November 2015

Microsoft Top Picks: 6 Not-to-Miss Events This Week

Events 11-30

With Thanksgiving over and another holiday season just beginning, we’re giving the last month of the year a one-two punch with plenty of events! Celebrate the beginning of December with our top picks for events in computer science, civic technology, and STEM education:

CU7Ib1nWcAQuz8W1) WP as a Non-Blogging WebApp Framework & Creating
Monday, November 30, 6:30pm — 9pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @bostonwp | @amykvistad | @professor | @JonDBishop |  @kadamwhite | @melchoyce | @reikob | @thatbeach | @ryelle | @jjrohrer | @AmandaGilesNH | #BostonWP

Presentation 1: WordPress as a Non-Blogging WebApp Framework

SchoolTwist is a new SAAS student registration service (and marketplace) to help PTAs offer after-school enrichment classes. WordPress multisite serves as their backend and SchoolTwist will go over the challenges in using it for SchoolTwist, how they overcame those issues (hint: lots of custom plugins), and what they’d like to see from WordPress that would make it better suited for generic web-apps.

Presentation 2: Creating Customizable Widgets for Unpredictable Needs

Although your client may think they know what they want and where they want it – that’s bound to change. Learn how to develop your own customizable widgets so you can put the control into your client’s hands. In this session, we’ll review how to create your own widgets with options so that clients can add the features they want, change them, and move them around all on their own.

2) Boston Tech Breakfast1414000020
Tuesday, December 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!

Centennial-web-logo3) The Boston Foundation Centennial Gala Dinner
Wednesday, December 2, 6pm — 10pm
The Westin Copley Place | 10 Huntington Ave | Boston
Twitter: @bostonfdn

Please hold the evening of Wednesday, December 2, 2015 for The Boston Foundation’s 100th Anniversary Gala Dinner. Proceeds from this unique gala will support community grant making and the Permanent Fund for Boston, which fuels the Foundation’s work in Greater Boston.

python-boston-sq_400x4004) Boston Python December Project Night
Thursday, December 3, 6:30pm — 9pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @bostonpython

Python project nights are unstructured chances for Python developers to work together, mentor each other, connect socially, teach, learn, or do whatever else it is Python developers want to do together. Our project nights are great ways to build the Python community, by allowing them to meet and interact in whatever way they find most beneficial.

Ship_steering_wheel_400x4005) BASUG 2015 Q4 – Coders Corner
Thursday, December 3, 8am — 1pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @SASBoston

BASUG is an all-volunteer local user group whose mission is to further the interests of users of The SAS System.  Our meetings consist of technical presentations (tutorials, applications, and new features of The SAS System), as well as solutions to your programming problems. We typically run four meetings per year as well as several specialized training sessions.

The topic for our 2015 Q4 meeting is a BASUG favorite: Coders Corner!  Come hear quick tips and techniques from your fellow SAS programmers.

MTLC_EF_logo_RGB_web_v1-300x1006) Technovation: Season 2016 Kickoff & Orientation Event
Saturday, December 5, 1:30pm — 6pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @masstlcef

Interested in taking part in the Technovation Challenge? Come to the Kickoff for the 2016 Technovation Season! Get the info, find a team, and start working on ideas!

Microsoft New England is Thankful!

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Thanksgiving is a time of year where we ideally slow down from our daily pace, and reflect on what is important to us: family, friends, health, goodwill towards others. I’ve always appreciated the fact that the focus of Thanksgiving is celebrating connections between people near and far.

