Basic we would love to hear from you? Also any feedback about what we can do better or differently would be appreciated.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Student Graduating this summer connect to your career



    Microsoft Student to Business http://www.microsoft.com/studentstobusiness/


    Coming soon – Career Week! Week commencing May 14th

    Join the discussion on Microsoft student experience Facebook group, the Facebook group will host a themed week around career-related topics. As part of the career week, students will be able to participate in a live Facebook chat with Kevin Otten, Microsoft University Recruiter.

    Microsoft IT Academy category has been added to the S2B portals.

    This new category will expose jobs requiring MS certifications, encouraging more students to complete courses to increase their employability.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    F# in education


    F# for Education and Innovation Workshop

    The F# for Education and Innovation workshop will be held at the University of Pisa on June 28, 2012.


    The free, one-day workshop provides a forum for attendees to learn and explore the use of F# 3.0 for education, research, and industry. Don Syme, from Microsoft Research Cambridge, will present the keynote session. The workshop will highlight the latest developments for information-rich programming in F# 3.0, delivered through Microsoft Visual Studio 11 and Try F#. The workshop is preceded by a free F# tutorial session on June 27.

    If you are interested in attending this workshop, contact Kenji Takeda Microsoft Research.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    TouchDevelop developing directly on a smartphone




    TouchDevelop is a novel software development environment that lets users write programs for Windows Phone directly on a smartphone, without the need of a separate PC. The Windows Phone app can be used in the classroom—along with accompanying videos, a book, and slides—to teach programming concepts. TouchDevelop is ideal for courses on mobile computing, as it reduces the time required to write apps. It is also relevant for some compiler and computer-language courses.

    Windows Phone Loan Programme

    To help students gain access to this revolutionary new programming language and environment, we have established a program to lend academics Windows Phones for use in a course for one semester. If your interested please send a short proposal to outreach@microsoft.com. The proposal should include the name of the instructor, the course website, the number of students, and how the smartphones will be used.

    Learn more:

    · Learn more about TouchDevelop

    · Read about the TouchDevelop programming environment

    · Learn programming with TouchDevelop

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Be one of the first to help create an amazing experience for Microsoft’s next generation operating system!



    Windows 8 offers unparalleled new opportunities for application developers to build and sell apps world-wide via the Windows Store. In this event, we'll deliver developer-level, demo-driven sessions that give you an accelerated entry into what it means to design, develop and publish exciting, modern, polished, world-ready applications for next-generation devices running Windows 8.

    Were hosting a special one day event for UK Students only at

    Microsoft Customer Centre
    Cardinal Place, Victoria
    80-100 Victoria Street
    SW1E 5JL London
    United Kingdom

    Friday, June 8, 2012 from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM (BST)  Register Now

    Level of knowledge required:

    1. Beginners Welcome.

    2. A familiarity with .NET development and Visual Studio would be advantageous but not required.

    Register Now to avoid disappointment

    Agenda (subject to change):

    09:30 – 10:00 - Registration Opens

    10:00 – 11:00 -  Windows 8 for Modern App Development

    11:00 – 12:00 -  Metro Design Language

    12:00 – 12:30 -  Lunch

    12:30 – 13:30 - "Metro Style" Apps - The Power of the Device

    13:30 – 14:30 - “Metro Style" Apps - The Power of the Cloud

    14:30 – 15:00 - From Idea to Store – Next Steps on the Journey

    Register Now

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