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Imagine Cup 2015 Games Winner Team IzHard’s ‘Ovivo’ picked up by Nekki Games

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 09:00

If you were one of the many thousands of viewers who saw Team IzHard’s presentation at the Imagine Cup World Championships, then you too came under the spell cast by their black and white 2-D puzzle game, Ovivo. Ovivo also caught the eye of a Moscow-based video game publisher, and Nekki Games just announced that they are going to publish the game! Congrats to Team IzHard trio Alex Vilasuck, Daria Kruzhinskaya and Dari Chernova!

Starting in a few short weeks, Alex, Daria and Dari get to start building out the entire world of Ovivo. The team has to write, design and code content for every new level, solidify the roles and tasks for each team member, potentially hire some help, and work with Nekki Games on a marketing strategy. It’s going to be a busy, dream-come-true kind of year.

Like the game play itself, the story of Ovivo’s creation is a magical one. In a frenzy of inspiration after attending a Microsoft Hackathon in St. Petersburg, Russia, and with no experience creating video games, the team created the initial concepts of Ovivo in just 24 hours, teaching themselves the Unity engine and Visual Studio. Then they entered a Microsoft-sponsored Game Jam and won. Next up came Russia’s Imagine Cup, and, guess what? They won again. Finally, they came to Seattle for the Imagine Cup 2015 World Finals and won first place in the Games competition!

Though Alex knows several coding languages, and Daria has a degree in Graphic Design with a technology emphasis, neither of Ovivo’s developers had ever coded a video game before. And Dari, the artist, had never created graphics for a video game before. In fact, she just graduated with a degree in tourism! She’d always been an artist as a hobby, but because of the success of Ovivo, she’s now going to design video games for a living. Talk about life-changing!

IzHard knew they had an amazing game, but they needed a way to show that idea to the world. Microsoft Hackathons, Game Jams and, last month, the Imagine Cup helped IzHard get Ovivo in front of millions of gamers.

Alex praises the Imagine Cup experience. “As a student, you don't often know what you want to do and don't have the experience to do it. You can’t even really get very many users! You have to do it on your own for the first time. Thanks to Microsoft, we got so much feedback from gamers. Imagine Cup supports you!”

But IzHard wanted feedback on more than just Ovivo. During their preparation for the Imagine Cup competition, they also worked tirelessly on how to show the game. They got a lot of feedback and support from their Microsoft mentors, Nastya Makeenok and Dmitry Soshnikov. Izhard’s initial 10-minute presentation on Competition Day was performed flawlessly, completely from memory. In a fun twist, the team faked a power outage where the screen died and they feigned panic. Daria picked up her Windows Phone device and resumed the presentation while they showcased the mobile version of Ovivo. This presentation and game wowed the judges, and IzHard walked away with first place in the Imagine Cup Games competition.

 

Daria, Alex, and Dari present Ovivo to the panel of judges at Imagine Cup.

For the World Championship, however, they had to whittle down their 10-minute presentation to just three minutes. A lot of material was cut from the 10-minunte pitch, including the fake power outage. Dari explains, “We wanted to show the game as much as possible. We didn't focus on winning. We focused on showing what Ovivo could do. We wanted the crowd to take a look and want to see more!”

We wondered what drew Nekki games to Ovivo. Sergey Babaev, the head of business development at Nekki Games, says of Ovivo, “The world and the level-design simply screams ‘there is a deeper meaning behind this!’ Of course we liked the art style, the minimalism, the philosophical approach to the levels. And when you play the demo, you simply realize that you want more of the game. It’s obvious that these people are committed to what they’re doing. They are ‘crazy’ in a good way, a creative sense. They take a fresh look at everything. That’s why we want to work with them.”

From L to R: Dari Chernova, Alex Vilassak and Daria Kruzhinskaya cannot wait to live their dream and create the full version of Ovivo in September.

IzHard plans to build out Ovivo by continuing to use Unity, Visual Studio and some Adobe products. They are excited to start using Microsoft Azure as well, to host the game for mobile users and for saving data (like the progress of the player).

We are so proud of these three student developers from St. Petersburg! They get to continue to do what they love – coding the future of their dreams.

Congrats to Team IzHard! We can’t wait to play Ovivo.

Want to follow in the footsteps of Team IzHard? A good first step is to register for the 2016 Imagine Cup! Now’s the time to start dreaming big and building your team. Sign up today!

Microsoft Account: How to get the most out of it and how not to get locked out

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 08:50

We have seen an increasing number of questions about the Microsoft Account so we thought we would provide you with a simple overview, some answers to the most popular questions and a quick list of resources. This article will also be of interest to those of you that are currently using Windows 7 and considering making the leap to Windows 10.

 

...(read more)

The imported project "C:\Program Files(x86)\MsBuild\Microsoft\WindowsXaml\v14.0\8.1\Microsoft.Windows.UI.Xaml.CSharp.targets" was not found

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 08:42
While trying to create any C# shared or Windows Phone projects using the Visual Studio 2015 IDE, you may receive an error message as highlighted below: This is a known issue and it would be fixed in a future update. In order to resolve the issue, please follow the below two workaround: Workaround 1: Please modify the CodeSharing targets. To do so, download the attached target file and replace the file "C:\Program Files (x86)\MSBuild\Microsoft\VisualStudio\v14.0\CodeSharing\Microsoft.CodeSharing...(read more)

Licensing issues with Visual Studio Online - 8/24 - Investigating

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 08:02
Initial Update: Monday, 24 August 2015 14:58 UTC

We are actively investigating issues related to Visual Studio Online licensing where a valid license is being downgraded to a stakeholder license. We are currently reviewing the service telemetry in order to identify the root cause of this behavior. We apologize for any inconvenience.


Sincerely,
VS Online Service Delivery Team

Insightful graph: The ship date predictor

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 07:00

The best graphs are the ones that require no explanation. You are just told what the x- and y-axes represent, and the answer just jumps out at you.

One of the greatest graphs I've seen at Microsoft is this one that a colleague of mine put together as Windows 95 was nearing completion. He took each email message from management that changed the Windows 95 RTM date (also known as the ship date) and plotted it on a chart. The x-axis is the date the statement was made and the y-axis is number of days remaining in the project, according to the email. The dotted line is a linear least-squares fit, and the green star is the actual ship date (July 14, 1995).

600  500  400  300  200  100  0                  ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ ★ Apr

1992 Jul Oct Jan 1993 Apr Jul Oct Jan 1994 Apr Jul Oct Jan 1995 Apr Jul Oct

What's so amazing about this chart is that the linear approximation predicts the actual ship date with very high accuracy. The slope of the line is 0.43%, which means that if you took the predicted "days remaining before we ship" and multiplied it by around 2.3, you'd be pretty close to the actual ship date.

In other words, management fairly consistently underestimated the number of days until RTM by a factor of 2.3. (Another way of looking at it is that the development team consistently underreported the number of days to completion to management by a factor of 2.3.)

Bonus amusement

Here is a pull quote from each of the announcements, lightly edited.

Date Revised RTM Remark February 1992 June 1993 "Ready to RTM 6/93. Otherwise, I'll be applying for a job at McDonalds." April 1992 September 1993 "This is a critical release." July 1992 March 1994 "The feature set will NOT be expanded to fill the new schedule." September 1992 December 1993 "This product must RTM by the end of 1993. If we miss this window of opportunity, then the value of this product goes way down." January 1993 March 1994 "I recently learned that Team X was planning around a Q4 94 ship date!" (Team X provided code to Windows 95.) March 1993 April 1994 "We need to formulate plans which get us there." August 1993 May 1994 "It's really important for the company that we make this date. This must be our last slip." December 1993 August 1994 "This is about as late as we can go without incurring big financial problems for the company." February 1994 September 1994 "What determines the ship date is the team's commitment to a ship date. We must make our RTM date." May 1994 November 1994 "Software and hardware vendors are counting on us." August 1994 February 1995 "Completing this milestone by the end of the year is absolutely critical to the product gaining quick success." December 1994 May 1995 "People all over are planning their business on when we release. We must make our current date."

