# Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Sometimes, I like to build fancy automations in Microsoft PowerPoint.

PowerPoint provides a simple way to animate objects on a slide. The steps are:
Select an object,
choose an animation
Set properties (e.g. timing) of that object

When a slide has a complex animations, you can end up with a lot of objects to manage. Sometimes those objects are stacked on top of one another, as shown in Fig. 1.

sp01-OverlappingShapes
Fig. 1

This makes it difficult to select the desired object. Further, if some shapes look alike, it's difficult to know which one to select.

PowerPoint provides a feature to help with this: The Selection Pane.

It's a good bet you've never used the Selection Pane, because it is not obvious where to find it.

To show this pane, select the Home ribbon (Fig. 2); then, select Select | Selection Pane, as shown in Fig. 3.

sp02-HomeRibbon
Fig. 2

sp03-SelectionPaneButton
Fig. 3

The Selection Pane displays, as shown in Fig. 4.

sp04-SelectionPane
Fig. 4

Each object on the current slide is listed. Notice that it each item is given a generic name, based on the type of shape.

You can rename any shape by double-clicking the shape name in the Selection Pane, typing in a new name, and pressing ENTER, as shown in Fig. 5 and Fig. 6.

sp05-RenameObject1
Fig. 5

sp06-RenameObject2
Fig. 6

Fig. 7 shows all the objects with more meaningful names. When I'm working with a complex slide, I like to rename each object to something to easily identify it.

sp07-RenameAllObjects
Fig. 7

Clicking the icon to the right of each object name allows you to toggle the visibility of that object. Hiding objects on top of and around an object can make it much easier to select and work on a given object. Fig. 8 shows the slide with every object hidden except the 2 circles.

sp08-HideObjects
Fig. 8

When you are finished working on objects, click the icon(s) again to reveal the hidden objects.

The PowerPoint Selection Pane is a little-used feature that can make it much easier to work with animations and complex slides in PowerPoint.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019 19:04:08 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, 12 March 2019

In a previous article, we saw how to create an Azure IoT Hub.    

In this article, we will show how to add devices to the IoT Hub.

When I first began working with IoT hub devices, I was confused by language that suggested I was "Adding" or "Creating" a device. What we are really doing is registering a device with the hub, so that a physical device of the same name can communicate with this hub. When you see words like "Add" and "Create", think of the fact that it is adding and creating the registration entry.

To begin, log into the Azure Portal and navigate to your IoT Hub, as shown in Fig. 1.

id01-IotHubOverviewBlade
Fig. 1

Click "IoT devices" to open the "IoT devices" blade, as shown in Fig. 2.

id02-IotDevicesBlade
Fig. 2

If this hub has any devices, you will see them listed. You can use the fields at the top to filter the list to more quickly find one or more devices.

To add a new device, click the [Add] button (Fig. 2) to display the "Create a device" blade, as shown in Fig. 3.

id03-AddDeviceButton
Fig. 3

id04-CreateADevice
Fig. 4

At the "Device ID", enter a name for this device. The name must be unique among this hub's devices.

At the "Authentication type", select the type of authentication you wish this device to use. If you select "Symmetric key", you have the option to enter your keys or allow the system to generate keys for you.

Click the [Save] button to create this device.

After a few seconds, the device is created and displays in the device list of the "IoT devices" blade, as shown in Fig. 5.

id05-IotDevicesBlade
Fig. 5

If you click on the device, you can see the "Device details" for this device, as showin in Fig. 6.

id06-DeviceDetails
Fig. 6

The connection string is required to target this specific device.

Now that you have a device registered, a device of that name can communicate with this hub.

Azure | IoT
Tuesday, 12 March 2019 09:48:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 11 March 2019

Episode 554

Ondrej Balas on 2-Factor Authentication

Ondrej Balas discusses advances in 2-Factor Authentication and tells us how to add this security to our applications.

Monday, 11 March 2019 09:31:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, 10 March 2019

The Brodie Set were a group of six pre-teen girls at The Marcia Blaine School in Edenborough, who were completely devoted to their favourite Teacher - Miss Jean Brodie.

Miss Brodie was proud and eccentric. She refused to teach the defined curriculum - instead instructing girls on how to be proper young ladies or captivating them with tales of her travels and adventures. Miss Brodie believed she was in her prime and she let everyone know it. She would often brag "Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life." "You girls are my vocation", she insists. "I am dedicated to you in my prime." This does not endear the teacher to the administration of this 1930s private school, who search for a reason to dismiss her.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark follows the girls throughout their school years, as they grow up under the influence of Miss Brodie, who takes them to museums and tea parties and to the homes of her friends. Brodie continues to be a strong influence on their lives, even after they graduate to the Senior school and she is no longer their teacher.

