November 2014

Wearable devices can help you beat the holiday bulge


The holiday eating season is about to kick off: Thanksgiving brings us into the festive period of groaning buffet tables, cookie exchanges, and one more glass of eggnog or champagne. With the Giants scheduled to play at Jacksonville Sunday, you may be spending much of Thanksgiving weekend on the couch. It’s not surprising that many people worry about gaining weight during the last weeks of the year. But help is at hand, or on your wrist: Wearable devices can help you take charge of your health and fitness during the holidays and beyond.

Wearable fitness devices have been a hot category this year, with the addition of Microsoft Band to a market already featuring a range of wristbands, compact monitors and smart watches, and previews of more that are on the way. They make great gifts, but if you’re worried about holiday weight gain you may want to get one for yourself now and let it help you keep extra pounds at bay without skipping your favorite holiday celebrations.

There are three ways wearables work to help you beat the holiday bulge:

  • Movement. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, you’re not just being tempted with fattening, once-a-year indulgence foods and gift baskets; the round of parties, tasks and informal get-togethers also strain your schedule so that you start to think seriously about passing up workouts to make time for it all. Wearable devices track movement and speed, allowing you to see how well you’re meeting your daily goals for walking or running. Microsoft Band also tracks heart rate and other biometric data, and offers guided workouts, and Microsoft Health helps you collect useful insights from Microsoft Band and other devices. Whichever wearable you choose, keeping track of your activity can prompt you to take a walk through Central Park before finishing your shopping, or to hit the gym after work before dropping in at another party.
  • Nutrition. Most wearables are supported with apps and services that let you track what you eat, so you can get a clearer idea of how many calories you’ve consumed and whether you have room in your day for another mug of hot chocolate. Just making the effort to record your diet can inspire you to make healthier choices.
  • Friends. The apps and services that support wearables let you connect with your friends and peers, so you can cheer one another’s progress. Special competitive challenges let you push your friends to get in more movement during a day, workweek or weekend. And just as tracking your food makes you more conscious of the dietary choices you’re making, knowing that others are watching your activity can make you more determined to reach or even exceed your fitness goals.

So whether you’re kicking off the season by watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or settling in to watch game on Sunday, a wearable fitness device can help you keep your health and fitness goals in mind — a nice way to keep from being naughty this holiday season.


Societal Impact at Techonomy 2014

David Kirkpatrick kicked off Techonomy with a simple observation that’s had profound impact:

The empowerment of individuals is a central part of technology’s promise, and the corollary to the empowerment of the individual is disruption to the institution.

Half Moon Bay’s dramatic cliffs and crashing Pacific waves provided an ideal backdrop for conversations that spanned the future of humanity, society, and the planet.

I was invited to discuss civic tech, or how to empower individuals and communities while helping institutions evolve gracefully. Fortunately I was joining people-I’m-lucky-to-call peers, Kate Krontiris, Marci Harris, Katy Peters, and Jerry Paffendorf. Together we represented a wide swath of the broad movement that civic tech encompasses: citizen engagement, institutional innovation, amplifying democratic voice, and re-inventing cities. Our conversation covered the recent mid-term elections, as well as the renewed energy we’re seeing to get work done in local government and US cities.

Techonomy isn’t explicitly a civic tech conference, so some of our audience was new to our work, but as active participants considering the impact of tech on the economy and society at large, they got it pretty quickly. Astute questions ranged from “But what can your voting registration tech do about laws designed entirely to suppress the vote?” to “Climate change is clearly a regional problem — which local governments are working together at this level?” (with props to FEMA Region II).

Elsewhere at the conference, we discussed how gigantic companies can stay relevant and fight inertia to continue innovating, even at the expense of existing revenue and business units. You can watch free videos of the talks here. Speakers covered the kinds of incremental innovation that eventually create breakthroughs, as well as the completely disruptive innovation that arrives before many of us are ready for it. It cost $3 billion to sequence the human genome in 2003. Today, it costs $1,000 and dropping.

