• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    FREE .NET Gadgeteer Curricula for Schools and Colleges

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    gadgetGadgeteerNETVS

    Overview

    .NET Gadgeteer can be used in schools to help students make gadgets and learn C# programming along the way. These lesson plans give teachers all the material needed to run 8 1-hour sessions using .NET Gadgeteer. You will also need the hardware, details of which are given at http://netmf.com/gadgeteer.

    The material consists of 8 sessions relating to 3 projects:

    • School Project 1: Building a digital camera
    • School Project 2: Creating a stop watch
    • School Project 3: Creating a game

    The aim of each session is:

    • Session 1: A basic digital camera
      • Put together the hardware components needed to make a basic digital camera
      • Write the code needed to create a basic digital camera
    • Session 2: Extending the camera (part 1)
      • Extend the digital camera to use the LED to indicate when the camera can take a picture
      • Further extend the digital camera to save pictures to an SD Card
    • Session 3: Extending the camera (part 2)
      • Extend the digital camera to read the pictures from the SD Card and display the names of the pictures on the display
      • Further extend the camera such that the pictures are saved using the next available number
      • Further extend the digital camera to count the number of pictures and show a slideshow of the pictures on the SD Card
    • Session 4: Creating a stop watch
      • Create a stop watch with two buttons
    • Session 5: Extending the stop watch
      • Extend the stop watch so that it includes a larger font
      • Add a visual interface to the stop watch
      • Add the touch screen so that there are on-screen buttons rather than hardware buttons to start, stop and reset the counter
    • Session 6: Create a simple game using the joystick (part 1)
      • Use the joystick to move a ball around the screen
      • Create a simple game where the ball has to be moved into a container on the screen
    • Session 7: Create a simple game using the joystick (part 2)
      • Extend the simple game created in Session 6 to place the ball in a container and keep a score
    • Session 8: Create a simple game using the joystick (part 3)
      • Complete the joystick ball-in-a-box game, consolidating previous skills
      • Encourage students to explore how they could implement their own ideas for a gadget
    Download FREE Curricula and resources for teaching, learning and research from http://www.microsoft.com /faculty  
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Touch Develop Programming directly on Windows Phone

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    Touchdevelop

    Touchdevelop is an ideal teaching tools for schools, touch develop allows you to program a Windows Phone directly.  You do not need a separate PC. Scripts can perform various tasks similar to regular apps. Any TouchDevelop user can install, run, edit, and publish scripts. You can share your scripts with other people by publishing them to the TouchDevelop script bazaar, or by submitting them as an app to the Windows Phone Marketplace.

    touchdev1touchdev2touchdev3touchdev4

    touchdev5touchdev6touchdev7

    How its being used for Education

    Ninety eighth-grade students at Mill Creek Middle School in Kent, Washington, learned how to write smartphone programs with TouchDevelop, a Microsoft Research programming environment that enables users to create and test programs on Windows Phone. Most of the students had no prior experience with programming, but after tinkering with TouchDevelop for an hour, students came up with a variety of innovative and fun programs that they proudly demonstrated to their peers.http://research.microsoft.com/apps/video/default.aspx?id=157112&s=0&e=150 

    More about TouchDevelop

    Teach TouchDevelop Resources

    http://www.touchdevelop.com/teach

    Resources and Book on TouchDevelopment

    http://www.touchdevelop.com/book#single

    Discuss and stay up-to-date
    Research
    Contact the TouchDevelop Team
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    City and Guilds Conference June 26th 2012

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    cloud power

    In recent months Cloud has become a hot topic.  But what is it?  What are the implications for business and how do you train or up-skill staff to deal with it?
    If you want to know what Cloud is and is not, City & Guilds is providing the opportunity to meet and listen to key players in the world of Cloud.  Major Vendors from the industry will provide an insight in how to handle Cloud, while leading Industry Certification partners will show what they are offering in terms of learning and assessment.


    cityguilds
     

    People do not have to be technically minded to be affected by Cloud, but many presume it is complicated and requires major change to infrastructure.  The City & Guilds ICT Conference will help you decide if they are right and provide the opportunity to find support for other areas of ICT learning.

