The goal of this site is to put relevant and applicable tools and information at the fingertips
With this blog we want to inform you on our latest initiatives.
Enjoy reading and stay tuned!
Registration is now open for the UK Windows 8 App Excellence Lab for May.
What is it?
The Windows 8 App Excellence Labs is the only channel for UK developers to gain earlier access to the Windows Store. And of course, gain valuable feedback and advice around enhancing their great Metro user experience and much more.
The lab is a 4-hour engagement with a trained Microsoft Services Engineer who will run their app through a series of tests based on a quality checklist to ensure their app is (or will be) in top-notch shape when they submit.
The App Excellence Labs will be held in the Microsoft Technology Centre at Microsoft HQ at Thames Valley Park, Reading
What do you need to do to take advantage of the App Excellence Labs?
1. Apply to join our UK Windows 8 for Application Developer LinkedIn Group.
2. We will reply asking you for some details of what it is you are building and then admit you into the group.
3. You build a great app following the guidance that we have online and which meets the Store certification requirements.
4. We will use the LinkedIn Group to invite you to an Application Excellence Lab at Microsoft in Reading where you’ll work with an engineer to ensure certification requirements are being met and that the app is providing a great experience to the user.
5. You leave the lab with a registration code that lets you begin the app submission process at the Windows Store.
Last January, we released Visual Studio Achievements, bringing gamification to the IDE. The reaction from the developer community was very positive and we’ve had 85,000+ downloads to date.
Today, we’re excited to announce an update to extension, adding 15 new achievements, all focused on Windows Azure development. You can read more about this on the official MSFT blog, the Windows Azure blog and, of course, on Channel9.
A software engineer's glory so often goes unnoticed. Attention seems to come either when there are bugs or when the final project ships. But rarely is a developer appreciated for all the nuances and subtleties of a piece of code--and all the heroics it took to write it. With Visual Studio Achievements Beta, your talents are recognized as you perform various coding feats, unlock achievements and earn badges.
Visual Studio is a powerful tool with tons of features, many of which you may not know about. Earning some of the badges may result in learning about features you didn’t even know existed!
Download it today from the Visual Studio Gallery
With the Visual Studio Achievements Extension, achievements are unlocked based on your activity. Your code is analyzed on a background thread each time you compile. In addition, the extension listens for certain events and actions that you may perform in Visual Studio, reporting progress on these events to the server.
When you unlock an achievement, Visual Studio lets you know visually with a pop-up:
Figure 1 - Unlocking An Achievement
In addition, your Channel 9 profile is updated with any achievements you earn, recalculating your position on the leaderboard:
Figure 2 - The Visual Studio Achievements Leaderboard
Some examples of individual achievements include Regional Manager (have more than 10 regions in a single class), Close To The Metal (use 5 preprocessor directives), Stubby (generate method stubs 10 times) or Interrupting Cow (have 10 breakpoints in a file). All in all, there are 32 achievements awaiting to be unlocked, all of which are listed here. Here's what the 6 different badges look like:
The Six Categories of Achievements
Customizing Visual Studio
Don't Try This At Home
Just For Fun
Unleashing Visual Studio
Each time you earn a badge, a unique page is created with your profile picture, the badge and a description. You can tweet about achievements you earn and/or share them on Facebook:
Figure 3 - Share A Page
Or, you can show a list of achievements on your blog using the Visual Studio Achievements Widget which is as simple as adding one line of script to your page. After all, those badges look so shiny and nice! Here's an example of the widget on a blog:
Figure 4 - The Visual Studio Achievements Widget On A Blog
We're just getting started with Visual Studio Achievements and are hoping to release more in the future. If you have ideas for additional achievements, we'd love to hear about them. Please use the Q&A section of the achievements extension to make suggestions for future achievements. And if you have suggestions, concerns, issues or problems, again, use the Q&A section of the achievements gallery page. Give a read to the FAQ as well as your question may already be answered.
On Wednesday 25h April at 16:00 BST, the UK hosted its local Imagine Cup finals webcast at the Microsoft Campus in Reading. The 6 finalists from the Software Design competition who were chosen from a round of preliminary judging were whittled down to the two top teams on 19th April through 5 hours of judging in a sealed room at our Microsoft offices in London Victoria. Through much deliberation over the next few days, we chose one team to represent the UK at the Imagine Cup worldwide finals in Sydney, Australia!
