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Windows on Theory
Posted by Rob Knies
Phase transitions. Statistical physics. Probability theory.To many of us, such concepts are simply beyond our grasp, accessible, if at all, only as something relating, in some vague, hazy fashion, to issues mathematical or topics scientific. Such fields, if they are in the least approachable, beckon only to the special few, those who have scaled the peaks of academia, the brightest of the bright.Such fields beckoned—and beckon still—to Christian Borgs.That has become apparent in November 2013, a month in which Borgs, deputy managing director of Microsoft Research New England, has been named a Fellow of not just one, but two prestigious U.S. organizations.
The annual Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) conference focuses on technologies that affect groups, organizations, communities, and networks. When the folks behind the conference decided it was time to begin to honor influential papers in the field, it made sense to turn to individuals who have had a significant organizational effect.After careful deliberation, then, it was only fitting that they turned to Jonathan Grudin of Microsoft Research.In a release posted last week on the website of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Grudin was named winner of the CSCW’s first Lasting Impact Award.
Posted by Kelly Berschauer
You can feel the stress building—you’re on deadline, your computer has stalled to a standstill, you’re pounding keys in frustration, and your blood is boiling. You’re about to explode. And at that exact moment, your computer tells you to take deep breath and a walk. Thanks to a team of Microsoft researchers within the VIBE group (Visualization and Interaction for Business and Entertainment) within Microsoft Research, the technology that would make that intervention possible is a work in progress focusing on human-computer interaction and clinical psychology. Three years ago, the team started working in the area of affective computing: designing systems that attempt to identify your mood and react accordingly, in order to help you reflect on your own state.
Making a business presentation can be daunting. Interaction with the audience might require you to change the flow of your presentation by jumping to a different section in your PowerPoint presentation. Or you might want to show supporting evidence in an Excel or Word document. Either you’ve faced these challenges or you’ve seen somebody else address them, but you know the drill.With Office Remote, a collaboration between Microsoft Research and the Microsoft Office engineering team, you can manage such modern presentation flows from the palm of your hand.“Office Remote turns your phone into a smart remote that interacts with Microsoft Office on your PC,” says Bert Van Hoof, an Office group program manager. “The app lets you control Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from across the room so you can walk around freely during presentations.”
Data centers are playing an increasingly important role in powering 21st-century computing, and that trend seems likely to intensify over the foreseeable future. One of the keys to making data centers efficient is to improve their rate of availability, but that typically entails significant additional costs in infrastructure.But what if improved service availability could be achieved while reducing infrastructure costs? And what if those combined benefits could be enhanced even further by meeting established industrial commitments to sustainability. Now we’re talking win-win big time, right?It’s no pipe dream, as becomes evident in a post published Nov. 12 on the Microsoft Data Centers Blog in which Sean James, senior research program manager for Microsoft’s Global Foundation Services group describes how his team, in consultation with Microsoft Research, is taking an unconventional approach to powering a data center entirely via fuel cells integrated directly into server racks.