Microsoft Codess Event

Also published as a guest post on the Codess blog here.

Where do I begin? This was an amazing event!! From beginning, until the very end, I enjoyed every second of the evening. So, huge congrats to the organisers!

Codess is Microsoft’s global community for female coders. They organise events around all major Microsoft campuses, allowing women in this industry to network and find inspiration.

Last week’s event was entitled Future Technology and had 3 incredible speakers. Each talk was literally mind-blowing and it covered exactly the topics I am most interested in at the moment. Chance, luck? Who knows?

Haiyan Zhang, innovation director at Microsoft’s Research campus in Cambridge spoke about the amazing progress made on treating cancer. I was fascinated by the talk and it made me feel overall much much more optimistic about the future. It’s unbelievable to think that programming will be able to help us find a cure for cancer. Just mind-blowing! The video she presented explained how a cell can identify itself as a cancer cell and start destructing automatically.

Then Bunmi Durowoju, senior business development manager at Microsoft, spoke about my absolute favourite topic. Connecting the 4.5 bln. unconnected people. She spoke about the unused TV white space (UTWS), explained in more detail on the in their post from 2012 and on the Microsoft Whitespaces page. This is an amazing way of delivering broadband and has already been implemented in countries such as Jamaica, Namibia, Tanzania or the Philippines.

The last talk came from Maria Rakusanova, virtual reality lead and senior product marketing manager at Samsung. She talked about Samsung’s latest developments in regards to virtual reality and their Gear VR, powered by Oculus. What amazed me about it is the sheer number of applications it can have. One example that I am sure applies to a lot of us is allowing people to practice public speaking. With a virtual reality of a huge audience in front of you, it brings preparing for presentations to a whole another level! More useful applications, however, include educational experiences, created, for example, to allow medical students to attend live surgeries via virtual reality. The other industries where it finds good applications are numerous and diverse. For movies, entertainment or fashion, they can film concerts or events, using the Samsung Gear 360, a camera that enables anyone film their own VR experiences (a competitor to GoPro’s 180 degree view). While at the event, Maria allowed us to test the Gear VR and I managed to “sit” in the next room with Elliot from Mr. Robot. Great experience!

Overall it was an amazing evening, complemented by amazing people! I am really looking forward to their next Codess event and I plan on doing more research on Microsoft Research’s progress on programming the DNA, as well as the whitespace spectrum technology. This is real technological progress in areas that really need our full attention at the moment. I can reduce them to simply – treating cancer and empowering developing countries.

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Windows 10 is now available

Yey yey! Great day for Microsoft! The lastest version of the famous operating system is now available with a free upgrade for licensed versions of Windows. In order to break the cycle of bad version, good version, Microsoft promised this would be the “last Windows” and they will keep iterrating on this version to make sure it addresses all its users’ neeeds.

I have been personally using the technical preview of Win10 at work for more than 6 months now and I have seen how dedicated developers were to make sure even the smallest details are taken care of and users are happy with the new features. So in a nutshell, what’s new?

  • The start menu is back! – with great search facilities and Cortana integrated
  • Edge – Microsoft’s new broswer
  • Task View – to have a quick glimpse at all your open windows on one screen, such as the good old Alt+Tab view
  • Virtual desktops – create as many as you like now
  • Microsoft Xbox app – to play your favourite Xbox games on your laptop, tablet or any other Win10 device
  • Built in apps don’t run fullscreen by default anymore
  • Switch between laptop mode and tablet more whenever you want if you have a 2-in-1 laptop

Overall, most people would recommend users to wait until the first version to be launched is stablisied, as there still are minor bugs that need fixing. With daily updates, I am sure they will be addressed quite fast and users can start forming their own opinions on what it has to offer.

I am very excited to install it on my Mum’s laptop and wait for her opinion on it. Even though she is not a power user, she will be able to spot limitations and differences. I’ll update the post as soon as I’ll talk to her about it in a couple of weeks.

For more details read The Verge’s review on Windows 10 or watch their video:


Welcome Raspberry Pi 2!

Today I found out that a sequel of the famous Raspeberry Pi has been released, more powerful and more capable of connecting to all sorts of external hardware. Still a very low price for a fully functional computer, the Raspberry Pi is only $35.

What’s awesome about it is that Microsoft announced they will create a special Windows 10 version that will be free for all Raspberry Pi mini computers. The operating system will be launched later this year. Raspberry Pi has been created to support innovators in electrical engineering who accelerate the Internet of Things trend. It has also been used in schools and universities in order to teach children the beauty of coding.

With twice as much RAM and an improved processor, the new computer now allows better performance and enables developers to create more powerful apps and discover new opportunities. Below you can view a nice and short presentation video from Element 14, the main distributor of Raspberry Pi.


