Friday, 29 February 2008

The Browser & Beyond

Chris Mills of Opera visited MMU today and presented "The Browser and Beyond", a short presentation on web standards, mobile browsers and SVG.

Unfortunatly there were a few technical difficulties in setting up Chris's mac (More reason to install Vista on that baby) and Chris was unable to show us any working demos, however they can be found via his blog.

For everyone at the event, I mentioned XAML which is a mark-up language which allows designers and developers to create brilliant cross browser cross platform, vector graphics and applications much like SVG. The only difference is that XAML is fully supported by IE :p.
Click here for more information on XAML.

XAML is used to create Silverlight applications such as the much loved Silverlight Airlines application which no doubt everyman and his dog have now seen. More info on Silverlight can be found here.

Chris was talking during his presentation about media queries which allow the rezising of various aspects such as collumns depending on page size along with the resizing and removing of pictures if needed. XAML has its own unique solution to this problem using wrap panels, more of which can be found on the XAML site.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

DreamSpark - Free Software for Students

This week sees the exciting launch of DreamSpark.

DreamSpark gives stuents all around the world to download the latest design and developer tools that Microsoft has to offer. And the best thing is its all FREE!!!!

So what can you get your hands on?

Visual Studio 2008

Expression Studio

SQL Server 2005

XNA Games Studio & 12-Month XNA Creators Club membership

What do you need?

All you need to get yourself this great bundle of software is the ability to verify that you are in higher education, this can be done with your Athens ID, ISIC number or your university login details.

The place to go to get all this free stuff is:

Thankfully some of the teething troubles that were present on launch day with students not being able to verify that they were in education has thankfully been solved. Thanks to all the guys over at DreamSpark and MS for getting this sorted so fast.

See Bill Gates himself talk about DreamSpark right here.

Find out more by visiting Mark or Ed's blog.

Who said you don't get something for nothing?

What's Life Really Like at Microsoft?

Life At Microsoft - The Truth Revealed

Just found this great video, documenting the truth about what really happens at Microsoft.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Stand Out

Bored of the same old slide show presentations? Tired of linear power point events? Well theres good new for you boys and girls. A product called Stand Out is set to revolutionise the way presentations are given.

Stand Out is currently a beta application that utelises the power of Expression Blend to create innovative presentations, limited only by your imagination.

Blend is used to create components with custom component animation which are later imported into Stand Out and can then be further animated depending on their position on the screen. Using Stand Out and Blend various transforms can be applied giving a unique presentation experience.

Stand Out is split into two major sections, the Design where the lay out, animations and components are added to the presentation in a veriety of way. One great feature of Stand Out is the use of master pages which can be used just as they are in a ASP.NET websites. This then allows the master page to be applied to all further pages, creating a uniform base layout for all pages.

The second section of Stand Out is the presenter section where a presenter can create a presentation using the design that had previously been created by a designer, therefore not having to touch Blend or the more complex sections of the package.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Add Messenger to your blog or website

Just found this and thing that it is amazingly cool! How would you like to have a messenger app on your profile where you can let people reading your blog to chat to you via MSN??? Well now you can!

When I first heard back at MIX:UK that there would be a function avaliable to do this I imagined it being extremly codie with the need of web servies or something similar. How happy was I when I found out itsa simple embedding of generated text.

To do this all you need to do is alter your Messenger Settings and this will give you the code that you can then copy and paste anywhere that you would like to use it.

The code for mine is as follows:

<iframe src="" width="300" height="300" style="border: solid 1px black; width: 300px; height: 300px;" frameborder="0"></iframe>


You can also alter the access rights for messenger so that annonymous visitors can send you messages.
When I first heard of this functionallity for Live Messenger it was for buisness prospects, imagine that you log onto an online store and either need specialist advice or help with your purchase you will be able to use this messenger app to talk to a person involved with the store. One of the major concerns that was voiced about was surly you would then give away your email etc. but now that there is the access rights, you would just be able to log on as an annonymous user and the company wouldnt know any personal information about you.
Urm... imagine ordering pizza via Messenger :-p
I think that this is a really cool app and can't wait to get some messengers off blog readers.

Freshen Up Visual Studio!

Scott Hanselman just created a really nice blog post about using different layouts and colors for VS.
I really like the fact that you can fully customise the look of visual studio, this is especially easy if you download a pre-defined package of settings. Then use the "Tools>>Import Export Settings..." menu to import downloaded settings.

