theMolisticView

A new journey in education

Archive for the ‘Windows 7’ Category

How I used XNA Game Studio in the classroom Part 2

with 2 comments

This post is a little late; I was meaning to write it back in the last week of the holidays and this first term has been rather busy with a new head teacher, the rain, new junior classes and new computers to set up in my classroom.

Just to set the scene, I have two stage 5 classes, one is IST (which I had not taught before) and the other is Multimedia.  In my previous post I showed how I have been using XNA Game Studio in IST for Windows Phone 7 game development (see post here).

In multimedia I wanted something more substantial, something that like web design could be used as a means of income or personal benefit. I had been buying books, Evernoting (if that’s the term lol) every blog and article I could find on XNA to help me develop a course which would be easy enough for my students to follow and build on. In term 3 last year I used a section from an online source (which has since disappeared) with my year 11 Multimedia class so they had a base side scrolling game on which to develop from. This however turned out to be a total fail, the students simply did not understand the concepts of game making in a code based environment.

Just to be clear if you were wondering, XNA Game Studio is not a game engine like the Unreal engine or Unity 3D, it is a framework from Microsoft which uses C# as its managed language, Visual Studio as its coding environment and is simply a framework or set of API’s which are used to develop games for the Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone 7 platforms.

I was struggling for a way to in which teach to XNA with meaning and purpose. At close to the same time that Coding4Fun dropped the tower defence game for Windows Phone 7, Microsoft’s Faculty Resource Centre also dropped some XNA goodness. Now the Microsoft Faculty Resource Centre already had some XNA resources though these were aimed at university level. The new XNA resource was aimed directly at high schools. Game Development with XNA: Semester 1 – Appendix by Pat Yongpradit was what I was trying to come up with. Pat’s resource is developed using an existing Microsoft book written by Rob Miles Learn Programming with XNA (which you can download here or here for free). Pat’s course develops further the concepts found in the book and can be used with both XNA 3.0-3.1 and the newer 4.0.

At this stage sadly I have nothing in which I can show to you of what the students have learned. We started the course in term 4 last year and are only just at part 2 which involves concepts like multiplayer games, sound effects, timing, game design, reading text input from the player, object-orientated programming and two dimensional arrays.

Given how the IT situation is in our schools with software and the filter there have been a few hiccups along the way which have needed work rounds. With my school still being Windows XP at the start, we were using Visual Studio 2008 and XNA 3.0-3.1. There are extension sections built into the course to keep the gifted students challenged as well, I have 3-4 students (the class has only 15 students) really trying their hardest to complete these. The course also focuses on using the Xbox gamepad when developing games and somewhat at the expense of the keyboard and mouse. These however can be purchased off eBay fairly cheaply.

As yet Pat has not released the promised Semester 2 course. If the second course does not drop in time I will have the students take what they know and develop a game over two terms for the Xbox.

If you have any ideas on teaching for XNA Game Studio I would love to hear from you and if you would like to start using it with your classes and want some pointers drop us a line

Written by theMolisticView

March 11th, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Windows 8 is coming in November and we still have XP

with one comment

I have been watching the Windows Weekly podcast for nearly 2 years on both generations of Apple Tv. Paul Thurrott and Leo Laporte do an excellent job explaining the news from Microsoft.

On his site and to a degree in this weeks podcast Paul delves into the soon to be released Windows 8 OS. As a prominent Microsoft enthusiast and a journalist Paul is given early access to future releases of Microsoft products. Windows 8 is the latest Microsoft system of which he has access. As can be seen in a post yesterday on The Windows Supersite Windows 8 is very close to a public Beta release with some interesting new features including the “ribbon everywhere”.

This leads to the title of my post, we have to be one of Microsofts largest partners in the Asia-Pacific region if not the world. Our DER laptops had the first official release of Windows 7. Why are we still on XP in the classroom and 2003 for our local server technology?

My place of work is about to install a new Windows server which will be remotely managed. Problem is it will only be Server 2003 which will not support Windows 7 and beyond. Windows XP is over 10 years old! how can that still be in place? Many of the new Microsoft products from Office to Visual Studio and IE 9 are not supported fully or at all on XP, why do we still have it when we have such a partner in Microsoft?

Next year looks like the students will have Windows 8 on their laptops and we as teachers will still have XP in our computer rooms.

If your situation is different to mine I would like to hear about it.

Written by themolisticview

April 3rd, 2011 at 1:21 am

Windows 7 Ultimate A month on

with one comment

When does Windows 7 SP1 arrive?? Now Windows 7 is a major improvement for the windows platform. It leaves Vista for dead (which I have only used for 2 days in total). Now I don’t know if it is because I have a DET copy, but my version of Windows 7 is extremely buggy as is my Office 2007 suite. Windows 7 as with my first PC in 2002 on XP does not like some older or computer specific third party applications. My Toshiba has finger print recognition software for login and passwords. There is no problem logging in to the machine, but when you use an application that requires a username and password one day it works the next day it needs a shut down and re-boot. A simple restart does not work with this.