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the public release of Windows 95. Just one more year, and you'll be old enough to buy a drink!¹

Bonus reading: Start Me Up (again): Brad Chase (who ran the worldwide launch of Windows 95) tells the story of how Start Me Up became the anthem for Windows 95, and addresses the legend that that it cost $14 million to license the song. (Spoiler: It was more like $3 million.)

Bonus chatter: The ticket price for the Windows 95 team reunion party is $47.50. This seems like an odd number, but it makes more sense when you buy two tickets (one for you, and one for your partner).

¹ In the United States, the age at which it is legal to purchase alcohol is 21.

Virtual Machine Snapshots for SharePoint

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 06:43

…or perhaps better titled, “why you really shouldn’t consider using snapshots with SharePoint (but fine, if you insist…)”.

A common question that comes up for SharePoint is how to snapshot/rollback virtualised SharePoint farms, often inspired by worried admins having to install updates to the farm looking for a contingency plan. Unless you’re crystal-clear on how to do this, don’t take snapshots and definitely don’t roll them back of production environments especially, but if you must then this is what you need to know.

First of all, our documentation makes it clear this is something not recommended. That means if you break your farm because of virtual-machine snapshotting then it’s your own fault; we can help you fix it of course but don’t say we didn’t warn you it might break.

SharePoint Farms are an “All or Nothing” Game

For any SharePoint server that’s joined to a farm, you can’t just restore that machine. If you do or have just restored a single machine then you’ve probably broken it: remove the rolled-back server from the farm & re-add it if you want to be in a supported configuration. Said server might even work but it’s only a matter of time before disaster strikes.

For servers that are unattached to any SharePoint farm, snapshot away to your hearts’ content.

Now, if you’re willing to jump through all the hoops to get rollback facility & take the risk of stuff breaking, here’s how to take a snapshot of a SharePoint farm.

There’s no clever way around this; you have to rollback every server at once + the SQL databases too, all at the same time.

Taking Snapshots of a SharePoint Farm

The only supported way of snapshotting a SharePoint farm is to have all SharePoint services stopped first. You don’t necessarily need to shutdown the machines to do this, but given it’s easy to forget which services are running, I’d highly recommend shutting down all SharePoint to be sure it’s all stopped.

Are all SPServices shutdown (IIS included)? Sure? Ok, now take a snapshot. If you’re wrong you might break the farm if we rollback, hence I’d recommend the farm-wide shutdown just to be sure.

Now snapshot the farm (here’s a simple farm I use to hack around break/fix tests with)…

And that’s it; I could roll back all the machines to this point and this particular environment would survive just fine. But…

Things That Can Go Wrong With VM Snapshots & Rollbacks

There’s lots that can go wrong. The above example is a 4-machine setup; 1 AD server, 1 SQL Server and 2 SharePoint servers. That’s not very realistic though for a real production network, which is where we start to run into trouble. Lots of trouble, potentially – here’s some of the breaking possibilities.

Epic Breaking Possibility 1: Active Directory Doom

Normally in production networks there’s a whole bunch of AD server which SharePoint uses for, well, absolutely loads of things – pretty much every service account in fact. Often, the network in question will use AD for other things too; user logins, other applications, and general network runtime.

So in other words, given how AD is used it’s unlikely any AD servers should be snapshotted too. What does this mean then? Well, we assume that on rollback, AD is in more or less the same state it was when the snapshot was taken. That’s quite an assumption, and I probably don’t need to explain what potential pitfalls this would imply.

In short, for a SharePoint farm rollback to work, all service & machine accounts in Active Directory need to be identical in AD on restoring/rolling-back the farm to when the snapshot was taken. If that’s not the case because account have been updated or changed since then, you now have a mammoth reconfiguration task on your hands and probably a lot of downtime too.

Finally, snapshotting anything except all domain-controllers at once is an exercise in futility & pain – Active Directory is a distributed database that you really (really) don’t want to risk upsetting by rolling-back some of the domain-controllers for it. You’ve been warned!

Epic Breaking Possibility 2: SharePoint Server State Out of Sync with Farm Configuration Database

On a simpler note, a common problem that comes up is simply that the SharePoint servers are out of sync with the configuration database.

What does out of sync mean? Well, the configuration database is the state & strangely the configuration of all elements of the farm, amen. As that might imply, it can also grow pretty big so to avoid each SharePoint server from hitting SQL Server every time we want to know about the farm setup we have a local file cache of the same data. In short, if that local cache isn’t in lock-step with the configuration database then weird things can start to happen – services won’t work, and generally it’ll cause a lot of, you guessed it; pain, doom, etc.

This is pretty well known by now just on the account of how often this problem arises (thanks to VM snapshotting, funnily enough). The solution is easy though: clear the configuration cache per server.

So how do we make sure we don’t lose sync during snapshotting? Either restore the configuration database from the same snapshot time, or include on the snapshot the SQL Server(s) state & data too.

Epic Breaking Possibility 3: SharePoint Binary/Database Patch Compatibility

Depending on what you snapshot, it’s possible you might end up with databases that won’t work with the binary versions of SharePoint.

Example scenario: we patch SharePoint, update databases too, something goes horribly wrong with the new version (maybe some new incompatibility) so some genius decides to roll-back the SharePoint machines to the previous state in order to resolve the problem. Now we have a compatibility mismatch as old binaries are trying to work with fully updated SharePoint databases and everything blows up properly this time. See more about this potential version mismatch problem here.

Again, more wailing & gnashing of teeth, thanks in part to VM snapshotting.

 

Wrap-Up

So if you’re having second-thoughts about snapshotting your production SharePoint farm, then good, my work here is done. There are ways of keeping SharePoint online if you’re worried about uptime for production especially – running a separate contingency farm for example.

Yup, maybe. That all said though SharePoint VM rollbacks is still technically possible to do if you really have to. Just be careful!

 

Cheers,

Sam Betts

Créer une police de pictos vectorielle.

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 06:10

 

Avec l’arrivée massive du vectoriel dans les interfaces applicatives et la généralisation du principe web de responsivité, il est plus que temps de regarder quelles sont les solutions pour conserver nos assets graphiques en vectoriel (certains, du moins), de la conception jusqu’à leur utilisation. Une possibilité est de travailler dans un format vectoriel natif, comme le svg, aujourd’hui bien connu, ou de trouver des palliatifs pratiques, comme d’encapsuler les pictos et les icônes dans des polices de caractères.

Pourquoi et comment un police de caractères ?

L’avantage d’une police de caractères est bien sûr son aspect vectoriel natif. Je peux changer à la volée la taille de ma police (inline ou via un css, ou un changement d’attribut) sans perte de définition, je peux prévoir plusieurs layouts pour coller aux cas d’usage sans craindre des effets de bord. Je peux également changer la couleur d’une police facilement via le même biais, en gardant à l’esprit qu’un caractère ne peut avoir qu’une teinte.

Autre avantage, je peux constituer facilement une bibliothèque autonome reprenant un set complet de pictos correspondant à certains usages et les faire évoluer dans le temps. Il ne restera au développeur ou à l’intégrateur qu’à intégrer la police à l’application et à redéployer, ou mettre la nouvelle police en ligne pour un déploiement automatique (en cas de web font). Ceci dit, on oubliera tout de suite l’emploi d’icones multicolores, qui seront mieux traités en svg, ou en cascade de bitmaps (pour faire correspondre chaque bitmap à la résolution qui lui convient).

Finalement et même si je ne le recommande pas forcément, on peut appliquer des effets vectoriels à une police, comme la graisse, l’italique ou le souligné.

i love making pictos

 

Quels sont les outils dont j’ai besoin ?

Nous allons commencer par tracer des symboles en vectoriel avec la Rolls du genre, Adobe Illustrator (http://www.adobe.com/fr/products/illustrator.html), puis nous convertiront ses pictos en glyphes via FontForge, qui présente le gros avantage d’être gratuit (http://fontforge.github.io/en-US/), pour enfin créer rapidement un projet dans Blend pour Visual Studio (https://www.visualstudio.com/fr-fr/visual-studio-homepage-vs.aspx) afin de voir comment une fonte s’intègre dans une application moderne universelle.

