A hackathon winner crowned, an entrepreneur’s heartfelt motivation and some inspiring careers — Weekend Reading: Aug. 12 edition

| Tracy Ith

An innovative idea that takes the tedium out of organizing facts, an entrepreneur who risked bankruptcy to help save the woman he loves, and a man’s difficult journey to a career at Microsoft — it’s been a week of inspiring news around Microsoft.

We’ve rounded up the highlights for this latest edition of Weekend Reading.

On Tuesday, a team of Microsoft employees was crowned grand prize winner of this year’s //oneweek Hackathon for the solution they created to help writers, researchers and anyone else who needs facts quickly. Their Office plug-in, InstaFact, infers what facts you’re looking for, mines massive amounts of information to get them and then auto-completes them into your Word and Excel files. All it takes is a few clicks.

The InstaFact team was among more than 1,560 teams that competed in the event, which had Microsoft employees around the world working to bring to life more than 3,800 projects through technology.

Five members of the InstaFact team pose on bright green chairs.

New research from Microsoft aims to unlock the full value of encrypted data by using the cloud to perform secure data trades between multiple parties — all in a way that provides users full control over how much information the exchange reveals.

“What we are trying to do is keep the data private and, at the same time, get the value out of it,” says Ran Gilad-Bachrach, a researcher in the Cryptography Research group within Microsoft’s research organization. He co-authored a paper released in June that describes the protocol for this system to securely exchange data.

Ran Gilad-Bachrach gestures with one outstretched hand as he speaks.

This past week we also learned about an entrepreneur who risked everything to save the love of his life from breast cancer. Jorge Cortell has now teamed up with the U.K.’s National Health Service and Microsoft to make his inventions available to the doctors who need them most.

Cortell created several programs and used Microsoft Azure to allow doctors to easily share images of tumors in the human body, check patients’ medical history and see which medications will work. Read more of his story on Microsoft News Centre UK.

Jorge and Stephanie smile against a nighttime background dotted with red lights.

The Microsoft JobsBlog featured Ed Sproull, whose stubborn optimism got him through some very dark times — including losing his left leg in a motorcycle accident and a stint in prison — and helped lead him to his career now as an engineer at Microsoft.

The JobsBlog also shared the story of Lauren Tran, who unexpectedly found her dream job as a Microsoft tech evangelist at the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and has since developed a range of new skills and the confidence she needed to embark on a promising career.

Lauren tran smiles as she poses by a pond on a Microsoft campus.

Also this week, the Microsoft Facebook, Twitter and Instagram page introduced Patrick “Duffy” De Armas, a leading artist in the Pacific Northwest. From the hot-rod shop to the art gallery, De Armas infuses his love for American car culture into his personal art and work for the creative design studio he founded, Electric Coffin. Microsoft tools, including the Surface Pro 3, have empowered him along the way, helping him create art that engages people with beauty and wit.

Read more of his story on Microsoft News Center.


This week also brought fun news for gamers. Microsoft Studios and Remedy Entertainment announced Wednesday that they are bringing hit action game “Quantum Break” to even more Windows PC gamers on Sept. 14 with the retail release of “Quantum Break: Timeless Collector’s Edition” and the digital release of “Quantum Break” for Steam.

This week’s edition of Forza Garage highlights three rugged vehicles for helping you navigate the Outback on “Forza Horizon 3,” along with many other awesome new rides you can choose.

And it’s a great time to get your preorder in for “Gears of War 4,” which launches Oct. 11 worldwide, so you can score The Brothers to the End Elite Gear Pack and get your hands on three bonus characters and other cool stuff.

Several characters pose with weapons fron "Gears of War."

You’re now caught up with the week’s news around Microsoft and beyond. Enjoy the weekend, and check back here every Friday for the latest edition of Weekend Reading.

Posted by Tracy Ith
Microsoft News Center Staff


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,