Imagine Cup Software Design in the UK this year: A few stats
· We had 991 registrations for the Imagine Cup UK this year
· 374 of them signed up to the Software Design competition
· 49 teams were formed for the Software Design competition
· 26 teams submitted a Round 1 entry
· 6 teams were selected for the UK final
· 1 team won and will go to the worldwide finals in Sydney to represent the UK
Bazinga! From Motherwell College – were inspired to use smartphone technology to inspire students all about Science! “Professor Duffy’s Interactive Labs app” is a complete science Lab on the phone utilising various sensors on the phone to demonstrate the practical side of science in a fun and interactive way.
Teesside 0x32: From Teesside University was inspired to develop Cloud Doctor – In Ethiopia for example there is 1 doctor to 50,000 patients. Cloud Doctor, as the name implies, harnesses Windows Azure and Cloud technologies combined with Windows Phone and Windows 8 tablets to deliver an on-demand, flexible and intelligent collaboration system – connecting healthcare workers in the developing world with specialists and doctors all over the world who volunteer their time to help patients on the ground.
Team EyeWorks: From Northumbria University and Newcastle College were inspired to develop MIRA (a Mobile Intelligent Retinal Analysis platform). MIRA is a cloud based platform that utilises Smartphone technology coupled with a specialist lens attachment developed at Northumbria University to identify early stage sight loss in the developing world.
WykeWare: From the University of Hull were inspired to develop a smartphone application to assist those people with a risk of falling be it the elderly or people prone to fainting. Their submission embraced cloud technology to match emergencies and responders to identify how to prioritise how best to help.
Sentient Systems: From the University of Reading were inspired to develop “Sentience” a cost effective software solution designed to run affordable , advanced and customizable robot systems utilising cloud based distribution, plug-in architectures, commodity frameworks and low cost hardware specifically Kinect!
Team Loading: From The University of Manchester were inspired to develop Project Sky High. Project Sky High is a Windows Phone application combined with a netduino hardware sensor to allow aid workers in the developing world to transform a smartphone into a cost effective portable ultrasound scanner and mobile blood pressure monitor. The patient data will be recorded in the cloud in Windows Azure and accessible by a medical professional.
In 3rd place and winners of a pocket digital video camcorder each were…
In 2nd place and winners of a Windows Phone each were…
In 1st place and winners of a Windows Phone each, a trip to the Microsoft Technology Center in Reading to spend a day with the experts and also the grand prize of a trip to Sydney, Australia to compete in the worldwide finals were…
A huge congratulation to all teams who competed and this year the decision was made much harder than ever before as the entries this year far surpassed previous years.
All teams who submitted a Round 2 video entry will be receiving feedback and teams who have won prizes will be hearing from the Academic Team very soon! Congratulations to Team EyeWorks and we will be seeing you in Sydney!
Watch the Video of the Imagine Cup 2012 UK Live Web Cast relieving the Winners of the UK Imagine Cup entries
On Wednesday 25h April, the UK will be hosting its local Imagine Cup finals at Microsoft Campus in Reading. UK. Finalists form the Software Design Imagine Cup competition, will have their entries judged by to a panel of industry leading judges. Winners not only travel to the worldwide final in July, but received a Windows Phone 7 device and a selection of goodies to help them on their way!
First Place Team:
Each team member wins a Windows Phone, a trip to the Microsoft Technology Center in Reading and the grand prize detailed below
Second Place Team
Each team member wins a Windows Phone
Third Place Team
Each team member wins a Pocket Digital Camcorder
First Place Team Grand Prize:
The team that wins First place in the UK Software Development Competition Finals, as announced on 25 April 2012, will also qualify to participate in the Worldwide Finals of the Imagine Cup 2012 which will be held in Sydney, Australia in July 2012. As detailed in the Imagine Cup Official Rules each team member of the First place team, and the Team Mentor, will receive return economy flights from the major airport nearest the finalists’ residence, hotel accommodation on a room only basis, and select meals
Team Bazinga! From Motherwell College – were inspired to use smartphone technology to inspire students all about Science ! “Professor Duffy’s Interactive Labs app” is a complete science Lab on the phone utilising various sensors on the phone to demonstrate the practical side of science in a fun and interactive way.
Team 0x32: From Teesside University were inspired to develop Cloud Doctor – In Ethiopia for example there is 1 doctor to 50,000. Cloud Doctor as the name implies, harnesses Windows Azure and Cloud technologies combined with Windows Phone and Windows 8 tablets to deliver an on-demand , flexible and intelligent collaboration system – connecting healthcare workers in the 3rd world with specialists and doctors all over the world who volunteer their time to help patients on the ground..