 

Tracer les pictos.

Pour ce chapitre, je ne m’étendrais pas sur la création du picto à proprement parler, mais plutôt sur la méthode, puisque ce chapitre nécessite une petite connaissance du logiciel d’Adobe. Notez que cet article fera l’objet d’un cours en vidéo sur la plateforme Microsoft Virtual Academy, pour plus d’infos sur la création .

Concernant la méthode, donc, il conviendra de procéder avec une grande rigueur, puisque FontForge est un peu tatillon en ce qui concerne les paths et les points du tracé. Ainsi, on évitera absolument tout les tracés superposés (ce qui arrive lorsque l’on fait des divisions dans le pathfinder, notamment) et de ne pas avoir de tracés ouverts (ce qui peut se comprendre pour de l’illustration, mais qui n’est pas une bonne pratique, de toute manière). On essaie dans la mesure du possible de nettoyer l’arborescence du fichier en faisant un tour dans l’éditeur de calques. Et pour en finir avec le ménage, on utilisera l’outil plume en suppression de points pour éliminer les points inutiles.

Au final, on obtiendra un tracé monochrome (de préférence noir), ne contenant aucun path en trop, et bien formaté. Pour la petite histoire, je crée personnellement un document A4, contenant une grille de 20 mm avec 1 de subdivision, ce qui me permet d’avoir des repères pour tout mes pictos, qui s’inscrivent dans les cases de ma grille. Je travaille essentiellement avec des tracés sans remplissage et avec épaisseur (3pts) que je converti ensuite en formes vectorielles (Object->Paths->Outline Stroke). Attention à bien supprimer le tracé initial après la conversion. Je copie ensuite chaque picto dans un nouveau fichier qui fait 20 x 20 mm, et j’enregistre celui-ci dans un fichier SVG 1.0

 

  Créer une nouvelle police

Une fois les fichiers svg extraits, nous allons pouvoir les intégrer dans une police de caractères spécifique et pour ceci, nous allons ouvrir FontForge. Ce logiciel très complet va nous permettre en quelques étapes de mener à bien notre mission, sans trop entrer dans la complexité du métier de créateur de fontes. Toutefois, nous verrons que quelques erreurs sont à anticiper.

A l’ouverture, nous cliquons sur “Nouvelle fonte”, au centre, ce qui fait apparaître le tableau des caractères de cette police, vide par défaut. Nous allons sélectionner un emplacement pour y intégrer notre premier glyphe fait sous Illustrator. Attention à ne pas commencer par un caractère inexistant, sous peine de ne pas pouvoir le saisir plus tard. Pour cet exemple, je commence à intégrer sur la case correspondant au caractère “!”. Je double-clique sur cette case, ce qui ouvre l’éditeur de ce caractère particulier. Dans le menu, je sélectionne l’option “importer” et je pointe vers un de mes fichiers .svg (attention au menu qui par défaut est positionné sur Image). Si le travail sous Illustrator a été proprement fait, le picto s’importe convenablement.

Toutefois, nous allons lancer un petit audit de ces tracés en utilisant la commande “rechercher des problèmes” du menu “Éléments”. Un nouveau panneau apparaît et nous cliquons sur le bouton “Sélectionner tout” (pour faire un tour exhaustif), puis OK. Souvent, un message d’erreur remonte sur les coordonnées du point. Je vous recommande alors de cliquer autant de fois que nécessaire sur le bouton “corriger”. Après correction, on peux fermer ce glyphe pour revenir au tableau général.

On répètera ces premières opérations pour tout les pictos dont vous souhaitez l’intégration dans cette police. Une fois tout les pictos intégrés, on se rend dans le menu “Fichier”, “Générer Fonte”. Sélectionnez le type TrueType et cliquez sur “Générer”.

A priori, vous devriez avoir un ultime message d’erreur, indiquant un problème avec le cadratin. En effet, le TrueType ne supporte que les cadratins ayant un format multiple de 16. Pour résoudre ceci, nous allons retourner dans “Elément”, puis dans “Info fonte”, puis dans l’onglet “Général”. Vous pouvez voir que la valeur Cadratin est positionnée par défaut sur 1000. On la passera donc sur 1024. Tant que nous y sommes, nous allons donner un vrai nom à notre police. Rendez vous dans l’onglet Nom PostScript et nommez votre police.

On peut maintenant générer la police de caractères, en tâchant de lui donner le même nom de fichier que le nom Postscript..

 

Intégration de la police

Pour clore cet article, nous allons maintenant intégrer cette police dans un projet. Je vous recommande toutefois de commencer par installer cette police sur votre machine (clic droit sur le fichier .ttf généré par FontForge->Installer), voire de la visualiser avec l’outil”" “Table de caractères”.

Lançons ensuite Blend pour Visual Studio et choisissons de créer un nouveau projet, en Visual C#, pour Windows, de type Universal App. Une fois le projet ouvert, nous allons encapsuler cette nouvelle police au sein du  projet en allant dans le panneau Explorateur de solution, en mettant en surbrillance le dossier Assets, en faisant un clic droit dessus –>Ajouter –> Elément existant et en pointant vers le répertoire où est stockée votre police de caractère, ou vers le répertoire fontes de Windows, si vous l’avez déjà installé.

Créez ensuite dans le viewport design un bouton, que vous éditerez dans ses propriétés, au niveau de la valeur Content : Supprimez le label “Button” et remplacez-le par vos glyphes (! si vous avez suivi à la lettre ce tutorat). Puis descendez dans le panneau jusqu’au paragraphe “Texte” et changez la police par défaut (Segoe) par la vôtre, puis adaptez votre taille de police et éventuellement la couleur de votre caractère (Foreground). Vous voilà dorénavant pourvu d’un bouton personnalisé avec votre picto.

  Conclusion

Avec un processus assez simple et pas trop rébarbatif, on peut tirer un net avantage de la conversion des pictos en vectoriel vers une police de caractères : un format unique et compact, de la souplesse dans la gestion, la prise en charge en natif du vectoriel, la simplicité d’usage. De plus, le logiciel FontForge est gratuit et assez simple d’emploi. Donc, un seul conseil, passez vos pictos en police !

Why I need an Xbox One in my classroom!

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 05:37

I get asked this at BETT every year, people are thinking how they can use this consumer technology in the classroom (or how they can persuade their spouse that they need one for work!). It is relative high investment in a device maybe? About the cost of a mid range laptop. But, because as it is a ‘games console’ some might see it as frivolous. BUt , I disagree, here are some thoughts. Gamification is a valuable educational process, Just look at Minecraft . So starting with games, having a dedicated powerful, internet connected device, with large screen or projector, is a great asset and way to introduce a least two great resources for the classroom, Minecraft and Project Spark. Both of which, provide great learning opportunities and not just in the  computing field. Activity games, such as Shape Up and  Dance Central, linked to the Kinect , are a great activity related opportunity. Students can have their own ‘school created’ profiles, with their own designed avatars. that will save their progress. The Family Settings can be used to create an environment where the students can only access what you you want them to access.

Next I would use it as a Skype Console, use the Skype in the Classroom website to create activities and connect your class to the world. The Kinect acts as the camera for the class to use. Use the BBC iPlayer, YouTube and DVD Players apps to ensure you a have a full range of access to media content that can be used for learning.

The Xbox One has Windows integration, this is closer with Windows 10 and universal apps. But, already you can access Onedrive Photos and use Internet explorer on Xbox.

There are some Xbox apps that that allow the Xbox to become a great resource in the classroom for example Game DVR, this allows you to record activity that takes place on the Xbox. Students can make videos of their or even create mini movies using Minecraft and Spark. This feature is also available through the Xbox app on Windows 10 devices.

Connecting any device to a screen wirelessly is now an essential feature of the 21st century classroom. Miracast is a Wireless technology that many windows devices have. The Miracast app on the Xbox allows any device with Miracast to broadcast to it and display on a large screen. This is a wireless connection , so it does not use your valuable network bandwidth. Also once a connection is made another connection cannot be made until that device disconnects, stopping ‘unwanted’ connections.

