March, 2011

  

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Azure Platform Training Kit and Course

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    Windows Azure Platform Training Kit & Training Course.

    The Windows Azure Platform Training Kit & Course includes a comprehensive set of technical content including hands-on labs, presentations, and demos that are designed to help you learn how to use the Windows Azure platform, including: Windows Azure, SQL Azure and the Windows Azure AppFabric:

     Download the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit.

    The January update provides new and updated demo scripts and a new Windows Phone 7 hands-on labs for the Windows Azure Platform. These new demo scripts demonstrate how to use Windows Azure Connect, Web and Worker Role Enhancements, Windows Azure Virtual Machine Roles, and the "Rafiki" application (a keynote demo at PDC10). Additionally, this kit includes an improved mechanism for installing Visual Studio code snippets.

    Some of the specific changes with the January update of the training kit includes:

    • [New demo script] Windows Azure Connect
    • [New demo script] Web and Worker Role Enhancements
    • [New demo script] Windows Azure Virtual Machine Roles
    • [New demo script] “Rafiki” Application
    • [New lab] Windows Phone 7 and The Cloud
    • [New lab] Use Access Control Service to Federate with Multiple Business Identity Providers
    • [Updated] All Identity HOLs have been refreshed
    • [Improved] Visual Studio code snippets installation
    • [Fixes] Several bug fixes in demos and labs

    Once you learned everything about Windows Azure, you can start building your application on it in 3 simple and easy to do steps:

    1. Download the Tools:

    Get Visual Studio Express and the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio to start building and debugging applications for the Windows Azure Platform http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsazure/cc974146.aspx. If you have already Visual Studio installed you can download the tools directly from http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsazure/cc974146.aspx.

    2. Setup an Account:

    Set up an account and obtain a free subscription for accessing the online portals for Windows Azure, SQL Azure and Windows Azure AppFabric. You can learn more about the accounts http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsazure/ff798116.aspx or you can sign up directly http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/offers/.

    3. Create your First application and Deploy it on the Windows Azure Platform:

    First learn how to create a simple ASP.NET application in Visual Studio for Windows Azure on your local machine http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsazure/ff798115.aspx. Once successfully created, learn how to deploy this application on the Windows Azure Platform http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsazure/ff798117.aspx.

    When all steps are executed successfully you should have running your first application on the Windows Azure Platform!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Techday 2011 May 23rd - 27th London

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    Last year around 3,000 developers and IT pros joined us for a week of events designed to inspire and inform, showcasing the latest Microsoft technologies, products and platform investments.

    This year, Tech.Days is expanding. Alongside the in-person events, we're running real-time webinars and supporting events run by the developer and IT pro community.

    You'll be among the first to hear breaking news; see live developer demos from Microsoft experts; meet key players in the Microsoft team and be wowed by the phenomenal pace of the changes taking place in software and hardware.

    Browse below for more details and subscribe to our newsletters for further updates. You can also connect with us at uktechdays@microsoft.com.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Workshop - Cloud Futures: Advancing Research and Education with Cloud Computing

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    All UK academics with a interest in Cloud Futures are very welcome to attend and contribute to the workshop.   

    Cloud Futures: Advancing Research and Education with Cloud Computing, June 2-3, 2011, Redmond, WA

    Keynotes

                                   

     

    Call for Abstracts & Participation

    Cloud computing is an exciting platform for research and education.  Cloud computing has the potential to advance scientific and technological progress by making data and computing resources readily available at unprecedented economy of scale and nearly infinite scalability.  To realize the full promise of cloud computing for research and education, however, we must think about the cloud as a holistic platform for creating new services, new experiences, and new methods to pursue research, teaching and scholarly communication.  This goal presents a broad range of interesting questions.

    We invite extended abstracts that illustrate the role of cloud computing across a variety of research and educational areas---including  computer science, engineering, earth sciences, healthcare, humanities, life sciences, and social sciences---that highlight how new techniques and methods of research in the cloud may solve distinct challenges arising in those diverse areas.  Please include a bio (150 words max) and a brief abstract (300 words max) of a 30-minute short talk on a topic that describes practical experiences, experimental results, and vision papers.    

    Workshop updates will be posted at http://research.microsoft.com/cloudfutures2011/   

    Please submit your abstract by April 19, 2011 to cloudfut@microsoft.com  

    Invited talks will be announced on April 27, 2011

     

    Logistics for Attendees and Selected Abstract Presenters

    Academics worldwide are encouraged to attend.  Workshop attendees and abstract presenters are expected to make their own air travel arrangements to Seattle including airport transfers.  All attendees and presenters will be provided complimentary meals and refreshments during the workshop agenda (June 2, 3) including motor coach transport to/from the Bellevue Hyatt.  Attendees are offered a special workshop room rate in the Bellevue Hyatt of $189 per night (plus tax).  Deadline to book this rate is May 25, 2011.  

