Hacking Productivity with Microsoft Office 365

Hacking Things Done

Don’t worry, we’re not about to tell you how to code an app in under five minutes. (But if you want to try, we’d love to see it!) We do want to tell you about Hack Productivity, a new online hackathon from Microsoft with $32,500 in prizes for apps that help people make stuff happen — with ease (and panache).

Hack Productivity, launching today, gives you access to the Office 365 APIs for mail, calendar, contacts, photo/video, and files so you can create tech solutions that allow people to do everything they set out to do, and more. As an added challenge, we’re also asking you to build an entirely new Add-in (extension) for your app.

Your solution needs to help people manage their lives — but how is totally up to you. For instance, you could build an app that:

  • helps people create photo albums with images shared by their friends
  • creates a weekly schedule for everyone in the household
  • collates a daily to-do list based on incoming email
  • creates a filing system for school assignments and research work
  • designs a new collaboration system for the office
  • suggests a friend date when you haven’t seen one of your contacts in awhile
  • uses Pavlovian push notifications to defeat procrastination

There are lots of ways to sauce this enchilada, if you know what we mean. Your time-saving, achievement-producing app will be up cash prizes, plus some other shoutout-worthy swag:

  • meeting w/ a Microsoft product exec
  • one-year allowance on a premium Office 365 service
  • expenses-paid trip to a Microsoft conference
  • Surface products

We’ll be providing lots of support throughout the hackathon, including online office hours, tutorials, and tech tips. So check off the first thing on your to-do list: Register & start building your productivity hack @ msoffice365.devpost.com.
Photo Credit: Bain News Service – Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA



Microsoft Training and Certification Guide – There’s an App!

Microsoft Certification App

The Microsoft Training and Certification Guide provides a quick, comprehensive view of our training and certification landscape, and covers all of the training requisites and upgrade paths that lead to modern Microsoft Certifications. Microsoft training helps to improve your technical skills while certification helps further your career by proving your technical knowledge. Use this guide to help you achieve your IT goals.


  • Microsoft Official Courseware mapped directly to Microsoft Certification exams
  • Interactive subway map of technical training and exams
  • Deeper information regarding technical training and certifications via weblinks
  • Guidance to map keywords directly to the appropriate certifications
  • Print pages of the app by viewing as a PDF

Get it now!

Windows App Studio Updated

App Studio



4 easy steps and you have an app. It is true!

Head on over to App Studio for the Windows Phone and you will find an updated site and features to build yourself a Windows Phone app in a few easy steps.

Redesigned UI, touch enabled, a better emulator, new templates and other features makes this a pretty powerful tool.

Most of all when you generate your project you have a choice of a Windows Phone project or a Windows Phone AND Store project! Woohoo!











Start your app today!

Read more about the enhancements fromt the developer blog

Windows Phone Developer Saturday


Is something stopping you from finishing your Windows Phone app?

Welcome to WPdev Saturday!

Please join Nick Landry and other Windows Phone community experts for WPdev Saturday on February 22, 2014 in New Jersey for a fun day of mobile app building. WPdev Saturday is an event brought to you by Nokia DVLUP and sponsored by Microsoft.


The goal is to help you overcome any obstacles that might be preventing you from publishing an app. Whether you’re working on your first app or putting the polish on your 20th, all are welcome. If you do not have any apps in the works, then come and build a Microsoft App Studio app with our help.

When & Where?

Microsoft New Jersey Office – Iselin
101 Wood Ave South, 9th floor
Iselin, NJ 08830

Find more information on Nick’s site and how to register.

Is Your Windows Device Ready for the Super Bowl?

This years Super Bowl (or should I call it the “Big Game”) has a few interesting plot lines. Will Peyton Manning quiet the critics by winning the game with the most explosive offense we have seen since the Brady Bunch back in the 2007 season?

peyton manning


Will Richard Sherman live up to the “best cornerback in the game” quotes (or you should I say rant)?


Will New York and New Jersey be able to host a cold weather game?

Will there be any commercials worth talking about on Monday?

Once we get past the plot lines we can focus on the real things that matter…the food and beer at the party.

While you bring chips, wings, ribs, beer, drinks, I will be bringing the apps to my Super Bowl party. Not apps as in appetizers but apps in Windows apps for tablets and phones.

Here is my list.

Windows Phone Apps that are Super Bowl worthy.

  1. Nokia Camera – You need to have the Lumia Amber update but is a great app to maximize your devices hardware. Great for the pre-game pics as well as some embarassing moments.
  2. 6tag – After I take those pics I can use 6tag to show them off on my Instagram feed. #Hashtag away!
  3. Untappd – While you are sitting there and drinking some craft brew, “check-in” and follow your brewery with this great app.
  4. Touchdown Run – During the halftime special or some local commercials, check out this game. Simple yet addicting.
  5. Waterville Resort – Since my beloved Patriots are not in this years game and I dont have a team to root for I will be investigating some great ski resorts to spend my Sundays at.

