# Thursday, October 31, 2019

GCast 65:

Artificial Intelligence, Whale Sharks, and WildBook

With help from Microsoft's AI for Earth, Wild Me has created WildBook to use artificial intelligence to track the location and migration of animals.

AI | GCast | Screencast | Video
Thursday, October 31, 2019 1:51:29 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, October 28, 2019

Episode 582

Jeremy Likness on Blazor

Blazor is a framework for building full-stack web apps in the browser using C#. Jeremy Likness describes how it works and how to use it.

Monday, October 28, 2019 8:32:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, October 27, 2019

IMG_6295I wasn't familiar with Incognito, the acid jazz band formed in the early 80's in the UK; but my friend Thad was a big fan.  He called to suggest we see them at Park West Thursday evening, so I listened to a couple of their albums and I was sold.

Their live performance did not disappoint. Incognito founder Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick has assembled a talented group of musicians from all over the world (UK, Jamaica, Trinidad-Tobago, China, Italy, US) and they played and sang a set of tight arrangements that delighted a nearly full concert hall.

Bluey brought a long 4 singers. All were excellent, but the featured singer was Maysa Leak (aka "Maysa"), who has carved out a solo career for herself and impressed with both her range and her emotion.

IMG_6305Highlights of the night included a cover of Ronnie Laws's "Always There" (Thad's favourite song), "Deep Waters", which featured a medley of love songs, and a long jam on their penultimate song that featured an excellent solo by every member of the 9-piece band.

Incognito did not come back for an encore, but it felt like enough. Everyone felt the energy, and everyone left satisfied.

Sunday, October 27, 2019 8:44:14 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, October 26, 2019

Madonna never does anything halfway.

Monday night was her third of seven shows at the Chicago Theatre and she did not disappoint.

The show opened with a silhouetted typist loudly pounding out a James Baldwin passage on an old typewriter. A dancer jerked as each word appeared above the stage until he was shot dead. The quote was about art and artists and truth.

Then, the curtains drew, and Madonna appeared, dressed as a pirate, surrounded by dancers and a large American flag and a set consisting of multiple moving staircases.

The evening's show featured multiple costume and set changes and switched between tightly choreographed numbers and Madonna chatting casually with the audience. It lasted over two hours.

While Madonna did sing a few songs from the 1980s, when she regularly topped the charts ("Express Yourself", "Vogue", "Papa Don't Preach", "Like A Prayer"), most of the evening was devoted to her newer works. Madonna now makes her home in Lisbon and she brought guests to the stage, including a group of Portuguese singers performing energetic harmonies; and a guitar player performing an excellent solo, which launched into the lead singer's medley.

Dressed as the enigmatic one-eyed Madame X, she preached her political philosophy of independence, freedom, and tolerance throughout the show, mixing this with a bit of potty talk.

She closed with all the singers backing her up for "I Rise" as they marched into the audience and out the back of the theatre.

The show reminded me of a Broadway production more than a concert.

Saturday, October 26, 2019 6:30:41 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, October 22, 2019

IMG_6187Sometimes, I will hear a song and it will take me back to the time I first heard it - to the friends I was with and where we were and what we were doing and what I was feeling. A familiar song can bring happy memories and sad memories flooding back.

When I listen to the progressive rock band Kansas's "Leftoverture" and "Point of Know Return” albums, I'm transported to my high school days. I bought these 2 albums within months of each other and they were among the first of couple dozen albums of the thousands I eventually ended up buying.

Saturday night at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, IL, I felt I was surrounded by kindred spirits. The heads covered in gray hair (or lacking hair) suggested a crowd that also lived their youth in the 1970s. And the fact that so many gave a standing ovation after every song suggested that the memories invoked by the song were as important as the current performance of the song.

After 5 decades, only 2 founding members of Kansas remain - guitarist Rich Williams and drummer Phil Erhart. But the current members still respect the old songs and performed them very well. Original lead vocalist Steve Walsh is gone, but Chicago native and former truck driver Ronnie Platt sounded a heck of a lot like him; and David Ragsdale played an excellent electric violin, reminiscent of original violinist Robby Steinhardt, who gave Kansas its distinctive sound during their late 70s peak.

IMG_6191At Genesee, they played over half of "Leftoverture", including "Miracles Out of Nowhere" (my personal favourite) and "Carry on Wayward Son" (the evening's encore).

