Apps4VA Hackathons

On October 19-20, Apps4VA will host a series of hackathons across Virginia that challenges participants to create apps that improve education using this data catalog. There will be 5 locations hosting the hackathons:

If you can’t attend in person,  consider entering the Open Competition or contributing to the Idea Bank! Now, for the most important part: the prizes! The grand prize is $1500! At each location there will be a First Prize: $750 and there will be a Hacker’s Choice Prize: $250. In addition, the local hosts and sponsors will have other prizes including the chance to win some Windows Phones for people who develop a Windows 8 app! Yay!!

Here are some resources to help get you started with developing your submission:

NCWIT Award for Aspiration in Computing 2012

This post is shamelessly reblogged from Alfred Thompson. Alfred is an expert in the K12 space and I highly recommended following him on Twitter (@alfredtwo) and on his blog for outstanding content! He posts lots of resources, information and discussions about technology, computer science and education. (Click here for his original post.)


Time for a reminder. Now that school has been underweight for a while you may have identified some young women who would be good candidates for the NCWIT Award for Aspiration in Computing.

What is the award?

The Aspirations Award honors young women at the high-school level for their computing related achievements and interests. Winners are recognized at an award event here in the community. All applicants will also be considered for the National award. National winners receive $500, a laptop and a trip to the March 9, 2013 awards gala.

Since 2007, NCWIT has recognized more than 1300 young women and honored more than 50 teachers with the NCWIT Educator Award. Learn more at Our Award recipients have been invited to the White House, received scholarships to top universities, and accepted internships at top tech companies such as Microsoft and Google.

Why is the award important?

By generating visibility for technical young women, the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing encourages continued interest in computing, increases awareness of the gender gap in computing and IT, and emphasizes at a personal level the importance of women’s participation in computing.

What is the application process?

Please direct girls to Detailed instructions and eligibility information are found online. APPLICATIONS ARE OPEN NOW THROUGH OCTOBER 31!

What is the deadline?

Please notify girls of this opportunity right away. Online applications are open now and must be submitted by 11:59 PM Eastern on October 31, 2012.

Start developing your Windows 8 app today. Generation App has tons of great resources for developers. Sign up today for tips, great documentation, videos and more!

Windows 8 Office Hours

If you’re working on, or thinking about building, apps for Windows 8, and looking for some help or advice, you’ll be super interested to know about the upcoming office hours in the DC metro area. In the month of October, local Microsofties will be at our Chevy Chase, MD and Reston, VA offices. During these office hours feel free to drop by and ask questions or join us for a quiet place to code. Find all the fun details below!

Chevy Chase, MD – 5404 Wisconsin Ave.

On Thursdays, Ashish Jaiman will be at the Chevy Chase office from 10am-4pm in room 7059. If you’re taking the metro, it’s the Friendship Heights stop. Ashish specializes in working with startups, so be sure to stop by if you’re part of a startup!

  • October 11th
  • October 18th
  • October 25th

Reston, VA – 12012 Sunset Hills Road

On the following Tuesdays, G. Andrew Duthie will be at the Reston office from 10am-4pm in room 3026:

  • October 23rd
  • October 30th

Don’t forget, Generation App has tons of great resources for developing Windows 8 apps. Sign up today for tips, great documentation, videos and more!

HTML5 Game Starter Kit for Windows 8

Yesterday, Petri (@petriw) from Microsoft Norway published this awesome resource for creating HTML5 games for Windows 8.

Want to create a game for Windows 8? And publish it to the new Windows Store?

Many of the apps that are submitted to the Windows Store are failing certification because they didn’t know that a Privacy Policy was needed, or that the game/app had to implement a snap view and so on. This kit will help you with the most important things.

The download, a guide and a video on how to use the starter kit can be found on his blog: Get started on your game and let me know how it’s going!

If you’re new to game development, check out the Game Development 101 series: Part 0, Part 1, Part 2. You can start your Windows 8 app & game development journey with Generation App.

Win a Nokia Lumia 900

Come by the Microsoft booth at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing for your chance to win a Nokia Lumia 900!

