Faculty Connection is an online set of real-world resources and shared peer knowledge, the goal of the Faculty Connection site is to put relevant and applicable tools and information at the fingertips of technology educators.
The UK Academic Team is responsible for offering IT students and faculty members free access to software, for enhancing knowledge and skills by providing curriculum materials and other learning opportunities, for helping students achieve their dreams by organizing an international competition, and finally for assisting last year students through career resources and job opportunities at our customers and partners.
With this blog we want to inform you on our latest initiatives.
Enjoy reading and stay tuned!
Last week UK Technical Evangelist’s Simon May and Andrew Fryer presented a number of sessions at TechDays Online.
TechDays online is dedicated online UK event covering Windows Server 2012, Windows 8 and Private Cloud.
On the day Andrew and Simon had a number of requested to publish the decks those decks are now here available for you to click through and download if you so wish.
Windows Server 2012
For a list of more IT professional events see http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/techdays/default.aspx
Following on from Sarah Lamb great post at UK MSDN “Imagine a scenario in which you were able to add new levels to a platform game immediately after they have been built. Using a cloud backend makes this all possible, and when you can also track significant quantities of data to keep your game flow smooth and your players engaged, you give your title the best chance it has at being great at player retention.”
I wanted to ask the following questions…
How many of you use the cloud today in your gaming experience?
Take a look at following video
Now ask yourself the question again?
So this is how we see the use of games and apps on modern devices
How do you see your consumers using devices, apps, services and infrastructure?
What does Windows Azure Offer?
How many of want to use the cloud but not sure where to start?
Simply go to http://www.windowsazure.com
Or if your a academic or student go to http://www.windowsazure.com/education
How many are you just really interested in learning more about the cloud?
One of the key features for mobile app/game developers is Azure Mobile Services https://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/develop/mobile/ which supports Windows, iOS, Android and HTML
What does Azure Mobile Services offer?
Interested to hear what the thought leaders in the RU Gaming Industry think re: The opportunity of the Cloud?
See the following summary document EU Cloud Gaming Conference 2013 simply click on the image to download your PDF copy to keep.
Design and build your own electronic devices http://www.gadgeteering.net
NET Gadgeteer is a platform for creating your own electronic devices using a wide variety of hardware modules and a powerful programming environment. Students with little or no electronics background can design and build devices that sense and react to their environments using components such as switches, displays, buzzers, sensors and more. Using cables these various modules are plugged into a mainboard which is programmed to make everything work together. Devices can be programmed using Visual Basic or Visual C#.
How to learn .NET Gadgeteer
.NET Gadgeteer can be incorporated into the teaching of programming at GCSE and A-Level, or introduced in extra-curricular clubs at KS3. Teaching materials for .NET Gadgeteer are available at http://www.gadgeteering.net
These are structured around key programming principles including selection, iteration, arrays and file handling, so that students can learn all the key concepts they need whilst having fun!
What to buy
.NET Gadgeteer is open source hardware that is available from a number of manufacturers. For our Visual Basic teaching materials one suggestion is to buy a Fez Hydra kit, and also a small display, SD Card module and button. However other mainboards can be used just as well. Gadgeteer components are available from the following manufacturers/suppliers: GHI Electronics, Love Electronics, SyTech, Proto-Pic, Cool Components and Mouser Electronics, amongst others. Students can work in groups of four to build a Gadgeteer project.
How students benefit
.NET Gadgeteer is a motivating environment for teaching programming and is ideal for collaborative projects, where students share out tasks and work together to build a device of their own invention. Crucially, it also gives them a better understanding of how the devices and technology all around them work, as well as the skills to create their own.
Heading to BETT http://www.bettshow.com
NET Gadgeteer can offer exciting possibilities for teaching computer programming, electronics and computer-aided design. Once the device is built and programmed, a housing can be built for the device to enable ease of use, which also helps students to learn about human-computer interaction.
If your attending BETT See .NET Gadgeteer in action at the AQA stand and for more information contact: Dr Sue Sentance, Schools outreach for .NET Gadgeteer, E-mail: email@example.com, http://www.gadgeteering.net
What is Windows Azure? Windows Azure is a platform for building scalable, highly reliable, multi-tiered web service applications. It is hosted on Microsoft’s large data centers in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Windows Azure has both compute and data resources. The compute resources are designed to allow applications to scale to thousands of servers and data resources. For more information on Windows Azure keep an eye on the Windows Azure team blog.
What types of research projects are well suited to Azure? Windows Azure can be an excellent research platform for many types of research. However, it is designed to support scalable web services, so projects that play to this strength will have the most success. One area of particular interest is computational models and techniques that augment the capabilities of client devices, ranging from feature rich desktop and laptop computers to cell phones of other mobile devices with data and computation resources in the cloud. How can we make the cloud into a transparent extension and experience amplifier of our client-based research tools?
