Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

eScience & Technical Computing - Web Services and Scientific Research

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Snapdragon–different way to explore Flickr


    Was playing with Snapdragon from Live Labs today -

    Snapdragon utilizes Flickr images to prototype what image search would be if, instead of searching, we allowed users to explore images and the relationships between them.  http://seadragon.com/snapdragon/

    Since I know Marc Smith from Connected Action puts up many images of social connected graphs using NodeXL – so that’s a good one to test out…


    Clicking on one of the images brings up the image which you can zoom in on – as well giving you all the tags to  explore other images. 


  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Looking at Optimal Big Ten realignment using operations research and Microsoft Solver Foundation


    Just saw Nathan Brixius post on using operations research and Microsoft Solver Foundation to help with the Big Ten realignment and now am interested in seeing someone do it for the Pac10/12.  Wondering if the other parameter and goal should be the Big Ten network ratings – since the goal of most of these realignments is to maximize the revenue….

    Optimal Big Ten realignment using operations research

    The Big Ten is an intercollegiate athletic organization composed of eleven (yep) schools from the Midwest. Big Ten schools compete in a number of sports, but the one that receives the most fan interest is football. Big Ten schools compete in the highest division of college football, the Football Bowl Subdivision. Recently the Big Ten extended an invitation to the University of Nebraska to join the conference as the twelfth member institution starting in 2011. As a result the Big Ten has decided to realign itself into two six-team divisions. Schools in the same division will be guaranteed to play each other each year, and the champions of each division will play each other in a Big Ten championship game. There’s been a lot of talk about how the divisions will be selected. There are a number of considerations, including geography, rivalry, revenue, and the overall strength of each team. Realignment will have long term financial implications for Big Ten schools, and more importantly an emotional impact on football crazed fans such as myself. So what’s the right way to make such a decision?

    Optimal Big Ten realignment using operations research - Nathan Brixius - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Overview of the New Windows Live Essentials: Windows Live Photo Gallery


    There are some really useful features in the new Windows Live Essentials preview – Paul’s blog posting on the new Windows Live Photo Gallery is spot on…Not only is the Facial recognition easy to use – but it’s fun looking at how family members faces/hair styles/etc change over time.  You can also create the perfect photo using Photo Fuse by taking parts of many different images and creating one image with all the best faces…

    The New Windows Live Essentials Windows Live Photo Gallery

    I've always been a fan of Windows Live Photo Gallery, and if I had to guess, this is likely the Essentials application that I use most often. It's always offered basic image editing capabilities--tools that are likely enough for about 95 percent of users--but in this new version, that functionality is dramatically expanded, as is the product's integration with other Windows Live products and services and, notably, with third party solutions as well. And if you're a Windows 7 user, Photo Gallery utilizes the underling Pictures library for image management, as it should.

    Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows: The New Windows Live Essentials: Windows Live Photo Gallery

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Relationship between Climate and the “breathing of the biosphere”


    Two international studies from the FLUXNET collaboration were published this week in Science. The papers  “Terrestrial Gross Carbon Dioxide Uptake: Global Distribution and Covariation with Climate” and “Global Convergence in the Temperature Sensitivity of Respiration at Ecosystem Level”  give us new understanding in the relationship between climate and the “breathing of the biosphere”. 

    The analyses suggest that from a global point of view, the availability of water may be more important than temperature for carbon fixation by plants. This result poses new questions about existing predictions of ecosystem changes, such as tropical forest decline, in response to temperature change.

    In most ecosystems, the rate of photosynthesis – plants breathing in – was observed to change relatively little with temperature. Similarly, the rate of respiration – plants breathing out – also increases relatively less with temperature than previously assumed. Researchers found that the rate at which plants and microorganisms convert sugar into carbon dioxide does not even double when the temperature increases by ten degrees from one week to the next.

    This smaller temperature dependence is the same all over the world – from tropical savannahs to forests in Finland. That is also in contradiction to previous work that suggested that temperature sensitivity was less in the tropics and temperate latitudes.

