Helping efforts to shelter homeless families, address world hunger and recycle used grease into fine soaps — Weekend Reading: Dec. 2 edition

| Athima Chansanchai

After the Thanksgiving holiday, we came back to work to discover news about Microsoft’s participation in a $3 million fundraising effort to shelter homeless families, how quantum computing can help end world hunger and how one couple has figured out how to convert used cooking oil into soap.

Microsoft joined The Starbucks Foundation, the Schultz Family Foundation and many other businesses to support the annual No Child Sleeps Outside campaign by Mary’s Place. They’re part of an unprecedented effort to mobilize the King County, Washington community, contributing more than $3 million to provide safe emergency shelter for the estimated 500 unsheltered families in King County, including hundreds of children. Find out more at the Starbucks Newsroom.


In the second installment of his series on cloud computing, “Things to Come,” author Barry Briggs explores whether quantum computing could speed up agricultural processes, and as a result, help feed our growing global population. Briggs says software developers, data scientists, agronomists and farmers are joining forces to use technology – and especially the cloud – to enhance food production, sometimes with very dramatic results. Read his full essay on quantum computing and world hunger on the Transform blog.

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Find out how Megan and Marshall Dostal turn grease into soap through Further Products. With its motto “Wash responsibly,” the company turns used restaurant cooking oil into fine glycerin products and sells the soap back to restaurants, hotels and stores around the country in a smooth, zero-waste loop. The road to upcycling success hasn’t always been easy for the couple, who became entrepreneurs with no formal business backgrounds. But with the help of Microsoft technologies, they’ve learned how to make, market, sell and ship their products; manage their growth in a sustainable way; and balance time for themselves and their 10-year-old son Wyatt.

Pioneer’s new app comes pre-loaded on an 8-inch Windows 10 tablet readers can get by signing up for a one-year subscription to the newspaper. (Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)
Pioneer’s new app comes preloaded on an 8-inch Windows 10 tablet readers can get by signing up for a one-year subscription to the newspaper. (Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

A plucky newspaper chain in the Pacific Northwest just may have come up with an innovative way to revamp not only its own existence but that of the entire industry. Seattle-based Pioneer News Group, which owns 23 daily and weekly newspapers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah, has begun selling Windows 10 tablets along with subscriptions. They’re preloaded with the uReporter app that lets subscribers not only read the news but report it too. Find out how Pioneer is living up to its name on the Transform blog.


Tuesday, we saw the debut of a new mobile app from The Microsoft Garage, Clip Layer, as well as a new puzzler in the Windows Store: “The Turing Test.” The Blizzard Mountain Expansion for “Forza Horizon 3,” due out Dec. 13, brings a Forza first – snow, ice, extreme elevations and blizzards to challenge players in their quest to become the king of the mountain. Xbox Wire delivers all the details.

Nearing its fifth anniversary, “Minecraft: Pocket Edition” will add more features before the end of the year with the 1.0 Ender Update, which provides a World Seed Library to help you more easily find worlds with features you’re looking for; playing the game along with the original soundtrack; and chilly locales populated by polar bears and igloos.


This week on the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, we highlighted Donovan Brown, a senior program manager at Microsoft who works in DevOps, a development approach that calls for teams to step out of their traditional silos and collaborate in a system that emphasizes automation, monitoring and continuous delivery. He is demystifying DevOps for thousands of IT pros around the world and has become a recognizable face on both presentation stages and Twitter streams.

That’s it for our round-up. See you next Friday for another Weekend Reading!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

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