    Please use hotel booking link provided at  http://research.microsoft.com/cloudfutures2011/ 

    Abstract presenters will receive up to three nights’ complimentary accommodation at this hotel if booked by May 25, 2011.    Microsoft is committed to adhering to local government laws and regulations, as well as institutional policies regarding conflict of interest and anti-corruption. To ensure compliance, Microsoft may be unable to cover the expenses and fees of some attendees and presenters for their attendance at Cloud Futures 2011.

     

    Other hotels in Bellevue near the Hyatt

    It may be possible for individual attendees to book at one of the following hotels and ride the workshop motor coach or the free Microsoft shuttle from the Bravern office complex to get to/from the workshop at the Microsoft Conference Center/Bldg 33 on June 2, 3.  Inquire about the Microsoft vendor rate when booking.  For a detailed schedule of the free shuttle from the Bravern building to main campus call (425) 703-6000.

    Courtyard by Marriott – Bellevue – (425) 454-5888
    Microsoft Vendor Rate: $179
    11010 NE 8th St, Bellevue, WA 98004
    (Note:  this hotel 11 minutes walking distance from the Bellevue Hyatt for the workshop motor coach or attendees can take a free Microsoft shuttle from the Bravern building located across the street from this hotel with daily shuttle service to Microsoft Redmond Campus)

    Hilton Hotel – Bellevue - (425) 455-1300
    Microsoft Vendor Rate: $165
    300 112th Avenue South East, Bellevue, WA 98004
    (Note:  this hotel 26 minutes walking distance from the Bellevue Hyatt for the workshop bus or attendees can take a free Microsoft shuttle from the Bravern building located 16 minutes walking distance from this hotel with daily shuttle service to Microsoft Redmond Campus)

     

    Transfers to Bellevue Hyatt from SEATAC Airport

    ShuttleExpress      
    Eastside Town Car and Limousine Service   – flat rate from SEATAC Airport - Telephone: (425) 652-1465
    Sound Transit Bus #560 from SEATAC Airport to Bellevue Transit Center ($2.50) takes 40 minutes

    Last SEATAC departure for Bellevue from SEATAC Airport is 11:24 pm

    Bellevue Hyatt is 7-10 minutes walking distance from the Bellevue Transit Center

    Questions about the workshop should be directed to cloudfut@microsoft.com

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    WP7 goes sky high!

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    The University of Southampton developed an app following a balloon 70,000 feet above the ground into the Earth's outer atmosphere. In Flight Mode, the app installed on the handset was able to record and transmit GPS and location data part of the way up and down.

    The team from Southampton University launched the HTC 7 Trophy smartphone for atmospheric research. The School of Engineering Science team worked with Microsoft UK, DPE team to develop a Windows Phone 7 application to help track the location of the handset and balloon, and predict its ultimate landing site. In Flight Mode, the app installed on the handset was able to record and transmit GPS and location data part of the way up and down into the Microsoft Azue cloud services.

    The HTC 7 device while within range of mobile networks plotted the latest data and predicted a landing site on a Bing map. The flight was part of the university's Astra project – Atmospheric Science Through Robotic Aircraft. "We want to explore the outer atmosphere using low-cost high-altitude unmanned aircraft," "We are collecting data which will then plug in to various atmospheric science projects, monitoring pollutants such as volcanic ash for example, and informing the science behind modelling the climate and earth system in general." said research fellow Andras Sobester.

    The positioning data was sent to a Windows Azure server, which did the number-crunching work to calculate its course. The software and app was the work of developer Segoz, working with the university team.

    Why use a Windows Phone to do this? The need to reduce the "payload" on the balloon is what made a smartphone appealing, but why Windows Phone 7 rather than, say, an iPhone or Android handset?

    "We looked at iPhone, but objective C is just not for me, on a personal level," says Johnston. "I love my Visual Studio and do a lot of .Net development, so I didn't need to learn any new skills for this. The key thing is that we're not doing all the calculations on the phone itself: Azure comes in for the serious backend processing.

    "Johnston said he's looking forward to Microsoft extending the Bluetooth stack in Windows Phone 7, which would enable a handset to communicate with more on-board devices. One use for this might be to transmit data via satellite to track the entire flight rather than just the parts within range of a GSM network. Meanwhile, other sensors, will enable the phones to record more useful data.

