The Fire Hose

Covering the news of the day at Microsoft

The Fire Hose

  • Zombies and inner demons dominate ‘Deadlight,’ free Games with Gold title until April 30

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    Welcome to the world of fighting both zombies and inner demons in “Deadlight,” a survival-horror adventure. It’s available to Xbox Live Gold members, who have access to Games with Gold on Xbox 360 and get a new, free game every two weeks.

    “Deadlight,” available for free until April 30, puts you in the rapidly moving shoes of Randall Wayne, who is desperate to get back to his family amid the horrors of a zombie apocalypse. In the game’s bleak-yet-lush atmosphere, built on a heavily customized Unreal Engine 3, Wayne faces not only the living dead, but his own inner demons.

  • Bing donates scholarships for military vets

    General Assembly, a global group that provides practical education in business, technology and design, has unveiled the Opportunity Fund, a scholarship and support program. The pilot program is in New York City and will serve underrepresented students entering the technology industry. As part of the program, Bing is underwriting eight scholarships for military veterans.

  • New All-in-One Media Keyboard lets you easily navigate photos, videos from tablet to TV

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    There’s nothing like sharing our photos and videos on the big screen – our home TVs – with family and friends from the comfort of our couches. Microsoft’s new All-in-One Media Keyboard lets you do that easily when you connect a laptop or tablet to a TV.

    The All-in-One Media Keyboard has a multi-touch trackpad next to its full size keyset so you can not only type things but swipe, drag, drop, zoom and click, writes Brandon LeBlanc. There are also three buttons above the trackpad that you can customize for quick access to your favorite apps, including Xbox Music or Video, Netflix and Hulu.

  • #MSFTCOSO POV: How and when to have the ‘e-talk’ with your kids

    The following post is from Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer at Microsoft. Once a month on The Fire Hose, Beauchere gives her point of view on topics related to the global consumer online safety, privacy and security landscape. Follow the conversation on Twitter at #MSFTCOSO.


    If children have access to online technology, it’s never too late—or too early—to teach them sound habits and practices that will help keep them safer online. Such tips can help parents decide what issues are important for their families, starting with what I call “The Four Es” – Engage, Educate, Enforce and Evaluate.

    Historically, in Western culture, when having “the talk,” adults agonized over explaining “the birds and bees.” Today, that critical dialogue—or monologue in many instances—has all but been supplanted by how to talk to kids about various aspects of digital freedom. With some simple guidance, this “e-talk” doesn’t have to be painful or awkward. So, whether it’s a mobile phone, a social media profile or texting privileges, how to use technology safely, responsibly and appropriately, together with family rules, help create the recipe for good digital citizenship.

  • Blaze a new trail with 8 hiking and outdoor apps for Windows Phone and Windows

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    TouchMountain app for Windows Phone helps you identify nearby peaks.

    Finally. The season is beckoning us outdoors, into the sunshine, and we’re ready to go. Now it’s only light-jacket time, no heavy-duty parkas needed. But how to cut down on some other gear you might want to take? Of course you’ll have your Windows Phone device with you. And that means you can add some very useful apps to your mobile to help guide you as you go, and give you many of the tools you’ll want while you’re out and about.

    You’ll find many apps in The Great Outdoors Collection in the Windows Phone Store. But here are eight to start with for Windows Phone and for Windows. These apps can help you safely blaze your own trails as you enjoy the weeks and months ahead:

  • Building an efficient future began in the cloud for facility service provider ABM

    ABM, one of the largest facility service providers in the U.S., acquired The Linc Group in 2010, and needed to figure out how to deal with with several work-order management systems that could relay work activity to employees in the field. A solution, developed by Xelleration, led ABM to the cloud.

    ABM needed to develop a solution that “pulled information across platforms into a simple interface,” write Katie Knoll and Anthony Novotne of Xelleration. Workers needed to be able to view the status of current work activities, take on new ones and earn rewards to encourage efficiency and quality, “all inside a secure device agnostic field-deployable application.”

  • You’re not crazy, the music for ‘Super Time Force’ is like reliving the Nintendo years

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    If you’ve seen any videos of Capybara Games’ upcoming "Super Time Force" — a “time-bending, side-scrolling shooter with some of the most beautiful pixel art this side of the 1980s” according to Xbox Wire — you’ve probably heard the music of Jason "6955" DeGroot.