As part of our civic engagement work for Microsoft New England, we are fortunate to work with a breadth of passionate, compassionate and thoughtful people who work in a number of ways towards building a stronger community. In the spirit of the season, we thought it would be a good time to express our gratitude to some of the people who devote their energies, brainpower and resources towards the greater civic good. We are grateful for:

  • The civic technologists who look closely at community challenges and thoughtfully pursue solutions. There are so many organizations in this space for which we are appreciative: from Code for Boston, to startups like Agora and CoUrbanize, to the City of Boston’s Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics.
  • The people and organizations who support said civic technologists, by providing resources, funding, space, ideas and support. From the venture capitalists who take a chance on a civic technology startup, accelerators like MassChallenge that kickstart a civic startup’s growth, to District Hall and Venture Café who create the space for ideas and community networks to flourish—many people contribute towards the support of the civic space.
  • The government entities who both remind the tech community of its societal priorities as well as support civic innovation. We are so fortunate to have thought leadership at the city, regional and state level in the civic technology space, who represent the opportunities that technology can address, sponsor civic technology activities, and lead as talented practitioners.
  • The educators and educational institutions who teach the skills needed for civic innovation, whether that’s coding, the civic process, or the steps to citizenship.
  • The citizens who are willing to take an evening, or set of evenings, to share their knowledge, give input, write code for a worthy civic cause.

By no means is this an exhaustive list. There are people who, by their daily actions, demonstrate civic affiliation, whether it’s voting, picking up a piece of trash, or volunteering their time. Whether your civic activities are public or private, professional or personal: we are grateful for what you do!

Is there an organization we should add to our list? Let us know — tweet to us at @MSNewEngland or by using our #civictechbos hashtag.

Celebrating The Hour of Code with Minecraft

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The Hour of Code is here!

To kick off another Computer Science Education Week (December 7 — 11), we’re excited to join for the Hour of Code. The quick and easy program teaches anyone to code with an hour of fun that shows the amazing things you can create with code. And this year, we’re even more excited to announce that the Hour of Code tutorial uses Minecraft to teach code to all!

Anybody can learn to code, and this year, you can join 1,922,485 others in an educational opportunity that takes an hour, but lasts a lifetime. Imagine all the possibilities you can build with code.

Read the full announcement at the Microsoft News Center.

Looking for more coding opportunities? Find more coding tools and resources for students, parents, and educators at

Celebrating the Sixth New England GiveCamp


The sixth New England GiveCamp was held on the weekend of Nov 6-8th at BlueMetal Architects in Watertown Square. Microsoft New England is a founding sponsor of this annual event which brings together area non-profit organizations with volunteer developers, designers, and program managers to work on a variety of assets empowering the charities to better serve their constituents. The 2015 edition included 13 New England organizations, among them the Science Club for Girls from Cambridge; the J. W. Foley Legacy Foundation of Rochester, New Hampshire, and Vital Pathways from Houlton, Maine. One of the projects, Books and Balloons, was conceived and executed by a team ranging in age from 10 to 16!

Volunteer-wise, technologists and designers traveled from five states and as much as 200 miles away to spend day (and night) assisting in a variety of tasks including website development, database integration, and logo and newsletter design. About a third of the participants – both volunteers and non-profit representatives – bunked for both nights at the event, as evidenced by a number of tents sprinkled throughout the venue! While on-site, participants are provided meals, snacks, and amply caffeinated beverages solely through the financial and in-kind donations of its sponsors.

As relayed by co-founder Kelley Muir in her TEDx talk from the Spring of 2015, New England GiveCamp has mobilized over 500 volunteers to provide an estimated $750,000 in services to over 100 non-profit organizations in the greater New England area. The organizational committee is in the initial planning stages for the 2016 New England GiveCamp and invites the community to follow its progress at on Twitter, and via e-mail at We especially encourage non-profit organizations and their volunteers to seek us out for potential attendance at next year’s event.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Code for Boston!

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Photo: Ethan Bagley,

Last month marked the third birthday of Code for Boston. Three years ago, we had our very first meeting as part of Code for America‘s nascent Brigade program, which had the audacious goal of harnessing high-tech volunteers and bringing them together with government and municipal groups to build a community around civic technology and citizen engagement.

In the time since, Code for Boston has partnered with a wide variety of municipal, community, and private sector organizations on events, apps, policy initiatives, and more. Together with those partners, we’ve produced an amazing body of work in these three years: We’ve launched the award-winning MBTA.Ninja, the Finda mapping platform, Ungentry@MBTA_alerts, and several other apps; built a vibrant community of 2000+ Meetup members; held six major civic hackathons and 150+ weekly hack nights; helped support a Code for America Fellowship team in Somerville; worked with Cambridge on their open data ordinance; and placed five Code for Boston members into civic tech jobs.

