The Geek Watcher

The blog of Linda Hogg

Shape-Shifting Santa and the Merry Mutation Machine!

This year, our artistic team has surpassed itself with another fabulous Christmas Card ... or book, and it is coming to a desk or doormat near you.

'Shape-Shifting Santa and the Merry Mutation Team' tells the tale of how the heroic Black Marble brigade once again saves Christmas by rescuing Santa from another Yuletide plot by this year's villain - Buccaneer Badgeit!

And unlike previous editions - this year's card only appears in preview on our website, so if you want your own copy, like us on Facebook or email xmas@blackmarble.co.uk

 

 

And this year we are saving the world with the help of Azure, Kinect for Windows, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Visual Studio, plus our very special sponsor - Artisan du Chocolat! The best chocolatier in the UK!

 

 

 

 

All Set for DDD North 2013

Black Marble is a supporting DDD North - the premier Developer Community event running in the North of England.  Taking place at the University of

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Sunderland on Saturday 12 October, it has 400+ attendees, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors converging to hear their peers talk technical.

Always free, thanks in the main to the sponsors and organisers, this is a key date in the developer community calendar.

Black Marble will be there in force - speaking, supporting and generally helping out where we can!

Looking forward to what promises to be the biggest DDD North yet!

To keep up with the DDD North news - follow us on Twitter, follow DDD North on Twitter, and track the hashtag #dddnorth

Plus we'll be posting regular pics to our DDD North 2013 Album!

Why not check out the Albums from 2011 and 2012?

 

 

 

Part of the Global Windows Azure Bootcamp

Have you heard about the Global Windows Azure Bootcamp?  Around the world in 80+ locations, community groups are running an Azure Bootcamp on the 27th April - mainly organised by MVPs, this is an event with over 3000 attendees! From the UK to the USA, in Asia, the Pacific and Australia - liked-minded individuals are coming together to share what they know about Windows Azure.  Supported by the Microsoft Azure team, this is a fantastic opportunity to show the world what the community can do with Azure and how you can get up to speed with developing for it!

Here in the UK, there are at least four Bootcamps taking place, including the event we are hosting here at Black Marble HQ.  If you're free, why not join us?  MVPs Robert Hogg, Steve Spencer, Richard Fennell and Andy Westgarth will be presenting and supporting the attendees throughout the day.

If you have already registered, or plan to, please familiarise yourself with the prerequisites first!

Look forward to seeing you there!

Fabulous Response to our Very Special Christmas Greeting!

We’ve been receiving fabulous feedback for our Christmas ‘card’ this year!  To mark our 15th Anniversary, we decided to put together ‘A Fight Before Christmas’ based on  the poem, ‘T’was the night before LaurenChristmas …’.  We are delighted with the response and I thought I would put together some of them here.  If you would like your own copy of the book, please email us at xmas@blackmarble.co.uk with your address!

Enda Flynn, Comperiogreat work with the Xmas card - my 3 year old has been picking it as bedtime story.

Hazel Woodcock, IBM: The book is fantastic. Story, artwork, production, all first rate.

Eileen Brown, Social Media Guru: Thank you so much for quite frankly the best Christmas card I’ve received for years – what a joy to go through it.  Inspired.

Wilbour Craddock, Microsoft Canada: Awesome! Simply Awesome!

From Martin Casey, Arekibo: Congratulations to @BlackMarble - Your Christmas book/card is exceptional - thank you!

Amanda Lennon: Thank you SO much for my Xmas story book - absolutely fab!

Diarmuid Murphy, Microsoft Ireland: Just got this gorgeous Christmas storybook from @BlackMarble put me in the festive mood.

Ben Nunney, Microsoft UK: Wow. Epic Christmas Comic from@BlackMarble arrived this morning...

Richard Costall, MVP: Big thanks to @BlackMarble for a fantastic Christmas card/story very clever. #HappyChristmas

Craig Murphy, MVP: Awesome @BlackMarble Xmas greeting this year!

Ian Palmer, University of Bradford: Just got the 'card' from@BlackMarble. They surpassed themselves this year. This is a BOOK guys, not a card. Genius. :)

Steven Murgatroyd, KCom: Just got this from @BlackMarble, love it...very creative! Merry Christmas! #xmasfun

Kevin Ball, HP: - it's fabulous!

Plus we are supporting The National Museum of Computing and Bletchley Park with our Christmas campaign!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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We love Christmas at BM HQ and this year , we have a very special Christmas Card … Inspired by the the poem ‘A Visit by St. Nicholas’ (more commonly known by its first line, ‘T’was the Night before Christmas …’), the Black Marble Brigade have another great Christmas adventure, in book form – “The Fight Before Christmas”!

As it is our 15th Anniversary year, we are feeling particularly festive and generous, and if you like us on Facebook, then we will send you a copy!  Make sure you send us your address too – either via FB message or email xmas@blackmarble.co.uk.   Plus, you can still follow the adventure on our Website, where we will be making the artwork available as colouring-in sheets!

