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Computer Programming for Kids

Many students don’t get the chance to take a computer science class until high school or even college…a missed opportunity for our younger children. While it’s easy to see the importance of teaching kids how to use a computer, it might be just as valuable to teach them how to program. Not only does it show them what’s happening inside their computer and how computers communicate but it also teaches our kids other important skills like; math, logic and problem solving.

Microsoft has come up with a solution that is fun and educational for younger kids. Microsoft Kodu Game Lab is a visual programming language designed for the newer generations. Most IT types will enjoy the simplicity on the surface and the potential for advanced logic if desired.

Excellent tutorials teach the basics of logic and how to program several different characters to interact with their environment. You can teach small children how to program a Kodu, Rover, cycle or other objects to move with keyboard controls that can be customized easily.

One starts with a customizable world where the geography can be created with grade-school friendly tools. Then some sort of character is placed into the scene and programmed with a “When-Do” (If-Then) language that youngsters understand. Right click the character and click “Program” and a dialog gives a line “When + Do +” where the plus sign is clicked to add to the statement. When a Kodu “sees” an apple, it moves toward it, eats it, moves away from it, or whatever. Adding counters for apples eaten can be displayed in a choice of colors to keep score until a certain number is reached or a count-down timer ends the game.

For more advanced play, Kodu’s can interact with each other and non-player characters can follow programmable pathways until something comes into their space and they shoot at it (if desired). Heat-seeking missiles can be programmed to chase you around the corner in a highly entertaining fashion. Your Kodu can be programmed to glow orange when something sees you or a button can create countermeasures in hopes the enemy will destroy the decoy.

If they want to move past Microsoft Kodu Game Lab, they can start programming with Microsoft XNA. Kodu Game Lab can be programmed entirely from an X-Box with an X-Box controller, mouse and keyboard. The possibilities, and learning potential, are limitless if one is both creative and proficient.

If they decide to continue learning as a student, Microsoft Dreamspark continues where Kodu ends.

Here, they can choose from many Microsoft Technologies and download free, full versions of Microsoft Visual Studio Professional 2012, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio and many more. Also available (free) on Dreamspark are training and certification tools such as Pluralsight, Microsoft Virtual Academy, Free Microsoft Press e-books and certification programs.

If successful, your child can learn important academic skills and  possibly gain a love for programming and logic.





Pasadena Pacers iPhone App

Pasadena Pacers iPhone App - Main Menu

The Pasadena Pacers is the oldest running club in the San Gabriel Valley.  The Pacers iPhone App features…

Interval Timer

Our easy to use interval timer aides runners during workouts by alerting with a sound and vibration when your next interval should begin.  Times can be custom set and switched on the fly.


Sign-up Sheets

Check all current Pacers sign-up sheet opportunities and sign up to volunteer right from your iPhone.



Download on the App Store



Posted in iOS

Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Build a Windows 8 App

By: Jason Carter

Windows 8 is an odd OS.
I’m not talking about the initial “Who moved my cheese?” shock of the new user interface.  You get used to it.  After the initial week or two of daily usage, you learn to be just as productive as before.
No, what I’m talking about is Windows Store apps.  Windows Store apps are the full-screen apps that launch from your Start Screen tiles when you first log in to Windows 8.

I like Windows Store apps, even though the full-screen experience can be a bit disorienting when you are used to the Windows desktop. The name Windows Store is a bit of a misnomer, because the apps in the store don’t have any actual windows.  Even after several months of Windows 8 being my primary OS, I still get a bit of vertigo every time I enter full-screen land.

However, the design and typography of full-screen mode makes for a beautiful experience, especially when reading articles.  And I expect that once I replace my laptop with a device that has a touch screen, the touch-friendliness will be even more appreciated.

In fact, the only gripe I have about Windows Store apps is that there aren’t more of them.
So here is my unabashed plug why You the Company® and You the Individual Developer® should build your own Windows Store apps.

1. Huge Windows Market Share
Even though Windows Store apps run on Windows 8 tablets, they also run on PCs.  This is way different from the fragmented worlds of Apple iOS and Mac OS X.

Windows Store apps don’t have to rely on the sales of Windows tablets or phones to be successful.  Windows already constitutes over 90% market share of all desktop OSs, and over 70%-80% of all device OSs, including mobile!