We are both immensely proud of the work we’ve accomplished, and extremely humbled by the support we’ve received from our collaborators here in the Boston area: Municipal partners such as the cities of Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston; community groups like the Dudley Square Neighborhood Initiative, YouthHub Boston, and Food for Free, and private sector companies like Microsoft New England and Zipcar have all provided us with the data, event space, funding, and engaged partnerships that have allowed us to push forward. It’s been our absolute pleasure to work together as we’ve forged a new type of collaboration between government, citizen, and community.

Code for Boston wouldn’t be where we are today without each of those organizations, and our amazing, incredible volunteers who devote so much of their time and creativity to solving civic issues through technology. Together, we’ve shown that technology can be an amazing force for true social good, and we’ve demonstrated to the country what an incredible place the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is for civic innovation. It’s been an amazing journey for us as a volunteer-run, grassroots organization, and we’re excited for what the future will bring.

This coming weekend, on Saturday Nov 21, we look to continue addressing critical civic issues by kicking off our first-ever #HackWinter App Challenge, as a response to last year’s brutal winter weather. A three-and-a-half week app challenge, #HackWinter will bring technologists together to focus on winter-specific problems that face our region in the areas of Transit, Infrastructure, and Community. We took a crack at this last year at February’s CodeAcross hackathon, which produced MBTA.Ninja. But this time, we wanted to get to work on some of these projects before the first snowfall, and we have some great challenge statements coming from the MBTA and local public works departments as well as community groups, public health agencies, and more.

The #HackWinter Kickoff event is free, and registration information can be found at our Eventbrite page. Participants are also encouraged to participate remotely on our DevPost site. Additionally, Code for Boston weekly hack nights – held every Tuesday at CIC from 7-10pm – are open for participants to work on their projects, and for anyone interested in learning about civic technology more generally.

It’s been a great three years of collaboration, community-building, and civic hacking for us at Code for Boston. We’re looking forward to many more.

Microsoft’s Day of Caring to support the Northeast Give Campaign


Microsoft New England held its annual Day of Caring on Monday, November 16 to support our Give Campaign that runs each fall. 50 Microsoft employees participated in this event, reading to 6-11 year old children that attend 1st-5th grade at the King Open School in Cambridge. Before the event, Principal Darrell Williams explained to employees the importance of mentoring and literacy skills to underserved urban elementary school students.

Microsoft partnered with READ TO A CHILD to organize this special event. READ TO A CHLD is a national non-profit that inspires adults to regularly read aloud to underserved children in order to improve a child’s success in school and life. Microsoft employees read age appropriate books to groups of five elementary students as well as explained what they did at Microsoft and answered work-related questions. As READ TO A CHILD explains, having a caring adult spend time with young students provides benefits to youth self-esteem and self-confidence. Being read aloud to improves literacy skills and develops a love of reading. Students also benefit from hearing what Microsoft employees do for work, enabling them to envision careers in the technology field.

Microsoft Top Picks: 9 Not-to-Miss Events This Week

Events 11-16 (2)

With only a week before the holiday season kicks off in full speed, we’re keeping on track with the top events in our community. Here are our top picks for events you don’t want to miss this week:

14447448731) UX Fair — a World Usability Day Event
Monday, November 16, 2pm — 6:30pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @uxpaboston

Welcome to the second annual UX Fair, an afternoon jam-packed with UX goodness.

This event is targeted at students, career changers, job seekers, recruiters, potential employers, and anyone who works or wants to work with UX professionals, including project managers, developers, marketers, and tech or design managers.