You can enter to win by creating your very first Windows Phone app. We have four tutorials for you to walk through to create your first app. You can do the tutorials at the Microsoft booth where we have machines set up with the tools or you can do them on your own machine and show us. Every tutorial you complete gets you an entry into the raffle. Since there are four tutorials, you can enter up to four times! (You can only win once though :))

If you want to do the tutorial on your own machine, awesome! The first step is to download the free tools here. Get the tutorials to work through from here. There are a couple of ways to show us you’ve done the tutorials:

  • Bring your machine to the Microsoft booth and show us your app! (If you do all four tutorials, you’ll end up having one app for tutorials 1-3 and one app for tutorial 4)   OR
  • Put your .xap files on a USB stick (like the USB bracelet from the Microsoft booth). A .xap file is the exeutable file for your app. You can find the .xap file by going to your project folder -> project name -> Bin -> Debug -> your .xap file. Here’s a screenshot of where I find .xap files:

If you do the tutorials on your own, come in to the booth and we’ll deploy your app on a Windows Phone so you can see what it looks like “in the wild.”

Main point: Build a phone app (from the tutorials) and enter to win a Windows Phone! Yay!!

Startup Weekend Blacksburg Recap

Shamelessly reblogged from the Microsoft BizSpark Group Blog!


Our champions in DC area, Ashish Jaiman and Ed Donahue, were mentors at StartupWeekend Blacksburg just last week (Sept 14th – 16th ) held at Rackspace in Blacksburg.

The event was a huge success, and our guy Ashish says “Wow, what a great event. We got to learn a lot about the students and team’s passion, community mentors and coaching support… and we saw unbelievable entrepreneurial energy”.

Ed also hosted a dev camp in Virginia Tech, where participants of the Startup Weekend were able to get to know Windows 8 (and Microsoft BizSpark) prior to the kick-off of the event on Friday. More than 90 entrepreneurs and students registered – with a great line up of mentors and judges:

  • Jonathan Hagmaier, Chairman & CEO of Interactive Achievement
  • Benjamin Knapp, Director, Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology
  • Jason Gabriel, Vice President – Third Security, LLC
  • Mike Provance, Entrepreneur Adviser and President of Growth Kinetics Venture Management Accelerator
  • Ashish Jaiman, Startup Lead at Microsoft, Public Sector

Teams that built a Windows 8 application in the coming two months were offered a shiny new Windows Phone and the chance to participate the awesome investor day that The Fort is hosting on December. Read more about this new accelerator in DC.

After the initial pitches on the Friday evening, 9 teams formed to build products over the weekend. Here they are:

ORZUP allows our customers to create beautiful custom renditions of satellite imagery of an area at a given point in time. Our process modifies satellite imagery into beautiful works of art. Some of the wonder is in the customer’s ability to personalize the art by specifying a place and time they deem meaningful. We have seen the wonderful connection this allows our customers to have with such works. A much deeper connection than merely selecting a piece from an art gallery. (, @orzupdesign)

ImagiPrint 3D

ImagiPrint 3D’s mission is to provide the ability for anyone to bring their ideas to life. No experience with 3D modeling is necessary. Simply send us your sketches, pictures, or any idea and our capable design team will be reproduce a 3D model and 3D print it into life. Custom jewelry, figurines, accessories, you name it; we print it! Targeting the everyday imaginator, ImagiPrint 3D. Imagine. Print. Done. (

Sign Traveler

Sign Traveler’s goal is to help all of the historical sites that most people pass by become better integrated into our society. This mobile service would sent historical information to your phone that is normally found in small, unreadable print on roadside signs. Our company will tailor to two different customers; the traveler and the advertiser. Our advertising plan allows for a small area in the application to be designated to corporate sponsorship. (@signtravel)

Home Grown Trade

Home Grown Trade is basically an online farmers market. We want you to be able connect with you clients and gain more clients outside the market on Wednesday and Saturday, by creating a profile online that you would enter in all of your produce so people could do online shopping either to pre-order for the market or for you to be able to meet up with clients one-on-one. ( ?)


