Build 2016 – Overview

Overall I must say that I found this to be one of the best Build’s yet. The keynotes had people cheering and applauding almost none stop, the content in the sessions was exemplary and the expo hall and was fun to spend time in with lots of interesting stands to talk to people on.

My only regret is that I didn’t have as much time to spend in a actual sessions due to my running around doing other things. Though I have been watching sessions that I missed at                                             to catch up and continue learning.

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Thank you 😀






Build 2016 – The Freebies

This year it was hoped that since there would be no hardware giveaways that the number of giveaways around and about the conference would go up as well. Well we weren’t disappointed. The number of competitions to win freebies was high with surface books and phones on offer. Hour competitions were run on twitter by Microsoft dev and there was even a student only twitter competition. To aid in our competition every student was given a branded selfie sticks to show how much fun we were having there. Though unfortunately I didn’t win any hardware we managed to walk away with a lot of other cool freebies such as..

This cool looking Visual Studio lunchbox which came with a handy multi tool keying, Visual Studio socks and a Visual Studio wrist band. I fully intend on taking this into uni to make those on my course jealous.

Game of Thrones/Star Wars planning poker cards. If planning poker wasn’t fun enough for you already then using these are sure to make it an even more joyous experience.

Enough clothes to last a lifetime. Another Visual Studio/Game of Thrones themed freebie this time in the form of a T-Shirt with a Kanban board as the design featuring such  tasks as under planning Arya has to complete revenge. Warning before looking closer said shirt does include spoilers…. And so many pairs of socks. Say what you will but I’ve never had a pair of Microsoft socks that weren’t comfy. And yes that means I have had them before.

Niamh really managed to nab some swag in the form of cushions, posters, stickers, sweets and so many more things including an odd squishy brain…

Build 2016 – Andy Wigley

As Build was closing up we were lucky to quickly grab some of Andy Wigley’s time before we were kicked out. Andy Wigley is a technical evangelist in the UK and works primarily with Universal Apps on phone and tablet. Listen to me talk to him about how he found his time at Build and what he likes most about Windows 😀

Build 2016 – Richard Campbell

On the last day of Build Richard Campbell was kind enough to spare us some time for an interview. Having already being lovely enough to help us out the day before we were thrilled that he agreed. Richard is one of the people behind .NET Rocks! A weekly show for those interested in the .NET platform. Watch me talk to him about the cool things he had seen at Build and what he thinks can be done to help students get themselves out there.

Then watch Niamh ask him how we can get more children into programming 🙂

Niamh gets really into it sometimes.

Build 2016 – Day 3

Finally we come to day 3, the last day of Build. The last day doesn’t have a keynote and the sessions don’t start until 9 so we didn’t have to arrive as early. And having sadly started to adapt to the time zone the mild lie in was much appreciated. Getting there shortly after 9 myself and my sister decided while we waiting for our next interviewee to be ready we would ransack urm explore the expo hall. The last day of the conference has sometimes meant that some of the exhibitors are more willing to hand away freebies and other things with the fact they want to go away with as little as possible.

Build 2016 – Craig Kitterman

On Thursday afternoon we were able to borrow Craig Kitterman for some short interviews 🙂 Craig works in the product marketing organisation for developer tools and cloud services. Watch me speak to him about some of the cool things seen at Build and what he likes about Visual Studio.

Then watch me talk to him about what he thinks we can do to get more children into programming.

Build 2016 – Gabriel Aul

At lunchtime on the Thursday we had managed to grab some of Gabel Aul’s time for a quick interview. Gabe is head of the Windows Insider program which allows you to receive preview builds of Windows. Watch me ask him about some of the cool things he had seen at Build and his favourite parts of Windows 😀

Then watch Niamh ask him about what he thinks can be done to encourage more children in programming 🙂

Build 2016 – Day 2

Onto Day 2 and the second keynote. Once again us marvellous students were given our special seating to the front of the keynote. Having started the conference with a flying start the day before, Day 2’s keynote had big shoes to fill in terms of everything. And boy did they provide. Not far in and what were we gifted?