1f8QiNbN_400x4002) Interaction Design Foundation Boston/Wakefield Mash-Up Monthly
Tuesday, November 17, 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-Wakefieild 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.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 8.56.58 PM3) Boston Python November Presentation Night
Tuesday, November 17, 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.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 8.55.21 PM4) Light The Night Awards Party
Wednesday, November 18, 6pm — 8pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @MALightTheNight

The Light The Night Awards party is a chance for the event’s top fundraisers, sponsors, LLS-funded researchers, cancer specialists, cancer survivors and others affected by blood cancers to come together to celebrate on their accomplishments.  It’s an evening reception (business casual) that is followed with a short program that has both mission and executive speakers and uses the techonological capabilities of the room to recap the season.   It’s additionally one of the ways we, at LLS, can say thank you for everyone’s hard work on this years walk, which is estimated to raise $1.2M to put toward our mission of new cures and treatments for blood cancers and aid to patients and their families.

roxbury-inno5) Learn Lab Workshops: Website Design
Friday, November 20, 2pm — 3pm
Roxbury Innovation Center | 2300 Washington Street, 2nd Floor | Boston
Twitter: @RoxburyInno

Crash course demonstration specifically targeted for small businesses. Introduction to web design methods.

The Learn Lab Workshops are a partnership between the Venture Café Foundation and Microsoft This series of workshops at the Roxbury Innovation Center are designed to help innovators develop technology skills to achieve their goals. Workshops will span a wide range of topics from how to build apps to email productivity, from spreadsheet and presentation skills to special tools for learning in the classroom

MES15 logo6) Media Education Summit 2015
Friday, November 20 — Sunday, November 21
Emerson College | 180 Tremont St | Boston
Twitter: @CEMPBU | 

The 8th Media Education Summit brings together a global network of media educators, scholars and researchers to share research, pedagogy and innovation on all aspects of media education and media in education.

14461145697) Boston Code Camp 24
Saturday, November 21, 8am — 6pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @BostonCodeCamp

Code Camp is a one day mini-conference. Code Camp brings regional computing professionals together for the opportunity to immerse themselves in seminars, presentations, group exploration, and networking. Participants will be able to engage in their preferred technology, as well as to sample other options, with a focus on extending information exchange and enhancing the cross pollination of ideas.

9b0c04762bda29bbd2ef09a49e7c4cf1_400x4008) #HackWinter 2015
Saturday, November 21, 10am — 5pm
Microsoft New England | 255 Main Street | Cambridge
Twitter: @CodeForBoston

#HackWinter 2015 is a three-and-a-half week app challenge focusing on winter-specific apps that can help our community in the focus areas of Transit, Infrastructure, and Community. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be reaching out to Public Works Departments in the Greater Boston Area as well as community groups, public health agencies, and more to serve as problem owners for the challenge.

1f1c59e8dff3a38b306745d8fc652b70_400x4009) America SCORES Boston Poets’ Banquet
Saturday, November 21, 3pm — 6pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @SCORESBoston

America SCORES Boston is a non-profit organization that serves over 1400 Boston Public School students by providing soccer and literacy based programming to students grades 3-8 in an afterschool setting through poetry and service learning workshops and organized soccer.

Elementary poetry teachers nominate a boy and girl from their school to audition for the America SCORES National Poetry Slam.  The Poet’s Banquet is a celebration of their hard work and also an opportunity for every nominee (28) to audition in front of their friends, family, board members, and fellow nominees.  At  the end of the Banquet one boy and one girl will be chosen to represent Boston at the National Poetry Slam with an all expense paid trip to New York City.


Honoring Veterans Every Day

Every November, we pause for a day to honor our veterans who have served overseas and returned home to us. After a day filled with parades, ceremonies, and banquets, it can be hard to remember that our veterans need support year-round. From returning to the civilian workforce to receiving proper healthcare to simply finding a home, we can work around the clock to give back to our veterans who have served so bravely for our freedoms.

As part of Microsoft’s commitment to community, we take the time to serve our veterans the way they served for us. After months to years of service, these veterans must take on the jarring task of returning immediately to civilian life — and that’s where we can help.

This year, we were proud to sponsor Team Red White & Blue in their second annual Old Glory Relay, a two-month, 3,540-mile journey across the continental U.S to shine a light on our nation’s veterans:

And every year, we help open doors for our service members by providing training and career opportunities in the tech industry. After all, a veteran’s spirit lies within innovation and entrepreneurship. This year, we’re excited to announce an expansion to our Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) from three regions to nine, bringing our coverage to a total of 12 bases nationwide. Read more here.

