A baby monitor for chickens and other projects solving real-world problems | Microsoft On The Issues

High mortality rates in chickens; loss of biodiversity; and the feeling of loneliness. These and other challenges are being addressed by the first graduates of the Global Innovation Exchange, or GIX.

GIX is a partnership between the University of Washington and Tsinghua University in Beijingwith foundational support from Microsoft. This project- and team-based program offers a 15-month Master of Science in Technology Innovation and a 21-month Dual Degree.

Most of the projects are sponsored by industry partners, including Microsoft, Boeing, T-Mobile, AT&T and Baidu. Leaders from the industry partner companies pitch loosely defined projects to GIX students, and then mentor the teams as the projects develop.

In this way, students tackle both local and global challenges, drawing on the expertise and technology of their project partners.  

The first class, which included students from Seattle, Estonia, India and Paraguay, graduated in December 2019. Here’s a taste of what the students came up with.

CluckAI

YouTube Video

Eggare a critical source of food around the world.  

But many poultry farmers must contend with a significant loss of flock, especially in egg-laying hens, because of disease, animal predators, heat and theft.

To help solve this problemGIX students built a machinelearning programCluckAIthat can identify when chickens are in distress. Listening devices placed around the flock monitor sounds, while algorithms analyze those sounds and alert the farmer, who can take action. 

One team member, Padraic Casserly, likened it to a baby monitor for poultry farmers.   

This project was developed in collaboration with Microsoft FarmBeatswhich is helping farmers increase productivity and lower costs through employing a more data-driven approach to farming 

Diversita
As people encroach on the habitats of wildlife, there is a risk of losing species and reducing biodiversity. According to a recent study from the National Academy of Sciences of the United Statesa sixth mass extinction is already underway. But what if we could train cameras to help protect wildlife?

A GIX student team created a motion-sensor camera called Diversita that uses machine-learning to identify up to 5,000 species of wildlife. Data captured by the camera is analyzed in real time. 

This can save hours of work poring over photographs to spot animalsIt can also be used to detect invasive species and study shrinking icebergs and other environmental changes. 

This technology was built on research already carried out through Microsoft’s AI for Earth program, which uses artificial intelligence to address areas vital for building a sustainable future. 

SparkEd 

YouTube Video

Parents sometimes need to leave their children in the care of relatives while pursuing educational or employment opportunities abroad.  

This was the case for one of the GIX students studying in Seattle, who had a 10-month-old son in China. The separation made him think about how he could contribute meaningfully to his son’s development from afar 

It inspired SparkEdan app that allows parents to customize and remotely guide their children’s learning 

This app is designed for children ages 4 to 8and was built around picture book, The Stray Dog.  

As the child reads the story on the app, the parent can build in a question for them to answer. 

For example, when the stray dog appears, the child is presented with a choice: should it shoo the dog away, or feed it, because it looks hungry

The parent decides which answer is the most appropriate based on the beliefs and values they want their child to learn. In this way, the app helps parents teach their children how to react in everyday situations 

PlayerX
Many people move to a new city to take a up a new job or to study, without knowing a soul. Seattle is one of the fastestgrowing cities in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The number of newcomers has increased by 20% in the last eight years. 

Knowing this, a team of GIX students designed and developed PlayerX – an app that helps connect people in offline interactions.

The app strategically connects people that frequent the same places and engage in similar activities, according to its description. The more two users have in common, the more interaction is available through the app. Users can then decide whether to add people as friend on the app, opening the possibility of meeting in person.  

The goal is to help people make new, lasting friendships, and the app is aimed not just at newcomers but at locals too. 

UbiRight  

YouTube Video

The process of getting legal copyright on content can be complex. One group of students used blockchain technology to remove the traditional barriers to getting copyright protection for a piece of work  

The platformUbiRight,  allows creators of written or visual content to instantly receive copyright protection when they post the content online. When users create a new piece of content and post it to the platform, UbiRight provides a tamper-proof timestamp to prove the copy is original  

With a focus on design thinking, entrepreneurship and technology development, the GIX program is appreciated by the students as the perfect grounding for careers as innovators. 

