# Monday, February 25, 2019

Episode 552

Hilary Weaver-Robb on Front-End and UI Testing

"QA and Testers are the glue that holds teams together." Hilary Weaver-Robb describes how her team approaches software testing, how testers and developers work together toward the same goal, and some of the tools she uses.

Monday, February 25, 2019 9:34:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, February 23, 2019

InvisibleManThe unnamed African-American narrator of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison recounts his life, growing up in the south; attending, then being expelled from a traditionally black college; emigrating to Harlem and taking up a group calling themselves "The Brotherhood", from which he ultimately separates. He does his best to assimilate with those he meets, repeatedly ceding his own ideas and identity; but it ends up for naught as he becomes more and more "invisible".

After discovering the narrator rescuing an evicted tenant from an angry mob, The Brotherhood recognizes his talent for persuasive speech and for mobilizing a crowd and he soon becomes the voice of this organization in Harlem. We are never given a clear picture of what The Brotherhood stands for. They support vague statements, such as "equality" and "the woman issue", but we know nothing of their details for achieving these goals. They may represent the Communist party, with which Ellison had a brief relationship. But they consolidate their power by manipulating others, including the black community of Harlem. When it suits their needs, they turn on the narrator and reverse their commitment to the local black community.

The Narrator loses ground every time he tries to assert his own opinions and his own characters. This leads him to label himself "invisible".  He is punished every time he asserts himself. When he acquiesces to those around him, he achieves temporary success, but he cannot maintain this success, as those in power shift their goals and expectations.

The book is filled with bizarre scenes that sometimes give it a surreal feeling. In one scene, a poor black farmer recounts in embarrassing detail how he came to impregnate his own daughter. In another scene, the narrator is forced to fight blindfolded against dozens of other black men to entertain a white audience, as a prerequisite to earning a college scholarship.

But Invisible Man is also filled with a very real, very poignant story about a young man trying to achieve success. He is thwarted because of the color of his skin; but also, because the system is stacked against anyone who tries to follow their own path.

He summarizes his position, as follows:
"I was pulled this way and that for longer than I can remember. And my problem was that I always tried to go in everyone's way but my own. I have also been called one thing and then another while no one really wished to hear what I called myself. So, after years of trying to adopt the opinions of others I finally rebelled. I am an invisible man."

To some extent, we all face a battle between success and invisibility; balancing our own goals with the goals of society. It is hard enough for those born into a position of privilege. But even harder for a black man living in 20th century America.

Saturday, February 23, 2019 12:28:00 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, February 21, 2019

GCast 36:

Managing Tables with the Azure Storage Explorer

The Azure Storage Explorer is a free resource to manage Azure Storage Accounts.
This video shows how to manage Azure tables with this tool.

Azure | GCast | Screencast | Video
Thursday, February 21, 2019 9:44:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, February 18, 2019

Episode 551

Jeremy Miller on Automated Testing in .NET Core

Jeremy Miller describes how testing ASP.NET applications is simpler with ASP.NET Core. He discusses the modularity of .NET, the lack of dependencies on IIS, and his open source testing project Alba.

Monday, February 18, 2019 9:21:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, February 16, 2019

AtonementCecilia Tallis and her Robbie Turner were making love in the Tallis family home when Cecilia's 13-year-old sister Briony saw them. Later, Briony witnessed the rape of her cousin in the darkness outside their home.

Despite getting no good look at the rapist, Briony's overactive imagination and her desire for attention lead her to wrongly accuse Robbie, sending him to prison.

This is the setup of Atonement by Ian McEwan.

It is the story of an aristocratic English family torn apart by a scandal and lives ruined by a lie and the lifetime of guilt that comes with the telling of the lie.

The book follows the 3 main characters at various points in their lives, following the initial scandal. World War II breaks out and Robbie enlists in the infantry after he is released from prison, while Briony and Cecilia work as nurses. McEwan gives us a look inside their heads (particularly Robbie and Briony) and how the incident affected them. The images of the war in Europe and the hospitals in England are particularly intense.

A final chapter takes place decades later with an aging Briony returning to the family home. Here we learn that the story is even more tragic than we originally believed.

The atonement itself is less satisfying than most readers will hope for. But Atonement the novel is a very good story of psychology and pain and guilt.

Saturday, February 16, 2019 8:51:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, February 14, 2019

GCast 35:

Customizing Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a set of tools that help users collaborate with one another. Learn how to create a new Team, add a Channel to an existing team, and add a Tab to an existing Channel.

