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Being brave and taking the Microsoft Certified Educator Exam

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 06:00
We are always expecting our students respond well to the challenges of exams. But, how often to do we take up  that challenge ourselves. Rachel Jones , ‘Curator of Lightbulbs’ and teaching and learning co-coordinator at King Edward VI School, Southampton has done exactly that.

Here is her post in her own words ……….

In 2013 I applied for the Google Teacher Academy. I was pretty staggered to get in, and remember jumping around the room with @girlyrunner1 when I got the email saying I had been accepted. Attending #GTA2013 was for me the start point of quite a long journey. I had never really consider having my skills as a teacher (especially in the area of using technology) as something you could certify. Being able to quantify skills in this area felt at odds with my have-a-go- hero kind of attitude. I am entirely self-taught and almost pride myself in a lack of formal IT qualifications, I enjoy learning how to do things by having a tinker with them. However – once I had attended the #GTA I felt much more confident in my own abilities. This also coincided with sharing a lot of what I do at conferences and TeachMeets, where I often found myself saying that:

‘What technology you use isn’t important. What’s important is the impact that it is having on the children’s learning. If you would be better off using pen and paper, then do that. ‘

Now – part of the consequence of saying this is that I started to reflect on myself as a practitioner. I had pretty much signed up lock-stock to Apple and Google, and actually this meant that I wasn’t actually practising what I was preaching about being a platform atheist. Something shifted in my approach to how I think about educating myself as a teacher. I decided that rather than focus on one platform, I would educate myself about all the options open to me, and make decisions of use based on an educated opinion rather than a personal preference. This entailed putting myself through other professional certifications. I have applied for the upcoming ADE course (please keep your fingers crossed for me) and this week I also took The Microsoft Certified Educator exam. My school very kindly paid for me to take the exam, and it was really quite nerve wracking sitting in a room, knowing that if I failed I should probably do the whole modelling resilience thing – but would instead probably have a cry. It’s funny how much of ourselves we invest in our professional capabilities, and I was reminded afresh how terrifying the exam system must be for the students in our care. Prior to taking the exam I had worked through all the sample materials that Microsoft provide, and passed them all. (Sometimes without quite so much of the study time recommended) however over half term the looming imminence of the exam provoked some full on revision. I can know tell you all sorts of useful things, like what some error messages actually mean – as can my 8 year old as he tested me all week. However, much of the content of the exam is based on actual classroom practice and pedagogy, so it came under the remit of the job that I do all day. I was *really* pleased to pass the exam first time, like so pleased I would not have to go to work and say they needed to pay for a re-sit and also that I could tell my boys that the relentless testing had not been in vain…. But I was also pleased to pass for myself- every time I do something outside my comfort zone, and it goes well, it helps to build my confidence as an educator.

I would encourage others to consider taking exams such as these for these reasons:

1 – It is good for you to have empathy with kids in exam halls. Know what it feels like to be afraid that you might not pass.

2 – It won’t hurt in your next appraisal to have a new professional qualification.

3 – If you work in edtech it gives you credibility that you know what you are talking about across

platforms.

4 – I have been told (still waiting on it) that the Microsoft teacher network is really awesome. If they are anything as cool as the Google Teacher network this will be endless brilliant to be a part of.

5 – As teachers we should also be learners. Not peddling knowledge for a 20 year old degree. We do need to learn new things – even if this falls under the skills category.

6 – It feels brilliant to pass exams. I actually skipped back to the car park. For those of who have to work at building self-confidence, this this could be an excellent step.

7 – Teachers often build their sense of self-worth based on what SLT or OFSTED say. I think having a more detached professional criteria to see how valuable you are, and what your skills are worth is very important indeed. You are more than your last observation score.

8- I felt valued by school in that they paid for my exam. In a week of report writing and the other usual stressed, this certainly kept me going. Schools get buy-in from staff based on valuing them as teachers and human beings. This part of my development will certainly benefit the school, maybe not in pay back in terms of my IT knowledge, but certainly in how loyal I feel to the institution.

I hope that by continuing to challenge myself I am not just collecting certificates, but acquiring knowledge and skills that will benefit those in my classroom. I would encourage other teachers to consider taking professional certifications, it is certainly something that has changed my practise for the better.

You can find more out about Rachel’s great work on her blog - http://createinnovateexplore.com/

If you are interested in becoming a Microsoft Certified Educator, you can find all the details here  - https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/mce-certification.aspx

Check out how these teachers in a welsh local authority have developed their professional development and the impact it has had on their learning and the learning of their students.

DreamSpark Survey for UK students and educators 2014/2015

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 05:50

We need to know your thoughts about DreamSpark  help us, help the next generation of students

We are inviting students and educators to complete a short survey to help us better understand how the DreamSpark programme is supporting you.

We would like to understand what range of applications and tools have been of use to you, how often you use them and how effective they have been in supporting your skills development or teaching and learning.

Most importantly, we would like to understand how effective access to DreamSpark has been in supporting your academic achievements.

You also have a chance to let us know about any particularly positive or negative experiences you have had so we can ensure that in the future we are delivering an even better service.

We are only looking for a few minutes of your time and all responses remain anonymous.

Educator version: http://dreamspark.eduresearch.org.uk

Student version: http://dreamspark-student.eduresearch.org.uk

Ofsted ICT in education eBook – Chapter 3: Quality of Teaching in ICT

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 05:30

Last week we published the first two chapters of our Ofsted ICT in education eBook, now we’re ready to take a look at the third chapter: Quality of Teaching in ICT. If you missed the first two chapters or you want to skip ahead or go through the whole eBook at your own pace, it is available in its entirety:

Ofsted ICT in education from Microsoft Education UK

---

Chapter 3: Quality of Teaching in ICT

Outstanding Subject Knowledge

A fundamental requirement here is teaching based on excellent subject knowledge that’s upto date and aware of continuing developments. Added to that is an understanding of active learning. As a result, teachers will effectively address pupils’ misconceptions, answer their questions and move them on to new thoughts and ideas. Students will be seen responding by actively participating in their learning, making full use of a very wide range of resources and teaching.

How Microsoft can contribute

Office 365 + OneNote ensures staff can be effective in supporting the learning journey. Through the shared notebooks they can see a student’s work as it progresses and then provide constructive feedback with hand written notes and comments. Feedback could be the inclusion of additional resources or ideas for further work. The level of intervention can be used to demonstrate an impact on the quality of learning.

Using OneNote in this way not only supports independent working for the students but also a more personalised approach to each student’s needs. Being able to see how students take notes and develop their work gives a teacher real insight into how each student best learns and how they can be supported.

Homework can be set either within OneNote or within the class site in Office 365. Teachers can share best work with parents by simply clicking on a button and emailing a OneNote page to a parent to highlight the great work a student has done.

Our best learning happens through relationships with others and Yammer as a social networking tool can be used by teachers to help develop these connections. Yammer can be used by students to learn from their peers, collaborate on school projects or to collaborate with other schools. Teachers can use Yammer to help develop their classes by getting ideas from other teachers, sharing good practice and raising issues that they may need support in addressing.

Sway can be an engaging starting point for a lesson, imparting information to students through a wide range of device options or through using the classroom display technology. The embedding of videos, either from the web or the Office 365 video channel, helps give different dimensions to the content.

Flipped learning can help teachers have greater contact time with students during a lesson or help deeper understanding prior to a lesson. Office Mix can be used by teachers to create engaging learning content which can be published to the Office 365 video channel. Sway can also be used with Office mix as a starting point for students.

“Our best learning happens through relationships with others...”

The Microsoft Educator Network puts teachers in touch with other innovative and Outstanding teachers both nationally and globally. This greatly enhances subject knowledge, promotes innovation and motivates teachers to be creative leaders of Outstanding learning. Teaching with Technology (TWT) framework offers teachers a great resource for professional development.

The Microsoft education blogs, too, offer a constant stream of information and ideas that keep teachers informed and upto date. Blogs also celebrate the achievements of individuals and schools.

Teacher Testimonial:

Guy Shearer of Lodge Park Community College, spoke of the Microsoft Educator Network:

“We are seeing more fun, left – field and thought provoking ideas through our connection to other like – minded schools…The resources are simple to share and because they aren’t proscriptive are ideal to fire the imagination of the ‘can-do’ teacher who wants to push themselves.”

---

The fourth chapter of this eBook will be published next week, and we hope that you have found the areas covered so far to be of practical help in your educational setting.

Ofsted ICT in education eBook – Chapter 3: Quality of Teaching in ICT

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 05:30

Last week we published the first two chapters of our Ofsted ICT in education eBook, now we’re ready to take a look at the third chapter: Quality of Teaching in ICT. If you missed the first two chapters or you want to skip ahead or go through the whole eBook at your own pace, it is available in its entirety:

Ofsted ICT in education from Microsoft Education UK

---

Chapter 3: Quality of Teaching in ICT

Outstanding Subject Knowledge

A fundamental requirement here is teaching based on excellent subject knowledge that’s upto date and aware of continuing developments. Added to that is an understanding of active learning. As a result, teachers will effectively address pupils’ misconceptions, answer their questions and move them on to new thoughts and ideas. Students will be seen responding by actively participating in their learning, making full use of a very wide range of resources and teaching.

How Microsoft can contribute

Office 365 + OneNote ensures staff can be effective in supporting the learning journey. Through the shared notebooks they can see a student’s work as it progresses and then provide constructive feedback with hand written notes and comments. Feedback could be the inclusion of additional resources or ideas for further work. The level of intervention can be used to demonstrate an impact on the quality of learning.

Using OneNote in this way not only supports independent working for the students but also a more personalised approach to each student’s needs. Being able to see how students take notes and develop their work gives a teacher real insight into how each student best learns and how they can be supported.

Homework can be set either within OneNote or within the class site in Office 365. Teachers can share best work with parents by simply clicking on a button and emailing a OneNote page to a parent to highlight the great work a student has done.

Our best learning happens through relationships with others and Yammer as a social networking tool can be used by teachers to help develop these connections. Yammer can be used by students to learn from their peers, collaborate on school projects or to collaborate with other schools. Teachers can use Yammer to help develop their classes by getting ideas from other teachers, sharing good practice and raising issues that they may need support in addressing.

Sway can be an engaging starting point for a lesson, imparting information to students through a wide range of device options or through using the classroom display technology. The embedding of videos, either from the web or the Office 365 video channel, helps give different dimensions to the content.

Flipped learning can help teachers have greater contact time with students during a lesson or help deeper understanding prior to a lesson. Office Mix can be used by teachers to create engaging learning content which can be published to the Office 365 video channel. Sway can also be used with Office mix as a starting point for students.

“Our best learning happens through relationships with others...”

The Microsoft Educator Network puts teachers in touch with other innovative and Outstanding teachers both nationally and globally. This greatly enhances subject knowledge, promotes innovation and motivates teachers to be creative leaders of Outstanding learning. Teaching with Technology (TWT) framework offers teachers a great resource for professional development.

The Microsoft education blogs, too, offer a constant stream of information and ideas that keep teachers informed and upto date. Blogs also celebrate the achievements of individuals and schools.

Teacher Testimonial:

Guy Shearer of Lodge Park Community College, spoke of the Microsoft Educator Network:

“We are seeing more fun, left – field and thought provoking ideas through our connection to other like – minded schools…The resources are simple to share and because they aren’t proscriptive are ideal to fire the imagination of the ‘can-do’ teacher who wants to push themselves.”

---

The fourth chapter of this eBook will be published next week, and we hope that you have found the areas covered so far to be of practical help in your educational setting.

IoT: How to run a brushless motor using Netduino

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 04:30

In one of my articles about Galileo I showed how to run a simple DC motor using L293D chip. But it’s not very interesting because if you are going to build your own robot or drone, you need to use more powerful motors. For example, I have a dream: I want to build my own drone using boards like Galileo or Netduino. So, I decided to start my research with the most expensive part of drones – motor system. I already printed several propellers using my 3D printer, so I wanted to reach two goals: test the printed propellers to understand, if I can use them; understand, how to use Netduino or Galileo boards to operate more powerful motor.

If you are going to build your own drone you need several multirotor brushless motors. It’s very important because motor should work in both directions to guarantee stability of the drone and you should have a way to regulate speed to move drone in 3D space. Additionally you need to buy ESC (electronic speed controller), which will help to operate the motor. It’s kind of like more advanced version of L293D chip. Finally you need a battery. Because your motor should be powerful and you need 4-6 motors there (I decided to use 6), you cannot use a simple 9V battery – you should use lithium polymer and a charger for your LiPo battery as well. All these things are not very cheap and you need to spend more than 150 dollars in order to buy everything but don’t worry, because it’s the most expensive part of the drone.

Finally I bought the following things:

Once I got my package I spent much time to run the motor. It was not easy because you should understand which signals to send ESC to start moving. In my case I got ESC without any instructions, model number etc. So, I tried to use the standard procedure to initialize it:

Attention: ESC has three wires, which you connect to your board (ground, signal and power). Don’t connect red wire (power) to your board. ESC doesn’t require additional power because it’s enough power from LiPo battery. Officially you can use it in order to send some power to your board (or fly controller) but I still didn’t test it.

  • First of all, you should setup your ESC. In order to do it you need to send the highest power signal from ESC range and plugin you ESC to power (LiPo). Your ESC should initialize the highest number and finish it with one beep;

  • Once you have heard ESC beep you should send the lowest signal. If you are using your ESC for the second time you need to send the lowest signal before you connect ESC to LiPo. If everything is OK, your ESC will send several beeps, which are signals about number of cells in your battery;

  • If everything is OK, you can start to send different signals inside your range in order to operate your motor;

Attention. ESC has three wires which you should connect to the motor wires. You can use any sequence. Depends on sequence, the motor will operate in different directions.

The procedure looks very simple but there are still several questions. For example, it is not clear, which signal I should send to ESC and how to setup your PWM pin in order to send the right signals.

Attention. In order to send signals to ESC you should use PMW signals. In case of Galileo, all PMW are marked by “~”. In case of Netduino 2 Plus you can use pins 3,5,6,9,10,11.

Officially you can use Servo library for Galileo and find the similar library for Netduino. I tried to use this approach but my ESC just sent beep-beep-beep… signals without any results (these beeps say that signals from the board are not in the range). So, I decided to forget about standard libraries and use PMW directly. Finally I found the following parameters for PMW constructor in .NET Micro Framework:

  • High signal – PWM(PWMChannels.PWM_PIN_D5, 20000, 1750, PWM.ScaleFactor.Microseconds, false);

  • Low signal – PWM(PWMChannels.PWM_PIN_D5, 20000, 1250, PWM.ScaleFactor.Microseconds, false);

So, in order to initialize my PMW I just use these lines of code in debug mode. I send high signal, stop execution (using breakpoint) there and attach my LiPo battery. Once the motor sent the right signal I executed the second command.

In order to test my motor I connected a joystick to my board and implemented the following code:

public static void Main()
{
AnalogInput an1 = new AnalogInput(AnalogChannels.ANALOG_PIN_A0,1000,0,-1);
AnalogInput an2 = new AnalogInput(AnalogChannels.ANALOG_PIN_A1, 1000, 0, -1);
InputPort p = new InputPort(Pins.GPIO_PIN_D8,
true, Port.ResistorMode.PullUp);

PWM pwm = new PWM(Cpu.PWMChannel.PWM_0, 20000,
1750, PWM.ScaleFactor.Microseconds, false);

bool flag = false;
bool isStarted = false;

while(true)
{
if (flag)
{
if (isStarted==false)
{
pwm.Duration = 1250;
pwm.Period = 20000;

pwm.Start();
isStarted = true;
Thread.Sleep(5000);
}
double posx=an1.Read();
double posy=an2.Read();
if ((posx<500)||(posy<500))
{
uint duration = pwm.Duration;
if (posx<500)
{
duration-=10;
}
if (posy<500)
{
duration+=10;
}
if (duration > 1750) duration = 1750;
if (duration < 1250) duration = 1250;
pwm.Duration = duration;
pwm.Period = 20000;
pwm.Start();
Thread.Sleep(500);

}
if (p.Read() == false)
{
pwm.Stop();
isStarted = false;
flag = false;
Thread.Sleep(1000);
}
}
else
{
if (p.Read()==false)
{
flag = true;
Thread.Sleep(1000);
}
}
}
}

Thanks to that code I got a chance to turn on and turn off my motor using click, and speed up and down my motor using up and left directions of joystick (my joystick has been broken, so I could not use up and down).