    Geoff Hughes, Academic Team Lead in Microsoft's Developer Platform and Evangelism group, says the app's Hunter Mode shows potential for other kinds of scientific research, when there is a wider audience of people who would be interested in following events."If you could get a whole series of people following a scientific experiment in this way, they could potentially take part in the project," he says. "It's an exciting spin on trying to get the community involved with what is a very fascinating science project."

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone 7

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    Microsoft is very pleased to announce the release and general availability of the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone 7.

    This toolkit is designed to make it easier for phone developers to leverage cloud services running in Windows Azure. The toolkit includes Visual Studio project templates for Windows Phone 7 and Windows Azure, class libraries optimized for use on the phone, sample applications, and documentation.

    Get the bits on CodePlex here: http://watoolkitwp7.codeplex.com/.

    For a great article on how to get started, please take a look at this wiki: http://watoolkitwp7.codeplex.com/wikipage?title=Getting%20Started&referringTitle=Documentation.

    The toolkit contains the following resources:

    • Binaries – These are libraries we’ve written that you can use in your Windows Phone 7 applications to make it easier to work with Windows Azure (e.g. a full storage client library for blobs and tables). You can literally add these libraries to your existing Windows Phone 7 applications and immediate start leveraging services such as Windows Azure storage.
    •  Docs – We’ve provided documentation that covers setup and configuration, a review of the toolkit content, getting started, and some troubleshooting tips.
    • Dependency Checker – As you’ve come to expect and love, we provide a full dependency checker to ensure that you have all the bits required in order to successfully use the toolkit.
    • Project Templates – We have built VSIX (which is the unit of deployment for a Visual Studio 2010 Extension) files that create project templates that make it easy for you to build brand new applications.
    • Samples – We have a sample application that fully leverages the toolkit, both available in C# and VB.NET. The sample application is also built into one of the two project templates created by the toolkit.

    For more information & coverage, please take a look at these resources:

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    The challenges ahead, Kinect SDK in UK HE

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    This month has been a very exciting time for Microsoft, the Guinness World Records has added the Kinect for being the fastest-selling electronic device in history. Kinetc has sold an average of 133,333 units per day, giving it a total of eight million units in its first 60 days on sale from 4 November 2010 to 3 January this year.

    "The sales figures here speak for themselves," says Gaz Deaves, editor of Guinness World Records 2011 Gamer’s Edition. "We can confirm that no other consumer electronics device sold faster within a 60-day time span, an incredible achievement considering the strength of the sector." The new record will be included in the next Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition.

    A further two million Kinect devices have been sold since the beginning of January - 10 million units in all additionally Microsoft's has also sold over eight million Kinect games. As a result this means that a large number of children are aware of have used the kinect device.

    Take a look at this video of how young children are simply using Kinect without any thought or guidance.


    There has also been a number of new features for the Xbox this spring, including Kinect-enabled applications allowing users to use hand gestures and their voice to control films on Xbox Live. Also coming this year is Avatar Kinect, allowing players to control their avatar's movements and expressions by smiling, frowning, nodding or speaking. Players can get together with up to seven friends in a range of themed environments.

     What is really exicting from a Academic perspective is that Microsoft has announced that it will release a Kinect for Windows SDK "starter kit" this spring "to make it simpler for the academic research and enthusiast communities to create rich natural user interfaces" using the motion-sensing device.

    "Microsoft's investments in natural user interfaces are vital to our long-term vision of creating computers that are intuitive to use and able to do far more for us," said Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie when announcing the non-commercial SDK. The non-commercial SDK will "give users access to deep Kinect system information such as audio, system application-programming interfaces, and direct control of the Kinect sensor." With the release of the SDK we're going to see lots of new ideas and a number of challenges in relation to how technology supports teaching and learning in a more immersive and innovative ways, additionally if you consider the video above of the young children the experience of using this technology will make their lecture standing in front of an Blackboard or interactive whiteboard look very old school.

    The following videos are examples of how researchers and developers have integrated a number of applications using Natural User Interfaces and the Kinect devices.

     

     

     

     

    The challenge for you now is how can you use the Kinect SDK in your teaching and learning or research?

    So if your interested in the challenge, or have ideas that you would like to share and discuss please do get in contact.

     

     

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Visual Studio 2010 download now available

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    Service Pack 1 is ready for download. Microsoft continues to invest in Visual Studio 2010 with Service Pack 1. In this release we addressed some of the most requested features and top voted issues from customers. Visual Studio 2010 SP1 delivers improvements to IntelliTrace, unit testing, and Silverlight profiling, as well as many other areas, resulting in a better experience and increased stability.

    Download it here.

    Resources:

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