By Jason Chee, Microsoft Student Partner
Jason is a contributing writer and a Windows Phone enthusiast who is very interested in Microsoft technologies. He has developed apps for Windows Phone and is now working on Windows 8. Jason loves new equipment and software that makes everyday life 20% cooler and faster.
Editor’s Note: In view of the Microsoft Surface announcement, Microsoft Singapore recently organized a series of Hack Weekends to help developers and designers get started with Window 8 Development in three simple steps: Dream. Build. Launch. Read all about the National Day special Hack Weekend that was hosted in Singapore in August as seen through the eyes of Jason Chee. To read more posts like this visit http://spiffy.sg/.
We had a very special HackWeekend on National Day which saw several quality apps and the first meet up of the year for the Microsoft Student Partners team. It was definitely an amazing experience to have a chat with the mixture of developers and students with a flow of brilliant ideas, with everyone mingling with each other.
The day started off with the Microsoft Student Partner Kick-off for FY13, where we were introduced to the responsibilities and perks of a MSP by Yizhe, our Academic Developer Evangelist.
After the briefing, we had a short prize presentation to our Champ Programme Graduates who all received Xbox 360 consoles.
We then had an amazing buffet lunch and time to talk with each other in preparation for Dream. Build. Launch. Terence also brought us all on a tour of the Microsoft Technology Center.
Once that was over, we had a Live Telecast of the Singapore National Day Parade where everyone gathered around the screens that were set up while we ate dinner.
As the day drew to a close, we had a brilliant view of the National Day fireworks from our window.
During Hackevents, Microsoft Student Partners create and present their app ideas after development, like the participant above who developed eZ-MRT, an app that helps you decide the quickest routeto take on the MRT train.
Our Hackweekends are coming to a close – but you can still work on your Windows 8 applications. Look out for our upcoming events!
Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc. (VF) is a Philippine-based NGO established in 1991 that is widely regarded for innovating solutions to end modern-day slavery. VF provides specialized services to victims and their families, builds social movements and advocates for lasting policy changes to combat human trafficking, domestic servitude and other forms of exploitation.
VF’s work with child domestic workers has been cited by the International Labour Organization-International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (ILO-IPEC) and the United Nations Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI) as an international best practice. Its anti-trafficking partnership with the Philippine government and private shipping companies was also hailed as one of the international best practices by the U.S. Department of State in its 2005 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.
Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, Founding President and Executive Director of the Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc., a Manila-based NGO established in 1991, is a globally recognized human rights advocate and a multi-awarded freedom fighter. She serves as an international expert on human trafficking, child labor and domestic work. She is currently appointed by the President of the Philippines as a member of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking as an NGO Representative for Women’s Sector.
While in Singapore recently, Cecile spoke about the work of the VF on the local morning news show AM Live! On Channel News Asia.
Tech One Global is becoming the first Sri Lankan company to set up operation in the Hambantota Park, the first park in Sri Lanka dedicated to information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing (BPO). The park was built to provide new jobs in rural Sri Lanka and aims to offer 100,000 positions, including 40,000 positions in the IT/BPO industry for youths from the entire Southern region by 2016. This will contribute to meeting the nation’s goal of having 10 percent of the country’s labor force working in IT related jobs by 2020.
Hon. Namal Rajapakse, MP from the Hambantota District, recently announced the formation of several public-private partnerships with leading industry players, such as Tech One Global, during the construction of the Hambantota Park. Other partners include the Vocational Training Authority (VTA), who will be in charge of training with the Microsoft BPO curriculum, a program specifically designed for the BPO industry; Microsoft Sri Lanka, who will provide the necessary IT resources to train youths; and IDM Education Services, who will be joining in as a training partner with Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies (SLASSCOM).
With the investment from Tech One Global, 50 seats are going to be created for interested BPO operators in February. To encourage the commencement of businesses in the Hambontota Park, necessary infrastructure and facilities will be made available at a very low cost to attract local and foreign BPO operators.
