Hillel Wayne on TLA+

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Episode 795

Hillel Wayne on TLA+

TLA+ is a formal specification language that allows you to create and validate your software design. Hillel Wayne describes this tool, how it works, and how to use it.

Links:
https://lamport.azurewebsites.net/tla/tla.html
https://learntla.com/


March 2024 Gratitudes

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4/6
Today I am grateful to see "Churchill" at the Broadway Playhouse last night.

4/5
Today I am grateful to deliver a presentation at the Roanoke Valley .NET User Group last night.

4/4
Today I am grateful for monster movies.

4/3
Today I am grateful to deliver a presentation and participate in a Fireside Chat at the Illinois Institute of Technology

4/2
Today I am grateful to repair my bike tire yesterday

4/1
Today I am grateful for Easter brunch with Tim and Natale yesterday

3/31
Today I am grateful for the resurrection of Jesus Christ

3/30
Today I am grateful to those who are willing to share their knowledge with others.

3/29
Today I am grateful for a call from Suzanne yesterday.

3/28
Today I am grateful for
- to spend a few minutes with Jeff yesterday afternoon
- to attend the Chicago Java User Group last night

3/27
Today I am grateful to those who publicly praised the talks I delivered last week.

3/26
Today I am grateful for the men that my sons have become.

3/25
Today I am grateful for my new iPhone.

3/24
Today I am grateful:
- for coffee with Karen yesterday morning
- to see "On Your Feet" last night at the CIBC Theatre

3/23
Today I am grateful:
- for the hospitality of Ondrej and Desislava
- to stay up late last night playing board games with Gaines, Brian, and Ondrej
- to the organizers of the Michigan Technology Conference for an excellent event

3/22
Today I am grateful to deliver a keynote presentation this morning at the Michigan Technology Conference at UWM.

3/21
Today I am grateful for a speaker dinner last night in Pontiac.

3/20
Today I am grateful to attend AICamp last night

3/19
Today I am grateful for the start of spring.

3/18
Today I am grateful for 26 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

3/17
Today I am grateful:
- to be at the Chicago River yesterday morning during the annual river dyeing
- to attend a Nowruz celebration last night

3/16
Today I am grateful to see "My Fair Lady" performed live at the Nederlander Theatre last night.

3/15
Today I am grateful:
- to attend the Enterprise GenAI for Leaders event yesterday
- for a visit from Nick

3/14
Today I am grateful for 1,000 subscribers to my #GCast channel.

3/13
Today I am grateful to speak at ElasticON yesterday in the Willis Tower.

3/12
Today I am grateful:
- to Matt Ruma for helping me with my Copilot Studio demo yesterday
- to speak about AI at an Elastic meetup yesterday
- for a drink at Cindy's Rooftop last night with a beautiful view of the city

3/11
Today I am grateful to see Rickie Lee Jones in concert last night.

3/10
Today I am grateful to see the Bobby Lewis Quintet at the Jazz Showcase last night.

3/9
Today I am grateful to attend a high school student field trip to the Microsoft office yesterday.

3/8
Today I am grateful for a birthday dinner with my kids last night.

3/6
Today I am grateful to see "Mrs. Doubtfire - the Musical" last night.

3/5
Today I am grateful that my espresso machine is now repaired.

3/4
Today I am grateful to see "Message in a Bottle" featuring the music of Sting last night.


GCast 172:

Using M365 Copilot with Microsoft Word and PowerPoint

Learn how to use M365 to create and enhance your work in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.


Episode 794

Paul Sheriff on Starting and Running a Successful Consulting Business

Paul Sheriff ran a successful consulting business for 27 years. He discusses how to get started and how to navigate the financial, legal, and marketing hurdles of a business.

Links:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcOx4nuB8tVbYHsVAAjTBuQhXiQkfMxHP


Rickie Lee Jones has been on the edge of my vision for most of my life. She scored a massive hit with "Chuck E's in Love" off her first album and received occasional airplay and award nominations over the following decades. Her duet with Dr. John performing "Makin' Whoopie" has always been one of my favourites.

But I knew very little about her. I became curious after I saw Rickie in concert last month, so I picked up her autobiography "Last Chance Texaco: Chronicles of An American Troubadour," which tells Ms. Jones's story from her childhood to the beginning of her successful recording career.

Rickie Lee grew up in a troubled home. She was raised primarily by her orphaned mother; her father drank; her brother lost his leg in a motorcycle accident; the family moved frequently; authorities removed her sister from the home; and her parents divorced. Rickie ran away multiple times, living on the road in Arizona, California, and Mexico. As a young adult, she wrote songs and sang until she received her big break with her breakthrough debut album.

When fame arrived, her rise was meteoric. Within two years, Jones received four Grammy nominations, recorded what many credit as the first music video, appeared on Saturday Night Live, and was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine twice!