Windows 8 Apps that will get everyone talking.

  1. Sports Memory Match – This is a fun game to keep the excitement going of the BIG GAME. Take a break and play this one for a bit.
  2. WTD in Seattle – If all this Richard Sherman talk got you motivated to take a trip to the left coast and check out Seattle, what better app to download and see whats happening out there.
  3. Are We There Yet – Since this will be the last weekend most of us will be glued to a TV set watching Football, our family gets us back. What a perfect time to start thinking about trips and travel.
  4. Take Me Out to the Ballgame – And speaking of travel and no more Football, we can start looking towards Baseball. This app helps you get there with ease.
  5. Cholesterol! How Much – Since we just chowed down a ton of food and beer for the past Football season, we can now start getting back in shape. First lets see how healthy we are with this app.

Good luck!

Promote your apps. Get 100 downloads. Earn a chance to win a device!‏

Another great contest through App Builder.

That’s right, we’re giving away one tablet ($329 retail value) each day in February during our 28 Days of Devices Sweepstakes.* For every qualifying app, you’ll get 500 App Builder Rewards points and be entered to win a free tablet device.*

Here’s how it works:

  1. Enter your Windows Store apps to the Apps Quest.
  2. If your app has less than 100 downloads when you complete the Quest between January 21st and February 28th, you’ll get a $15 Windows Store gift card.**
  3. Use the App Promotion Kit, Windows Store gift card and AdDuplex advertising impressions to reach 100 downloads before the end of February and earn your chance to win one of 28 devices.

Want to increase your odds? 
The more apps that get 100 downloads by Feb. 28th, the more App Builder Rewards points and sweepstakes entries you’ll receive – and the earlier your entry qualifies, the more chances you’ll have to win one of our daily device giveaways!

Join App Builder Rewards today!

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open only to residents of the 50 U.S. 18+ who have a U.S. Windows Store Dev Center account. Game ends 2/28/14. For details, see Official Rules.
**Offer good only to members of App Builder Rewards and are U.S. registered Windows Store developers. Members must (i) register for this offer at https://build.windowsstore.com/rewards , (ii) have published app(s) to the Windows Store between July 23, 2013 and February 28, 2014 which have, at the time of registration, less than 100 unique, third-party downloads (“Qualified App”), and (iii) complete the “Apps Quest” within App Builder Rewards for at least one Qualified App by February 28, 2014. Offer limited to Windows Store apps and is not available in connection with any Windows Phone Store apps. All apps submitted must comply with the Microsoft App Builder Rewards Program Terms of Use , including the “Apps Quest” terms in Section 6. Apps that have been published to the Windows Store before July 23, 2013 do not qualify for purposes of this offer. Upon completion of the “Apps Quest” and validation that the app(s) are Qualified App(s), the registered member will receive a $15 Windows Store gift card via email. Gift card offer is good only to the first 600 registered members who complete the “Apps Quest” or until February 28, 2014, whichever comes first. Limit 1 gift card per registered member. The Windows Store gift card will expire 60 days of receiving the email activation code. In addition, registered Members whose Qualified App(s) reach 100 unique, third-party downloads by February 28, 2014 will receive 500 points for each such Qualified App in App Builder Rewards. May not be combined with other app offers with the exception of offers within the App Builder program. Taxes, if any, are the sole responsibility of the recipient. The 500 reward points offer ends on 2/28/2014 or until the offer budget is exhausted. Please allow up to 2 weeks to validate the app(s) are Qualified Apps, have been published in the Windows Store and to process the gift card, if applicable. Microsoft reserves the right to modify or cancel the terms of this offer at any time. Microsoft reserves the right to disqualify from this offer any person who they believe is not complying with these offer terms, and / or, who is acting with the intent to avoid offer restrictions or other limitations.

Windows 8 App Development. The Time is NOW!

There is a lot of momentum with Windows 8 right now. From the launch of the Nokia 2520 to all of the Windows Phones and other tablets, it is a great time to be part of the Windows ecosystem.

With that said, it is a great time for Students and Developers to start building apps and games for the Windows Platform. Listed below are a few promotions going on.


App Builder Rewards: Double Points December

App Builder
Publish an app in December • Complete the quest • Earn 10,000 points

It’s Double Points December! Publish your app in the Windows Store and complete the “Apps Quest” between December 1st and 31st 2013, and you’ll get double points for up to 8 apps. The more apps you submit, the more you earn.  Join App Builder Rewards today! https://build.windowsstore.com/rewards


Build an app this holiday season and ring in the new year with some cash in your pocket

Holiday App Challenge

We are excited to announce the Windows 8 Holiday App Challenge. Spend your winter break coding an awesome new app to be eligible to win up to $150. Full contest details can be found at http://windows8challenge.com.

How to participate?

