May 2014

Staff Spotlight: Joe Shapiro

JoeWordpressNameJoe Shapiro

Hometown: Montclair, New Jersey

Job: Software Development Engineer, Enterprise Client Group

How did you come to work at Microsoft?
I was originally an intern in The Foundry at NERD working on Windows 8 apps pre-release. I love the people and the energy here, so coming back full time was a no-brainer. Check out my team’s app, Catch It, in the app store!

You’re a new member of Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM). What excites you about the mission?
Microsoft is one of the first companies in the world to have offered employee benefits to same-sex domestic partners and to include sexual orientation in its corporate nondiscrimination policy. GLEAM is the product of these pioneering efforts in workplace diversity. I love that GLEAM is dedicated to developing my career and involving me in the Microsoft community in such a way that not only addresses but values my identity.

GLEAM will have a presence at Boston Pride this year. What should we expect?
We’re really excited that GLEAM is aligning with the spirit of One Microsoft this year, making Pride a global effort. Our hope is to transition “Pride” from being an event to being an ongoing celebration of diversity & inclusion. For Boston, expect fun and swag with the usual suspects. Also expect a Spartan appearance. Is anyone else thinking #spartanselfie? Yes we did.

What’s something cool you have worked on recently?
I’ve been working on new features for mobile device management in Windows Intune, which better enable enterprises to give users access to company resources and apps on their device platforms of choice.

What inspires you about technology?
Coming from a visual arts background, I’m inspired most by the expressive quality of technology. Technology and art don’t have to be different things. I believe that tech acts as a tool to achieve new things as much as it inspires people to change the way they use what they already have.

What problem would you like to see technology solve?
A former computer science professor of mine does incredible research optimizing logistics and supply chains, energy, and—most excitingly—disaster management. I’m excited by the possibility of knowing the optimal course of action when the unthinkable happens.

Recap + Photos: National Small Business Week at Microsoft New England

(L) Maria Contreras-Sweet (R) Gail Goodman, CEO Constant Contact

(L) SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet | (R) Constant Contact CEO Gail Goodman

Guest post by Natale Goriel, Online Media Coordinator at the U.S. Small Business Administration. Photos: Copyright Dana J. Quigley © 2014 

The Small Business Administration along with public and private sector partners recognized the nation’s 28 million small businesses during National Small Business Week, May 12-16.  The week consisted of panel discussions, webinars and networking opportunities. Day four of National Small Business Week kicked off in Cambridge, MA at Microsoft New England. Guest speakers included SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet and Constant Contact CEO Gail Goodman.  The event also included a panel discussion lead by Microsoft’s Allison Saltzer on resources for high tech/innovative businesses. If you missed the event, you can watch a recording of it on SBA’s YouTube channel.

For MSNE’s photo gallery from the event, check out our Facebook album.

Surface Pro 3: the tablet that can replace your laptop

surfacepro3

Microsoft yesterday announced the most recent member of the Surface family—the Surface Pro 3—and we couldn’t be more excited to bring this dynamic tool to our partners and customers across New England and the globe.

We’ve had an ambitious vision to build Surface to enable people to do more. Today, 96% of people in the US who have an iPad also have a laptop. They want a lighter device to watch videos and read books, but need a laptop with an Intel core processor to do real work.

Surface Pro 3 is the answer.  It is only 9.1mm thin, weighs only 800 grams, and its 12-inch screen works great in portrait orientation. It is also a powerful laptop available with core i3, i5 or i7 processors, up to 9 hours of battery life (10% more than the Surface Pro 2), and a reinvented Surface Pen that delivers the best writing and drawing experience.

We had the goal of being able to start writing with just the click of a pen, the way it works in real life. The beauty of moving from paper to digital when writing is that all your ink goes with you anywhere you go, and the OneNote integration allows this to include all of your devices.

The kickstand is now a multi-position kickstand so that you can set it to exactly the right angle for desktop, countertop, laptop or any angle you prefer – all the way to 150 degrees, which is perfect for writing and drawing. To complement the kickstand, our engineers invented the next-generation of Type Cover.