Of course, in order to test the motor with a propeller, you should think about the right environment. First of all you should fix your motor. I made a mistake there, I used several bolts in order to fix my motor on top of the cardboard box. It didn’t stop my motor and it was trying to fly with a piece of the box. Thanks to Galaxy I am still alive but right now I am printing a new propeller. I still don’t understand why I decided that a cardboard box would stop the motor which should be able to get the drone up to the sky.

 

 

Power BI and Dynamics AX: Part 5: PowerBI.com and On Premise Data (Preview)

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 03:39

 

This is the final part of the Power BI and Dynamics AX blog series for now, the earlier posts focused on the current functionality available within Power BI for Office 365. This blog post is going to talk about new functionality, that at time of writing, is only available in preview. This the topic in this post should not be applied to a production environment as it relates to preview functionality.

The new version of PowerBI.com has introduced a lot of new functionality; Dashboards, new visualisations, new apps for iOS and Windows devices all making for an extremely rich PowerBI experience on the web. This post is focused however on the new Live Connectivity functionality for On Premise Data.

The new connector that has been released allows a live connection to an On Premise Analysis Services Tabular Database. While unfortunately at the time of writing the SSAS Database shipped with Dynamics is a Multi-dimensional database you can't connect directly, but you can create a Tabular Database to "flatten" the multi-dimensional database into a tabular Database for use with PowerBI.com. The latency of your data in PowerBI.com will be determined by how often you're processing your SSAS Cube.

As an organisation you need to determine the best connectivity method for you and PowerBI, this may be through SSAS or through OData as previously described. There are limits to the On Premise option at the moment, given the nature of the Q&A Natural Language Queries and the processing that is required, Q&A is not currently supported on On-Premise data, you must still upload data into the data model for Q&A to work. For more information, start with the documentation from the PowerBI team - Which Power BI experience is right for me?

For this example we are going to use:

  • Dynamics AX 2012 R3 CU8
  • SQL Server 2014 Enterprise
    • Two SSAS Instances Deployed
      • Multidimensional with standard Dynamics AX Cubes Deployed (Find a detailed guide here.)
      • Tabular
  • PowerBI.com (Preview)
  • Power BI Analysis Services Connector (Preview)
  • Visual Studio 2013
  • Microsoft SQL Server Data Tools - Business Intelligence for Visual Studio 2013

Important Note: The SSAS Connector requires Azure Active Directory Sync to be running between your on Premise Active Directory and Azure Active Directory – otherwise you will receive an error when trying to connect to the Data source from PowerBI. So for those of you using the Dynamics Demo Virtual Machine, you won't be able to connect. Your SSAS instances will need to be deployed on a machine synced with your Azure Active Directory.

We are going to create our Tabular Database through Visual Studio using a Business Intelligence Project Template that is installed as part of the SQL Server Data Tools pack. For the example today we are going to create a Project analysis tabular model with basic project information along with some key measures.

To start, launch Visual Studio. We are going to create a new SSAS Tabular Project by clicking "New Project", and selecting "Business Intelligence", "Analysis Services Tabular Project"

After selecting the project and entering a name, you will be prompted to connect to an instance of SSAS, this is where you connect to your newly created SSAS Tabular Instance.

Once we have our new project you have a few options of how you would like to create the model, depending on your technical ability. For this example we are going to use the wizard as it's the easiest option. To get started, select "Model" > "Import from Data source". You'll be prompted with the list of data sources you can import from. You have the option of connecting directly to the AX relational DB, but I find the cubes easier as fields like enums, references, etc have been cleaned up and are a lot easier to work with. You also get the benefit of leveraging the calculations already in place in the standard cubes.

For our purposes today, we will use Microsoft Analysis Services. In the next screen you'll enter the connection details for the SSAS Multidimensional Database (Dynamics AX Standard Cubes).

After entering credentials, you'll be prompted for the MDX query that the tabular database should use for this model. You can start with MDX if you wish, or use the "Design" option to launch the visual designer. From this screen we will select the data we want form the cube to be available in our Tabular model. You can drag and drop fields from cubes on the left hand side into the pane on the right. As you add fields you will see your tabular model refresh to give you a preview of the data that will be available.

Once you've selected the information you want available, click Ok – you can now give your query a friendly name and then click Finish. If you had provided incorrect credentials, you will receive an error – you will need to back up to the credentials and update them with an account that has access to the cubes. Once you click finish the MDX query will be processed, once finished, close the window and you will see the results of your MDX query. You can take this time to change column names if you wish to make the data a little friendlier once we load it into PowerBI.

You can now close and save your Model. If you would like to double check its deployment, you can open up SQL Management Studio and you should see your newly created tabular DB. The SSAS On Premise model uses security from SSAS, so this is where you would apply your role security to your SSAS data model. Users need to have access to this DB to be able to explore the data in PowerBI (This is a key difference to the OData/Workbook model previously discussed)

 

The last step On Premise is to install the PowerBI Analysis Services Connector (Preview). You can find a detailed guide of how to download and install the connector here. The installation will require your PowerBI.com login details (Your Office 365 credentials) as well as the details for the Tabular instance of SSAS.

Now we are ready to expose the new tabular database to PowerBI. You can log into the Preview here. At the time of writing this preview is only available to customers within the United States. Once you've logged in, select "Get Data" > "SQL Server Analysis Services" and then "Connect".

You will be presented with a list of all the SSAS connectors published within your organisation. Find and select yours in the list. You will then see a list of Models which are available on your instance. Click the model you had created earlier and click "Connect"

Once connected, you will now have a new Dataset available which is your On Premise Data source. (Note: The name will be your SSAS instance, you can rename it in PowerBi.com if required)

Now your data is available to create reports and dashboards against like any other data source. From the ellipsis menu on the Dataset click "Explore" and you be taken to a blank PowerView page to start building your report. If you're familiar with creating visualisations in PowerView you can follow the same process, if not you can find a detailed guide here.

Below is an example of a Project Profitability analysis report based on On-Premise Data on Dynamics AX. The Invoiced Revenue, Cost, Hours and Gross Profit are all based on calculated measures defined in our standard Dynamics AX SSAS Cubes. You can find a detailed reference of the information available in the cube here.

One of the key benefits of the new PowerBI.com is the ability to create dashboards. Dashboards allow visualisations from multiple reports to be pinned to a single dashboard to give you a quick and easy overview of multiple sets of data. You can then drill into that specific report by clicking the visualisation from the dashboard.

This was a very simple example of exposing some Dynamics AX data to explore the preview; users of PowerBI should consider the best connection method for them, along with planning around what data should and should not be exposed. The PowerBI technology is changing at a great pace at the moment, it's important to keep up to date with what is coming and how it can help shape your ongoing Business Intelligence Strategy.

For information on the new PowerBI.com platform, try these resources:

Hopefully this has been a help insight to some of the new functionality out in preview at the moment, and how it can be applied to Dynamics AX.

Thanks,

Clay.

New Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Crown Commercial Service following expiration of PSA12

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 03:23

Last week we started telling partners about a Transition Agreement signed with the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) following the natural expiration of PSA12. Here are the details of that agreement and, for more information, we recommend you speak with your Microsoft representative or Licensing Solution Partner.

Microsoft has had a strategic relationship with UK Government since 2002 under a number of non- binding framework agreements with the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), part of the Cabinet Office, and its predecessors. The last one of these agreements (PSA12) was set for a three-year period and is due to naturally expire in April 2015.

Recognising the cloud-first policy of the UK Government, both Microsoft and CCS have agreed that such commercial agreements are no longer appropriate in matching the needs of UK Public Sector customers. The PSA-style agreements were originally created in a non-cloud world and subsequent updated agreements have built on that original model so are no longer suitable for modern cloud-based IT environments.

The availability of secure cloud services (be that public or private cloud) provide significant savings over traditional technology infrastructure and enable and accelerate the transformational changes required of today’s Public Sector. Microsoft is a committed and accredited partner under CCS’s  G-Cloud agreement  allowing UK Public Sector customers the opportunity to purchase Microsoft’s Online Services alongside multiple options from other suppliers. This position is consistent with the Government’s stated intention announced in May 2013 by Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office to be ‘Cloud First’ for public sector IT: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-adopts-cloud-first-policy-for-public-sector-it.

