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Young people who just might change the world, apps to help you achieve more and a first-of-its-kind musical performance were just a few of this week’s highlights. Before you settle into a relaxing weekend, take a look back at the news and find some great reasons to feel inspired.
Ten teens and young adults with cool ideas to do good in the world won Microsoft’s YouthSpark Challenge for Change contest. Winner Abhishek Paudel is now even more dedicated to bringing health care to remote areas of Nepal after the April earthquake destroyed his family’s entire village, and Dana Berejka, who learned about the sad toll of malaria when a little girl she was corresponding with in Rwanda died from it, plans to help protect others from the disease.
Paudel, Berejka and the other eight winners each get $2,500 to kick-start their projects, a Windows Phone and an incredible trip to Nicaragua to do hands-on volunteer work. If you want to be inspired — and possibly feel like an underachiever — you can read more about these ambitious young people and their big ideas to change the world.
Of course you, too, can do more in the world with a couple of cool new apps coming to Windows 10 that let you move seamlessly among all of your devices regardless of which operating system you’re using. The Phone Companion app on Windows 10 PCs will help you set up a Windows phone, Android Phone or iPhone to make sure your photos, music, documents and other important stuff are there wherever you are.
The second app is good news for Android and iPhone users: You’ll soon be able to access Cortana, letting you take advantage of all the great perks of having Microsoft’s super-smart digital personal assistant bring some order to your busy life.
And more good news comes from the company’s “cross-platform services strategy to bring an array of Microsoft services to every person on every device,” writes Nick Parker, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Original Equipment Manufacturer Division: Microsoft apps and services will now be available on even more Android tablets. Agreements with 20 new device partners, including LG, Sony and Haier, mean a total of 31 partners will soon offer Android tablets pre-installed with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype.
And speaking of new partners, what happens when you pair a gifted symphony maestro with Kinect? The result was a 20-minute performance that captivated audience members who were lucky enough to attend the one-of-a kind event. Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot used the motion-sensing technology to control a set of reed horns, chimes and a grand piano to play “Above, Below and In Between,” by Seattle-based kinetic sculptor Trimpin. Learn more about the two-year effort in this video.
Morlot says the idea of conducting with Kinect took him out of his comfort zone. “I’ve been old-fashioned in a way, studying music. The element of bringing technology to it is foreign to me,” he says. “That’s what attracted me to it.”
Another novel idea is giving kids in southwest Detroit a safe, reliable way to get to tech classes, reading programs and sports camps. The Detroit Bus Company’s efforts are featured in a series about how entrepreneurs are reshaping a post-bankruptcy Detroit. Learn more about the bus line’s creator, Andy Didorosi, and others who break boundaries and #DoMore on Microsoft’s Instagram page.
Ever need to write a quick caption for a photo? Soon, a computer could be doing it for you. Microsoft researchers are developing technology that can automatically identify the subjects in a picture, interpret what’s happening and write an accurate caption explaining it. Beyond being a useful tool, it shows big promise for Microsoft’s work in the artificial intelligence arena.
Looking for a little flair for your photos instead? You can add some style with Rhonna Designs, our app of the week. Or for some weekend adventure, dive in and save humanity in “Overkill 3” — new for Windows — or battle villains in “Monster GO!” Too much pressure? Popping balloons as you navigate a twisty maze in “Bloons TD 5” might be the way to go.
And from this edition of Weekend Reading, that’s a wrap! Time for you to find your own ways to change the world — or at least enjoy your Saturday and Sunday.
Posted by Tracy Ith
Microsoft News Center Staff
As a native New Yorker, I take special pride in the announcement made today by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito during her State of the City address. Today, 1.1 million students in the New York City Public Schools are taking a significant step forward in their educations and will now have free access to the productivity powerhouse that is Office 365.
In collaboration with the City Council, the New York City Department of Education is making the Office 365 ProPlus benefit available to all teachers and students – at no cost – providing them with up to five downloads of the latest versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access and Publisher, along with anywhere, anytime access to OneDrive cloud storage. Students and teachers can also download Office to 5 additional mobile devices (smartphones or tablets).
What’s the impact of this bold move? In the city that is a world leader in so many areas, every student will gain proficiency in what IDC called the number-three most in-demand skills valued for employers. Quite simply, the integration of Office 365 into every student’s daily schoolwork prepares them for future success by developing both the hard and soft skills they’ll need as they enter college and the workplace.
