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Empowering Diverse Startups: Microsoft joins forces with Backstage Capital and Black & Brown Founders | Blog

I wanted to share our excitement that Microsoft for Startups will be joining forces with Backstage Capital and Black & Brown Founders to help accelerate opportunities for diverse startups. Over the next 18 months, we will be committing over $6M in sponsorship dollars, cloud technology, and support to empower underrepresented founders identified by these two organizations.

Today, less than 10% of all venture capital deals go to women, people of color, and LGBT founders. As Arlan Hamilton, Founder & Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, said to me when we first met, “Many VCs see this as a pipeline problem. We see it as the biggest opportunity in investment.”

At Microsoft we’re also focused on creating much greater diversity within our startup ecosystem. We fundamentally believe great ideas come from anywhere and have repeatedly found that diversity fuels innovation. We share Arlan’s view of the opportunity in front of us, which is also backed by research showing how diverse founding teams outperform the market average.

I was equally inspired after meeting Aniyia Williams, the originator of Black & Brown Founders. When she described their philosophy in supporting Black and Latinx founders, I knew we wanted to get involved and support their efforts. Their approach is to enable entrepreneurs through workshops, community, and regional conferences focused on the foundations of entrepreneurship, which is profitability, people development, and both business and technical innovation. I also really appreciated the distinction between how they approached the various communities and designed their program to adapt as their members’ needs evolved.

When we launched Microsoft for Startups in February, we shifted our program to an incessant focus on how we can best be of service to the startup community and assist them on their terms and timelines. We paired Microsoft cloud technology access with the technical and business support our startups were requesting (e.g. go-to-market partnership with access to our enterprise customer base through Microsoft’s worldwide channel and salesforce).

As part of these new partnerships with Backstage Capital and Black & Brown Founders, we’ll be offering the following:

  • Premier technology and business partner of Backstage Capital’s new accelerator program. 
  • Sponsoring Black & Brown Founders’ Project NorthStar, a 3-day tech conference in Philadelphia that provides connections, education, and opportunities for current or aspiring entrepreneurs and professionals from the Black and Latinx community.
  • Deliver the benefits of the Microsoft for Startups offer to eligible startup members of these organizations. The program provides startups with up to $120,000 in free Azure credits, enterprise grade technical support and development tools as well as dedicated resources to prepare startup marketing and sales teams to effectively sell their cloud solutions to enterprise organizations in partnership with Microsoft’s global sales organization and partner ecosystem.
  • Provide continuous training and mentorship to help underestimated entrepreneurs tackle issues such as selling to large enterprises, building a learning organization, designing your partner channel, and architecting durable technical solutions.
  • Provide 1:1 office hours for entrepreneurs to meet with Microsoft experts and tailor discussion to their needs across strategy, technology and business topics.

These new partnerships are core to our company’s mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more and build on several recent investments we’ve made to promote the success of diversity in startups, including our recently announced partnership with The Riveter and the M12 Female Founders Competition.

There is so much potential in these communities and we are honored to work with Backstage Capital and Black & Brown Founders. Together, we will work to change the makeup of startup communities around the world that will fuel the growth of new and diverse innovation.

How Minecraft is helping kids fall in love with books

How Minecraft is helping kids fall in love with books

Ever wanted to explore Treasure Island or pretend to be Robinson Crusoe? Minecraft is now being used to create an ‘immersive experience’ to engage reluctant readers – we see how it plays out




Minecraft of resources … Litcraft’s Treasure Island.
Illustration: Lancaster University

Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1881 classic Treasure Island tells of Jim Hawkins’s adventures on board the Hispaniola, as he and his crew – along with double-crossing pirate Long John Silver – set out to find Captain Flint’s missing treasure on Skeleton Island. Now, more than a century later, children can try and find it themselves, with the bays and mountains of Stevenson’s fictional island given a blocky remodelling in Minecraft, as part of a new project aimed at bringing reluctant readers to literary classics.

From Spyglass Hill to Ben Gunn’s cave, children can explore every nook and cranny of Skeleton Island as part of Litcraft, a new partnership between Lancaster University and Microsoft, which bought the game for $2.5bn (£1.9bn) in 2015 and which is now played by 74 million people each month. The Litcraft platform uses Minecraft to create accurate scale models of fictional islands: Treasure Island is the first, with Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom just completed and many others planned.

While regular Minecraft is rife with literary creations – the whole of George RR Martin’s sprawling setting for Game of Thrones, Westeros, has been created in its entirety, as have several different Hogwarts – Litcraft is not all fun and games, being peppered with educational tasks that aim to re-engage reluctant readers with the book it is based on. Lead researcher and head of Lancaster University’s English and creative writing department, Professor Sally Bushell, calls it “an educational model that connects the imaginative spatial experience of reading the text to an immersive experience in the game world”.

An example of Minecraft’s flexibility – users have recreated entire literary worlds, like JK Rowling’s Hogwarts.

She says, of the Litcraft Treasure Island: “We hope it will motivate reluctant readers – we can say, ‘We’re going to read the book and then at one point, we’ll go play on the ship.’ I would have loved it as a kid. It is an empathetic task – you do what the characters did yourself, so you understand why they act they way they did in the book.”

The Treasure Island “level” has been extensively road-tested by children such as Dylan, whose school is set to adopt Litcraft in 2019. “It’s really fun,” he says. “I enjoyed it because I’ve read the book, but you have to follow rules in that. In games, you can explore. Now I know exactly what the book looked like.”

What did he like most? “I like that you get to see the pictures. You don’t have to make them in your head. And I liked the ship, Ben Gunn’s cave and the parrots. And there was that weird pig that kept jumping off that cliff. That wasn’t in the book!” (“That was a game glitch,” says Bushell).

The project, which is featured on Microsoft’s Minecraft.edu website, is currently being presented to school teachers and librarians across the UK. There has been “an enthusiastic response” to the trials under way in local schools, with plans to roll Litcraft out to libraries in Lancashire and Leeds from October 2018.

Dylan, like many nine-year-olds, enjoys books but is more enthusiastic when talking about Minecraft, which he does with the casual expertise that many children have with their favourite games. He’s already made his own Hunger Games world in Minecraft at home, but couldn’t get some of his traps to work.

This know-how seems to both frighten and impress less tech-savvy adults – which Bushell hopes will not deter schools from adopting it. “The kids know how to do it more than the teachers do,” she says. “It inverts the relationship: you’ve got kids who know more than the adults. You need quite confident teachers. They’re more worried about it. I want to say, ‘Don’t be worried, because all your eight-year-olds will know how to do this.’”

Libraries are particularly interested in the possibilities of multiplayer, Bushell says, adding that one of the future projects will be Lord of the Flies: “In that case, you want all the kids in there playing out a scenario and asking philosophical questions. We hope they do some reading, then play the game, then do some empathetic writing based on what they did in there.”

The Kensuke’s Kingdom map, based on Morpurgo’s story of a boy washed up alone, is particularly aimed at engaging reluctant readers and has just been completed. “The library resources we are putting together include audio and in-game reading and writing as well as graphic novels as a step to the full text,” said Bushell. “The resources are designed to encourage them to either return to or connect with the book through the immersive experience.”

Bushell said more literary Minecraft islands will follow. “Treasure Island is the first world for Minecraft.edu but they anticipate a series – most likely, the next will be The Swiss Family Robinson, The Tempest and Robinson Crusoe,” Bushell says. A recreation of Dante’s Inferno, with a map for each level of hell, is also in development.

But what book does Dylan hope to see next? “The Hunger Games,” he says with no hesitation. “A proper one.”

State of Decay 2 Breaks Record with Over 1 Million Players in First Two Days of Global Release – Xbox Wire

As we close out our first week of the zombie apocalypse, we wanted to welcome and say thank you to the over one million fans playing State of Decay 2, helping break the million player mark, and answering the question: how will you survive?

Since Early Access for the Ultimate Edition on May 18 and the global release of the Standard Edition on May 22, we have had over a million survivors across the globe playing and creating their own zombie survival story. Throughout launch, there have been over six million combined hours of State of Decay 2 gameplay, and we’ve watched nearly 3.5M hours of gameplay across Mixer, Twitch and YouTube Gaming from over 41,000 unique broadcasts.

Watching players create new communities, forge friendships and test survival skills contributed to making State of Decay 2 one of the top-watched titles this week. Across player communities, we’ve seen survivors kill over 675 million zombies, throw over 6 million firecrackers and fireworks (survivors still find ways to celebrate), eat over 6 million bags of snacks, read over 2 million textbooks, and typically survive for about three days (with some players surviving for over an in-game month – a lofty goal to aim for your session this weekend).

After this exciting debut, we look forward to seeing the community continue to grow thanks to fans and Xbox Game Pass members sharing their stories and showing off their ultimate survival plan.

If you haven’t joined the community just yet, you can start playing with your Xbox Game Pass membership or purchase the Standard Edition for $29.99 and the Ultimate Edition for $49.99. As an Xbox Play Anywhere game, one digital purchase gets you both the Xbox One and the Windows 10 version of the game. While you wait for State of Decay 2 to download, check out the below for a quick recap, along with a look at the gameplay and a developer interview:

Putting this giant open-world zombie survival sim in the hands of fans has exposed some bugs and issues – we’ve addressed and will continue to address them as we hear more from players. The team at Microsoft Studios and Undead Labs continue to work on updating the game to address these issues as our number one priority.  If you are having any problems with the game, please check out our support page here.

Again, on behalf of Microsoft Studios and Undead Labs, we’re excited and humbled to see more survival stories in State of Decay 2. How will you survive?

1150 socket i5 or i7 cpu

Wanted 1150 socket cpu i5 or i7

Location: burton

______________________________________________________
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1150 socket i5 or i7 cpu

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC + Crucial M4 64gb

Hi, I am selling these components from my desktop post.

These were not wanted by the buyer hence why I have listed these here.

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC Gaming Graphics Card – 3GB
– WITH BOX, MANUALS AND ACCESSORIES.
WAS NOT USED THAT MUCH.


CRUCIAL M4 64GB

£100 for both

Price and currency: 125 + 25
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bt
Location:

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC + Crucial M4 64gb

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC + Crucial M4 64gb

Hi, I am selling these components from my desktop post.

These were not wanted by the buyer hence why I have listed these here.

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC Gaming Graphics Card – 3GB
– WITH BOX, MANUALS AND ACCESSORIES.
WAS NOT USED THAT MUCH.
£125

CRUCIAL M4 64GB

£25

Price and currency: 125 + 25
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bt
Location:

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC + Crucial M4 64gb

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC + Crucial M4 64gb

Hi, I am selling these components from my desktop post.

These were not wanted by the buyer hence why I have listed these here.

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC Gaming Graphics Card – 3GB
– WITH BOX, MANUALS AND ACCESSORIES.
WAS NOT USED THAT MUCH.
£125

CRUCIAL M4 64GB

£25

Price and currency: 125 + 25
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bt
Location:

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC + Crucial M4 64gb

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC + Crucial M4 64gb

Hi, I am selling these components from my desktop post.

These were not wanted by the buyer hence why I have listed these here.

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC Gaming Graphics Card – 3GB
– WITH BOX, MANUALS AND ACCESSORIES.
WAS NOT USED THAT MUCH.
£125

CRUCIAL M4 64GB

£25

Price and currency: 125 + 25
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bt
Location:

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC + Crucial M4 64gb

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC + Crucial M4 64gb

Hi, I am selling these components from my desktop post.

These were not wanted by the buyer hence why I have listed these here.

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC Gaming Graphics Card – 3GB
– WITH BOX, MANUALS AND ACCESSORIES.
WAS NOT USED THAT MUCH.
£125

CRUCIAL M4 64GB

£25

Price and currency: 125 + 25
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bt
Location:

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC + Crucial M4 64gb

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC + Crucial M4 64gb

Hi, I am selling these components from my desktop post.

These were not wanted by the buyer hence why I have listed these here.

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC Gaming Graphics Card – 3GB
– WITH BOX, MANUALS AND ACCESSORIES.
WAS NOT USED THAT MUCH.
£125

CRUCIAL M4 64GB

£25

Price and currency: 125 + 25
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bt
Location:

MSI GeForce GTX 780 Twin Frozr OC + Crucial M4 64gb