In order to ensure UK Public Sector customers who choose to make the transformation to cloud services have sufficient time, Microsoft and CCS have agreed the following arrangements for the period following the expiry of PSA12.

  • Any existing Enterprise Agreement customer will be given the opportunity to renew into an Enterprise Agreement Subscription (EAS) for a further three years, at the expiry of their current agreement at broadly comparable discount levels.
  • Any non-Enterprise Agreement customers have an extended period until the end of June 2015 to commit to an EAS at broadly comparable discount levels.
  • Extra discounts have been provided on Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS) and Server & Cloud Enrolment (SCE) to support transformation and cloud adoption.

 

Excel Top Tricks & Tips!

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 03:00

Excel - the source of all my data powers!

In its simplest form, Microsoft Excel gives people & businesses the tools they need to make the most of their data & understand what's happening in their business. For me, outside of work, I use Excel day to day to keep track of shopping lists, Christmas spending & making colourful calendars & charts, but this tool has so many functions to mention in one blog. So here's a list of my top 15 features:

1. Build great charts - Excel allows business users to unlock the potential of their data, by using formulas across a grid of cells. Data is inserted into individual cells in rows or columns, allowing it to be sorted and filtered, and then displayed in a visual presentation. Using pie charts, graphs and clustered columns adds meaning to data, which otherwise may just exist as row after row of numbers. These visualisations can add extra emphasis to business reports and persuasive marketing material. Excel recommends charts most suitable for the type of data being presented on the X and Y axis.

2. Share from the cloud & collaborate in real time - You'll all be tracking the latest version because OneDrive or SharePoint by default stores your spreadsheets in the cloud. Just send everyone a link to the same file, for anytime, anywhere access for your whole team. Internet connection required; must be signed in with a Microsoft account or an Office 365 account.

Once you’ve saved your spreadsheet to OneDrive, you and your team can work together at the same time with Excel Online - Check out the video here!

3. Excel when and where you need it - Online access - Excel is available online as part of Microsoft's Office 365 productivity suite. This means businesses and employees have access from a range of devices, from almost any location. Providing they have a web-enabled PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet it should be possible to access Excel, making mobile working possible.

Excel works across your devices. Install the Excel mobile app to stay productive on the go -http://products.office.com/en-us/Excel

4. Bring data & images together - Excel can be used to bring information from various files and documents together, so that it all in a one location. As well as raw data and information from other spreadsheets, it is possible to import text and images. Other objects can be added using the Insert tab, or additional spreadsheets can be added to the file.   

5. Identify trends  - When presenting data in the form of charts or graphs, detail the key trends emerging from the information through average lines to offer predictions of future activity - and such forecasts can help businesses develop their future strategy.

6. Compress pictures - If you have pictures or other graphical elements embedded in your Excel spreadsheet, they can greatly increase the document size. If you need to email the spreadsheet or post it online, you can make the size much smaller simply by compressing all the pictures in the sheet.

Select one of the pictures and you should see the Format tab under 'Picture Tools'. In the 'Adjust' group, choose 'Compress Pictures'. Click 'Options' and ensure that the options to delete cropped parts of the picture and to apply basic compression when saving are both enabled. Below these, select the level of compression you want to use and click 'OK' twice.

7. Quickly Inserting a New Worksheet - Want a quick way to insert a worksheet? Here's a handy shortcut to add a new worksheet before the current sheet. You can do so by pressing Shift+F11. 

8. Copy as a picture - If you need to copy a chart or a set of cells to a new location outside Excel, try doing so as a picture. You won't be able to further process the data, but all your formatting options will be preserved.

Select the chart or cell range and then click the downward arrow below 'Paste'. Choose 'As Picture | Copy As Picture'. You can now paste the image file wherever you like.

9. Flash Auto Fill - Excel Flash Fill learns & recognises data patterns & auto completes data as you go along to save time - Video here!

10. Achieve More with Auto charts - Auto recognises when you're trying to make a chart & gives you’re the best options to make your chart - Video here!

11. Excel Workbook Share in Lync - Share your screen & Collaborate with colleagues customers & partners wherever you are so you don’t even need to leave the office & waste time travelling - Click here for a short clip.

12.   Make it stand out with conditional formatting - Excel users can format their spreadsheets using different colour shades, bolds and italics, to differentiate between columns and bring the most important data to the fore.

13.   Digital Photo's with Pixel spreadsheet The bright minds over at Think Maths have developed a tool that lets you turn a digital photo into an Excel spreadsheet with the clever use of the conditional formatting feature in Excel.  If you ever wanted to convert your photo collection into Excel pixel art, now you can! http://blogs.office.com/2013/08/28/creative-and-unexpected-uses-of-excel/

 14.   Power Map in Excel - Power Map is a 3D data visualisation tool for Excel that lets you plot geographic data visually, analyse that data in 3D, and create map tours to share with others. It provides a great experience for making maps with data that might never be seen in traditional 2D tables and charts. http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/powerBI/power-map.aspx

 

15.   Pick a template - Adopt a standard for your organisation and stick to it - Adopting any sort of standardised approach can bring significant benefits. This is particularly true where spreadsheets are designed and used by different members of a team. Show your style and professionalism with templates, plus save time. Find out more in the following 20 principles for good spreadsheet practice by ICAEW . Free excel templates available here https://templates.office.com/en-us/templates-for-Excel


More Excel hints, tips & information can be found on the ICAEW IT Faculty blog, also check out the ICAEW 20 Principles for good spreadsheet practice here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UK_YpZBB02Y 

 

To get all the great features of Office & Excel, sign up for yourfree trial of Office 365 Business Premium" target="_blank"> free trial of Office 365 Business Premium today! 

 

Coffee Break - Search in a Dynamics NAV object file using Windows PowerShell

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 03:00

This coffee break post illustrates how to search a text file for specific words or a phrase. You can do this with Windows PowerShell in any text files, but let's use some Dynamics NAV objects exported as text. Technically speaking we are reading a text file then piping it line for line through a search cmdlet, which pipes matching lines further to a log.txt file.

Coffee Break 5 - Searching through a Dynamics NAV text file

Customer story:

The developer wants an automated way of locating all occurrences of a string (table name, field name, comment, ...) in a country-specific version of Dynamics NAV, in this example the Norwegian version. And we will log the output of this search to a log file in c:\NAVApp\Log. 

Exporting objects from Dynamics NAV:

Prerequisites:

Crete a folder C:\MyNAVApp with a subfolder \Log so that the resulting full path is C:\MyNAVApp\Log.

For this purpose we use the Microsoft Dynamics NAV Application Merge Utilities. Note that these install to the equivalent of C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Dynamics NAV\80\RoleTailored Client. This time we don't need to import the Management module, only the application merge utilities:

Import-Module "${env:ProgramFiles(x86)}\Microsoft Dynamics NAV\80\RoleTailored Client\Microsoft.Dynamics.Nav.Model.Tools.psd1"

  • Note 1: Make sure to import Microsoft.Dynamics.Nav.Model.Tools.psd1, and not NavModelTools.ps1.
  • Note 2: This will load the path for finsql.exe too, and use the finsql in the client folder.

Set a few variables. Assuming that we work in folder C:\MyNAVApp\, and we will be searching for where "G/L Account" table reference is used. And we will log the output of this search to a log file in the c:\MyNAVApp\Log folder.

$objectPath = 'C:\MyNAVApp'
$sourcepath = Join-Path $ObjectPath '\MyObjects'

$NAVobjects = Join-Path $ObjectPath 'NAVobjects.txt'
$LogPath = Join-Path $ObjectPath '\log\whereused.txt'
#Note, a search string can also be an array of strings
$SearchString = '”G/L Account”'

 

Export the objects you like, either all objects:
Export-NAVApplicationObject  -DatabaseName "Demo Database NAV (8-0)" -DatabaseServer ".\NAVDEMO" -Path $NAVObjectFile

Or filter (choose the filter you like):

$FilterString = "Version List=*NAVNO*"
#or

$FilterString = "Modified=Yes"
Export-NAVApplicationObject  -DatabaseName "Demo Database NAV (8-0)" -DatabaseServer ".\NAVDEMO" -Path $NAVObjects -Filter $FilterString 

#Split into individual object files

split-navapplicationobjectfile -Source $NAVobjects -Destination $sourcepath -PassThru -Force


Now load the list of files in the folder. We're using the -File parameter with Get-ChildItem to limit the scope to files only (sub folders are not included).