Microsoft’s Brings Us the Future

Who couldn’t be taken by surprise when you hear holograms are here, in 2015! It’s surreal! I was sooo excited when I found out about this yesterday, I literally could not stop smiling the entire evening. I immediately imagined my grandparents using the HoloLens and visualizing a completely new augmented reality that they only saw in science fiction films. They were born in the ’30s, so experiencing this in their lifetime, would be just out of this world!

Microsoft has taken the tech world by surprise in the same way, when they announced Kinect in 2010. Five years later, Microsoft Holographic is just a whole other level! I believe it’s double the “wowness”. It will make each and one of us an Iron Man, it will empower us to go beyond the screen and “touch” the technology. In the video below, the advanced technology is explained a bit more and the emerging opportunities are presented. Developers are invited to put their skills at work and create amazing experience that will bring this technology to good use and give it the usability it deserves! I would definitely love to contribute to this project in the future and be part of a team that will work with this new amazing innovation!


Summary of these last three months

Here we are, it’s November and I think this has been the longest period I’ve been silent on my blog. Three months now. But these 3 months represented a key foundation of my future career. My internship at Microsoft in Bing is honestly the best thing that could have happened to me and I’d always be proud of myself for taking this decision.

In order to sumarize my last 3 months, I’ll try and keep this post as short as possible, focusing on the main points that have helped me improve myself as an individual, both technically and personally.

  • Embraced challenges. I’ve been given the chance to work from an early point in my internship on a great project for Bing. I’ve embraced all the challenges I encountered and saw them all from the very beginning as oppotunities to learn. I’ve learned more that I could imagine and I’m not even at the half on my internship. I cannot wait to enrich my knowledge even more with every new project I’ll join.
  • Learned from the best. All the people at Microsoft and especially in the Bing office, are very intelligent, ambitious and helpful people. They’ve helped me grow more than I would have expected in my first months, guiding me in the right direction at all times.
  • Learn how to learn. The most important thing I’ve learned so far is how to approach learning a new programming language or any computing concept in general. It is crucial to understand concepts in depth in order to write the code in a professional and performant manner. It’s easy to learn the semantics of a new language and write some lines of functional code, but it takes passion and knowledge to truly write the best code.
  • Got involved in strech projects. At Microsoft, interns benefit from a great deal of attention. We get to allocate 70% of our time for work, 20% for stretch projects and 10% for volunteering. We’re very much encoruaged to get out of our comfort zones and improve our soft skills such as communication, organisation or public speaking. The projects I’m currently part of are the Milkround team that attends Career Fairs and networking events at various UK universities and also the Sprint programme, which focuses on encouraging female undergrads to succeed in the job market.
  • Listened to Microsoft’s CEO’s talk. Just last week, I felt inspired by Satya Nadella’s talk at the Future Decoded Conference, organised in London by Microsoft and its partners. This unique opportunity has made my experience at Microsoft even more interesting. I heard what motivates him and what are his opinions and vision about Microsoft’s future.
  • Had fun. And last, but not least, I had loads of fun! There have been incredible team events in these last months. We went together to visit the Bletchley Park, did indoor skydiving, went bowling or to the cinema together. Attended a very nice event on one of London’s best roof top bars and so much more! I cannot wait for all the upcoming events and our intern 2-day off-site event at a camp in South England!

I’ll promise I’ll try to find more and more time to write on my amazing experience as an intern in Bing, Microsoft, as this will definitely be a marking and unforgetable year for me! So far, I can only say the same thing over and over again : this internship is truly incredible!


“The Tablet That Can Replace Your Laptop”

This is the newly announced Surface Pro 3, from Microsoft. This week they’ve made a “small gathering” in New York to present their new tablet, available to pre-order in the US from the 20th of June. By the end of the summer it will also be available in most European countries.

Its specifications are quite impressive and it very much resembles a laptop, considering you can also purchase the colorful keyboard to complete it. Probably the most important part of the device is the pen. With a simple tap, it powers on the device, opening OneNote. The content you’ve written is saved by one click on the pen on OneDrive, and it is also helpful when taking photos. With the Camera app open, you can double-click the pen and it automatically takes the picture for you. The price for the pen is an extra 49$.

So far, Surface Pro 3 is the thinnest product Intel Core product ever made. Customers can choose from either an i3, an i5 or an i7 processor.

Microsoft’s goal is, of course, to combine the concept of a tablet and that of a laptop together and give customers a unique option in that regard. The starting price for a Surface Pro 3, is therefore, quite high, starting from $799 (i3, 64GB and 4GB of RAM), reaching $1,949 (i7, 512GB and 8GB of RAM).  We’ll just have to wait now and see the customer’s reviews on this product, as they are the ones that can truly make the product successful. Until then, here’s the presentation video for the new Surface Pro 3. Enjoy!


Big Data and Cities

It is an amazing time for the cloud to offer incredible opportunities to enhance the power of big data. More and more governments realise the power of open data and allow developers to access useful information about a city in order to create new solutions to a variety of issues.