    His hypnotizing soundtrack is the backdrop for the frenetic action in the game, and it’s all based around NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) sounds, he says, which are “simple pulse/triangle/noise waves.”

  • You can now use Outlook.com to import and manage your Yahoo Mail

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    Starting Wednesday, Outlook.com customers can import and manage their email from Yahoo Mail, the Office Blogs reports.

    To help you, the import wizard in Outlook.com will take you through the steps to import and manage your Yahoo Mail, Gmail or other IMAP-enabled email providers. You can keep your old email addresses, but manage all of them from one place: Outlook.com.

  • Microsoft and Brazilian state team up to release crime monitoring system

    On Wednesday, Mariano de Beer, general manager of Microsoft Brazil, announced that Microsoft and the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, have deployed Detecta, an intelligent system for monitoring crime.

    The governor of the Brazilian state of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin, has deployed Detecta, an intelligent system of crime monitoring for use in his jurisdiction. This tool, jointly developed between Microsoft and New York City, uses cutting-edge technology to improve police work. In New York City, this technology has been used for counter-terrorism efforts, as well as other types of crimes. This is the first time that the tool will be used outside of New York City. The first results of the deployment are expected to be seen four months after implementation.

  • Combine ‘Zoo Tycoon’ and LEGO for charity, and you get ‘Build for Good’

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    Microsoft and six other Seattle-area companies participated in LEGO’s “Build for Good” charity event recently where five-person teams were challenged to create something beneficial for humanity using only LEGO Mindstorm EV3 kits.

    The souped-up LEGO kits sell for $350, and have electronic components that can be programmed to perform a variety of tasks such as grasping, traveling along paths and sensing objects via infrared.

  • How to make ‘intelligent’ cities more sustainable ecosystems

    Cities may be getting good at collecting data ― they can monitor traffic, for example, and deploy services accordingly. But in order for them to truly be “intelligent”, these cities must also become more sustainable, writes Gary Wachowicz, industry managing director of Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector.

    Until recently, the discussion around intelligent cities has been focused on improving efficiency. The newly formed, non-profit City Protocol Society is working to elevate the conversation to one of sustainability, and a long-term view of productivity and livability.

  • ‘Trials Fusion’: Nature, technology and now, 40 new levels and more challenges for each track

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    Xbox Wire got a walkthrough of what’s new in the latest "Trials Fusion" from RedLynx and there’s a lot: 40 new levels, more character customization options, challenges for each track and a four-wheeler that handles differently than anything you’ve probably seen.

    RedLynx has more in the works for the game that creates a future in which technology and nature co-exist. "The whole idea of 'Trials' is what we call the 'Minecraft Model' ― you buy it once, and you get all the upcoming features for free," RedLynx co-founder and creative director Antti Ilvessuo said. "You buy the game, you're buying a ticket.”

  • ‘Castle Raid 2’ brings new alliances and battles to Windows Phone, tablets and PCs

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    Plunge into a magical realm of noble knights and sage wizards in “Castle Raid 2” and defend your castle against dragons, assassins and the evil Reavers. You can find this sequel, with its new alliances and battles, in the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store.

  • Seattle Art Museum website sports stunning new look thanks to grant from Microsoft

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    The Seattle Art Museum’s website has a stunning new look, with more ways for the public to engage with the museum – through high-resolution images and videos from virtual collections, museum maps and ticket purchasing – after a re-do of the site using a grant from Microsoft.

    The site is now optimized for mobile devices, so that “people walking down the street looking for something to do on a Saturday afternoon can pull up the SAM site, become really intrigued by what they see, and decide spur of the moment to visit the museum,” said Roberto Yglesias, business technology director at Buildingi, a local company that helped create the SharePoint-powered site.

  • Yammer’s Mid-Market Matters gives back to San Francisco neighborhood through community service

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    In 2013 Yammer moved its offices to 9th and Market in San Francisco — right in the heart of the Mid-Market and Tenderloin areas. Mid-Market Matters was born shortly afterward to connect Yammer employees with community events and volunteer opportunities. Since then, Yammer employees have spent countless hours getting acquainted with its neighborhood by patronizing local establishments, volunteering at nonprofit organizations and partnering with Mid-Market neighbors to drive community activities.