Rickie tells of her numerous liaisons with men in and out of the music industry, including the times she lived with Lloyd George and Dr. John. But her most intense relationship was an on-and-off affair with singer Tom Waits. She talks of her battle to recover from heroin addiction and of her struggle to deal with the rise and fall of her fame, both of which occurred with startling speed. She talks about reconciling with her parents near the end of their lives.

She puts the same lyrical talent into her prose that she puts into the stories of her songs. The book's title comes from a song on Rickie Lee's first album - a song about struggles while traveling as a metaphor for struggles with life's journey. "Last Chance Texaco" is a story of a rollercoaster life, told with the passion of a woman who lived it fully. Jones tells it with honesty and vulnerability.


Episode 793

Gael Fraiteur on Metalama

Gael Fraiteur discusses the challenge of generating boilerplate code, implementing common patterns to multiple classes, code validation, addressing architecture erosion, and how PostSharp's Metalama resolves these issues.

Links:
https://www.postsharp.net/metalama
https://www.postsharp.net


On Your Feet Cast 2024Gloria Estefan rose to international fame in the 1980s, playing an infectious mix of Latin music, dance music, and ballads. With her husband Emilio, their band Miami Sound Machine.

"On Your Feet" is the story of the career and love story of Gloria and Emilio. Backed with a soundtrack of the hit songs of Ms. Estefan and MSM, the show moves chronologically through her life from Emilio's discovery and encouragement of 17-year-old Gloria to her success - first in the Latin American market, then on the American pop charts - to a devastating accident that nearly ended her career and life to her recovery and comeback.

It is a story of overcoming physical hardships and bucking industry trends. Jake Dylan portrays cynical record producer Phil, who opposes releasing a single in English because he believes that Americans will never buy a record with Latin rhythms and horns. Undeterred, the Estefans promote their singles through dance clubs instead of on the radio.

Gaby Albo brings to her performance the strength and energy of Gloria's character. Samuel Garnica as Emilio is more subtle, promoting his wife from behind the scenes - sometimes pushing too hard but constantly pushing.

But the music and dance are the real stars. Estefan poured energy and emotion into her songs, and "On Your Feet" channels this admirably.

Gloria's 1991 accident was a significant event in her life and in this show. After months of rehabilitation, the singer recovered to revive a solo career and win eight Grammy Awards. Her renaissance serves as a climax to the second act, which ends with an excellent musical number, bringing the entire cast on stage for their curtain call.

This real-life inspired story serves as an inspiration for all of us when we face adversity.


Larry McMurtry's 1985 novel "Lonesome Dove" begins in the small Texas border town of Lonesome Dove in the 1870s, where McMurtry introduces a cast of characters, including retired Texas Rangers and best friends Woodrow Call and Augustus McRae, who made a name for themselves fighting Indians in their youth. Former Ranger colleague and friend Jake Spoon returns to town after ten years of traveling the west. He is a drinker, a gambler, and a rogue, but he is charming, and he captures the heart of the town prostitute Lorena Wood. Jake tells of the untamed lands in Montana, so a group leaves Lonesome Dove to drive cattle to Montana and establish the first ranch in that territory, which sets off a series of adventures, dangers, and unlikely reunions.

Before his arrival, Jake accidentally shot a man in Arkansas, leading Sheriff July Johnson to hunt for Jake. Johnson's new wife, Elmira, grew bored of her married life and abandoned her town and her husband, so July spends part of his journey searching for her.

The story is complex, involving a diverse array of characters whose paths cross unexpectedly and sometimes implausibly. McMurtry fills his tale with tragedy and selfishness. The nineteenth-century American West is a harsh world, and the people of this novel harden themselves to it.
It is a breath of fresh air when we encounter a moment of tenderness. The characters feel real to the reader. Their flaws can be found in many of us. Some of them redeem themselves, while others meet a deserved or undeserved fate.

A theme of the story is acceptance of responsibility for one's actions. One character refuses to acknowledge paternity responsibilities; others are punished for their association with villains and the fear that prevents them from escaping that association.

"Lonesome Dove" won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and inspired a TV mini-series and multiple follow-up novels by McMurtry. It is a story of hope and disappointment; of friendship and loyalty; of unrequired love; of regrets for paths not taken; and of challenge, failure, and triumph. It is a tale of aging gunfighters coming to terms with the changing world around them.  It is an epic tale of life in the Old West.

Despite all the sorrows of "Lonesome Dove" and its characters, I loved the journey.


GCast 171:

Making GitHub Copilot Use Your Coding Standards

GitHub Copilot can learn about your coding style, coding standards, and existing libraries, and generate code similar to how you would write it. Watch this video to learn how.


