Tech Talent for Good launches, Microsoft Garage unveils new apps, language diversity embraced – Weekend Reading: Feb. 27 Edition

Microsoft

A lot of news and feats happened this week, making today’s Weekend Reading a catalog of great ideas to inspire you.

First up, Microsoft announced that its employees raised a record $117 million for nearly 20,000 nonprofits and schools in 2014. And to help employees give their time as well as money, the company unveiled Tech Talent for Good, a new program that encourages employees to help nonprofits with their technical skills. Microsoft also increased its company volunteer match to $25 per hour.

“Many of our employees have asked how they can do more for their local communities, and we are proud to provide this increased matching contribution and this new way to participate in the Microsoft Employee Giving Program,” wrote Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft executive vice president of Human Resources, and Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel and executive vice president of Legal Corporate Affairs.

Microsoft employee Jeff Gollnick, left, volunteers at the Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center. Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures.

Microsoft employee Jeff Gollnick, left, volunteers at the Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center. Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures.

The creative brainiacs at The Microsoft Garage released nine new apps, proving again they’re not holed up in a studio playing foozball. The eclectic, cross-platform apps include Your Weather, which customizes air quality reports in China; Join Conference, a time saver for conference callers; and DevSpace, a tool for easy access to Visual Studio Online projects.

“Great ideas are easy. The magic happens where execution meets data,” said Ed Essey, senior program manager, whose business card reads “Captain of the Ship.” That magic would be the Garage, a global community of more than 10,000 Microsoft employees and interns.

Milind Solage and Soniya Khoja created DevSpace, one of nine apps released from The Microsoft Garage this week. Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures.

Milind Solage and Soniya Khoja created DevSpace, one of nine apps released from The Microsoft Garage this week. Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures.

Microsoft also made news and gave shout-outs to several of its teams in commemorating Saturday’s International Mother Language Day. Microsoft Translator introduced Yucatec Maya and Querétaro Otomi in an ongoing effort in preserve languages. Work continued on the ground-breaking Universal Shaping Engine, which allows you to type in Balinese, Tirhuta and other complex scripts in Windows 10. And Microsoft supported Chekov, a great tool for writing and recording dynamic eBooks – and increasing literacy in all languages.

Universal Shaping Engine supports the encoding of the Soyombo script, pictured.

Universal Shaping Engine supports the encoding of the Soyombo script, pictured.

Speaking of breaking new ground, Julie Larson-Green, chief experience officer for Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group, received the 2015 Women of Vision Leadership Award from the Anita Borg Institute. The award honors female trailblazers in technology.

For more than 20 years at Microsoft, Larson-Green has been a leader in user interface design and pioneer in product development and engineering. She’s the force behind the Office “ribbon,” which still shapes UI design today.

“Julie’s remarkable ability to unify leaders and teams to a single mission and create a shared vision of how technology can be built in a cohesive cross-system approach has led to significant product improvements,” the institute said.

Julie Larson-Green

Julie Larson-Green

The kids rocked it at We Day California, an annual celebration of young people who want to change the world. It’s sponsored by Microsoft YouthSpark. Microsoft also invited youths ages 13-25 to submit entries for the YouthSpark Challenge for Change, a global contest to use Microsoft technology and YouthSpark resources to creative positive social change.

Microsoft YouthSpark Advocates arrive at We Day California on Feb. 25, 2015 in San Jose, California. Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures.

Microsoft YouthSpark Advocates arrive at We Day California on Feb. 25, 2015 in San Jose, California. Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures.

Want to sound really smart? Hang out with Bing Predicts. The machine-learning algorithm correctly predicted the top six Academy Awards Sunday and foretold 16 of 19 Oscar wins. The feature is now setting its sights on the new season of “American Idol.” Remember, Bing knew last year’s “Idol” winner months before Caleb Johnson actually won.

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And finally, Microsoft’s Instagram page made a stop in Los Angeles, where it met modern-day Renaissance man Sal Masekela. He’s a reporter, surfer, musician, filmmaker and action-sports host. Follow us on Instagram to find out what drives him to #DoMore.

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Posted by Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff

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