The Surface Pro 3 is available today for pre-order and will be available for purchase in stores and through authorized resellers beginning on June 20th in the US and Canada and, by the end of August, in 26 additional markets.  Place your order here or be sure to stop by any of our Microsoft Stores across the region.

Learn more about the Surface Pro 3 on the official Surface blog.

Check out this interactive slideshow highlighting all of the new Surface Pro 3 features.

Event Recap: Social Media for Nonprofits

sm4npOn Monday, May 19th, Boston gathered some of the best social media marketing speakers and trainers from the region to educate nonprofits on how to use Social Media to raise funds, advocate for their causes, and to increase awareness of their work in the community. The full-day conference was organized by @SM4Nonprofits.

Missed out on the conference? Experience the day through tweets!

Youth CITIES March-to-May Bootcamp and Other Inspirational Youth Innovation Programs

Photo via @BostonNewTech: "Great presentations today @YouthCITIES! Thank you to all the organizers and mentors!"

Photo via @BostonNewTech: “Great presentations today @YouthCITIES! Thank you to all the organizers and mentors!”

On Saturday, May 11, I had the distinct honor to participate as a judge for the Youth CITIES final presentations from the March-to-May Bootcamp. Youth CITIES is a nonprofit that propels middle school and high chool students to drive change in their community by applying entrepreneurial principles and creative problem-solving skills.

The March-to-May Bootcamp inspires, educates, and equips youth to take action and make a difference. We move beyond the academics of building businesses—encouraging the use of real-life problems, real-life constraints, and real-life criteria as the launch pad for students to create a value-driven, sustainable solution to a real-life market opportunity. Winners receive grants and continued support (via Skunk Works).

And this year’s winners are…
Nail Art by Jennifer: an app that allows users to digitally design their nail art and then print it on water transfer paper, like a tattoo for your nails. This app will have different features that will make designing patterns a lot easier.

PracticeGigs by Toni: an online marketplace that provides aspiring players access to affordable quality practice sessions.

Home Alone by Yaz: a mobile application designed to educate children on home safety. It includes parent functions like text reminders and GPS tracking enabling parents to leave there children home alone.

Keep an eye out for the launches of these new businesses soon!

If you’d like to invest in any of these ideas or help the students develop their businesses, please contact Vicky Wu Davis: vicky@youthcities.org.

In addition to Youth CITIES, Boston is blessed with a few amazing programs to encourage middle school and high school students to pursue entrepreneurship. They are always looking for industry mentors. Check out:
• Build: http://www.build.org/boston
• Technovation http://www.technovationchallenge.org/home/
• Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) http://www.nfte.com/

3 Not-to-Miss Events This Week at Microsoft New England

This week promises to be gorgeous! With our desperate Winter tweets behind us, Spring is in full bloom – and it’s also @MSNewEngland‘s busiest season for events! So we will break it down for you weekly.

Here are three events not to miss this week:

technovation1) Technovation Challenge 2014 – MA Showcase & Pitch Night
Tuesday, May 13, 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Twitter: @MassTLC | @technovation

Come out to the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge and celebrate the locally-made apps submitted for the Technovation Challenge!

Up to 7 teams will be presenting their pitches, vying for for the local Technovation crown!

 

 

SBA2) National Small Business Week
Thursday, May 15, 8:00am – 4:30pm
Twitter: @SBAgov | #SBW2014

Every year since 1963, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight through National Small Business Week the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S territories as well as offer educational events on starting and growing a business. In partnership with Microsoft, the SBA will host the National Small Business Week Boston event at the NERD center.

The event includes workshops on developing high-tech companies, business matchmaking and tips on finding capital to start or grow a successful business.

Microsoft Business Development Manager Allison Saltzer will lead a discussion on hi-tech and innovative business ideas with business leaders that include Rail-Pod founder Brendan English, Terrafugia CEO/CTO Carl Dietrich, MassChallenge CEO/Founder John Harthorne, and Donna Levin from Care.com.

The day’s afternoon breakout sessions will focus on ways to steer clear of mistakes while establishing your small business, how to get access to capital, and best practices to inspire and energize your colleagues.

Registration and a networking breakfast will begin at 8 a.m.  The event will conclude at 4:30 p.m.