Some of the students hope to launch start-ups and bring their projects into the real world. 

Others have already received job offers from companies including Alibaba, BaiduElectronic Arts and AMINO Capital, companies that recognize the key skills the students have learned in the program.

GIX is designed to train students to think globally and locally in an era of rapid change and increasingly short business and technology cycles. At the same time, they are bringing forth a raft of projects that show how technology can be used for good.  

Lead photo credit: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures 

To learn about what Microsoft is doing follow @MSFTIssues on Twitter. 

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Author: Microsoft News Center

HiveIO releases Hive Fabric virtualization framework update

HiveIO has released the latest version of Hive Fabric, which includes new features such as graphics acceleration, software-defined networking, configurable in-memory storage and a support system called Hive Sense.

Hive Fabric version 7.3 is an update to the AI-ready framework that enables organizations to deploy virtualization technology without vendor complexity or specialists. According to HiveIO, it will give Hive Fabric users increased operational capabilities to reduce the time necessary to support a virtualization environment.

The software uses the Kernel-based Virtual Machine hypervisor, virtual desktop management and software-defined storage and networking to create an all-in-one virtualization software. HiveIO claims this eliminates the need for a multivendor, multicontract approach.

The new features within the 7.3 update are:

  • Graphics acceleration: Administrators can now install GPUs inside of Hive Fabric-enabled servers and then turn the acceleration on or off with one click. Graphics acceleration is available via GPU sharing or GPU pass-through and supports Nvidia, ATI and Intel.
  • Software-defined networking: Administrators can add multiple physical and virtual software-defined networks, enabling them to separate traffic and guarantee bandwidth for desktops and applications.
  • Configurable in-memory storage: The software-defined storage capability extends to managing server memory, which enables allocation to either storage or memory for virtual machines. Different allocations are possible on every server.
  • Hive Sense: Hive Sense is part of HiveIO Support, which enables HiveIO to support customers by sending logs, metrics and configuration information back to the company. According to HiveIO, this reduces the time needed to collect logs so engineers can resolve issues faster.

Hive Fabric uses a message bus and UI to show an all-encompassing view of a data center and its connected components in real time. Hive Fabric 7.3 is available now.

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Wanted – DDR3 Desktop ram 4GB or 8GB

Discussion in ‘Desktop Computer Classifieds‘ started by Hughwp, May 21, 2019.

  1. Hughwp

    Hughwp

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    WHY 1333 speed or better 1 or 2 units
    Inclusive prices please

    Location: Yeovil

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    DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

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    I’ve got 1 x 8GB Samsung 1600MHZ you can have for £20 delivered? Or 2 x for £30?

  3. Only if it turns out @Hughwp is not interested, I would certainly like two of those for £30. (Just to confirm it’s 240 pin DDR3 suitable for a desktop pc?)

  4. avidmuffin

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    No worries at all. I’m pretty sure it is, but i’ll check this evening for ya.

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  6. Looks like they are the right modules for my PC.

    Happy to wait a few days to give

    @Hughwp a chance to return to his thread.

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How Moovit improved its app to help people with disabilities ride transit with confidence | Transform

Alexandr Epaneshnikov, a 19-year-old Russian student who is legally blind, recently decided he wanted to be more independent by commuting on his own and relying less on his mom for rides to school. It meant taking a streetcar to a subway to his high school in Moscow, a 30-minute trip that Epaneshnikov assuredly navigates with a cane and Moovit, an urban mobility app optimized for screen readers.

“I am very happy that Moovit is accessible and offers a good amount of information about Moscow public transportation,” says Epaneshnikov, who wants to study information technology at a university. The app has helped him meet friends at cafes and restaurants, and take a train to an unfamiliar city outside Moscow to visit his girlfriend’s family.

“I feel it adds more confidence and independence,” he says.

