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August, 2012

  • FE blog

    Microsoft Press ebook: Programming Windows 8 Apps (free eBook)

    • 4 Comments

    Great eBook about writing Windows 8 style apps for Windows 8 using HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript.

    You can download the Second Preview (PDF only) here (13.5 MB).

    And you can download the Second Preview’s companion content here (64.9 MB).

    The full original version of the eBook can be viewed below.

  • FE blog

    A Different Outlook

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    Guest post from Kristian Still, Assistant Vice Principal, Hamble Community Sports College.

    Microsoft’s announcement of an all new, fantastically fast (and IMHO attractive), cloud-based email service at Outlook.com that ties into SkyDrive (now you have 7GB of free storage space) and open attachments right inside the new Web apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. You can chat or message directly from within Outlook.com, connecting to Facebook messages (not that I am a FB fan), and other networks, (eg LinkedIn of which I am a fan) and will some time later this year integrate with Skype.

    It is not for me to tell you how to manage you email INBOX, but there are some handy tools for that too with Outlook.com. There are categories, the very useful ‘sweep’ feature and also instant actions for reading emails.

    Now for the real barrier to changing your email address. Keeping your old, memory filled account, and creating a new professional alias. Well Outlook.com can take care of that.

    Step one – Create an Outlook.com account or update or even rename your old account, instantly losing the nickname, underscore and mythical number.

    Step two - If you want to keep your memory field email, now take the opportunity to create an alias. In this case, a more professional alias. Basically it appears to create a ’new email account’ but its stored in the same INBOX. You might chose to do this if you are looking for a new position at a new school. Creating a bespoke email address for that all important application / conversation email chain. What is even better is that Outlook.com then creates a folder to collect the responses to that alias.

    Step three – add and verify additional email accounts to your Outlook.com. They do need to be POP-enabled, but Outlook.com checks that for you. Now, when you compose a new message, you get to choose to send it from any of the associated accounts. Your recipients may see: “From kristianstill@outlook.com on behalf of name@example.com” even though you sent it from Outlook.com. Replies are sent to the originating email address.

    Add Outlook.com and the SkyDrive App to your smart phone and I think you just about have all bases covered.

  • FE blog

    Can a smart phone improve my son’s grades?

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    Originally posted on the OneNote Blog.

    (Guest blogger Christina Tynan-Wood writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle magazine, and is the author of "How to Be a Geek Goddess." She has been covering technology for decades and blogs at GeekGirlfriends.com and Family Circle's Momster.)

    Can a Smart Phone Improve my Son’s Grades?

    My son Cole (16) -- like many men I know -- is very good at appearing to listen when he isn't paying any attention at all. Whenever a conversation takes the form of a lecture, his attention drifts. His imagination kicks in. He finds something to do with his hands. Sometimes he even absently gets up and leaves the room. When he was younger, he got into quite a bit of trouble in school for this inattention. So over the years, he has learned to strike a pose of rapt attention before allowing his mind to wander. I'm sure this nonverbal tendency has contributed to a few of his more shocking report cards. Thankfully though, in this digital age, his high-school teachers tend to take a liberal attitude toward the use of technology. As long he is quietly using his tech as a study aide (not to cheat, text, or watch TV), his teachers quietly turn a blind eye.

    So, to bolster my hope of someday celebrating college acceptance letters with him, I decided to teach him how to use Microsoft OneNote - in conjunction with his Windows Phone -- to improve his note taking skills.

    I'm a journalist. Years ago I ditched notebooks and rely instead on OneNote keep track of research. It looks like a digital three-ring binder. But the more you use it, the more you realize how limited a three-ring binder is. I recently added a Nokia Lumia 900. ($49.99 with a contract at AT&T) Windows Phone to my work arsenal. And the combo allowed me to ditch the backpack, handheld recorder, and camera I once sported for note taking. When I jot a note, snap a photo, or record a conversation using OneNote on my Windows Phone, those notes are instantly synced (via Sky Drive) with OneNote on my Windows PC. So when I get back to my office, all my notes are waiting for me. No carrying. No filing. No organizing. It's all done.