    Over 40 percent of the earth’s vegetative surface reacts very sensitively to changes in the amount of precipitation. This emphasizes the importance of water for continued food production. Other factors such as the slow transformations of carbon in the soil also appear to play crucial roles in long term carbon balances.

    The researchers analyzed sensor and field observations from 60 different FLUXNET sites as well as remote sensing, climate modeling, and other climate data. Like the biosphere, the FLUXNET dataset is a living breathing dataset. Scientists access and collectively maintain that dataset through a collaborative portal built by computer scientists at Microsoft Research, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and the University of Virginia. The ability to share data at this scale and diversity enables new insights and can reduce the uncertainty of existing model predictions.


    Fig. 1: Countless measurement stations (red) around the globe record the exchange of carbon dioxide and water in different ecosystems.

    Image: Ulrich Weber, MPI for Biogeochemistry

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    King of Bing Maps Challenge - Contest Information



    Just heard from Chris Pendleton about the King of Bing Maps Contest

    Submit your Map App by July 25, 2010 to be entered to win:

    Grand Prize:
    Winner will get the royal treatment by receiving a $1,000 Bing Travel gift card and be celebrated as King of Bing Maps on the Bing Maps website and blog.

    2nd Prize:
    $500 Bing Travel gift card

    3rd Prize:
    $250 Bing Travel gift card

    BING MAPS PLATFORM - King of Bing Maps Challenge - Contest Information and Resources

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    TeraPixel–Largest, Smoothest Image in the World


    As part of the WorldWide Telescope Apogee release yesterday we also released TeraPixel – the largest, smoothest image of the sky – a spherical image that we believe is the worlds largest image available for anyone to view. 

    First thing to understand how large a TeraPixel image is – it’s a Million by Million pixels in size – to be able to view an image of that size at it’s highest resolution you would need 500,000 HDTVs.  So one challenge was not just stitching the images together – but to actually make it seamless and smooth – and that was the challenge taken on by a small team about 6 months ago.  image

    The TeraPixel project began with data from the Digitized Sky Survey, which is a collection of 1791 pairs of red-light and blue-light images taken over a period of 50 years by two ground based survey telescopes— the Palomar telescope in imageCalifornia, United States and the UK Schmidt telescope in New South Wales, Australia. The Palomar telescope took photographs of the Northern sky, and the Southern sky down to around 30 degrees south. The UK Schmidt telescope took photographs of the rest of the Southern sky.

    To create the TeraPixel – there were 3 major computational and data intensive steps:

    • Create color plates from DSS data
    • Stitch and smooth images
    • Create sky image pyramid for WWT



    The Vignetting Correction was need to because the corners of end up being less exposed – so a flat field was created to normalize the intensity of the images.

    Astrometric Alignment created a new blue plate so that the plates had the same size and that a given pixel location from the two plates referred to the same position in the sky.

    The Green channel was created from the two plates and then the saturation and noise were corrected with the new plates created. 


    To stitch the images together the images were needed to be projected from a sphere onto a plane – a square of 1 million by 1 million pixels.


    Due to differences in exposure and simple juxtaposition of the color plates the resulting stitch had undesirable seams.  To clean up the image – the smoothing was accomplished by Distributed gradient-domain processing code from a collaboration between MSR (Hughes Hoppe) and JHU (Michael Kazhdan) – the paper appeared in ACM Transactions on Graphics (March 2010)


    Finally the resulting sky image was turned into a tiled multi-resolution pyramid.  Below you can see the differences in the old image and the newly released one.


    All of this large-scale data aggregation was solved with integrated set of Microsoft technologies:

    All of this was managed and coordinated by Project Trident: A Scientific Workflow Workbench

    Take a look at TeraPixel – enjoy the beauty of the images – and get lost in space. 