$myobjects = Get-ChildItem -Path $SourcePath -Filter *txt -File

The next line shows a very simple way to read through all text files in the specified path (c:\MyNAVApp) and for each file searches for the search string (in our case "G/L Account) and for each hit pipe the source line to the log file along with the line number. For this we will use the Select-String cmdlet, that can work directly on Objects with File Info (objects returned by calling  Get-ChildItem cmdlet).

$myobjects | Select-String $SearchString | Out-File –Filepath $LogPath

Note that using the parameters and segments above implies that:

  • The script raises an error if the $ObjectPath does not exist.
  • Out-File will overwrite the existing file per pipeline
  • Out-File will append lines to the file, per pipeline object

 

Jasminka Thunes, Escalation Engineer Dynamics NAV EMEA

Lars Lohndorf-Larsen, Escalation Engineer Dynamics NAV EMEA

Bas Graaf, Senior Software Engineer Dynamics NAV

 

How-to start and stop Azure VMs at a schedule

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 01:12

I use Azure VMs for dev/test and I do not want them to run all night, as I have to pay for it. Therefore, I stop the VMs at night with a scheduler, as I do not always remember to stop the VMs after use. Read more.

Error publishing a SharePoint workflow into Workflow Manager: exceeds the maximum number of arguments

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 00:58

Symptom

You are trying to deploy into Workflow Manager a SharePoint Workflow 2013 from SharePoint designer, but you got the following error:

“Microsoft.Workflow.Client.ActivityValidationException: Workflow XAML failed validation due to the following errors: Activity 'DynamicActivity' has XX arguments, which exceeds the maximum number of arguments per activity (50).

HTTP headers received from the server - ActivityId:76d43779-6288-4623-bbc9-df7b33b33e21. NodeId: FPCJUBSPWFE. Scope:/SharePoint/default/e16260b4-462f-4e35-bec5-50f2e6859014/2c817785-89e2-43a6-8bb4-f7f4141a4570.
Client ActivityId : 9528eb9c-8f1f-d0cc-36f7-38a6c53b7713”

 

Cause:

By default, the maximum number of Arguments that a workflow can receive in Workflow Manager is 50. However, you can modify it as required.

Resolution:

The only supported way to modify configuration parameters in Workflow Manager is by using WFM PowerShell cmdlets. For this specific case the cmdlet  to use is “Set-WFServiceConfiguration.”. Below all the steps required:

 a)    Change the value of “WorkflowServiceMaxArgumentsPerActivity” parameter by executing:

Set-WFServiceConfiguration -ServiceUri <Your WFM FQN URI> -Name WorkflowServiceMaxArgumentsPerActivity -Value <New Value>

b)     Confirm that the value was changed properly by executing: Get-WFServiceConfiguration -ServiceUri <Your WFM FQN URI> -name WorkflowServiceMaxArgumentsPerActivity

c)     Restart WFM services so that the change takes effect: Open a Workflow Manager Powershell command and execute "Stop-WFHost" and then "Start-WFHost" in every WFM server. 

 

Hope it helps.

MOS World Championship update – two UK finalists from St Helens College, Merseyside

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 00:30

The UK has now found its first finalists for the MOS World Championships Prodigy Learning yesterday announced 10 students from around the UK who have been chosen from thousands of eligible MOS exams taken during the First Qualifying Round between October 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014 to qualify for the UK Final.

They are as follows:

Microsoft Word finalists:

  • Alex Campbell (St Helens College)
  • Guto Pari (RCT - Ysgol Llanhari)
  • James Parsons (Brunel University)
  • Joseph Poole (St Helens College)
  • Kyle Livingston (Dundee and Angus College)


Microsoft Excel finalists:

  • Guste Balciunaite (Murray Park Community School)
  • Harriet Sims (Harper Adams University)
  • Jessica Pelling (Murray Park Community School)
  • Sophie Sawyer (Bournemouth School for Girls)
  • Thi Ngoc Linh Tran (London School of Economics and Political Science)

The second qualifying round is currently underway, and will run until May 15th, after which 10 more finalists will be selected to join those from the first round for the UK final, which will be held in Reading at the Microsoft UK Headquarters on June 17th 2015. Following a further MOS exam in their qualifying category, two of these students will be selected to represent the UK at the final round of the World Championship in Dallas, Texas.

There is still time to enter, and all eligible schools, colleges and universities are encouraged to to use the Second Qualifying Round as an opportunity to have their students stake their claim for a place at the National Final in June.

Further information can  be found through Prodigy Learning, but in the meantime, we’d like to share a press release from St Helens College, Merseyside, where they very proud to have provided two of the Microsoft Word finalists from the first round of qualifying examinations.

---

Computer says yes! St Helens College pair top Microsoft competition  

Two St Helens College students are competing for a place at the prestigious Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) World Championship in Dallas, Texas. A global competition that tests students’ skills on Microsoft Office applications.

Computing students, Joe Poole and Alex Campbell, are the only two students in the North of England who secured places in the competitive national finals after acing the regional tests.

The pair successfully competed in the popular technology skills competition to demonstrate their mastery of Microsoft Office products and completed unique project-based tests to demonstrate their ability in Word and Excel.

There are two qualifying rounds between October 2014 and May 2015. In this first round that Joe and Alex competed in, only 10 young people were selected from 5,000 UK entries using the ‘top score method’, which takes into consideration the highest exam score gained in the lowest amount of time. The top 10 students from both rounds will then come together for the UK Final in June at an event hosted by Prodigy Learning and Microsoft at Microsoft UK head office in Reading.

Microsoft Office Specialist Certification is offered to students at St Helens College alongside their full-time course in order to boost their employability. The qualification gives students a way to become tangibly prepared for the world of work.

Andrew Lenegan, Regional Account Manager for Prodigy Learning, Alex Campbell, Joe Poole and Jeanette Banks, Curriculum Leader in Computing

Alex, a former Huyton Arts and Sports Centre for Learning pupil said, “I am currently studying for my BTEC IT Level 3 Extended Diploma at the College. I thought the competition would be a great way to upskill and build my confidence. I have always loved computers and my tutors here at the College have been nothing but supportive, without their assistance I would be nowhere near where I am today. I am excited for the national heat and I certainly hope I’m stepping on a plane this summer to represent St Helens College in the finals.”

Joe, a former Sutton Academy pupil said:

“I have always been interested in computers and in particular the web industry. After scoring highly in my exam, I’m hoping to continue my success at the next stage of the competition and hope that this hard work and commitment will help me secure a job in the industry. It will certainly look good on my CV”

Jeanette Banks, Curriculum leader for Computing at St Helens College said “The pair have done incredibly well to get this far, they show a great aptitude for the subject. We are delighted to be supporting them in the next stages and it presents an excellent opportunity for them both to develop their industry skills, network and enhance their CV. The qualification is industry recognised and will certainly impress prospective universities and employers.”

Andrew Lenehan, Regional Account Manager for Prodigy Learning who provide the certification at St Helens College said:

“The MOS world championship has been running for a number of years, with the main aim to drive up digital skills. From a UK and Liverpool City Region perspective it sits very well with the Digital Agenda of the Government. The UK has a great recent history in the competition with three winners in the last 5 years, and whilst these winners were all from the South I will be hoping that Alex and Joe can show that anything the south can do we can do just as well in the north! We are delighted at the success of St Helens College.”

MOS World Championship update – two UK finalists from St Helens College, Merseyside

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 00:30

The UK has now found its first finalists for the MOS World Championship! Prodigy Learning yesterday announced 10 students from around the UK who have been chosen from thousands of eligible MOS exams taken during the First Qualifying Round between October 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014 to qualify for the UK Final.

