Category Archives: Technology

Sparking opportunity for all youth around the globe

Sometimes all it takes is a spark: that one class, that one teacher, that one project which makes a difference. It can change the lives of young students who may have had little opportunity to excel, or perhaps even to complete high school, to enable them to become successful engineers, entrepreneurs or computer scientists. This is the inspiration behind our global YouthSpark initiative.

Last September, Satya Nadella announced a three-year, $75 million YouthSpark investment to help every young person get the opportunity to learn computing skills and computer science.

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Click here to learn more about our partners.

Today we are providing an update by announcing YouthSpark grants to 100 nonprofit partners in 55 countries. In turn, our partners will leverage the power and energy of local schools, businesses and community organizations to create new and engaging opportunities for students to explore computer science. These partners will teach students valuable skills to help them prepare for and succeed in jobs that are open today across industries, along with new jobs that will be created. Our partners will build upon the work that Microsoft already has underway, including our commitments to computer science education through programs like Hour of Code with Code.org, BBC micro:bit and TEALS.

Still, much more progress must be made. Despite the need for basic computational thinking skills across all subject areas, in the U.S. less than 25 percent of high schools offer computer science classes. Only 2.5 percent of U.S. high school graduates go on to study computer science in college, and of this small percentage, only 1 in 5 computer science graduates is female. Globally, some countries have made computer science a mandatory subject in secondary schools, but we know firsthand through our own work that far too few schools around the world provide courses in computing. We also recognize that governments play a critical role in continued progress on this important issue. We continue to work with policymakers around the world to support the policy and funding necessary to expand computer science into public education. In the U.S., we’re proud to support Computer Science for All, a national effort created by President Barack Obama to give all American students the opportunity to learn computer science in school.

We know that no single organization or company can close the global computer science education skills gap. That is why we are committed to work in partnership with others. Our efforts have focused on leveraging longstanding community relationships of more than 100 nonprofit partners around the world to create access to computer science, and also to break down barriers and stereotypes that are keeping large populations of youth out of computer science education — even when the opportunities are available.

Later this month, we will bring together some of our local nonprofit partners from around the world during a YouthSpark Summit at the Microsoft campus in Redmond. We’ll learn, discuss, share ideas and develop action plans so that, together with our partners, we can continue to improve and bring better knowledge and expertise to local communities.

Every young person should have an opportunity, a spark, to realize a more promising future. Together with our nonprofit partners, we are excited to take a bold step toward that goal today. Learn more about our nonprofit partners here, and visit YouthSpark.com for more information on our global initiative to make computer science education accessible for all young people. ‪

Article source: http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/04/20/sparking-opportunity-youth-around-globe/

Welcome to the invisible revolution

Think of your favorite pieces of technology. These are the things that you use every day for work and play, and pretty much can’t live without.

Chances are, at least one of them is a gadget – your phone, maybe, or your gaming console.

But if you really think about it, chances also are good that many of your most beloved technologies are no longer made of plastic, metal and glass.

Maybe it’s a streaming video service you use to binge watch “Game of Thrones” on or an app that lets you track your steps and calories so you can fit into those jeans you wore back in high school. Maybe it’s a virtual assistant that helps you remember where your meetings are and when you need to take your medicine, or an e-reader that lets you get lost in your favorite book via your phone, tablet or even car speakers.

Perhaps, quietly and without even realizing it, your most beloved technologies have gone from being things you hold to services you rely on, and that exist everywhere and nowhere. Instead of the gadgets themselves, they are tools that you expect to be able to use on any type of gadget: Your phone, your PC, maybe even your TV.

They are part of what Harry Shum, executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Technology and Research division, refers to as an “invisible revolution.”

“We are on the cusp of creating a world in which technology is increasingly pervasive but is also increasingly invisible,” Shum said.

Read the full story.

Article source: http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/04/18/welcome-to-the-invisible-revolution/

Cutting-edge workspaces, Internet of Things near-space balloons and using the cloud to help giraffe populations — Weekend Reading: April 15 edition

Buildings 16  17 on the Microsoft Redmond campus

Buildings 16 17 on the Microsoft Redmond campus

Spring has officially sprung. Birds are in the trees. Flowers are blooming. We don’t know if it’s the season or what, but Microsoft too is bubbling over with excitement and new stories. Join us for Weekend Reading for an overview of recent happenings.

As Microsoft works to empower everyone on the planet to achieve more, the company is making a statement with new, vibrant workspaces for employees. The totally redone Buildings 16 and 17 on the Redmond campus are office-free and designed with an unparalleled range of working environments. Employees and even executives collaborate in large, shared rooms called “neighborhoods.” They roam high-ceilinged hallways and stop for impromptu meetings in atriums that capture and perpetuate light.

The buildings have all of the tech company staples: free beverages, ping pong and pool tables, the gourmet café and standing desks. But they also have Xbox game rooms, the company’s first-ever No Tech Lounge and a number of other unexpected delights.

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There are several new updates to the Mail and Calendar apps that originally debuted with Windows 10 in July.

You can now customize the background by adding screenshots, accent and calendar colors and themes. You can also connect multiple email accounts in the Mail app and see them all at once through Linked Inboxes. Windows 10’s digital personal assistant also works well with these apps, so you can use your voice to add events to your calendars, set reminders that show up in the Calendar app and start composing emails through Cortana.

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Matt Long and Mark Nichols worked together at the Azure Center of Excellence, where they helped customers architect solutions for the Microsoft Cloud. Now they have built a balloon that can go to near-space – and take thousands of people along for the ride, virtually, in a demonstration of the Internet of Things in action.

Known as the Pegasus II mission, a compact probe rose to 100,000 feet above the earth. The team was able to remotely control it, gather a ton of data, release it after two hours and document its journey through videos and photos. Back here on Earth, anyone was able to follow along through their website and mobile app.

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Scientists from the Wild Nature Institute are photographing thousands of giraffes to study the reproduction, survival and movements of the population. The institute is using a new image processing service that utilizes machine learning technology deployed on the Microsoft Azure cloud to evaluate the thousands of images.

The Microsoft team trained a software model to use an object detection algorithm to recognize giraffe torsos based on existing annotated giraffe data. The system identified new, difficult-to-predict images and showed its predictions on these images to a human who could quickly verify or correct the results.

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Hulu, the App of the Week, is making it easier to cut the cord and walk away from expensive cable TV bills. Not only does the Hulu app offer unlimited streaming, but now the free trial period has grown from a week to 30 days.

The Hulu app delivers shows from a variety of channels and original Hulu series like “The Mindy Project” starring Mindy Kaling as an OB-GYN in New York City, “The Path” with Aaron Paul delving into the mysterious world of a cult-like movement and “11.22.63,” in which a high school teacher played by James Franco travels back in time to a day before the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook and Instagram channels, we witnessed how electronic artist ATTLAS blends elements of live and studio performance on his Surface. As a member of deadmau5’s mau5hax bu5 tour, together they’re transforming how audiences experience electronic music.

That does it for this Weekend Reading. We hope you enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing you again next week.

Thomas Kohnstamm
Microsoft News Center Staff

Article source: http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/04/15/cutting-edge-workspaces-internet-things-near-space-balloons-using-cloud-help-giraffe-populations-weekend-reading-april-15-edition/

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