Imagine Cup 2011 Featured on CNN America Morning

The Imagine Cup was featured Friday morning on CNN’s America Morning. Steve Ballmer along with several Imagine Cup participants went to CNN’s New York studios. Interview posted below,

Team Note-Taker featured in BBC interview

Team Note-Taker from Arizona State University was featured in an interview with the BBC and were introduced by Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.

Team Note-Taker from Arizona State University interviewed by BBC

Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 | Part 2: Installation

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced you to Windows MultiPoint Server 2011. Today, in Part 2, I’ll show you just how easy it is to get setup with MultiPoint Server 2011.

System Requirements (minimum)

  • 2 GHz 64-bit processor with at least two cores
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 32GB Hard Drive space
  • DVD Drive for installation

For more on system requirements, I recommend reviewing the Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Planning Guide.


The initial setup for MultiPoint Server 2011 is straight forward. Starts out with the ever familiar Windows 7 / Server 2008 R2 setup process and then leads into a customized Out-of-Box Experience (OOBE) for MultiPoint Server 2011.



After installation and OOBE have completed, display drivers need to be installed as well as any other drivers necessary for the proper function of the MultiPoint Server. After drivers and Windows Updates were installed, I rebooted and was greeted by the MultiPoint Manager. MultiPoint Manager is the central console for managing any and all MultiPoint servers on the network.


In part 3, we’ll take a deeper look at MultiPoint Manager.

Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 | Part 1: Introduction

Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 is an awesome product from Microsoft. MultiPoint Server is designed as a solution to provide what I’ll call “one-to-many” or “shared” computing. By “one-to-many” I mean that MultiPoint Server runs on one server and provides the computing power for up to 20 users at the same time.

What are some of the possible usage scenarios? With the ever shrinking education budgets here in the United States, schools are having to find new ways to do more with less. Instead of buying a lab full of workstations, schools can buy MultiPoint Server and thin client hardware at a fraction of the cost. Another example is a small business looking to keep their costs low, can deploy MultiPoint and thin clients to all their employees. The possibilities are endless.

I’ve included below a slide listing the cost of MultiPoint Server. Note that this is for the software only and does not include server hardware or client hardware and is based on Volume License channel pricing.


In Part 2, I’ll walkthrough the initial installation and setup of MultiPoint Server 2011.

Tech-Ed North America 2011: Day 0 – Recap

After following the very poor directions given to me about finding the shuttle to bring me to the hotel, and being lied to and ripped off for 20 bucks (yes, I’m bitter.), I made it to my hotel, the Marriott Marquis in Downtown Atlanta. Check in was fairly effortless, and I’ve got a very nice room on an upper floor of the hotel with a great view of the city. For the week, Microsoft has invested in custom room keys, sponsored by Windows Intune, with an attached map of the downtown area.

After getting settled in my room, I met up with Randy Guthrie, Academic Developer Evangelist and some Imagine Cup USA Finals winners as well as other invited students, and had a quick bite to eat while waiting for everyone to arrive. Once everyone arrived, we made the 15 minute walk over to the Georgia World Congress Center, and along the way passed by CNN Center, World of Coca-Cola, and the Phillips Arena. While at the GWCC, took a quick walking tour of where keynote would be, the exhibit hall, bloggers lounge, etc. After the tour was over, we went out to dinner and then made final arrangements for the morning.

On Day 1 we’ll see announcements from Jason Zander and Robert Wahbe and from what I’m hearing these announcements will be interesting.

Here are some photos from Day 0:

Mobile Learning with Blackboard

School has started and my university uses the Blackboard Learning Management System, and I was told about a feature called Blackboard Mobile Learn that may enhance my learning experience.

Blackboard Mobile Learn is available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices over Wi-Fi, and Blackberry and Android devices on the Sprint network.

Mobile Learn allows students to access the same features available through Blackboard on a PC such as accessing grades, discussions, and content uploaded by instructors.

I’ve been trying out Mobile Learn to see what, if any, value it brings to the student learning environment. Since I’m not on the Sprint network, I can’t test it on my Android based devices, so my tests come from the iPad version.

When Mobile Learn is launched, you’re asked to search for your university. After typing in the search criteria and selecting the university you are prompted with either the login prompt provided by blackboard or the Single Sign On prompt used by the university.

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Once logged in, you are able to choose from a list of available classes or view the Dashboard. In the Dashboard you will be able to see notifications of new content that has been added to each available class.

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Navigating within a class on Mobile Learn is much the same as using Blackboard on a PC or Mac. The overall structure is the same, and the same features available on a PC are available within Mobile Learn. For instance, if you need to register a TurningPoint branded clicker, the registration tool is available and will open in a browser window within Mobile Learn.

