November, 2011

  • STEM Hero: Looking up at the stars and advancing curriculum with Curtis Wong

    When your children look up at the sky, do they ever ask you what is going on millions of miles above their heads? Did you ever ask the same question? Back when Curtis Wong was a young boy growing up in smoggy Los Angeles, he dreamt of being able to clearly see and learn about the beautiful images of the sky, which he could only see in books. With that dream in mind, Curtis now uses his education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to make STEM subjects more accessible and more fun.  Just look at the World Wide Telescope and Project Tuva, both of which show that STEM subjects can be taught in new more exciting ways.

    I was fortunate to have a quick chat with Curtis the other day and got to learn a bit more about how he came to work on such amazing projects. Since it was just us in the room, I made sure to tape it and believe me, if you are a teacher or student, this is not one to miss. Without further ado, here is Curtis:


    You should check out World Wide Telescope and Project Tuva, after all, they are free to use!

  • 250 Technical Leaders Plus 30 Kids Equals an Awesome Exercise in Collaboration

    Kathleen Hogan, Corporate Vice President Microsoft Services, Co-Sponsor Microsoft US Giving Campaign

    What do you get when you bring together over 250 technical leaders from around the world with 30 kids from the local Bellevue, WA Boys and Girls Club (BGCA) aged 5 through 11? Well, besides a very energetic crowd you create a terrific atmosphere for a unique challenge!

    clip_image002I recently had the honor of welcoming some of our most senior technical leaders across the Sales, Marketing and Services organization to Seattle for a week of training. These folks are the best of the best; working to serve our customers, lead others within our organization and be the difference when it comes to selling, architecting, deploying, and supporting Microsoft technologies. As a part of their time with us, they participated in a Build a Bike Challenge with kids from the local Phantom Lake and Stevenson Elementary BGCA locations.

    At Microsoft, we’re no stranger to the BGCA. Having the privilege of partnering with them for the past 10+ years in bringing technology training, resources and curriculum to over 4,000 clubs through ClubTech, we love any opportunity to work with them and do what we can to help the youth they serve.

    Representing over 40 countries, many of our technical leaders didn’t know much about the Club, their mission or how Microsoft has collaborated with them over the years. But after spending some time together and hearing from Allison Wootan, the Phantom Lake BGCA Site Director, all recognized the shared purpose we have to help the Club kids Be Great.

    The BGCA kids worked alongside our team members one evening to build their own bikes. We all came away from the exercise with some great learnings. It was a constant reminder for us to always put the customer first, quickly respond to feedback, ensure a top quality product and encourage an atmosphere of collaboration within and across teams. The kids also brushclip_image004ed up on some important life skills such as teamwork, communication and patience.

    What a night! We left the challenge renewed, recharged and reinvigorated. We had a lot of fun working alongside the BGCA kids to help assemble their bikes and were proud to be a part of creating something that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to own. We were also reminded of how our expertise and know-how can translate to serving our local communities; either here in the Puget Sound or in any number of the 40 or so countries represented by our team members.

  • Upgrading your PC? Why not give someone access to the internet?

    Sean Nicholson, OEM 3R (Redesign, Reuse, Recycle) program manager, Microsoft


    Schoolchildren in Madagascar using refurbished PCs to learn IT skills

    Every year around 20% of the PCs in use worldwide finish with their owners. Many will be broken or very old, but around half of them can still be reused, especially as entry level PCs for internet use and learning IT skills. These reused PCs represent some of the most affordable ways for people to own a PC with commercial prices starting from under $100 and donated PCs just requiring the cost of cleaning them up, testing, and performing a clean software install.

    Microsoft has been supporting the reuse of PCs for over 5 years. In our last financial year we helped over 400,000 PCs be reused by schools, universities, not for profit organizations and technology access programs around the world. This work is part of our Registered Refurbisher Program, which has both commercial software licenses that any refurbished PC can use, along with special Citizenship software licenses that only education, non-profits and specially approved recipients are allowed to use. The refurbishing organization can be commercial or charitable and may use both license types depending on who they are supplying the refurbished PC to.