Launched seven years ago in Israel, Moovit has become the world’s most popular transit-planning and navigation app, with more than 400 million users and service in 2,700 cities across 90 countries. The company is also a leader in inclusive technology, with innovative work that helps people across the disability spectrum use buses, trains, subways, ride-hailing services and other modes of public transit.

In addition to offering a consumer app in 45 languages, Moovit has partnered with Microsoft to provide its multi-modal transit data to developers who use Azure Maps, and a set of mobility-as-a-service solutions to cities, governments and organizations. The partnership will enable the creation of more inclusive, smart cities and more accessible transit apps.

Headshot of Yovav Meydad
Yovav Meydad, Moovit chief growth and marketing officer. (Photo courtesy of Moovit)

“Our mission is to simplify urban mobility and make it accessible, because mobility is really a basic human right,” says Yovav Meydad, Moovit chief growth and marketing officer. “Efficient mobility opens a lot of opportunities for employment, education and a better life, and we want to help all users make their journey as easy as possible.”

For Moovit, the work means not only helping rural residents reach cities for work and school, but also helping people with any disability travel. Of the hundreds of daily emails sent to Moovit, emails from people with low vision are some of the most profound pieces of feedback.

“Sometimes, it’s very emotional,” says Meydad. “They say, ‘Thanks to Moovit, I’m more independent. I can now leave home on my own.’ It’s very, very important for us to make Moovit accessible for everyone.”

The company’s accessibility work began in earnest in 2015, when Meydad and other leading app developers met a focus group of people who are blind or low-vision to see how they used their apps.

“Honestly, I was shocked,” says Meydad, who wrote about the experience twice in Medium. “I saw people trying to use our product, but couldn’t do it efficiently or at all, because screens were not properly labeled or meaningful [for screen readers].” In one case, Moovit’s search button – a major feature to start a trip plan – had the unhelpful audio label of “Button 56.”

Meydad took notes and promised big changes. He worked with Moovit’s team and a developer who is blind to optimize the app for the mobile screen readers TalkBack on Android and VoiceOver on iOS. The team scrutinized every screen for accessibility, added useful labels and condensed intricate data – routes, trip duration, start and end times, entry and exit stops – into clear sentences for audio. They incorporated feedback from users around the world with low vision.

“After one quarter, we released a major version upgrade that completely changed their experience,” says Meydad.

The accessibility work didn’t stop there. To ease public transit for people who use a wheelchair, Moovit asked its “Mooviters” – 550,000 local contributors who help map transit systems for the app – to identify wheelchair-accessible stations in their cities. That enabled the company to add a feature that shows only routes with stations with ramps and elevators.

“This means the entire journey can be fully accessible,” says Meydad.

For users with hand motor disabilities, Moovit redesigned menus and buttons for easier use with one hand, especially on larger phones. For people who are colorblind and use color-coded transit systems, such as “the green line,” Moovit includes the name of the line, instead of just a colored dot or symbol, a space-saving practice in many maps.

The company also ensures no broken or overlapped text when a user needs to magnify the font. It partnered with Be My Eyes, an app that connects sighted volunteers with people who are blind or low-vision. It’s studying how to use a phone’s vibration and flashlight to serve users with hearing loss. And it continually works with people with a disability to improve or customize the app.

Man in wheelchair on a street uses Moovit app on his phone
A Moovit user in a wheelchair uses the app. (Photo courtesy of Moovit)

For Microsoft, working with Moovit, who has developed accessible features such as screen readers and global data on wheelchair-friendly routes, is part of a deep commitment to accessibility and inclusion in its products and services. Developers who use Azure Maps will soon have access to Moovit’s trip planner and rich transit data  to help build innovative, accessible tools.  

“What I love most about Moovit is how they’re empowering other companies to build inclusion into their solutions,” says Megan Lawrence, senior accessibility evangelist at Microsoft. “Our partnership can help people across the disability spectrum use technology to move more freely and independently, a key metric for improving quality of life.”

The clarity of Moovit’s live audio navigation also helps people with an intellectual disability who want extra guidance, such as alerts for when a bus is coming, when to transfer and when to get off. The features are a main reason why Community Living Toronto, an organization that supports people with an intellectual or developmental disability, chose Moovit as the platform for their branded transit app, Discover My Route.