    Being a journalist is a lot like being a perpetual student, I figured. So -- hoping these tricks will help my son, too -- I grabbed a laptop, cornered him, and said, "We need to come up with a plan to help you do better in school."

    He had a terrible year last year so he knew he wasn't getting out of this conversation. He sighed, sat down, and pretended to pay attention.

    "Do you take notes in class?" I asked.

    He said he did.

    "Can you show me some of them?"

    He looked panicked and started tossing out excuses. Some of them contradicted each other. It was funny.

    "So you don't really take notes?"

    "I mean to," he admitted. "I bring a notebook. I get it out. It's just so boring."

    I've known this boy a long time. So I know that listening to someone talk for ninety minutes is harder for him than jumping off an Olympic high board would be for me. (I don't like heights.) He's also nocturnal. So a long, early morning math class -- even though he likes math -- is an endurance sport, one where he is not the favorite to win. This all gets worse as the year goes on because if he daydreams through one lecture, the next one makes even less sense. With every class, he becomes more completely lost.

    I opened OneNote and showed him that it looked like his notebook but was better.

    Then I showed him how simple it was to create notebooks that are stored online at SkyDrive.com so he can access them from anywhere. He already has a Microsoft Account so we logged in from OneNote and created a new class notebook that would be stored in the cloud.

    Then I showed him around the note-taking features of OneNote on his PC. It allows him to capture Web research (and remembers where he got it.) It lets him record video. He could drop scans of homework assignments in here and toss the originals. He could jot ideas. He could create to-do lists. And all of it is searchable.

    It would even let him enter mathematical formulas.

    This was all very cool, he agreed.

    "But I'm not bringing my laptop to class," he told me. "Only dorks do that."

    I knew that. But he, too, has a Windows Phone. The selling point for him was its seamless integration with Xbox not its seamless integration with Office and SkyDrive. But he's hooked on it. So my evil plan was already working. In fact, he had it in his hand while we were talking. I pointed out Office Mobile (which, in addition to OneNote, features Word, Excel and PowerPoint) and told him to tap it. His phone was already logged into Windows Live - that's how he keeps up with his gaming peeps -- so when he opened Office on his phone, the new school notebook we'd just created was already there waiting for him.

    I showed him how to create a new note in that notebook, right from his phone.

    "So, when you can't pay attention anymore in class," I told him. "Start a new note and tap that little microphone icon to record the lecture. That way you can listen to it later - and use fast forward and rewind - so you know what material was covered." His idea of studying is to go watch Sal Khan explain things in a way he can relate to at The Khan Academy. That usually brings him right up to speed. But he needs to know what the teacher covered in class to do it.

    He was impressed. "This would be handy for when you start these random lectures and force me to listen to you," he told me, smiling and tapping the microphone icon to record our conversation.

    Within seconds, the recording showed up on the computer screen. And now I had his attention.

    I pointed out that the camera icon would be handy for taking photos of the homework assignments on the blackboard - since he never seems to remember to write those down, which leads to missed homework assignments, and - eventually -- terrible grades.

    I had him now. I know he wants to be a better student. But, in addition to his attention problems, he's also a hip guy with a social life. And sitting in class, hanging on the teacher's every word and copying things off the board are not - in his mind - the way to win a pretty girl's heart. (No matter how many times I tell him girls like smart guys.) But this sort of note-taking? He could do without anyone noticing. In fact, it would give him a chance to show off his tech savvy. And, if he does miss something in class and finds himself having trouble with a tough homework assignment, he can switch on his Microsoft webcam and Skype his friends-or that cute girl from math class-to figure it out.

    Whether all this technical firepower will improve his grades still remains to be seen. But I'm certain it would have helped me get better grades back when I was a student.