Large cities often confront themselves with traffic congestions, an impressive number of tourists or very busy times such as festivals, when the entire city’s infrastructure is extremely hard to manage. A lot of companies now focus on analysing big data, defining patterns of what people are doing or intend to do in order to do public good. There are dozens of issues analysing big data can address from improving citizens’ quality of life to uncovering investment opportunities or promoting public safety and health. Below is an incredible example of what Microsoft is doing to help Barcelona’s city council manage such a large and renowned tourist attraction.

I’ll keep you posted on many other ways in which the cloud technology will open new perspectives in the technology world. We have seen last week at Microsoft’s Build Conference 2014 in San Francisco just how much developers can gain from cloud services. Stay tuned!


The History of Skype

As this came up as a topic in a challenging conversation I recently had, I thought it would be nice to share with you all, of course, those who are curious to find out more, the history of Skype. I am sure most of the students like me, studying abroad, miles away from home, use Skype probably if not on a daily basis, multiple times a week.

Last year, Skype turned 10 years old, being first released on the 23rd of August 2003. The team that initially created Skype was made up of 3 Estonians, one danish guy and a swedish one. After entering an agreement in 2005 with a Polish web portal called Onet.pl, Skype was acquired in 2007 by eBay Inc. for $2.5 billion. It didn’t take long (2009) until eBay announced they were selling 65% of the company to Silver Lake, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

The biggest step, however, for Skype, was when Microsoft acquired Skype Communications for $8.5 billion in 2011. Microsoft’s Skype division headquarters is in Luxembourg, but most of the development team and 44% of the overall employees of the division are still situated in Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia. Since Microsoft’s acquisition, Skype continued to grow and expand, adding more and more new features. Now, it supports conference calls of up to 25 people once, which is used throughout various industries, facilitating business and making it more cost friendly.

After launching in 2011 video calling for iPhone, Skype reached a record 27 million users online at the same time.After one year, Skype reached over 32 million users online, counting more than 50 million in January 2013. Its popularity just keeps growing and growing as we speak. Its use has exceeded anyone’s expectation, playing an important role even in supporting global education projects. To help language exchange, students from all parts of the world, peered up and communicated live via Skype in their foreign language classes. Not to mention now you can use Skype on almost every smart TV, on game consoles, tablets or smartphones. It’s amazing how a startup can grow so much in only 10 years.

Now the latest problem with Skype was that there was no sync between multiple devices. You were not able to see on your smartphone the conversations you had on your desktop and so on. Luckily, last week, Skype announced an update solving this issue and bringing other new features. Read more about Skype’s Enhanced Chat Experience in their official blog post right here.

Hope you enjoyed this quick journey through Skype’s history! I’ll leave you with this short video which displays Skype’s power to reduce distance and bring people together!

 


Microsoft gives airlines new ways to enhance customer experience via technology

At this week’s Singapore Airshow, Microsoft announced important partnerships with 3 airlines, providing online services for passengers, crew members and also pilots.

The companies that are approaching technology on board from new angles are Lufthansa, Jeppesen and Avenade. Each of them introduced this week in Singapore the apps that will run on Windows devices and offer passengers the chance to view information about their destinations, such as hotels, weather or attractions. They can catch up with their work by multitasking on a shared screen or relax watching their favourite film. Lufthansa’s BoardConnect app will provide such features.

Flight attendants will also benefit from the use of tablets to provide faster and better services in favour of their clients. Such apps will help them also produce real-time food and beverage inventories. Avanade is the company that will benefit from such services via their Mobile Airline Platform.

With its FliteDeck Pro app, Jeppesen will ease their pilot’s workload by providing them with a global library of terminal charts, real-time information about weather and NOTAMs, also eliminating manual paper revisions, ultimately saving around 900 trees per year or 30-50 pounds on paper material per flight.

I am truly happy when I see how technology empowers so many areas of our lives. Today we can be talking about aviation, tomorrow about health services, naval transportation, tourism and the list can go on forever. Stay tuned for more posts on smart technology and also the world’s first smart city – Santander, Spain.

SingaporeAirshow Infographic

Source infographic: Microsoft aviation technology flies high at the Singapore Airshow


New Quiz App from Microsoft

Microsoft is ready to launch an app soon that caught my attention. It is a funny and fresh idea that will allow Microsoft fans, and not only, win amazing Microsoft products from a Nokia Lumia to an new Xbox One.

I see this as a really clever marketing idea, that will allow new users engage with Microsoft’s culture. All you have to do is answer quizzes, while competing with your friends. The app will be available in Europe only, on Windows Phone, iOS and Android, but there is no release date yet. Microsoft will announce this on their Facebook and Twitter pages, so I expect it won’t be long, since they shared with us the app’s promo video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9dnhCy6RJo

Source: What is the latest cool thing about Microsoft in Europe?