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And our work has just begun. This Veterans Day, we encourage you to honor our service members and challenge you to keep them in mind year-round.

Fostering Innovation at the Roxbury Innovation Center


The Roxbury Innovation Center (RIC) is teeming with success. Not only have two community sessions been successfully implemented by Microsoft’s own Eliza Mulcahy, but the sessions have also been free and open to the entire community. As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, we’re specifically excited that the RIC strives to foster innovation.

The Greater Boston community can only grow and serve constituents in a savvy manner if citizens have the ability to create new ventures. However, venture creation requires some pre-requisites: you need to know how to successfully run a business before you can start one. Likewise, you need to know the software you’ll be using to manage your venture, before your start-up can compete for a spot in an accelerator like MassChallenge! That’s where our RIC sessions come into the equation. The Microsoft New England team wanted to offer free sessions to the community to provide the 311 about successfully starting a start-up. While our sessions do vary in nature, each session seeks to impart a bit of innovation “wisdom” on participations.

The first of the sessions that Microsoft sponsored at RIC detailed the nuances of Excel: charts, graphs and excel sheets were thoroughly explained. Excel is a necessary skill in the world of business, start-ups and innovation, as it allows aspiring entrepreneurs to catalogue their thoughts in a cohesive manner. Each participant was given a Surface to follow along as a live demonstration illustrated all of the functions Excel can preform.

The most recent session Microsoft New England sponsored was a “breakfast” for small business owners during which Eliza explained the new Windows 10 software. Windows 10 provides users with sleek updates that assist with word processing and alleviate writing woes. Again, all participants were invited to see a live demonstration of the software.

We have two more sessions coming up in the near future, so be sure to attend!

  1. Website Design on 11/20
    Crash course demonstration specifically targeted for small businesses. Introduction to web design methods.
  2. Build Your First App on 12/7
    We all use apps every day, but have you ever thought, “I wish there was an app for that!?!” Now you can learn to build your very own app using Touchdevelop.

Microsoft Top Picks: 3 Not-to-Miss Events This Week

With a mid-week National Holiday, it can be difficult to plan your own calendar. Luckily, we’ve grabbed 3 events for you not to miss this week — including one that honors our veterans:

1609937_604626469660895_7872338509195549429_n1) City Awake Boston
Thursday, November 5 — Saturday, November 14

Various Locations | Boston, MA
Twitter: @CityAwakeBoston

This November, City Awake will unite and empower the Boston community with the second annual City Awake Festival for Social Impact. In bringing together individuals, organizations, and institutions that are invested in the growth of our city and its social impact work, this ten-day, citywide festival provides the platform to increase awareness and maximize impact of the efforts and initiatives of the for-impact community. Similar to the inaugural year, the pulse of the 2015 festival will depend upon our hundreds of existing and new partner organizations, while also featuring new elements that highlight the outcomes – and drivers – of City Awake’s 2015 programmatic initiatives.

MA STEM Summit2) Massachusetts STEM Summit
Tuesday, November 10, 7:30am — 4pm
DCU Center | 50 Foster Street | Worcester
Twitter: @UMASSDonahue | 

The annual Massachusetts STEM Summit promotes Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education and workforce development from early childhood through adulthood. Now in its second decade, the Summit convenes the state’s educators, business leaders, policymakers, parents, students, and others to share strategies, initiatives, collaborations, and ideas.

3) Boston’s Veterans Day Parade and Veterans For Peace Parade
Wednesday, November 11, 1pm
Boston Common and Boston City Hall | Boston

The Veterans Day Parade honors Boston veterans, BPD and BFD (many of whom are veterans themselves). The parade begins at the Boston Common and ends at City Hall Plaza.

A few minutes after the Veterans Day Parade, The Veterans For Peace Parade begins, following the same route. The Veterans For Peace Parade seeks to increase awareness on societal impact of wars and the role society plays. This parade focuses on the idea of ending war and bringing soldiers home.