Civic tech might just be the glue between the new world and the old. As a movement, we are enthralled with the opportunity to do things in better ways, but we also understand that institutions move slowly and that the voice of the people must not be left behind.

New Microsoft Store Opens at Destiny USA in Syracuse, NY with Special Guests Thurman Thomas and Major Nelson!

New Microsoft Store Opens at Destiny USA in Syracuse, NY with Special Guests Thurman Thomas and Major Nelson!

We recently wrote about the Microsoft NFL app for Xbox One that every fantasy fan’s been raving about. Well, that’s real life today, because football star Thurman Thomas AND the Wizard of Oz of Xbox, Major Nelson, are both kicking off the festivities to celebrate the grand opening of our newest Microsoft Store at Destiny USA in Syracuse, New York!

Come join the fun! Meet Thomas and ask Major Nelson any burning questions you may have, all while enjoying some deals so sweet they just might put your grandma’s pumpkin pie to shame. (Sorry, Grandma!) For one day only, you can get the Toshiba Encore 2 WT8 32GB Signature Edition 8” for only $99 or, get an Xbox 360 4GB for only $99!

Hundreds of celebrators headed to Destiny USA last night and camped out outside to be one of the first into our new store—the line stretched far from the door before the ribbon cutting. We gave the first 500 people a Microsoft retail store gift card with a surprise amount ranging from $10 to $1,000. More than 100 of those customers in line were gifted a card worth $100 or more, and two lucky customers received $1,000 gift cards (lucky)!

New Microsoft Store Opens at Destiny USA in Syracuse, NY with Special Guests Thurman Thomas and Major Nelson!

Busy day at work? Don’t worry, if you’re an Xbox fan, be here tonight (Thursday November 13) from 7pm-9pm, for an exclusive Xbox event where you can get your game on with Major Nelson himself. You’ll have the chance to test drive the newest games on Xbox, including Halo: Master Chief Collection, Sunset Overdrive and Forza Horizon 2. Plus, get a chance to win special giveaways.

Get over here, play, and celebrate with us! Welcome to the team, Syracuse!

Special thanks to local community organizations Arc of Onondaga, Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways, On Point for College, and the YWCA of Syracuse and Onondaga County for helping to make this opening day celebration possible.

For more info about today’s Grand Opening Celebration Event, check out the Facebook Event.


New York Public Schools Recognize Computer Science Credit toward Graduation

New York Public Schools Recognize Computer Science Credit toward Graduation

Increasing access to computer science education sustains American innovation.  We know that to keep pace with technology in the modern workplace, students must gain even a basic understanding of computer science.  That’s why Microsoft is so encouraged that New York recently joined a growing number of states that count computer science courses as a math or science requirement toward graduation.

New York’s new education requirements will allow students to pursue and become proficient in courses that were previously not incorporated into the core curriculum of public education institutions.  This move comes at a critical time as the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2010 and 2020 approximately 60 percent of math and science job openings will be in computing professions.  At a time when less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in Computer Science, New York’s action will give students a leg up on the skills needed for a growing demand in jobs in the computer science field.

This effort began in the 2013 legislative session with action by Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi.  His persistence led to the New York State Education Department issuing new regulations in October 2014 and alerting all public schools in the State of New York that computer science courses are now eligible to count as a math or science requirement for graduation.  Read more about the effort here.

Microsoft applauds New York State’s leadership in ushering through this important change and looks forward to joining in recognizing Computer Science Education Week December 8-14, 2014.  Learn more about other free programs on the Microsoft YouthSpark Hub.  Microsoft YouthSpark is a company-wide global initiative providing young people with education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith on Human Rights in the Technology Sector at BSR Conference

Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith on Human Rights in the Technology Sector at BSR Conference

A global network for sustainability and technology, BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) works with 250 influential companies to promote sustainability and help drive social and environmental change through the corporate world. This week’s 2014 Business for Social Responsibility Conference, held in New York, focuses on transparency as a transformative action, lending a hand to energy and climate change, community involvement, and more. Thursday, Brad Smith heads to the BSR conference to show how Microsoft is involving itself in transparency and social change through its public policy involvement and more.