For educators – like my brother, who teaches history at the Bronx’s largest public high school — the Office 365 ProPlus benefit means they can expect more from their students. With free at-home access to the same tools students use at school, classroom assignments will no longer be confined to the classroom. Students will be free to research, create, collaborate and share — anywhere, and at any time. And educators can create and review assignments and assess student progress just as easily, freeing them up to concentrate on the business of learning.
With the program, educators can access full Office on up to five PCs or Macs and can unlock the editing capabilities of Office apps for iPad. They can also take advantage of great Office apps and add-ins like Office Mix to record and publish class lectures. With tools like Lync, the students in NYC can communicate with other classrooms around the world, and collaborate instantaneously. And with OneNote, teachers can share lesson plans, class notes, photos, and ideas on any device, accessible from anywhere.
Microsoft is committed to improving education outcomes and helping young people around the world do more and achieve more. We fulfill that commitment every day through the more than 30 free programs and hundreds of partnerships that make up the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative. We also bring that commitment to life through the Office 365 ProPlus benefit.
We applaud Speaker Mark-Viverito, Chancellor Carmen Fariña, and Mayor Bill DeBlasio for their commitment and dedication to the students, and the future, of New York. By making the world’s most widely used productivity platform available in a district as massive as New York City, the benefit represents transformational change at scale – and game-changing progress.
Two weeks ago, Office shared their plans to introduce new universal Office apps for Windows 10 which would include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote. Joe Belfiore demoed these apps during our Windows 10 media briefing on January 21st here in Redmond – you can watch the webcast on-demand here. Today, Office is making available their Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for PCs and tablets running the latest build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview. If you’re already on the Windows 10 Technical Preview, just search for them in the Windows Store Beta (the grey tile in the Start menu or on the taskbar).
Not running the Windows 10 Technical Preview yet and want to try these apps out? Sign-up to be a Windows Insider and download the Windows 10 Technical Preview today.
For more information on the universal Office apps – read this blog post from the Office Team.
TV sports pundits tend to focus on the predictions they get right, while sweeping past blunders under the rug.
But when I asked NFL draft expert and football analyst Daniel âDJâ Jeremiah his best call in a recent draft, he answered, âIâll tell you my biggest mistake: Russell Wilson.â
Wilson, star quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, threw two touchdowns and over 200 passing yards to win Super Bowl XLVIII last season. But Wilson almost never wore a Seahawks jersey in the first place.
âIn 2012, I was a scout for the Philadelphia Eagles and really wanted the team to draft Russell at the top of the second round,â said Jeremiah between takes at NFL Networkâs headquarters in Los Angeles. âI gathered and analyzed all of his data. His numbers showed that he could be great, but there werenât any other 5â 10â QBs in the NFL.â
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are both in the 6â 5â range, and that height was considered the gold standard for NFL quarterbacks. âI dropped my recommendation for Russell down to a lower pick, and the Seahawks grabbed him in the third round [and seventy-fifth overall selection],â remembered Jeremiah.
The rest is history. And, as a life-long Seahawks fan, I made sure to thank Jeremiah on behalf of the city of Seattle.
But Jeremiah, who keeps meticulous digital records of all of his evaluations, always goes back to his notes and studies his mistakes. âWe all get it wrong sometimes and in the case of Russell Wilson,â he said, âI learned that if you have the conviction about a player and the research to back it up, you shouldnât get talked out of it just because it goes against the common practice of the day.â
During my interviews with Jeremiah, at NFL Network headquarters and on a sweltering day in his hometown of Murrieta, California, he asked me nearly as many questions as I asked him. He struck me as genuinely interested in learning about my life, family and career â as if he were about to write a profile on me, not vice versa.
âHeâs so inquisitive, and doesnât take any shortcuts on learning about players and who they really are,â said Jeremiahâs mentor, ESPN commentator Chris âMortâ Mortensen. âHe understands how to bring together his passion as a student of the game with the technology to organize and share ever more information to an ever-larger NFL audience.â
As a married father of four, Jeremiah maintains a head-spinning schedule that includes recording his Move the Sticks podcast, giving up to six radio interviews per day, writing columns for NFL.com, broadcasting for NFL Network, evaluating players at NFL and college games, as well as maintaining a healthy social media presence (Sport Illustrated listed him as one of the sports worldâs 100 most essential and influential people to follow on Twitter). With his Surface 3 tablet in tow, Jeremiah is the face of a new generation of multimedia sportscasters, sitting squarely at the intersection of All-American football fanatic and spreadsheet-wielding number cruncher.