Weekend Reading: March 12

It’s a short weekend in the U.S. – on Sunday, we “lose” an hour in the switch to Daylight Saving Time. So to be mindful of everyone’s time, here’s a Weekend Reading list that’s to the point.

  • We’ve been talking about this for a while, and now the new MSN site design is being rolled out. Soon all 100 million U.S. users will see the revamped portal. What people are finding is a whole new look – including a new version of the iconic MSN butterfly logo – that features larger headlines, bigger graphics, and fewer blue links.  It also has more white space, more video, and easier ways to perform search using Bing. The MSN team has worked hard to listen to what visitors want and expect, and we think the new site is going to prove popular.
  • Chances are nearly everyone knows someone who has a family member affected by Alzheimer’s disease. There’s no cure for that terrible disease, of course, but Microsoft Research has helped create a tool to reduce its effects. Called the Sensecam, it’s a combination of digital camera and accelerometer (which measures movement). Pictures and audio captured by the Sensecam – say, during a visit by grandchildren – can be used to reinforce memories of an event, and perhaps reduce a person’s inability to recall happy moments. The technology has been licensed to the British company Vicon (Microsoft Research’s Cambridge office developed it), and a number of researchers are working on ways to make good use of it.
  • Xbox 360 has been on a roll for some time, and in February, Bloomberg.com reports, it beat out Nintendo Co.’s Wii and Sony Corp.’s Playstation 3 to become the best-selling video-game consoles in the U.S. That’s great news, and it’s driven both by strong game releases, the great gaming offered by the Xbox, and the device’s ability to become part of a home media center, streaming movies and more. I use mine to both catch TV films on Netflix and the Zune Marketplace and play Halo.

End notes. An honor that is richly deserved went this week to Chuck Thacker, a Microsoft Technical Fellow. Earlier this week Thacker was given the computing equivalent of the Nobel price – the A.M. Turing Award, computing’s most prestigious tribute. And catch what Microsoft is doing at the big South by Southwest festival.

Posted by Dominic Carr
Director, Microsoft News Center