And while Windows 8 is still a new operating system, it is already selling well and achieved significant buy-in from hardware manufacturers and even the US Department of Defense. Trust me, it will sell, and will attain market dominance in the next three years.

2. Portability
From a consumer standpoint, I like to have access to my apps on whatever machine I’m using. Windows Store apps run natively on both Windows 8 PCs and tablets, without having to wait a year for a company to come out with mobile version of its software.

From an economics standpoint, Windows Store apps are great, because you just develop the code once, and then you automatically get access to markets for both Windows 8 PCs and tablets.

From the standpoint of a developer, I like being able to develop something once and be done.  With software, less code not only means less work, but it also means fewer bugs.

With a well-engineered software package that separates the user interface design from the code that does the heavy lifting, you can use the Shared Core feature of Windows Phone 8 to get your Windows Store app to run on Windows Phone 8 with just a little extra UI design work.

And if portability is really your thing, you can use Portable Class Libraries to share your core code with normal .NET applications (including ASP.NET, Windows Forms, and Windows Presentation Foundation programs), Silverlight, Windows Phone 7, and even the Xbox 360.

3. Standing Out
The first thing most people do once they understand how apps work on the Windows 8 Start Screen is open the Store app and start poking around.

Right now, the Windows Store is so new that many of the big name companies haven’t yet ported their mobile apps to it.

While this is disappointing from a consumer perspective, this presents smaller businesses and individual developers with amazing opportunities to establish their own branding with fewer competitors.

4. Enterprise-Friendly
Windows Store apps are just full of misnomers.  Not only do they not have windows, but you don’t even need to distribute them through the Store.

Microsoft System Center 2012 and Windows Intune come with a feature called the Self-Service Portal, which enables businesses to develop their own private Windows Store line of business apps, and then deploy them in-house without ever touching the Windows Store.

The Self-Service Portal also allows you to personalize which apps are available to which user groups, lock down apps on stolen or lost devices, and even revoke privileges to apps entirely once employees leave the company.

As an added bonus, there is no premium account fee for distributing in-house apps to Windows 8 Enterprise devices on your domain.  Apple charges $299 for the privilege of bypassing their store.

5. Worldwide Marketplace
Windows enjoys almost universal market share in the world’s emerging markets of Asia and South America, where the post-PC age is still hampered by economics and infrastructure. Windows 7 has achieved rapid adoption there, so Windows 8 should have little trouble being accepted as well.

Windows Store apps are perfect for reaching lucrative world markets, since the Windows Store is already available in over 120 countries worldwide.

6. Individual Developers Pay Less
Individual developers pay only $49/year for an account that can distribute apps to both Windows 8 tablets and PCs.

While this can seem like a lot of money to tinkerers used to the one-time Google Play store fee of $25 for developing Android apps, it is still much better than the Apple developer account fee of $99/year for iOS and $99/year more for OS X.

It is easy to justify $4/month for the right to publish your software to the ecosystem that is on the start screen of every Windows 8 device out there.  Since Windows 8 sold over 60 million licenses in the first month and a half it was out, it shouldn’t take long before the cost-to-audience ratio for Windows 8 becomes more lucrative than for Apple iOS.

So now you have all the reasons you need to justify making a Windows 8 Store app.  Do it.  Do it now.

About our Author: Jason Carter is a Microsoft-certified senior software developer with DLS Software Studios and a lover of all things geeky.  He spends most of his free time reading, tinkering with new technology, and playing games. He is a father, a husband, a former Peace Corps volunteer, a gardener, a back country outdoors-man, and a black-belt in Bujinkan budo taijutsu.

Your Online Store Needs Magento

With the proliferation of e-commerce stores, the online shopping experience is targeted to  become more user-friendly to overcome the limitation of a shopper’s tactile experience in the store. With the plethora of e-commerce solutions, businesses stepping into the digital realm have to choose a platform that provides a streamlined and flawless user experience in their e-shop. Magento is one such e-commerce solution that has managed to surface with a reputation of being a reliable solution.

Numbers Show It All
According to a survey conducted by Ahead Works based on Alexa top 1 million stores, Magento is the most popular e-commerce platform with a 31.4% market share, followed by Zen Cart with 13% and Virtuemart with 12.1%. Magento continues to remain in power as the most fashionable platform because of the flexibility and customization that come with its open-source nature. It’s fair to say that the advantages the platform brings, results in high traffic to Magento-based online stores.