Why its only Xamarin of course! We already knew that Microsoft had recently acquisitioned Xamarin but the best part came when it was announced that it would be released free of charge to all Visual Studio customers. And when they say all Visual Studio customers they really mean it!! Even those who use Visual Studio Community, the free edition, would have access to the whole Xamarin platform which sent the crowd wild. As a student I don’t think the news could’ve gotten any better. Though I personally use Visual Studio’s Enterprise version there are a lot of students who use the Community version as they unable to gain access to paid versions. With this they are able to build apps for so many platforms without having to even pay a penny. The response I got from my peers at university was nothing short of amazing. Cries of joy and excitement and even a ‘Darn why didn’t I have this before I started my final year project…’ I’m already decided to make use of Xamarin in mine. New technologies for the win! 😀

Lots of cool and interesting stuff from Azure next with a never before seen use of Internet of Things…

I’m ‘azure’ that’s a cool t-shirt.. Yeah? Yeah? Ok…..

We then had some cool videos and talks from the guys at both Accuweather and BMW. Accuweather are an American company that provide weather forecasting services across the world. They use Microsoft’s Azure to provide more than 4 billion daily data requests using real time data. BMW made use of IoT to allow our friend David to integrate his digital info across multiple devices. In this case his home and his car. Now in terms of concept videos it couldn’t have looked cooler. You wake up and your house helps you plan your day and route to work before you get in your car to find that your route that you just planned is already up and ready to go. You’re driving along and your car warns you of rock slides and allows you to hold conference calls with someone somewhere else in world just before you sync calendars so you can meet up for lunch when you’re next in town. Oh that’s all while you’re still driving on your way to work. I can’t speak for everyone in the keynote but I would certainly love me one some of that tech…

Ooh Calicowind spotted in the keynote 😀
We were then given a number of announcements in terms of mobile and data services found within azure. There was also some interesting additions to the azure portal and application insights that I’m looking forward to having a go with.

An all in all very good keynote though personally I would say it would have been tough to beat day 1’s 😛
Next on Calicowind’s agenda was the second day of luncheon talks for students. However instead we were lucky enough to borrow some of Gabe Aul’s time for an interview. Please read up in my following blog post about how that went 🙂

We were then straight off to our next interview with the lovely Craig Kitterman. We found him near the .NetRocks booth at the back of the expo hall and they were very keen to see what myself and my sister even going to say that they had heard of the ‘girls running around with a camera’. They very kindly let us use their booth to record in and they were just so nice. From both myself and my sister we both want to say thanks for the Visual Studio socks!! Please read my upcoming blog post about how my interview with Craig Kitterman went 😀

I saw some more great sessions run in the pop up theatres on topics such as a break down of the new IoT kit, creating your own smart bot and a really interesting one about Rendering Mars!!
Only one more day left I can’t wait 😀

Build 2016 – Day 1

So finally it was here. The glorious first day of Build. The start to what could only be something spectacular. We were lucky as students to be given special seating at the front and next to the journalists during the keynote. To ensure our seating we had to be there for 7:45. Which is fine. That’s almost 4 in the afternoon in the UK and as a student about the time I get up anyway. The keynote hall was huge. Considering it had to seat thousands I’m not surprised…

We managed to get seats fairly close to the front compared to some. We were only about ten from the front. Funnily they seated all the students and Regional Directors together. I didn’t mind though as it meant I could sit with my father through the keynotes. The keynote was excellent and fun to watch. Bryan Roper did an amazing piece on new parts coming to Windows 10 with inking and Cortana. Then we got the lovely announcement that every Xbox One would be able to be turned into a developer kit for free from that moment on.

Then it was Hololens news with the announcement that they would begin shipping dev units out. I’m just now biding my time until I can get my hands on one. Cool demos were shown on stage and students studying medicine showed how Hololens could be used to help their studies of anatomy and save on time understanding layouts of say the brain. I think that this is a fabulous use of technology. Yes its cool its fun its shiny but it is being used to make a difference in our society. Then Hololens and Nasa news which as a keen astronomer and programmer I would argue as one of the best parts. The announcement of Destination Mars had everyone excited and cheering. Especially as they walked through parts of how they did it, had Buzz Aldrin as a 3-D guide during the experience and that it would be available to have a go with at the Kennedy Space Centre from the summer.

I was thrilled when I tweeted out saying I couldn’t wait to have a go and I got a reply from Kennedy Space Centre saying I should visit and have a go. Now it would be just plain rude to turn down such an offer. I just need to convince my parents to take me…..