Episode 792

Kashif Qureshi and Nick Simons on Fluid Framework

Fluid Framework is a client library that facilitates collaboration across people and applications by sharing data in near real time. Kashif Qureshi and Nick Simons describe what it does, how to use it, and what is new in version 2.0.

Links:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluid_Framework
https://devblogs.microsoft.com/microsoft365dev/announcing-fluid-framework-2-0-beta/
https://aka.ms/fluid
https://twitter.com/FluidFramework
https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/products/fluid-relay/
https://github.com/microsoft/FluidFramework


My Fair Lady Cast, Chicago 2024I grew up with "My Fair Lady" - Alan Lerner and Frederick Loewe's musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion." The movie and its music are a part of my life. I recall with fondness the charm and beauty of Audrey Hepburn and the sarcastic wit of Rex Harrison. Hepburn and Harrison are gone, but the show remains, and it came to Chicago's Nederlander Theater for a brief run this month.

Phonetics experts Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering meet flower girl Eliza Dolittle on the streets of London and decide they can transform her from a lowly guttersnipe into a lady by teaching her to speak and behave appropriately. They are successful, but their success comes at a cost.

Jonathan Grunert was excellent as Professor Henry Higgins, the brilliant but arrogant mentor. He seemed to channel Jim Parsons's portrayal of Sheldon Cooper in "The Big Bang Theory." Cuban American actress played Eliza, and although she lacked the beauty and grace of Audrey Hepburn (who doesn't), she charmed audiences by expertly showing the growth of her character throughout the show. John Adkins chose to give his Colonel Pickering character more youth, energy, and a touch of femininity to his character. This choice suited the show, as I have always wondered if Higgins and Pickering shared any latent attraction for one another.

Of course, the music is outstanding, and this cast did the classic songs justice. Lerner and Lowe packed the show with classics like "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," "Get Me to the Church on Time," and "I Could Have Danced All Night." The dancing, costumes, and set designs only improved the production.

SPOILER ALERT: This version made a subtle but significant change to the ending. In the original version, Eliza returns to Higgins's home. He sees her and responds jokingly: "Where the devil are my slippers," to which Eliza smiles knowingly. In this updated version, Eliza walks away from him when he asks for his slippers - an indication that she is reinforcing her boundaries and unwilling to accept life with Higgins unless he changes his ways.

Today is the final performance of this show’s one-week Chicago run. If you have time, I recommend a visit back to early 20th-century London or the films of my youth.


Rickie Lee Jones 2024Rickie Lee Jones has seen much of the world during over four decades of recording and touring. In the final performance of her North American tour, the troubadour brought her travels with her Sunday night to the Old Town School of Folk Music - a place she has visited many times. "I have performed here so many times that this feels like home," she told the sold-out audience.

Rickie accompanied herself on guitar for the first hour, then on piano for 45 minutes before stepping to the microphone without an instrument to close the show with a moving rendition of "Cry Me a River." To my knowledge, she never released this song on a studio album, but this was a nod to her most recent album - "Pieces of Treasure - which featured songs from the great American songbook.

Rickie introduced her percussionist as Mike. I could not catch his last name, which is a shame because he was excellent. His drumming was great, and he enhanced many songs with a triangle or a shaker, but his vibe playing impressed me the most.

Jones will turn seventy this year. She made it clear that she embraces her age and maturity. And she never held back from showing off her impressive vocal range. Her love of music and performing captivated the audience. As did her singing.


Episode 791

Jordan Thayer on the AI Landscape

Jordan Thayer describes the many types of Artificial Intelligence and their uses. Although Generative AI has received much hype recently, many other aspects of Artificial Intelligence remain relevant.


Mrs. Doubtfire in Chicago 2024Robin Williams was a national treasure. His performance - including many improvised scenes - elevated the movie considerably.

In 2019, Alan Menken, David Zippel, and Harvey Fierstein adapted the story into a musical, which premiered in Seattle before moving to Broadway a few months later. Sadly, the coronavirus epidemic derailed the Broadway run. Fortunately, the current North American tour brings the show to new audiences.

I enjoyed seeing this show at Chicago's Nederlander Theatre on Wednesday evening.

This version simplified the story to accommodate the many songs written for the production.

Daniel is a recently divorced father of three who is frustrated that he is only allowed to visit his children for a few hours a week due to his unstable living and employment situation. He concocts a plan to dress as an elderly woman and work as a nanny for his ex-wife, enabling him to see the kids every day. It is silly and often illogical, but it works. The movie succeeded because of Williams's charm, while the catchy songs made the play successful.

Rob McClure is charming as Daniel and his alter-ego, Mrs. Doubtfire, while young Giselle Gutierrez excels in the role of Daniel's daughter, Lydia.

