August 2015

Microsoft New England Picks: 4 Not-To-Miss Events This Week

Events 8-31

With so many events to choose from, it seemed like August flew by. Get back in gear for back-to-school season with these four events not to miss this week:

Boston TechBreakfast

1) Boston TechBreakfast
Tuesday, September 1, 8am — 10am
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @techbreakfast

Based on the popular TechBreakfast format, the Boston TechBreakfast is a “show and tell” format event where up to five different technologists will demo their technologies from a wide range of industries ranging from software to hardware, IT to Biotech, robotics to space tech. The event is “triple agnostic”. We don’t care if the technology is from a start up, a large company, a university, a government agency, or someone’s hobby. We are also agnostic as to the industry of the tech – it could be IT, biotech, robotics, aerospace, materials sciences, anything tech and innovative is cool. And we’re also region agnostic – even if you’re not from where we’re hosting, we want to see you and your technology!

#TechHubTuesday2) #techhubtuesday
Tuesday, September 1, 6pm — 9pm

Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: #TechHubTuesday

Demo Night is a chance to see what the top startups are working on, these are the people that are changing the future of business & tech!

Join #TechHubTuesday at TechHub to experience great demos from the exciting tech entrepreneur community. Follow the # all day to see other demos taking place in Bengaluru and then London.

Each startup has 5 minutes to demo their product in front of a live audience, it’s not a pitch but an opportunity for each startup to explain (and show) what they have been working on. After each demo there is live Q&A with the audience. The idea is to foster innovation and iteration. It’s not about slamming the presenter!

Afterwards, stick around for beer and wine, network, play ping pong or take a look round the space.

LearnLaunch3) Edtech Back-to-School Networking Event
Wednesday, September 2, 6pm — 8pm
LearnLaunch | 31 St. James Ave. Suite 920 | Boston
Twitter: @learnlaunch

Calling all entrepreneurs, educators, investors, researchers and others interested in the edtech sector! Come and join us on the LearnLaunch Campus for this fun community building event.

You will meet others who are interested in discussing:

  • the potential ways technology can improve education
  • policies and practices affecting edtech
  • the impact of digital learning
  • trends affecting edtech
  • how technology is being adapted or implemented in various education settings – early ed, K-12, higher ed or continuing ed

Food and drinks will be provided.

thumb_Slide14) #Instasavvy: Instagram for Social Professionals
Thursday, September 3, 6:30pm — 8:15pm

GA Boston | 51 Melcher Street | Boston
Twitter: @GA_boston | @SocialMel

Instagram is one of the hottest apps out there and just waiting for your business to take advantage — its user base is massive and highly motivated to buy. But how do you acquire followers? And how do you convert those followers into buyers?
This intermediate to advanced class is ideal for people who are ready to take their basic Instagram strategy to the next level. It’s perfect for professionals who are already well-versed on Instagram including: community managers, social media managers and consultants, and PR managers who want to take it to the next level.

We’ll discuss how to create an engaging strategy, leverage Instagram across your marketing channels, and find your biggest fans on the channel. You’ll come away better understanding how to integrate Instagram into your marketing plan.

A data science partnership for safer streets

intersection-from-above2-643x367

Earlier this week, Microsoft and DataKind had the pleasure of announcing Vision Zero, an international initiative that aims to reduce traffic-related deaths and serious injuries to zero. To read more about this initiative, click here.

Meet Civic Tech Scholar: CityTaps

Dusk breaks in Niamey, the capital city of Niger, and Aminata’s soles are already thick with red clay. She returns from a 1/2-mile round-trip trek to a local standpipe, carrying 4 gallons of water atop her head in an open bucket. She steps off the dirt road and into the compound she shares with two tenant families. A little boy runs to greet her and tugs eagerly at the worn folds of her cotton skirt. She bends to let him sip from the vessel hoping to quench his keen thirst.

Garwa - Civic Tech Scholar: CityTaps

This morning, the “garwa”, who often delivers water to her home in dirty 4 gallon jerry cans, doesn’t show up. Aminata must walk to the standpipe, stand in line for 30 minutes, and secure little water to make do until he comes. She pays about eight times the normal price.

