November, 2012

  • Technology and the Māori Language Awards 2012

    This article was written by Waldo Kuipers, Corporate Affairs Manager, Microsoft New Zealand Limited, and was originally published on the New Zealand Microsoft GovTech blog.

    The Māori Language Awards 2012 were held on Friday last week in Tauranga, an inspiring event that celebrated the contributions of 30 individuals and organisations who have contributed to te reo Māori through their work. I attended the event with my colleague, Anne Taylor, who has supported Microsoft's investment in te reo Māori since 2004.

    Microsoft has collaborated with language experts to bring te reo Māori to WindowsOffice and Internet Explorer. All it takes to add a te reo Māori user interface to these products is installing the free downloads for each product. We encourage everyone to try it.

    We are honoured to be recognised for this investment through the awards. We would like to take a moment to acknowledge all those who have been involved with this work, and thank them for it. This work has only been possible because of your passion and dedication:

    • Haami Piripi, Huhana Rokx, Sharon Armstrong, Lee Smith, Te Haumihiata Mason, Te Taka Keegan, Tom Roa, Roger Lewis, Wareko Te Āngina, Eva Mahara, Hohepa MacDougall, John Moorfield and Dave Moskovitz,
    • Te Taurawhiri I Te Reo Māori,
    • Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato and Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo,
    • School Principal Laura Hawksworth and students at Toku Mapihi Maurea Kura Kaupapa Maori,
    • Parekura Horomia, David Cunliffe and John Tamihere, and
    • many others who have worked on the projects.

     The work that these people have made possible for three generations of products (from Windows XP onwards) includes:

    • a Māori keyboard layout to offer easier access to macrons,
    • around 2,000 technology-related terms expressed in te reo Māori for the first time, such as co-processor (hoatukatuka); de-fragmentation (whakatōpūnga); progress indicator (tōtohu kaunuku); cascading menu (tahua hūkere); interrupt request (tono haukati); network adapter (whāurutau whatunga); router (pouara); identifier (pūtāutu); and adapter (pūurutau),
    • nearly 100,000 phrases translated into te reo Māori, and
    • an electronic Māori dictionary to provide spelling suggestions in Microsoft Office.

    The award therefore represents the dedicated hard work of many people working together to a common objective.

    Although I am not fluent, I was determined to do my best to deliver my speech in te reo. I know that my pronunciation was far from perfect, so just in case I was not easy to understand I have attached my full speech notes below.

    I would also like to acknowledge the work by the other finalists in the ICT category: Vodafone NZ and Hika Group were finalists for the work they did to launch the Hika smartphone app that translates common phrases between English and te reo, and Dennis J Gray was a finalist for the Māori language keyboard he has developed, which includes dedicated keys for the macrons that are used to write in te reo.

    Thank you to Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori and all of the other supporters and sponsors for making this fantastic event possible.

    Māori Language Awards 2012 event photo by Alick Saunders. With thanks to Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori.

  • Microsoft Provides Christchurch Women’s Refuge with Disaster-Proof Email Solution

    Founded in 1973, Christchurch Women’s Refuge is New Zealand’s first refuge service for women and children affected by family violence. The nonprofit organization serves an area covering the Christchurch, North Canterbury, Selwyn and Banks Peninsula districts, and currently supports more than 12,000 women and children.

    Following a series of earthquakes that hit New Zealand in 2010, Christchurch Women’s Refuge realized it needed a more robust email solution that is not dependent on an on-premise server and allows its staff to work remotely even in the face of natural disasters. “We had a sense that our communications and records might need additional off-site back-up, but we didn’t realize the extent that they were in jeopardy until the earthquakes in September 2010,” said Christine Wallace, Office Manager, Christchurch Women’s Refuge.

    To address its need for a solution that would not require hardware, Christchurch Women’s Refuge implemented Microsoft® Office 365 and Exchange Online for reliable cloud-based email applications, as well as providing its 23 employees with the ability to work remotely.