Mr Wasantha Weerakoon, CEO of Tech One Global, said that they are honored to be the first local company to contribute to the country’s economy and improving the employment rate. Plans to train the local labour force are currently happening.
“This will position our country as a skilled population trained in IT, which will allow our economy and development to grow immensely. Our training programs are on par with international standards and requirements, and we are confident that they will equip our BPO industry with a competitive edge,” said Mr Weerakoon.
Microsoft announced that it has redesigned the upcoming Imagine Cup 2013 around three new core competitions — World Citizenship, Games and Innovation — and significantly increased the prize money to encourage more young developers and aspiring entrepreneurs to participate in the annual event.
In its 11th year, the Worldwide Finals of Imagine Cup 2013 will be held in St. Petersburg, Russia, from 8 to 11 July 2013. The competition will build on the core elements that have contributed to the Imagine Cup’s popularity with students in the past 10 years — social impact and gaming — while expanding the competition’s focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.
Under the new competition structure of Imagine Cup 2013, students can take part in the following categories:
In addition to these competitions, students can register to compete in Online Challenges focused on specific technologies and platforms, including Windows 8, Windows Azure and Windows Phone.
Microsoft has also more than doubled the Imagine Cup prize money to US$300,000, with the aim of influencing more students who may be considering careers as innovators. Worldwide Finalists will have the chance to apply for the Microsoft Cup Grants, a three-year scheme with a US$3 million investment by Microsoft.
“With the evolution of Imagine Cup, we are further inspiring students from all academic backgrounds to collaborate and enhance their applications. Ultimately, we hope that by giving these students the support they need to bring their technology to the market, they will be able to fully realise their potential to impact their local communities and the world,” said John Scott Tynes, Microsoft Imagine Cup Competition Strategy and Development Manager.
As the world’s premier student technology competition, Imagine Cup provides students with the opportunity to tackle global issues through technology and helps to turn their innovative ideas into reality. More than 1.65 million students from 190 countries have participated in Imagine Cup during the past decade, creating applications and games that address the world’s toughest social problems.
“Without Imagine Cup, we would never have the chance to learn what it takes to turn our idea into a profitable business,” said Sally Buberman, an Imagine Cup 2007 participant who will be a judge at the Imagine Cup 2013.
Microsoft Thailand and the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), a well-known NGO in Thailand, has kicked off the ’Chumchon Dot Net’ project to establish 20 Community Technology Skills Centers for villagers in Thailand’s Northeast region.
Started in March, the project aims to provide information technology (IT) access and training to villagers—allowing them to learn new IT skills and boost their income opportunities. Approximately eight million people in Thailand live on less than two dollars a day. They reside mainly in the Northeastern part of Thailand, also known as the Isan Region. Over 80 percent of these people are rice farmers who depend on good weather for a fair harvest, resulting in erratic income.
The poverty situation is worsened by the increasing migration of people from these regions to urban centers, especially Bangkok. This has resulted in less able-bodied men and women available to tend the crops, thereby perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
The project will train more than 1700 farmers and youths. A web portal was designed to link at least 10 websites created and maintained by the villages to provide information that will facilitate the buying and selling of goods in the surrounding communities. Microsoft and PDA aim to increase the villagers’ income by at least 20 percent after the first 12 months.
An organic farmer, Mr Wanchai Soiprapai, is one of the participants of the Chumchon Dot Net project in his village. He had moved from Bangkok to the Nongkratum village in Buriram to become a farmer after suffering health problems while working in the city. "I have been interested in computers and IT for more than 20 years and IT is a tool to for me to succeed in organic farming. I need to have access to information such as effective fertilizer-soil formula, right plant species and updated information from agriculture agencies,” he said.
Through this project, Microsoft strives to boost the IT capabilities of the people in the region, facilitate e-commerce and expand market opportunities to help alleviate some of the economic hardships endured by the villagers.
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