Aminata and her husband find makeshift jobs around the community, such as cleaning for a well-off family.  Yet, they have no running water in their home, which costs them time, money, and health, as the water they drink from standpipes loses quality during transport and storage.

Today, 750 million urban dwellers in developing countries live without running water at home, just like Aminata and her family.  This number is rising with the increase in urbanization – by 2050, an additional 900 million people are expected to move to African cities alone. Water utilities are already struggling to keep up.  

As supplying a home with running water is not that complicated, you may ask why this situation continues. To put it simply, it’s about money. Low income households have irregular incomes and a low savings capacity, but a household water connection requires a high up-front costs and monthly bill payments.  Like Aminata, these urban dwellers instead turn to unreliable and costly substitutes to on-premises utility piped water, such as public water points, delivery services, or chlorine pills.

Civic Tech Scholar: CityTaps

We, at CityTaps, are pioneering innovative technology to help bring piped water to the homes of the urban poor, so that Aminata can do what you and I do, which is turn on a tap at home.  With our smart pay-as-you-go water meter, she is able to make micro-payments for utility-piped water at any time with any mobile phone.

Civic innovation lies at the core of our mission. We work with water utilities to create systemic change, and use technology to build upon existing water systems.  We believe this ultimately improves the following:

  • The function of cities: By ensuring safe at-home piped water and with our transparent payment system, we build trust between water utility companies, citizens, and authorities.  
  • Efficiency of urban infrastructure: We are bringing the building blocks of Smart Cities to the developing world, and thereby improving the agility of governments and the investment equation for international donors.
  • The state of community affairs: Safe running water at home improves health by reducing water-borne illnesses and child mortality, and the risk of theft or assault of women when ‘fetching’ water.  Further, we work with community-based organizations to educate citizens on best practices in water.
  • A place in society:  Bearing running water at home is recognition of one’s existence in the eyes of authorities. In some countries, access to on-premises water services can be the first step from traditional land occupation towards legal tenancy.

Through civic engagement, CityTaps is seeking to better the lives of Aminata and others like her.  For many households, having a water connection at home will finally be formal recognition that they no longer live on the fringes of the community, but are very much part of it.   

By working with water utilities and using groundbreaking technology, we are supporting a common goal for all cities: sustainably boosting the health, dignity, and economic opportunity of all of its constituents.

We would like to thank Microsoft for its support, and look forward to having you be a part of this journey.

Civic Tech Scholar: CityTaps

CityTaps is a social enterprise whose vision is running water in every urban home. The company is also a 2015 MassChallenge finalist and a recipient of Microsoft’s Civic Innovation Scholarship.  For more information, go to www.citytaps.org, like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/citytaps) and follow us on Twitter (@citytaps).

Boston’s The Record Company — it’s not about ownership, it’s about access

The Record Company My name is Matt McArthur and “I’m with The Record Company.”

(It’s supposed to be funny.)

Lore tells us that those five words were dreaded among musicians working under the traditional music industry paradigm.  Inevitably some “bean counter” from your label would show up in the studio to offer their commentary about the music you were making.  I could just be remembering a scene from Spinal Tap.  I digress…

Boston is an incredible city.  We set a national example in so many areas. Contemporary music is not one of them.  After college, young musicians leave here in droves to live and work elsewhere.

Now we can argue all day about how the Allston kids don’t talk to the Somerville kids don’t play shows with the Roxbury kids — but if we drill down past who has the coolest haircut and the most boutique guitar pedals we get to the real barriers:

  1. Cost of real estate
  2. Transportation
  3. Liquor licensing

In 2009 I founded The Record Co. (TRC), a non-profit recording studio committed to fostering a nationally recognized modern music scene in Boston.  We think we’re just as crazy as you do, but don’t worry, we’re going to do it.  

We’re not a label, but there are some similarities.  Back in the day record labels sought out bands early in their careers and made a commitment to develop that talent.  Today the story is very different.  The few remaining labels look for well-packaged, profitable acts they can “partner” with.  