More from Cortana with more bad (amazing) jokes.

Then it was all about those bots as we were introduced to these intelligent, machine learning pieces of software that are able to be embedded in any app that requires one. On stage we saw a demo of a pizza being ordered and sent out for delivery all through the use of bots. It was even able to be programmed and taught to understand slang words such as ‘crib’. The most incredible part was when they showed this video. The applause and response from the crowd was outstanding. Microsoft have created something that can allow an otherwise allow a blind man to be able to see the world around him. Every single person left that keynote feeling pride in the fact that they worked with Microsoft and it really couldn’t have set a better tone for the rest of the conference.

Us lucky students then had a lunch talk put on for us by Scott Hanselman whom last year I actually interviewed about the fun things around Build. He gave a delightful talk about what he does and some of the great things technology can do. Like a robot that can help you argue on the internet. I suppose leaves you to do other things? Students freebies in hand we headed to the exhibit hall to have a look around. Especially compared to last year there seemed to be so much. Whereas last year the exhibitors were spread out in the open spaces on every floor this year they were all in a large hall allowing you to explore. Towards the back of the hall they had set up mini stages that had people giving only 20 minute presentations on a variety of things. As I was running around meeting people I found this excellent as I could still catch some sessions.

I listened to some interesting sessions including one on Unity where the presenter game up and running in his thirty minute slot and one talking about the Windows Insider Program. Though seats were limited at these pop up theatres which meant you were usually standing or on the floor. Especially at the more popular ones.

I was then lucky enough to receive one of the golden tickets

Ok so its more of an orange but its close enough. Located at the back of the expo hall was the Hololens demo experience. Upon acquiring a ticket and arriving with plenty of time to spare just in case you join the back of a line to have a go at the Hololens demo, Destination Mars. When its finally your turn you get to watch a short intro video about what Destination Mars is about and how they got there. We went in the room in groups of eight and first had to measure the distance between our pupils to make sure that the experience was at its optimum for us. We were then taken to the Hololens where we then put them on. I must say I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. I had some mild trouble regardless of help getting the device to not slip on my hair and to not occasionally knock my glasses forcing me to readjust both them and the Hololens. That aside once the device is on and secure, using a 3D model of Mars in the middle of the room to help you adjust the right place for your Hololens, you are lead into a large room where the experience really gets going. After a moment Buzz Aldrin pops out of one of the corners of the room talks to the group about Mars before exclaiming ‘Lets go to Mars!’ Where the landscape suddenly transforms into that of the red planet. He tells you to look around and see what you can see. The view with the Hololens is only actually about the size of a postcard so around the sides you are still able to see the room that you are in. As you move around though you are encouraged by Buzz to look out for any arrows that appear anywhere in your vision. Following the arrows lead you to an interesting part of the surface of Mars for you to learn more about. For example I was looking up at one point when an arrow appeared encouraging me to look at the ground around me. There the ground started to transform to show me how erosion had taken place on the surface with audio in my Hololens explaining what was going on. We moved to another area of Mars where we saw a to scale model of the curiosity rover and we got to hear more facts about that as well. The audio in the Hololens worked marvellously with it being loud enough that you could hear it very clearly but not so much that you could hear other peoples. After another couple of minutes the experience came to an end and we handed in our hololens. Darn… As I said before the Hololens for me kept slipping which meant after some use I started getting a mild headache but honestly I think I just needed to secure it better as my sister had no problems with hers at all. Besides that it was amazing to be able to explore Mars in the way I did. It was fun and just delightful to see how the Hololens has come along. I can only bide the time till I get to have another go. On the way out they also let you pose with the Hololens and send a photo of yourself. Needless to say we took full advantage of this….

The future looks bright and Hololensy from where we stand. Onto Day 2!!!

Build 2016 – Sam Guckenheimer

On the Tuesday we were very lucky to be given the chance to interview Sam Guckenheimer. Sam is a Product Owner of Visual Studio Cloud Services working with Team Foundation Server and Azure services such as Application Insights. Listen to me ask about some of the cool and upcoming things coming to Visual Studio and his own favourites!!

Then watch Niamh ask him about how we can get more children into coding using Visual Studio 😀

Forgive the authentic San Francisco traffic noises in the background! As in the way of our videos we try to grab our participants wherever we can but we hope you enjoy it regardless!!!