    Terapixel - Microsoft Research

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    New WorldWide Telescope Release–includes Martian experience WWT|Mars


    Today at the MSR Faculty Summit we released the latest version of WorldWide Telescope - the Apogee release.  Included in the release are two major features

    • TeraPixel – Worlds largest, smoothest seamless image of the sky
    • WWT|Mars – The Martian experience – collaboration with NASA to bring the HiRise imagery to WorldWide Telescope.  See info on NASA site as well…

    Also – with in the release there more cool features including Asteroid belt in the Solar System, mouse over images pop up in the view, and etc more…

    We’re really excited to share the new experiences with you – check it out and let me know what you think….

    WorldWide Telescope Provides Detailed Mars Exploration and Enhanced Night Sky Image

    Now you can use WorldWide Telescope (WWT) to explore the features of Mars as never before, thanks to the addition of more than 13,000 incredibly detailed images of Mars from various NASA spacecraft. Zoom in on the Red Planet and experience the Martian surface in unbelievably lifelike 3-D rendering, and learn more about our planetary neighbor with new interactive guided tours of Mars. And the enhancements to WWT don’t stop there. Now the WWT view of the night sky is even more amazing, with a seamless, high-resolution representation that smooths out the contours between discrete images. Gone are the visible “tiles” – those sharp edges where individual telescopic photos were combined to create the night sky panorama. This enhanced view, called the Terapixel sky image, provides an extraordinary sensation of panning the sky with the world’s most powerful telescope.

    WorldWide Telescope

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    WEI Share: Share your Windows 7 Experience Index


    imageHere’s a fun app - WEI Share -  to see how your Windows 7 machine stacks up to others, especially when you upload it to the Azure based website…see the post and video at Channel 10 

    WEI Share ("We Share") is a Coding4Fun code sample that takes your Windows Experience Index score and shares it with the world (anonymously) to an Azure website with a Silverlight front end and lets you post your WEI score to Facebook for bragging rights.
    Why would you want to share your WEI score with the world? First, this gives us a place to compare WEI scores across a wide range of hardware and even see how many touch points a multitouch computer may give you. Second, a computer's speed is dependent on the efficiency of the drivers. Sometimes WEI scores go up, sometimes they go down. This will allow you to judge the score that various versions of a driver may give you.
    You can run WEI Share at www.WEIShare.net and download the source code at WEIShare.codeplex.com.

    WEI Share: Share your Windows 7 Experience Index | Larry Larsen | Channel 10

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Research in the Brazilian Rainforest


    For the past year our small EEE team in Microsoft External Research has been working with some fabulous researchers in Brazil looking at the rainforest ecosystem.  The Brazilian Rainforest Sensor Network project—a joint effort of the University of São Paulo, Johns Hopkins University, the São Paulo Research Foundation, the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research, and MSR is looking at the carbon flux in the rainforest and how to capture and analyze the data.  You can see and hear more about the project in the video and blog post linked below.

    Monitoring the Brazilian Rainforest with a Sensor Network  

    The view from one of the research towers looking out into the Serra do Mar state park. From up here, a rich, diverse rainforest greets scientists as far as the eye can see. Yet only about eight percent of the original Atlantic rainforest survives today.Last week, at the Microsoft Research sixth annual Latin American Faculty Summit in Guaruja, Brazil, Rob Fatland, program manager with Microsoft Research, and Humberto da Rocha, professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the Universidade de São Paulo, led an intriguing presentation about their Atlantic Rainforest Micrometeorology Sensor Network Pilot Study. It’s a study that took place a mere 130 miles from where the Faculty Summit was held—a local project that could have broad environmental impact worldwide.

    External Research Team Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    More Cat’s Eye Nebula – via Bing and WWT


    Today’s Bing Image of the day is the Cats Eye Nebula – if you want to explore it more you can see it in the WorldWide Telescope Web Client



  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Happy 2nd Birthday WorldWide Telescope



    Today is the 2nd anniversary of the launch of WWT – congrats to Jonathan, Curtis, and the rest of the small team.  Besides the initial windows client (that lead to Scoble’s post - Microsoft researchers make me cry) there is the web client (silverlight), a web control, and the Bing Map WWT addin.