The Record Company

At TRC we take an old school approach.  We invest in musicians early in their careers with the predication of an eventual return — just not a financial one.  The social/cultural return we’re after is at the core of our non-profit mission.

We offer:

  • Affordable studio time to indie musicians
  • Grants of studio time to native Boston bands
  • Live performances to connect emerging musicians and fans
  • Access to our facility and expertise for youth, our next-gen creators

The Record Company

How can musicians get access to The Record Company?

Independent musicians (musicians that are funding their own projects) can purchase studio time at The Record Co. at the most affordable rates in New England.

How does music help the city of Boston?

Music makes our city and better place to live and work.  It’s not just about musicians and ramen, it’s about economic development.  The arts account for more than 46,000 jobs in Massachusetts and are reported to bolster the state’s economy by more than $1 billion annually.  It’s a huge economic activity.  Running a non-profit, I think a lot about the effect that cultural vibrancy has on the for-profit sector.  Greater Boston is home to some incredibly innovative companies that rely on young creative talent to continue their tradition of innovation.  There’s a direct link between music and a city’s ability to attract and retain young creative talent.  Sure, our colleges and universities attract a huge population of young people, but we don’t keep them here.  That’s where arts and culture, and for us music, comes in.

What does the “small biz” aspect of The Record Company mean for musicians? For the city?

The shuttering of well-loved local rock institutions like TT the Bears and Johnny D’s in Somerville are just the most recent examples of music’s evaporating middle class.  Don’t get me wrong: venues and other music businesses run by corporations are necessary.  Corporate venues in particular are able to bring larger acts to town which can have a very positive effect.  The challenge is we also need small businesses: clubs and venues and studios where small up-and-coming artists can cut their teeth

How was the concept of The Record Company formed?

“It’s not about ownership, it’s about access,” was the initial seed in 2009.  There was a whole community of musicians that didn’t need to own a studio, they just needed access to one.  The non-profit model fits that perfectly.  I filed the paperwork a couple days later and we were off to the races.

What does a day at The Record Company look like?

Oh, it’s a real mash up: recording sessions, managing youth employees, Beat Bus workshops driving around the community, writing grants and asking people for money, jamming out to good tunes, etc…

What does it mean to you to give musicians access to recording space?

To me it’s about collaboration.  There aren’t a lot of technical reasons for recording studios to exist anymore.  The argument is psychological.  Leave home, go to work, collaborate, have a schedule, etc.

What kind of technology do you use in your space?

Lots of cool toys! Recording software and hardware from Audio Technica and AVID, vintage and new analog and digital equipment, mostly donated, some purchased.  Among the cool vintage toys we have an analog 2” 16 track tape machine.  It’s pretty, and rock and roll, and pretty rock and roll.

#CodeTrip — The Road Trip of a Lifetime

CodeTrip

This summer, three young people took the road trip of a lifetime. Roadtrip Nation and Microsoft YouthSpark were proud to host students Zoed Mora, Robin Maxkii, and Natalie Melo as they traveled across the country — from LA to Boston — to explore computer science and the impact of technology. Zoed, Robin, and Natalie gained first-hand experience with computer science professionals nationwide, meeting and interviewing key players in the field and seeing how they incorporate technology in their day-to-day practices.

Roadtrip Nation’s #CodeTrip premieres on PBS next fall. In the meantime, track the journey through tweets below:

To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.

Microsoft New England Picks: 6 Not-To-Miss Events This Week

Events 8-24

Summer may be winding down, but Boston is still keeping things warmed up with plenty of events through the end of the month. Here are our picks for six not-to-miss events this week:

1) Boston-Area Market, Business and Competitive Intel Meetup
Wednesday, August 26, 6pm — 8:30pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge

Join us on August 26 for a group discussion on win-loss analysis best practices. During this session we will hear how leading organizations are leveraging formal win-loss analysis programs to stay competitive. The session will be moderated by Boston-based win-loss expert Ryan Sorley of DoubleCheck Research. Questions for the peer discussion will include:

• What are you doing today?

• How did you know a program made sense?

• How did create a program?

• How did I gain buy-in from sales?

• What steps are needed to execute?

• What benefits have you seen?

