# Friday, May 22, 2020

The Microsoft Build conference had a different feel this year as the global threat of the COVID-19 virus forced the company to host the entire conference online – mostly from the homes of the developers and managers. Of course, this affected me less than others because I have never actually attended Build in person.

I always make a point of watching the opening keynotes, as this is where one hears about new announcements and the things about which Microsoft is most excited.

The day 1 keynote featured Satya Nadella calling attention to the success of Azure, Office 365, and Microsoft 365. He invited a couple of guest speakers to demonstrate how they were using Microsoft technologies to improve their business.

Immediately after Satya’s address, the finals for Imagine Cup were held. This is an international student tech competition that included thousands of submissions from all over the world. The 6 semi-finalists were introduced; the 3 finalists presented their project, and a champion was announced. This event is close to my heart, since I was involved a few years ago. Team Hollo from Hong Kong won with a project that used AI to track mood by analyzing video and voice and comparing it to pre-built models, as a way of combatting depression and suicide.

Here are my notes from Day 1:

Satya Nadella

CodeSpace

Provision dev box in cloud, provisioned with VS Code

Work from any device

WSL 2

Linux on  Windows

Power Platform

 

95% of Fortune 500 use Azure

Cloud extends to edge

Azure Arc

 

Microsoft 365

Build apps or extend apps

 

Power Platform

Rapid App Dev tool for professional developers

Also for "Citizen developers" who don't write code for a living

3.5 million users

Extends M365

1-click: Add Power Apps to Teams

 

Distributed Infrastructure

95% of Fortune 500 use Azure

Most data regions (61)

 

"Project Reunion"

Unify Win32 and USP app development

 

Case Study: Folding@Home

Greg Bowman, PhD, Washington U St Louis

Studying how proteins fold

Distributed computing to home computers

https://foldingathome.org/

 

Case Study

San Francisco Conservatory of Music

App integrates with Teams

Use Teams to perform for and interact with audience

Tudor Fay, New Blue, Inc.

 

Imagine Cup

6 semi-finalists

3 Finalists

Tremor Vision

United States

Parkinson's

Azure Custom vision to detect tremors associated with Parkinson's

Team Syrinx

Tokyo

Lost voice

Device on throat. Generates vibration patterns.

Hollo (winner!)

University of Hong Kong

Mood tracking app

Use Azure to track face, voice. Use models to evaluate mental health

 

New features for education

Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador

New student hub on Microsoft Learn

Student Zone at Build

Friday, May 22, 2020 6:12:47 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, May 21, 2020

GCast 85:

Dependency Injection in Java Spring Apps

Learn how to declarative initialize services using the dependency injection features of the Java Spring framework.

GCast | Java | Testing | Video
Thursday, May 21, 2020 1:37:26 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, May 17, 2020

GreatGatsbyYoung Nick Carraway spent the summer of 1922 in East Egg Long Island, renting a home next to the mansion of the enigmatic Jay Gatsby. A plethora of rumours about Gatsby bounced around the small community: Gatsby is the son of European royalty; he was a German spy in the war; he once killed a man.

The two men become friends and Gatsby asks Nick to help him re-connect with his former lover Daisy Buchanan, who is now trapped in a loveless marriage.

There are many reasons why F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is a classic. It captures the spirit of the wealthy elite in the Jazz Age of 1920s America; it sings of lost love and unattainable love; and it is the kind of timeless tragedy that stays with the reader long after the novel is finished.

Gatsby represents the American dream of the self-made man, yet the old money of Long Island looks down on him. He cannot let go of the past, so he buys a mansion across the bay from his former lover; he throws lavish parties in the hope that she will attend. Gatsby reinvents himself; and he amasses a fortune, thinking it will win Daisy's heart and rekindle what they once had. He does not consider that Daisy is not the girl she was; or that she was never the girl he believed her to be. He is in love with a vision of her from the past - a vision that was never real.

Gatsby is likeable; Daisy's husband Tom is arrogant and unfaithful and violent. But Tom is from old money; born into a higher caste. And this makes a difference to Daisy.