GCast | Screencast | Teams | Video
Thursday, February 14, 2019 9:02:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, February 11, 2019

Episode 550

Cassandra Faris on Personal Branding

Cassandra Faris talks about her involvement with the developer community and how she has managed her personal brand.

Monday, February 11, 2019 9:05:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, February 9, 2019

GoTellItOnTheMountainSet against the backdrop of black families and churches in Harlem and in the American southeast during the Great Depression, Go Tell It on The Mountain by James Baldwin takes us through the struggles of a family dealing with God, religion, and temptation, sin, guilt, and redemption.

The story begins ends with John Grimes on his 14th birthday. John is troubled by his relationship with God, which is negatively affected by John's poor relationship with his unloving stepfather - an evangelical preacher at a Harlem storefront church.

But most of the book's stories are told in flashbacks: We learn of John's birth father, who was arrested and beaten by police because he was a black man walking around the city at night; We learn of John's aunt, who left home because her mother reserved her love for another child; and we learn of John's stepfather Gabriel.

Gabriel grew up a wild youth in the south. After years of rejecting God, Gabriel is saved and decides to become a preacher. His idealism helps him, but his weaknesses hinder him. Desperately desiring a son, Gabriel is frustrated at his wife's inability to conceive. He meets Esther at church, who flirts with him. A brief extramarital affair with Esther results in a bastard son, which Gabriel tries to cover up by stealing his wife's money and sending Esther out of town, thus compounding his sin. Like nearly all of us, Gabriel falls short of what he seeks to become; but his greatest weakness is his inability to accept personal responsibility for his mistakes. Consistently, he blames others for his own failings. This hypocrisy hinders his desire for forgiveness - from himself, from others, and from God. As he grows older, Gabriel becomes more bitter and unloving.

The most powerful scene of the novel is when Gabriel finally confesses his illegitimate son Royal to his wife Deborah after learning that the teenage boy has been murdered. Royal never knew his father, but Deborah knew all along. Deborah does not chastise Gabriel for his infidelity; instead, she chastises him for not helping Esther when she needed his aid and for not taking in his infant son after Esther's death and for not accepting the gift that God gave him.

The language of Mountain poetic, mixing references from Gospel hymns and the King James Bible. It is a beautiful story that is well told, even though it describes many ugly things.

Hours after finishing it, I was haunted by the characters and their actions and the circumstances that shaped them.

Saturday, February 9, 2019 11:24:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, February 7, 2019

GCast 34:

Exposing Local Web Apps with ngrok

Learn how to speed up development and testing by using ngrok to expose to the public Internet web applications running on your local machine.

GCast | Screencast | Web
Thursday, February 7, 2019 8:08:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, February 5, 2019

StrideTowardFreedomIn 1954, 25-year-old Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. moved to Montgomery, AL to lead a small Baptist Church. Alabama of the 1950s was known for embracing "Jim Crow Laws" - which enforced racial segregation by bogusly claiming "separate but equal" services.  Among these laws were rules giving preference to white passengers on public buses.

In 1955, King helped organize a boycott of the Montgomery bus system after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat for a white passenger. The protest lasted for over a year and ultimately resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the segregation laws of Montgomery were unconstitutional.

Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, Dr. King gives his firsthand account of the historic boycott. It is a moving story of strength and prejudice and perseverance and hatred and solidarity and bigotry.

The white establishment in Montgomery fought to end the boycott and to defend their segregationist laws. The protest was noted for embracing King's philosophy of Non-Violent Resistance, encouraging local blacks not to respond to white violence and threats of violence with violent acts of their own.

In between King's narrative, he describes how he came to his Non-Violent Protest philosophy, what it means, and how it could be effective. King embraced similar philosophies promoted by Jesus Christ and Mahatma Gandhi.

Ultimately, the Montgomery boycott was successful because of the U.S. court system, which took a position based more on fairness and constitionality than on maintaining the status quo.

King concludes this book by taking stock of where the country was regarding race equality following the events in Montgomery. He notes that equality is a national - not a regional - issue and he calls out many who were not doing enough, including the President, Congress, and people in both the North and the South.

I was struck by how little the boycott organizers demanded from the city (they did not ask to end segregation) and how forcefully the local police harassed the protestors (volunteer cab drivers were detained and those waiting for rides were arrested for loitering). It is unlikely that change would have taken place in Montgomery without the intervention of the Supreme Court.

Stride Toward Freedom is an excellent history of one of the most significant events of the U.S. civil rights movement. But it is also an inspirational story of what a small group of very determined people can do to change the world when they know they are right.

The United States has made progress since 1954. But we still see the ugly specters of racism and bigotry today.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 8:08:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)