    There is still more to come…

    WorldWide Telescope

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    What’s an Albedo? (And Why You Should Care)


    Here’s a really good article on KQED’s Climate Watch on Albedo and why it’s important in a warming planet – it’s also really good to see Jeff Dozier’s work highlighted in the article.   btw, last year Jeff was awarded the Jim Gray eScience Award, which recognizes innovators whose work has made an especially significant contribution to the field of data-intensive computing, at the Microsoft Research eScience Workshop

    Another article on Jeff’s work -
    Jim Gray eScience Award Recipient Unlocks Secrets in the Snow

    What's an Albedo? (And Why You Should Care)

    April 29, 2010 · Posted By Molly Samuel

    Jeff Dozier approaches the instrument tower on Mammoth Mountain.

    Jeff Dozier approaches an instrument tower on Mammoth Mountain. Photo: Molly Samuel

    When Jeff Dozier, a hydrologist at UC Santa Barbara, goes to work, he gets to enjoy quite a view. His snow lab is perched halfway up Mammoth Mountain in the central Sierra. We took a gondola to get up there; the other passengers were skiers and snowboarders itching to get out on the freshly fallen snow.

    But the instrument platform from which we enjoyed views of the White Mountains is really only half the story. Dozier’s computer lab has much less of a view. In fact, it has no view. It’s buried under the snow, accessible only through what he calls a “Santa Claus entrance” (in the picture above, you can see the entrance–it's the white tubular "chimney" extending down into the snow from the center of the platform).

    The snow lab, operated by both UCSB and the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), uploads information about the snowpack to a website every fifteen minutes. You can see nearly real-time readings on, among other things, snow depth, temperature, humidity, and radiation.


    What’s an Albedo? (And Why You Should Care) | KQED's Climate Watch

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Is Open Data Protocol (OData) the way to expose Scientific Data?


    Lately I’ve been looking at OData – the Open Data Protocol and have been wondering if this is the universal way to make Data Discoverable, Accessible, and Consumable – and as Roy pointed out “Shareable”.  It seems to have many of the characteristics that are needed to expose and share science data: Simple, Lightweight, cross platform, built on Web Protocols, keeps track of Provenance, etc.

    It builds off AtomPub and can be viewed in human readable form – you can test out the services – see http://services.odata.org/OData/OData.svc/ or if you want real data, you can test out services from Netflix, City of Edmonton, or even some Climate Change data sets from DOE via the Open Science Data Initiative.

    There is a SDK and there are a number of OData Producers and Consumers you can get started with.

    Best of all – they have a logo :-) odata

    The Open Data Protocol (OData) is a Web protocol for querying and updating data that provides a way to unlock your data and free it from silos that exist in applications today. OData does this by applying and building upon Web technologies such as HTTP, Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub) and JSON to provide access to information from a variety of applications, services, and stores. The protocol emerged from experiences implementing AtomPub clients and servers in a variety of products over the past several years.  OData is being used to expose and access information from a variety of sources including, but not limited to, relational databases, file systems, content management systems and traditional Web sites.

    OData is consistent with the way the Web works - it makes a deep commitment to URIs for resource identification and commits to an HTTP-based, uniform interface for interacting with those resources (just like the Web).   This commitment to core Web principles allows OData to enable a new level of data integration and interoperability across a broad range of clients, servers, services, and tools

    Open Data Protocol (OData)

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Folding@Home on Azure – Distributed Computing


    Here’s a good way to get up to speed on WindowsAzure and contribute to a worldwide distributed computing project (Folding@Home) – by participating in the webcast you’ll also receive a temporary, self-expiring full-access account to work with Azure for a period of 2-weeks at no cost – that’s worth the webcast investment time. 

