WBEZ | Microsoft http://www.wbez.org/tags/microsoft Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Hoping to Correct Reporting Problems, Iowans Will Report Caucus Results via App http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2016-01-19/hoping-correct-reporting-problems-iowans-will-report <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/app_wide-0f67cf9ffef8ae3a326a2d3aaca489e9fa37a6fe-s800-c85.png" alt="" /><p><p>Campaigning in Des Moines this week, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum took pains to regularly remind voters that he won Iowa&#39;s 2012 caucuses.</p><p>&quot;You did a great job in my opinion,&quot; he told a crowd of about two dozen. &quot;You could have done a little better job in your math, but you did a great job otherwise.&quot;</p><p>Four years later, the Republican Party of Iowa is bringing in Microsoft to help with those math skills.</p><p>Motivated partially by the 2012 caucuses&#39; reporting problems &mdash; it took about three weeks to figure out Santorum had topped former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in an especially tight contest &mdash; both Republicans and Democrats are updating their caucus night reporting process.</p><div><p>The state parties, which fund and operate the Feb. 1 caucuses, are turning to a solution that many use to get better organized: a smartphone app.</p><p>The app will record each precinct&#39;s tally, and send the results to party headquarters in Des Moines.</p><p>While the app itself is bare-bones and basic &mdash; it kind of looks like a calculator &mdash; it stands out in what will otherwise be a decidedly low-tech affair. Republicans often cast their ballots on slips of paper, and Democrats count their support for candidates by grouping together in corners at caucus sites.</p><p>Microsoft approached Iowa&#39;s Republican and Democratic parties with the app idea. The software giant developed the program at no cost as a showcase for its election-reporting technology.</p><div id="res463101833" previewtitle="Ryan Frederick, the Republican Party chair in Iowa's Adair County, uses Microsoft's new reporting app in a practice run."><div data-crop-type=""><a href="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/14/iowaapp2-6f2cae52fae18c0da8f702e090360e4230f24c08-s400-c85.jpg"><img alt="Ryan Frederick, the Republican Party chair in Iowa's Adair County, uses Microsoft's new reporting app in a practice run." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/14/iowaapp2-6f2cae52fae18c0da8f702e090360e4230f24c08-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Ryan Frederick, the Republican Party chair in Iowa's Adair County, uses Microsoft's new reporting app in a practice run. (Scott Detrow/NPR)" /></a></div><div><div><p>Because the caucuses are party-run and aren&#39;t technically government elections, this kind of technology shift can happen very quickly, compared with the lengthy legislative and legal processes surrounding updates to voting methods.</p></div></div></div><p>Both parties were quick to sign up for the pitch. (Not all campaigns share the enthusiasm, though: The Bernie Sanders campaign will arm volunteers with its own in-house reporting app to independently keep tabs on results.)</p><p>Each precinct will designate one person who will download the app to his or her phone and record the evening&#39;s results. Those recording will need to be registered with either the Republican or Democratic Party beforehand, so they can be texted a two-step verification code on caucus night.</p><p>On the Republican side, volunteers will enter the precincts&#39; total number of caucus-goers. If each candidate&#39;s vote totals don&#39;t equal that figure, an error message will pop up and the results won&#39;t be recorded. Democrats use a different, percentage-based counting method.</p><p>Microsoft says the parties will also be able to guard against reporting errors. They&#39;ll be able to set &quot;thresholds for each precinct. We didn&#39;t expect a thousand people for this precinct, or we didn&#39;t expect two people in this precinct,&quot; said Stan Freck, senior director of campaign technology services.</p><p>Those settings, Republicans and Microsoft argue, will safeguard against the types of recording errors that sometimes plagued the old system: a simple automated telephone hotline, which volunteers would call to punch in their sites&#39; totals.</p><p>That phone hotline was &quot;liable to error &mdash; you don&#39;t get to confirm anything,&quot; said Ryan Frederick, Adair County&#39;s Republican chair. &quot;It just goes off into the ether, and you watch the news to see if it was right.&quot;</p><p>Frederick will be tasked with reporting all the county&#39;s precinct totals on Feb. 1.</p><p>He seemed excited about the new app during a December training session.</p><p>&quot;For those of you who remember the good old days, this is so much better,&quot; he told the handful of precinct volunteers who were sitting around an insurance office.