Free Microsoft Software and Tools

Before you get too excited this isn't a situation where I am giving away any software. It also is not a promotion or a scam, it is about legitimate sites and programs that offer Microsoft software and tools for various time periods. I thought this post would be useful to people with personal projects and students who are choosing what software to use for their final project as well as students entering the upcoming Teleios Code Jam competition which has highlighted bonus points for using specific technologies. I am focusing on Microsoft products because whenever I suggest using Microsoft products in classes or during presentations I always hear complaints about license price especially for small short projects.

Here is the list of sites and programs that I am aware of:

MSDN Evaluation Centre - This centre allows individuals to download full featured Microsoft software and tools which can be used for a trial period (90 or 180 days). It also sometimes has links to Microsoft preview of new products.

DreamSpark - This program allows students, educators and academic institutions to get access to Microsoft software and tools at no cost to assist with learning, teaching and research. In technical education who wouldn’t want to use the latest technologies?

BizSpark - This program provides start-ups with free software, tools and support for three years. For more information about eligibility of the BizSpark program check out the FAQ. 

Windows Azure Free Trial - This is a great option if you want to see what you can do in the cloud.

While the options above are the full products for a limited time, if you want to use a free version of the product for an unlimited time then look for the Express edition. Of course each product Express edition will have some limitations and lack some features.

If you know about any other legitimate sites or programs please feel free to mention them in the comments.
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Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Live Event

This Friday, Tobias Ternstrom (Microsoft Principal Program Manager Lead) and Brian Alderman (CEO and Founder, MicroTechPoint) will be the instructor team for this 8 hour Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) Jumpstart event. The purpose of this course is to help you prepare for the MCSA Exam 70-461. Even if you are not interested in taking the exam, I suggest attending to get some more insight into the power of queries and T-SQL.

Course Outline
   - Introduction to SQL Server 2012
   - Advanced SELECT statements
   - SQL Server data types
   - Grouping, aggregating and modifying data
   - Table expressions and SET operators
   - Programming with T-SQL
   - Retrieving SQL Server metadata

Event details
Date: September 13th 2013
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Speaking - Red Gate's SQL in the City Charlotte Event

I have been accepted as a speaker for the SQL in the City event in Charlotte which is being held on October 14th at the Ritz-Carlton. Red Gate's SQL in the City is a free, all-day SQL Server training event that takes place in various cities and provides great learning and networking opportunities for the SQL Server community. I will be presenting a session entitled Understanding and Controlling Transaction Logs.

Here's the abstract:
This session will unravel the mysteries of the transaction log, including how you can manage your logs and optimize their performance. Transaction logging is one of the most important activities SQL Server does for you, and understanding it thoroughly means you can ensure SQL Server does the best job possible. You'll leave with tips you can implement as soon as you get back to the office.

The event has an awesome line-up of speakers and a great agenda for the day. Remember the event is taking place the same week as PASS Summit 2013 so if you want to secure your spot then register as soon as possible.

I will also be attending SQL in the City Atlanta and look forward to meeting many of you at both events - Atlanta and Charlotte. See you in October!
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