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!
10 LUCKY University Students to win an ALL PAID EXPENSES TRIP TO SILICON VALLEY for creating apps around health, education and environmental data from the Gov’t!
Silicon Valley comes to the UK (SVc2UK), announces a month long, multi-site competition, dubbed, the SVc2UK Appathon, the competition supports and encourages university students to use government data to "hack" together innovative consumer applications in Healthcare, Education, and the Environment. This competition allows students to unlock the power of government data to make both a positive social impact and enhance its accessibility to peers, parents, and grandparents. This ambitious initiative represents the UK's largest ever mobilisation of students to create apps’. We don't know yet what they will create, but we are hoping for a 'good school's guide’ where you can find out where the good schools are near you, a 'good doctor's guide,’ where you can find a doctor near you, and a 'clean city guide' where you can find the cleanest city near you - or the dirtiest!
This national ‘coding competition’ helps to address the void that exists in most university curricula, creating a real world opportunity for those developers with the ambition, appetite and aptitude to code and build applications that can have real value to users. With support, not only from their peers, but the wider technology community, and a network of mentors, these students will be able to take control of, and enhance, their own education outside of the classroom and make a difference.
Continuing the historic success of SVc2UK, approximately 1,500 students from 15 universities across the UK are expected to be drawn “like magnets” to six UK locations including Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, Sheffield, Southampton and London to take part in the Appathons. Full access to the data and details of participating universities and hosts can be found at http://www.svc2uk.com/appathon.
The SVc2UK Appathons will run during early October and are open to university students across the country. The competition has the full support of Downing Street, which will supply their technical guru’s from data.gov.uk. In addition, pretty much the whole technology industry is lending their support to the effort http://www.svc2uk.com/sponsors. University students who enter the competition have until 23 October to submit their apps to be judged by leading Global entrepreneurial icons including Reid Hoffman, Joi Ito and more (see http://www.svc2uk.com/speakers).
The winners of the SVc2UK Appathon will attend an awards ceremony in November as part of ‘Silicon Valley comes to the UK’ ( http://www.svc2uk.com) and 9 winners will be invited to take part in a road trip to Silicon Valley followed by the legendary South by Southwest Conference early next year.
The Appathon will conclude with winning developers, coming to London (UK), for the http://www.svc2uk.com/techcity finale: a show and tell event where the developers will explain and demonstrate their efforts to a selected audience of their peers, politicians, advisers, civil servants, and the press.
The Microsoft IT Academy Program can provide benefits to all parts of a school or college. Here are a few of the core functions and the potential benefits that will be most relevant.
Here is a set of current questions which the UK Academic and Education teams have received..
The Head of School
· I need to present my school as being an attractive selection for parents and to make a significant contribution to the wider community
· I have seen the Microsoft IT Academy advertised but I can’t see how it would benefit our school
· We aren’t really delivering many IT subjects, so how would it help us?
· The budget is very tight so can we afford it?
A member of The Governing Body
· Our school should be seen as progressive and modern
· We must be able to meet budgets
· We have a wider brief in the community
· We have a responsibility to students and parents
· I expect my children’s school to be progressive and aligned to industry and the labour market
· Can the school help to develop my IT skills?
· Will my children have a clearly defined progression route if they choose IT as a subject
· Is it a quality controlled progam and will it lead to sound industry work skills
· I expect my school to be progressive and linked to real life employment skills
· I want more from IT than just hardware – perhaps some excitement with new technologies
· Are there creative programs that might help me be employed?
· Could I explore a wide range of technologies?
The Curriculum Manager
· Is the supply of materials cost effective?
· I need a comprehensive solution to reduce the overhead for the teaching staff
· Are there programs of learning and certifications at all levels
· Will the curriculum be just for the IT tutor or can we use it throughout the school?
The IT Tutor
· We teach user and technical skills
· Can we deliver globally recognized certifications?
· Will the curriculum save me time and money?
· Can I get qualified myself?
The Science (or any other) Tutor
· We use spreadsheets to record information, so will it help my students?