They are as follows:

Microsoft Word finalists:

  • Alex Campbell (St Helens College)
  • Guto Pari (RCT - Ysgol Llanhari)
  • James Parsons (Brunel University)
  • Joseph Poole (St Helens College)
  • Kyle Livingston (Dundee and Angus College)


Microsoft Excel finalists:

  • Guste Balciunaite (Murray Park Community School)
  • Harriet Sims (Harper Adams University)
  • Jessica Pelling (Murray Park Community School)
  • Sophie Sawyer (Bournemouth School for Girls)
  • Thi Ngoc Linh Tran (London School of Economics and Political Science)

The second qualifying round is currently underway, and will run until May 15th, after which 10 more finalists will be selected to join those from the first round for the UK final, which will be held in Reading at the Microsoft UK Headquarters on June 17th 2015. Following a further MOS exam in their qualifying category, two of these students will be selected to represent the UK at the final round of the World Championship in Dallas, Texas.

There is still time to enter, and all eligible schools, colleges and universities are encouraged to to use the Second Qualifying Round as an opportunity to have their students stake their claim for a place at the National Final in June.

Further information can  be found through Prodigy Learning, but in the meantime, we’d like to share a press release from St Helens College, Merseyside, where they very proud to have provided two of the Microsoft Word finalists from the first round of qualifying examinations.

---

Computer says yes! St Helens College pair top Microsoft competition  

Two St Helens College students are competing for a place at the prestigious Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) World Championship in Dallas, Texas. A global competition that tests students’ skills on Microsoft Office applications.

Computing students, Joe Poole and Alex Campbell, are the only two students in the North of England who secured places in the competitive national finals after acing the regional tests.

The pair successfully competed in the popular technology skills competition to demonstrate their mastery of Microsoft Office products and completed unique project-based tests to demonstrate their ability in Word and Excel.

There are two qualifying rounds between October 2014 and May 2015. In this first round that Joe and Alex competed in, only 10 young people were selected from 5,000 UK entries using the ‘top score method’, which takes into consideration the highest exam score gained in the lowest amount of time. The top 10 students from both rounds will then come together for the UK Final in June at an event hosted by Prodigy Learning and Microsoft at Microsoft UK head office in Reading.

Microsoft Office Specialist Certification is offered to students at St Helens College alongside their full-time course in order to boost their employability. The qualification gives students a way to become tangibly prepared for the world of work.

Andrew Lenegan, Regional Account Manager for Prodigy Learning, Alex Campbell, Joe Poole and Jeanette Banks, Curriculum Leader in Computing

Alex, a former Huyton Arts and Sports Centre for Learning pupil said, “I am currently studying for my BTEC IT Level 3 Extended Diploma at the College. I thought the competition would be a great way to upskill and build my confidence. I have always loved computers and my tutors here at the College have been nothing but supportive, without their assistance I would be nowhere near where I am today. I am excited for the national heat and I certainly hope I’m stepping on a plane this summer to represent St Helens College in the finals.”

Joe, a former Sutton Academy pupil said:

“I have always been interested in computers and in particular the web industry. After scoring highly in my exam, I’m hoping to continue my success at the next stage of the competition and hope that this hard work and commitment will help me secure a job in the industry. It will certainly look good on my CV”

Jeanette Banks, Curriculum leader for Computing at St Helens College said “The pair have done incredibly well to get this far, they show a great aptitude for the subject. We are delighted to be supporting them in the next stages and it presents an excellent opportunity for them both to develop their industry skills, network and enhance their CV. The qualification is industry recognised and will certainly impress prospective universities and employers.”

Andrew Lenehan, Regional Account Manager for Prodigy Learning who provide the certification at St Helens College said:

“The MOS world championship has been running for a number of years, with the main aim to drive up digital skills. From a UK and Liverpool City Region perspective it sits very well with the Digital Agenda of the Government. The UK has a great recent history in the competition with three winners in the last 5 years, and whilst these winners were all from the South I will be hoping that Alex and Joe can show that anything the south can do we can do just as well in the north! We are delighted at the success of St Helens College.”

MOS World Championship update – two UK finalists from St Helens College, Merseyside

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 00:30

The UK has now found its first finalists for the MOS World Championship! Prodigy Learning yesterday announced 10 students from around the UK who have been chosen from thousands of eligible MOS exams taken during the First Qualifying Round between October 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014 to qualify for the UK Final.

They are as follows:

Microsoft Word finalists:

  • Alex Campbell (St Helens College)
  • Guto Pari (RCT - Ysgol Llanhari)
  • James Parsons (Brunel University)
  • Joseph Poole (St Helens College)
  • Kyle Livingston (Dundee and Angus College)


Microsoft Excel finalists:

  • Guste Balciunaite (Murray Park Community School)
  • Harriet Sims (Harper Adams University)
  • Jessica Pelling (Murray Park Community School)
  • Sophie Sawyer (Bournemouth School for Girls)
  • Thi Ngoc Linh Tran (London School of Economics and Political Science)

The second qualifying round is currently underway, and will run until May 15th, after which 10 more finalists will be selected to join those from the first round for the UK final, which will be held in Reading at the Microsoft UK Headquarters on June 17th 2015. Following a further MOS exam in their qualifying category, two of these students will be selected to represent the UK at the final round of the World Championship in Dallas, Texas.

There is still time to enter, and all eligible schools, colleges and universities are encouraged to to use the Second Qualifying Round as an opportunity to have their students stake their claim for a place at the National Final in June.

Further information can  be found through Prodigy Learning, but in the meantime, we’d like to share a press release from St Helens College, Merseyside, where they very proud to have provided two of the Microsoft Word finalists from the first round of qualifying examinations.

---

Computer says yes! St Helens College pair top Microsoft competition  

Two St Helens College students are competing for a place at the prestigious Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) World Championship in Dallas, Texas. A global competition that tests students’ skills on Microsoft Office applications.

Computing students, Joe Poole and Alex Campbell, are the only two students in the North of England who secured places in the competitive national finals after acing the regional tests.

The pair successfully competed in the popular technology skills competition to demonstrate their mastery of Microsoft Office products and completed unique project-based tests to demonstrate their ability in Word and Excel.

There are two qualifying rounds between October 2014 and May 2015. In this first round that Joe and Alex competed in, only 10 young people were selected from 5,000 UK entries using the ‘top score method’, which takes into consideration the highest exam score gained in the lowest amount of time. The top 10 students from both rounds will then come together for the UK Final in June at an event hosted by Prodigy Learning and Microsoft at Microsoft UK head office in Reading.

Microsoft Office Specialist Certification is offered to students at St Helens College alongside their full-time course in order to boost their employability. The qualification gives students a way to become tangibly prepared for the world of work.

Andrew Lenegan, Regional Account Manager for Prodigy Learning, Alex Campbell, Joe Poole and Jeanette Banks, Curriculum Leader in Computing

Alex, a former Huyton Arts and Sports Centre for Learning pupil said, “I am currently studying for my BTEC IT Level 3 Extended Diploma at the College. I thought the competition would be a great way to upskill and build my confidence. I have always loved computers and my tutors here at the College have been nothing but supportive, without their assistance I would be nowhere near where I am today. I am excited for the national heat and I certainly hope I’m stepping on a plane this summer to represent St Helens College in the finals.”

Joe, a former Sutton Academy pupil said:

“I have always been interested in computers and in particular the web industry. After scoring highly in my exam, I’m hoping to continue my success at the next stage of the competition and hope that this hard work and commitment will help me secure a job in the industry. It will certainly look good on my CV”

Jeanette Banks, Curriculum leader for Computing at St Helens College said “The pair have done incredibly well to get this far, they show a great aptitude for the subject. We are delighted to be supporting them in the next stages and it presents an excellent opportunity for them both to develop their industry skills, network and enhance their CV. The qualification is industry recognised and will certainly impress prospective universities and employers.”

Andrew Lenehan, Regional Account Manager for Prodigy Learning who provide the certification at St Helens College said:

“The MOS world championship has been running for a number of years, with the main aim to drive up digital skills. From a UK and Liverpool City Region perspective it sits very well with the Digital Agenda of the Government. The UK has a great recent history in the competition with three winners in the last 5 years, and whilst these winners were all from the South I will be hoping that Alex and Joe can show that anything the south can do we can do just as well in the north! We are delighted at the success of St Helens College.”