Accessing content that is in the form of PDF files, Word documents, PowerPoint slide shows, or other common file types is incredibly easy through Mobile Learn. When you select a piece of content, for example, a PDF file of notes for Biology class, you are presented with two options. The first is to open the file in the browser, and the second is a direct link to the attached file. If you tap the button to open the attachment, it will open within Mobile Learn, and you can browse the PDF file just as you would normally.

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What impressed me the most about Blackboard Mobile Learn is the feature parity with accessing Blackboard from a PC. My testing has shown that if it’s accessible through Blackboard on a PC, then it can be accessed from Mobile Learn. The only real limitation seems to be, in this case, the iPad itself. If content contains Flash or Windows Media Video, then it won’t play, as the iPad does not support those types of files.

What I’m not so impressed by is the business deal between Blackboard and Sprint. I do not see many, if any, students who use Sprint. It’s Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile that students are using. To be honest, while Mobile Learn provides some compelling features, I wouldn’t change to Sprint just so I could use it on my cell phone. Hopefully, we will see this change and Mobile Learn will be available to any user on any cellular network.

A couple other minor annoyances are that there is not an ability to choose a school as a default. There have been times where the search I have used to find my school has stayed and other times I have had to search for the school all over again. For most people, being able to search for the school once and setting that school as the default would be a good feature to have. Another thing is that the application will occasionally hang after I login and I won’t be able to open any classes or open the dashboard, but after going back to the home screen and re-launching Mobile Learn, everything works okay.

Overall, I’m giving Blackboard Mobile Learn 3.75 out of 5 stars, with a full point deduction for partnering with Sprint and a quarter point deduction for the inability to set a school as the default when launching the application.

Imagine Cup 2010 Wrap-up

(I totally meant to have this posted right after the Imagine Cup finals, but due to some blog issues, and work, the posting schedule slipped. –Tom)

Wow, what a week! I’ve just finished attending the 2010 Microsoft Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in Warsaw, Poland. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with students from all over the world, meet the top executives for Microsoft worldwide, have lunch with education ministers and dignitaries from all over the world, and see some some incredible projects at this year’s Imagine Cup.

At the World Festival on Thursday evening, Jon Perera announced that the 2011 Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals will be held in New York, New York. After Perera’s introduction, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to this year’s finalists via video, and congratulated them on their accomplishments, and talked about how excited she was that the Imagine Cup will be in the USA.  This is incredibly exciting to see the Imagine Cup travelling to the United States. I highly encourage all tech students to compete in the Imagine Cup competition. I’m not sure when the Imagine Cup website will be updated with information for next year’s competition, but keep checking for updated information.

I want to take a moment to thank the City of Warsaw and the government and country of Poland for their wonderful hospitality. Warsaw is such a beautiful city. Throughout the week there were events at different venues within Warsaw. We were at the Palace of Culture and Science, the Warsaw Opera House, a castle in the beautiful town of Pultusk, and several hotels in the city center. The event concluded with an awesome party at the Platinum Nightclub, and after partying into the wee hours of the morning, I returned to the hotel for a few hours of shut eye before heading off to the airport.

One of the biggest takeaways from the Imagine Cup is that no matter how young or how old, students have the power to create innovative solutions to the world’s problems through software. I was totally blown away by how awesome these projects were. Quite a few of the projects are already being looked at by world governments and the private sector. Most of the teams that made it to the final round of judging said that they are working on plans bring their projects to market, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for that.

I want to thank Jacek Murawski (General Manager Microsoft Poland), Jon Perera (General Manager Microsoft Education), the entire corporate Microsoft Imagine Cup team, and the team in Poland that worked to pull off an incredible event. I also want to thank everyone at Microsoft and Waggener-Edstrom for making this trip possible. I had a great time, and I look forward to the 2011 Imagine Cup.

Microsoft to give BizSpark to all Imagine Cup Finalists for free!

imageTonight at the finalist presentations at the Warsaw Opera House, Jean-Philippe Courtois, President of Microsoft International, announced that all of the Imagine Cup 2010 Finalists would receive membership in Microsoft’s BizSpark program for free.

The Microsoft BizSpark program provides members with access to the latest software development tools and platforms, connects members to investors, government agencies, and consultants worldwide. Members are also provided with support from a technical, sales, and marketing perspective. For more information about BizSpark, visit

Through the Imagine Cup and the BizSpark programs these students are well prepared to take their games, embedded devices, Windows Phone 7 applications, and other applications to market, and to have the tools and knowledge required to build a successful business to promote and sell their software.

Congratulations to all Imagine Cup finalists and I look forward to seeing your businesses grow!