· I need to know what IT skills my students have at the moment
· I could possibly improve my class room delivery if I used the newer features of presentation software
· I need to understand new technologies to develop learning solutions with my students
The IT Manager
· We are upgrading our technology and I need to refresh the IT skills of our team
· Could I become a Microsoft Certified Trainer?
· Could we develop cost reductions through the use of new technologies?
· We must keep current!
A Teaching Assistant
· I need to maintain and improve my skills to develop my career
· Can I reach a basic level of IT literacy so that I can build on these skills?
· I now have to use e-mail
· It would be good to achieve academic or vocational qualifications
The School administration office
· I have been asked to produce marketing material to promote our IT capability
· We mainly use Microsoft Office programs and we need to understand about databases
· How can we check the IT Skills of new entrants?
· It would be good if there was a clear progression route in IT skills
The Facilities Manager
· If all my team used e-mail we could share calendars
· I came in to this role for my service skills, but now I find I need to multi-task and be fully IT literate
· I have already completed a vocational course, perhaps there are IT certifications or similar qualifications
· I have been asked to look at the cabling, so it would be good to understand networking!
The Vocational Tutor
· My students need to be work ready – some will need advanced technology or IT user skills
· Is there mapping between Microsoft certifications and vocational Units?
· It’s the fundamental skills that the students need before they enter the workplace or the next steps in education
· It would be good if there was a basics course and perhaps some understanding of everyday technologies
The Community Team
· We can make best use of our resources by spreading our skills in to the community and adding value to the school from those contacts
· Our charter expects us to make the campus available for all
· We have excellent contact with parents and relatives, many who need basic IT literacy skills so that they can use our web site/portal/e-mail
· Are there opportunities to generate revenue and goodwill?
Here the solutions/answers to some of these questions
Within UK Academia, there are large areas of crossover, and opportunities which exist for innovative use of the ITA membership.
This list just represents a starting point and helps address the concerns and question raised by the stakeholders listed above!
Head of School
· Global brand associated with technology
· Gain access to resources that will help you save time and money.
· Sector and industry alignment
· Opportunities for networking
· Vendor certification opportunities
· Increase your students’ employability with relevant technology courses that help them get jobs
· complimentary enrollment in the Microsoft Certified Trainer program
· A 60 percent discount on the Full Microsoft E-Reference Library
· Academic pricing on Microsoft Certification exams.
· Complimentary subscription to Microsoft DreamSpark Premium
· Up to 100 free lab licenses
· Complimentary Microsoft TechNet Subscription
· Marketing resources to help you promote your IT Academy
· Marketing resources to help you promote your IT Academy
· Essential computer skills training with Microsoft Digital Literacy
· Increase your employability with relevant technology courses that help get jobs
· Increase of students’ employability with relevant technology courses that help them get jobs
IT curriculum tutors
· Unlimited access to E-Learning portfolio courses
· The ability to administer content and manage your students’ progress
· Offer educators and other staff members the opportunity to enhance their own professional development.
· Educator resources such as downloadable and customizable lesson plans
· Academic pricing on Microsoft Official Academic Courses (MOAC)
· Academic pricing on Microsoft Official Courseware (MOC).
· One complimentary subscription to Microsoft DreamSpark Premium
· Complimentary enrollment in the Microsoft Certified Trainer program
Non-IT curriculum tutors
IT Support staff
· Up to 100 lab licenses
· Marketing resources to help you promote your IT Academy Vendor certification opportunities
· A 60 percent discount on the Full E-Reference Library
· Five complimentary annual subscriptions to the Full E-Reference Library
· Increase your students’ employability with relevant technology courses that help them get jobs
Mapping Professional Curricula and certification to course and awards
Please see the following QCF Mapping of Microsoft Certification/Courses to Related Awarding Body and Qualifications
Get Help Implementing a Microsoft Certification Program
Now is the time to implement a Microsoft Certification program to help your students validate what they’ve learned. Your local Microsoft Academy Service Partner (MASP) can help.
