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Microsoft Student Partner

Windows 8 Elite App Showcase with Steve Ballmer

Yesterday Nick Case and I traveled down to Modern Jago in London for an event set up for members of the Windows 8 | Elite program. The Event was particularly exciting as the CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, was presenting. I’ve been a fan of Ballmers since seeing the world famous “Developers” video on YouTube. Whilst a lot of people, myself included, find it funny I think its refreshing to see someone so genuinely passionate about what they do.

Nick and I caught our train from the Hull Paragon Interchange at 10:30 and were enjoying our journey until an announcement played on the train — “Please have all tickets and railcards ready for inspection”. At this point my heart sunk, I’d forgotten my Student Railcard in the rush to get out. Fortunately when the train guard came to me she was merciful and told me not to forget it again but that she would let me off this one time.

We arrived in the capital around 1pm and set off on our way to Modern Jago following the Circle line — enthusiastically referred to as the “Bright Yellow Line” by the woman opposite me on the train —  round to Liverpool Street Station from Kings Cross, from there it was only a few minutes walk to Club Row, the street on which Modern Jago is situated.

Welcome to Modern Jago!
Welcome to Modern Jago!

We were welcomed into the garden of Jago as there was an event which hadn’t yet finished still taking place in the hall. The building itself was formally a school and a lovely contemporary mix of old on the outside and modern on the inside.

Modern Jago Courtyard Garden
Modern Jago Courtyard Garden

Whilst in the network I had a look round for any familiar faces and spotted one of my fellow MSPs,  Abhilaksh Lalwani as well as a few people from Black Marble Studios.

Modern Jago Courtyard -- My fellow MSP, Abhilaksh Lalwani, looks dappa in his Yellow Jumper
Modern Jago Courtyard — My fellow MSP, Abhilaksh Lalwani, looks dappa in his Yellow Jumper

After around 20 minutes or so we were invited inside to be seated for the event. The chairs were in straight lines across the hall floor and I quipped “It’s just like a lecture apart from we don’t have anyone we’re friends with to look for”, with that we tried to find 2 seats next to each other in a decent position. The ones we found were 1 row from the front right in front of the speakers podium, fantastic.

Welcome to the Modern Jago Stage
Welcome to the Modern Jago Stage

First up was a short presentation about some of the applications that had been developed by people in audience, some were quite impressive. Of particular note were the ever impressive Cocktail Flow, The British Airways Inspiration app and UK Bus Checker.

Best of British -- Windows 8 App Showcase
Best of British — Windows 8 App Showcase

The Best of British app showcase finished with a look at the latest Windows Phone 8 advert, showing off the personalized start screen of a certain CEO. You can see it here:

At the end Mr. Ballmer was welcomed on stage with the introduction “heres the person who owns that phone”. He entered with his usual enthusiasm and thanked everyone for being at the event and for supporting Microsoft through the biggest change in the companies history. The event was very much about how much Microsoft values its partners and the people who develop for its platforms — underlined by the fact the final slide on Mr Ballmer’s slide deck simply said:

Succeed With Us.

Steve Ballmer Explains how Microsoft are "All in" with Windows 8 and Windows Phone
Steve Ballmer Explains how Microsoft are “All in” with Windows 8 and Windows Phone

The Microsoft CEO explained Microsoft ideas and ideals behind the Windows and Windows Phone platforms and explained how every department within the company had some involvement with the finished products, in other words Microsoft are all in.. Steve felt as if he had “bet the farm on Windows 8” saying

When you change so dramatically your main product, which is used by over 600 million people worldwide of course you’ve taken a huge gamble

Steve went on to explain how Microsoft didn’t see Windows 8 as merely an update to an operating system but as a complete change on the idea of what a device is an can be, he highlighted this by an incredible series of weird hand motions explaining how some of the new laptop form factors are tablets that dock, some have hinges and how some are just like normal laptops but with touch screens.

This moment has remained in my mind partly because it was quite funny, but mainly because it symbolized to me how great a speaker Steve Ballmer is. He was so animated and genuinely excited about everything he spoke about — it was infusing and made you inspired to work on his platform. And guess what? That’s exactly what he wanted. I’d love to be able to speak to crowds of people in a similar style.

After Steve had finished he didn’t take any questions, which was a shame. I really really wanted to ask him the rumours of a XBOX Surface Slate 😛 But we did get to have a look at some of the new Microsoft Surface’s and some Lumia 820’s — both of which really impressed both Nick and I.

All the Microsoft Products!
All the Microsoft Products!

I even took the time to put my website up on one of the Microsoft Surface Devices. I was surprised to find whilst doing this that the Type Cover (the physical keyboard dock) was actually perfect for my fingers and provided a better typing experience than my 15 inch dell laptop keyboard. The tap cover was still good but I imagine it would take a bit of time to get used to. I’ve heard some bad things about the screen resolution of the surface, but frankly I couldn’t see any issue and I was impressed by the field of view.

DanTonyBrown.com on a Microsoft Surface
DanTonyBrown.com on a Microsoft Surface

Shortly after  I played with all these lovely devices it was time to go. Thanks to Phil Cross and Co for setting up the event, Steve Ballmer for making the time to talk to us all and for a fantastic presentation and Nick for coming with me! 🙂

Danny.

Categories
Life

Installing Windows 8 on a Dell Inspiron 15R (N5110)

Perhaps this post should be titled “How to make a terrible user experience” and be authored by Dell.