It is a tragic story of the shallowness and arrogance of the financial and social elite. Gatsby idealized Daisy; in the same way, people overestimate the positive effect that money will have on their life. There is an emptiness inside so many of the characters.

Sunday, May 17, 2020 9:22:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, May 16, 2020
"Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge. The bridge was being repaired: she went right through the Danger sign. The car fell a hundred feet into the ravine, smashing through the treetops feathery with new leaves, then burst into flames and rolled down into the shallow creek at the bottom. Chunks of the bridge fell on top of it. Nothing much was left of her but charred smithereens."

Iris was the daughter of wealthy industrialist in a small Canadian city. She and her younger sister Laura grew up in a small Canadian town with their widowed father and their housekeeper, until Iris's arranged marriage at 18 years to an ambitious businessman twice her age.

BlindAssassinThat is all gone now. Iris is an old woman telling the story of her life and her abusive marriage and her sister's suicide and her lost family.

Margaret Atwood's "The Blind Assassin" is a complex story, narrated in a nonlinear fashion by octogenarian protagonist.

The book's title comes from a story told by a character in a novel by Laura published by Iris after Laura's death. This story within a story within a story works because the characters in each narrative reflect the lives and feelings of those in the surrounding narrative. 

The story unfolds through Iris's writing, through newspaper clippings, through letters, and through the allegories of the embedded stories. Iris's tale jumps around in time and the book often cuts to Laura's novel and back again. This complexity allows Atwood to slowly reveal the tragedy of family. Through her reflections, Iris peels away the layers of a story to slowly reveal what drove her sister to take her own life.

Her reflections reveal her feeling of guilt and the regrets she carries.

I read this novel over a weekend - fearing that if I set it aside for long, I would lose the many threads balancing in my head.

It is a story of manipulation and blind pursuit of power and control
It is a story of violence against women
It is a story of women who sacrifice themselves to protect others.
It is a story of disappointment

When I finished, I was exhausted.

Saturday, May 16, 2020 9:39:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, May 14, 2020

GCast 84:

Java Services

How to create and call services in Java

GCast | Java | Screencast | Video
Thursday, May 14, 2020 1:31:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, May 11, 2020

Episode 608

Christina Aldan and Jeff Strauss on Dev Around the Sun

Dev Around the Sun is a 24-hour online tech conference designed to raise awareness and funds to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

It begins May 12 at 12:00 UTC.

Organizers Christina Aldan and Jeff Strauss describe the goals of the conference and what viewers can expect.

Dev Around the Sun homepage

Donations

More interviews

Monday, May 11, 2020 9:31:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, May 10, 2020

GraveyardBookNobody Owens was a toddler when The Man Jack broke into his home and murdered his family. Young "Bod" survived because he wandered away from his home and into a nearby graveyard where the ghosts of the graveyard raised and protected him.

Neil Gaiman's 2008 novel The Graveyard Book tells Bod's story as he grows from a child to a teenager. The first chapter are a series of loosely-connected short stories, set about 2 years apart, relating Bod's encounters with the various ghosts and spirits of the graveyard and (occasionally) the living people of the nearby town. But, in the climax, the stories circle back on themselves: A childhood friend moves away, then returns as a teenager; an ancient guardian re-surfaces; and the Man Jack eventually returns to finish the job he failed to complete years earlier.

Gaiman proves again that he is a master storyteller. He takes some classic horror story ideas - ghosts, malevolent spirits, secret societies, werewolves - and breathes something fresh into them. Bod's mentor - the reformed vampire Silas - is an excellent example.

Graveyard is a coming-of-age story for a boy with an unusual childhood. Gaiman was inspired by Kipling's Mowgli and by the sight of Gaiman's own toddler riding a tricycle through a graveyard.

This is a dark, macabre tale; but it is filled with hope. It is aimed at young adults, but kids of any age will enjoy it.

This was my third visit to this story, as I have read the 2-part graphic novel adaptation; and a short story in the "M Is for Magic" collection. And each time, I come away with a new appreciation for Neil Gaiman and his imagination.

Sunday, May 10, 2020 9:34:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, May 9, 2020

MidnightsChildrenSaleem Sinai was born at the stroke of midnight on the day that India declared independence from Great Britain. 1,001 Indian children were born within an hour of midnight August 15, 1947 and each of them were gifted with some special power. Saleem's power of reading minds and communicating telepathically manifested itself when he was 10 years old.

In Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, Saleem tells the story of his life and his family. His parents and grandparents grew up in an age of colonial rule, but Saleem grew up with his country. Significant events in Saleem's life coincide with significant events in India's history. He and his country experience growing pains together. He is conflicted by the different aspects of his personality just as the new nation experiences the difficulty of coordinating the needs of countless cultures.
 
It is a complex novel with dozens of characters introduced in its 500+ pages.

The narrator (Saleem) often switches between relating his story in the first person and writing about himself in the third person.
He is quick to switch between the present tense and the past tense and the past imperfect tense; while recounting an incident, he will suddenly digress and recount a significant bit of family history; or he will hint about something yet to happen, promising to relay that story later.
He tells the story to his fiancée Padma. Occasionally, the author looks up from his narration and tells her (and us) what he is thinking at that moment or what is going on outside his window.  It is as if he is writing down the story as it occurs to him, rather than in any natural order.  His stream-of-consciousness narration reads more like an oral history than a novel.

Rushdie addresses love and fidelity and struggles for power and the dangers of centralized authority.

Despite the supernatural ability of many of the characters, Rushdie provides a sense of realism - even bringing in some historically significant characters in India's history. 

But the accuracy is not as important as the story and the characters and the way Rushdie weaves together multiple plots and fulfills prophecies and promises - sometimes long after they are made.

"What's real and what's true aren't necessarily the same, " proclaims the narrator.

Saturday, May 9, 2020 9:23:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, May 4, 2020

Episode 607

Chris Klug on Software Development Up-Front Planning

Chris Klug embraces agile software development; but points out that this does not free us from the responsibility of up-front planning, which can help to avoid problems down the road.

Monday, May 4, 2020 9:27:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, May 3, 2020

5/3
Today I am grateful to discover a beautiful park just a couple miles from my home.

5/2
Today I am grateful for a birthday card and hand-painted watercolor from Abby and Rachel.

5/1
Today I am grateful to virtually hang out with Chris last night.

4/30
Today I am grateful to take a hot bath almost every day for the past 2 months.

4/29
Today I am grateful I made it home yesterday before the thunderstorms began.

4/28
Today I am grateful to clean and organize my second bedroom so it is now a guest bedroom instead of a storage room

4/27
Today I am grateful to play online games with my sons yesterday.

4/26
Today I am grateful for my new nightstand.

4/25
Today I am grateful to enjoy a bad musical last night with Kendall and Heather

4/24
Today I am grateful for a call from Kevin yesterday.

4/23
Today I am grateful to grocery store employees who work hard, putting their health at risk - often for low wages.

4/22
Today I am grateful to finish my taxes last night.

4/21
Today I am grateful for mostly empty streets and sidewalks, which makes it easy to maintain distancing while I ride my bike in the city.

4/20
Today I am grateful to live in a city with so much history.

4/19
Today I am grateful for the kindness and generosity of Christine and Carol, who care about my safety.

4/18
Today I am grateful for a Friday afternoon virtual coffee hour with my team.

4/17
Today I am grateful for a new Raspberry Pi my boss sent me yesterday.

4/16
Today I am grateful to Heba for helping me learn Java and answering my questions.

4/15
Today I am grateful for the people and technologies that make remote working easier than it would otherwise be.

4/14
Today I am grateful for a new headlight for my bike

4/13
Today I am grateful to celebrate Easter virtually with my family over Teams yesterday.

4/12
Today I am grateful that He is risen.

4/11
Today I am grateful to Patrick and Susan, who recognized my plight and shipped me some coffee.

4/10
Today I am grateful to Jesus Christ, who died for my sins.

4/9
Today I am grateful for an unexpected call from Greg

4/8
Today I am grateful for the years we had John Prine and the joy his music brought us.

4/7
Today I am grateful for my new reflective belt, which makes me feel safer riding my bike at night.

4/6
Today I am grateful that I finally fixed this table lamp that has been broken for 2 years.

Sunday, May 3, 2020 1:56:48 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)