An ‘Uber for motorcycle taxis,’ beefed up Microsoft data services and the cloud gets bigger, and more secure — Weekend Reading: Feb. 20 Edition

Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, but there’s still love in the air: Love for technology that empowers. From the cloud to the classroom, to the streets of Uganda, this news is worthy of heart-shaped love letters. Read on!

Sometimes the best ideas are serendipitous. After getting a lift with app-sourced, ride-sharing service Uber while attending We Day California last spring, Joshua Okello and Aaron Tushabe had an idea: Design an Uber-like service for Uganda’s motorcycle taxis, or “boda bodas.” They envision the service as a way to improve the safety of hitching a ride for passengers, while raising the standard of living for boda boda drivers. Microsoft YouthSpark is sponsoring We Day in California, Feb. 25 in San Jose and We Day Washington April 23 in Seattle, again this year.


This week at the Strata + Hadoop World conference in San Jose, California, thousands gathered to explore the technology and business of big data. As part of the event we announced new and enhanced Microsoft data services: a preview of Azure HDInsight running on Linux, the general availability of Storm on HDInsight, the general availability of Azure Machine Learning, and the availability of Informatica technology on Azure. The goal is to bring big data to the mainstream.

Microsoft announced Thursday that its OneNote iPad app now has a handwriting feature, allowing users to write or draw with a stylus or finger. The tool lets users modify color, style and thickness of the digital ink, and a “palm rejection” feature customizes the tool for how you hold your pen. (Lefties, rejoice!) Microsoft also introduced optical character recognition (OCR) to all versions of OneNote. OCR lets you search for text in scanned receipts, lists, recipes and other documents saved in a OneNote notebook.

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In other iOS integration news, iPad for Office Offline users will soon find more cloud storage options. Starting Tuesday, third-party cloud storage providers can natively integrate into the “Locations” picker in the iOS Office apps, making it possible to open, edit and save documents from these providers from within Office. “These new features represent a big step forward for Office integration into the apps and services that are important to our customers,” writes Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team.


Meet Albert Manero, a Fulbright scholar and doctoral student in mechanical engineering at the University of Central Florida who founded Limbitless Solutions to build affordable, bionic, 3D-printed arms, while making the designs available to others for free. He’s built one bionic limb for a 6-year-old boy, and another for a 7-year-old girl without a left forearm. Manero and the Limbitless team are featured in The Collective Project. Empowered by Microsoft’s OneNote, the project celebrates the journey of ideas into action, with ways for people to learn more and get involved.


Designing real-time services such as e-commerce, online gaming and social media that depend on cloud-computing platforms to be scalable and reliable is challenging ― but it’s a problem that Project Orleans overcomes. Microsoft Research this week revealed more details on this exciting platform, which provides a straightforward approach to building high-scale distributed computing applications, is open source and powered by Microsoft Azure.

Speaking of the cloud, Microsoft announced it’s the first major provider to adopt the world’s first international standard for cloud privacy. The standard is called ISO/IEC 27018, and it was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), writes Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president for Legal and Corporate Affairs. What does this mean? The standard assures that you are in control of your data, you know what’s happening to it and Microsoft provides strong security protection for it. It also means that your data won’t be used for advertising and Microsoft will inform you of any government-prompted access.

In app news this week: Kids develop key skills when they mash the mushroom with Mash&Co, now available free from the Windows Phone Store; Microsoft kicked off a pilot program to help its employees eat healthier by using the Zipongo phone app, available for Windows Phone, iOS and Android; and AutoDesk Pixlr, a free photo editing app previously only available online and for mobile devices, now comes to your Windows PC, laptop and tablet.


This week in our global adventure to shine a light on people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we met Rich Sommer, Mad Men’s Harry Crane and a gamer of a different kind. #DoMore


Feel the love. And join us back here next week for more stories worthy of heart-shaped letters.

Posted by Aimee Riordan
Microsoft News Center Staff

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