Others interesting areas include:
Research to support intelligent interactions leveraging web data and domain knowledge.
Will Hadoop or Dryad/LINQ be available on Azure? There is no port of Hadoop or Dryad/LINQ currently available. However, Windows Azure is an excellent platform for experimenting with new variations on large-scale map-reduce algorithms, as these patterns are easily coded as worker role networks.
Can I run my MPI HPC applications on Windows Azure? Windows Azure is not designed to replace the traditional HPC supercomputer. In its current data center configuration it does not have the high-bandwidth, low-latency communication model that is appropriate for tightly-coupled MPI jobs. However, Windows Azure can be used to host large parallel computations that do not require MPI messaging, such as ensemble or parameter sweep studies.
Can Azure be useful as an experimental host for distributed computing research? Yes. Windows Azure worker roles have access to standard TCP/IP sockets on each virtual machine (VM) in which they run. Hence it is possible to use a large number of worker roles to experiment with distributed computing algorithms and protocols.
Can Azure be used to support collaborations and “science gateways”? Yes. Windows Azure is an excellent platform for sharing “community” data and data analysis tools. Most science gateways are built as web portals and Windows Azure is ideally suited for this task.
What data collections will be made available? We will be very interested in suggestions from researchers about important community data collections and tools that can be hosted. We currently have data collections from the NCBI genome databases, oceanographic instrument data, and some MODIS satellite data. We also are providing access to web scale n-grams via a service. However, our goal is to let the research community help us define a sustainable collection of shared resources and analysis tools.
The Web N-gram Services, provided by Microsoft Research in partnership with Microsoft Bing, will provide researchers access to large scale real-world datasets and benchmarks. Access to the Web N-gram Services will be made available to NSF awardees, with the following properties:
N-gram models can advance research in areas such as document representation and content analysis (for example, clustering, classification, and information extraction), query analysis (for example, query suggestion and query reformulation), retrieval models and ranking, spelling, and machine translation. They can also improve intelligent interactions with better dialogue modeling (for example, semantic relations and summarization).
What is the programming model? A Windows Azure program is a scalable, multi-tiered web service. The service consists of one or more “web roles,” which are standard web service processes, and “worker roles,” which are computational and data management processes. Roles communicate by passing messages through queues or sockets. The number of instances of each type of role is determined by the developer when the application is deployed and each role is assigned by Windows Azure to a unique Windows Server virtual machine (VM) instance. (Currently no more than one VM instance runs on an individual core.)
What types compute instances are available on Windows Azure? Each Windows Azure compute instance (web role or worker role) represents a virtual server. Although many resources are dedicated to a particular instance, some resources associated to I/O performance, such as network bandwidth and disk subsystem, are shared among the compute instances on the same physical host. During periods when a shared resource is not fully utilized, you can utilize a higher share of that resource. Each Windows Azure data center server currently has 8 cores, 14 GB of memory, and 2 TB of disk space. An instance can be mapped to one or more cores with the memory and resources divided evenly. The table below describes the way the resources are partitioned on each server.
Compute Instance Size
2 x 1.6 GHz
4 x 1.6 GHz
8 x 1.6 GHz
Windows Azure Pricing Calculator
What virtual machine (VM) types are available? Can I configure my own VM? Windows Azure automatically configures and manages Windows Server VM instances for your application. In the current version of Windows Azure, you cannot remotely connect and run a remote desktop on this VM instance. The VM instances are managed and deployed by the Windows Azure Fabric Controller and you interact with the Fabric Controller though the Windows Azure web interface.
What types of data storage are available on Windows Azure? There are basically five storage systems. Blob storage is for long-term data. Blobs are binary objects together with <name, value> pair metadata. Each blob can be up to 50 GB and blobs are grouped into logical containers. Blobs are replicated three times in the data center for reliability purposes and they can be accessed from any server or by a URL over the Internet. Table storage is another type of persistent storage. A table can be very large (millions of rows and columns) and is partitioned by rows and distributed over the storage nodes in Windows Azure. It is also triply replicated. Tables are not full SQL tables because there is no join operator. Within the compute node there are two types of storage. Local disk is available to each Windows Azure role, but this is not persistent. If your role process goes down it may be restarted on another node, so the local disk is not for persistent data. However, XDrives are virtual drives that can be mounted on a Windows Azure VM instance and they are backed by the blob storage system so that they are persistent. The queue system is also part of the persistent Windows Azure storage model.
Can I run the Windows Azure software stack on my own private cluster? Not currently. Windows Azure is a public cloud service and it is not available as a software product.