Take a look at Scotts blog where there are a number of different styles, I especially like Oren Ellenbogen's Dark Scheme. Which I have downloaded and am now using (how cool am I).

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Crazy Week!

Great news!! I've just got confirmation that I am through to the next round of the graduate application process for Microsofts MACH scheme. As a result I will be travelling down to Birmingham on Wednesday 13th of Feb to take part in a selection of tests along with a video interview.
I am really excited about this and will give my all, especially as there is a place as a Microsoft employee to fight for.

The confirmation of my MACH interview adds to my slightly crazy schedule for next week, which involves alot of travelling around the UK.

As mentioned I will be in Birmingham on Wednesday for my grad scheme interview and then will travel down to Reading on Thursday and Friday for the Imagine Cups Inspiration Accelorator. Which again will culminate with a grand presentation of our idea.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Ballmers internal mail

After looking through the resent torrent of post and articles about the Microsoft attempted acquisition of Yahoo I've found an internal Microsoft e-mail from Steve Ballmer himself to all MS employees!! This e-mail was found via Phil Winstanleys Blog and outlines the reasons behind the acquisition proposal.


From: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Friday, February 01, 2008
To: Microsoft - All Employees (QBDG)
Subject: Proposed Acquisition of Yahoo!

Today, I am very excited to announce that Microsoft has made a proposal to acquire Yahoo!. This announcement represents a big opportunity for Microsoft, and is the next major milestone in our companywide transformation to embrace online services, search, and advertising.

By combining the strengths of our companies, we can deliver an efficient and highly competitive offering for our customers. Our complementary assets will give us increased talent and scale to compete in the markets of search and online advertising, and pioneer new innovations in the areas of video, mobile services, online commerce, and social media.

This year, online advertising is a $40 billion business. It will grow to $80 billion by 2010 and will continue to increase in the years beyond. This market provides a significant growth opportunity for Microsoft—our ability to provide the best search and online experiences for consumers, and the best ad platform for publishers and advertisers, is the key to unlocking this opportunity.

We are on a good path with our existing search and advertising product roadmaps. To date, we have made progress in our organic online services and advertising efforts, and by joining with Yahoo!, we will take the next step toward becoming a major search destination and social platform for consumers. The combined reach of our content properties and combined breadth of our tools for advertisers will enable us to provide an online advertising platform at scale. Together, we'll create a company that is in a much better position to compete against an increasingly dominant player in this market.

Through our recent acquisitions of aQuantive and Tellme, we understand what it takes to successfully integrate new talent, assets, and infrastructure into our company. Leaders from both Microsoft and Yahoo! will work together closely on the integration process to ensure that we are thoughtful about the questions we ask and the decisions we make. As we move forward, we'll look carefully at how to bring our assets together to create the greatest value for customers, employees, and shareholders.

During this transition period, I urge you to stay focused on your commitments and team goals. We are committed to communicating with you frequently as our leadership team works on bringing the two companies together.

As I outlined in my quarterly strategy email last week, we grow by anticipating new areas where software has the greatest potential to create opportunities. The proposed acquisition of Yahoo! will transform our ability to compete as new opportunities in online services, search, and advertising emerge.

I am very excited about today's announcement and about the collective talent and energy we will bring to the industry. A great opportunity is in front of us to evolve how people and businesses create, find, and use information. Through today's proposed acquisition, we can take our business to new levels of success and growth.

Kevin Johnson, Chris Liddell, Ray Ozzie and I will host an employee web cast that can be viewed live beginning at 10:00am PST and will also be available on-demand. You can link to the web cast at http://msw/NewsEvents/StudioCasts/Pages/conferences.aspx



Sunday, 3 February 2008

Free Web Hosting

Microsoft and WebFusion are joining forces to deliver free web hosting for students accross the country!! The free web hosting includes 500MB od diskspace, support for SQL Server, PHP and ASP.NET. Supporting the .NET framework all the way from .NET 2.0 to .NET 3.5 allowing you to use the latest tech such as LINQ and Silverlight.

This offer is an idea opportunity to get my final year project hosted online and will hopefully add that little wow factor when presenting it at my project presentation.

Any students at MMU will be able to get coupons for th web hosting off myself, as I will be handing them out in classes and distributing them to some of your teachers.

For more information on the deal or to claim your own free web hosting go check out

This is a great opportunity for students to create their first website without shelling out cash to buy hosting. If this is your first foray into the world of web sites check our Expression Web, a great program which lets you create some stunning web sites with ease.