Microsoft Teacher Boot Camp

Better Late Than Never

I managed to get along to the first day of the teacher boot camp in Reading in August. I’ve been meaning to write something about it since then.

In addition to the specific materials, ideas and products which  we worked with, there were a few technologies also added in during general discussion. Here are just a few of them.

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Excel 3d Surface Tool

Fantastic video Saltash School Excel Surface Presentation (caution- opens in youtube, so you may need to be logged in on your school RBC to show this).

The video talks about using a transparency and overlay – I like the idea of doing part of this job away from a computer.

If anyone wants an interesting challenge – plot this one! (this links to an OS map in Bing).

For a more interesting challenge – walk back UP the hill AFTER being in here for too many hours. Strange how their map just shows the pub being down any old road!

Google Maps and Data Handling

Part 1 – The Google Maps Bit

(Finally got my finger out – here’s part 2).
I’ve been inspired by some of the stuff that Ollie Bray has been doing with Google Maps, and I’ve been meaning to put the following together for a while. Can the tools with Google maps lend themselves to other curriculum tasks – like data handling.

Before you can do any of the following you’ll need a gmail or googlemail email account. If you’re trying any of this from inside EMBC or some other RBCs you’ll need to log in as an adult to get the correct filtering.  

Start at and – in the location window – the one on the right – make sure you’re somewhere near the right location.  

Let the fun begin..  

Firstly make sure you’re logged in to your googlemail / gmail account  

Sign In

Then – to get your google Apps in to play – select My Maps  

My Maps

If you haven’t used MyMaps before, have a browse to see what else is there  


We’re looking for Path Profiler – so find that one and click it and ‘Add it to Maps’. You’ll now see Path Profiler in your ‘My Maps’.  

Path profiler in your my maps (?)

Click on path profiler and select the options.  

In this case, I’ll pick up a training run (yes, even old people can try half marathons!). This run actually starts with a path through Bradgate Park to another car park – so to start with untick the ‘follow roads’ option. (A photosynth of the park is here)

We're on a path ..

Click on the first point on the run, then the second which is the end of the path. Then click on the ‘follow roads’ as we’re now back on roads. Notice the difference when you put the third point in  – the profiler follows the road.

Follow roads off then on

Keep clicking on points until you’ve reached the end of the lap, then click on the popup tab on the mymaps window.  

Note show roads and popup

To give –  

Is it really that steep?

Now the tricky bit starts – we want to play with the data, so CAREFULLY select the data lines and press ctrl-c to copy it to the buffer.  

If you try to paste it into Excel, you’re in for a nightmare ..  

Excel - not happy..

The challenge is that the data presented from Google Maps is in 2 lines and is not delimited in any way. We could make a macro to mess this about, but let’s try a way that doesn’t need macros..  

Start by pasting the copied text into Notepad, to see what we have – (I also ran the file through debug, but there are no special characters to work with)  

The info in notepad

Now – from notepad – save this as a txt file, then go back into Excel on a new sheet. (Excel 2007) click on the data tab and from text  

Get the data

Then select the file when prompted.
Note that Excel struggles here – it thinks the data is on a fixed filed length – it isn’t – the data is separated by spaces. (Tip – look at the letter W – it doesn’t work!)  

Check the data ..

So – select the delimited option, then select space and ‘treat consecutive delimiters as one’  

Tidying up the input

The next option specifies the start point of where your data is loaded to in to your sheet  

First data slab

Now that was a pretty tough run – but not long enough to give me a clue on stamina, resilience or – more importantly – stupidity! So – let’s make a figure 8..  

If you doubt your sanity..

Repeat the previous procedure – to get the data in via notepad – but this time be careful of the location where the data will go  

Add data AFTER existing

When the data is in Excel, you have some serious tidying up to do. On the run I recorded my times, and Excel produced this – after bits of tidying up and use of chart options  

I earned that beer

This sheet shows a few things. 

I am officially stupid
I am officially slow
I ran faster downhill than uphill
It took much longer going on the park path to second car park second time around because I was slightly cream crackered and the park was much busier

OS Maps Don’t Work with BING!