    This free conference will start at 9.30 and finish at 4pm.  The venue  is Microsoft Offices in Thames Valley Park in Reading
    Please note:  There is a maximum of two delegates per centre

    What's the event about?

    Knowledge and practical actions to show what City & Guilds and its Vendor partners have to help centres, employers and learners get to grips with Cloud and other aspects of learning ICT for users and professionals.

    Who should attend?

    ICT/Business Management Tutors, Curriculum Leaders, Heads of Department for ICT and Business, whether in an FE College or Private Training Provider.  Also businesses that are trying to understand what Cloud is all about and to find centres that can help in this and other areas of ICT training...

    Location

    Location - Microsoft Offices, Reading

    Date - 26 June 2012

    Event Code - MST260612RD   

     

    Bookings

    To book simply click here using the event references above. If you have any queries, please contact Sue Bridge, Customer Support Events Coordinator on 01924 206777 or email: customer_events@cityandguilds.com
     

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    SketchFlow – Sketching and Prototyping in Expression Blend

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    I had a interesting discussion this morning with a business school looking at introducing Mobile App development one of the key things within their assessment is the proof of prototypes and wireframes we got onto discussing the opportunity and advantages of using Microsoft Expression, SketchFlow.

    SketchFlow addresses three pain points in software sketching and prototyping:

    It makes it easier to experiment with ideas for dynamic user interaction.
    It facilitates communication of design ideas and intent between designers and other stakeholders.
    It makes it easier to gather, evaluate and use stakeholder feedback on design ideas.

    Sketchflow is a fun, informal, flexible, quick and powerful way to sketch and prototype rich, dynamic interactivity with Expression Blend.

     sketchflow

    SketchFlow

    The mission of the Expression team is to help designers to create great user experiences. We believe that this mission needs to begin with the early exploration phases of design. SketchFlow,

    SketchFlow is a set of tools for Expression Blend to create sketches and prototypes of interactive content and applications, giving Blend a new role in pre-production and design phases of the development process.

    SketchFlow is informal and quick, enabling you to sketch out plentiful ideas for dynamic interactions in a cost effective manner. SketchFlow also supports the evolution of your rough sketches into living and breathing prototypes that can be as real as you need them to be.

    SketchFlow is part of Expression Blend so FREE from www.dreamspark.com

    Throughout the software industry, we historically have not spent much effort on the earlier stages of design. This lack of upfront investment in design often leads to increased cost due to a need for expensive rework at a later stage and to products that may not satisfy our customers.

    Great design for software needs a great design process, and ways to make the exploration, communication and evaluation of interaction and design fast and effective are an important part of great process.

    sketchflow1

    Sketching, and, at a slightly later stage of the design process, prototyping, are wonderful techniques to explore a multitude of ideas quickly, without excessive investment and emotional attachment. Software interaction is highly dynamic, and over the last years we have consistently have pushed more in the direction of rich, dynamic visuals and interaction methods. Expectations have risen greatly. However, it is far from easy to create meaningful design studies and sketches of dynamic interactivity entirely with traditional tools. There are many reasons for that, including the fact that most design tools have been created as production tools, focused on the creation of final production assets, where precision, quality and finish matter. Another reason is that most tools still treat UI as something that is just a small derivation from an otherwise static comp.

     

    Gathering feedback

    SketchFlow provides a way to showcase your prototype to others using the SketchFlow Player. The SketchFlow Player allows you to explore the prototype from the first moment on, even while it consists of nothing but a few rough sketches. The player lets you navigate your prototype, run animations that illustrate how your prototype might work, or switch into different states of your UI, all without wiring up actual UI elements. This lowers the cost of evaluating ideas in early stages before much expense has been incurred.

    But showing a prototype to others is only part of the review process, so the SketchFlow Player provides tools to collect feedback from reviewers. Reviewers can provide feedback either as text, like the comments in the Feedback tab in the screenshot below, or as ink, like the red arrow in the screenshot below. Then you can incorporate this feedback into the prototype using the Feedback panel in Expression Blend, allowing you to iterate on your design using suggestions from your team.

