# Thursday, January 2, 2020

GCast 68:

Azure DevOps Work Items

Learn how to create and manage work items for an Azure DevOps project.

Thursday, January 2, 2020 9:50:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)

GCast 69:

Azure DevOps Branch Policies

Learn how to set branch policies in Azure DevOps, including requiring approvers and requiring a linked work item.

Thursday, January 2, 2020 9:27:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, December 30, 2019

Episode 591

Martin Kearn on Document Recognition and Knowledge Extraction

Martin Kearn describes how to use Microsoft AI tools to recognize and extract data from documents.

Monday, December 30, 2019 9:26:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, December 23, 2019

Episode 590

J Tower on the .NET CLI

J Tower describes how to use the .NET Command Line Interface to automate tasks normally performed inside Visual Studio.

Monday, December 23, 2019 9:14:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, December 22, 2019

WilcoIt was their last concert of the year. And their last of the 2010's. And Wilco did not want it to end.

For almost 3 hours, the Chicago-based band performed in front of a sold-out audience Thursday night at the Chicago Theatre - the fourth night this week they did so.

With 16 studio albums, they have no problem finding music to fill a long set. And with styles ranging from alt-country to pop to indie rock to psychedelic, they had no trouble keeping the audience engaged and standing for such a long performance.

They chose mostly slower, softer songs, although they interspersed some heavy metal guitar and drums into the arrangements of some of these songs. For example, on the melancholy "Via Chicago", the singers continued to sing the chorus, ignoring the rythms set by the guitarist and drummer, who suddenly shifted into a death metal sound for a few seconds.

The band's lineup has remained consistent since some turnover around 20 years ago. The original driving force remains in lead singer and songwriter Jeff Tweedy, who fronts the band and related to the audience on a personal level.

Marina Towers, featured on Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot albumLate in the show, Tweedy announced that the band would "pretend to go over there and then come back", suggesting that they were about to play their encores without the usual charade of pretending the show was over. They played 2 more songs, then actually did say Good Night and leave the stage, participating in the ritual of waiting for the audience to call them back for more. The actual encore included "California Stars" (my favourite Wilco song - a Woody Guthrie composition originally recorded as a Wilco collaboration with Billy Bragg) and closed with a cover of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)". For the latter song, they were joined by Sharon Van Etten, who warmed up the audience with a solo acoustic performance earlier in the evening.

It was after 11PM when the show ended, and the audience ventured out into the cold Chicago night and Wilco began their time off until next year. And it was clear they did not want it to end.

Sunday, December 22, 2019 9:32:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, December 21, 2019

A few months ago, I decided to spend 2 days in Copenhagen on my way to speak at a conference in Stockholm, Sweden. I had never been to Denmark before and I did not know if I would get the opportunity again.

Little did I know that my opportunity would come so soon.

IMG_6789I was asked to serve as the Tech Lead at a DevOps OpenHack in Copenhagen last week and I quickly accepted a chance to return to Copenhagen. I didn't feel I had enough time to explore last time (although I did visit 2 museums and took a boat tour of the canals); and I wanted to see more.

Unfortunately, it is more difficult to see Denmark in December than it is in May. The Copenhagen sun rises at about 8:30 and sets at about 3:30, meaning it was dark when I arrived at work each day and dark when I left.

But I still enjoyed myself.

The OpenHack was a great success. It was my first time as a tech lead, which added pressure, but my friend Hattan helped me prepare for this role and I was ready when the event began. I was also excited to learn more about DevOps - an important part of software development that I had been hoping to upskill on. The final day of the OpenHack, I surprised the audience by singing a song about DevOps that I had composed the night before. It was set to the tune of "Deck the Halls", which gave it a festive feel.

After the OpenHack ended, I met my friend Magnus and his family for dinner. Magnus lives in Malmo, Sweden, which is across the Oresund from Copenhagen. It was good to see him and to meet his family.

IMG_6800The following day, I walked around Copenhagen and spent a couple hours at the Christiansborg Palace, where the Danish Parliament meets. The Palace boasts several museums. I visited the ruins under the palace of the castles that previously stood on the site; and the Royal Reception Rooms, where monarchs host official functions.

