Get inside the head of a Microsoft researcher who can riff on processors, Aerosmith and Godzilla

If you want to get inside the head of a researcher who works on fast, scalable storage systems for datacenters, check out James Mickens’ essay, “The Slow Winter.” Mickens, a researcher in the Distributed Systems group at Microsoft’s Redmond lab, riffs on a variety of topics that don’t seem to have much to do with each other, but he makes connections between air travel’s heyday, the hard working (and harder partying) glory days of being a hardware architect and touring with Aerosmith.

Outlook.com updates its Android app with features you asked for

In fact the update includes over 150 improvements, including server-side search (so you can search through all of your email, even if the messages aren’t on your phone), the ability to download all your mail (no matter how old), support for all your aliases, the ability to choose from 11 colors to personalize your mail app the way you like it, and more.

New version of Fresh Paint lets you make wall-size canvas prints of your creations

With the free Fresh Paint app for Windows and Windows Phone, it’s easy to create vivid digital paintings that that look like masterpieces – even if you don’t have traditional artistic skills. Now, thanks to a new update, you can also put those masterpieces created in Windows 8.1 on high-quality, ready-to-hang canvas prints from CanvasPop.

Mirror, mirror on the wall (at the Seattle Art Museum)

In this episode of “On the Whiteboard,” Editor Pamela Woon takes you to a permanent video art installation at the Seattle Art Museum. Powered by Windows Server, it gives onlookers a constantly changing reflection of the city around them through pre-recorded video scenes of the urban landscape.

PhoneGap devs take their apps to a new level on Windows Phone

More and more developers are discovering that publishing on the Windows Phone platform is an easy way to expand their market – and a fast-growing market at that. A group of PhoneGap developers recently learned this firsthand when they accepted the challenge to take their existing apps (already published on other platforms) and port them to Windows Phone 8.

Microsoft researcher tunes into social media metrics by interviewing musicians

In a paper published Monday, Microsoft Research’s Nancy Baym focuses on musicians and the “big difference between massive amounts of data being available, thanks to new media, and being well-equipped to manage and interpret data. It’s important because, these days, people are putting a lot of faith in big data, often harvested from social media, as a purveyor of truth.”