 

 

meetup3) Kids Learn2Code – Build a Phone App (11-15 Years of Age)
Saturday, May 17, 12:00pm – 5:30pm
Twitter: 

This 4 hour workshop teaches children how to become digital creators by working together, use technology and write their first lines of code to build a phone app.

Initially, children will learn how computer programs work and understand the fundamental building blocks of everyday computer programs (eg. arguments, methods, logic, if/else, loops, etc.).

After understanding the coding fundamentals through smaller projects, children will move on to building and coding their own phone app.

Staff Spotlight: Sam Tulimat

SamTulimat

Name: Sam Tulimat

Hometown: Homs, Syria

Job: Program Manager, Enterprise Client Group

Time at Microsoft: Just turned 8 (months)

Favorite restaurant in the Boston area: The Beat Hotel in Harvard Square. It just opened recently, and I love the food and the atmosphere.

What’s the last thing you Binged? South by Southwest conference in Austin.

What’s something cool you have worked on recently? I worked on features for virtualizing Office 365 for enterprises using Application Virtualization (APP-V). It sounds complicated, but virtualization is a pretty cool technology that enterprises use to deploy applications easily.

What inspires you about technology? I love technology’s ability and appetite for change. I am inspired by solving old problems by applying new technologies to them. The most exciting part for me is when technology can change human behavior in a positive manner.

What problem would you like to see technology solve? I would like for technology to help in solving big social problems such as poverty, wars, health, employment and education. I firmly believe that if we can fly planes and carry smartphones, we shouldn’t have people who are dying because of lack of access to water or vaccination.

Boston Startup LeanBox Makes Vending Machines a Healthy Venture

leanboxIt’s crunch time at work at and you’re starving—but according to your calculations you only have two minutes to spare for acquiring food. You sprint down to the vending machine. BLAST! It’s gotta be two bags of Cheetos again. You sigh and loosen your belt another notch.

This was your old work life.

Enter: LeanBox.

LeanBox is one of the newest startups on the block—a vending machine full of healthy, fresh food items (many of which come from local startups themselves) available in under a minute.

Ding ding ding!

“We looked at the three excuses for not eating healthy: [junk food] tastes good, [healthy/organic food is] pricey, and [healthy/organic food] is inconvenient,” said co-founder Shea Coakley. “LeanBox takes care of all of those things. It’s like having an unattended grab-and-go market in your office. It’s basically a vending machine of the 21st Century.”

Having existed for just over a year, LeanBox is growing by leaps and bounds with machines located within our neighbors the CIC, as well as Wayfair, Constant Contact, and Faulkner Hospital.

One of the coolest aspects of LeanBox is that it’s a startup of startups; the food inside the digital fridges is made by other local start up food brands.

“We really like to concentrate our efforts on unique and local start up food brands when possible.  We work with great companies likes Budi Bar, Perfect Fuel, Game Plan – Focus Food, and Motto sparkling matcha tea in addition to our entree meals, salads, and wraps,” Coakley said.

LeanBox utilizes the Microsoft Surface tablet for their front facing point of sale.  Coakley explains that it gives the customer a nice, clean, easy checkout and gives them the full Windows backbone needed for their robust back end inventory system. Their software stack optimizes the classic Microsoft components – SQL, .NET and ASP.Net for a dependable consumer platform.

Oh, and next time you’re passing up the Cheetos for a fresh wrap—know that credit card swipe is going to a good place.

“The overall mission is access to healthy food, so one of the things we’ve done is made it such that for every $10 spent in machine we donate the financial equivalent of the meal to the Greater Boston Food Bank,” Coakley told MSNE, referring to the “FYFO” on their machines: for you. for others. “Then all of the food that would otherwise be wasted is redirected to local food shelters and food kitchens. It’s a zero waste process.”

It’s Time for a Civic Tech Revolution: MassChallenge’s Jibran Malek on $50K Civic Tech Prize for 2014 Startup Accelerator 

Jibran Malek 2Jibran Malek is MassChallenge’s Social Media Coordinator. Jibran runs MassChallenge’s social media and content campaigns to ensure the entire world knows about what’s going on in the startup accelerator and to amplify the amazing stories MassChallenge startups experience on a daily basis.