Want More Proof?
Both Obama and Romney used Magento e-commerce platform for their campaigns during the Presidential Election season of 2012. Back in 2008, social media made an entry into politics and in 2012, it was time for e-commerce political fundraising. Both Obama and Romney campaigns made use of the Magento e-commerce platform, although they each used it differently to capitalize on their supporters.

Obama initiated the ‘Runway to Win’ campaign where he joined hands with the fashion industry to launch limited edition clothing accessories from top American designers. Even Michelle Obama managed to support the online campaign so much that it became a part of the Democratic National Convention. On the other hand, Romney together with Groove Commerce integrated social networking with the e-store. A campaign was initiated on Facebook to drive traffic to the online store which was quite successful as more than 13,000 people rushed to claim the coupon in three days. It is expected that in fours years down the road, e-commerce political fundraising campaigns will be very critical to achieve election milestones.

Why You Should Adopt Magento?
In simple words, Magento is a flexible and scalable e-commerce solution to help your business flourish and reach the heights of success.

  • Opening up multiple e-stores? You can handle them all from a single administrative panel with a few clicks.
  • Get your stores to have any look and feel you desire with customizable themes.
  • Make maximum use of advanced features such as multiple images of a product, zoom-in capability, and product reviews to enhance shopper experience.
  • Use Google Analytics to track the success of your online store.
  • Introduce marketing initiatives such as up-sell and cross-sell to boost product sales.
  • Order easily using edit, create, view, and fulfill orders from the admin interface.

Our Magento experts can help you make the best use of the Magento e-commerce software for your business. Contact us today to discuss your project!

Meet SharePoint 2013!

SharePoint 2013 comes with improved business intelligence capabilities and data sharing, helping enhance business decision making to new levels. Here’s a few things we think users will like most about the new release.

Social Enterprise
The new SharePoint 2013 lets your employees stay connected within the organization. Its social capabilities include micro blogs, activity feeds, community sites, following, likes and reputations. You can not only follow people but also websites, documents and topics and receive updates in your activity stream. You can join in conversations with your colleagues and also find out what is trending within the workplace using hash tags. With community sites, knowledge can be shared using reputation scores, best replies and gifted badges.

An App Store Within
Microsoft has introduced an Apps Store model within SharePoint 2013. The App store now facilitates users with an easy discovery, purchase, and installation process. SharePoint apps can be easily obtained by the users, which helps reduce the number of new feature requests for IT Departments.

Simplified Document Management With SkyDrive
The addition of SkyDrive in SharePoint 2013, has helped reduce the complexity and number of clicks to perform tasks. Users can now drag, drop and edit content directly into document libraries through a SkyDrive link on their desktops.

Easy Task Management
With the integration of MS Project 2013 with SharePoint 2013 task lists, users can now see a timeline of tasks and due dates, add and remove subtasks, quick edit tasks and color code.

Simple Email Integration
SharePoint now introduces the Site Mailbox which creates an exchange inbox for a SharePoint site. Users can easily share SharePoint sites through their site mailbox with a click of a button. Documents and attachments can be dragged and dropped directly from email messages into the document library within the SharePoint site.

SharePoint 2013 Goes Mobile
With the increasing use of smartphones, Microsoft now makes it easy to access SharePoint from mobile devices. Users can choose between two views: a contemporary view for optimized mobile browser experience and a full-screen view for a full desktop view of a SharePoint site on a smartphone device.

Shredded Storage Saves Space
In the previous versions of SharePoint, for every version of the file saved, a complete copy of the document was saved too. But with shredded storage, only changes are stored in subsequent versions saving space and increasing the speed of document retrieval.

If you’re thinking about implementing SharePoint 2013 for the first time or upgrading from a previous version, give us a call or complete the contact form on the right. We can help you make the implementation a success!

We’ve gone mobile!

DLS Studios Mobile Site

We are excited to announce the release of a mobile compatible version of the DLS Studios website. Navigate to from your mobile device to use the mobile optimized site.

DLS Studios is committed to providing our clients with high quality software development services on time and within budget. We pride ourselves on our exceptional service, experience in software engineering and project management. You can now learn more about our services and contact us to discuss your project needs while on the go!