Team EyeWorks: From Northumbria University and Newcastle College were inspired to develop - MIRA. A Mobile Intelligent Retinal Analysis platform. MIRA is a cloud based platform that utilises Smartphone technology coupled with a specialist lens attachment developed at Northumbria University to identify early stage sight loss in the 3rd world.
Team WykeWare: From the University of Hull were inspired to develop a smartphone application to assist those people with a risk of falling be it the elderly or people prone to fainting. Their submission embraced cloud technology to match emergencies and responders to identify how to prioritise how best to help.
Team Sentient Systems: From the University of Reading were inspired to develop “Sentience” a cost effective software solution designed to run affordable , advanced and customizable robot systems utilising cloud based distribution, plug-in architectures, commodity frameworks and low cost hardware specifically Kinect !
Team Loading: From The University of Manchester were inspirited to develop project Sky High>. Project Sky High is a windows phone application combined with a netduino hardware sensor to allow aid workers in the 3rd world to transform a smarphone into a cost effective portable ultrasound scanner and mobile blood monitor. The patient data will be recorded in the cloud in Windows Azure and accessible by a medical professional
Best of luck to the UK Finalist.. watch this space for winner announcement
Microsoft BizSpark, Techila Technologies have published a selection of new video explaining how cloud computing might be able to boost researchers success and innovation. As changes and enhancements in cloud computing progress at such a rapid rate its important as researchers and academics you understand where businesses and the markets are going and adapt your research and teaching to take advantage of the opportunities. As we are all aware the UK education system is presented with a number of financial and resource constraints, so its important for us all to identify and deploy the best possible tools.
The Power of the Azure Cloud with Techila and Microsoft Azure
This tutorial shows how to set up Techila Server on Windows Azure cloud platform. The Techila Deployment Tool for Windows Azure enables deployment of a Techila HPC environment for distributed computing in minutes.
Related documents available at www.techilatechnologies.com.
Examples of Azure Power
Increase the performance of your MATLAB applications with Techila middleware, in the following example see the impact of 200 CPU cores of Windows Azure cloud platform power. This video demonstrates distributing heavy stochastic structures with Cloudfor method.
As your all aware Modelling, simulation, optimisation and data-analysis applications often spend a great part of their running times in for loop structures.
Techila is the missing link between applications and the capacity of the clouds. If you use Monte Carlo methods, stochastic simulation based optimization, or data analysis, the opportunity of using Techila and Azure will be easily rewarded in time and resource savings.
Fast 3D animation rendering with Blender in the cloud ( www.blender.org ). In this demo we show how to use Techila middleware to connect a renderer to the capacity of Windows Azure compute instances. We will scale the performance of rendering and animating a render project with Techila and cloud capacity. This will allow you to use cloud as your on-demand renderfarm. Techila middleware enables powering new and existing application with the infinite capacity of cloud. Techila provides automatic distribution of workloads with an unparalleled experience and shielding from complexity.
The Windows Azure Educator Grants are now broadly available. Educators from around the world can apply for the grant through the Azure in Education page on the Windows Azure web site and benefit from free access, with no Credit Card required, to the Windows Azure platform for a 150-day period for yourselves, your teaching assistants, and your students
There are two options to distribute products to your students.
The first, and most commonly used, leverage the e-Academy License Management System (ELMS) Webstore that comes with your subscription. ELMS is a Web-based software distribution system that program administrators can tailor to their department’s needs. ELMS is provided as a free benefit to DreamSpark member departments worldwide, so no additional fees apply in order to use it. Essentially, ELMS enables administrators to create a customized Web-based software and key distribution mechanism for their department, deploy it to their students, and enjoy the benefit of the maintenance-free record-keeping inherent to the ELMS system.
Note: There is a brief deployment process, but the seamless record-keeping, broad distribution, and easy maintenance are significant! We highly recommend that all administrators consider the use of ELMS, which can be deployed in one of two ways:
The second option is to use MSDN Subscriber Downloads to access any product keys that students may need to activate their products. While administrators cannot grant direct access to the MSDN Subscriber Downloads to students, they can download the software package and request keys from this site and give them to students.
So what is ELMS
ELMS is a Web-based software distribution and management application hosted by e-academy. As a turnkey system, ELMS enables you to authenticate eligible students and faculty online and automate the ordering and distribution of DreamSpark software to students and faculty. ELMS is available to all program administrators worldwide, and is currently available in six languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese and Portuguese-Brazilian. ELMS is available to your end-users in the following eight languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, Turkish and Russian. When you request your ELMS, please be sure to indicate your language preference.