    As a nonprofit organization, Christchurch Women’s Refuge is faced with limited resources — its staff relied on ad-hoc information technology (IT) support and shared email accounts — and a lack of calendaring functionality. Office 365 helps to address the organization’s need for a solution that would significantly improve staff collaboration and productivity while reducing IT expenditures.

    Christchurch Women’s Refuge staff can now check their email from home, which has been greatly appreciated, particularly by shift workers who aren’t in the office every day and now feel part of the office team. Employees are also achieving new levels of productivity by being able to synchronize their calendar, contacts and email to their mobile phones.

    With IT as a service, support and maintenance are included in the monthly fee, enabling the Christchurch Women’s Refuge team to focus its IT budget on training and implementing new services. “Like all nonprofit organizations, we have one eye on funding and a tight-fist approach to overheads, with our focus on delivering services to families. Office 365 enables our organization to outsource email and concentrate our efforts on our purpose,” Ms Wallace commented.

    Through the successful technology implementation, Microsoft New Zealand has helped Christchurch Women’s Refuge operate more efficiently, continuing to provide vital services at times of need.

    “Technology is continually evolving and we are keen to utilize more features of Office 365. We are committed to reducing our reliance on paper through the use of electronic diaries and encouraging entry online, and we are looking into SharePoint Online to expand collaboration and data sharing to include partner organizations. We are also moving to a wireless environment, which will give us even greater flexibility within the office environment,” Ms Wallace concluded.

    “Microsoft Office 365 enables our organization to outsource email and concentrate our efforts on our purpose.”

    Christine Wallace, Office Manager, Christchurch Women’s Refuge


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  • Improving Volunteer Management with Cloud Computing

    While many private and public businesses are moving towards cloud computing to improve internal processes and reduce cost burdens, most non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Hong Kong are still lacking in terms of knowledge of cloud-based solutions. 

    To empower more NGOs to start adopting cloud technologies, Microsoft Hong Kong recently launched the “Cloud Unlimited for a Better Hong Kong” programme at the 8th NGO Day, held on 30 May at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The programme is a multi-year commitment to help people and organisations in Hong Kong benefit from the latest cloud computing technology, and improve productivity and collaboration under a secured environment.

    As part of this programme, Microsoft also launched the Volunteer Management System (VMS), the first ever tailor-made, cloud-based system for NGO volunteer management. Based on Microsoft® Dynamics CRM Online and developed in collaboration with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS), the launch of the VMS service is aimed at helping NGOs offload some of the manpower, time and cost burdens associated with maintaining information technology (IT) infrastructure security and managing their volunteer databases.

    Individual NGOs can further customise the VMS to meet their specific volunteer management needs. Other benefits of the VMS service include increased productivity with updated enterprise-grade CRM capabilities, reduced manpower burden and more affordable IT infrastructure.

    Doris Yan, Coordinator of Chain of Charity Movement, is optimistic about the use of VMS. “This cloud-based system empowers more people to understand our cases so as to encourage them to serve those in need. Besides, the VMS allows us to have prompt screening and successful matching, which enables us to effectively allocate volunteers according to their available time slots and service expertise to help the elderly and disabled who are in need of our services,” said Ms Yan.

    NGO Day is an annual event held by Microsoft and HKCSS to help NGOs in Hong Kong enhance service delivery to the community by harnessing the power of IT. This year’s event was attended by more than 250 representatives from Hong Kong’s public, private and NGO sectors.

    “While cloud computing adoption is still in its early stages among NGOs in Hong Kong, some NGOs have become early adopters with our support and are already enjoying enhanced security and productivity, with  much less required in terms of manpower and costs,” said Peter Yeung, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong. 

    “This cloud-based system developed by Microsoft empowers more people to understand our cases so as to encourage them to serve those in need.”

    - Doris Yan, Coordinator of Chain of Charity Movement

  • Online Training to Provide Opportunities for Migrants and Refugees in Australia

    Microsoft Australia provided nonprofit organisation WorkVentures with funding and technical assistance for the launch of a new online training tool that will provide migrants and refugees with the relevant training to facilitate access to education, employment and social inclusion.