I refreshed my memory by watching the movie the day before seeing the show. It holds up well after all these years, but the live production's music and fun make the current tour even more enjoyable.


Message In A Bottle In Chicago 2024Unlike many musical theatrical productions, the story of "Message in a Bottle" is told entirely through dance. It begins with a celebration in an unknown country that could be in eastern Europe or the Middle East or South Asia. The celebration leads to a courtship and a wedding, but a war interrupts the festivities, driving the people from their homeland. After several tragic deaths, a trio of sibling survivors flee their homeland, suffering exposure to the elements, life in an internment camp with abusive guards, and separation from one another - all while dealing with the PTSD of their loss.

Music and dance drive forward the story of the refugees' quest for freedom.

The music of Sting - who followed his stint as lead singer of The Police with a successful solo career - helps to drive the story. His songs provide the mood, even if the lyrics do not always exactly match the scene. In "King of Pain," he sings "There's a little black spot on the sun today!" as the dancers stare at the sky which flashes lights that clearly represent bombs dropping from attacking aircraft. "Every Breath You Take" told the story of an obsessed lover but serves in this play to underscore the unceasing oversight of the camp guards.

Message In A Bottle In Chicago 2024It is the dancers who advance the story, and it is surprising how much they can communicate silently with only their bodies and a few props. Their movements convey joy, despair, and anger without speaking a word.

I grew up with Sting's music. His songs are familiar, like a visit from an old friend. But new recordings with updated arrangements make them sound fresher.

During its brief Chicago run, the show pleased those who came to the Cadillac Palace Theatre. The Sunday evening performance I saw was far from sold out. It is a shame more people did not get to experience this emotional, beautiful tale.


GCast 170:

Getting Started with GitHub Copilot

GitHub Copilot is a virtual assistant that helps you write, improve, and test your code. In this video, I will demonstrate how to use GitHub Copilot to assist writing PowerShell code in Visual Studio Code.


Episode 790

Oren Eini on the Corax Search Engine Part 2

When Oren Eini originally developed RavenDB, he used the Lucene library to implement indexing. Eventually, his team encountered limitations with this strategy, so they created the Corax search engine, which improve query execution time significantly. Oren discusses the challenges involved in creating this engine and the approaches they took to overcome these challenges.

This video is Part 2 of 2! You can find Part 1 at https://youtu.be/NSNOYt6Od1U?si=ivZW29VT_05Wx5mq

Links:

https://github.com/efficient/HOPE/tree/master
https://ravendb.net
https://www.infoq.com/vendorcontent/show.action?vcr=ae86cea5-4bff-4c58-a6cb-a86cb31b0ced


February 2023 Gratitudes

Comments [0]

3/3
Today I am grateful for dinner last night with John and Kim

3/2
Today I am grateful for:
- a week in Seattle
- many thoughtful messages yesterday

3/1
Today I am grateful for:
- lunch with Ted yesterday
- my first home Seattle Kraken game last night

2/29
Today I am grateful for my first offsite since joining this team almost 2 years ago.

2/28
Today I am grateful for:
- lunch with Dustin yesterday
- a party at Lucky Strike in Bellevue last night

2/27
Today I am grateful to meet many of my co-workers in-person for the first time yesterday.

2/26
Today I am grateful for my first visit to the Museum of Contemporary Photography yesterday.

2/25
Today I am grateful to see Al Franken perform last night

2/24
Today I am grateful to participate in a Black History Month celebration last night with BDPA

2/23
Today I am grateful to talk with Glenn today.

2/22
Today I am grateful to speak in front of a hundred people last night at a combined meeting of the Chicago Java User Group, Chicago Kotlin User Group, GOTO Conference, and Pittsburgh Java User Group.

2/21
Today I am grateful for a fresh haircut.

2/20
Today I am grateful to play my first 2 full games of pickleball yesterday.

2/19
Today I am grateful to talk with my brother and sister in Australia yesterday.

2/18
Today I am grateful:
- to Tim for a ride to the body shop and rental car place yesterday
- for dinner with Nick and Adriana in Kalamazoo last night
- for another season of Kalamazoo College basketball

2/17
Today I am grateful for a new rear bumper on my car.

2/16
Today I am grateful:
- to deliver a presentation with a partner yesterday afternoon
- to run into Raj in the office last night

2/15
Today I am grateful for good doctors.

2/14
Today I am grateful to attend a Chicago Black Hawks game last night for the first time in years.

2/12
Today I am grateful for an exciting finish to this year's Super Bowl

2/11
Today I am grateful for:
- a short getaway to New York City last week
- dinner last night with Nick and Adriana in Kalamazoo

2/10
Today I am grateful to attend my first SoFar Sounds concert event last night with my son and his fiancé.