    You can find OneNote -- and the other Office applications I think are great for students - in Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010. Even better it's on sale until September 14! When you buy Office Home and Student 2010, Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 (3 pack), Office University 2010 or Office for Mac University 2011 you get 15% off.

    For more ways to replace old-school tools with tech, check out the September issue of Family Circle Magazine for my feature, "Tech that's Anything But Old School." Or come visit my "Family Tech Christina" blog at FamilyCircle.com/tech.

  • FE blog

    Getting your hands on the new Windows 8 RTM code

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    We have a number of programs that provides various audiences early access to the Windows 8 RTM code to help prepare for Windows 8 as it enters the marketplace this autumn, and offers a great way to ensure your institution is ready to embrace the benefits of our new OS ready for the start of the new academic year:

    • August 15th: Developers will be able to download the final version of Windows 8 via your MSDN subscriptions.
    • August 15th: IT professionals testing Windows 8 in organisations will be able to access the final version of Windows 8 through your TechNet subscriptions.
    • August 16th: Customers with existing Microsoft Software Assurance for Windows will be able to download Windows 8 Enterprise edition through the Volume License Service Center (VLSC), allowing you to test, pilot and begin adopting Windows 8 Enterprise within your institution.
    • August 16th: Microsoft Partner Network members will have access to Windows 8.
    • August 20th: Microsoft Action Pack Providers (MAPS) receive access to Windows 8.
    • September 1st: Volume License customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase Windows 8 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers.

    In the meantime, if you’d like to give a pre-release version of Windows 8 a test-run, feel free to download the Windows 8 Release Preview!

  • FE blog

    Windows 8 Is Ready For Your Enterprise

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    Originally posted on the the Windows Blog.

    Earlier this month, we announced that Windows 8 reached the RTM milestone. Windows 8 Enterprise is now available to Software Assurance customers via the Volume License Service Center (VLSC), allowing you to test, pilot and begin adopting Windows 8 Enterprise within your organization.

    For those customers who are interested in trying out the key features in Windows 8 Enterprise, you can also now obtain Windows 8 Enterprise through your TechNet Professional Subscription or MSDN Subscription. For those IT professionals that don’t have access through these other sources, a 90-day evaluation version is now available for download through the TechNet Evaluation Center. For more information about this evaluation version, please see the Windows 8 Enterprise Evaluation FAQ.

    For customers who will be deploying Windows 8 Enterprise, be assured that the KMS and MAK volume activation methods that were available with Windows 7 Enterprise are still there and work as they did before. But there is also a new Active Directory-based Activation method, offering a way to leverage your existing Active Directory infrastructure to simplify the activation process.

    In order to use KMS or MAK activation, you will need to obtain new keys from the VLSC. If you are using a Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 computer as your KMS host, you will also need to install a hotfix to enable Windows 8 Enterprise activation. For more information about volume activation, please see the Volume Activation Overview on TechNet.

    To help with the planning, image engineering, and deployment processes for Windows 8 Enterprise, some key free tools are also now available for downloading:

    • The Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK), which replaces the Windows Automated Installation Kit for Windows 7, contains many key deployment tools that are essential for IT pros, including new versions of Windows PE and the User State Migration Tool. Tools that used to be available separately, such as the Application Compatibility Toolkit and the Windows Performance Toolkit, are now included in the ADK. Additionally, a new Windows Assessment Toolkit has been added to measure the performance, reliability and functionality of Windows in your lab environment. You can also access the Windows ADK online.
    • The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 Update 1 (MDT) automates and accelerates the deployment of Windows 8 Enterprise by integrating all of the ADK tools into a single, easy-to-use deployment process. By leveraging MDT, you can easily create your own custom Windows 8 Enterprise images that can then be deployed throughout your enterprise.
    • The Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit 7.0 can quickly and efficiently collect detailed infrastructure information you need for planning your migration to Windows 8 Enterprise. It includes detailed hardware and operating system information about each desktop, indicates which computers meet the hardware requirements for Windows 8 and also lists applications installed.