To get your private URL to your ELMS, please fill out this request form. The support team will be able to give you instructions on how to setup and configure your ELMS system.
ELMS Training Resources
This is a question, I seem to be asked a lot at present….
How do Microsoft certifications relate to academic or vocational qualifications?
If your an existing Microsoft IT Academy members, we have lots of information on certification mapping available in the IT Academy members-only site that gives an overview. However it is also possible by accessing the QCF Database. This database holds information relating to qualifications and units that are approved by Ofqual. Generally this means that they are available for delivery as components of academic or vocational programs of learning. Microsoft certifications relate to Units on the QCF.
Here are a few pointers:
· Microsoft certifications are “Units on the QCF”
· Most Microsoft certifications are on the QCF
· It is easy to search on the QCF to find which Microsoft certifications are listed
· The information can be exported in a spread sheet
· The QCF list the Units and any Qualifications that contain them
· IT certifications are listed under 6.1 for IT professional and 6.2 for User
· IT Professional Units are technical e.g. Windows 7 or Server 2008
· IT User Units are applications like Word or PowerPoint
· Units have a credit value and a level
· Microsoft Units are contained in the ITQ, BETEC and many vocational qualifications. More recently, the Microsoft Technology Associate has been included or aligned in Apprenticeships and Computer Science GCSEs
The following information shows how to check the detail of Microsoft Units and their possible inclusion in Qualifications:
Go to http://register.ofqual.gov.uk/Unit
6.1 and 6.2 cover ICT. Search on both. 6.1 lists IT Professional Qualifications (Practitioner)and 6.2 Lists IT User qualifications. You will be able to view or export to a spread sheet. The data includes Level and Credit values. Obviously it is possible to search for Microsoft in the exported data.
Double click on the Unit Reference number and it will display the Learning Outcomes
Use the link half way down the page, “View Unit’s Qualifications” and it will list all the qualifications that contain the Unit.
Select the Unit and this now gives more information on the qualification
And if you continue to scroll down the Ofqual Qualification page there is an additional link right at the bottom to the Performance Figures
Microsoft certifications can attract Performance Points as Units within a Qualification
An alternative way is to search for Microsoft at the initial stage by entering “Microsoft” in the title box. The list can then be accessed in the same way as above.
The following document “Curriculum mapping to Standards” gives an overview of mapping.
ITSkillsman are a Microsoft Academic Service Partner (MASP) and are able to provide independent advice on the inclusion of Microsoft certifications in programmes of learning.
For more information please contact Mike Evans on 01460 281114 or 07831 600375
e-mail email@example.com or visit www.itskillsman.co.uk or www.itcertsolutions.co.uk
I am happy to let you know that the new Kinect for Windows curriculum resources are now available for download from Faculty Connection. These resources, created by Rob Miles (University of Hull, UK), are arranged into a half-semester course consisting of Lectures, Labs/Demos with Tutorials accompanied by a 57-page ebook. It contains information on the Windows Kinect sensor bar, the Windows Kinect SDK v1.0 and how to write Kinect programs/apps. It assumes a working knowledge of the C# programming language, the XNA framework and program development using Visual Studio.
These materials can be used as follows:
· Integrated into a CS course, such as Programming 2, HCI, Computer Graphics, NUI, etc.
· Two-day instructor led workshop
b. What you need to develop code
2. An Introduction to Kinect
a. The Kinect Sensor
b. Inside a Kinect Sensor Bar
c. Connecting the Sensor Bar
d. Installing the Kinect for Windows SDK
e. What We Have Learned
3. Writing Kinect Programs
a. Using the Kinect Video Camera
b. Using the Kinect Depth Camera
c. Using Sound with Kinect
d. What We Have Learned
4. Kinect Natural User Interfaces
a. People tracking in Kinect
b. Creating Augmented Reality
c. Adding Voice Response
Techila Technologies together with Microsoft have just published a new video explaining how cloud computing might be able to boost institutions success and innovation.
I wanted to share you this information as you might be interested of hearing what Techila does today and what "cloud" in big scale really is and how it can change the future of computing.
Techila and Microsoft Azure for HPC computing:
The Windows Azure Educator Grants are now broadly available. Educators from around the world can apply for the grant through the Azure in Education page on the Windows Azure web site and benefit from free access, with no Credit Card required, to the Windows Azure platform for a 150-day period for yourselves, your teaching assistants, and your students.