2/9
Today I am grateful:
- to see "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" on Broadway last night
- for a guided tour of the Rockefeller Center and the view from the Top of the Rock yesterday afternoon
- to spend a day in New York City with Linda and Carol

2/8
Today I am grateful:
- to see my first Rangers home game at Madison at Madison Square Garden last night
- for a bike ride around the neighborhoods of Manhattan yesterday

2/7
Today I am grateful to see an exciting Devils-Avalanche NHL game last night with Austin, Peter, and Matt.

2/6
Today I am grateful to Sylvia for an early-morning ride to the airport

2/5
Today I am grateful for a rental car this week while my car is being repaired.


In 1924, Dr. Lawrence Nixon attempted to vote in the Democratic Presidential Primary, knowing that Texas state law forbade a black man like himself from voting in the election. When election officials turned him away, Nixon responded: "I've got to try.'

Beto  O'Rourke grew up in the south Texas border town of El Paso, TX, where he witnessed firsthand attempts to prevent African Americans, Mexican Americans, and other minorities from participating in the democratic process. In his 2022 book "We've Got to Try," O'Rourke documents the history of Texas voter suppression, beginning in the days following the Civil War.

Racist politicians, the Ku Klux Klan, and other proponents of white supremacy instituted poll taxes, closed polling places, limited voting hours in selected neighborhoods, and redrew districts to make it harder for some citizens to vote. The aggressors enhanced their efforts through intimidation, assault, and murder. These tactics were effective in limiting voter turnout among some segments of the population.

Laws were often ineffective in fighting institutional racism. When the Fifteenth Amendment banned slavery, it contained a loophole allowing forced labor of prisoners. Texans increased the arrest rate of young black men, which continued to provide free labor to former slaveholders. President Lyndon Johnson (a Texas native) signed the Voting Rights Act into law in 1965, which should have ended these policies, but those in power frequently ignored or skirted this law.

Although O'Rourke focused this book on Texas, the lessons are applicable across the United States. Worse, people continue to use these methods today. He includes two chapters on proposed integration reform, pointing out how xenophobia and stoking the fear of "others" is a powerful way to convince voters to maintain the status quo.

Despite publishing this during his campaign for Governor, this is far from a "Campaign Biography." Instead, O'Rourke focuses on educating the reader about an essential part of Texan and American history.

"We've Got to Try" remains relevant today. A failed presidential candidate recently inspired his supporters to attempt a violent coup on the US Capitol following his election loss, and some states are passing laws to punish teachers who point out racist activities in our country's history. Our first step in combatting discrimination is to recognize when and where it has occurred in the past.


AlFranken2024He warned us. He told us this was his first time (and maybe the last time) telling most of these jokes. He told us we were his test audience, as he refined his material for a TV special. So, the crowd at Chicago's City Winery braced ourselves for an unpolished evening of stories, jokes, and skits.

The sold-out audience was sympathetic to both Franken's left-leaning politics and to his unpolished act.

At the early show Saturday evening, Franken's material ranged from political humor to rants about people in politics (Mitch McConnnell's hypocrisy in refusing to hold Supreme Court hearings for a Democratic presidential nominee; then rushing through the approval of a Republican nominee), and stories about his time on Saturday night live. He mixed in some scripts he had written for potential skits (imagining if Hitler ruled during the time of the coronavirus epidemic). The audience roared when he performed a ventriloquism act while wearing a KN95 mask.

The comic-turned-Congressman-turned-comic sometimes stumbled through his routines, often pausing to check his notes and ask the audience where he was.

Despite his lack of preparation, Franken is a very funny man with an insightful wit. And when he performs the completed show for a television special, it is doubtful I will get second-row seats, as I did on Saturday evening.


Episode 789

Oren Eini on the Corax Search Engine, Part 1

When Oren Eini originally developed RavenDB, he used the Lucene library to implement indexing. Eventually, his team encountered limitations with this strategy, so they created the Corax search engine, which improved query execution time significantly. Oren discusses the challenges involved in creating this engine and the approaches they took to overcome these challenges.

This video is Part 1 of 2!
You can find Part 2 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ryX-LX2zGo

Links:
https://github.com/efficient/HOPE/tree/master
https://ravendb.net
https://www.infoq.com/vendorcontent/show.action?vcr=ae86cea5-4bff-4c58-a6cb-a86cb31b0ced


Jennifer Egan scored big with "A Visit from the Goon Squad," her unconventional nonlinear story collection that won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award. She returned in 2022 with "The Candy House," which continues the stories of many of the characters introduced in "Goon Squad."

As in the first novel, Egan uses a variety of styles to tell her stories. She switches from first person to omniscient narrator and back. Although she employs nothing as radical as telling a story through Power Point slides (as she did in her earlier book), she does employ some unconventional narrative technique. In one story, a woman on an espionage mission recalls her training (told in the second person) in real time, as she faces situations that require specific training messages. She relates another story entirely via emails between the characters.

