Recently, I had the chance to attend Live! 360 in Orlando, Florida, a four-in-one conference with presentations focused on Microsoft development (Visual Studio Live!), SQL server building, developing and managing (SQL Server Live!), SharePoint building, developing, implementing and managing (SharePoint Live!) and Cloud Computing (Cloud & Virtualization Live!).
On the whole, the presentations and keynotes were excellent, with my favourites being:
There are many more, but the list is too long to discus in-depth, so let’s focus on the first three listed above.
I knew of Rocky Lhotka from having read some of his articles, but had never seen him present at a Microsoft conference and I’m pretty happy that it is done now! Looking back on it, Rocky was by far my favourite presenter of the week (I’ve also got to give a mention to Stephen L. Rose – what a great pitch seller!). Rocky was really sticking to his point, was funny and really knew how to keep the crowd focused. He talked about the Windows 8 development platform and how Windows 7 developers will have to adjust their skills to follow the wave. Then, before getting in the code, he talked about the WinRT platform and its languages projections, application models and how development will now be more in sync to avoid performance bottlenecks and enhance the overall responsiveness of our applications. It was a great day.
Keynote: “Windows 8 and the Flexible Workstyle”
After a great day at Rocky’s workshop, I headed to the opening keynote by Stephen L. Rose even though it was late. I was so convinced by his speech that I wanted to throw out my iPad and Galaxy Nexus and buy a Windows 8 Phone and the new Microsoft Surface tablet.
We were also able to make our mind between Surface and Surface Pro and I saw that even Surface is good, Surface Pro is going to be so great! Biggest differences between these two:
Like I said before, Steven L. Rose was so excellent that 10 minutes before the end of his presentation when he announced that he was going to take question from the crowd, I said to myself, “What? Already?”
Presentation: “What’s New in Windows Phone 8 for Developers”
I attended a conference by Nick Landry, a Montreal native who spent the past eight years working in New Jersey. Professionally, I don’t do much mobile development, but I’ve always been really interested in it. That said, I went to his presentation with no real expectations other than to learn a little more about developing for the Windows Phone.
And it was greater than expected! We learned a lot, including what makes Windows Phone 8 so unique and some impressive stats:
A few of you may wonder why people bother to develop apps for the Windows Store when only 2.6% of mobile phone users in 2012 used Windows devices. According to IDC (International Data Corporation), there will be five times more Windows Phone users in the next four years! That’s a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 71.3%, making it by far the largest among all companies.
We than explored the subject more in-depth and learned many new Windows Phone 8 features, including what’s new, what the advantages are for developers, and we also talked a little bit about the update dilemma between WP 7.5 and WP 8. We also learned how it can compile data in the cloud, how the activation policy, the tile templates and sizes work. Finally, we reviewed how it is possible to develop and deploy using whatever technology makes sense, whether it is web-based, email or an app. Great subject, great presenter, I had a great time!
Overall, the quality of the presentations at Live! 360 was simply amazing. I hope to attend next year and share more about Microsoft technologies with you.
Ready for another social network? Microsoft is opening up its social network – the aptly named Socl – to the public. Originally a research project by Microsoft Research FUSE labs, Socl was meant to be a social search tool for students. Launched in beta last year to Microsoft employees and university students, it enables people to connect based on shared interests and activities. Much more Pinterest than Facebook, the new network is driven by visual content. Users can create collages made up of links, images, captions and videos.
Will you be joining Socl?
When it comes to storing stuff online, the options are endless: Dropbox, iCloud, Google Docs, MegaUpload (RIP), Flickr, the list goes on and on. But as the amount of data we produce increases – everything from tweets and calendar entries to Facebook chat history and YouTube videos – so does the amount of energy and resources needed to process and store it all in the cloud.
For today’s Internet giants, finding innovative ways to improve the efficiency of data centres is essential, not just for the environment, but also for the bottom line. Pike Research predicts that by 2015, investment in energy efficient server farms will reach $41 billion. Many companies have already begun to explore cutting-edge technologies to keep server farms costs down:
A group of Facebook engineers were given the challenge of building the mot efficient and economical data centre possible. With every aspect designed from scratch, the new Prineville, Oregon facility uses 38% less energy than other Facebook data centres and cost 24% less to build. To share their findings, Facebook created the Open Compute Project, an industry-wide initiative to promote an open-sourced approach to data centre engineering.
Google uses a variety of methods to keep its data centres around the world up and running. In Finland, they converted an old mill into the world’s first seawater-cooled data centre where cold water from the Baltic Sea is pumped through the building to cool it down. At its Georgia, USA facility, Google uses recycled waste water to keep things cool, and in Taiwan, air conditioning is used at night and a thermal energy storage system keeps the facility cool during the day.
Unlike other companies that use cold cooling processes to control temperatures, eBay runs its Phoenix, Arizona data centre at 115 degrees Fahrenheit (most data centres run somewhere between 65-80 degrees). With temperatures so high, they are able to use hot water to cool the facility, which significantly reduces the amount of energy used and the cost of operations.
Microsoft’s newly expanded data centre in Dublin, Ireland is cooled using air from outside of the building. The new facility doesn’t require any water for cooling, which make it 50% more efficient than traditional data centres.
The company’s data centre in Maiden, North Carolina runs primarily on renewable energy sources and utilizes chilled water storage and outside air for cooling. Apple says that new additions to the facility will include the country’s biggest end user-owned solar array and the largest nonutility fuel cell installation in the United States.
It seems the sky’s the limit in terms of what you can do with Microsoft’s Kinect. The Chaotic Moon Labs created a Board of Awesomeness aka a Kinect-controlled longboard. Our good friends at Odopod used it to create an interactive window installation. And then there’s the group of scientists that are using the motion-sensing device to study glaciers in Norway. One thing’s for certain… Kinect is one awesome piece of technology.
Over the past few years, cloud computing has quite literally taken the world of technology by storm. By way of nothing more than an Internet connection, the cloud can provide users with real-time access to their data across multiple devices from anywhere in the world. In fact, chances are high that you’re already using cloud computing – Hotmail, Google Documents and online banking systems are all part of the cloud.
Unfortunately, the accessible and practical nature of the cloud that makes it so appealing to individuals and businesses in the first place could easily be its downfall. Data stored on a cloud server instead of a local computer network has a much higher likelihood of being intercepted by unauthorized parties.
With everyone from Microsoft (Windows 7 + Windows Live) to Apple (iCloud) bundling cloud functionalities into the latest forms of their respective operating systems, it’s safe to assume that the future of computing lies partly, if not fully, in the cloud.
Are you a supporter of the cloud?
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