Test Agents support for Visual Studio 2015

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 00:30

With the recent release of Visual Studio 2015 CTP6 and TFS 2015 CTP1, we have not included Test Agents for Visual Studio 2015 package as we are still working on updating the agents for enabling more scenarios in the Build and Release workflow. This blog will give you details on how you can get Test Agents working for Visual Studio 2015 CTP6 and TFS 2015 CTP1 releases.

If you are trying out the test execution scenarios on VS 2015 CTP6 releases with TFS 2015 CTP1 and need Test Agents, we recommend you installing the Agents for VS2013. Test Agents and Test Controller for Visual Studio 2013 are compatible with the TFS 2015 CTP1 and VS 2015 CTP 6 releases, all the supported test scenarios will continue to work in this combination. However, we have a known issue with Coded UI tests compiled using VS 2015 CTP tools, we will have this issue fixed for the next CTP release, below are the details to get around this issue in the interim.

Impacted Experience

Newly created Coded UI tests in VS 2015 CTPs/Preview or Coded UI Tests (CUIT) upgraded to Visual Studio 2015 CTPs cannot be executed using the Agents for Visual Studio 2013. When you try to execute Coded UI tests you will see one of the following error messages:

For CUIT Store tests:
              
                 System.IO.FileNotFoundException: Could not load file or assembly ‘Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.WindowsStore.UITesting’

For CUIT non-Store tests:
            
                 System.IO.FileNotFoundException: Could not load file or assembly ‘Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.UITesting’

 

Detailed Error will look like this:

 
 

Work Around

For each Coded UI test project, please add the following assemblybindging redirection tags to the app.config file. If the app.config file does not exist create a new app.config file with the below contents:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<configuration>
<runtime>
<assemblyBinding xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:asm.v1">
<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.WindowsStore.CodedUITestFramework" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="14.0.0.0" newVersion="12.0.0.0"/>
</dependentAssembly>

<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.WindowsStore.UITest.Common" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="14.0.0.0" newVersion="12.0.0.0"/>
</dependentAssembly>

<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.WindowsStore.UITest.Extension" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="14.0.0.0" newVersion="12.0.0.0"/>
</dependentAssembly>

<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.UITest.ExtensionUtilities" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="14.0.0.0" newVersion="12.0.0.0"/>
</dependentAssembly>

<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.WindowsStore.UITesting" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="14.0.0.0" newVersion="12.1.0.0"/>
</dependentAssembly>

<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.WindowsStore.UITest.Playback" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="14.0.0.0" newVersion="12.0.0.0"/>
</dependentAssembly>

<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.UITest.WindowsStoreUtility" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="14.0.0.0" newVersion="12.0.0.0"/>
</dependentAssembly>


<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.WindowsStore.UITest.Framework" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="14.0.0.0" newVersion="12.0.0.0"/>
</dependentAssembly>

<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="UiaComWrapper.WindowsStore" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="14.0.0.0" newVersion="12.0.0.0"/>
</dependentAssembly>
<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.CodedUITestFramework" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="14.0.0.0" newVersion="12.0.0.0"/>
</dependentAssembly>

<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.UITest.Common" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="14.0.0.0" newVersion="12.0.0.0"/>
</dependentAssembly>

<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.UITest.Extension" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="14.0.0.0" newVersion="12.0.0.0"/>
</dependentAssembly>

<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.UITesting" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="14.0.0.0" newVersion="12.0.0.0"/>
</dependentAssembly>

<dependentAssembly>
<assemblyIdentity name="UiaComWrapper" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral" />
<bindingRedirect oldVersion="14.0.0.0" newVersion="12.0.0.0"/>
</dependentAssembly>
</assemblyBinding>
</runtime>
</configuration>

 

 

Please continue to provide your valuable feedback.

Competencies are a partner's best friend - attainment checklist

MSDN Blogs - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 00:06

 

My love of Competencies has never been much of a secret - if you're looking to maximise the return of your Microsoft partnership, there's no better investment. Check out this handy Competency attainment checklist and make your enrolment a breeze.

Before getting started you'll need; Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) membership, Global Administration Rights and to have selected the right Competency(s) for your business (learn more about the Microsoft Partner Network).

If you’re looking at attaining a Cloud Performance Competency, I recommend reading the posts below. For all other Competencies, on with the checklist!

 

Competency attainment and profile management begins and ends with the Partner Membership Centre, make sure to bookmark it and familiarise yourself with the layout. Of most importance are the pages under the "Requirements & Assets" tab - I'll refer to these pages throughout the checklist.

 

 

1. Invite staff to associate with your profile

  • Staff need to be associated with your MPN profile to access benefits and contribute to competency attainment. View staff and send invitations under "Associated People" and "Invite People to Associate".
  • Note: make sure your Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) enter their MCP IDs during the association process.

 

2. Assign contact roles, rights and privileges

  • Verify the correct Program Contacts are listed under "Assign Contact Roles"
    • TIP: Select your Primary Program Contact (PPC) carefully. The PPC is responsible for managing your MPN membership and will receive email updates relating to your competency status
  • If needed, grant Global Administrator Rights under "Associated People"
  • If you already have access to Internal Use Rights (IUR) software, assign key view and download privileges under "Assign Privileges". If not, make sure to come back here once your attainment is complete

 

3. Review Competency requirements

 

4. Create your readiness plan

  • Technical exams can be booked on the Pearson Vue website.
  • All Sales, Pre-Sales and Technical Assessments are available at no-cost, with all training provided, through the Learning Paths

  

5. Generate and assign customer references

  • Customer references are essentially a statement of work that is verified by your customer. Submit reference requests under "Create Customer Reference", your customer will receive an email asking to confirm the work was completed (a single click). Once confirmed, assign your customer references to your chosen competency under "Reference List"

 

6. [Gold Only] Complete the Customer Satisfaction Survey

  • Whether you attain one Gold Competency or twenty, the Customer Satisfaction Survey only needs completing once every twelve months. To meet the requirement, you need to receive a total of ten responses with at least two different customers taking part

 

7. [ISV tracks only] Test your app

  • If attaining a competency via the ISV track, make sure your app meets the competency requirements and submit it for testing through the Microsoft Platform Ready site. You will not be charged for failed tests. Once certified, assign your app under "Tested Products"

 

8. Assign MCPs

  • When attaining a Silver Competency, MCPs that meet the exam requirements will automatically be assigned to the Competency(s) under "Competency Summary".
  • When attaining a Gold Competency, MCPs must manually assigned under "Manage Microsoft Certified Professionals"
    • TIP: An MCP may contribute to multiple Silver Competency's simultaneously, but only one Gold Competency at a time

 

9. Attain your Competency

  • Track your progress under "Competency Summary". Once all requirements have been met, your Competency's status will change from "In Progress" to "Eligible" or "Attain". Follow the prompts to complete your enrolment.
    • TIP: Competency fees are paid once yearly, regardless the number of Competencies you attain.

 

 

 

Join the discussion in the Microsoft Australia Small Business Reseller LinkedIn Group or the Microsoft Australia MPN Yammer Community.

Need Support? Contact the Regional Service Centre on 13 20 58, Options 2,4,1 (Australian partners only) or visit the Partner Support Community.

Updated Whitepaper: Introducing Microsoft BI Reporting and Analysis Tools

MSDN Blogs - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 23:52

On this white paper:

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn655131.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396

 

Carla updated the white paper to include brief overview information on several of our new BI technologies (Power BI Designer, Power BI Preview, Power BI for Windows App, and iPad app for Power BI), with links to additional documentation about these technologies!



Introducing Microsoft BI Reporting and Analysis Tools  

Summary: This article assists you with choosing the reporting and analysis tools that meet your organization’s BI needs. Microsoft provides a variety of BI tools that can address key workloads, such as Power BI and Excel. The article discusses the workloads and the tools that best support each workload.

To view a mapping of Microsoft BI tools to data analysis and reporting workloads, see Choosing Microsoft Business Intelligence (BI) Tools for Analysis and Reporting.

Authors: Carla Sabotta

Technical Reviewers: Mike Plumley, Maggie Sparkman, Parikshit Savjani

Published: February, 2015

Applies to: SQL Server 2014, SharePoint 2013, Excel 2013, Office 365

 

Go here to download the whitepaper: 

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn655131.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396

 

Have a good bye!