As we move further and further into the digital era, it has become increasingly important for cities to go digital as well. New challenges are presenting themselves every day—challenges that traditional tools can’t solve. Over the past decade, individuals have become more connected with increasingly diverse apps and platforms available on their mobile devices, tablets, and computers. Citizens are living lives of greater convenience, greater safety, and greater health thanks to the transition of an app-based service economy. This same service based economy that benefits individuals can easily be scaled into the city. Enter civic tech.

Civic tech are tools that entrepreneurs can create and that cities can use to bring positive change to social and urban problems. Problems like voter registration, crime data, parking, and disaster relief all have the potential to be alleviated through the power of civic technology.  Huge cities—hubs for innovation—need to embrace civic technology so that they may be “future-proofed” and ready to take on a connected future.

It’s time for a civic tech revolution and we need to inspire more entrepreneurs to contribute—the paths are wide open to innovate. At MassChallenge, we’re focused on catalyzing a startup renaissance all over the world. We strongly believe that entrepreneurs and their startups have the power to pull the world out of its current economic malaise. One way to do this is through civic technology: by encouraging ideas that can be implemented in cities to improve the lives of all—rich and poor.

We’re excited to work with Microsoft New England and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics to encourage and help startups solve the most difficult urban challenges with our $50K Civic Tech Prize in our startup accelerator. Many startups that have gone through MassChallenge solve key urban challenges such as HelmetHub, which provides helmets for bikesharing programs throughout Boston and lowers the barrier to entry for bikesharing users—and gets more people on bikes. Other startups, like Recovers.org, crowdsource resources to make citizens more prepared for disaster by creating software that connects local government, organizations and residents.

A vibrant innovation economy is directly supported by a robust culture of civic tech entrepreneurship. As civic tech entrepreneurs give citizens more options to engage with their community, more avenues of entrepreneurship will open up as the barriers to ideas are decreased. Entrepreneurs are driven with the desire to create a positive impact in their environment, and nothing has more immediate impact than civic tech ventures. This civic tech revolution will inspire hundreds if not thousands of entrepreneurs to take up the mantle of entrepreneurship and create a more sustainable economy and future for succeeding generations. By collaborating with Microsoft, the City of Boston, and entrepreneurs across the innovation ecosystem, we’re dedicated to bringing about the civic tech revolution.

31st Annual Connecticut Invention Convention (CIC) This Weekend: Encouraging Kids to Get Excited About STEM

CTInventionConventionThe 31st annual Connecticut Invention Convention (CIC) is happening this Saturday, May 3rd, at UCONN from 8:30am-1pm. The CIC is the nation’s oldest continuously operating children’s invention competition—a globally recognized non-profit educational program designed to get kids in grades K-8 excited about invention, innovation, entrepreneurship, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

The event this Saturday brings together the state’s finalists, close to 1,000, drawn from 10,000 kids participating in over half the school districts in Connecticut to present their inventions—as well as our own Anissa Battaglino, John Mutchek, Katy Kos, and Joshua Drew, who have volunteered to judge!

In fact, we at Microsoft New England have supported the event for almost 15 years. We provide six Microsoft accessibility awards to kids whose inventions have to do with accessibility and donate Xbox Live and Office 365 products to the inventors.

“The kids’ creativity is amazing, and every year we have inventors who go on to apply for patents, look into actually manufacturing their products, or building businesses around them,” CIC Executive Director Helen Charov told MSNE.

Aligning with our fervent support for the necessity of STEM education, the CIC hopes to get children excited about engineering and inventing at a young age. According to Charov, studies show that 65% of kids make a decision about what they want to study in high school and beyond as early as 8th grade.

“Right now, in the US, only 17% of kids in high school identify themselves as wanting to major in the sciences or engineering,” Charov said. “We’ve got to create a bigger pipeline going into the future. Not everyone will become an engineer or a scientist, but everyone can become a better problem solver, in whatever field they choose to pursue.”

“The CIC is hoping to take this message out to other states, and to create a national push to give every child an opportunity to become an inventor, innovator and entrepreneur.”