Notes on Microsoft PDC 2008 – Day 3 Keynote

Today was the keynote by Rick Rashid, Sr. VP from Microsoft Research. Notes on the session:



  • Why is fundamental research important to a company like Microsoft or country like USA. It is to survive tough times, about agility through your earlier investments and having smart people
  • Talked about Terminator, liveness property. Basically if you create a lock in say “C” will the code release it and so on
  • Talked about Dryad – Dryad is an infrastructure which allows a programmer to use the resources of a computer cluster or a data center for running data-parallel programs, without knowing anything about concurrent programming
  • The study on computer “programs” help us to understand more on human “cells”, similarly study on “cells” is helping us to understand “programs”
  • Microsoft has been working with Washington university for Collaborative technologies – ConferenceXP
  • Microsoft released today a new version of Microsoft Worldwide telescope Autumnal Equinox Beta

Feng Zhao (Principal Researcher) talked on the energy usage, how to sense and how we can reduce. He showed a small device made by Microsoft Research that uses a 16-bit CPU, 10K RAM, 40K ROM to collect humidity, temperature and  other parameters. It then transmits it using a low-power Radio as they are powered by batteries which need to last long.


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He showed the below demo on how this data can be visualized:




These visualizations used in Data Center has helped them to map and plan on how cooling happens, where to place heavy computing loads, etc. He talked about Senseweb – a Wikipedia of Sensors  which is used by over 11 universities worldwide. This is used primarily in Swiss alps to collate data from different instruments on alps and study them for impact of humans on climate change.


David Heckerman in a video talked about how they are helping to find how HIV mutates in a person using technology from SPAM identification and statistical analysis.


Matthew Maclaurin talked about Project Boku – Lightweight programming for kids. Boku is a character/robot, he needs programming to succeed. Why for Kids – because it is a life skill, demystify and engage & make it easy for learning. All programming is done with XBOX Game Console, no keyboard use. See the demo below:





Finally they showed “SecondLight” an innovation based on Microsoft Surface. In SecondLight you can show over the regular display, which gets shown only when you move an ordinary paper above the display. There is an infrared sensor that follows you on the second display. This is exciting stuff, so don’t miss seeing this video from Tech Flash showing this.

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