    Feeling @Home with Windows Azure, at Home

    @Home with Windows Azure I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months working with and talking about Windows Azure to a variety of audiences, but if you’re anything like me, it can be hard to truly ‘get it’ until you touch it.  So to bring it all home (pun intended), my colleagues Brian Hitney, John McClelland, and I have been working on a pretty cool virtual event.

    @Home with Windows Azure, is a two-hour webcast, which we’ll be repeating over the next couple of months, through which we’ll cover many of the core components of Windows Azure in a rather unique context; this is not your father’s “Hello World” experience!

    The application we’ll be building leverages Stanford University’s Folding@home project.  Folding@home is a distributed computing application, where participants donate spare cycles of their own machines (at home, get it?) to running simulations of protein folding.

    Protein folding refers the process by which proteins assemble themselves to perform specific functions, like acting as enzymes or antigens.  When things go wrong, diseases and conditions such as Alzheimer’s and cystic fibrosis can result, so understanding why things go wrong is critical to advancing treatment and finding cures.   Protein folding though is a very compute-intensive operation, and simulating just a nanosecond of folding activity can take as much as a day of CPU time!

    That’s where Windows Azure comes in.  During these sessions we’ll walk through the steps to build a cloud application that will use Azure compute instances to contribute to the Folding@home project.   Registrants will get a no-strings-attached, two-week Azure account as part of the deal, so you’ll have a chance to build your own Azure application and contribute to medical science – how cool is that!

    Jim O'Neil | Supporting Developers Across the Northeast

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    WWT Fisheye and spherical mirror projection


    In the latest WWT release put out on Tax Day (April 15th) – one of the features that was included was the ability to utilize WWT in different projections – so you can use WWT in Planetariums. Below Paul Bourke tested those features out on his iDome (btw – I’d love to get my hands on that :-)) - see his review and photos

    Docs on using the WWT in the projection/planetarium mode – are available at WorldWide Telescope Planetarium 

    World Wide Telescope: Fisheye and spherical mirror projection05[1]

    Written by Paul Bourke
    April 2010

    The following is a discussion from tests of the WWT (World Wide Telescope) software and in particular its handling of projection using a fisheye lens or spherical mirror and the warp maps that describe how to distort fisheye images for this projection technique. This is not an endorsement of the product for its intended users but simply a test/evaluation of the fisheye generation and optional warping. Check out more of the review at World Wide Telescope: fisheye and spherical mirror projection

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Memories for life – SenseCam available


    It’s great to see that the technology behind the SenseCam work out of MSR Cambridge is now available for anyone to utilize.  It’s had some real success as an aid for people with memory loss – check out the papers – but it could also be used as a data collection device, I see it being used in environmental projects – long battery life – proximity sensor, etc…


    Vicon Revue Product
    Revue. Memories for life.

    Welcome to Revue. The wearable digital camera designed to take photos passively without intervention whilst being worn by the user.

    Based on Microsoft SenseCam technology, Revue is a research tool aimed at medical researchers as an aid for people with memory loss.

    Vicon Revue | Memories for life

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    More Goodies into Windows HPC – cycle stealing, VS2010, Excel 2010, Linux Interop


    The article from HPCwire on  Microsoft Injects More Goodies into Windows HPC highlights some of the new features in beta2.  I’m especially happy to see the support for Win7 desktops as computational nodes – desktop cycle stealing, something that always gets asked about.  The other key additions being:

    • VS2010 integration
    • Parallel Nsight, NVIDIA's software development toolset for GPU computing that is offered as a Visual Studio plugin
    • New services for Excel 2010
    • Adds compatibility with mixed-OS cluster management platforms from Adaptive Computing, Clustercorp and Platform Computing.

    HPCwire: Microsoft Injects More Goodies into Windows HPC


    For example, Microsoft has added the ability to aggregate Windows 7 workstations into an HPC cluster. Essentially, each workstation is monitored and managed as an ad-hoc compute node within a traditional cluster. Capabilities like time-of-day scheduling and shutting down of preemptive jobs are included so that the machine can be made available to a real live person when required. The common scenario is one where an organization has a small cluster made up of say dozens of servers, along with perhaps hundreds of Windows 7 PCs sitting idle at night.