What languages/compilers are available? What IDEs can be used with Azure? Applications on Windows Azure are designed and debugged completely on the programmer’s local machine. So any compiler that generates a Windows binary can be used. Microsoft Visual Studio has a “plug-in” for Windows Azure that makes the construction of Windows Azure applications extremely simple. The plug-in allows the programmer to test the application on a local Windows Azure emulator. When the programmer is ready to deploy the application on Windows Azure, the binaries are uploaded through a web interface. This interface also controls deployment parameters such as the number of server instances to be used. Visual Studio is not required.
The application program can also use a plug-in for the Eclipse software framework if that is preferred. Programmers can use Java, Ruby, Python, and C++. We have examples that illustrate how to deploy the Apache Tomcat server on Windows Azure for the web role.
What scientific libraries will be available? We are working on a list of these currently.
Can I run Matlab on Azure? Matlab can be used to “compile” a Matlab application and it is possible to upload this compiled code and libraries to Windows Azure. We have not yet installed a complete Matlab instance on Windows Azure, but it is a project currently under study.
Can I run arbitrary applications as Azure workers? In general, any Windows binary that does not require modifications to the Windows operating system or registry can be loaded and run as part of a Windows Azure role. This includes compiled C, C++, or Fortran programs as well as Java, Python, PHP, and Ruby applications.
How can I use custom libraries with my Azure applications? When you use the IDE to build the application, you simply include the libraries with the application. The IDE will roll these up into the binary that is uploaded to Windows Azure when you deploy your application.
Can I manage collections of tasks (workflows) that involve local data and activities as well as Azure resident data and tasks? Yes. We have a sample Windows Azure service that can manage many concurrent tasks that run on Windows Azure as well as local compute resources. The tasks are arbitrary Windows executables that are wrapped as Windows Azure worker roles. The data that is used or produced can be in the Windows Azure replicated persistent storage or the local disk on each machine. This local storage is not persistent across deployments of your application; however, it is possible to mount a virtual disk that is part of the persistent storage.
Are there hooks in Azure to enable systems-level research on scheduling and resource allocation? Unfortunately, no. Windows Azure applications are controlled by the Azure Fabric controller, which has the responsibility of resource allocation and quality of service for all the currently running applications. Consequently, Windows Azure is not well suited to many systems-level research projects.
What dynamic scaling models are supported by Azure? The programmer must specify the number of each type of role to instantiate at deployment time. These numbers remain fixed until the application is de-deployed. However, it is possible to experiment with dynamic deployment in the application logic.
What performance guarantees can I expect from my applications? What is the interference between workers? Performance will be variable depending on the load on the data center. We will provide basic benchmark tools to help guide application designers to optimize performance. At any given time, Windows Azure will be running many applications in the data center and many of these are commercial customers who demand high levels of service. The research engagement project will receive the same level of support as these commercial users.
Will I be able to instrument my applications? Because you have no direct access to the Windows Server virtual machine instance, you will not be able to access instrumentation that requires administrator level authorization. However, you do have access to application logs and some performance counters, and application-level instrumentation is possible. A complete benchmark suite will be available that you can use to experiment with many performance features of Windows Azure.
How can I get my data into the Azure storage? There are several ways to move data. The most direct method is through the web API to the Windows Azure blob storage. It is also possible to take data stored in Microsoft Office Excel or Matlab and, by using plug-ins we provide, save your data directly in Windows Azure tables. There are also free GUI tools to manage Windows Azure storage from your desktop, such as the Cloud Storage Studio. OpenDAP services will be available for loading and serving data and an FTP application can be used to pull data from FTP sites.
Are there ways to connect desktop or mobile applications to Azure services? Windows Azure is a web service platform, so any web-based protocol can be used to build applications that fully integrate the cloud. This is how the plug-ins for Matlab and Office Excel were built.
Are there data visualization tools available for Azure resident data collections? Both Excel and Matlab running on the desktop can be used to visualize data stored on Windows Azure. More sophisticated local and remote visualization tools will be made available.
What will the Microsoft Research Cloud Research Engagement Team provide to the research community? The engagement team will support the community of researchers through the following:
Develop tutorials and white papers for a general overview of Windows Azure, identify best practices, and provide a benchmark suite as a guide for application architects and developers.
Microsoft® BizSpark™ is a global program that helps software start-ups succeed by giving them access to Microsoft software development tools, connecting them with key industry players, including investors, and providing marketing visibility to help entrepreneurs starting a business.
BizSpark Network Partner Programme Guide, which explains how 3rdparty organisations like Universities can participate.
All we need to proceed is for the university to assign a programme owner. There is a straightforward agreement, which you may need to pass by your legal department, but just to give you some assurance, this has not caused any issue for the more than 2,000 organisations around the world that have already signed up as Network Partners.
Microsoft announced several updates to the Windows Azure platform today at MIX11 in Las Vegas. These new capabilities will help developers deploy applications faster, accelerate their application performance and enable access to applications through popular identity providers including Microsoft, Facebook and Google.
New Services and Functionality
A myriad of new Windows Azure services and functionality were unveiled today.