Creating an enterprise application that will facilitate the digital transfer of resumes between applicants and business at career fairs. Applicants will upload resume then scan a QR code for the job they desire and this will transfer their resume to the business. The business will then pull up the resume on a tablet or other mobile device and they will be able to see the resume and take notes on the applicant while discussing the position. (, @resumeexchange)

Gamification of company culture and workspace to produce health and culture reports and info-graphics based upon social network LinkedIn and internal health reports/surveys. This will tie the company internals to the likes of FarmVille to show health by village. (, @inville)


QuizzTaker improves student classroom interaction and response collection at an industry unique price point. A proprietary software application allows teachers to seamlessly integrate technology enhanced items into their daily lesson plans to better engage students with important material.

Project Free Airfare

Don’t let a plane ticket stand between you and a great travel experience. We partner with businesses in your destination to subsidize your airfare. This is can also help you plan for you trip as you save by getting coupons for businesses where you are going to travel. Let’s make airfare free! (, @pfatrips)


Quit waiting in line at fast food restaurants, grocery stores, sporting events, bars, cafes and ANYWHERE else! We are building a mobile app that allows consumers to order and pay… leaving you to simply pick up your purchase.


  • First Prize: ResumeX
  • Second Prize: QuizzTaker (Public Sector)
  • Third Prize: ORZUP

Check out photos from the event on the Microsoft BizSpark site.

Windows 8 Hackathon @ Duke

On Friday I’ll be at Duke University in Durham, NC to run a 24-hour Windows Hackathon. Here are all the details:

Our Hackathon is an open Windows 8 code fest. Code to your heart’s content and get familiar with all of the great Windows 8 features. It’s the perfect opportunity to get your dream application underway, or to finish that app you’ve already started.

This 24-hour event will be filled with coding, sharing and plenty of food. Bring your own laptop installed with Windows 8 RTM (90-day evaluation), your apps and your cool ideas and get ready to create! At the end of the hackathon, you’ll get to show-off your app. The best apps will walk away with prizes! (Prepare for the hackathon and come to the Windows 8 Session on Thursday!)

Start Time: Friday, September 21, 6pm

End Time: Saturday, September 22, 6pm

Location: Room 203,  Nello L. Teer Building (parking information <– I recommend Parking Deck IV)

Eventbrite - Windows 8 Hackathon (Duke)


Can’t wait to get started on developing apps and games for Windows 8? I know, me too!! To help you get started, sign up for 30 to Launch to get tips and tricks in your inbox that will help you take your app from idea to in-store.

Windows 8 Session @ Duke

Windows 8 Session
9/20 8:00pm Schiciano Auditorium

Windows 8 is Windows re-imagined. Join us to learn about the new platform for building applications. Get an understanding of the platform design tenets, the programming language choices, and the integration points with the operating system and across Windows 8 apps. Talk a walk-through of some code to see how to implement compelling Windows 8 features, such as Share and Live Tiles, which will encourage users to come back to your app. This is a great opportunity to prepare for the Windows 8 Hackathon on Friday!

Hope to see you there!

Can’t wait to get started on developing apps and games for Windows 8? I know, me too!! To help you get started, sign up for 30 to Launch to get tips and tricks in your inbox that will help you take your app from idea to in-store.

Game Development 101, Part 2

Can’t wait to get started on developing apps and games for Windows 8? I know, me too!! To help you get started, sign up for 30 to Launch to get tips and tricks in your inbox that will help you take your app from idea to in-store.

This is the second post in a series that goes over some basics of game development. While this series is targeted at beginners, you’ll find yourself going through these motions for every game you create. I hope you find something useful and are able to finish with a better understanding of game development. Don’t miss Part 0 and Part 1 of this series!

In this post I’m going to talk about the Game Loop. When you start programming your game the first thing you need to create is your game loop. The game loop is what makes your game run! All games, from the simple to complex, have a game loop that runs continuously. The game loop has a core set of methods that allow it to do all sort of useful and necessary things for your games. Here’s what they are and what they do.