</p><p>The caucus app makes complete sense to Frederick, who is in his 30s and uses his Android phone for just about everything. &quot;If it isn&#39;t in this phone it doesn&#39;t exist,&quot; he said.</p><p>But not everyone feels that way.</p><p>Many caucus volunteers are less tech savvy, and Alex Latcham, who conducts caucus training sessions for the Republican Party, said he has spent a lot of training time just showing people how to download and install apps on their phones.</p><p>Microsoft&#39;s Freck said that has been the biggest hurdle during the run-up to the caucuses. &quot;It&#39;s a fairly simple application,&quot; he said in the company&#39;s Washington, D.C., offices. &quot;But as always, people are involved. ... There are over 1,800 precincts. So we&#39;re going to get precinct chairs and people who are involved that have all different levels of ... tech comfort.&quot;</p><p>That&#39;s a main reason why Microsoft and both parties are doing so many test runs before Feb. 1.</p><p>As Frederick put it as Adair County&#39;s training session wrapped up, &quot;With something like the future of the free world, you want to be sure you got it right.&quot;</p></div><div id="res463118903"><aside aria-label="pullquote" role="complementary"><div>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/01/15/462995639/hoping-to-correct-reporting-problems-iowans-will-report-caucus-results-via-app?ft=nprml&amp;f=462995639" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></div></aside></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 19 Jan 2016 12:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2016-01-19/hoping-correct-reporting-problems-iowans-will-report Gamers expect motion controls, more indie games from new video game consoles http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/gamers-expect-motion-controls-more-indie-games-new-video-game-consoles-109021 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/131025NextGenConsole_JC.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Microsoft showcased the upcoming Xbox One video game console at the <a href="http://www2.mcachicago.org/facility/spaces">MCA Loft</a> in Chicago recently.</p><p dir="ltr">Gamers lined up outside the brickstone warehouse to try out the next generation of Xbox video game consoles. This was the third time some gamers had attended the event over the weekend, competing in tournaments and looking to beat each other&rsquo;s high scores.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I am kind of a game freak, I have to have every game or system whenever it comes out.&rdquo; attendee Sean West said.</p><p dir="ltr">However, the Xbox One is not the only video game console to be released within the next month. Sony&rsquo;s Playstation 4 will be released on November 15, and the Xbox One will be available a week later. We asked gamers at Microsoft&rsquo;s promotional event what they expect of the two popular video game consoles.</p><p dir="ltr">West said he wants console graphics to look as realistic as computer graphics. Sony and Microsoft&rsquo;s most recent video game consoles, the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, uses technology that is at least seven years old. These consoles cannot be upgraded like computers.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Once they develop a full feeling that you feel like you are engulfed in the game, that&rsquo;s when I think they will make a system that will impress people.&rdquo; West said.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/09/04/why-pc-gaming-has-exploded">IGN</a> writes that, for now, video game consoles remain popular because they are cheaper and more convenient than optimizing your computer to current graphical watermarks. New gaming consoles are released every five to six years to keep up, and it also presents an opportunity for Sony and Microsoft to introduce new features such as motion sensors.</p><p dir="ltr">Video game enthusiast Jake Islas is less concerned about graphics. He just wants to have fun.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;As far as graphics go, they are pleasing to the eye but they are purely aesthetic.&rdquo; Islas said. &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t make the game better. Just because a game looks good doesn&rsquo;t mean it plays good as we&rsquo;ve seen with indie titles.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Independent games, or indie titles, are games that are made by a single developer or a small team. These games are often released without the financial backing of a publisher.</p><p dir="ltr">Indie game developers have to set themselves apart in order to compete with larger and better funded video game development teams. This is done by introducing unique and sometimes experimental game rules or visual styles.