Brad Smith is the Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Legal and Corporate Affairs for Microsoft. His legal expertise spans 55 countries, in which he leads over 1,100 employees. His leadership with Microsoft involves government surveillance, public policy, privacy, intellectual property, immigration, corporate citizenship and computer science and STEM education policy. In his 20+ years with Microsoft, he has made a mark in the technology community by forging corporate and government agreements that have drastically changed law and policy within the IT sector.

Earlier this week, Brad stopped by Harvard to discuss online privacy and surveillance both with Microsoft and globally. While focusing on trust in technology and government, Smith explored transparency, public policy, and corporate involvement with government — all of which he promoted as a means to keep the public both safe and involved in the technology community.

Now, Brad joins BSR for yet another poignant discussion. From 8:50-9:30am ET on Thursday, Brad will be speaking on a panel titled “Collaboration in Action: Human Rights in the Technology Sector.” Joining him are Mark Chandler, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, and Chief Compliance Officer, Cisco Systems Inc. and Eileen Donahoe, Director, Global Affairs, Human Rights Watch. For those unable to attend, a livestream will be made available at this link.

Watching the livestream? Join us on Twitter with @BSRnews using the hashtag #BSR14.

Read more about Brad Smith here.

Where to Vote on Election Day in NYC

Where to Vote on Election Day in NYC

An informed voter is a powerful thing. November 4th is election day, and New Yorkers will choose their Attorney General, Comptroller, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, state congressional and senate representatives, and US congressional representatives.

You can find out what’s on your ballot before you get there by searching Bing for “My ballot“.

Search Bing for “elections” to get predictions and find out where you need to go on election day.

You can also watch election results come in on the same page. Go forth and be heard!

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik

New York Civic Tech Events in November

Yesterday, tens of thousands of New Yorkers and visitors ran the New York City Marathon in the face of 20 MPH headwinds. For the rest of this month, may the wind be at your back. Come join us at any of these events, and leave a comment if we missed something!

7pm tonight: New York Tech Meetup’s monthly demo night

Tuesday, November 4: Election Day. Go vote!

Wednesday, November 5th (and every Wednesday this month): Join Beta NYC for their weekly Code for America Brigades civic hack night.

Thursday, November 6th: Learn about Loomio, a tool for collaborative decision-making, at GovLab’s Demo for Democracy webcast

Thursday, November 6th: Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith will be speaking on a panel at the 2014 Business for Social Responsibility Conference from 8:50-9:30am ET. The session is titled “Collaboration in Action: Human Rights in the Technology Sector.” Not able to attend? You can watch the livestream here.

Saturday, November 8th: An East-coast edition of Civic Design Camp! It’s “a day-long “unconference” that will bring together some of the top public servants, designers and innovators to create connections, share knowledge, and strengthen the emerging movement dedicated to creating better citizen experiences!”

Monday, November 10th: I’ll be at Techonomy in Half Moon Bay, CA discussing how technology can improve our governments and communities. I’ll be discussing this central civic engagement question with Kate Krontiris, Nigel Jacob, Jerry Paffendorf, and Kathryn Peters.

Locally November 10th: SXSW Interactive NYC Area Community Meet Up from 6:00pm-8:00pm at Makeshift Society Brooklyn.

Tuesday, November 18th: Data-Driven NYC Meetup

Thursday, November 20th: NYU Polytechnic Incubator1776 present Challenge Cup: New York City, a competition featuring NYC’s most innovative startups. Join us for pitches, food, and drink as we explore innovative approaches to the city’s biggest challenges.

November 27th: Take some time with family or friends to be thankful.