    To find additional resources to help you plan for Windows 8 in your organization, bookmark the Springboard Series for Windows 8 and check out our step-by-step Plan for Windows 8 guide.

    Thanks for your interest in Windows 8 Enterprise. Start your testing and evaluation today!

  • FE blog

    Reforms for the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers opens new opportunities for FE

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    The National Apprenticeship Service have received confirmation that Ministers and HM Treasury have formally agreed the following package of reforms for the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers:

    1. Pay the employers the full amount of £1500 13 weeks after the apprentice starts, instead of two instalments of £750 at weeks 8 and 52
    2. Extend the scheme to mid-sized businesses with up to 1000 employees, with the proviso that at least 50% of the grants (20,000 of the 40,000 grants available) should still be targeted at SMEs (companies employing no more than 250 employees)
    3. Increase the number of grants a single employer can claim to 10, up from the current limit of three
    4. Relax the rule informally known as the "3 year rule" so that an employer will be eligible for AGE if they have not employed an apprentice in the last 12 months.

    The Treasury have agreed that to revisit the 3 year rule in the autumn, when NAS review the whole scheme with them.

    Most commentators think these announcements represent a positive change for the apprenticeship incentive which was running into a few blockages over conditions, so the relaxation of the rules could be a help for getting schemes up and running.  In particular, the changes will open up the opportunity to medium size employers where there is existing demand for apprenticeships schemes.

    There are three groups of employers that need to be considered and NAS will be moving on getting the message out to them but equally providers may want to take the opportunity to return to employers who have been previously rejected for the grant who now fit the criteria:

    1. Employers who have previously applied and been accepted for AGE under the old "split payment" rule
    2. Employers who have previously applied and been turned down for AGE, but would now be eligible under the new rules. This group should be proactively contacted and offered the grant
    3. Employers who did not previously apply for AGE but  will be eligible under the new rules. This group should be dealt with on a case by case basis, if they get in touch to request the grant retrospectively
  • FE blog

    The Hyper Connected Teacher

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    Guest post from Kristian Still, Assistant Vice Principal, Hamble Community Sports College.

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    1.1 Introduction

    I would like to think that my colleagues would describe me as a passionate teacher, excited about my subject and my craft. I would like to think that my students wholeheartedly believe that their achievements are the result of their own hard work and that they are both challenged and inspired in our classroom. I would like to think that my effective use of technology gives me more time to focus on being a better educator. It is this passion for using education technology that led me to question my own productivity, as a leader, learner, as a teacher and facilitator and an education maven. What I search for is the ability to move freely between devices (operating systems) and locations with but a moment’s pause.

    2.1 Triad or Quad?

    ‘To freely move between devices….’ between desktops, laptops, touchscreens, mobile phones and games console. The question of triad or quad simple explores whether or not you consider a game console a viable education tool for teaching. It is most certainly a learning platform.

    3.1 Dot to dot

    All the dots are there for everyone to see.
    You will know from experience that connecting the dots takes effort and determination (and often a wrong turn), but at some point before you complete the puzzle, you see the answer. I have been reading and listening to the media response to Window 8, Surface, Window Phone 7.8/8 and Xbox and staring (thinking) at these technology dots. Thinking strategy, thinking how could this improve my impact as a practitioner.

    I am confident Microsoft planned and placed these dots thoughtfully, purposefully and deliberately in front of us, so that as we started connecting them together, we will see that the answer was indeed an integrated, connected Microsoft platform. An environment where one could ‘move freely between devices (operating systems) and locations with but a moment’s pause.’

