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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
DreamSpark is simple: it’s all about giving students Microsoft professional-level developer and designer tools at no charge so you can chase your dreams and create the next big breakthrough in technology—or just get a head start on your career.
DreamSpark gives students the chance to develop world-class software, Web applications, cool and creative designs as well as amazing games. Microsoft believes that students can do amazing things if they only have the right tools. Our company was started when many of the founders were still students, so we know what anything is possible.
To make this happen, we are aligning with universities, associations, and other communities around the world to make sure that DreamSpark reaches everyone as fast as possible. So, get a head start on a career, do better in class, or even show the world new things that technology can do…all with DreamSpark.
So what Software is included…
Developer and Designer Tools
Visual Studio 11 Professional Beta
Visual Studio 2010 Professional
Visual Studio 11 Express Beta for Web
Microsoft Expression Studio 4 Ultimate
Windows Phone and App Hub
Kinect for Windows SDK
XNA Game Studio 4
Kodu Game Lab
Microsoft Mathematics 4
Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 R3
Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
Windows Multipoint Mouse SDK
Windows Embedded Standard 7
Windows Embedded CE 6.0
Visual Studio LightSwitch 2011
Visual Studio 2010 Express Edition
Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition
Visual C# 2008 Express Edition
Visual Basic 2008 Express Edition
Visual C++ 2008 Express Edition
Server & Applications
Windows Server "8" Beta
SQL Server 2012
Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition
Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition
SQL Server 2008 R2 Develop
Windows Virtual PC 2007
SQL Server 2008 Express Edition
Training & Certification
Pluralsight On Demand
Since its introduction in 2001, students and educators around the world have utilized DreamSpark to support and advance their learning and skills through technical design, technology, math, science and engineering activities. This software equips them with the tools they need to succeed during their academic experience and the skills they will need after graduation.
· Microsoft works with educators, institutions and the academic community worldwide to expand opportunities for students and to encourage the development of a skilled workforce.
· Microsoft is committed to providing students with access to programs and software – the tools they need to help them succeed in technology and design fields.
· Microsoft believes in the power of technology to transform education, foster local innovation and enable jobs and economic growth for everyone. Microsoft DreamSpark is just another way of helping this next generation of young leaders seize the opportunity to harness the transformative magic of software.
Examples of how DreamSpark might be used by educators:
Educators have access to the top technical development and design products on the market just like their students. Teachers can teach classes on web development using Expression Studio.
Students today get excited about seeing technology in action, and not just simply learning the fundamentals. With access to products like XNA and Visual Studio, educators can build exciting applications that demonstrate the power of technology.
Q. What is Microsoft DreamSpark™?
A. Microsoft DreamSpark ™ is a program that provides no-cost access to Microsoft designer and development tools for verified students around the world, to support and advance their learning and skills through technical design, technology, math, science and engineering activities. This program equips tomorrow’s developers with the professional tools to inspire and create today.
The program has two primary goals:
Q. What is DreamSpark Premium?
A. Advanced software applications can take years to develop, a costly investment that is often reflected in the purchase price. Microsoft makes these highly desired, advanced programs available to students far below the retail cost of any one program in the list. With this subscription, students can access a free online portal through e-academy that provides them with instant and easy access to all DreamSpark titles while also ensuring that institutions will not need to add internal resources or overhead to manage the DreamSpark software program.
Q: What are the benefits of the DreamSpark program?
A: Much more than a software subscription, membership includes:
Q: What happened to Developer AA?
A: Developer AA isn’t gone—it’s simply been renamed to DreamSpark Premium. All of the titles that were previously available to you are still available. If your school had a Developer AA subscription through MSDNAA, you’ll continue to access software titles as you did before.
Q: What happened to Designer AA?
A: Helping students who want to be designers is critical, but we wanted to find a way to make this easier for institutions, so we have changed up the program. Instead of Designer AA membership, institutions can purchase a new DreamSpark membership that gives them access to all of Microsoft’s development and designer tools. If you currently have a Designer AA membership, don’t worry. You can continue to enjoy those benefits until your membership expires. When it’s time for you to renew, we’ll work with you to get you set up with a new DreamSpark membership.