In some ways, Miss Brodie is a lovely person: She is bright and imaginative, passionate about art and music and history, and fiercely loyal to her girls. But in other ways, her flaws show through. She is an admirer of fascism in the years before World War II, showering compliments upon both Mussolini and Hitler.

Worst of all, she is manipulative of the girls she is mentoring. At one point, Brodie falls in love with a married teacher and, knowing she cannot have him, she conspires to have one of the girls sleep with him instead. She even makes sure another girl is with them to report back to Miss Brodie. The plan backfires when the art teacher begins an affair with the wrong girl.

The story often jumps ahead to the grown-up girls of the Set - sometimes by parenthetically revealing a bit about a girl's future ("Rose, who would later be famous for sex") and sometimes with an entire scene taking place among the older girls or with an aging Miss Brodie, who dies shortly after passing out of her "prime".
  Because of the flash-forwards, we know that Jenny will become a nun; that Mary will die young; that Rose will be famous for sex; and that Miss Brodie will be fired after being betrayed by one of her pupils. But the humor and intelligence of Spark's writing keeps the reader engaged until the end.

In fact, it is Spark's wit that kept me engaged throughout this short novel. She perfectly captures the eccentric schoolteacher and the teenage girls gossiping about school and sex and who they are and what they will become.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a short, but excellent novel about the effects - both positive and negative - that a strong role model can have on impressionable youth. It is told in a way to delight the reader.

Sunday, 10 March 2019 09:57:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, 09 March 2019

Sometimes, the American dream is a reality. And sometimes, it is an illusion.

Seymour "Swede" Levov had the perfect life. He grew up tall and handsome and was the best athlete in Newark, New Jersey. After the war, Swede married Miss New Jersey, fathered a beautiful little girl, and began training to take over his father's glove factory. He was good at his job; his wife loved him; his daughter was perfect, except for a stuttering problem; he was successful at work.

Everybody body loved and admired Swede Levov.

Everybody envied Swede Levov.

But Swede's life was far from perfect.

"American Pastoral by Philip Roth tells Swede's story.

In high school, Swede's daughter Merry became involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement; and, at the age of 16, she blew up the local general store and Post Office, killing a local physician. She disappeared that day.

Too much came easy for Swede. His great skill was excelling at those things that were expected of him; and he spent most of his life trying to do just that: He worked hard, he was kind to others, he loved his wife and daughter. He even kept his Newark factory open after the city was racked by riots and crime increased and it became impossible to hire high-quality craftsman. It wasn't enough.

Swede's idyllic life was an illusion. His outward success is a façade, hiding the turmoil and tragedy that plagued him and his family.
 
Swede searches (mostly) in vain for his daughter. His efforts result in disappointment and exploitation. Even when he finds her, he gains no closure from the incident. Merry has moved from her life as a violent terrorist; but now embraces a self-destructive philosophy that leaves her sick and pathetic and still rejecting the morals of her father.

Swede almost deals with his weaknesses and the weaknesses of those closest to him with logic and hard work and perseverance.

It is never enough.

In the end, he beats himself up trying to decide who is to blame for Merry's fall. Did she fall because of some mistake he made as a parent? Was she seduced by a radical organization?

He never finds the answers.

I loved Roth's prose and the inner dialogue he gave to his main character and the outer dialogue between the characters. The sequences where Swede and his teenage daughter argue about her limits ring true to anyone who has raised intelligent and sometimes defiant teenagers.

Roth's story gripped me throughout. I felt Swede's helplessness; I felt the jealousy of his brother; I felt the frustration of Merry, who could not live up to her parents ideals and chose a path of self-destruction instead; I felt the disappointment of those who discovered he wasn't the hero they believed; I felt the victimization of Swede's wife, who was bullied by her father-in-law before their wedding; and I felt the collapse of the American dream.

At least, the dream of Swede Levov.

Saturday, 09 March 2019 09:44:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Friday, 08 March 2019

The Internet of Things, or IoT, allows you to capture data from devices across the planet and use the power of the cloud to store and manage that data.

Microsoft Azure offers IoT Hubs as a way to capture data from Internet-connected devices.

To create a new IoT hub, navigate to the Azure portal and log in.

Click the [Create a resource] button (Fig. 1) and select Internet of Things | IoT hub from the menu, as shown in Fig. 2.

ih01-CreateNew
Fig. 1

ih02-Menu
Fig. 2

The "IoT hub" blade displays, as shown in Fig. 3.

ih03-IoTBlade
Fig. 3

At the "Subscription" field, select the subscription in which you want to store this hub. Many of you will have only one subscription and it will already be selected.

At the "Resource Group" field, select a Resource Group in which to store this hub. You can create a new Resource Group by clicking the "Create new" link and entering a name for the new group, as shown in Fig. 4.

ih04-NewResourceGroup
Fig. 4

At the "Region" field, select the geographic region in which you want your hub to be located. Considerations include the location of the devices that will connect to this hub and the location other systems with which the hub will interact.