    Resources

    Tutorials on Sketchflow http://www.microsoft.com/design/toolbox/school/tutorials.aspx

    For more information, watch a video on Sketchflow

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Kinect SDK 1.5

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    k4w-sensorangle

    We are pleased to announce that we have released version 1.5 of the Kinect for Windows runtime and SDK. 

    Additionally, Kinect for Windows hardware is now available in Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan. Starting next month, Kinect for Windows hardware will be available in 15 additional countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, India, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. When this wave of expansion is complete, Kinect for Windows will be available in 31 countries around the world. 

    Go to our Kinect for Windows website to find a reseller in your region.

    We have added more capabilities to help developers build amazing applications, including:

    • Kinect Studio, our new tool which allows developers to record and play back Kinect data, dramatically shortening and simplifying the development lifecycle of a Kinect application. Now a developer writing a Kinect for Windows application can record clips of users in the application’s target environment and then replay those clips at a later time for testing and further development.
    • A set of Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) to guide developers on best practices for the creation of Natural User Interfaces using Kinect.
    • The Face Tracking SDK, which provides a real-time 3D mesh of facial features—tracking the head position, location of eyebrows, shape of the mouth, etc.
    • Significant sample code additions and improvements.  There are many new samples in both C++ and C#, plus a “Basics” series of samples with language coverage in C++, C#, and Visual Basic.
    • SDK documentation improvements, including new resources as well as migration of documentation to MSDN for easier discoverability and real-time updates.

    We have continued to expand and improve our skeletal tracking capabilities in this release:

    Kinect for Windows SDK v1.5 offers 10-joint head/shoulders/arms skeletal tracking

    Seated Skeletal Tracking is now available. This tracks a 10-joint head/shoulders/arms skeleton, ignoring the leg and hip joints. It is not restricted to seated positions; it also tracks head/shoulders/arms when a person is standing. This makes it possible to create applications that are optimized for seated scenarios (such as office work with productivity software or interacting with 3D data) or standing scenarios in which the lower body isn’t visible to the sensor (such as interacting with a kiosk or when navigating through MRI data in an operating room).

    • Skeletal Tracking is supported in Near Mode, including both Default and Seated tracking modes. This allows businesses and developers to create applications that track skeletal movement at closer proximity, like when the end user is sitting at a desk or needs to stand close to an interactive display.

    We have made performance and data quality enhancements, which improve the experience of all Kinect for Windows applications using the RGB camera or needing RGB and depth data to be mapped together (“green screen” applications are a common example):

    • Performance for the mapping of a depth frame to a color frame has been significantly improved, with an average speed increase of 5x.
    • Depth and color frames will now be kept in sync with each other. The Kinect for Windows runtime continuously monitors the depth and color streams and corrects any drift.
    • RGB Image quality has been improved in the RGB 640x480 @30fps and YUV 640x480 @15fps video modes. The image quality is now sharper and more color-accurate in high and low lighting conditions.

    New capabilities to enable avatar animation scenarios, which makes it easier for developers to build applications that control a 3D avatar, such as Kinect Sports.

    Kinect for Windows skeletal tracking is supported in near mode, including both default and seated tracking modes

     

    • Kinect for Windows runtime provides Joint Orientation information for the skeletons tracked by the Skeletal Tracking pipeline. 
    • The Joint Orientation is provided in two forms:  A Hierarchical Rotation based on a bone relationship defined on the Skeletal Tracking joint structure, and an Absolute Orientation in Kinect camera coordinates.

    Resources

    A video introduction to v1.5 is live on Channel 9

    The Kinect for windows website has been significantly updated, including new and updated developer resources:

    Updated docs which are now 100% on MSDN

    Human Interface Guidelines which helps developers get started with NUI interaction design

    Video how-to’s for an easy introduction to the SDK capabilities

    Download the SDK here

    Thank you all for your interest, enthusiasm, questions, and feedback – your contributions are a key part of making the product great.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Research So.cl Social Networks for Learning

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    Developed by the team behind KODO, an elegant and simple visual programming language, So.cl is now open for registrations. So.cl offers a unique take on search and social networking and is designed to give students the ability to network with their peers and both share information and collaborate more easily online.

    clip_image001

    More importantly, So.cl is designed to offer a secure environment for students to discover new topics of interest and share this with their classmates and beyond. A global classroom or study group is potentially now only a click away!