Windows Azure Platform Offer Changes
Microsoft also announced several offer changes today, including:
Please read the press release or visit the MIX11 Virtual Press Room to learn more about today's announcements at MIX11. For more information about the Windows Azure AppFabric announcements, read the blog post, "Announcing the Commercial Release of Windows Azure AppFabric Caching and Access Control" on the Windows Azure AppFabric blog.
Many UK Universities are already using Microsoft Surface to conduct some amazing teaching learning and research.
Samsung and Microsoft announced today that a new, more versatile Microsoft Surface device is now available for pre-order, the near final stop on its journey from lab to marketplace. You can now visit the Samsung website to find a local reseller and place an order for the Samsung SUR40. Shipments are expected to start early next year.
The Samsung SUR40 was just named a 2011 “Best of What’s New” award winner by Popular Science magazine and is featured in a special awards issue currently on newsstands. Corinne Iozzio, senior associate editor at Popular Science, said the magazine’s editors were impressed with the update to the original Surface, a 2008 “Best of What’s New” winner.
The new device is also popular with academics, researchers and developers, a number of UK Universities are already using the Surface 2.0 software developer kit (SDK) which was released at MIX11 in April. The SDK features an input simulator that enables developers to write Surface applications on any Windows 7 PC.The SDK allows developers to write a single application that can adapt to all sorts of types of hardware. This makes for a great investment: they can target Microsoft Surface hardware as well as any Windows 7 touch-enabled PC. This is a flexible platform so developers can create the best user interface for the person actually using the computer.
Rapid2D v1.3 introduces Rapid2D Pro which allows you to deploy to Windows Phone!
Now you can release your game onto desktop, tablets and mobiles with a single click!
You now have greater control over your game’s objects; adjust the finer details of how they behave, right in the editor. Custom colliders will compliment this higher level of control perfectly. Squares and circles just not doing it for you? Draw your own colliders around your game objects, to make your objects! as precise as you like.Collision filters also make an appearance, allowing objects to only react physically to certain object types. Scene switching is now yours to use; create games with multiple levels, create menu screens! , or for simply anything you can apply it to.ParticlesWith up to 10,000 simultaneous particles, that’s just the start of our new particle system. Customisable warp effects allow you to push and pull particles in different directions with different intensities. Create a gentle breeze, a directional explosion, perhaps even a full blown vortex! They can stretch, according to their force, and their colour is under your control with additive and normal blending. Particles can be set to be uniformly emitted to give predictable, balanced distribution, or non-uniformly emitted to create a more sporadic distribution. The emitters themselves can be used with global or local directions, which might really come in handy, since they can also be attached to your game objects, too! Multi-threadingMulti-threaded rendering greatly improves efficiency in this release, by performing simultaneous rendering on multiple CPU cores, taking advantage of faster processors in modern phones. The automatic .DDS converter helps to limit the amount of resources your images will claim. These are just two of the additions we've made to improve the quality of the games you create.An installer, to make your experience with Rapid2D even more, well, rapid! You’ll also notice that the engine will prompt you when a new version is available, to make sure you’re kept up to date with the latest changes.Finally, this update opens the doors to two new licences! Pro and Studio.To find out which one best suits your needs and a list of some of our features, you can get more information hereFor a limited time only, get 50% off Pro and Studio licenses! Offer expires on the 27th of May
Interested in programming with C++ here are some great resources
Prepare your Windows Store DirectX game programming environment
Add Windows Store features for DirectX 11.1 games
Prepare your Windows game for publishing]
Port from DirectX 9 to Windows Store
Port from OpenGL ES 2.0 to Direct3D 11.1
DirectX game development and sample walkthroughs
Developing Marble Maze, a Windows Store game in C++ and DirectX
Develop Reversi, a Windows Store game in C# and XAML
Additional game programming resources
BizSpark is an innovative new program that unites start-up’s with entrepreneurial and technology resources in a global community with a common goal of supporting and accelerating the success of a new generation of high-potential start-up’s.
BizSpark provides fast, easy access to current full-featured Microsoft development tools and production licenses of server products; professional technical support from Microsoft; and connections to a global community of business experts who can help guide you through the hurdles of growing your business.
Download more details about BizSpark which describes the programme benefits and more.
Visit the Microsoft BizSpark website.
Visit the Microsoft Startup Zone.
Eligibility requirements are minimal: If you're a privately held company building a software-based product or service (even using open source code), in business for fewer than three years, and with less than USD$1M in annual revenue, you're in!
To enrol, you must be sponsored by a BizSpark Network Partner. This is where University Innovation and Enterprise sections can offer a huge benefit to your start-up and entrepreneurs.
BizSpark Network Partner Programme Guide, which explains how 3rdparty organisations like Universities can participate in becoming a BizSpark Network Partner.