  1. Develop a Windows 8 app. Submit your app to http://aka.ms/HolidayAppChallengeSubmission to be eligible to win av$50 gift card.
  2. Promote your app to get 100 downloads. Visit www.windows8challenge.com for tips and tricks to get 100 downloads in no time!
  3. Confirm your app has 100 downloads. Submit your confirmation at http://aka.ms/HolidayAppDownloadConfirmation to be eligible to win an additional $100 gift card. The contest ends on January 15th, 2014.

Offer terms and conditions: http://aka.ms/HolidayAppOfferTerms.


The Modev Windows $10k App Contest

MoDev Contest

We’re looking for those game changers, industry disruptors—denizens of creative awesome from across the developer community. We’ll award prizes two ways:

  1. An impartial panel of judges will pick the top three apps from among the entries and award prizes
  2. We’ll put the pool of entries up for a public vote, and encourage some healthy competition between entrants to promote your app and get the public to vote for you

To qualify, entrants need to submit new Windows 8 or Windows Phone apps to the Windows Store or Windows Phone Store between October 1 and December 31, 2013, and fill out the Contest Entry form. Judging and public voting will begin in January 2014, with winners announced by January 31st.


Awesome Chance to win Cash for your App

Just this week on 10/1, some friends at MoDev announced a contest, for a chance to win cash prizes, totaling $10K.  My favorite part, is that you can actually control whether or not you win, with a public vote, which will occur after the contest entry period ends on 12/31.  You just have to get your friends (and their friends) to vote for your app! Helps drive awareness for your published app & increase your downloads, but also increases your chance to win.  Check out the details below.

The Modev Windows $10k App Contest

We’re looking for those game changers, industry disruptors—denizens of creative awesome from across the developer community. We’ll award prizes two ways:


  1. An impartial panel of judges will pick the top three apps from among the entries and award prizes
  2. We’ll put the pool of entries up for a public vote, and encourage some healthy competition between entrants to promote your app and get the public to vote for you


To qualify, entrants need to submit new Windows 8 or Windows Phone apps to the Windows Store or Windows Phone Store between October 1 and December 31, 2013, and fill out the Contest Entry form. Judging and public voting will begin in January 2014, with winners announced by January 31st.

Successful Windows Game Development Event in Farmington

Screenshot (3)

On September 28th, Microsoft Technical Evangelist Jim O’Neil held a Windows Game Development workshop in the Farmington campus. I was in attendance as a “shadow” since I have not held an event yet. My first event is on October 12th in Farmington (more on that later). We had 16 attendees that were a mix of young adults, hardcore developers and developers wanting to learn more about Windows Game Development.

Jim took the lead by introducing some casual gaming concepts and tools to create these games. He showed off a few of his games along with some others that are in the store. The audience provided great feedback in terms of what they would like to see and try to create. Once the slides were out of the way, we got down to creating apps.

Screenshot (2)

We used Construct 2 to demonstrate how easy it is to get started. If you are not familiar with Construct 2, it is an IDE built on top of Visual Studio. They make the interface very simple to create casual games such as some platformers, top down views along with a few others.

We modified the standard Constcut 2 turtorial to add some Windows features, such as Touch and Snapped Mode. (These Windows Game templates can be found on our Github repository.) After adding the objects to the screen, we got into the event handling aspect of Construct 2. The ease of putting together commands for all of the objects can allow even the novice developer to become seasoned quickly.

The theory behind the “event sheet” in Construct 2 is the same pattern and practice as other development methodologies such as MVC. In the MVC pattern, you have the Model, which is your data storage or object. In Construct 2 these are the Sprites, System, Touch etc. The View which is your presentation of the Model can be found in the Layouts of Construct 2. And then you have the Controller, which provides access to the Model and the View for handling and manipulating data or business rules. This is the Event Sheet.

After wiring up the event sheets to the objects we got a full functioning game by lunch time. There is still more to do, such as exporting to Visual Studio and then importing into the Windows Store but this gave the audience a great jump start on building a game.

So what’s next? Finish that game. Or take our starter kits and build upon them.

If gaming is not for you, then on October 12th I will be going over app development for Windows 8. We will be looking at Bing maps and plotting data points all with HTML5 and JavaScript.


Stay tuned.





Keep Track of Your Local Rivers

Screenshot.202925.100000Weather has always been unpredictable, just ask anyone who lives in Florida. However, when we look at patterns we can “sorta” predict weather. There is an app in the Windows Store that looks at these patterns to display rising rivers in your area. Why is this useful? Well, have you seen what happened in Colorado or even in Austin?

Fluvium (Fluvial – term used in geography and Earth science to refer to the processes associated with rivers and streams and thedeposits and landforms created by them – Wikipediaallows you to find nearby rivers and add them to your watch list. Data comes in from the USGS is updated every fifteen minutes, providing close to real-time monitoring. There are thousands of USGS monitored sites that you can choose from and add in Bing Maps integration to give you a pinpoint view of the area.

The app is definitely worth checking out.