Q: What software will be included in the DreamSpark program?
Software for Production Use
Developer & Design Tools
Visual Studio Professional
Visual Studio Premium
Visual Studio Ultimate
Q: What is the benefit of the DreamSpark program for educators?
A: DreamSpark will give educators a chance to learn new technologies and develop courses that will excite students in the classroom. It will also help educators expand their personal and professional portfolios and enhance classroom objectives.
Q: Why do educators need free developer and design tools?
A: By providing the latest professional developer, design, and gaming software to educators at no charge, educators will have a unique opportunity to motivate and engage students and support those that wish to pursue a career in programming or design after graduation
Q: What will students be able to do with this software?
A: Students using these tools will be limited only by their own imaginations and time. Use of developer tools in engineering, math, science and technology activities allow students to program everything from a cell phone to a robot or to create their own Web page. Students will also be able to invent compelling new gaming content and make their dream game a reality by porting their creations to their Xbox 360 console. Design tools allow students to vividly bring their creative visions to life in vibrant new Web site designs and more effective digital content, including animation, imagery and photography. And platform offerings deliver a security-enhanced and reliable environment, reliable and manageable environment for students to more quickly turn ideas into reality.
Q. When and where will Microsoft DreamSpark be available? A. Today, Microsoft DreamSpark is available to university students in 137 countries.
Q: How do students download software?
A: Visit www.dreamspark.com and follow the three steps to get verified located on the home page.
Q. Is this program available to ALL students? What are the limitations?
A. Yes. The focus of the program is technical students, but it is open to anyone looking to explore the possibilities of Microsoft’s development and design tools. The only limitation is students are only licensed for learning and research.
A: Providing software by download does not involve the production costs of creating physical copies, so it works well with software being provided at no charge.
Q. How many students total will this offer be available to eventually and how did you come up with this number?
A. According to UNESCO, there are more than one billion university and high school students in the world today.
A: Providing software by download does not involve the production costs of creating physical copies, so it works well with software being provided at no charge. Microsoft is not trying to prevent non-broadband students from receiving the software. On the contrary, we hope to eventually provide this no-charge software benefit to all students, in all countries. It will take a concerted, cooperative effort on the part of both Microsoft and academic institutions to connect to areas without existing infrastructure of student databases and server technologies.
Q: Why are you giving software away?
A: In giving tech tools away without charge to students around the world, Microsoft is providing future developers and designers with professional-grade tools to create and expand their skills. We believe that it is very important to equip students with tools that will help to foster their education in technology. Such tools would typically be beyond the reach of these students even at very low prices.
Q. What is the commercial value of this software?
A. This software is being provided to students for non-commercial use in particular academic activities. Pricing for commercial uses varies by channel and the associated rights, but products for non-academic use by non-students would typically be hundreds of dollars or more.
Student Identity Verification
A: Microsoft verifies students by using various reputable student databases to confirm student identities. Students will choose the identity provider that maintains the database (i.e. their school, organization, or other academic-based group) that will confirm their student status. The Microsoft system will connect with the identity provider, and the student will supply his or her credentials to the identity provider for verification. Microsoft will then receive confirmation from the identity provider as to whether the student is a current student.
Q: If students are receiving the full professional software versions, then can’t professionals just find a college student to obtain the software license from?
A: All students receiving free software through this program will need to accept an end user license agreement (EULA) that specifies that the software will only be used by the student for non-commercial use to support and advance their STEM-D learning and skills. Students will only have rights to one single-user license per verified identity. If a student were to obtain a valid single-user license and give that license to a non-student that would be in violation of the EULA and the student would no longer be eligible to continue to use the software or to obtain other software under the program.
A: The sign-in process allows students to get verified initially once and bypass the verification step for future visits to DreamSpark. Once verification is completed and if they are signed in, students will be brought directly to the download page. All students will keep their eligibility for 12 months and will have the option to renew after 12 months.