“We tested many apps and Moovit was the full package,” says Angela Bradley, director of resource development and marketing at Community Living Toronto.

“It’s not just an app for riding transit. It’s almost like a coaching tool. It gives people the confidence to take transit and open up their world, which can mean seeing friends, getting a job, going to college or joining a dance class.”

Top photo: Alexandr Epaneshnikov in Moscow. (Photo courtesy of Epaneshnikov)

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Author: Steve Clarke

ShadowXafe 2 supports Hyper-V, network tunneling

StorageCraft is trying to take ShadowXafe upmarket, adding Microsoft Hyper-V support and features designed to make the backup software easier to scale across servers and virtual machines.

StorageCraft sells ShadowXafe as a stand-alone backup software application or as part of its OneXafe integrated appliance.

Besides greater support for Hyper-V, ShadowXafe 2, which launched this week, includes network tunneling to streamline large deployments and a simplified, usage-based billing system. StorageCraft is trying to move up from its traditional small and medium-sized business (SMB) customer base to attract more midsize enterprises and managed service providers (MSPs).

StorageCraft released the first version of ShadowXafe in August 2018. Version 1 included simple deployment, fast recovery and the ability to run on any x86 hardware. With greater Hyper-V support in version 2, StorageCraft offers a way to manage data protection for multiple environments through a single interface.

SMBs have historically been StorageCraft’s target market. Shridar Subramanian, vice president of product management and marketing at StorageCraft, based in Draper, Utah, described the typical SMB environment as consisting of a mix of desktops, physical servers and virtual machines.

“They have multiple pieces of data protection software for different environments,” Subramanian said. ShadowXafe would allow them to standardize data protection to one platform.

Subramanian said network tunneling makes ShadowXafe more scalable, as the vendor targets MSPs that service midsize enterprises with many more machines than SMBs. The tunneling allows admins to deploy and manage the software across multiple machines without having to reconfigure firewalls and without affecting network performance.

Screenshots of ShadowXafe's interface
StorageCraft ShadowXafe’s new version promises simpler management of multiple environments on one UI.

StorageCraft has also introduced a new billing model. ShadowXafe is delivered through a single license based on a monthly, per-usage basis. Subramanian said this was to match how MSPs charge their end customers, which is usually by monthly subscription. StorageCraft will also keep ShadowXafe’s perpetual software license model for customers who want that pricing plan.

Chandra Mukhyala, senior director analyst at Gartner, said no single feature of ShadowXafe 2 makes it particularly enticing to enterprises, but its feature and platform support can make it attractive to larger customers.

Mukhyala said ShadowXafe’s tight integration with StorageCraft Cloud Services — the vendor’s disaster-recovery-as-a-service offering fits into the industry trend of combining backup and DR.

“Now that everything is using disk-based targets for backup, backups are being returned in an application-native format. This makes DR possible straight off the backup target without having to restore it first,” Mukhyala said.

“As customers are moving their applications to the cloud, they want backup to become as-a-service, so they don’t have to maintain on-prem infrastructure,” Mukhyala said.

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Wanted – DDR3 Desktop ram 4GB or 8GB

Discussion in ‘Desktop Computer Classifieds‘ started by Hughwp, May 21, 2019.

  1. Hughwp

    Hughwp

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    WHY 1333 speed or better 1 or 2 units
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    Location: Yeovil

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    • Name and address including postcode
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    DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

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    I’ve got 1 x 8GB Samsung 1600MHZ you can have for £20 delivered? Or 2 x for £30?

  3. Only if it turns out @Hughwp is not interested, I would certainly like two of those for £30. (Just to confirm it’s 240 pin DDR3 suitable for a desktop pc?)

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    No worries at all. I’m pretty sure it is, but i’ll check this evening for ya.

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  6. Looks like they are the right modules for my PC.

    Happy to wait a few days to give

    @Hughwp a chance to return to his thread.

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