A device running Windows 10 is able to connect to an Xbox One and can be used to control and view the activity on the Xbox. This means that if students are using the an activity  on the Xbox. It can be broadcasted to their device using a Micro USB cable, the controller can be plugged into that device and they can carry on. In the meantime the video input source on the projector or screen can be changed use for something else.

If this is not enough to convince the purse strings holder in your school, remember those days when ‘Today we can watch a DVD’ happen. The Xbox One is a great Bluray and DVD player and with a simple adaptor can receive and record TV.

So what’s not to love ….. Thoughts?

 

 

 

So my Xbox One Classroom looks like this :-

Xbox One with Kinect ( connected to my whiteboard projector)

Minecraft
Project Spark
Shape Up
Dance Central

Skype
BBC iPlayer
YouTube
DVD Player

OneDrive
Internet Explorer
Miracast
Game DVR

Xbox on Windows 10

BizSpark: tutti gli aggiornamenti sul programma dedicato alle startup

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 05:02

Questo post è dedicato a tutti coloro che hanno una startup, un progetto in essere, o un'idea di progetto, che potrebbe realizzarsi in una nuova startup.

Come qualcuno di voi già saprà, Microsoft mette a disposizione BizSpark, un programma dedicato alle startup, pensato per aiutarle nelle prime fasi dello sviluppo, fornendo non solo i mezzi tecnici necessari, ma anche consulenza e supporto a livello di business. Per avere più dettagli a riguardo, se ancora non conoscete il programma, potete leggere il post di Mario Fontana e guardare il video di Daniele Pagani, Audience Marketing Manager del BizSpark Italy team.

Oggi, vorrei darvi qualche aggiornamento in merito alle novità che sono state apportate al programma negli ultimi mesi.

Iniziamo dalle novità world wide :)
Uno dei vantaggi offerti dal programma è quello di avere a disposizione fino a 8 sottoscrizioni Microsoft Azure con crediti gratuiti per poter attivare e utilizzare i servizi cloud.
Per le startup di BizSpark esiste la possibilità di potenziare questo vantaggio richiedendo BizSpark Plus. Questo "potenziamento" del programma offre la possibilità di incrementare il credito di una delle 8 sottoscrizioni Azure a disposizione.

Da luglio BizSpark Plus è diventato ulteriormente vantaggioso aumentando i crediti gratuiti da utilizzare su Azure da 60 mila dollari a 120 mila dollari per un anno per una a scelta delle 8 sottoscrizioni che si hanno a disposizione con BizSpark.
Richiedendolo avrete la possibilità di aumentare la complessità nelle vostre applicazioni e le risorse cloud che ad esse sono allocate, raggiungendo un bacino di utenti sempre più elevato, così da ottenere sempre più visibilità e successo.
Per ulteriori informazioni potete leggere il post sul blog di Steve Guggenheimer in cui viene annunciato l'aggiornamento.
Se siete già membri del programma BizSpark, richiedere questo ulteriore beneficio è molto semplice: vi basterà inviare una mail a bizitbus@microsoft.com e sarete contattati al più presto da un membro del team per procedere con l'application.
Se invece la vostra startup non è ancora iscritta al programma, potete scriverci esprimendo la volontà di accedere a tutti i vantaggi offerti, vi risponderemo con i dettagli per procedere all'iscrizione.

A livello nazionale, abbiamo intrapreso una nuova iniziativa per offrire alle startup che fanno parte del programma sempre più visibilità sul mercato italiano (e non solo), StartUp4You.
Si tratta di una piattaforma che permette di aggregare il meglio dell'ecosistema innovativo Italiano: da una parte le migliori startup digitali con prodotti e servizi innovativi, dall'altra aziende di industrie diverse alla ricerca di tecnologi e i partner.


La startup, iscritta a BizSpark, ha la possibilità di profilarsi sulla piattaforma e mettersi "in vetrina" per le aziende che accedono alla piattaforma, avendo così la possibilità di farsi notare e ricevere importanti offerte.
Le aziende possono, non solo, cercare team interessanti a cui proporre lo sviluppo di determinati progetti, ma anche lanciare delle vere e proprie Call for Action, a cui le startup profilate possono rispondere.
StartUp4You rappresenta per le startup una opportunità unica aggregando la domanda e l’offerta tecnologica.

Infine, ma non meno importante, abbiamo intrapreso, nell'ambito del nuovo show su Channel9 #TecHeroes , l'iniziativa della "Startup del mese". La startup scelta dal team BizSpark Italy avrà a disposizione una pagina all'interno del portale di StartUp4You in cui
potersi raccontare, apparirà sulla nuova pagina MSDN dedicata alle iniziative BizSpark e verrà invitata in sede Microsoft nello studio di #TecHeroes per registrare un breve video in cui potrà parlare delle applicazioni che sta sviluppando e di come il programma BizSpark sia stato d'aiuto durante le prime fasi della sua attività.

Potete trovare ai seguenti link le startup che sono già state intervistate:

Startup, che state aspettando? Scriveteci per entrare nel programma BizSpark se non l'avete ancora fatto, o per avere maggiori informazioni su tutte queste novità.

A presto :)

Visual Studio Tipps & Tricks, Teil 58: Windows 10 Extension SDK APIs erkennen

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 03:49

In einem vorherigen Blogpost bin ich bereits ausgiebig auf eines der für mich wichtigsten Features von Windows 10 eingegangen: Die Möglichkeit Code auf unterschiedlichen Geräteklassen ausführen zu lassen. Das heißt, man schreibt Quellcode wirklich nur noch einmal, die Plattform bringt alle notwendigen Voraussetzungen mit, um dem Entwickler das Leben einfach zu machen.

Um trotzdem auf Eigenschaften und APIs zugreifen zu können, die an spezielle Hardware gebunden sind, bedarf es sogenannter “Extension SDKs”, zur Laufzeit arbeitet der Entwickler dann mit Feature-Detection, um zu sehen, ob eine API tatsächlich vorhanden ist.

Inzwischen habe ich mit dieser Botschaft einige User Groups besucht und bei nicht wenigen wurde hier – nachvollziehbar – die Frage nach einer Toolunterstützung gestellt. Der Wunsch war: Wenn man innerhalb des eigenen Codes auf APIs zugreift, die aus Extension SDKs kommen (z.B. die StatusBar aus dem Mobile SDK), dann wäre es wünschenswert, wenn man zur Designzeit (also noch während des Programmierens) darauf hingewiesen wird, dass man als Entwickler dafür zu sorgen hat, dass zur Laufzeit nicht auf ein Objekt zugegriffen wird, das es gar nicht gibt, indem man zum Beispiel über den ApiInformation Namespace IsTypePresent verwendet.

Die Antwort war bisher immer: Das ginge zwar technisch (schließlich müsste man ja nur sehen, von wo eine API stammt), gibt es aber aktuell nicht. Ein eher schwacher Trost war, dass man die Extension SDKs ja auch manuell einbinden musste und von daher zu hoffen ist, dass man weiß was man tut.

Gute Neuigkeiten:

Auf Nuget findet sich ein Package des Autoren Lucian Wischik , mit dem man angezeigt bekommt, ob man eine API aufruft, die aus einem Extension SDK kommt: Den Platform Specific Analyzer:  https://www.nuget.org/packages/PlatformSpecific.Analyzer

Dieses kann man ganz einfach in seine eigene App integrieren….

Wenn ich anschließend Code einfüge, um zum Beispiel die StatusBar anzusprechen, bekomme ich durch eine grüne Markierung, den Hinweis, dass hier eventuell etwas nicht stimmt. Als Tooltip erhalte ich den Hinweis: “Platformspecific Code”.

Die kleine Glühbirne bietet mir auch gleich eine Lösung an.

Wie erwartet ist die naheliegende Lösung hier einfach ein “IsTypePresent” außen herum zu bauen. Alternativ könnte ich auch die Klasse oder Methode als plattformspezifisch flaggen, um die Fehlermeldung loszuwerden. (Dann muss ich mich aber nach wie vor selbst darum kümmern, wie ich mit dem Code umgehe.)

