Celebrating women in tech, new Windows 10 devices and Microsoft’s giving effort — Weekend Reading, Oct. 16 edition

 |   Tracy Ith

From the world’s largest gathering of women in tech to a huge Microsoft effort to help countless people in need, there was no shortage of inspiring news this week. We’ve rounded up some of the highlights in this latest edition of Weekend Reading.

More than 800 Microsoft employees headed to the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, which began Wednesday in Houston. Marie Margishvili and Moriah Baxevane-Connell were excited to return after landing their jobs at Microsoft through previous Grace Hopper conferences; software engineers Joan Chao and Lauren Bissett, who work on Microsoft HoloLens, were looking forward to attending for their first time.

Margishvili went for the first time in 2014 and says it was “just amazing to see so many confident and talented women who were so full of initiative and willing to go out of their way to find new opportunities … The conference is very empowering. It sounds very cliché, but I realized there that I could do anything I wanted.”

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It’s been just over a week since Microsoft unveiled a new era of Windows 10 devices, including Surface Book, Surface Pro 4, new Lumia phones and more. This past week brought announcements about even more great options. On Sunday, Acer showcased a range of new Windows 10 devices in Taipei. On Monday, we got our first look at Toshiba’s dynaPad tablet as it was unveiled in Japan. On Tuesday, LG Electronics unveiled some innovative Windows 10 devices in Seoul.

Learn more about the wide variety of new Windows 10 devices on Windows blogs.WR_LG

A British startup has turned a relic of a difficult time into new hope for sustainable farming, an experiment its founders hope can be replicated in places around the world where food is desperately needed. Growing Underground is using abandoned World War II air raid tunnel in London as a subterranean farm.

“It’s incredible to take a place that was built for a time of destruction, and turn it into a place of creation,” said co-founder Richard Ballard. The startup’s story offered an inspiring possibility just in time for World Food Day.

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A team of seven Microsoft employees are leading a company-wide effort to raise money for thousands of nonprofits — and they’ve found plenty of inspiration along the way. These “loaned professionals” served dinner to more than 150 hospitalized kids and their families, sorted medical supplies to be shipped overseas, spent time at a youth shelter and visited many other nonprofits that are helping people who need it.

“These ‘loaned professionals’ from across the company bring a special set of expertise and skills that helps us enhance and scale Microsoft’s Employee Giving Campaign,” says Lori Forte Harnick, Microsoft’s general manager of Citizenship and Public Affairs. “Our goal is to encourage employees to get involved and actively support the causes they care about, and there’s no better way to do that than by gathering insights and spreading the word through their friends and colleagues.”

Microsoft’s “loaned professionals” work to sort medical supplies that will be shipped to overseas hospitals and clinics that need them. (Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)
Microsoft’s “loaned professionals” work to sort medical supplies that will be shipped to overseas hospitals and clinics that need them. (Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

Whether you love math or hate it, being good at it can definitely help you go places. Just ask Zuzana Kukelova, once the math whiz of her grade school, who’s just received the 2015 Cor Baayen Award. The honor is given to a promising young researcher in computer science and applied mathematics.

Kukelova is a post-doc researcher specializing in computer vision at Microsoft’s research lab in Cambridge, U.K. The Cor Baayen announcement specifically cited her ability to bridge the gap “between highly abstract mathematical results, such as algebraic geometry, and engineering applications.”

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Among the cool ideas that flow regularly from the Microsoft Garage comes Twist, a fun app that lets you and your friends engage in conversations with photos. It’s named for the unexpected juxtapositions that can happen when you use a split screen for these ongoing chats. You start a photo conversation with an image that fills half the screen and wait in anticipation to see how your friends will complete the other half. It becomes a storytelling device that keeps the conversation going instead of just capturing fleeting moments.

https://youtu.be/zziWhU3FAfw

If you’re looking for the latest and greatest in apps, we’ve got plenty to choose from. Music lovers may appreciate knowing they can hear all their favorite streaming music and live digital radio stations through iHeartRadio, now available within the Groove music app on Windows 10. Good news for racing fans, too : The official NASCAR app is now available for Windows 10.

Another app you might find useful shows you who’s at your door — even when you’re not home. The Ring Video Doorbell app is available in the Windows Store.

We’ve also rounded up some gaming fun, including the retro brick-breaking adventure of “Briquid Mini,” the Vegas-style action of “Slots Pro,” a throwback version of a popular game in “Doodle God: 8-bit Mania” and the mind-bending challenge of five different puzzle games in “Pic Star.”

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This week on the Microsoft Instagram account, we met Christian Fazio along what’s known as The Loneliest Road in America in northern Nevada. He helped carry the American flag as part of Team Red, White and Blue’s Old Glory Relay in support of U.S. veterans. Follow along as the flag makes its way from San Francisco to Washington D.C.

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And that wraps up our look back at the week’s highlights from around Microsoft and beyond. See you here next week for our next edition of Weekend Reading.

Posted by Tracy Ith
Microsoft News Center Staff

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