    The Citizenship software licenses offer Windows 7 for around $6 and Office 2007 for a similar fee. The fees are used to cover the cost of running the program as well as support the reuse of PCs. For example Microsoft has been sponsoring the International Computer Refurbishers Summit (ICRS) for the last few years which many non-profit refurbishers attend to share knowledge on PC reuse. Microsoft also operates a program for large commercial refurbishers called Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher.

    Microsoft defines a refurbished PC as a PC that has been used, is over six months old and has its original motherboard and processor. The refurbishers may choose to upgrade things like memory, graphics and disk storage. The refurbishers are also required to follow local environmental legislation and international data wiping standards to ensure no confidential or personal data is left on the used PC.

    Currently we have over 2,500 organizations that have joined the program from over 80 countries. They range from small non-profits who refurbish fewer than 50 PCs a year, up to large organization's handling tens of thousands, often sponsored by governments. Some of our large commercial refurbishers operate programs that allow corporations to donate their used PCs to help others, for example Serious Good from Redemtech. Directories of all the organizations in our PC refurbishment programs along with guidance on buying a refurbished PC can be found here.

    To support this work we have developed special software tools that make reimaging a refurbished PC easier, especially when you have to do hundreds at a time. Unlike the new PC production line where each PC is the same model, with the same device drivers, a refurbishers production line handles snowflakes in that each PC is different and will require different configuration options. We have also produced guides on disposal of your PC which you can read here along with guidance on the licensing rules when reinstalling Windows operating system on PCs.

    While reusing PCs is great for the environment my favorite part of running the citizenship refurbisher program is meeting and hearing stories around the impact these affordable PCs have on people lives.

    Please consider joining our Refurbisher Program , or buying from one of our refurbishers.

  • Movember: Welcome to Moustache Season

    Tom_MoranMy grandfather was a fire department chief, and I can still remember him in his uniform – white hat, boots, heavy jacket and gloves.  He was a hero to me.  He was also a survivor of prostate cancer.  Each of my other grandparents had cancer, and many of my friends and family, from 2 years old to 90.  In fact, this is not uncommon – 1 of 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and 1 of 3 women.  In fact, by the time you finish reading this post, 2 men will have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.  And by the time you finish this post and visit my site, 1 man will have died from prostate cancer.  In Movember, the month formerly known as November, we are focusing on men’s health issues.  The ‘we’ is nearly 800,000 men (Mo Bro’s) and women (Mo Sistas) who have signed up worldwide to be part of a movement to highlight and help make progress on health issues that disproportionately affect men, such as certain types of cancer, diabetes, suicide and depression.  So far, we’ve been part of raising nearly $43,000,000 this year alone.  So welcome to moustache season:   


    The Mo Sistas in support of Movember

    Every Movember men register at, start the month clean-shaven and grow a moustache for 30 days. The moustache becomes the hairy ribbon for men's health and the guys growing them become walking, talking billboards for the cause. To date, over 1.1 million men and women have supported Movember, raising $174 million through the power of the moustache.

    "Movember is truly becoming a movement for menʼs health in the US," said Adam Garone, CEO and Co-Founder of Movember. "Through the simple act of growing a moustache, we are funding successful awareness and education programs through the Movember Foundation, research through our partner

    Prostate Cancer Foundation, and support programs through our partner LIVESTRONG.”

    Movember funds are hard at work. Thanks to support of their Mo Bros and Mo Sistas, Movember is funding a number of prolific outcomes in the US, including:

    · PCF Research Program: Whole Genome Sequencing For the first time ever scientists have constructed a complete genetic map of prostate cancer.

    · PCF Research Program: 25+ Subtypes of Prostate Cancer Researchers have identified 25+ subtypes of prostate cancer.

    · LIVESTRONG Movember Partnership Initiative Providing free cancer navigation resources for any man affected by any cancer at any stage.

    I am proud of the nearly 450 Microsoft employees, men and women, who have signed up to be part of this – people like Matt Bielich, who guides our Microsoft Mo “network”, Paul Redmond, my team captain, Kees Pronk, a fundraising machine, and Cynthia Snyder, Mo Sista extraordinaire who brought in pink moustaches for all the ladies.  We all have our own reasons for participating.  For me, I do it to honor the memory of my grandparents, I do it for myself and my family so I can enjoy a happy and healthy life, and I do it for all of our kids so that they might not have the specter of cancer haunting their futures. 