A: Microsoft is not collecting any student information from third-party identity provider databases, other than binary notification of whether the person is a student or not. When students seek to download the software, they will be asked to verify their student status with a verification source of their choice, and the verification source will request the student’s credentials in order to verify their student status. The credentials students provide to the verification source are not viewed or tracked by Microsoft – that is, the student is verified externally by their chosen verification method and not by Microsoft, and any exchange of sensitive credentials with the verification source will be between the student and the verification source. Microsoft will store the general location of students, which assists with download bandwidth efficiencies.
Q: Is there an approved list of universities? Are only students enrolled in brick and mortar universities included or are online students as well? (i.e. what about 2-year or community colleges)
A: As this is a cooperative effort with local communities, we are working with local entities within each country to determine who the universities are.
Q: Are only undergraduates qualified or can graduate students download DreamSpark?
A: Graduate students are welcome to participate.
A: This program is designed to give students Microsoft technology tools at no charge as long as their student status can be verified. University administrators hold the keys to enable verification. If administrators are willing to cooperate and enable their students to verify themselves against the university database, universities will be able to equip them with free professional-level tools.
A: This benefit is available to all students around the world. However, this program requires all students to have their status verified by an authorized verification source. Academic institutions or governments may already have all the requirements necessary to verify their students. Microsoft can help prepare student databases to use the program. Once institutions determine they have a reliable database of student information, we can help them become an identity provider (IDP).
A: Microsoft is pleased to be able to use Shibboleth, an open source authentication and authorization infrastructure product, as one solution for verifying students so they can receive Microsoft DreamSpark program benefits. Shibboleth is an existing middleware solution that is widely used by universities, and federations using Shibboleth software exist in many countries. Its use provides access to a network of institutions and students, enabling immediate connection to over 10 million students, with a path for other academic institutions to sign up. Shibboleth also enables sites to manage the authorization decisions permitting the sharing of specific information between an identity provider database and an external party (such as Microsoft) – such as binary notification of whether the site user is a student or not, without releasing other student information.
A: Microsoft is putting developer and design software in the hands of verified students to support and advance their learning and skills through technical design, technology, math, science and engineering activities. The student developer population has been growing recently, with many developers coming from fields of study other than computer science. Even non-technical majors can benefit from using these products. We want students to grow their capabilities by providing them with developer and designer tools that expand the limits of their imagination. We’re putting tools in the hands of students that they would typically not be able to afford.
A: This program targets students and eduators, who represent a fraction of all software developers and designers. Software under this program is only available for non-commercial use to support and advance students’ academic work involving science, technology, engineering, math and technical design activities.
Q: Are you embracing the “free software” model by offering development and design tools to students at no cost? Will you make it free for all?
A: Our design, development and platform tools offer significant benefits for developers, customers and partners alike. Our goal with Microsoft DreamSpark is to ensure that today’s students have even greater access to the tools they need to succeed in their studies and prepare themselves for today’s increasingly competitive business world.
Q: Is this just a ploy to keep up/compete with open source proliferation in education?
A: No, Microsoft is not offering students free access to developer and design tools to compete against open source software. This program is targeted specifically at students to provide them with access to the software tools used in business today and help extend the skills of the next generation of developers and designers. The company has and will continue to make strategic bets on the Windows platform while continuing to support interop and other open source initiatives and partnerships.
Microsoft products offer tremendous value that is perceived by the marketplace and by our customers.
Microsoft is a platform company committed to building technologies that empower communities of developers and partners to deliver compelling software solutions to customers. This approach is reflected in the size and health of the technology ecosystem in which Microsoft participates, including millions of developers around the world who have created a vast array of applications using Microsoft platform technologies such as Microsoft Windows, Windows Live, Microsoft Office, .NET platform, Microsoft Windows Server, and Microsoft Xbox. Microsoft’s open source strategy is focused on helping customers and partners be successful in today's heterogeneous technology world. This includes increasing opportunities for developers to learn and create across both community-oriented open source and traditional commercial approaches to software development.