  • Be more flexible with new Lenovo FLEX 2 dual-mode laptops

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    On Wednesday, Lenovo announced two new FLEX 2 dual-model laptops that can be used as either a traditional laptop or in “stand mode,” by flipping the keyboard underneath the screen 300 degrees.

    The FLEX 2 14-inch and 15.6-inch devices will start at $799 and $429, respectively, and will be available beginning in June via Lenovo.com and retailers.

  • How to pick the right tools for battle in ‘Titanfall’

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    Are you a “Titanfall” newbie? A graduate, having hit Level 10? A veteran? No matter your level of expertise, picking the right tools for battles is crucial to developing a winning, robot-crushing game strategy.

    On Tuesday, Xbox Wire published a post with detailed strategies for weapons and ability pairings for all levels of players.

  • New Toshiba Satellite with 4K Ultra HD display starts at $1,499

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    The Toshiba Satellite P55t with 4K Ultra HD display.

    Toshiba’s new Satellite P55t, available April 22, comes with a super-high resolution 4K Ultra HD display. With 4K technology, display resolution is multiplied by four for much finer and smoother video images.

    The laptop, with prices starting at $1,499, is a great choice for creative professionals who not only want to view, but create, content in 4K Ultra HD. Its modern and sleek design features edge-to-edge LCD glass, frameless LED-backlit keyboard and brushed aluminum finish. It will be available April 22 direct from Toshiba.

  • Set up Bing.com to show personalized news, weather and more

    Starting Wednesday, a set of personalized cards on the Bing home page will help you keep track of things that matter to you. Set up your interests in Bing settings and you will start seeing personalized news, weather, flights, stocks and more to come.

  • Microsoft announces sustainable energy partnership with University of Texas, San Antonio

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    As part of Microsoft’s effort to reinvent the datacenter to be more efficient and use more sustainable energy sources, we’re forming a 3-year agreement with the University of Texas at San Antonio to develop distributed generation technologies, writes Brian Janous, director of energy strategy.

    Students at UTSA will work hand-in-hand with Microsoft researchers to look into new “fast-start generation” energy technologies such as micro-turbines to replace the diesel generators that are used during times of peak demand.

  • Taking natural interaction with computers to the next level

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    Imagine a future when we’ll do more than touch, swipe and tap away at our interactive work stations, but will communicate with our devices increasingly through voice and gesture.

    In meeting rooms, massive touchscreens will let multiple people interact simultaneously, while tracking who and where we are, what we’re doing and saying, and adapting accordingly.

    This is the new NUI (natural user interface), and the Holy Grail for those who believe that computing will someday be as natural as breathing.

  • App of the Week: Step up to the high-stakes table with ‘World Series of Poker: Full House Pro’

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    If Jokers wild, one-eyed Jacks and Aces high are your thing, then you need to check out “World Series of Poker: Full House Pro” in the Windows Store right now.

    The Microsoft Studios-designed game lets players build their bankroll as they compete against others from around the world. You can personalize your experience with flashy avatar accessories, amazing chip tricks and real-world casino venues.

  • Microsoft chosen by Emirates Airline as key partner for World Cup ad campaign

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    Emirates Airline and its media agency Havas Media Group have chosen Microsoft Advertising as a key partner for the airline’s World Cup advertising campaign.

    The campaign, which began March 28 and ends April 21, features soccer legends Cristiano Ronaldo and Pele aboard Emirates’ flagship aircraft, the Airbus A380, and runs across services including MSN, Xbox, Windows 8 and Skype on four different screens (PC, TV, tablet and mobile).

  • Get more out of the Skype Community with tips on subscriptions, advanced searches and replies

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    To stay up-to-date with Skype, the Skype Community should be one of your go-to destinations. Skype’s Tips & Tricks blog shows you how to make the most of the Community through forum subscriptions, advanced search features and helpful replies. 

  • Internet of Things website shows how hospitals benefit from new and existing data and devices

    The Internet of Things encompasses all kinds of new technologies and services that enable hospitals, for one, to bring together existing systems and data – while maintaining compliance and security and improving patient care.