Ich denke, die Extension zeigt – mal wieder – recht eindrucksvoll, wie wertvoll es ist, dass Visual Studio erweiterbar ist. Im Prinzip kann jeder, der ein Feature vermisst sich das Feature selbst nachimplementieren. Im Falle von Lucian Wischiks Extension ist diese sogar vollständig auf GitHub auch in Quelltextform zu finden.

Tl;dr:  Das Nuget Package Platform Specific Analyzer warnt bei APIs aus Extension SKDs.

 

Kurzer Text am Rande:

Dieser Post ist Teil einer längeren Serie, in der ich ein paar der vielleicht nicht ganz so bekannten Features von Visual Studio vorstellen werde. Ich hoffe, für Euch ist der ein oder andere Kniff dabei, den Ihr noch nicht kanntet. Und wenn ihr ihn doch schon kennt: Seid stolz auf Euch und verratet den Trick auch dem Entwickler neben Euch.

Cloud Load Test Support in mstest.exe command line and XAML Builds

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 03:36

As part of TFS 2015, we have added two tasks to help users run load test as part of the new Build System. You can read about it here https://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/news/tfs2015-vs.aspx#loadtest. We have also enabled mstest.exe commandline to execute a run against the cloud load test service. To execute load tests against the cloud load test service, the user would need to specify the account url, and the alternate credentials in the test settings file. To learn how to setup alternate credentials for your account, please refer to the link  https://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/integrate/get-started/auth/overview

 Option #1: Provide the non-encrypted alternate credentials and account url in test settings

 <Properties>

          <Property name="TestSettingsUIType" value="LoadTest" />

          <Property name="AccountUrl" value="https://<accountname>.visualstudio.com" />

          <Property name="AlternateCredentialsUserName" value="<alternate or secondary username>" />

           <Property name="AlternateCredentialsPassword" value="<alternate password>" />

  </Properties>

</TestSettings> 

Option #2: Provide the encrypted alternate credentials and accounturl in testsettings file

 You can also provide an encrypted password in the testsettings file. The only additional requirement being the certificate used to encrypt the password should be available on the machine/build agent the load test is being executed from. The certificates need to be present either in the user store or the machine store (StoreLocation.CurrentUser,  StoreLocation.LocalMachine). You can use the code snippet (present as an attachment Encrypt.cs) in a UT project and execute the UT to get the encrypted password.

 <Properties>

           <Property name="TestSettingsUIType" value="LoadTest" />

           <Property name="AccountUrl" value="https://<accountname>.visualstudio.com" />

           <Property name="AlternateCredentialsUserName" value="<alternate or secondary username>" />

           <Property name="AlternateCredentialsPassword" value="<encrypted alternate password>" />

            <Property name="AlternateCredentialsEncryptionThumprint" value="<encryption certificate thumprint>" />

 </Properties>

</TestSettings>

Commandline Execution of the Load Test

Specify the testsettings file with the above information to execute the load test from thecommandline.

Mstest.exe /testcontainer:<loadtestfileName> /testsettings:CloudSettings.testsettings

NOTE: These values mentioned in the test settings specific for mstest commandline and not applicable for Visual Studio IDE experience.

XAML Build Integration

For the customers using the XAML build and using the mstest activity to run load tests as part of build, providing the testsettings that has the alternate credentials and the account information in the build definition would trigger the run against the cloud load test service. The activity will succeed if the load test run reaches completion and fail if the load test run aborts or errors out. 

More details about setting up a build definition can be found here : https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms181715(v=vs.120).aspx

If you have questions or feedback on this, you can reach out to us at vsoloadtest@microsoft.com.

Cloud-based Load Testing can be used for performance and load testing of your application by generating load from Azure. If you are new to Cloud-based Load  Testing then the following links should help you:

Introduction to Cloud Load Testing with VSO (video)

Getting started guide

Additional resources

Customer Stories / Case Study

 

If you have a feature request for us or an improvement you'd like to see, please log them on our UserVoice page

 

App-V 5.1 ist da.

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 02:43
Hallo zusammen, wie vielleicht einige schon mitbekommen haben ist App-V 5.1 nun erhältlich. Offizielle Meldung hier: http://blogs.technet.com/b/windowsitpro/archive/2015/08/17/ready-for-windows-10-mdop-2015-and-more-tools-are-now-available.aspx Neben den Windows 10 Support gibt es einiges an Bug Fixes und Verbesserungen (Server / Sequencer und Client) Schönen Gruß Sebastian Gernert...(read more)

Investigating issues with new account sign up for Cloud Load Test - 8/24 - Resolved

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 02:19

Final Update: Monday, 24 August 2015 12:33 UTC

This issue is by-design. All customers using Visual Studio 2013 (RTM) will experience this problem. All customers need to update to Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 Or Visual Studio 2015 to get this new service sign up to work seamlessly.

Sincerely,
VS Online Service Delivery Team

Initial Update: Monday, 24 August 2015 09:00 UTC

We are actively investigating issues with new account sign up in Cloud Load Test service. Customer using Visual Studio 2013(RTM) client may experience '404' error while using Cloud Load Test service after initial sign up.

• Work Around:

  1. Upgrade to Visual Studio 2013 - Update 4 Or 2015  (OR)
  2. Access URL http://Your_Account_Name.vsclt.visualstudio.com/_apis/clt/testruns from browser

We are working to resolve this issue and apologize for any inconvenience.

Sincerely,
VS Online Service Delivery Team

   

Batting Practice - Small Basic Featured Program

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 01:39

Today, I will introduce a game posted on a Small Basic forum thread Nominate games (or other programs) here to get featured on our Blog! (PART 3).

The game is Batting Practice written by Cody_M.

 He just started learning how to program this year and made a game called Batting Practice (VNT440). It is his first program with the graphics window.

Nice program.

UWP: How to implement Drag and Drop functionality

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 01:30

One more new feature, which is available for Windows 10 developers, is Drag and Drop support. Starting with Windows 10 you can implement Drag and Drop functionality between UI parts of your application or use external sources/targets including Win 32 applications.

Let’s start with Drag operation. In order to show how Drag operation works, I simply added an image from the application package to the main page.

<Grid Background="{ThemeResource ApplicationPageBackgroundThemeBrush}">
<Image Source="Assets\drone.jpg" Name="image" CanDrag="True" DragStarting="Image_DragStarting" Margin="100" VerticalAlignment="Top" HorizontalAlignment="Left"></Image>
</Grid>

You can see two important attributes there that activate Drag operation: CanDrag and DragStarting. CanDrag attribute is just a flag which enables the feature for all UIElement controls but DragStaring attribute contains name for event handler. Thanks to this event handler you can define any content to drag. In my case I implemented the following handler:

private async void Image_DragStarting(UIElement sender, DragStartingEventArgs args)
{
List<IStorageItem> files = new List<IStorageItem>();
StorageFile file = await StorageFile.GetFileFromApplicationUriAsync(new Uri("ms-appx:///Assets/drone.jpg"));
files.Add(file);

args.DragUI.SetContentFromDataPackage();
args.Data.RequestedOperation = DataPackageOperation.Copy;
args.Data.SetStorageItems(files);
}

In this event handler I used StorageFile class in order to pass my image like a file and thanks to Data property of DragStartingEventArgs parameter I packaged the file to the object of DataPackage class. DataPackage class is very popular among different features in Universal Windows Platform and usually you need to pass it to the operation system and OS allows to select the target application. But in case of Drag functionality user selects the target directly. So, we just need to prepare the DataPackage and that’s all.

Additionally I used two important properties there: DragUI and RequestedOperation. Thanks to the RequestedOperation I can assign the right operation and user should not be able to select anything from system menu – just drag and drop. Thanks to DragUI I can apply the content which will be shown during Drag operation. If you don’t use DragUI property, user will see the same image with the same width and height like in your application. It’s not very cozy to drag a huge image especially if you don’t use RequestedOperation – the system menu will be behind the image. That’s why you can assign any other content using DragUI or use SetContentFromDataPackage method in order to ask API to prepare appropriate icon for you based on content in DataPackage. Just run the application and drag and drop the image to the file explorer – image will be copied to the selected folder.