Your local Microsoft Academy Service Partner (MASP) can help you establish a Microsoft Certification program that’s right for your institution. Whether you want to become a testing center to help students get certified on campus or promote the benefits of Microsoft Certification and refer students to another testing location, your local MASP can help you turn your plans into reality for more details contact our Education MASP Mike Evans, Director – ITSkillsman, www.itskillsman.co.uk
Visual Studio 2013 Update 3 has made significant cnages to the shader editing experience.
One of the great new features is that ability to Edit and Apply a new shader as well as a side by side view of shader source code and compiler output.
You can access the new features by simply clicking on the shader file name in the Pipeline Stages window or the Pixel History window.
This will open the shader editor what is cool, is that the pixel shader shows both the source code and disassembly code generated by HLSL Shader Compiler.
This allows you to directly make changes in the source code, and once the tool detects differences in output, the Apply button at the will be enabled.
You simply need to click Apply to apply the changes to the current vsglog file and you can view how the changes impact the rendering result immediately, including..
1. Render Target view 2. Pipeline Stages 3. Pixel History windows
Some additional great resources/features
The source code which you edit will be keep it in a temporary location (the path is underneath the window) and changes are only applied to the vsglog file and does not affect your original source.
Therefore you can use the vsglog file as a "playground" to try out different shader effects and view their impacts.
If your not keen on the changes or they have a detrimental impact to performance the changes can be easily reverted back to when the frame was captured by clicking the Reset button.
However if you like the changes and want to move the changes to the original source, you can use the Copy to… button which brings up a dialog where you can specify the location of the source file we should copy these changes to.
Ability to make live changes during debug
During shader debugging, you can make changes to the shader code, but the Apply button will only be enabled after debugging is stopped which is another nice feature.
To bring the best of Build to more developers around the world including a Windows \\Build Tour kicking off May and running until June
We will also be hosting Microsoft Imagine Windows 10 Game Jam
For more details see http://blogs.microsoft.com/firehose/2015/04/07/bringing-build-2015-to-you/
BUILD CONFERENCE (April 29 – May 1) #build2015
Give the conference sold out so quickly, we are pleased to invite you to mark your calendars and participate via live streaming of sessions and interviews from the show floor.
To join the live stream, save the event reminder to your Outlook calendar and watch the keynotes and sessions. For more details on the event and agenda, please visit the Build Home Page. All sessions will be available on-demand at Channel 9 within 48 hours of the event.
BUILD TOUR (May 18 – June 15) #buildtour 23 events have been scheduled around the globe, where we will be demonstrating and sharing the capabilities of our latest technologies with many of the same Build speakers. Each of these single-day events will cover the key announcements from the larger Build conference, as well as offering a deeper dive into Windows 10.
Register today to secure your spot.
MICROSOFT IMAGINE WINDOWS 10 GAME JAM (May /June) #win10gamejam
If you’re a student, come make your first Windows 10 game at one of our worldwide 24-hour games hackathons. The Microsoft Imagine Windows 10 Game Jam is designed to give you access to the expert guidance and tools you need to set you up for the Windows 10 Universal App Platform, which unifies gaming across PCs, phones, tablets and Xbox One.
The hackathons are taking place in 40+ cities worldwide, register today to participate.
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
The Faculty Connection Resource Center is a multi-language collection including course outlines, textbooks, tests, labs, source code, and other materials developed by Microsoft or contributed by faculty worldwide. Highlighted below are some of the newest resources added this past month:
Building Applications for Windows Phone 7.5 This introductory content covers how to create Windows Phone "Mango" solutions, edit program source files, add and manage program resources, and then build and run the solution. Once you are done with the basics, continue on with additional Jump Start sessions that examine Silverlight, building interfaces with Expression, app data storage, using Bing Maps, developing with XNA, and even selling apps. This material is designed for 1st and 2nd year university students.
Windows Phone 7.5 Tutorials The newly released tutorials on .toolbox illustrate how Silverlight and Expression Blend can help you build stellar apps on Windows Phone using the new "Mango" features and capabilities. The .toolbox site is a fun online learning environment, where you will learn basic design concepts and how to apply them, as well as the fundamentals of creating Silverlight applications using the Expression Studio tools.