While her earlier novel focused on the characters surrounding music executive Lou Kline, this one is more thematic, exploring the role of sharing and oversharing with others through a powerful social network. It explores everything from understanding how others felt about us to the surrender of privacy to the government's weaponization of the technology. Bix Bouton - a minor character in "Goon Squad" - invents "Own Your Unconscious" - a technology that allows users to upload their memories for preservation and to anonymously access the recorded memories of others. This invention changes the world.

Egan expertly foreshadows many of the story’s events. A conversation at a cocktail party about recording the thoughts of pets inspires Bix to create "Own Your Unconscious." And the above-mentioned spy mention leads to PTSD years later.

Keeping straight all the characters and their relationships is a challenge, but that is part of the fun of this book. The children and siblings of characters introduced in "Goon Squad" receive their own stories here. Some of the connections are subtle. Miranda Kline, the reclusive anthropologist on which much of Bix's "Own Your Unconscious" is built, is Mindy, the young woman who accompanied her lover and future husband Lou Kline on an African safari in "Goon Squad." It is these connections that make the book fascinating and (sometimes) difficult to follow.

"The Candy House" is a book I can see myself reading again.


GCast 169:

Indexers and Indexes in Azure AI Search

Learn how to use Azure AI Search to index and query the data and metadata associated with unstructured documents.


Episode 789

Michael Eaton on Sharing Knowledge

Michael Eaton has a passion for sharing knowledge, via public speaking, blogging, and creating public GitHub repositories. He discusses how this practice helps himself and others.


Although "Beneath a Scarlet Sky" is a novel, author Mark Sullivan based it on the life of Pino Lella, a young Italian man who helped rescue Jews and spied on the Nazis in occupied Italy at the end of the Second World War.

It was a difficult time for Italy. Mussolini's Fascist government was collapsing. The Germans had moved in to stabilize the country but brought the brutal Nazi tactics with them. The Allies were advancing throughout Europe and bombing Milan and other Italian cities. Resistance groups organized to fight the Nazis and Fascists, but some people joined these groups to terrorize their countrymen and increase their power.

Pino was a teenager when the Germans came to Italy. He did what he could to help those threatened by the invaders. First, Pion led Jews across the mountains into Switzerland to escape almost certain death in a concentration camp. Later, he volunteered as a driver for a Nazi General to gain information for the resistance - a role that placed him in daily danger and that caused many of his friends and family to label him a traitor.

He also fell in love with the General's maid.

The story begins slowly, but the pace accelerates with each section. The suspense increases significantly when Pino volunteers to join the German Army to spy on the Nazis. After the war ends, the violence continues as the newly freed Milanese seek vengeance against any they perceive as Nazis or Nazi collaborators.

Sullivan builds the story very well. We see Pino's evolution in maturity, skill, and courage. We feel his pain when his friends assume he is working for the Nazis. His heartache is apparent when his courage fails and when he loses loved ones.

"Beneath a Scarlet Sky" is a story of espionage, action, adventure, love, and loss. It is a study of what ordinary people will do to survive and of what courage means.

How much of the book is true is anyone's guess. Sullivan based the story on his interviews with Lella, and no one has independently corroborated the tale's events. But it is dramatic, moving, and entertaining. And that is enough for me.


I have scheduled a lot of public speaking, beginning today in Chicago. Here is my schedule.

Date Topic Event Location
2/15/2024 Generative AI Tools in Microsoft Azure Insight & Rightpoint: Unleashing Azure AI Search and Copilot Chicago, IL
2/21/2024 Generative AI Tools in Microsoft Azure GOTO/CJUG/Kotlin Group Chicago, IL
3/11/2024 Generative AI Tools in Microsoft Azure Elastic Chicago User Group Chicago, IL
3/22/2024 Blood, Sweat, and Code Reviews Michigan Technology Conference Pontiac, MI
3/22/2024 ChatGPT Unleashed Michigan Technology Conference Pontiac, MI
3/22/2024 Effective Data Visualization Michigan Technology Conference Pontiac, MI
3/22/2024 You and Your Technical Community Michigan Technology Conference Pontiac, MI
4/4/2024 ChatGPT Unleashed Roanoke Valley .NET User Group Online
4/17/2024 Blood, Sweat, and Code Reviews Pittsburgh .NET User Group Online
4/30/2024 Navigating Cloudy Horizons with Azure Monitor and Application Insights VSLive Chicago, IL
4/30/2024 Effective Data Visualization VSLive Chicago, IL
5/6/2024 ChatGPT Unleashed LambdaConf Estes Park, CO
5/17/2024 Navigating Cloudy Horizons with Azure Monitor and Application Insights DevSum Stockholm, Sweden

Episode 788

Jeremy Miller on The Case Against Clean Architecture

Although Clean Architecture has many benefits, Jeremy Miller cautions that it is not the correct solution to every problem.

https://github.com/jasperfx/wolverine


The Set of Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildJ.K. Rowling created an immersive universe in her seven novels that described Harry Potter as he grew to adulthood while battling the forces of evil that threatened his wizarding world. Following her series' wildly popular film adaptations, Rowling turned her creative talents to the theater, developing the story that became "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child." Playwright Jack Thorne fleshed out the story into a two-part play that premiered in London in 2016.