    Since these workstations are likely to be hooked up to the LAN via a high-latency Ethernet connection, the type of HPC workloads that can be run on them is somewhat more limited than that of a typical InfiniBand-connected cluster. In theory, any highly parallel but loosely coupled application would be suitable. If you have such a setup, you can essentially add a night-time cluster for free (well, at least for the cost of the power to run it).

    The next big enhancement is the integration with Visual Studio 2010, which is due to be launched next week. This new version of Visual Studio contains lots of support for creating, testing and deploying parallel apps. It includes the hooks for Microsoft's MPI, SOA-type execution, and new services for Excel 2010. Mendillo characterized the integration between Visual Studio and Windows HPC Server as a "big breakthrough moment." He may be right. Visual Studio has over 7.5 million users today, which is the largest user base for any software development suite. Given that, the ability to program from the client across the cluster is a big deal.

    The Excel tool has received special attention since it has become a fairly widespread tool for HPC-types -- scientists, engineers, financial quants, and the like. Basically, Microsoft has layered HPC services on top of vanilla Excel so that users can distribute computations across a cluster. Mendillo says there are a lot of Excel applications that are suited to this type of parallelization. One example is a life insurance actuarial calculation. On a workstation, a typical such calculation could take 14 hours. Mendillo claims distributing that work across a small  cluster -- say 16 to 32-nodes -- cuts that time down to two and a half minutes. Microsoft is partnering with integrators Wipro, Infusion and Grid Dynamics to help customers migrate their Excel workbooks and develop new parallelized apps.

    Along these same lines comes Parallel Nsight, NVIDIA's software development toolset for GPU computing that is offered as a Visual Studio plugin. Microsoft has been working with NVIDIA on this for a while, but the software maker's big contribution is low-level GPU support on the server side so that everything works seamlessly end-to-end. The whole package allows programmers to develop, test, and run GPU-accelerated applications, all with the Windows universe. This has the makings of a nice synergy for both vendors as it allows NVIDIA to piggy-back on the ubiquity of Visual Studio and gives Microsoft a GPU development capability alongside its CPU toolset.

    The last piece of the puzzle for Windows in HPC is Linux interoperability. Although some dual-boot operating system capability has been there in the past, the beta release adds compatibility with mixed-OS cluster management platforms from Adaptive Computing, Clustercorp and Platform Computing. This allows the system admin to statically boot specific nodes with Linux or Windows. In the case of Platform Computing, dynamic OS provisioning can be supported via the company's ISF Adaptive Cluster platform. The whole idea here is to be able to serve Windows and Linux HPC apps on the same hardware, and to do so as transparently as possible. This is a must-have feature for Microsoft, inasmuch as HPC customers have come to expect Linux as the default OS.

    If any of this arouses your interest, Microsoft is making the beta available for downloading on its Windows HPC Server trial site. There could be another beta round says Mendillo, or they may go straight to the final release. In either case, he expects the Windows HPC Server 2008 R2 product to be shipping later in the fall.

    HPCwire: Microsoft Injects More Goodies into Windows HPC

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    TechNet Creates Silverlight Application as Clearinghouse for Technology Resources


    I’m a sucker for good technology and really useful  interfaces and applications – I just saw this post from the MSPress about the TechNet Desktop Player – not only will it be really useful for finding tech resources based on your role, but also if you set your zipcode in the setting it gets you access to local events that are happening.  They also have it enabled to allow you to download the Silverlight app and run it locally on your desktop…very cool.  I could also see it being an interface to the Zentity platform for viewing organization’s digital library ecosystem.

    TechNet Creates Silverlight Application as Clearinghouse for Technology Resources

    Ever wish that you could find information about a technology in just one place? TechNet is trying to grant that wish.