    It is easy for YOU to get involvedStart by visiting my site at – I would love for you to leave a comment, or a note of encouragement.  You can also visit the main Movember site, or the Microsoft Movember site, to learn more about these health issues, the movement and what it takes to join or sign up your own team for next year.  Look at starting an effort within your school, club, team, company, or even retirement community – there are groups from government agencies, universities, and private companies all growin’ and showin’ their new Mo’s. 

    Finally, if you happen to see someone sporting a brand new Mo, and perhaps seeming a bit uncomfortable, say hello - there’s a good chance they are one of my new MoBros!  If it is a bright neon lime green moustache, it’s probably me…

  • Congratulations to the 2011 Microsoft Alumni Foundation Integral Fellows Award Winners

    At Microsoft we are very proud of our alumni and the opportunities we have to work together.  I have the pleasure of serving on the board of directors for the Microsoft Alumni Foundation, which was established in 2007 to catalyze the collective power of the Microsoft Alumni family to have a positive impact in the community.   Last night I attended the third annual Microsoft Alumni Foundation  celebration event, which recognized former Microsoft employees who are making a difference in the world. 

    The event took place at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters, which is arguably the most well-known philanthropic organization led by Microsoft alumni.  But what many people don’t know is that many of the 80,000 Microsoft alumni around the world have become extremely involved in philanthropic work.  These individuals are a great illustration of the lifecycle of philanthropy that often starts at Microsoft, where we have a culture of giving and volunteerism among our company and employees, and continues when people leave the company. 

    The annual celebration is one of my favorite events of the year, not only because I get to reconnect with old colleagues, but because I get to see and hear how so many of them are deeply engaged in philanthropic work and are achieving amazing results.

    The highlight of last night’s event was the announcement of this year’s Integral Fellows Awards.  We started the Integral Fellows Award program in 2009 to recognize outstanding alumni that have either started a nonprofit organization or are an exceptional volunteer or manager for the nonprofit they support.  These individuals are committed, passionate and have dedicated their lives to help address challenges around the world.  

    The winners included:

    • Oliver Hurst-Hiller – Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of  Drawing upon his Microsoft experience helping to engineer Bing, DonorsChoose uses technology to match the needs of public schools in the United States with individual donors on a large scale.  Over the past 5 years, Oliver has grown classroom donations from $5 million to $32 million by enriching the online donor experience and scaling to handle surging teacher requests.  Read his full story here.
    • Tom Ikeda – Founder and Executive Director of Densho.  Tom uncovered his true passion during his seven years at Microsoft working on multimedia titles such as Encarta and Bookshelf.  After digging deeper into the struggles and sacrifices barely mentioned in history books, in 1996 Tom founded Densho.  Densho creates media-rich online archives that preserve historical artifacts and educate students around the world on the untold stories of Japanese American internment during World War II.  Read his full story here.
    • David Risher – Co-Founder of Worldreader.  During a visit to the Perpetuo Socorro girls’ orphanage in Guayaquil, Ecuador, David observed piles of books inside its semi-abandoned library and learned that children had lost interest in the mildewing books. David realized the profound impact that e-readers could have on the way the developing world learns to read. Worldreader provides digital e-readers with localized content in developing countries around the world.  Read his story here.

    Each of the winners received a $25,000 award to go to the nonprofit organization with which they work in the form of a one-year, unrestricted grant.   And, the Alumni Foundation surprised the other finalists with $5,000 each for their organizations.  Past Integral Fellows Award recipients have included Richard Gold from Pongo Teen Writing, Frank Schott from NetHope, Cliff Schmidt from Literacy Bridge, Patrick Awuah from Ashesi University Foundation, Trish Millines Dziko from Technology Access Foundation and John Wood from Room to Read.

    As Mahnaz Javid, one of the finalists, said last night, philanthropy is not just an activity – it’s a way of life and defines who are.  These great individuals are living philanthropy.

    I am very proud of all of this year’s Integral Fellows Awards winners as well as the exceptional pool of nominees.  Over the next couple of weeks, we will feature blog posts from each of the winners.

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