# Thursday, April 28, 2016

Microsoft Cognitive Services uses Machine Learning to recognize text within pictures and exposes this functionality via a RESTful Web Service.

GCast 14: Cognitive Services - Thumbnail Generation

Thursday, April 28, 2016 12:12:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, April 25, 2016
Monday, April 25, 2016 11:51:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Bloody Crown of Conan is the second volume in Del Rey's 3-volume set of the complete Conan stories by Robert Howard. While volume 1: The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian included mostly short stories, this book contains 3 longer works: The People of the Black Circle; The Hour of the Dragon; A Witch Shall Be Born.

BloodyCrownOfConan The Hour of the Dragon is a full novel that takes Conan across many countries of the Hyborian world. It is set in a time when Conan has risen to be king of Aquilonia. Conan's enemies resurrect a dead spirit to enchant the king and steal his throne. Conan's quest to regain the crown leads him across much of the known world, where he fights numerous bottles and raises an army to retake Aquilonia. The action and the epic sweep of this story make it one of Howard's best and enhances this collection.

The other 2 novellas, while not as long or involved as The Hour of the Dragon are more complex than most of Howard's short stories.  By this point in his career, Howard seems to have hit his stride. The action flows freely, if violently, and we can enjoy the adventures of Conan who uses his nearly superhuman strength and skills to overcome nearly impossible odds.

The collection ends with a few uninteresting first drafts of Howard's unpublished Conan stories, followed by a fascinating essay analyzing the themes of the Conan series and the evolution of the character.

For escapism and adventure, it is difficult to beat these stories.

Saturday, April 23, 2016 4:28:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Friday, April 22, 2016
clip_image001

MadHacks is an annual weekend hackathon hosted at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI. The organizers decided to move the hackathon from the spring to the fall, which left a gap of nearly 18 months between events. To maintain interest, they decided to host a smaller, 1-day hackathon on April 16. The event was billed as MadHacks Spring Fever.

85 students formed teams and submitted 18 projects.

clip_image003
MadHacks organizers

I served as a mentor and a judge at this hackathon.

I also delivered a 1-hour presentation on Microsoft Cognitive Services.

clip_image005
Presentation on Microsoft Cognitive Services

4 judges evaluated all the submitted projects and chose the top 3. The quality of the projects made this difficult and we had to ask several of the teams to show their project again in order to make a selection.

clip_image007
The judges

Many of the projects were Microsoft branded, such as Xbox games, Azure books, and Microsoft sleeping bags.

The winning projects were:

  1. UniTravel: A mobile application that mapped a route to a destination and calculated not only the time and distance, but also the estimated cost using various transportation options.
  2. Chemical Reactor: A web app that visualized atomic motion and formed new molecules if atoms collided with a force that exceeded the enthalpy required to bond.
  3. Cellular Automata Plant: A web app that visualizes the growth of plant cells over time in a given environment.

 

clip_image009
The UniTravel team
clip_image011
The Chemical Reactor team

The event was organized by University of Wisconsin Microsoft Student Partner Katie Anderson.

The projects created were particularly impressive, given that they were all created in 12 hours or less.

A much larger hackathon is planned at UW-Madison in the fall semester.

Friday, April 22, 2016 1:46:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, April 21, 2016

Microsoft Cognitive Services uses Machine Learning to recognize text within pictures and exposes this functionality via a RESTful Web Service.

Cognitive Services - Optical Character Recognition

Thursday, April 21, 2016 11:52:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Wednesday, April 20, 2016

clip_image001

The idea for the Global Azure Boot Camp began in 2013. Community developers from all over the world would hold a workshop in different cities on the same day. In fact, I organized and delivered a Boot Camp in the Detroit area that year, before I joined Microsoft.

On Saturday April 18, the 4th annual Global Azure Boot Camp took place in 161 cities around the world. While some cities focused on presentations and others on hands-on labs, all events provided education on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform.

Microsoft Regional Director Eric Boyd and Responsive X organized an event in Addison, IL – just outside of Chicago. Based on feedback, he received from attendees last year, Eric decided to reduce the length of the event to a half day, instead of a full day. The event was free to the public.

Eric kicked off the morning with an overview of Azure.

clip_image002

Next, a representative from Baracuda Networks gave a presentation on Azure security.

I delivered a session on App Services, covering Web Apps, Mobile Apps, Logic Apps, and API Apps.

clip_image004

The only downside to the Saturday event was the number of people who registered and did not attend – over 50%. This was almost certainly due to the fact that the Chicago weather that morning was the nicest it had been in a long time. Still, over 60 people showed up to learn about Azure and cloud computing.

Response from the audience was overwhelmingly positive. Many people stayed after to ask questions about Azure and about BizSpark.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 2:37:01 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, April 18, 2016
Monday, April 18, 2016 11:23:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, April 14, 2016

Learn how to use the Microsoft Cognitive Services Face API to recognize faces and the properties of faces within image. This API is based on Machine Learning.

Cognitive Services - Face API

Thursday, April 14, 2016 9:26:30 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, April 11, 2016
Monday, April 11, 2016 10:16:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, April 9, 2016

I have a lot going on the next few months. Here is what is confirmed:

On April 9 (today), I will deliver the opening keynote at EnvisionDo: Tech in 2016 at the University of Chicago.

On April 15, I will talk about Azure App Services at the Global Azure Boot Camp in Addison, IL.

Later that same day, I will mentor student hackers at the Spring MadHacks hackathon in Madison, WI.

On Tuesday, April 26, I will present "Adding Image and Voice Intelligence to your apps with Microsoft Cognitive Services" at Geekfest in Chicago.

From April 27-29, I will mentor high school students at the FIRST Robotics competition in St. Louis, MO

On Saturday, April 30, Brian Lewis and I will deliver the opening keynote at the Chicago Code Camp in Chicago.

On May 26 and 27, I will deliver 2 presentations: “Open Source Technologies in Microsoft Azure” and “Adding Image and Voice Intelligence to your apps with Microsoft Cognitive Services” at IT Camp in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

On June 4, I will be one of the hosts of MVP Open Days in Downers Grove, IL.

On June 9, I will present “Building Powerful Enterprise Apps with Angular 2 and Typescript" at Open Source North in Minneapolis, MN.

On June 15, Shawn Wildermuth will interview me for his “Hello World” podcast in Chicago, IL.

On August 11, I will present "Building a TV show with Angular, Bootstrap, and Web Services" at MidwestJS in Minneapolis, MN.

I am waiting to confirm a few others. Watch this space.

Saturday, April 9, 2016 10:56:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)