</p><p dir="ltr">The popularity of indie games has prompted Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo to attract more indie developers to make games for their consoles. <a href="http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-10-09-indies-and-the-next-generation-of-consoles">Eurogamer</a> reports that these video game companies want to make the process of publishing indie games on their online marketplace more efficient.</p><p dir="ltr">Attendee Odie Younan said he would like to see developers make better use of the Xbox One&rsquo;s Kinect features. The Kinect is a camera that detects your body&rsquo;s movement, allowing you to perform actions with a swing of the arm or a kick of the leg. It also recognizes voice commands, allowing players power up their consoles by speaking to it.</p><p dir="ltr">The Kinect was introduced as an add-on to the Xbox 360 video game console, but Younan said Kinect features in popular games tend to feel tacked on.</p><p dir="ltr">He cited Mass Effect 3, in which you play a squad commander and are able to command your companions using your voice. However, players can finish the game without using those features.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It was cool that you can say the lines and your character will do it without having to use the controller but, at the same time, it was very gimmicky.&rdquo; Younan said.</p><p dir="ltr">Younan said the Kinect needs to feel essential to the gaming experience.</p><p dir="ltr">Microsoft declined to comment on Xbox One&rsquo;s graphics, independently-developed games and Kinect functionality.</p><p dir="ltr">West still remains excited about the next generation of consoles.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The opportunities that are going to be out there now for all kinds of developers is endless.&rdquo; West said.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Lee Jian Chung is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/jclee89">@jclee89</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 28 Oct 2013 11:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/gamers-expect-motion-controls-more-indie-games-new-video-game-consoles-109021 Tech companies partner with Chicago high schools http://www.wbez.org/story/tech-companies-partner-chicago-high-schools-96821 <p><p>Five Chicago Public High Schools are partnering with technology companies to offer career training in addition to a traditional high school diploma. Students at those schools will also have the chance to take college credit courses through the City Colleges of Chicago.</p><p>IBM, Motorola, Microsoft, Cisco and Verizon will each partner with a high school in creating a curriculum that focuses on math, science, technology and engineering. The companies are also expected to provide internships and job interviews for graduating students.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he reached out to the companies.</p><p>"They have a shortage of workers. We have a student population ready to fill those jobs if they have the educational opportunities to do it," Emanuel said.</p><p>The changes will begin with this fall’s freshman class and Emanuel said he wants to see other schools follow this model in the coming years. IBM has developed a blueprint the city can use in creating future partnerships with businesses in other in-demand fields.</p><p>The high schools that will offer this new program are: Lake View, Corliss, Michele Clark, Chicago Vocational Career Academy and a new school being built at 7651 S. Homan.</p></p> Tue, 28 Feb 2012 23:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/tech-companies-partner-chicago-high-schools-96821 Schaumberg-based Motorola sued by Microsoft http://www.wbez.org/story/news/microsoft-sues-motorola <p><p>Microsoft says Motorola is violating the software maker's technology patent by using Google's Android software in Moto phones. The Android software includes an operating system and key applications for mobile devices. The functions in question include synchronizing e-mail, calendars and contacts.<br /><br />Microsoft filed its lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. It's also filed a claim with the International Trade Commission.<br /><br /> In a statement, Horacio Gutierrez of Microsoft said, &quot;We have a responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to safeguard the billions of dollars we invest each year in bringing innovative software products and services to market. Motorola needs to stop its infringement of our patented inventions in its Android smartphones.&quot;<br /><br />Motorola wouldn't immediately comment on the lawsuit. But a statement released by the company says it has one of the strongest intellectual property portfolios in the industry and that Motorola will &quot;vigorously defend itself in this matter.&quot;</p></p> Fri, 01 Oct 2010 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/microsoft-sues-motorola