    What if we brought those dots closer together? What if we made those connections easier to make and brought forward that ‘eureka’ moment. How would that impact upon our willingness to change the way we interacted with and taught with technology? What if we were able to encourage education / teachers to move from being, all too often the early (or even late) majority, towards being the early adopters? Why not the innovators even? With that in mind, it is also worth noting that for the early majority to move, someone else has to have tried first. (Law of Diffusion of Innovation)

    3.2 Proposal

    Find the ‘someone’s.’ Find the someone’s from with the Partners in Learning Network or other group that are passionate about technology and ask them to build and share a ‘Why, How and What’ report. A report generated from an agreed series of professional diary reflections.

    • Why should a teacher consider the benefits and opportunities afforded to them through being hyper connected?
    • How did being hyper connected impact on their own learning and the learning that occurred in their classrooms?
    • What they did that made the difference?

    4.0 Conclusion
    The future will come soon enough and when it does, I would like to be ready to make the most of it.
    I am not quite sure why I got stuck on this issue, however, I am glad I did.

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  • FE blog

    Microsoft Unveils a New Look

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    Originally posted on the Official Microsoft Blog.

    In advance of one of the most significant waves of product launches in Microsoft’s history, we are unveiling a new logo for the company.

    It’s been 25 years since we’ve updated the Microsoft logo and now is the perfect time for a change. This is an incredibly exciting year for Microsoft as we prepare to release new versions of nearly all of our products. From Windows 8 to Windows Phone 8 to Xbox services to the next version of Office, you will see a common look and feel across these products providing a familiar and seamless experience on PCs, phones, tablets and TVs. This wave of new releases is not only a reimagining of our most popular products, but also represents a new era for Microsoft, so our logo should evolve to visually accentuate this new beginning.

    The Microsoft brand is about much more than logos or product names. We are lucky to play a role in the lives of more than a billion people every day. The ways people experience our products are our most important “brand impressions”. That’s why the new Microsoft logo takes its inspiration from our product design principles while drawing upon the heritage of our brand values, fonts and colours.

    The logo has two components: the logotype and the symbol. For the logotype, we are using the Segoe font which is the same font we use in our products as well as our marketing communications. The symbol is important in a world of digital motion (as demonstrated in the video above.) The symbol’s squares of colour are intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products.

    Starting today, you’ll see the new Microsoft logo being used prominently. It will be used on Microsoft.com – the 10th most visited website in the world. It is in three of our Microsoft retail stores today (Boston, Seattle’s University Village and Bellevue, Wash.) and will shine brightly in all our stores over the next few months. It will sign off all of our television ads globally. And it will support our products across various forms of marketing. Fully implementing a change like this takes time, so there may be other instances where you will see the old logo being used for some time.

    We’re excited about the new logo, but more importantly about this new era in which we’re reimagining how our products can help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.

  • FE blog

    Office 365 for education Starter Manual

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    SharePoint MVP and Microsoft partner, Alex Pearce from BFC Networks, has created a very useful starter manual for Office 365 for education.

    This starter manual will give you a step by step guide to implementing Office 365 for education for your school or college. It will include the subscription process, how to register your first domain to some simple Exchange, Lync and SharePoint housekeeping.

    The guide can be downloaded directly from BFC Networks. Alternatively, you can view/download the full eBook below.

  • FE blog

    Microsoft Office 365 for education - Migration Masterclass

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    Is Office 365 right for your institution?

    This master class from Quest and Microsoft provides you with a valuable insight for the Education sector into:

    • Is Office 365 right for your institution?
    • How do you migrate from what you have now?

    Quest tools simplify your Office 365 migration, co-existence and management and in this session Quest staff share their real world experience of working with customers migrating to Office 365 for education.

    If you have already deployed a cloud based email solution, this session will show you why and how you can migrate to Office 365 for education.

    If you have a more traditional environment, this session will also demonstrate how you can migrate from on-premise Exchange and SharePoint, Lotus Notes, GroupWise, Exchange public folders and Windows files.

    Please register below.

    http://www.quest.com/webcast/microsoft-office-365-migration-masterclass818159.aspx

    Registration date and time information:
    18 September 2012 12:00

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