   - User Ed

 

IoT per makers: le iniziative e i progetti di Microsoft

MSDN Blogs - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 23:46

 

La domanda sorge spontanea: che cosa c'entra Microsoft con il mondo IoT?!?

Leggendo questo post potrete farvene un'idea!

Sempre più spesso si sente parlare di Internet of Things (IoT), a volte in associazione ad argomenti come Smart City e Smart Home, ma anche quando si parla di piccole schede come Arduino, Raspberry o Intel Galileo.

Ma di fatto, che cos'è l'Internet of Things?

Secondo Gartner, l'IoT è la rete di oggetti fisici che usano tecnologia embedded per comunicare e interagire sia con il proprio stato interno, sia con l'ambiente che li circonda. I sensori sono in grado di raccogliere svariate tipologie di dati, che vengono collezionati, analizzati ed utilizzati per prendere decisioni, eseguire azioni o semplicemente mostrare risultati. La parte fondamentale da sottolineare quando si parla di IoT è appunto l'elaborazione dei dati e l'utilizzo che ne viene fatto. Questa è la ragione principale per cui non è sufficiente connettere la propria board alla piattaforma cloud per creare IoT... Ma è sicuramente il miglior punto di partenza!

Vediamo ora iniziative e progetti di Microsoft dedicati a chi vuole avvicinarsi a questa realtà, sempre più attuale.

Windows Developer Program for IoT

Microsoft ha attivato ormai da tempo un programma dedicato ai makers denominato Windows Developer Program for IoT: iscrivendosi qui è possibile ricevere in anteprima tutte le informazioni connesse all'evoluzione del programma che lega Microsoft al mondo IoT.

La prima board per la quale è stata rilasciata un'immagine di Windows dedicata è stata la Intel Galileo di prima generazione, seguita poi dalla Galileo gen 2, il cui annuncio ufficiale è stato fatto durante la Maker Faire che si è tenuta a Roma nell'ottobre dello scorso anno. E' quindi possibile scaricare l'immagine di Windows sulla scheda e cominciare a fare qualche esperimento, magari seguendo uno dei tanti esempi che si trovano sul sito www.windowsondevices.com.

Il 2 febbraio 2015, in occasione dell'uscita di Raspberry Pi 2, è stato inoltre annunciato il passo successivo del programma, che consiste nella prossima pubblicazione di un'immagine di Windows 10 per questa nuova scheda. Per i dettagli vi invito a consultare il link ufficiale.

Da un punto di vista pratico e concreto, sono disponibili gratuitamente su GitHub alcuni esempi per connettere ad Azure non solo le suddette schede, ma anche altri tipi di board, come ad esempio Arduino e Tessel.

Diamo quindi un'occhiata a due progetti particolarmente interessanti.

Connect the Dots

Il primo progetto di cui voglio parlare in questo post si chiama Connect the Dots ed è stato realizzato da MS OpenTech. Si tratta di un progetto completamente open source che usa semplici schede per inviare dati su Azure, sfruttando poi servizi quali Event Hubs, Stream Analytics e Machine Learning per analizzare ed elaborare questi dati.

Lo scopo di questo progetto è proprio quello di fornire un punto di partenza semplice e rapido per implementare la vostra prima soluzione IoT utilizzando i servizi di Azure. Lo scenario applicativo è quello di una semplice telemetria per l'analisi dei dati di temperatura e umidità rilevati tramite un Weather Shield.

L'immagine riportata qui sopra mostra lo scenario originale del progetto al momento della prima pubblicazione (dicembre 2014): la prima scheda supportata è stata Arduino (utilizzata in accoppiamento allo shield con il ruolo di sensore) connessa ad una Raspberry Pi (usata come gateway). La porta di accesso al cloud è il servizio Event Hubs di Azure, tramite l'utilizzo del protocollo AMQP. Da qui i dati vengono poi trasmessi a Stream Analytics (attualmente in preview) per poter effettuare analisi real-time e segnalazioni di allarme. Queste informazioni vengono infine rese visibili all'utente tramite un Website.

E' molto importante precisare, però, che il codice sorgente (disponibile a questo link) subisce continue integrazioni. L'idea del team che segue il progetto è infatti quella di ampliare la gamma di schede connesse e servizi utilizzati, in modo da fornire istruzioni step-by-step per nuovi scenari applicativi.

Ad esempio, è sufficiente una rapida occhiata per verificare che è stato introdotto il supporto per .NET MF Gadgeteer e Intel Galileo.

Microsoft Developer eXperience: IoT hands-on labs

Un altro progetto interessante disponibile gratuitamente su GitHub è questo. Si tratta di 3 scenari distinti (Lab 1, Lab 2, Lab 3) che possono essere integrati per un comune progetto di Smart Home, convogliando quindi in un'unica visualizzazione su WebSite, descritta nel Lab 4.

Il primo scenario (Lab 1) è di nuovo la classica telemetria di dati provenienti da un sensore di temperatura. Le differenze fondamentali rispetto al progetto Connect the Dots sono due:

  1. Le board supportate: in questo caso potete trovare le istruzioni step-by-step per la scheda Tessel (che prevede il supporto a Javascript) e per Arduino Yun.
  2. Il protocollo usato per la trasmissione dei dati verso Azure: questo esempio prevede l'utilizzo d HTTPS invece di AMQP

Il secondo scenario (Lab 2) descrive il monitoraggio del consumo di energia tramite una scheda Arduino Due. In questo caso il focus è legato all'importanza della protezione dei dati: molti dispositivi (come appunto la Arduino Due) non sono in grado di supportare SSL, ma è possibile risolvere questo problema utilizzando un cloud gateway. In questo modo si può usare un protocollo di comunicazione custom che trasmetta i dati in maniera sicura tra il device e il cloud gateway, poi sarà quest'ultimo ad occuparsi dell'opportuna gestione di questi dati per inviarli ad altri servizi, in questo caso Event Hubs.

L'altra tematica fondamentale affrontata all'interno di questo scenario è legata al concetto di scalabilità, sia in termini di numero di trasmissioni al secondo, sia in termini di bilanciamento delle operazioni di gestione dei dati ricevuti.

Il terzo scenario (Lab 3) prevede la gestione di una comunicazione bidirezionale tra la scheda e il cloud service, con lo scopo di poter controllare la board inviando comandi specifici. Rimanendo in tema Smart Home, si pensi all'utilità di poter inviare comandi ai dispositivi per alzare e abbassare le tapparelle o il riscaldamento. L'architettura è molto semplice ma significativa: una scheda Arduino Uno con un LED (usato semplicemente come indicatore per verificare la ricezione dei comandi), connessa ad una Raspberry Pi con il ruolo di gateway, ed una comunicazione col cloud tramite protocollo AMQP.

Infine, il Lab 4 è legato all'integrazione e alla visualizzazione dei dati raccolti negli scenari descritti in precedenza.

 

Conclusioni

Grazie ad iniziative come il Windows Develper Program for IoT e il rilascio su GitHub del codice sorgente di progetti come quelli appena descritti, sta diventando sempre più semplice per chiunque avvicinarsi al mondo dell'IoT. Ovviamente il quadro fornito non è assolutamente completo in termini di schede considerate e presentazione dei servizi messi a disposizione da Azure per scenari IoT, ma è importante sottolineare che questo genere di progetti è in continua evoluzione.

Lo scopo di questo post è quello di fornire una prima overview del ruolo e dell'offerta di Microsoft rivolta ai makers, alla quale seguiranno ulteriori post di approfondimento.

Nel frattempo cominciamo a divertirci monitorando la temperatura di casa nostra!

Aplikační okénko: Wooky čtečka

MSDN Blogs - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 22:40
Ahoj, já jsem Wooky aplikace, na které můžeš pohodlně číst e-knihy, e-časopisy nebo poslouchat audioknihy. V partnerských obchodech je pro mě připraveno několik tisíc e-knih, stovek e-časopisů a audioknih. Se mnou můžeš zažít dobrodružství, bát se, stát se detektivem, plakat nebo se něco nového naučit. Při čtení ti poskytuji komfort v podobě možnosti nastavení velikosti písma, řádkování...(read more)

My website

MSDN Blogs - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 20:02
My website is at http://sertacozercan.com

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