Some popular third party applications still do not support the AERO features of Windows 7. Personally this does not bother me as I find most of the Aero features useless. The only one I like is the window resizing for multiple windows of one application. The shake to show only one open window, drag to the top or side to make full screen width etc are of no use to me while the features that have always been in previous Windows OS are still there such as the maximise button, alt + tab, show desktop etc.

Windows 7 itself has little problems also. The self changing backgrounds slow the system, when there changing in the middle of an action in multiple applications it also disrupts podcast play back. Notification sounds disappear and reappear at will. Occasionally applications do not start by clicking on their icon, after a restart all’s good again but those restarts are a pain. Also I am not big on how the folder directory works in both Vista and Windows 7. It is simply too complicated compared to XP and all other OS’s on the market.

One of the best improvements I have found is the codec support out of the box in Media Player. It supports all the Apple file types and more.

Office 2007 for non-commercial use
(from the SIGroup) can act very strange at times. Word works like normal as you would expect and has many improvements many of which I will never use. The weird thing is when you download a document and open it. The Word window opens twice. You get the first window which is blank, not even a white page, and then you get the second window which has the document. PowerPoint supports QuickTime movies right? Wrong, when viewed in presentation mode you get the start image and the machine locks up requiring a forced shut down of PowerPoint.

But my biggest beef is if I had to buy Windows 7 retail, is that there are too many versions of the OS available. They should all be the ultimate version and a hell of a lot cheaper.

Written by theMolisticView

December 24th, 2009 at 6:31 am

Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade vs MacBookPro

with 7 comments

Back on October 28th I turned 40. To celebrate I decided that I should by the computer which I have always wanted but could never justify the price. The Apple MacBook Pro 17″. I jumped on the Apple store website and half an hour later had ordered an Apple computer. Slowly over the next few days the bits n pieces arrived, I was so excited to finally see what all the fuss of a Mac was about.

15 minutes after start up I was exploring my Mac and all its crazy gadgets. I was so amazed at how easy the transition was for a person who had only used PC’s since 2003. I tweeted my joy, asking where had this been all my life. Over the ensuing week I purchased the dept. software and with in an hour had a Mac with Microsoft office 2008 for Mac and the full Adobe suite loaded, all my preferences sorted and working on new ideas.

At the around this time the Windows 7 Upgrade was officially made available to DET staff through the supplier. It is a steal at $50 delivered compared to the $500 odd dollars you would pay at a retailer. Reading the fine print, the upgrade required that Windows Vista be installed. No big deal I thought I have a copy of Vista that came with my Toshiba, I will just load it up and be ready for the new and exciting Windows 7 OS.

How wrong I was. Vista from a recovery disk took an easy 3/4 of an hour before it asked me who I was and was at least another 15 minutes before I could use the computer for what it was meant for. Then there were the driver issues!! At least 7 drivers required replacing for it to even start (the important graphics driver being the hardest). Having completed this I thought all would be ok, well wrong again. 2 days later and 160 to 170 updates later I could use my windows computer as a computer. Knowing I was going to upgrade to Windows 7 there was no need to add software or files, because I thought this would only slow the upgrade process.

Now we come to today 1pm. My Windows 7 arrived at work and I had senior Multimedia straight after lunch, perfect I thought, add Windows 7 and use it as a lesson at the same time.

Right on 1:15pm the bell went, I was in the room computer running, disc at the ready. The students arrived and I explained what was going to happen and that they were free to have a look at the process. I new I was in trouble 20 minutes in to the 75 minute period when Windows 7 was still deciding if it was compatible. After this there was an install screen which had 4 sections of progress and that it would restart several times as it went, normal practice for a windows install.

When the bell went for the end of the day the score was 1 and 1/2 sections installed and 2 reboots. I went away for 20 minutes came back hoping it had finished. When I looked the screen had not changed. Suddenly it said 100% and rebooted, I thought this might be the end. Unfortunately no, I was asked if I could leave by the head cleaner at 4 pm. So I kept the machine running on battery in my car on the way home fingers crossed it would be all over before I got home and run out of battery. 20 minutes later I entered the codes and a reboot was required.

On start up I received a little message stating that the system required another reboot to remove Vista data from the system. I obliged, after the reboot I shut the lid and headed home again.

On reaching home I fitted the charger, lifted the lid all was sweet, Windows 7 is quite attractive looking system. I set the background, window chrome style etc. made sure everything worked. Soon after the dreaded windows update appeared. This new OS which only arrived on October 22nd required 8 major security updates.

Any body want to buy an 8 month old Toshiba Satellite Pro??

I am going away from windows after this. Next month I’m buying an IMac.

Any one else have an opinion??

Written by theMolisticView

November 9th, 2009 at 8:28 am