Ryan Sorley is a former sales VP with Gartner and the founder of DoubleCheck Research, a win-loss analysis firm who supports many of Boston’s most progressive technology firms. Ryan is also a regular speaker on win-loss analysis and contributor to Entrepreneur.com, HubSpot’s Sales Blog, and SalesHacker.

Startup Leadership2) Summer Conversations: Stories from the Fundraising Process
Wednesday, August 26, 6:30pm — 8:30pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @startlead

Are you a founder or startup CXO in the HIT or tech spaces thinking about fundraising? Come listen to recently-funded entrepreneurs share stories about their startups – successes, hurdles, and advice for other entrepreneurs on the fundraising process. The entrepreneur panel includes:

Zoe Barry, Founder and CEO, ZappRx
Jay Meattle, Founder and CEO, Shareaholic
Richard Whalley, Founder and CEO, Common Sensing
Chris Yim, Co-Founder and CEO, Liberty Teller

thumb_Rotaract_Front3) Social Good — How Groups Make it Easier to Have Impact
Wednesday, August 26, 6:30pm — 9pm
GA Boston | 51 Melcher Street | Boston
Twitter: @BostonRotaract | @GA_boston

Join Boston Rotaract at General Assembly to learn about the advantages of joining a group that creates social change in local and international communities.
Boston Rotaract, part of the global Rotary family, is committed to connecting professional and community leaders, exchanging ideas, and taking action through local and international service projects.
We’ll be showing the documentary The Final Inch, talking about how Rotary and service have impacted our lives, and then discussing the aspects of groups that make it easier to do social good.

Boston Python4) Boston Python August Presentation Night
Thursday, August 27, 6:30pm — 9pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @bostonpython

Boston Python presentation nights are a chance for Python developers to explore new topics in depth. Members or outside experts prepare presentations at a variety of levels, on any number of Python-related topics. By giving Python developers a chance to expand and hone their skills, Boston Python is enriching and strengthening the Python community.

14398138365) Primary Care Progress 4th Annual Gregg Stracks Leadership Summit
Friday, August 28 — Saturday, August 30, 8am — 6pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @PCareProgress

The 2015 Gregg Stracks Leadership Summit is PCP’s annual leadership training event bringing leadership coaches, change-management experts, patient advocates and practicing primary care clinicians together to learn a set of relational leadership skills specifically calibrated for primary care and the unique challenges the field faces in educational reform, practice transformation, and needed policy change. The two-day training convenes 75 PCP chapter leaders from across the country to develop new leadership skills and devise powerful campaigns to promote and advance primary care at their home institutions. Past campaigns have resulted in significant innovations in local primary care delivery, new primary care curricular tracks and new centers for primary care. Summit participants include students in the medical, nursing, physician assistant, public health and pharmacy professions along with residents and select faculty.

14397587476) Boston WordPress Meetup, August 2015
Sunday, August 31, 6:30pm — 9pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @bostonwp

We provide exciting talks for beginners, intermediate and expert users of WordPress, the world’s largest Content Management System platform. We are the region’s largest resource providing free videos, talks, job boards and forums for any who are interested.

This month’s program includes 7 Ways to Turn Your Company Website Into a Lead Magnet, presented by Christina Inge, and a technical topic TBD!

Meet Microsoft Civic Tech Scholar: Small Fry

Microsoft Civic Tech Scholar: Small Fry

Small businesses are one of the largest economic drivers in the United States – there are 28 million of us out there! At Small Fry, we believe they deserve a space in the vast ecosystem that makes up the Internet. What’s more—we know it’s possible to leverage technology to give the little guy a voice. To us, civic engagement is much more than a transaction—it’s a mindset that drives community development and creates better places.

Small Fry makes communities more vibrant by harnessing marketing tools and tapping into online opportunities for business growth. Our two-part model taps into the key economic drivers pushing community growth: young people and business owners. Small Fry bridges the gap by connecting these two groups to build the online presence of small businesses through services like email marketing and search engine optimization. Young people bring their digital skills to the table and generate earned income while building portfolios in a professional setting. Small businesses benefit from their fresh perspectives and online mastery to grow their customer base without wasting valuable time.