Let’s see how to implement an opposite task – Drop functionality. I want to accept several images. So, I am going to use ListView in order to show my items.

<Grid Background="{ThemeResource ApplicationPageBackgroundThemeBrush}"AllowDrop="True" Drop="Grid_Drop" DragEnter="Grid_DragEnter">
<ListView Margin="50" Name="listView">
<ListView.ItemTemplate>
<DataTemplate>
<Grid>
<Image Source="{Binding Source}" Width="200" Margin="10"></Image>
</Grid>
</DataTemplate>
</ListView.ItemTemplate>
</ListView>
</Grid>

You can see that I am using AllowDrop to activate the Drop functionality, DragEnter – to setup allowed operations (Copy) and Drop – to get content from DataPackage and show it using ListView.

In order to create items source for images I created BitmapItem class:

class BitmapItem
{
public ImageSource Source { get; set; }
}

In the next step I implemented DragEnter event handler in order to notify the system about supported operations.

private void Grid_DragEnter(object sender, DragEventArgs e)
{
e.AcceptedOperation = DataPackageOperation.Copy;
}

Finally, I am using DataPackageView in order to get reference to the content. DataPackageView can contain anything but I want to work with files only, so I call GetStorageItemsAsync in order to get references to files there and use BitmapImage to prepare the image files for Image objects.

private async void Grid_Drop(object sender, DragEventArgs e)
{
var files=await e.DataView.GetStorageItemsAsync();
List<BitmapItem> items = new List<BitmapItem>();
foreach(StorageFile file in files)
{
try
{
BitmapImage bi = new BitmapImage();
bi.SetSource(await file.OpenAsync(FileAccessMode.Read));
items.Add(new BitmapItem() { Source = bi });
}
catch { }
}
listView.ItemsSource = items;
}

I am too lazy, so I decided to avoid any checking – I simply use empty catch block if user passed non-image file(s).

That’s all. You can see that it’s easy to implement Drag and Drop functionality and you can make experiments with different content types there or implement the same functionality inside the same application (drag and drop content from one part of application to another).

Preparing teachers to transform learning with Microsoft technology

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 00:30

The following is a guest post from Gerald Haigh.

---

Earlier this year I wrote two blogs about technology supporting transformation in school. I spent part of the second one discussing the problems of implementation, including the ideas of consultant Craig Jerald. He believes that however thorough the planning, the implementation stage is the most difficult, and where the failures usually occur.

Gerald Haigh’s Reflections on Transformation within Education [Part I]
Gerald Haigh’s Reflections on Transformation within Education [Part II]

It’s because, from long experience and observation, I completely believe Craig Jerald’s conclusion, that I ask you to bear with me as I return to the subject. I’m motivated by the fact that over the short time since I last wrote, Windows 10 has properly arrived, refocusing attention not only on the rich features of the operating system itself, but on way it is improving access to Microsoft technologies that offer new ways for learners to learn and teachers to teach. Over the same period we’ve become aware, too, of the possibilities for one-to-one offered by an ever-broadening range of affordable devices. Perhaps, more than ever before, teachers and school leaders have in their hands the tools to support real transformation of teaching and learning.

This time, though, I want to focus on one key aspect of implementation, that of the need to engage teachers willingly and pro-actively in the process. In order to help my own understanding of this, I like to visualise a multi-seat bicycle, pedalled by a whole team – a bit like the one in ‘The Goodies’, shown here:

As you can see, leader Tim Brooke-Taylor is a total convert, dedicated to forging ahead; Graeme Garden is happy to follow along for now, while Bill Oddy, bless him, is failing to take the enterprise at all seriously. In other words it’s a perfect illustration of how technological implementation so often works in a school or college-- you’ve all got a Bill Oddy. I can look back and name some of mine. Mind you, some innovative teachers and technology leaders would probably add a fourth seat, occupied by someone facing, and pedalling, in the opposite direction.

In my many visits to schools reporting for Microsoft, and others, on their own innovative projects, I always ask about implementation, particularly how new ways of working are rolled out across maybe a hundred or more teachers and other staff. Thankfully, we seem to have moved beyond the time when the plan consisted of throwing in lots of devices and hoping for the best. These days, I invariably learn that there’s a carefully planned and phased process, often building on departmental ‘champions’, together with a CPD programme that may well include a ‘helpdesk’ or ‘clinic’ facility. The pace inevitably changes person to person, but the overall story is usually one of people wanting to learn and be engaged. Sometimes, though, I’ll be told, with diplomatic delicacy, that,

‘Of course there are always those colleagues who would rather not be involved at all.’

Such reluctant folk are sometimes labelled ‘blockers’. That’s hardly fair, though. It’s not so much that they want to stop progress; they just want it to flow around them and leave them alone. They are, in fact, reluctant to leave their comfort zone.

One of the best articles I’ve read on the phenomenon of the comfort zone is conveniently called, ‘The Comfort Zone, Risks and Change’, by educator and technology consultant Dr Jamie McKenzie.

And before I go on and draw on some of his ideas, let me point out that Dr McKenzie wrote this article in January 1993 in his online journal ‘From Now On’, which is still going strong at fno.org

One of the great pleasures of reading the article is to enjoy its still lively relevance to the present day.

He begins by pointing out,

‘We are all, to some extent, creatures of habit. We rely upon and trust routines to guide many of our actions and decisions……The rules are clear. The expectations can remain unspoken. We can rely upon what has worked in the past.’

Educators, he suggests, are especially likely to settle into comfort zones.

‘…..because so many people have done their best to make life uncomfortable for us in recent decades. The constant babble of outside attacks and reform initiatives has inspired many school people to "circle round the wagons" in order to protect the system.’

I’ve been aware of ‘wagon circling’ once or twice. Sometimes it seems to those involved to be entirely logical. Where a teacher is well established in an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ school, producing a steady stream of A and A star students, whence the incentive to change? To which we can only turn for the answer to Dr McKenzie again, who points out that though we may resist change, the world will always change around us.

‘In times of rapid change and turbulence, what worked yesterday may not work today. In such times, the comfort zone is much like the sand into which the ostrich sticks its head.’

However, he goes on, although it’s important to move people out of their comfort zones into a riskier, more adventurous way of thinking and working, it’s equally necessary not to assume that the aim is to create a new comfort zone. It’s not, he says, like remodelling a restaurant, with new paint and a better menu so that everything can settle down again afterwards. Instead, he writes,

‘Teachers must continue to take risks, abandon old ways and become not transmitters of knowledge but facilitators of learning.’

But the question remains of how to move people on from their comfort zones. To some extent that’s about basic leadership skills, but there are other factors. On the lively website run by blogger ‘The Daring Librarian’.

I discovered a series of rubrics written by tweeter Justin Tarte (@JustinTarte). These include,

‘Don’t focus on reasons why not to change, but instead start thinking about what will happen if you don’t change.’

At that point I realised that the key to getting anyone to change anything – to stop smoking, lose weight, change that terrible old car – is that they must actively want to change. If they don’t want to change, then they won’t. Obvious? OK, but how often do we behave as if we can change someone by straight persuasion?

Justin then adds,

‘It’s not really the device that we’re using, the hot new teaching method, or how we are sharing on social media that kids will remember 10 years from now. It will be our willingness and daring to try it, model it, and use it in the classroom that they will remember. That is a most powerful life lesson.’

So, say to your reluctant innovators, what will really stay with your students, long after they leave, will not be your sound and solid coverage of the curriculum, but your openly risk-taking ‘let’s try this together’ approach.

Here’s a June 2015 example from the American website School Planning and Management by Paul Solarz, a 5th-grade teacher at Westgate Elementary School in Arlington Heights, Ill.

Involve, Engage, Motivate: Teaching Students With Ed Tech

‘I was one of the most reluctant teachers to use technology in my classroom, ‘ says Paul. And then;

‘I finally decided to have a student-led classroom: I asked the students to solve their own technology problems and help their neighbours solve theirs, because I don’t know everything. It worked. They made signs with the passwords to websites and hung them on the bulletin board. They created videos to explain how to do things. And they help one another.’