Today I’m on my way to London from Hull to go to an event as part of the Windows 8 | Elite Program in which we get to meet Microsoft CEO and all round legend Steve Ballmer. So that I wouldn’t spend the vast majority of my day bored on the train I wanted to bring my laptop along.

Unfortunately my laptop has been out of action for several days now. The reason why? Drivers, and a real lack of support from Dell.

A few months ago I attempted to update my laptop to the Windows 8 Release Candidate, this seemed to work fine until I attempted to boot for the first time and was presented with a totally blank screen, apparently the only driver available didn’t work in Windows 8 on the actual laptop screen — the only way to view what you we’re doing was to plug into a monitor, thus my laptop became the most unportable laptop ever.

This obviously wasn’t good enough but I was told that dell would be releasing an update to the drivers to work in windows 8 at the beginning of October — somewhere around the 8th. This never happened. So I waited, and waited and assumed that the drivers would come out on the day of Windows 8 general availability — October 26th. That they did, ish. If you pressed “Download Driver” the page simply threw up an error message. I’d waited long enough so another days wait didn’t fuss me.

The next day I downloaded the drivers, this time the link actually worked, and reinstalled Windows 8. (I’d previously uninstalled Windows 8 and downgraded to Windows 7 to actual be able to do work at university). I had assumed that to be able to install the driver  I would have to connect to a display, which was fine. What I didn’t expect was that having installed the driver nothing would change — I would still be unable to use my laptop screen.

Now, this is the crux of the story. My laptop’s BIOS was 4 versions out of date. I was on version A07, and the most recent release was version A11. I only discovered this however after downloading & installed everything from the Dell website related to the N5110. Once I’d installed my BIOS update everything worked fine. The most irritating part of this experiance is that Dells Update Program didn’t pick up on my BIOS being out of date and none of the driver installs picked up on my BIOS being out of date.

So, in conclusion if you’re trying to install Windows 8 Drivers for the Dell Inspiron 15R (N5110) make sure you install the A11 BIOS update first. Oh and if you happen to be one of the largest PC manufacturers in the world try to improve your user experience so that driver updates first check that your BIOS is up to date, or at the very least the driver download page recommends you update your BIOS first.

Danny

Categories
Modern Experience Development

Windows 8 | Elite Welcome Pack

I posted not too long ago about how, by submitting my Hull CS Blogs for Windows 8 App, I had joined the Windows 8 | Elite Program. On Saturday I had a parcel delivered and was pleasantly surprised to find it was a Windows 8 | Elite welcome pack!

Contained within were:

  • A Windows 8 Branded Pen
  • A Windows 8 Branded Pencil
  • A Windows 8 Branded 4GB Memory Stick
  • An Invitation to the Windows 8 Release party at Modern Jago in London on the 26th October
  • A Welcome Letter
  • And most interestingly a Windows 8 app design sketch pad, which I’ve used to plan UI enhancements to my app 🙂

Its a nice pack, especially considering the Windows 8 | Elite is totally free to join, as is the Windows Dev Centre if you’re a student, so my advice is to click here and get involved!

Danny

Categories
Modern Experience Development

Hull CS Blogs for Windows 8 and the Windows 8 | Elite

I’m very happy to be able to tell you all that on Monday morning I submitted Hull CS Blogs for Windows 8 to the Windows 8 Store. The app supports most of the features that the Windows Phone and Android apps do, including caching of blog posts and tweets. The information source used for all the contributors will also be updated this evening, adding a plethora of new contributors that we picked up in our recent marketing drive. This will add people to all 3 apps.

Below you can see some screenshots of the app, and above you can see a screenshot of the main page.

Hull CS Blogs for Windows 8 - Blog Viewer
Hull CS Blogs for Windows 8 – Blog Viewer

Rather than throw you out to internet explorer every time you want to view a blog you can actually read blogs embedded within the application. This is also supported in Windows 8 Split view – which allows you to use two apps at once by making one smaller and pinned to the side – as you can see in the image below.

Hull CS Blogs for Windows 8 - Split View
Hull CS Blogs for Windows 8 – Split View

Each contributor also has their own page within the application which shows their twitter stream as well as all of their latest blog posts.

Hull CS Blogs for Windows 8 - Contributor Viewer
Hull CS Blogs for Windows 8 – Contributor Viewer

Overall developing for Windows 8 has been a positive experience , especially porting from windows phone. I was able to retain a lot of the structure of the program as well as many of the objects from that project.

Another big bonus for making the app was the ability to join the Windows 8 | Elite program which, according to the website allows you to:

Elevate your app with the Windows 8 | Elite Programme. As an Elite member, you will be invited to exclusive networking and training events as well as opportunities to enhance the discoverability, quality and business value of your Windows 8 app.

To get into the Elite program you have to have written and submitted a Windows 8 Modern Experience app by October 26th 2012 — the day windows 8 becomes generally available. Due to the fact that I have already done that I’m now in and apparently a Welcome Pack full of goodies is on its way to me. I shall update this blog when I find out what it contains! I’ve also been invited to a Windows 8 Launch party in London on the 26th, which is also quite exciting.

As the program progresses I’ll also receive access to extra training, help and resources from Microsoft including things not dissimilar from the Windows 8 camp I went to a few months ago.

Exciting times.

Danny