At the "IoT Hub Name" field, enter a unique name for this hub.

After you have completed the form, click the [Review + create] button. A summary page displays, as shown in Fig. 5.

ih05-iotHubConfirmation
Fig. 5

If any errors display, click the [Previous] button and correct them; Otherwise, click the [Create] button to create a new IoT Hub. It will take several minutes to deploy all the necessary resources and create this hub.

After the hub is created, you can navigate to it, as showing in Fig. 6.

ih06-IotHubOverviewBlade
Fig. 6

The "Overview" blade is selected by default and displays summary information about your hub, as well as links to documentation, so you can learn more about managing and working with this hub.

In this article, you learned how to create a new Azure IoT hub. A hub requires more configuration to be useful. We will cover this configuration in a future article.

Azure | IoT
Friday, 08 March 2019 09:47:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, 07 March 2019

GCast 38:

Azure Search

Azure Search allows you to make your internal data searchable in the same way that search engines like Google and Bing make public information on the Internet searchable.

Thursday, 07 March 2019 09:50:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Wednesday, 06 March 2019

The Internet of Things (or IoT) has revolutionized the way we think of computing.

In the past, computers were self-contained, general purpose machines that could load complex operating systems, run multiple applications, and perform a wide variety of tasks. They could communicate with one another in order to either share data or distribute workloads.

Now, tiny computers can be found in a huge number of devices around one's home or workplace. When these devices are connected to the cloud, they become far more powerful because much of the processing and storage traditionally done on the computer is moved to the massively-scalable cloud.

At home, refrigerators, thermostats, and automobile contain computers that send and receive information, making them better able to adapt to the world around them.

Businesses take advantage of devices connected to manufacturing machines or vehicles or weather detectors to monitor local conditions and productivity. Capturing data from these devices allows them to respond to anomalies in the data that may indicate a need for action. Imagine a monitor on a factory floor that monitors the health of an assembly line and sends an alert to a repair team if the line breaks down. Or, better still, if the data indicates a strong probability it will break down soon. Imagine a shipping company being able to track the exact location and health of every one of their trucks and to re-route them as necessary.

Industries as disparate as transportation, clothing, farming, and healthcare have benefited from the IoT revolution.

Cloud tools, such as Microsoft Azure IoT Hub allow businesses to capture data from many devices, store that data, analyze, and route it to a particular location or application. As applications become more complex, cloud tools become both more powerful and simpler to create.

These tools offer things like real-time analytics, message routing, data storage, and automatic scalability.

This IoT revolution has enabled companies to capture huge amounts of data. Tools like Machine Learning allow these same companies to find patterns in that data to facilitate things like predictive analysis.

The cost of both hardware and cloud services has fallen dramatically, which has accelerated this trend.

The trend shows no signs of slowing and companies continue to think of new ways to connect devices to the cloud and use the data collected.

The next series of articles will explore how to process IoT data using the tools in Microsoft Azure.

Wednesday, 06 March 2019 09:46:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, 05 March 2019

HamiltonCombine a history lesson with great music, great dancing, and a very talented cast and you begin to understand "Hamilton". The extremely popular Broadway musical has been playing continuously at Chicago's CIBC Theater for over two years, and I finally saw a performance Sunday afternoon.

This hype for this show was considerable, but Sunday's performance was up to matching it.

The show's story focuses on the friendship and rivalry between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Both were major figures in early American history. Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury, who built the U.S. financial system. Burr was a Senator, a state Attorney General, a Vice President and (spoiler alert) the man who killed Hamilton in a duel.

Some actors got the day off for this matinee performance - most notably, JJ Jeter for Miguel Cervantes as Hamilton and Keith Webb for Akron Watson, but I would not have known I was seeing understudies without looking at the program. Jeter and Webb captured the spirit of their characters - Hamilton's idealism and Burr's ambition - perfectly.

A high point of the interpretation was the character of Thomas Jefferson, who was portrayed as a cocky Prince clone, returning from Paris to set the new country afire.

One of the most interesting aspect of the Hamilton musical is that nearly every major part is played by a person of color - African-American or Latinx. George III was the only speaking role is played by a Caucasian. Of course, the leaders of 18th century United States were almost all white. But this change works well and fits the music, features a lot of R&B and Hip-Hop influences.

I bought tickets to treat myself to a birthday present and I invited my son to join me. We both enjoyed it immensely. I would not be surprised to see this show run for another 2 years in Chicago.

Tuesday, 05 March 2019 09:45:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 04 March 2019

Episode 553

Jennifer Marsman on AI for Earth

Jennifer Marsman describes how Microsoft's AI for Earth team is using data to make the world a better place.

Monday, 04 March 2019 09:07:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)