And don’t forget – we are making a donation to Bletchley Park and The National Museum of Computing each Christmas, and recommend that everyone in our industry does the same.

NMC Logo BlechleyPark

DDD North 2012

The Northern wing of the UK’s premier Developer Community event is coming to Yorkshire on the 13th October.  Here are some things you need to know!DDDNlogo

Black Marble is supporting this event – so look forward to seeing you in October!

Renting the Microsoft Surface for your Events

Black Marble has made several Samsung SUR40s (Microsoft Surface 2) available for Rent throughout the UK and Ireland!

So if you want an SUR40 for a one-off occasion such as a corporate event or tradeshow, either internal or external, please get in touch. The SUR40 is v2.0 of the Microsoft Surface, and Black Marble is a Surface Premier Partner
 
Black Marble can create bespoke applications for your organisation and event, plus we have a set of existing applications that can be configured to meet your needs – please call for a competitive quotation.

For details on our Rental Service please contact Katy on +44 1274 300175 or +353 1 901 4625

Black Marble Events–now Online!

Do you enjoy our Black Marble events, but can’t always make it in person?  Busy day at the office, mean you can’t attend a full or even a half day event?  From 30 January 2012, we are introducing a series of online seminars – running most Mondays though to the end of June, we are covering a range of topics in bite-size sessions.  Follow the links for more information and to register – or call on 01274 300175 for more details.

30 Jan – Search Architecture

06 Feb – What is new in Azure?

20 Feb – Why Migrate from Visual SourceSafe to Visual Studio Team Foundation Server

12 Mar – Content Management with Avviso and SharePoint 2010

19 Mar – Visual Studio Team Foundation Server for Everyone

26 Mar – An Introduction to SQL 2012

16 Apr – Introduction to Azure

23 Apr – An Introduction to Lab Management

30 Apr – Microsoft Surface – It is not just Touch

14 May – Designing for SharePoint

21 May – How to Kickstart your ALM Process

28 May – Designing Applications for the Windows Phone

11 Jun – Creating Data Aware Visio Diagrams in SharePoint 2010

18 Jun – What is New in Azure?

The Agenda for the Architecture Forum in the North

Eagerly anticipating our Architecture Forum in the North – now in its fourth year!  Taking place on 8 December here in Yorkshire, it is shaping up to be a great day!

We have a great range of speakers lined up and this is a sample of what you can expect from some of the Microsoft Speakers:

Andrew Fryer – Technical Evangelist in Microsoft DPE - All SQL, No SQL, Some SQL

The trusty old relational database has been around for forty odd years,  but will it survive another forty and if so in what form. In this session we’ll look at how the demands of modern business are changing the what and how of data management.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter.

Simon May – IT Pro Evangelist in Microsoft DPE – The Future of IT: making sense of Big Changes

We can all feel that IT is changing, be it the new devices we’re expected to support or the new “cloud” services we’re told to embrace or investigate.  In this session Simon May, Microsoft IT Evangelist will explain the big trends that IT are knocking on the door of the IT department and help you to start thinking about how you can respond in secure, managed and scalable ways.  Cloud, Consumerisation, Big Data and Social are explored during this session and you’ll be left able to see the wood from the trees and where Microsoft’s stack solves problems.

You can follow Simon on Twitter.

Steve ‘Planky’ Plank – Cloud Computing Evangelist in Microsoft DPE – Business Agility and the Cloud

In the 1950s almost no organization owned a computer: too expensive. They ran their computer programs on the computers of large “computer companies”. Calling on immense compute power helped them make more profitable decisions. Today, almost all companies use computers and so the playing field is more level: or is it? Some progressive organisations are finding that not only can it be more economical to use the compute and storage engines of specialized “cloud computing” providers, but also they can respond in an agile way to the organization’s needs. In some cases they can go from an architecture diagram on a whiteboard to a live deployed service in under 15 minutes. It can be de-deployed, when the business need has passed, in less than 5 minutes. Organizations can scale their environments to predictable and unpredictable waves of business activity within minutes. They can try business ideas out with only a fraction of the attendant financial risk associated with building and deploying a large app to support them. Cloud computing achieves this in the modern world by creating a separation between the app and its underlying infrastructure. This session discusses how that separation is enabling modern organisations to profitably respond to business needs faster than has ever been possible and so realize true business agility.

You can follow Planky on his blog.

Giles Davies – Developer Tools Technical Specialist in Microsoft DPE – What Architects need to know about Visual Studio 11

Giles will be exploring what’s new in the architecture tools in Visual Studio 11.

You can follow Giles on Twitter.

Plus, we will be joined by Black Marble’s Robert Hogg, nFocus’ Danny Crone, Microsoft's Simon Thurman and Gibraltar Software’s Gary Short!