    A beta version of the Microsoft Desktop Player is available now at www.microsoft.com/click/desktopplayer . With this application, you can search for resources specific to your role and technology. It’s still in beta, so I noticed that some of the Webcasts were a little fuzzy. However, it’s a great start at compiling resources from all over Microsoft to help you find information and instruction. To test it, I queried using the following criteria:

    TechNet Desktop Player

    Microsoft Press : TechNet Creates Silverlight Application as Clearinghouse for Technology Resources

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Bing Earth Day Photo Contest for US Students due April 11th


    I hadn’t seen the Bing Earth Day Photo Contest till today…there are some really good prizes for both the students and their schools.  I was looking at some of the photos – since you can submit ratings and there are some really good ones that have been submitted.

    Bing Earth Day Photo Contest for US Students

    Bing has kicked off a homepage photo contest for students in the United States to submit photoshomepage_web to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. The winning photo will be displayed on the Bing homepage on April 22 - Earth Day.

    In addition to the grand prize winner seeing their photo on Bing.com, there are some great prizes for both students and their schools. Winners across the four age groups (ages 5-10, 11-13, 14-17 and 18+) will win a trip for two to the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, Washington. Additionally, each winner will receive equipment from HP and Canon to help build digital photo resources at their school.

    Software Enabled Earth : Bing Earth Day Photo Contest for US Students

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Chem4Word : Introducing Chemistry Add-in for Word


    For those interested in adding chemical symbols to documents – checkout the Chem4Word project, you can install the Chem4Word add-in which utilizes the Chemical Markup Language and makes it easier for students, chemists and researchers to insert and modify chemical information, such as labels, formulas and 2-D depictions.

    Introducing Chemistry Add-in for Word

    Every discipline has its own language. The ability to communicate and collaborate in a discipline-specific language is essential to scientific research, especially in an environment characterized by staggering volumes of data.

    In chemistry, not only is there a specific language, but also specific symbols. Empowering those symbols by enabling them to communicate across technologies and formats, as well as simplifying authoring and semantic annotation, is at the heart of the Chemistry Add-in for Word. Informally called Chem4Word, this free tool is being unveiled today during the American Chemical Society’s Spring 2010 National Meeting & Exposition.

    Chem4Word makes it easier for students, chemists and researchers to insert and modify chemical information, such as labels, formulas and 2-D depictions, from within Microsoft Office Word. Designed for and tested on both Word 2007 and Word 2010, it harnesses the power of Chemical Markup Language (XML for chemistry), making it possible not only to author chemical content in Word, but also to include the data behind those structures. Chem4Word and Chemical Markup Language make chemistry documents open, readable and easily accessible, not just to other humans, but also to other technologies.

    In the image below, the name and 2D views of the same chemical are shown in the document, along with the Chemistry Navigator, which displays all of the chemistry zones within the current document.

    In addition to authoring functionality, Chem4Word enables user denotation of inline “chemical zones,” the rendering of high-quality and print-ready visual depictions of chemical structures and the ability to store and expose semantic-rich chemical information across the global chemistry community.

    The product of an ongoing collaboration between Microsoft Research and Dr. Peter Murray-Rust, Dr. Joe Townsend, and Jim Downing from the Unilever Centre for Molecular Science Informatics at the University of Cambridge, the Chem4Word project took inspiration from the mathematic-equation authoring capabilities in Word 2007. We also have taken advantage of user-interface extensibility and XML features already included in Office 2007 and Office 2010, and we hope this provides a demonstration of the power of Microsoft Office as a platform. Microsoft Research worked closely with key individuals in the field of chemistry to develop this tool, but Microsoft Office provides the tools and resources to enable other domains to develop on top of Office applications.

    Further guiding the development of the Chem4Word project was the Microsoft External Research team’s commitment to supporting the scholarly communications lifecycle, which calls for software and related services that enable the coordinated, seamless exchange of data and information, from authoring through publication to long-term preservation.