But the main draw of the performance was their "Point of Know Return", which the band played in its entirety. Hearing the tracks in order was like sitting in my parents’ basement with the stereo turned up loud while I pored over the lyrics, liner notes, and cover art. I was transported.

As were all the old folks around me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 9:12:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, October 21, 2019

Episode 581

Laurent Bugnion on the Ignite Tour

The Microsoft Ignite conference takes place in November in Orlando, FL; but not everyone can attend.

So, Laurent Bugnion and his team are organizing the Ignite Tour, bringing much of the content to 30 cities around the world in the months following the conference.

Laurent discusses what people can expect at these events.

Ignite Tour Home

Monday, October 21, 2019 9:10:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, October 20, 2019

WillieNile"I love quality" announced Willie Nile from the stage to the audience at SPACE in Evanston Friday night. And quality is what he delivered. From his 90-minute set to his excellent band (I was impressed by his new lead guitarist Jimmy Bones) to his charming demeanor to the warmup band (Georgia singer/songwriter Brad Ray, accompanied by his father).

If you don't know Willie Nile, you are not alone. He has carved out a successful career, recording a dozen studio albums that satisfied his fan base; but he has never cracked the top 40.

His music is old school rock and roll with cerebral lyrics. Think of Lou Reed crossed with Bruce Springsteen, crossed with the Clash.

WillieNile_DavidWith decades of material on which to draw, Nile had many quality choices. And he delighted the crowd with rockers like "House of a Thousand Guitars" and "All Dressed Up and No Place to Go", along with thoughtful slow songs like "The Innocent Ones", which he dedicated to the Kurds fighting for their lives in the middle east. For "The Streets of New York", he set aside is guitar and sat at the piano.

The band closed with a rousing rendition of "One Guitar" in which they were joined by Brad Ray and his dad).

Willie Nile stands about 5-foot-nothing and has sported a Cosmo Kramer haircut since years before there was a Cosmo Kramer. But Friday night in Evanston, he cranked out house rocking music a hundred feet tall.

And everything he did was filled with quality.

Photos

Sunday, October 20, 2019 4:09:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, October 17, 2019

GCast 64:

Noise Reduction with Audacity

Learn how to use Audacity to reduce the background noise in an audio file.

Thursday, October 17, 2019 2:06:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, October 14, 2019

Episode 580

Jason Bock on .NET Core 3

Jason Bock describes the most important new features in .NET Core 3

Monday, October 14, 2019 11:03:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, October 13, 2019

WideSargassoSeaCharlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre includes the character of Bertha - Rochester's mad wife, whom he keeps locked in the attic.

In Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys tells Bertha's story and her descent into madness.

Her name was Antoinette and she was the Creole daughter of a slave owning family in 19th century Jamaica. The family fell into financial and social ruin when the British Empire outlawed slavery.  The local freed slaves hated them enough that they eventually burned down their home and killed Antoinette's brother. Her mother married a wealthy Englishman, who killed himself, driving her mother to madness. Antoinette was raised by nuns at a convent and eventually an Englishman married her for her inheritance. But the unnamed Englishman (presumably Mr. Rochester) was unloving and believed rumors that he heard about Antoinette and her family. He became distant and unfaithful and even began calling her "Bertha" instead of her real name over Antoinette's objections.

The book humanizes Bertha / Antoinette, who is no longer the monstrous lunatic of Bronte's novel. Her troubled mind is in part due to heredity and in part to her traumatic upbringing and unhappy marriage.  Her marriage to Rochester resulted in the loss of her freedom, which is analogous to the slavery inflicted by her own ancestors. The novel explores conflicts between races and genders and classes and forces the reader to think about the choices we make in life. Although Antoinette looks white, she is part black and not fully accepted by either race. Her marriage to Rochester is, in part, an effort to escape her situation.

Sargasso is probably the most interesting examples of fan fiction I've read. The narration suddenly shifts from Antoinette to Rochester without explanation, which was a bit jarring and confusing. But a quick re-read of the opening pages of Section 2 clarified my perspective.

It isn't necessary to read Jane Eyre before this novel, but it helps one appreciate where the character is going. If you have not yet read Bronte's classic novel, I recommend reading a synopsis before diving into this one. The book does stand on its own; but is better as a prequel and explanation of Bronte's novel.

Sunday, October 13, 2019 8:59:29 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)