Q: Is this the first step in Microsoft lowering its prices (possibly even free) to compete against open source? What are the next products that might be included in this program?
A: Microsoft products offer tremendous value that is recognized by the marketplace and by our customers. This program is targeted specifically at students in connection with their academic studies to help prepare them as the next generation of developers and designers. DreamSpark is the latest in a series of offerings for students just as MSDNAA (Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance), Imagine Cup, and other offerings Microsoft provides to academia. Additional developer tools may be made available to students in the future under this same program, but we do not foresee that other major customer groups or products will be significantly impacted by this program.
Q: Do any other companies offer a free software package like this? A: Yes, other software vendors like Adobe and IBM have offers in market to make software available to students at low costs or no charge. However, we believe that Microsoft is leading the way in providing such a comprehensive offering available to the student market at no charge.
Gadgeteer support for .NET Micro Framework 4.2 is on the way, which means you'll soon be able to run Gadgeteer on .NETMF 4.2-compatible mainboards like GHI's Fez Cerberus. This update also enables Gadgeteer apps to be written using Visual Basic (Visual Studio or Visual Basic 2010 Express).
A beta version of GadgeteerCore is now available on Codeplex for people who want an early peek. Most Gadgeteer modules and mainboards still target NETMF 4.1 so most users won't see anything changed - your existing projects will continue to work as they currently do and you can still create new .NETMF 4.1 compatible projects. If you have a Cerberus and you're feeling adventurous, though, you can try creating a Gadgeteer NETMF 4.2 project.
The very first book on .NET Gadgeteer, Simon Monk's "Getting Started With .NET Gadgeteer" is available for pre-order from O'Reilly Press and other booksellers. In addition to introducing core Gadgeteer concepts, it contains several project walkthroughs: a camera backup device, a game, a Web picture messenger and more.
See more at the book's Web site: http://www.gadgeteerbook.com/home
See more details on Gadgeteer at the Gadgeteer blog http://blogs.msdn.com/b/net_gadgeteer/
See more details on Gadgeteer Curricula at http://www.netmf.com/gadgeteer/curriculum.aspx
As your aware from the Building Windows 8 blog a key driver for Microsoft is that All editions of Windows 8 offer a no-compromise experience.
One of the key announcements by the Windows team is that, Windows 8 will be the official product name for the next x86/64 editions of Windows. PCs and tablets powered by x86 processors (both 32 and 64 bit), we will have two editions: Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.
NOTE: As with previous versions of Windows, we will also have an edition of Windows 8 specifically for those enterprise customers with Software Assurance agreements. Windows 8 Enterprise includes all the features of Windows 8 Pro plus features for IT organization that enable PC management and deployment, advanced security, virtualization, new mobility scenarios, and much more.
Windows RT will be the official product name for Windows on ARM or WOA. This single edition will only be available pre-installed on PCs and tablets powered by ARM processors and will help enable new thin and lightweight form factors with impressive battery life. Windows RT will include touch-optimized desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
The below chart breaks down key features by edition (this list should not be considered an exhaustive list of features):
Windows 8 Pro
Upgrades from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium
Upgrades from Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate
Start screen, Semantic Zoom, Live Tiles
Apps (Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Photos, SkyDrive, Reader, Music, Video)
Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote)
Internet Explorer 10
Installation of x86/64 and desktop software
Updated Windows Explorer
Enhanced Task Manager
Switch languages on the fly (Language Packs)
Better multiple monitor support
Windows Media Player
ISO / VHD mount
Mobile broadband features
Remote Desktop (client)
Reset and refresh your PC
Touch and Thumb keyboard
BitLocker and BitLocker To Go
Boot from VHD
Encrypting File System
Remote Desktop (host)
Over the coming months,the Windows Team will share more information about Windows 8, including details on pricing.
Check out the preview of Windows 8 for yourself.
If your interested in developing for Windows 8 check out the following example from my colleague Mike Taulty, from the UK MSDN team. Mike has produced a number of walkthroughs in screencast form these include a simple music 'app' in HTML and a app for searching flickR in both XAML and HTML.