    The beta release of the Chemistry Add-in for Word is available for free download. Later this year, it will be released as an open-source project under an Apache license via CodePlex.

    External Research Team Blog : Introducing Chemistry Add-in for Word

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Cloud Computing for Science - AzureMODIS: Accelerating the Pace of Environmental Research


    They just published an overview of the great collaboration going in the AzureMODIS project with UC Berkeley, Univ of Virginia, and the MSR eScience group.  The project was a very early adopter of Windows Azure and is already one of the largest applications running on Azure.  Kudos goes to Youngryel Ryu, Jie Li and of course Catharine van Ingen for pioneering ScienceOnAzure.  The highlights - AzureMODIS manages:

    • 5 TB data upload (600,000 files) from the NASA sites (six days for upload)
    • 35,000 hours for reprojection
    • 12,000 hours for derivation reduction
    • 3,000 hours for analysis reduction
    • 50 GB reduced results delivered to the desktop

    AzureMODIS: Accelerating the Pace of Environmental Research

    AzureMODIS is a pipeline for the download, processing, and reduction of diverse satellite imagery—using Windows Azure to deliver the results of massive cloud computational power to the desktops of researchers.

    A reprojection of surface temperature data collected by the MODIS researchers using Windows AzureA mosaic of daily surface temperature data aggregated and reprojected from MODIS imagery using Windows Azure

    AzureMODIS: Accelerating the Pace of Environmental Research - Microsoft Research

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Bing’s Best Images as desktop background


    I do look forward to seeing the daily image Bing has as background on the search page – and was really excited to see “Bing’s Best” as a Win7 theme, I’ve been enjoying some great photos rotating on my desktop…

    [Update] You can also add this functionality to WindowsXP

    Wallpaper Rotator, from Microsoft's CodePlex, allows to dynamically change the desktop background (similar to Windows 7). 
    (Thanks to Blake from The Road to Know Where)

    Personalization Gallery - Windows 7 themes, wallpapers, and gadgets - Microsoft Windows

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    External Research Team Blog started


    The Microsoft Research External Research group has started a blog – the initial post is from Tony Heyerhome11 CVP

    Welcome to the Microsoft External Research blog

    The inspiration behind this blog is a strong desire to foster connections that lead to meaningful breakthroughs; to engage in ongoing dialog in an open forum; to discuss and debate the information and ideas critical to harnessing the power of science and technology to address the most urgent global challenges.

    Every day, I have the privilege of witnessing the wonder of discovery, regardless of where it takes place, or whether it’s undertaken by academic researchers and scientists around the world or within Microsoft External Research. For those of us at Microsoft External Research, the opportunity to collaborate with the finest and researchers and scientists working across the globe today is the core of everything we do.


    External Research Team Blog

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    The Fourth Paradigm Book – now available on Amazon – Paperback and Kindle


    In addition to downloading the Fourth Paradigm book for free from the Microsoft Research website – you can now purchase a hardcopy or a Kindle version from Amazon.  Of course using the Kindle for PC provides a great experience for reading the book. 

    The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery (Volume 1)


    The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery

    ~ Tony Hey (Author), Stewart Tansley (Editor), Kristin Tolle (Editor)


  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Data needs to be Discoverable, Accessible, and Consumable


    While the Data Deluge is upon on the scientific communities, how to manage and share the scientific data is still a challenge.  To really allow data to be useful for scientists and general consumers data needs to be Discoverable, Accessible, and Consumable.

    Discoverable – How do you find the data?  Searching for data via search engines is not the right way to find the information.  Sites like data.gov is a good start for getting to scientific data, but how to find the smaller pots of data.

    Accessible – To do anything useful with the information/data – it needs to be made available – that means the data needs to be easily downloaded, not hidden behind many web pages and locked up behind passwords. 

    Consumable – it needs to be straight forward (one-click) to bring the data into applications for analysis (ie. Excel, MatLab, etc).  Put it into the hands of the users.

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