    Users log in to the network with their Facebook or Windows Live accounts, and are then presented with a range of topic areas that they can learn more about and share with their friends and wider network. Search being a focal point of the service also makes it easy to find new content based around the topics they are currently studying or passionate about and add these to their So.cl profile page. Furthermore, the addition of a So.cl "bookmarklet" makes sharing additional content that users discover online to their So.cl network a simple and streamlined process.

    The ability to add and curate video parties and collaborate around this content with friends is a also a particularly compelling and interesting feature and look forward to seeing how this is embraced within the community.

    Ultimately, with research now primarily being carried out online So.cl offers learners an interesting aggregation tool to collect and share the resources they discover on Facebook and Wikipedia etc to fellow learners and likeminded connections on the site. We will be watching the service closely and will be sharing additional content on the blog over the coming weeks.

    In the meantime, you can learn more about So.cl over at http://www.so.cl/

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    FREE Ebooks from Microsoft Press

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    Microsoft Press have a number of FREE Ebooks now available covering topics from SQL Server 2012, Office 2010 and Windows Phone, there is something here for everyone. 

    Many of our free ebooks are offered in three formats - PDF, Mobi (Kindle) and epub. Hope you find them useful!

    clip_image002 clip_image003 clip_image004 clip_image005clip_image007

    clip_image008 clip_image009 clip_image010Moving to Visual Studio 2010Programming Windows Phone 7

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Azure Conference 22nd June 2012

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    PosterAzure 

    Announcing the UK Windows Azure conference.

    If you building or considering building applications for the cloud, then the 22nd June is a date for the diary.  It’s a big day for Windows Azure as the first full day, multi-track conference supported by Microsoft and London Windows Azure User Group, featuring content for .NET, PHP, Java and node.js developers as well as device support in Windows 8, iOS, Windows Phone and Android.  Tickets are free until 20th May, register for the conference here: http://azureconference2012.eventbrite.com/

    Scott Guthrie speaking at UK Windows Azure conference 22nd June

    They keynote speaker for the conference on 22nd in London will be Scott Guthrie, the Microsoft corporate vice president in charge of the development platform for Windows Azure.  See more at http://azureconference2012.eventbrite.com/

    Microsoft Cloud Day: Windows Azure, Windows 8, Devices and Open Source innovations

    Follow the UK Azure usergroup @ukwaug on twitter for event info and surprise announcements...
    If you can't make TechEd in Amsterdam then come to Pre-TechEd in London!


    If your building or considering building applications for the cloud, then this will be a great place to spend a day. And until 20th May, the tickets are free! After the 20th they will charged at £25 per person.


    Tea and coffee will be provided throughout the day. And we'll have a selection of stands, some offering free software licenses and giveaway ebooks to every delegate.


    The conference opens at 8 AM in the morning for registration, tea and coffee.
    Talks will begin promptly at 9 AM, with a major keynote address. Then in the afternoon there will be 4 tracks, with some great speakers covering a lot of ground, from core conecepts though to support for different languages and frameworks through to building client apps backed by the cloud... along with real world expertise:

    • Track 1 includes details on all core platform services such as infrastructure, data, High Performance Computing and big data
    • Track 2 includes talks on PHP, node.js, Java and Office 365 and Sharepoint
    • Track 3 includes talks on developing for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Windows 8 backed by Windows Azure
    • Track 4 is an architecture forum with talks on Team Foundation Build, Agile, CI and Windows Azure

    Agenda

    For now, here's the outline agenda. We have some great announcements to come and will share more very soon.

    Morning Session

    • 8 AM - Registration opens
    • 9-9.15 AM - Introduction
    • 9.15 -11.15 - Special opening keynote from Microsoft Corp

    Breakout Sessions

    • Tracks go from - 11.30 AM – 6.30 PM

    Location

    The conference will take place in the Vue Cinema, Fulham Broadway, London with access to restaurants, bars and all amenities.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

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

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    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.

    image

     

    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

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    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.

    Solution

    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.

    Benefits

    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.

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