Solarz, soon became the classic example of the enthusiastic convert, to the extent that Illinois Computing Educators named him 2014 Educator of the Year in the K-12 classroom. Will Paul’s students remember him, and his way of working?

And so, the way out of the comfort zone begins to show itself. You must want to take more risks, try more new things, become fearless in courting the failures from which you will learn. Then you will realise that some of the most effective guides who will take you by the hand on this journey are your own students, who, in turn will remember, and be affected by, their partnership with you.

For further evidence of that, you need look no further than the experience of the many far-sighted schools, including Microsoft Innovative Schools, where digital leadership is shared, and where appropriate, led, by students. Some have designated student leaders; others prefer a more open acceptance of ideas, wary of creating a specific group. Different schools do what suits their ethos, but get this right and you are in a creative circle – you want to change because you want to help your students, who, in turn, will help you to change.

That’s how creative teachers and questioning, self-motivated students are made.

Preparing teachers to transform learning with Microsoft technology

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 00:30

The following is a guest post from Gerald Haigh.

---

Earlier this year I wrote two blogs about technology supporting transformation in school. I spent part of the second one discussing the problems of implementation, including the ideas of consultant Craig Jerald. He believes that however thorough the planning, the implementation stage is the most difficult, and where the failures usually occur.

Gerald Haigh’s Reflections on Transformation within Education [Part I]
Gerald Haigh’s Reflections on Transformation within Education [Part II]

It’s because, from long experience and observation, I completely believe Craig Jerald’s conclusion, that I ask you to bear with me as I return to the subject. I’m motivated by the fact that over the short time since I last wrote, Windows 10 has properly arrived, refocusing attention not only on the rich features of the operating system itself, but on way it is improving access to Microsoft technologies that offer new ways for learners to learn and teachers to teach. Over the same period we’ve become aware, too, of the possibilities for one-to-one offered by an ever-broadening range of affordable devices. Perhaps, more than ever before, teachers and school leaders have in their hands the tools to support real transformation of teaching and learning.

This time, though, I want to focus on one key aspect of implementation, that of the need to engage teachers willingly and pro-actively in the process. In order to help my own understanding of this, I like to visualise a multi-seat bicycle, pedalled by a whole team – a bit like the one in ‘The Goodies’, shown here:

As you can see, leader Tim Brooke-Taylor is a total convert, dedicated to forging ahead; Graeme Garden is happy to follow along for now, while Bill Oddy, bless him, is failing to take the enterprise at all seriously. In other words it’s a perfect illustration of how technological implementation so often works in a school or college-- you’ve all got a Bill Oddy. I can look back and name some of mine. Mind you, some innovative teachers and technology leaders would probably add a fourth seat, occupied by someone facing, and pedalling, in the opposite direction.

In my many visits to schools reporting for Microsoft, and others, on their own innovative projects, I always ask about implementation, particularly how new ways of working are rolled out across maybe a hundred or more teachers and other staff. Thankfully, we seem to have moved beyond the time when the plan consisted of throwing in lots of devices and hoping for the best. These days, I invariably learn that there’s a carefully planned and phased process, often building on departmental ‘champions’, together with a CPD programme that may well include a ‘helpdesk’ or ‘clinic’ facility. The pace inevitably changes person to person, but the overall story is usually one of people wanting to learn and be engaged. Sometimes, though, I’ll be told, with diplomatic delicacy, that,

‘Of course there are always those colleagues who would rather not be involved at all.’

Such reluctant folk are sometimes labelled ‘blockers’. That’s hardly fair, though. It’s not so much that they want to stop progress; they just want it to flow around them and leave them alone. They are, in fact, reluctant to leave their comfort zone.

One of the best articles I’ve read on the phenomenon of the comfort zone is conveniently called, ‘The Comfort Zone, Risks and Change’, by educator and technology consultant Dr Jamie McKenzie.

And before I go on and draw on some of his ideas, let me point out that Dr McKenzie wrote this article in January 1993 in his online journal ‘From Now On’, which is still going strong at fno.org

One of the great pleasures of reading the article is to enjoy its still lively relevance to the present day.

He begins by pointing out,

‘We are all, to some extent, creatures of habit. We rely upon and trust routines to guide many of our actions and decisions……The rules are clear. The expectations can remain unspoken. We can rely upon what has worked in the past.’

Educators, he suggests, are especially likely to settle into comfort zones.

‘…..because so many people have done their best to make life uncomfortable for us in recent decades. The constant babble of outside attacks and reform initiatives has inspired many school people to "circle round the wagons" in order to protect the system.’

I’ve been aware of ‘wagon circling’ once or twice. Sometimes it seems to those involved to be entirely logical. Where a teacher is well established in an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ school, producing a steady stream of A and A star students, whence the incentive to change? To which we can only turn for the answer to Dr McKenzie again, who points out that though we may resist change, the world will always change around us.

‘In times of rapid change and turbulence, what worked yesterday may not work today. In such times, the comfort zone is much like the sand into which the ostrich sticks its head.’

However, he goes on, although it’s important to move people out of their comfort zones into a riskier, more adventurous way of thinking and working, it’s equally necessary not to assume that the aim is to create a new comfort zone. It’s not, he says, like remodelling a restaurant, with new paint and a better menu so that everything can settle down again afterwards. Instead, he writes,

‘Teachers must continue to take risks, abandon old ways and become not transmitters of knowledge but facilitators of learning.’

But the question remains of how to move people on from their comfort zones. To some extent that’s about basic leadership skills, but there are other factors. On the lively website run by blogger ‘The Daring Librarian’.

I discovered a series of rubrics written by tweeter Justin Tarte (@JustinTarte). These include,

‘Don’t focus on reasons why not to change, but instead start thinking about what will happen if you don’t change.’

At that point I realised that the key to getting anyone to change anything – to stop smoking, lose weight, change that terrible old car – is that they must actively want to change. If they don’t want to change, then they won’t. Obvious? OK, but how often do we behave as if we can change someone by straight persuasion?

Justin then adds,

‘It’s not really the device that we’re using, the hot new teaching method, or how we are sharing on social media that kids will remember 10 years from now. It will be our willingness and daring to try it, model it, and use it in the classroom that they will remember. That is a most powerful life lesson.’

So, say to your reluctant innovators, what will really stay with your students, long after they leave, will not be your sound and solid coverage of the curriculum, but your openly risk-taking ‘let’s try this together’ approach.

Here’s a June 2015 example from the American website School Planning and Management by Paul Solarz, a 5th-grade teacher at Westgate Elementary School in Arlington Heights, Ill.

Involve, Engage, Motivate: Teaching Students With Ed Tech

‘I was one of the most reluctant teachers to use technology in my classroom, ‘ says Paul. And then;

‘I finally decided to have a student-led classroom: I asked the students to solve their own technology problems and help their neighbours solve theirs, because I don’t know everything. It worked. They made signs with the passwords to websites and hung them on the bulletin board. They created videos to explain how to do things. And they help one another.’

Solarz, soon became the classic example of the enthusiastic convert, to the extent that Illinois Computing Educators named him 2014 Educator of the Year in the K-12 classroom. Will Paul’s students remember him, and his way of working?

And so, the way out of the comfort zone begins to show itself. You must want to take more risks, try more new things, become fearless in courting the failures from which you will learn. Then you will realise that some of the most effective guides who will take you by the hand on this journey are your own students, who, in turn will remember, and be affected by, their partnership with you.

For further evidence of that, you need look no further than the experience of the many far-sighted schools, including Microsoft Innovative Schools, where digital leadership is shared, and where appropriate, led, by students. Some have designated student leaders; others prefer a more open acceptance of ideas, wary of creating a specific group. Different schools do what suits their ethos, but get this right and you are in a creative circle – you want to change because you want to help your students, who, in turn, will help you to change.

That’s how creative teachers and questioning, self-motivated students are made.