In this method, you will start any required services and non-asset resources. For example, if you plan on using random numbers in your game, that initialization statement would go here. If you need to connect to a web service or a network, that should be done here as well. Initialize is called before any other method in the game loop is called, so the time is takes to execute this code will be perceived as a delay by the player. This method is called once.


You’ll load all the things you need for your game in the Load method. If you want your game to have a background, you’ll point to your background asset here. If your game to have character sprites, you’ll point to those asset files here. If you want sound, you’ll tell your game where to find the sound files in the Load method. You get the idea. Everything that you want to appear in your game (textures, sprites, fonts, 3D models, sound) you will load in this part of the game loop. This method is called once.


This is where lots of fun magic happens! All of the player and game interaction happens in Update. If a character is moving, it happens in Update. If you need collision detection, it happens in Update. If there is an explosion, guess where it happens? Update! All of your player input is also dealt with in Update. Just because all this stuff happens in Update doesn’t mean the code has to long and messy. Use those object-oriented programming skills and create methods that you can call from Update. For example, you might have a method called UpdateEnemies that is called from Update to move the enemies across the screen, check for collisions or even play a sound effect. Update is called multiple times per second, the exact number depends on the frame rate of the display device.


Just like Update, lots of magic stuff happens in Draw! Draw uses the textures and sprites that you defined in Load and the object information from Update to display all the visual parts of your game on the screen. Draw and Update word closely together to make the changes to game (movement, explosions, etc.) look seamless. Draw is called multiple times per second, the exact number depends on the frame rate of the display device.

Example: Monopoly

While this is a non-digital example, it helps to illustrate that all games go through the game loop. This loop hold true for your favorite digital game as well whether it’s popping balloons or shooting zombies.


We’re getting our non-asset resources ready. In this case, we’re going to start our multi-player network. For Monopoly, this means we’re going to gather the family around the kitchen table.


This is where we get all of our game assets ready. Is the game board here? Check. Is the money here? Check. Are the game pieces here, including the thimble? Check. And so on until we know the location of all of the things we’ll need to play Monopoly.

Update and Draw

Just like the game you’ll develop, Update and Draw happen multiple times per turn in Monopoly. In any given turn a player may roll dice (Update) and move their game piece (Draw), buy a property (Update) and put a house on it (Draw) or draw a Chance card (Update) and go to jail (Draw) along with a number of other actions a player can take.


Hopefully you’ve been able to learn a little something about game development. Want to know more? Let me know what you want to see next in the comments! Don’t forget, you can get started on building games and apps for Windows 8 with 30 to Launch. Sign up today!

Windows Store Open to All Developers!

Today’s an especially great day to be a developer. We’re very excited to announce the last significant milestone in the rollout of the Windows Store before the general availability of Windows 8 on October 26. The Store is now open for app submissions from all developers – individuals and companies – in our supported markets, and we’ve added 82 more app submission markets! Now, developers from 120 markets can publish Windows Store apps. Ted Dworkin, Partner Program Manager for the Store, authored this post.


Exciting news for students, indie devs, pro devs, startups and everyone in between! The Windows Store is now open to all developers. You can check out the full post here.

This is great news for developers and now is the time for you to take advantage of the biggest market opportunity ever. Here’s something that’s even better: students get their Store Membership for FREE through!! 

(MSDN subscribers also get a free store membership. Eligible subscriptions include Visual Studio Professional, Test Professional, Premium, Ultimate, and BizSpark.)

Here’s what to do:

  • Head to DreamSpark.
  • Create an account if you haven’t already, or log in to your existing account.
  • Verify your student status if you haven’t done so already.
  • Navigate to the Windows 8 Development page (linked here if you want a shortcut).
  • Click on the Get Registration Code link (you’ll have another chance here to verify your student status if you haven’t done so already).
  • Click on the Get Code Now link.
  • Copy the code down somewhere nice and safe and then head to the Windows Store Developer Portal and register, entering the code at the appropriate spot and voila! You’re registered and ready to start submitting apps into the store!

The dev tools are free, the SDK is ready, and we have a program to help you build your app and submit it in 30 days. Sign up now, reserve your app names and start developing—we look forward to seeing your app in the Store in time for the general availability of Windows 8!