The cloud: making lives better, Bing predicts key events in 2015 and Skype Translator is unleashed — Weekend Reading: Dec. 19 Edition

Put down that purse! (Or man purse.) Weekend Reading is here to offer a much-needed break from the mall, and the cyber shopping, with some must-reads you won’t want to miss. … You’re welcome.

For more than a decade, Skype has been breaking down geographical barriers to make everyday audio and video communications possible. Now, using innovations from Microsoft Research, Skype is removing the language barrier. The first phase of Skype Translator, which includes two spoken languages, Spanish and English, and more than 40 instant messaging languages will be available to Skype customers who have signed-up via the Skype Translator and are using Windows 8.1 on their desktop or device.

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Hang onto your virtual hat! Inspired by top searches of 2014, the Bing Predicts team has applied its technology to the coming year and uncovered emerging trends expected in 2015 by analyzing search, social and cultural signals. Bing predicts that the New England Patriots will take home the Lombardi trophy and that Beyoncé will earn a Grammy for Album of the Year. Bing’s window into 2015 includes predictions for fashion, sports, awards, travel, food and more.

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For many with Type 1 diabetes, monitoring blood-sugar levels is an arduous affair. For parents of kids with Type 1 diabetes, it’s not only painstaking, it can be terrifying. Enter Nightscout, an open-source solution that uses the cloud to allow remote monitoring of blood-sugar levels in real time, all the time. Microsoft is assisting the effort with free access to Azure.

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‘Tis the season for scams of all kinds, unfortunately. On the Microsoft on the Issues blog this week came guidance for protecting yourself against fraudulent companies masquerading as tech support. Microsoft has received more than 65,000 customer complaints regarding tech support scams since May, and wants consumers to be aware of the schemes that are out there and what to do to protect yourself.

Annie” – starring Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz and Rose Byrne – opened Thursday, to the happy shrieks of excited little girls everywhere. Director and writer Will Gluck reveals the starring role technology played in bringing the film to life. Gluck writes and updates documents using Microsoft Word. When he needed to approve costumes for “Annie,” he used Skype. When he needed to check out locations to film in New York, he used the Surface Globe app (powered by Bing Maps). “The reality is, you don’t really know how many Microsoft products you use until you think about it,” Gluck says.

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In apps this week: Xim 1.3 enables you to share photos on the big screen via streaming media devices, including Xbox One, Chromecast, Apple TV and ADD Amazon Fire TV. Just in time for the holidays, more hot buys from the Music Deals app. Save the “Family Guy” town of Quahog with this clever game now free for Windows. Finally, brighten your holidays with a seasonal theme selection 40-apps and games strong from the Windows Phone Store: Celebrate Christmas in London with “Subway Surfers,” send personalized Christmas cards through “Talking Santa” and fight winter battles in “Cloud Raiders.”

WR_5This week on our global adventure to find people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we met Garden Pool founder Dennis McClung. Dennis transformed an empty pool into a solar-powered self-sustaining ecosystem. Follow us on Instagram to see his story and meet more people like him.

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Now, back to your regularly scheduled holiday rush — and warmest wishes for the new year. Weekend Reading will return to greet 2015 with your essential Microsoft news in review, Jan. 2.

Posted by Aimee Riordan
Microsoft News Center Staff