Consider your local coffee shop owner who knows each of her customers and their unique needs and desires. Her success—and your perfectly steamed cup of coffee—depends on her ability to continue attracting new customers and stay on top of her day-to-day responsibilities keeping the shop running. Online marketing gives her access to a new customer base, opens doors for local collaboration with others, and makes your neighborhood that much more inviting. Small Fry maximizes her time by bringing in marketing expertise with targeted projects, accessible pricing, and easy client communication. 


After a year of piloting our services with small businesses in the Bronx and East Harlem, we’ve arrived in Boston ready to scale. At MassChallenge, we’re pairing up with youth organizations, building new partnerships with local government, and connecting with business assistance organizations to reach the local community. Our first step is to get off the ground with 36 growing small businesses and 18 driven young people. Stay tuned on our progress, connect us to your favorite small business, or help us connect with a neighbor by finding us at www.wearesmallfry.com.

Microsoft New England Picks: 5 Not-To-Miss Events This Week

8-17: Microsoft New England Picks: 5 Not-To-Miss Events This Week

We’ve got another heat wave heading our way this week, and Boston’s still going strong! Here are some of our top picks for events this week in the civic tech sector and beyond:

Interaction Design Foundation

1) Interaction Design Foundation Boston/Wakefield Mash-Up Monthly

Tuesday, August 18, 6:30pm — 9pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @interacting

The Interaction Design Foundation – the IDF – is a ten year old transformative non-profit enterprise focused on educating, informing and stimulating the global design community. IDF -Boston and IDF-Wakefield are local chapters that get together on a monthly basis focusing on providing providing stimulating but fun discussions, insightful information, and face-to-face networking opportunities.

The Education Summit - New Hampshire2) The Education Summit – New Hampshire
Wednesday, August 19, 8am — 5pm
Londonderry High School | 295 Mammoth Road | Londonderry, NH
Twitter: @the74 | @SchoolChoiceNow

Join us at Londonderry High School for the New Hampshire Education Summit, hosted by The Seventy Four, a non-partisan, non-profit news website about education and sponsored by the American Federation for Children, the nation’s leading school-choice advocacy organization.

A first-of-its-kind summit will gather prominent elected officials, political influencers, and education thought leaders to discuss the challenges now facing America’s education system.

VECTOR-ARROW-053) Change Agents: Asian American Women Activists
Wednesday, August 19, 6pm — 9pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @GirlsASPIRE

Are you a change agent, or interested in becoming one?

ASPIRE’s Speaker Series event will feature a panel of inspiring, local Asian American women who are engaged in their communities as political and social justice activists. Come hear about their involvement in grassroots organizations and movements, participate in a candid dialogue about activism from an Asian American female perspective, and be empowered!

ASPIRE’s Speaker Series is a free lecture series on leadership development and exploration that gives our members more exposure to Asian American (AA) women leaders, and provides opportunities to network and discuss topics impacting AA women.

Since September 2010, ASPIRE has held 14 Speaker Series panels on such topics as women in politics, entrepreneurship and startups, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, mental and sexual health, work/life balance and journalism. The Speaker Series is catered toward Asian American women who are high school students, college students, graduate students, and working professionals.

Boston GreenFest4) 8th Annual Boston GreenFest
Friday, August 21, 12pm — Sunday, August 23, 6pm
Boston City Hall Plaza | One City Hall Square | Boston, MA
Twitter: @BosGreenFest

The 8th Annual Boston GreenFest is presented for FREE by the Foundation for a Green Future, Inc. This is a multi-experiential event that you will always remember! Held at Boston City Hall Plaza,Boston GreenFest is the region’s largest multicultural environmental music festival. Boston GreenFest is a celebration of life and possibility, providing you with ideas and experiences that can shape your life and the life of your community. Our goal is to inform EVERYONE as to the many ways green living can make a positive impact on our world, city, neighborhoods and each of us.  The three days have something of value for everyone – the festival is convenient, and free. Individuals, friends, families and groups are encouraged to be at this FREE event. Be part of this community for green change. Have fun, network, learn, and be inspired!