Game Development with XNA: Semester 1 Game Development with XNA: Semester 1 is an exciting CS course in game and simulation development using C# and the XNA framework. Video tutorials and extensive labs enable students to apply foundational programming skills to learn advanced skills. This material is designed for high school or introductory classes.
What's New in Windows Phone 7.5 The latest release of Windows Phone has hundreds of improvements and new features. Explore these features plus learn how to get Windows Phone 7.5 on your current phone. If you are teaching your students about mobile applications, consider trying Windows Phone 7 curriculum resources.
Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone The Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone is designed to make it easier to build mobile applications that leverage cloud services. The toolkit includes Visual Studio project templates for Windows Phone and Windows Azure, class libraries optimized for use on the phone, sample applications, and documentation.
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.
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
I was having a chat with a number student early this morning at the Inter Uni Game Jam 2012 re Gameathons and Hacks they have attended. Ludum Dare seems to a great and popular online competition for rapid prototyped games. However it was clear from the discussions students building XNA were severely hindered due to the nature of Lumun Dare and its 1000s of competitors, the reason being, is that the majority of the competitors will only play games Online that don't have to be complied so Flash and Unity web player games are really popular.
As I discussed in a previous blog Flash .SWF games can be ported to Unity using UniSwf see http://www.uniswf.com
So we got onto discussing XNA to Unity or as its called UnityXNA which is simply a straightforward way of getting XNA games running in Unity3D. This was a rather interesting discussion with Ph.D student Luke Shares a member of the DevSoc team had actually already been experimenting with this and built a solution for the DevSoc 1st years for Lumun Dare entrys and we compared his work from Barnaby Smith, MVI Networks who has released a solution on GitHub at https://github.com/mvi/UnityXNA
What's rather interesting is that MVI Networks solution, make Zero code changes to the original XNA game code. Barnaby has used a mixture of new code and some code from MonoXNA to implement XNA emulation by having a game object with a script attached run an XNA game performing updates and drawing.
A great walkthrough and analysis of UnityXNA can be found here http://darkgenesis.zenithmoon.com/xna-to-unityxna-and-beyond/
Also if your interested in seeing the XNA Platform sample running in Unity you can see the game in your web browser here and download the source here.
Implemented so far:
Known issues, immediate areas for improvement:
So this is yet another way of getting your XNA Assets running as an Awesome Windows 8 or WindowsPhone 8 store application.
For the past few weeks I have been getting to grips with my new Touch Mouse. Microsoft first unveiled the Touch Mouse, a new multi-touch device designed exclusively for Windows 7 that enables users to click, flick, scroll, and swipe at 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show.
The Touch mouse makes it easier and more fun to interact with a PC. Touch Mouse combines the virtues of a traditional mouse with the rich natural language of gesture. The new mouse has already received an accolade, winning ‘Best Peripheral’ at CES from Endgadget,
So what's special about this mouse - two fingers snap windows into place, three fingers quickly switch tasks, and your thumb can move forwards and backwards through websites, photos and documents.’
Like many of Microsoft products the Touch Mouse began in 2009 as part of a research project called ‘Mouse 2.0’ conducted by Microsoft Research and Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group. The results of that research were presented in 2009 during the Association for Computing Machinery's Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, garnering a best-paper award.
Lead paper author from MSRC, Nic Villar, is particularly excited about the product release “When I finished my PhD at Lancaster University three years ago and came to work for Microsoft, I didn’t imagine that my research would contribute to a new product for the company so quickly or in such a tangible way. What’s particularly pleasing about this project is the close collaboration between MSR Cambridge and our colleagues in Redmond, which was critical to the successful transition from research to product. Following the initial research insights described in the award-winning ‘Mouse 2.0’ paper, the MSRC Innovation and Development team worked closely with the Hardware product team in Redmond to turn the research prototype into the commercial product that’s being released this year.”
A huge advantage Microsoft has is nearly every product which Microsoft ships includes some form of technologies from Microsoft Research. So what does this advantage mean, through exploration and cross company collaboration we can advance the state of art computer science.