Welcome back to another edition of Weekend Reading, with stories about empowering ads that debuted during Sunday’s big game, a very cool update to Microsoft Research’s Image Composite Editor and how cloud computing is being used to accelerate research that could lead to breakthroughs in treating cancer and other diseases.
Football’s biggest game of the year is famous for its commercials, and this year a pair from Microsoft stood out. As a stalwart Seattle fan, it’ll be hard for me to watch the highlight reels from Sunday’s big game for a long time, but two 60-second ads from Microsoft are worth seeing over and over again. One is focused on Estella Pyfrom, 78, who cashed out her savings, bought a bus, outfitted it with computers and began bringing technology to kids in underserved communities. The other is on Braylon O’Neill, 6, who was born without tibia or fibula bones in his legs. Today, thanks to help from his prosthetics, O’Neill loves to run and play tee-ball. Both ads, as well as extended versions of the stories they tell, are available online.
The updated Image Composite Editor turns ordinary photos into panoramas. Microsoft Research released a set of new features Thursday for the photo tool Image Composite Editor (ICE) to make it even easier to turn ordinary photos into seamless, ultra-wide-angle masterpieces. Released in 2008 and downloaded by thousands of photographers, ICE is the foundation for such experiences as the aerial and Streetside imagery in Bing Maps. It was also part of the Gigapixel ArtZoom experiment, which produced stunning 360-degree views of Seattle’s cityscape. ICE’s new features include Automatic Image Completion, which can help if you end up with a hole in your panorama. The feature uses pattern-recognition technology to fill it in. You can also stitch video frames for a stroboscopic-motion panorama.
We traveled to Virginia Tech to see how cloud computing is being used to speed up research for cancer and other diseases. Wu Feng, a highly recognized professor in computer science and electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech, envisions a not-so-far-off future in which a secure cloud contains your genetic profile. That information could, in turn, lead to an early diagnosis of a potentially life-threatening disease – such as cancer – and an individually tailored life-saving treatment.
Skype showed the wide swath of its reach, from philanthropic causes to cinematic portraits and a chance to win a 4K TV. Tyson Mayr left his job to help people around the world, including bringing clean water to orphanages in Uganda. He uses Skype to connect people from all corners of the globe, from school kids to philanthropists. His story appeared in Skype’s Big Blog, with a campaign to do even more social good through Skype. The video-chat platform is offering Skype Credit to people who want to make a difference and the chance to win $5,000 for charity. Recently, Skype Ambassadors musician Frank Bell and foodie Tom Le Mesurier met the Skype Social Good challenge head on by hosting a Skype-enabled dinner party and silent auction in New York City. In the final episode of “Following Heart,” artist Leslie Watts uses Skype to capture her subjects’ faces in 3D. Now, for a chance to win a Samsung 4K Ultra HD Smart TV – which lets you have a Skype on TV group video call with up to two other participants – share a photo on Twitter or Instagram showing how your living room expresses your personality.
If you’re looking forward to the Grammys this Sunday, Bing can give you an edge if you’re doing an awards pool. It has predictions on winners; an interactive guide to nominees, songs and albums; and a fun, karaoke-style feature of videos and lyrics.
Julia White, general manager for the Office Product Management team, revealed the path of SharePoint’s evolution in the cloud with Office 365. SharePoint began as a content collaboration solution focused on team sites, but has changed into much more, she writes. Among the changes coming: Adding Office Delve, which goes beyond traditional enterprise search; offering new “ready-to-go” portals that previously would take customers weeks, maybe months, to build; and using Office 365 to expand the concept of team sites.
Apps and games that caught our eye this week included one that captures your creativity to personalize your phone screens, tried and true favorites getting a new spin with Windows 10 and a new batch of sales. With #TileArt, the App of the Week, you can pin favorite images to Windows Phone screens and share them. If you’ve got a PC, laptop or tablet running the Windows 10 Technical Preview, you can now try out these Office for Windows apps: Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Also, an Office Lens update gives Windows Phone users the option of converting images to PDFs and save to OneDrive. Finally, the latest Red Stripe Deals are now in, as well as Cody’s App Academy, the Indie Game Spotlight, “The Tribez” and “Zynga Poker League Season 5.”
Thanks for checking out this edition of Weekend Reading. See you next week!
Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff