Monthly Archives: March 2013

Microsoft’s Bing Fund targeted autism at a hackathon in Seattle bringing together developers, designers and other experts to tackle a problem that hits close to home for many people.

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Microsoft’s Bing Fund startup incubator is holding a hackathon this weekend in Seattle — bringing together developers, designers and other experts to tackle a problem that hits close to home for many people in technology: autism.

Autism has been found to be more prevalent among people and families in the technology industry. The plan for the hackathon grew in part out of the organizers’ own exposure to autism in their own social circles, said Rahul Sood, who oversees the Bing Fund and is general manager of Microsoft’s Global Startups Team.

Sood explained via email, “As we batted the idea of hosting a hackathon, it got us thinking – if we’re going ask some of top engineering talent to come together over a weekend to hack, let’s make it meaningful. Not a hackathon for the sake of hacking, which is fun too, but actually come up with tangible outcomes that can help make a difference.”

For the record, they say, the prototypes don’t need to be built on Microsoft technologies.

One area where technology could help is in the diagnosis of autism, said Microsoft’s Aya Zook, pointing to statistics showing that as many as 1 in 88 kids have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

“Diagnosis typically takes up to a year in children,” Zook said. “That’s a year of not knowing exactly what’s wrong, a year of frustration and aggravation for the kid and the family. News like this validates a need for hacks that can hopefully get us there faster and elevate the discussion.”

Microsoft is partnering on the hackathon with the UW Autism Center, Twilio, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle Autism Guild, TeachTown, Autism Speaks, and the MIT Media Lab.

The hackathon starts at 6 p.m. Friday and concludes Sunday evening at the SURF Incubator in Seattle. Details are available here. At this point they’re especially looking for additional designers to join the event.

This is expected to be the first in a series of hackathons focused on autism, with the next tentatively planned for Boston.

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Wanna work with me Wednesday

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Premier Field Engineering (PFE) provides technical leadership for Microsoft’s Premier customers around the world to promote health in their IT environments through onsite, remote and dedicated support services.
Okay, so what does all that really mean? If I’m a PFE, what will I be doing?
Cindy Parrish, one of Microsoft’s Recruiters has been talking to our PFE’s to get their personal stories. For the next several weeks we will answer that question, so that you have a clear picture of the PFE role at Microsoft.
Welcome to Wednesday and an explanation of what it’s like to be a PFE by a current PFE in their own words.
Here’s what Dean has to say about his job:

What do I love about my job as a SharePoint/IIS PFE? Simply put – the challenge. In addition to helping customers remain on the cutting edge by assisting with new product deployments, I get to see some of the toughest issues our customers face. The customers we work with are smart, no doubt about it. By the time they bring a problem to me, they’ve usually exhausted every effort to resolve it themselves, so a simple solution is rare. We really get to dig in to an issue and apply our knowledge of how the product works while troubleshooting an issue, and many times we end up learning something new along the way.

As an example, a few years back I was helping a customer troubleshoot a particularly nasty application crash in an IIS worker process. We’d gathered the usual memory dumps using DebugDiag, but they weren’t showing us what we needed. I’d only used iDNA tracing (also known as Time Travel Tracing) a handful of times up to that point, but in this case I could tell it was needed so I’d be able to see what was going on in the process leading up to the crash, as a live debug of the environment wasn’t going to be possible. After gathering iDNA traces of both working and failing scenarios, I really got to dig in, walking through both traces simultaneously to compare the paths we took in each, taking my debugging skills to a new level while identifying the problem within the application code.

As someone who came in as an industry hire several years ago, one thing I quickly realized here is that you’ll have the opportunity to learn things you otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to. If that sounds appealing and you’re up for the challenge, we’d love to have you on our team!

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Wanna work with me Wednesday

Gladys
Premier Field Engineering (PFE) provides technical leadership for Microsoft’s Premier customers around the world to promote health in their IT environments through onsite, remote and dedicated support services.
Okay, so what does all that really mean? If I’m a PFE, what will I be doing?
Cindy Parrish, one of Microsoft’s Recruiters has been talking to our PFE’s to get their personal stories. For the next several weeks we will answer that question, so that you have a clear picture of the PFE role at Microsoft.
Welcome to Wednesday and an explanation of what it’s like to be a PFE by a current PFE in their own words.

Here’s what Gladys has to say about her job:

I always thought that Microsoft would be an amazing company to work for however I thought that you had to live in Redmond, WA in order to do the type of work that appealed to me. Consequently, I never tried to get a job at the Company.
Throughout my career, I found myself jumping from company to company every two to three years because there were limited areas of growth in those companies and after a while I would get bored since I knew everything about the area that I was in charge of. I then decided to start my own company which I ran for about six years. Although that was exciting, I also found myself not having time to take any vacation or having the opportunity to expand into other areas that I found interesting since I had to spend time learning and working on my not so favorite chores such as Accounting, Taxes, Marketing, Collection, etc…
While working as a subcontractor on a government contract, I met several Microsoft engineers and had the opportunity to see what they did. I asked them a lot of questions and decided that it was exactly what I wanted to do.
Becoming a Premier Field Engineer was what I really wanted to do since it is similar to having my own business, except that I do not have to worry about those “chores” that I was not interested in. I also get to enjoy vacation and other benefits without worrying who is going to help my customers and guide them to utilize the best technology to solve their problems and automate process to help increase efficiency. I also love the fulfillment that I feel when I see the happiness in the customers’ eyes, because they are able to accomplish a task or because they realize the full potential of the technology they are using.
In the five plus years with Microsoft, I have never been bored. There has always been something to learn. I have been able to steer my career in directions that have allowed me to explore different technical areas and bring ideas to improve or create new customer services that Microsoft now offers. I have been privileged enough to meet a lot of really smart people and customers, all of from whom I have learned a lot. I have been able to be part of community related events, travel to different places, and receive all the training I could ever want.
There are plenty of opportunities to learn and steer your career that allow you to explore in both technical and non-technical areas. During my time here, I have grown a lot personally, professionally and technically. As I look forward I see a lot of opportunity to learn and do so much more. 

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Wanna work with me Wednesday

PFE-EC3-Headshot-large-6406
Premier Field Engineering (PFE) provides technical leadership for Microsoft’s Premier customers around the world to promote health in their IT environments through onsite, remote and dedicated support services.
Okay, so what does all that really mean? If I’m a PFE, what will I be doing?
Cindy Parrish, one of Microsoft’s Recruiters has been talking to our PFE’s to get their personal stories. For the next several weeks we will answer that question, so that you have a clear picture of the PFE role at Microsoft.
Welcome to Wednesday and an explanation of what it’s like to be a PFE by a current PFE in their own words.

Here’s what Matt has to say about his job:

Why I love my position as PFE for Microsoft –

Any given day or week as a transactional PFE can be different than the last. One week I may be performing an AD risk assessment for a Fortune 500 company and then teaching a workshop about Group Policy the next. The amazing amount of variety, exposure, and contact to different technologies, brilliant people, and difficult scenarios makes this the most challenging AND rewarding job I have ever had.
The one aspect of this position that I enjoy the most is helping our customers. Be it a discussion about a deep aspect of my specialty to the identification of a long running issue and helping with its remediation. Seeing the proverbial light bulb light up always makes me smile. On one specific occasion I was able to assist my customer with a redesign of their Active Directory site topology. These changes, made global impacts to their workflow, user experience, and alleviated many pain points that were currently being experienced.
With the amount of work and responsibility this job includes, it can be difficult to manage a strong work/life balance. Thankfully, Microsoft makes every effort to allow me to manage my time. Since this balance can only be defined by me, providing flexibility to control my work schedule allows me keep my home life health high.
In addition, Microsoft’s desire to give back to the community on a local and global platform are immense and being afforded the time to focus on ways to contribute are most rewarding. I have been given the opportunity to organize team coordinated quarterly volunteerism events which is something very important to me.
In closing, the PFE role is a challenging, multi-sided teeter-totter with both amazing experiences and tough situations. It is this incredible duality that makes the position so worthwhile and enriching.

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Microsoft Unveils New Imagine Cup Competitions With a Focus on Women

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REDMOND, Wash. — Feb. 20, 2013 — Today, Microsoft Corp. announced two new competitions that focus on women and female technology innovators at Microsoft Imagine Cup, the company’s global student technology competition.

The Women’s Empowerment Award was established in partnership with UN Women, the U.N. organization working to accelerate gender equality and the empowerment of women, and will be awarded to two student teams of any gender that create projects that best address issues impacting women globally. Registration also is now open for the Women’s Athletics App Challenge, in partnership with the Seattle Storm women’s basketball team, which inspires female developers, innovators and entrepreneurs to create software related to sports, health or fitness.

Teams of any gender from around the world that advance to the Imagine Cup 2013 Worldwide Finals will be eligible to enter their projects into consideration for the Women’s Empowerment Award. The first-place prize (US$12,000) and the second-place prize (US$8,000) will be awarded to the projects that best address economic inequality, access to technology and other resources, gender-based violence, leadership and political participation, or other critical women’s issues. Applicants will be judged on the potential impact their projects can have on the lives of women, including feasibility to address the target issue and the quality of the application.

“Students can be change agents; they can revolutionize the world we live in,” said Kristin Hetle, director of Strategic Partnerships of UN Women. “By harnessing the power of technology, they can bring attention to issues that women, in particular, face every day. The Women’s Empowerment Award will encourage and reward students who choose to focus their energy on creating positive change for women globally.”

The Women’s Athletics App Challenge is open for submissions from all-female teams worldwide that want to compete to code the best sports, fitness and athletics apps for an opportunity to have a private meet-and-greet with a Seattle Storm basketball player and watch a game on the Storm’s home court in Seattle. The winning team, announced this summer, will also receive a US$1,000 prize per team member.

“The Storm and Microsoft look forward to seeing the types of apps women around the world — from Canada to Kazakhstan — will build to promote healthier lifestyles, give consumers more incentive to stay active, or help people realize exercise and sports can be a great way to have fun and stay in shape at the same time,” said Karen Bryant, president and CEO, Seattle Storm.

Female participation in the Imagine Cup continues to grow steadily. Last year, nearly 20 percent of students at the Worldwide Finals were female. One of Imagine Cup’s goals is to help participants build developer skill sets, learn how to launch startup businesses, and enhance their prototypes based on the advice of mentors and judges. Imagine Cup gives women an important platform to pursue interests and careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-related fields and serves as a launch pad for them to becoming developers, innovators or entrepreneurs.

For example, during Imagine Cup 2012, one all-female team from Oman created a mobile application that monitors blood bank levels and sends alerts to eligible donors via SMS when there are shortages. “Participating in Imagine Cup offered us the chance to meet other student developers and build new skills,” said Omaima Al Muraikhi from Team Grawesome, recounting her experience participating in the event. “Because of the opportunities that came through Imagine Cup, we’re now entrepreneurs working hard to create our own technology startup business, based in the Middle East.”

It’s not only all-female teams making an impact on women’s lives. The recent winner of a Microsoft Imagine Cup Grant of $50,000 from Uganda was an all-male team that created a mobile application to aid health workers as they assist expectant mothers. The algorithm analyzes fetal heart sounds to determine the fetal heart rate and the position and age of the fetus, and it securely stores the results in the cloud, ultimately improving women’s maternal health.

About UN Women

UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. http://www.unwomen.org

About The Seattle Storm

The 2010 WNBA champion Seattle Storm is one of six independently owned teams in the WNBA, the world’s preeminent women’s professional basketball league. Established in 2000, the Storm is committed to bringing outstanding professional basketball to a diverse and rapidly growing fan base. The team aims to serve as a powerful community advocate with a focus on literacy, health and fitness and support for women and girls and youth basketball. Recognized as one of the WNBA’s most active teams in the community, the Storm is committed to serving others through partnerships and the team’s community initiatives. More information is available at StormBasketball.com.

About Microsoft Imagine Cup

This is the 11th year of Imagine Cup, part of Microsoft YouthSpark, which will be celebrated at the Worldwide Finals in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 8–11. Students ages 16 and older are eligible to register and compete in Imagine Cup by visiting http://www.imaginecup.com. A full list of competition categories is available at http://imaginecup.com/main/compete.

About Microsoft YouthSpark

Microsoft YouthSpark is a global initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth in more than 100 countries during the next three years. This companywide initiative includes Citizenship and other company programs — both new and enhanced — that empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential by connecting them with greater opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship. Find out more at http://www.microsoft.com/youthspark.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://www.microsoft.com/news. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/news/contactpr.mspx.

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Women: Talent and Potential are Boundless, Opportunity Should be Too…

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Posted by Orlando Ayala
Chairman of Emerging Markets, Microsoft

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Microsoft is proud to join United Nations Women (UN Women) and artists from around the world to launch a moving and inspiring song and music video, “One Woman.” It celebrates what we all know: to enable the future we want, we must recognize the enormous potential of half of the world’s population – women.

To truly unleash that potential, women must be free from discrimination, including the gender-based violence which is the focus of this year’s International Women’s Day. Up to seven in 10 women will experience some form of violence in their lifetimes. This violence causes more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined in women ages 15 to 44. Violence against women also comes at a high economic cost, ranging from an estimated US $11.28 billion annually in Australia, to US $32.9 billion annually in England and Wales.

The “One Woman” song aims to galvanize support and raise awareness for this issue. We encourage you to take action and share the song because together we can make a difference by saying no to violence and yes to gender equality.

As a company, Microsoft fully embraces and supports the notion of unleashing the power of women. We know we must level the playing field and open opportunities for all – these are concepts deeply rooted in our core corporate philosophy. When women are fully engaged in our workforce and society at large, they bring great ideas and drive great innovation. This is why Microsoft very much values its partnership with UN Women, a global champion for women and girls. UN Women is a vital force for advancing gender equality, tackling key issues such as ending violence against women and promoting women’s political, social and economic empowerment. By combining efforts, we are able to harness the power of technology to both empower and protect women.

Technology can be a real catalyst for improving the lives of women. This is why we jointly launched the Women’s Empowerment Award to encourage and reward students of any gender to create technology solutions that address the world’s most pressing gender challenges. The team from Uganda who won the Imagine Cup Grant in 2012 is a great example of what’s possible. The team created WingSenga, a mobile application that allows caregivers to monitor pregnancies and save lives for less than 2 percent of the cost of an ultrasound.

Together, we are also working to make cities safer through mobile technology and to increase the number of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Microsoft’s YouthSpark through the DigiGirlz program and its partnership with the Global Give Back Circle have demonstrated that technology training and mentoring are an effective way to help transform the lives of young women (meet Mary Mwende), and Microsoft is soon expanding this model with the launch of a new site as part of our 4Afrika Initiative.

Empowering women is not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do. It has been shown that nations with greater gender equality and higher proportions of educated females have more robust economies. In 2012, the World Bank found that eliminating all forms of discrimination against women in employment could increase productivity per worker by up to 40 percent. The under-utilization of female talent and perspectives not only dampens productivity and IT innovation, it slows economic development. If womens’ paid employment rates rose to those of men, gross domestic product would increase by up to 14 percent by 2020.

And studies show that women invest an average of 90 percent of their income back into their families and communities, which reduces poverty and improves health and education. There is a positive ripple effect of this investment as their children receive improved nutrition, education, and their communities are healthier and safer – saving money on government services and fueling economic growth.

It is undeniable that after the economic crisis of the last decade, the world is desperately searching for a more sustainable and inclusive economic model that enables broader and lasting opportunity. We are convinced that women are and need to be an essential element to chart this critical path forward. Everyone is watching the emerging markets of the world like China, India, Brazil and others, but we believe the most exciting new emerging market for the world will be women and their capability to add tremendous economic value and social growth.

Knowing that women are key to our future, it is critical that we work together to improve their lives and demolish the restrictions they face – whether those are barriers to work or political leadership, more access to enabling technologies to foster entrepreneurship and economic independence, or the toll of gender-based violence. This is why it is so important that we’re here today to spread the message that progress for women is progress for every society. We hope you join us.

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Wanna work with me Wednesday

SteveMat
Premier Field Engineering (PFE) provides technical leadership for Microsoft’s Premier customers around the world to promote health in their IT environments through onsite, remote and dedicated support services.
Okay, so what does all that really mean? If I’m a PFE, what will I be doing?
Cindy Parrish, one of Microsoft’s Recruiters has been talking to our PFE’s to get their personal stories. For the next 9 weeks we will answer that question, so that you have a clear picture of the PFE role at Microsoft.
Welcome to Wednesday and an explanation of what it’s like to be a PFE by a current PFE in their own words.

Here’s what Steve has to say about his job:

I have been with Microsoft for ~17 years of which, 10 years has been in PFE in the DSE role and could not think of a better place to work. Not only do I have access to some of the smartest people in the IT world but I am immersed in cool technology and products.

The PFE position has enabled me to play both sides of the fence – help customers deploy our products to full scale environments and have a depth knowledge when working with our Product Group and Support organizations. This role allows for a flexible work life balance, usually I can spend some time with my family and catch up on some work at night. The role forces me out of my comfort zone to learn new products and components to really broaden my technical knowledge. I really enjoy what I do and the people I work with….

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