IMG_6859My friend Tibi recently moved to Helsingborg, Sweden and he invited me to stay with his family. So, Friday afternoon, I traveled the 100 km by train to meet him. It was a relaxing weekend with Tibi, his wife Nicoleta, and their 3 daughters, including an 11-month-old with an infectious smile.

IMG_6836Sunday, I took a ferry across the Oresund to Helsingborg to visit Kronberg Castle, which inspired William Shakespeare to write "The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark" over 400 years ago. If I return in the summer, I would love to see a live production of "Hamlet" performed at the castle. The day was filled with wind and rain, which made the ferry ride rough and walking unpleasant, but which also kept away crowds.

On Monday, I spent the entire day returning home - via car, train, 2 flights, and an Uber ride.

It was not an exciting trip, but it was one that I enjoyed, thanks to the kindness of friends. And I left with a festive feeling.

Saturday, December 21, 2019 9:24:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, December 19, 2019

GCast 67:

Azure Repos, Branches, and Pull Requests

Learn how to edit files in an Azure DevOps repo, create branches and pull requests, and approve mergers.

Thursday, December 19, 2019 1:02:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, December 16, 2019

Episode 589

Tobiah Zarlez on Gender Identity

A few years ago, Software Engineer Tobiah Zarlez came out as non-binary gender. Tobiah talks about what this mean, how it affected them, and how the tech community responded.

Monday, December 16, 2019 9:25:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, December 15, 2019

PaintedBirdA young boy wanders alone from village to village in eastern Europe during World War II, experiencing fear, abuse and perversion at nearly every turn. His hair, eyes, and skin are dark, so he is labeled a Jew and/or a Gypsy - both capital offenses under the Nazi occupation.

The cruelty and depravity he encounters only worsens as his journey continues. For six years, he escapes a terrible situation in one village to a new (often worse) situation in another village. One farmer gouges out the eyes of a field hand he suspects of flirting with his wife; another man locks the boy in a room with a large violent dog every night; he witnesses one family engaged in incest and bestiality. Against it all is the backdrop of the Nazis shipping Jews, Gypsies, and other minorities to suffer and die in concentration camps.

He is beaten and nearly murdered multiple times; nearly everyone he meets is superstitious, ignorant, and cruel. Many of the peasants are active participants in rape, murder, and animal abuse.

The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski is a twisted coming-of-age story that shows what happens when a child grows up knowing nothing but fear and hatred and chaos. There is a stark contrast between the straightforward first-person narrative style and the horrifying tales of chaos the narrator experiences.

It is a brutal story that left me shaken. It is powerful and it is a classic. But you need to brace yourself before reading it.

Sunday, December 15, 2019 2:37:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, December 14, 2019

TheManWhoLovedChildrenChristina Stead's The Man Who Loved Children details an extremely toxic relationship.

Sam and Henny have been married long enough to have six children together; but they don't like each other and barely speak to one another. Worse, they spend much of their energy bad-mouthing one another to their children.

Henny is better and spiteful and filled with hate for just about everyone and everything.

Sam is arrogant and self-important and racist and misogynistic.

Neither is a good parent. Sam spoils his children and Henny neglects them. The eldest daughter Louisa gets the worst of it. Henny hates her because she is the product of Sam's first marriage (a woman adored by Sam who died shortly after childbirth) and Sam insults and publicly ridicules Louisa for her looks (Louisa is homely and overweight) and her ambition to become a writer.

Sam and Henny each try to play the innocent victim; but each is horrible: Sam because of his narcissism and need for control and Henny because of her melodrama and blatant meanness. Each is horrible because each tries to weaponize the children against the other, forcing them to take sides. Only Louisa recognizes this, which is why she is so unhappy.

Things get worse after Sam loses his job and the family is forced to move from Washington, DC to the slums of Baltimore, where Henny - once an industrialist heiress - borrows money from multiple lenders, with no intention of repaying these loans.

As the story wears on, Sam's habit of baby talking to his children becomes more and more annoying; and his overestimation of his own intelligence and morality wear thin. I never grew to like Henny, but I began to despise her less and to understand her descent into madness as the story revealed more of Sam's character.

For me, the story became real enough that it made me uneasy. Stead makes us uncomfortable to see the dark inside of this highly dysfunctional family. I liked the foreshadowing involving Louisa and a neighbor's cat. But I did not like the relationship. And I feared for the future of the children.

Saturday, December 14, 2019 2:08:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)