    As part of its aim to provide affordable access to technology and training for disadvantaged communities, WorkVentures launched the i.settle.with.IT! training tool on 14 July at a community event that brought together members of migrant communities and agencies that work with them. Senator Kate Lundy, Federal Minister for Multicultural Affairs, officiated the i.settle.with.IT! launch.

    Senator Kate Lundy (third from right), the Federal Minister for Multicultural Affairs, at the i.settle.with.IT! launch

    The i.settle.with.IT! tool is the final part of a broader programme which included accredited community training, train-the-trainer courses, and an intensive information technology (IT) training programme for young refugees held in 2010. The programme, which is supported by Microsoft, helps to break down barriers to accessibility, opening up the opportunity to improve the social and economic status for migrants in Australia.

    “Since its commencement in 2010, the programme has benefitted more than 8,000 members of the Australian migrant community through direct or indirect training courses. Results have been fantastic with approximately 98 percent of surveyed participants saying the programme allowed them to more easily move on to further education and opened up greater employment opportunities,” said Cansu Sezer, Manager of the i.settle.with.IT! programme.

    Microsoft has invested more than AUD500,000 in the! programme over the past three years and is committed to further investments over the next 12 months.

    Catering for entry-level English and computing skills, the i.settle.with.IT! website will allow WorkVentures to extend its reach within the Australian migrant population. The highly visual website was designed for people who do not have the flexibility to attend face-to-face training programmes due to family responsibilities or work commitments, giving them the opportunity to learn new skills in their own time and at their own pace.

    “Microsoft and WorkVentures have been partnering for 26 years to help provide IT skills and training to underprivileged Australians. Through!, new settlers can build critical skills to help them participate in our community, gain access to services and build the confidence and capabilities to allow them to move onto further education, or employment,” said Pip Marlow, Managing Director of Microsoft Australia.


    “The programme has shown how beneficial technology is to this community and how access to the right training can change their lives.”

    - Arsenio Alegre, CEO of WorkVentures

  • Using Microsoft Technology to Curb Online Child Pornography in Taiwan

    Microsoft Taiwan is collaborating with the Taiwanese government, local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Internet service providers (ISPs) to make use of its PhotoDNA image-matching technology to stem the spread of online child pornography. Taiwan is the first country outside North America to implement PhotoDNA to curb child exploitation.

    Child pornography remains one of the most persistent issues facing law enforcement agencies around the world. According to a United Nations report, there are more than 750,000 active Internet users worldwide who are believed to be paedophiles.

    Developed by Microsoft Research in collaboration with Dartmouth College, the PhotoDNA technology helps to identify and remove images of child sexual exploitation from the Internet.

    The basis for PhotoDNA is a technology called “robust hashing,” which calculates the distinct characteristics of a given digital image — its digital fingerprint — to match it to other copies of that same image. PhotoDNA can match images that are not digitally identical, making it possible to match images accurately and rapidly across millions of files — even if the photos contain subtle differences, such as having been resized.

    Leveraging this powerful technology, Microsoft aims to help NGOs and government agencies expedite child pornography investigations in Taiwan. The PhotoDNA technology searches for and intercepts child pornography photos among the trillions of images floating around the Internet.  When an image is intercepted and identified as child pornography, the ISP takes immediate action and reports them to the authorities by targeting the source of the original pictures.

    The joint initiative is also in line with a recent amendment to the Children and Youth Welfare Law in Taiwan to improve the protection of young children and teenagers from sexual exploitation. At a press conference held to announce the new initiative, Hsueh Cherng-tay, Minister without Portfolio in Taiwan’s Executive Yuan, highlighted the importance of taking measures to ensure online safety for children.


    “With Microsoft’s highly effective PhotoDNA technology, images of child sexual exploitations from the Internet can be quickly and precisely targeted and intercepted. The technology also helps to strengthen investigation into the sexual abuse of children and teenagers.”

    -   Hsueh Cherng-tay, Minister without Portfolio, Executive Yuan

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