Azure ポータルへのサインイン失敗や情報取得エラー時の事前確認について

MSDN Blogs - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 00:08
本トピックでは、もし、Microsoft Azure ポータルへのサインイン失敗や情報取得エラーなど生じた場合に、Internet Explorerでお試し頂きたい事前確認事項をご案内します。問題切り分けの一助としていただけますと幸いです。 InPrivate ブラウズ InPrivate ブラウズモードは、既存のセッション、キャッシュ情報等を読み込まず、新規のセッション情報で通信を行います。このため、既存の情報に影響を受けずにサイトの閲覧、ダウンロードなどが行えます。 1. Internet Explorer 画面右上のアイコンより、 [セーフティ] をクリックし、 [InPrivate ブラウズ] をクリックます。 2. InPrivate ブラウズが表示されますので、画面上部に 対象の URL を入力し、アクセスします。 閲覧の履歴(キャッシュ)の削除 もし既存のセッションやキャッシュ情報等を手動で削除する場合は、以下をお試しください。 <注意事項> キャッシュ削除の操作は、Microsoft Azure ポータル以外の Web サイトのキャッシュも削除します。 Internet...(read more)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile SDK の更新とAzure Mobile Connector SDK のリリース

MSDN Blogs - Sun, 08/23/2015 - 22:00

みなさん、こんにちは。

先日 Bob Stutz のブログにて Dynamics CRM のモバイル SDK に関する
アナウンスがありましたので紹介します。

情報元: Bringing CRM Mobility to New Heights with Azure Mobile Apps Connector and CRM Mobile SDK

=====================================================

2015年春 リリースを行った際に、「一度の構成ですべての場所に展開できる」ことで
世界中のユーザーにモバイルによるシームレスな体験を提供できるとお伝えしました。

その一環として Dynamics CRM Online 向け Microsoft Azure Mobile Apps コネクターの
リリースと、モバイル SDK の更新を発表します。これらの SDK で、様々な業界や役割に
最適化された、独自のモバイル体験を容易に開発できるようになります。

顧客にとって素晴らしい体験を提供するために、モバイルが重要な位置を占めることは
明らかであり、Dynamics CRM 既定のモバイルアプリケーションは、カスタマイズされた
体験をユーザーに提供することが出来るよう設計されています。しかしながら特定の
シナリオやユーザーによっては、その業務や業種に特化したカスタムのモバイルアプリ
ケーションが必要なり、モバイル SDK と Azure Mobile Apps コネクターが大きな助けと
なります。

Azure Mobile App と Dynamics CRM の組み合わせは多くの新しいシナリオで利用可能
です。最近リリースされた Azure App Service の 1 つである Azure Mobile Apps を利用
することで、どんなデバイスやプラットフォーム向けにも容易に開発が可能です。
モバイルアプリケーションの開発者は Azure のスケーラビリティやオフライン同期、
認証機能や通知機能を高いコストを支払うことなく利用できます。Azure Mobile Apps
コネクターの詳細は、以下を参照してください(英語)。

Build a Mobile Data Sync Experience for Dynamics CRM with Azure App Service
http://azure.microsoft.com/blog/2015/07/23/azure-app-service-mobile-data-sync-dynamics-crm/

モバイル SDK の更新は、Android および iOS 向け、および Windows 向けのテンプレートと
ライブラリが含まれます。この SDK はタスクに特化したアプリケーションやバックエンドの
システムデータを集計するシナリオ、セルフサービス用のアプリケーションや、デバイス
固有の機能を利用するシナリオで活用できます。詳細は以下記事を参照してください(英語)。

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile SDK Update and Azure Mobile Connector SDK
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/crm/archive/2015/07/15/microsoft-dynamics-crm-mobile-sdk-update-and-azure-mobile-connector-sdk.aspx

さらに、これまでに提供してきた多くのリソースをまとめた、モバイルアプリケーション
開発者向けのポータルをリリースしました。このポータルでは今後のモバイル開発向けの
アナウンスや、ユーザー同士が交流を図れるフォーラムが提供されます。

Microsoft Azure と Dynamics CRM のシナジーにより素晴らしい価値を顧客に提供できます。
すでに Azure IaaS のサポートをはじめ、多くのクラウドに対する投資を行っています。
今回の発表で「モバイルファースト、クラウドファースト」の世界への大きな一歩を踏みだす
ことが出来ました。しかしこれはまだ始まりであり、今後も素晴らしいものが続々と登場
する予定です。

Bob Stutz, Corporate Vice President Microsoft Dynamics CRM

=====================================================

こちらのブログでも、公開されたコネクターやモバイル SDK のリソースについて
順次紹介していきますので、お楽しみに!

- 中村 憲一郎

Every Employee is a Digital Employee

MSDN Blogs - Sun, 08/23/2015 - 20:20

“The questions that we must ask ourselves, and that our historians and our children will ask of us, are these: How will what we create compare with what we inherited? Will we add to our tradition or will we subtract from it? Will we enrich it or will we deplete it?”
― Leon Wieseltier

Digital transformation is all around us.

And we are all digital employees according to Gartner.

In the article, Gartner Says Every Employee Is a Digital Employee, Gartner says that the IT function no longer holds a monopoly on IT.

A Greater Degree of Digital Dexterity

According to Gartner, employees are creating increasing digital dexterity from the devices and apps they use, to participating in sharing economies.

Via Gartner Says Every Employee Is a Digital Employee:

"'Today's employees possess a greater degree of digital dexterity,' said Matt Cain, research vice president at Gartner. 'They operate their own wireless networks at home, attach and manage various devices, and use apps and Web services in almost every facet of their personal lives. They participate in sharing economies for transport, lodging and more.'"

Workers are Streamlining Their Work Life

More employees are using technology to simplify, streamline, and scale their work.

Via Gartner Says Every Employee Is a Digital Employee:

"This results in unprecedented numbers of workers who enjoy using technology and recognize the relevance of digitalization to a wide range of business models. They also routinely apply their own technology and technological knowledge to streamline their work life."

3 Ways to Exploit Digital Dexterity

According to Gartner, there are 3 Ways the IT organization should exploit employees' digital dexterity:

  1. Implement a digital workplace strategy
  2. Embrace shadow IT
  3. Use a bimodal approach
1. Implement a Digital Workplace Strategy

While it’s happening organically, IT can also help shape the digital workplace experience.  Implement a strategy that helps workers use computing resources in a more friction free way and that play better with their pains, needs, and desired outcomes.

Via Gartner Says Every Employee Is a Digital Employee:

“Making computing resources more accessible in ways that match employees' preferences will foster engagement by providing feelings of empowerment and ownership. The digital workplace strategy should therefore complement HR initiatives by addressing and improving factors such as workplace culture, autonomous decision making, work-life balance, recognition of contributions and personal growth opportunities.”

2. Embrace shadow IT

Treat shadow IT as a first class citizen.  IT should partner with the business to help the business realize it’s potential, and to help workers make the most of the available IT resources.

Via Gartner Says Every Employee Is a Digital Employee:

“Rather than try to fight the tide, the IT organization should develop a framework that outlines when it is appropriate for business units and individuals to use their own technology solutions and when IT should take the lead. IT should position itself as a business partner and consultant that does not control all technology decisions in the business.”

3. Use a bimodal approach

Traditional IT is slow.   It’s heavy in governance, standards, and procedures.   It addresses risk by reducing flexibility.   Meanwhile, the world is changing fast.  Business needs to keep up.  Business needs fast IT. 

So what’s the solution?

Bimodal IT.  Bimodal IT separates the fast demands of digital business from the slow/risk-averse methods of traditional IT.

Via Gartner Says Every Employee Is a Digital Employee:

“Bimodal IT separates the risk-averse and ‘slow’ methods of traditional IT from the fast-paced demands of digital business, which is underpinned by the digital workplace. This dual mode of operation is essential to satisfy the ever-increasing demands of digitally savvy business units and employees, while ensuring that critical IT infrastructure and services remain stable and uncompromised.”

Everyone has technology at their fingertips.  Every worker has the chance to re-imagine their work in a Mobile-First, Cloud-First world. 

With infinite compute, infinite capacity, global reach, and real-time insights available to you, how could you evolve your job?

You can evolve your digital work life right under your feet.

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