The Broadway production at New York's Lyric Theatre compresses the two plays into a single performance.

Rather than focusing on Harry and his friends, "The Cursed Child" tells the story of Harry's son, Albus, as he attends the Hogwarts Wizarding School. The Sorting Hat assigns Albus to Slytherin House, where he befriends Scorpius Malfoy - son of Harry's old nemesis Draco. Together, the two attempt to travel back in time and prevent the death of Cedric Diggory, whom the evil Lord Voldemort killed during the Triwizard Tournament.

Joel Myers and Erik Christopher Peterson excel as Albus and Scorpius, respectively. Peterson is especially charming, projecting a nerdiness that contrasts with his father's bravado. The two boys are haunted by comparisons with their fathers - Albus because he can never live up to the heroic Harry and Scorpius because Draco was an ally of Voldemort's.

Unlike many Broadway productions, "Cursed" is not a musical. There is no singing, and the music is mainly instrumental. But some well-choreographed dance numbers help advance the story. And special effects enhance the show, such as when dementors descend from the ceiling to suck the soles of their victims.

If I have any complaint, it is with the acoustics of the Lyric. I sometimes lost the dialogue between the unmiked actors and their British accents. But this is a minor flaw, and it did not diminish my enjoyment.

At 3.5 hours, this show is one of the longest I have seen. But its story, acting, and production made it feel much shorter.


"Wherever wrongs need righting;

Wherever darkness needs lighting;

Wherever evil needs fighting!"

Cast of When You Awake, You Will Remember EverythingI may not have quoted him verbatim, but this is the kind of campy dialogue that comes out of the mouth of The Titan - a hero who battles evildoers such as mad scientist Doctor Fiendish and lethal kickboxer the High Heel in a universe populated by superheroes and super villains.

With his nefarious invention, Dr. Fiendish transports The Titan to a new dimension (ours), where doctors interpret Titan's insistence that he once possessed super strength and the ability to fly as delusions and work to cure him of his neurosis.

This is the setup for the delightful "When You Awake, You Will Remember Everything." I caught the first preview performance Friday evening at the intimate Edge Theatre in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood.

"Awake" is the brainchild of playwright Gregory Peters and director Jack Dugan Carpenter. The local theatre troupe The Plagiarists produced the show.

Bryan Breau devoted himself exclusively to the role of The Titan, but all others in the cast portrayed multiple characters - sometimes different incarnations of themselves in the two universes. Each expertly delivered their cheesy and fun dialogue to the audience's delight.

I loved the characters' superpowers: Split Second can always see both sides of any issue, which tends to paralyze him into inaction; the High Heel's arsenal consists of lethal kicks so creative that she names each one/ and The Spiritual Advisor gives sage advice but can never act on it.

Despite this being the first preview performance of the play, the acting and production were tight. The show filled the space perfectly - an impressive accomplishment, given the low-budget set design.

The cheap sets and the campy dialogue added to the experience, making it feel like a B-Movie matinee. And the complex story added a layer that made the evening even more memorable.



GCast 168:

GitHub Action Triggers [GCast 168]

Learn about the available triggers in GitHub Actions and how to configure them in the YAML file.


Episode 787

Alex Riviere on Fresh Hot CSS Features

Alex Riviere shows off powerful CSS features that you many not be aware of. He covers:

  • custom properties
    grid
    "has" selector
    logical properties

Links:
https://alex.party/
https://codepen.io/fimion/pen/mdoMJJx


January 2023 Gratitudes

Comments [0]

2/4
Today I am grateful to drive to and from Kalamazoo yesterday with no snowstorms.

2/3
Today I am grateful to see "When You Awake, You Will Remember Everything" at the Edge Theatre last night

2/2
Today I am grateful for 6 years in my current home.

2/1
Today I am grateful to visit Le Piano last night for the first time.

1/31
Today I am grateful to lose 35 pounds in the last 6 months.

1/30
Today I am grateful
- to drop off my car at the body shop and pick up a rental car yesterday.
- to talk with my nephew Matt in Australia

1/29
Today I am grateful to see Adam Conover last night at the City Winery.