Yes – they do, it just takes a little tweak!
When you load BING maps you may see this ..

Where in the world ..

Click on – no change it – then select United Kingdom and Ordnance Survey becomes an option on the road map for UK locations

Whatever Next?

You – fly to the moon – whatever next?

On Ollie Bray’s excellent blog (see link alongside), he highlighted this fantastic video from the recent TED event – it is worth watching to the end! (If you have a spare day and you’re the inquisitive type – you will love TED).
The link will take you to the TED video by Bing Maps’ Blaise Aguera y Arcas

Which is best – Google Maps or BING?

Or sit on the fence and use both? 

Here’s the scenario –  You’ve persuaded your daughter that yes – she can run a half marathon, and yes she can run the Rainbows Hospice Equinox* run in 7 weeks from now. You’ve even gone out for a 10.5 mile local run with her on a Sunday morning. 

So, how do you answer the question ‘How does that run compare with the actual run?’ That should be quite easy until you see the route notes supplied include descriptions like the following 

We’ll turn left out of the farm drive… up the dirt track and over Gravel Hill… might spot a trig point… turn left down a narrow lane… 

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BING Maps meets the 3 Peaks

I’ve been playing with BING maps to see how to use the fact that the Ordnance Survey maps are directly available from the BING display. 

I find the combination of these features to be totally engrossing – but there are a few interesting asides. 

A famous – and favourite – landmark is the Ribblehead Viaduct. If you’ve ever walked the Yorkshire 3 peaks, then this is that huge bridge near the mobile cafe/ ice cream van – and comes between Pen y Ghent and Whernside on the walk. There is a rumour that the viaduct has been around longer than the ice cream van, but I don’t have any hard evidence on that. 

What does BING make of it then? 

The straightforward road map doesn’t think much of it .. 

Ribblehead Viaduct on a road map

Ribblehead Viaduct on a road map

So – on the ‘road’ menu – select  Ordnance Survey Maps. Note if Ordnance Survey doesn’t show, then change the zoom setting until Ordnance Survey becomes an option – once you have OS on display you can zoom in and out, but the link appears to only be available at certain zoom settings. 

Ribblehead Viaduct on OS Map - from BING

That’s more like it. 

Now on the Aerial tab, select satellite photo view .. and, here we can see a wonderful picture taken of the viaduct – looking at the lengths of shadow and the lay of the shadow it’s probably on a late summer afternoon. 

Stunning Sharp Shadows from the Viaduct

Now – select the 3D option, and a new set of tools appear .. 

BING 3D Tools

The various tools are explained when you leave your mouse hovering over them .. 

By holding the control key when you move your mouse you can ‘spin on the spot’ – so with a bit of trial and error you can locate yourself in the shadows of the viaduct, and you’ll see this .. according to BING! 

Ribblehead Viaduct has been bing'ed

Ribblehead Viaduct - also available the right way up

But wait – does that picture suggests that the Viaduct goes UNDER the River Ribble? Let’s take another look .. 

It's official - the viaduct is really .. A TUNNEL

Joking aside – BING 3D and OS do make a stunning free resource – it takes a bit of getting used to – but here’s Pen y Ghent 

BING 3D Re-creates Pen y Ghent

Geography Maths and ICT

I was looking at some of Tom Barrett’s work recently and came across the amazing add ons available with Google Maps – once you’ve signed in to a free googlemail account. I enjoy tough walking – the panorama at the top of this screen is from Merrick in Galloway. Here’s the profile using a Google Gadget

Merrick Metric

Here’s a slightly tougher walk .. the Yorkshire 3 Peaks .. 

Yorkshire 3 Peaks Imperial

Note that the Merrick walk looks much gentler because of the change of units.. 

I have made a video showing how to do this, but I need to edit it and audio it which may take me a short while. If you’d like a link to the silent video (and decipher it yourself!) please let me know.

Now – let’s try something really effective and add a BING OS map of the area ..

I can only seem to make BING 3D generate a pleasant walk in the hills!