Northeast PHP Conference 5) Northeast PHP Conference 2015
August 22, 2015 – August 23, 2015
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter:@NEPHP

The Northeast PHP Conference is a community conference intended for networking and collaboration in the developer community.

PHP + UX + WEB = The best low-cost conference in North America!

Microsoft Power BI: Make Your Data Work for Your City

Microsoft Power BI: Make Your Data Work for Your City

This is the final installment in a three-part series on the role of Microsoft Office in local government.

The “BI” in Power BI may stand for “business intelligence,” but this doesn’t exclude the public sector from using its data like never before.

Power BI is a cloud-based business analytics service that enables anyone to visualize and analyze data with greater speed, efficiency, and understanding. Microsoft Power BI also includes Power BI Desktop, a powerful new visual data exploration and interactive reporting tool that provides a free-form canvas for drag-and-drop exploration of your data and an extensive library of interactive visualizations. Power BI allows users to easily share reports and dashboards with other city employees and constituents.

There are no other services that fully combine the power of Microsoft products with cutting-edge data visualization tools.  Cities can meet all of their data needs with Power BI – no additional software is required, nor is any database or programming experience necessary.

Through this presentation, I highlight the powerful uses of these tools combined with their ease-of-use.  Thanks to Power BI, any city employee could create a visualization using government data, share interactive visual reports with citizens, or use natural language instead of complex syntax to “ask” their data a question.  All of these tasks use the familiar interface of the Power BI Service and Desktop rather than a complex series of prompts or menus.

Indeed Power BI is a cost-effective solution for bringing powerful data analytics tools to city governments of any size.  Download the presentation below (update with messaging and features of the included deck) to get started and visit www.powerbi.com to try Power BI today.

Microsoft Power BI: Make Your Data Work for Your City

Hacktivists: Roll up your sleeves

I used to believe that technology was the great leveling force of our generation. Almost every developer I knew had taught him/herself how to code. And so it follows, I thought, that anyone who had the right cocktail of talent and hunger could sit down and teach himself the basics of web development. And from there, given time and internet, continue honing the craft that could ultimately lead to lasting and meaningful employment opportunities. Anecdotally, the story works. You’re probably one such case, and know of many others.

But data tells another story. Tech companies have consistently struggled to hire a diverse workforce. Fewer than 10% of college graduates are either black or Hispanic. White and Asian students vastly outperform their black and Hispanic peers in STEM-related school subjects. We’re not talking about segregation at the workplace. This is a much deeper problem, with its roots in the neighborhoods and schools that make up our young people’s learning environment. If the stats are to be believed, then my idyllic vision of Good Will Hunting fighting his way into the tech community by sheer force of will is largely a creature of the white middle class; his time, his three meals, his personal safety all luxuries that are not available to everyone.

That said, ambition and  brilliance are everywhere. What we aim to do at Resilient Coders is to identify, foment, and enable, rather than teach. There are no assignments or tests. We have a simple theory of change: Smart, ambitious young people working collaboratively, given the tools and a credible reason to succeed, will do amazing things. Our hackers are naturally curious, creative, and competitive people, which makes our job simple: Light the spark, and get out of the way.

This summer, we’ve been co-hosting the Media Leadership Institute with Press Pass TV. These young people have been learning audio/visual production, as well as HTML and CSS. They’ve been working in teams to design, pitch, and ultimately prototype out some civic software for the benefit of their communities. They pitched their concepts at OpenView a few weeks back, and now they’re ready to show you their work. On August 27th, from 6pm to 8pm, come celebrate with us, watch a couple of short films, talk to the hackers about their prototypes, and hang out with members of the tech community. RSVP for that here, for free.

If this summer doesn’t work for you but you’d like to be kept in the loop about future opportunities, sign up for the mailing list at resilientcoders.org/you.

Charles Blow poses an interesting question in an Op-Ed in the New York Times: “Will our future be highly delineated by who does and who doesn’t have a science education (and the resulting higher salary), making for even more entrenched economic inequality by race and gender?”

That technology will be at the center of tomorrow’s employment disparity is clear. The question left lingering on the table for us, the tech community, is this: What are you going to do about it today?