1/28
Today I am grateful for lunch with Tobias yesterday.

1/27
Today I am grateful:
- to be a guest on the "How to Human" show
- for a long conversation with Jeffrey yesterday

1/26
Today I am grateful to participate in Chicago Restaurant week yesterday for the first time.

1/25
Today I am grateful for all the interviews I was able to schedule this month for #TechnologyAndFriends

1/24
Today I am grateful to participate in a mock session yesterday to help teach younger software architects how to run an Architecture Design Session

1/23
Today I am grateful for dinner last night with Kendall

1/22
Today I am grateful to see "Highway Patrol" starring Dana Delaney at the Goodman Theatre last night.

1/21
Today I am grateful to see Rosanne Cash in concert last night.

1/20
Today I am grateful for a good kitchen

1/19
Today I am grateful
- to participate in an executive AI round table with Thoughtworks yesterday
- for a ride from Kevin yesterday

1/18
Today I am grateful to stay inside on extremely frigid days.

1/17
Today I am grateful:
- for a conversation with Christina yesterday
- to see Hamilton last night

1/16
Today I am grateful for 15 years of #TechnologyAndFriends

1/15
Today I am grateful for the Lions' second playoff victory in my lifetime.

1/14
Today I am grateful to attend an exciting Kalamazoo College overtime victory, coached by my son Nick yesterday.

1/13
Today I am grateful for:
- seeing Buddy Guy and Bobby Rush in concert last night
- a chance to speak at #CodeMash yesterday
- arriving home safely during yesterday's storm
- a gift of home-harvested honey from Gaines and Mary

1/12
Today I am grateful for:
- all the volunteers who made #CodeMash a success this year
- seeing so many old friends this week
- the hospitality of J.

1/11
Today I am grateful to Chris and Manifest Solutions for an enjoyable dinner last night.

1/9
Today I am grateful to Eric for a place to stay last night

1/8
Today I am grateful to attend a basketball game with my son last night in Evanston, even though the good guys lost.


Jennifer Egan's "A Visit from the Goon Squad" is a collection of short stories that feels like a novel.

Eagan tells each story about different people; she tells each from a different point of view; and she writes each in a different style. The chapters appear out of sequence chronologically, which may confuse the reader. But it works. Characters cross over into one another's tales: a peripheral character in one story becomes the focus of another. They all tie together by their association with the music industry - particularly with the "Sow's Ear" record company and its employees.

The author frequently introduces plot points before clarifying these points a hundred pages later. In one story, we learn that a mutual friend recently died. Later, the author relates a visit to this friend on his deathbed. A character appears after serving a prison sentence for attempted rape. Later, we read a first-person account of the assault.

Egan swings the narrative style significantly from story to story. One sounds as if a teenage girl is relating the incidents to her friends (for example, using "goes" as a synonym for "talks"); another is a narcissistic article that is supposed to be a report of a celebrity interview; another is a series of PowerPoint slides that describes a family's relationship with an autistic son, who has an obsession with the pauses in rock songs.

The "Goon" of the book's title is the passage of Time. Time changes people - sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Time separates us and occasionally reunites us later in our lives. We can look back with fondness, regret, or pride, but there is no returning to the past. One character laments, "Time's a goon, right? You gonna let that goon push you around?" As one who has grown and struggled and rebounded through six decades of ups and downs, this theme resonated.

I found Egan's nonlinear storytelling compelling. I loved how she clarified events as the novel went on. "Goon Squad" is a beautiful mosaic that allows the reader to peek into personal lives at critical points.


Episode 786

Brian Gorman on a Microsoft Software Training Program for US Military Veterans

Brian Gorman is a trainer working with the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy, which provides IT training to US military veterans transitioning to civilian life. He discusses the program, its value, his students, and some of the challenges.

Links:
https://military.microsoft.com/mssa/
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/6615932/
https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/microsoft-military-affairs/


DanaDelaneyInHighwayPatrol2024Years ago, I regularly watched a show called "China Beach," which featured a talented young actress named Dana Delany. In the ensuing decades, Delany has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows - none of which I have seen.

She also experienced a strange relationship on Twitter. On the social media platform, Delany met Cam - a 13-year-old boy suffering from a debilitating illness. Soon, she was drawn into online conversations with Cam's grandmother and brother. "Highway Patrol," which premiered at the Goodman Theatre this month, tells the story of that encounter. Delany plays herself, Thomas Murphy Molony plays Cam, and Dot-Marie Jones ("Glee") plays the grandmother and a few other roles.

It isn't easy to describe the point of the play without giving away twists, but it focuses on social media's impact on our lives. It also includes some cyberstalking - a topic that hit home for me since I was recently the victim of a stalker.

I saw the Sunday evening performance and enjoyed the story and the acting. The show is still in preview and suffers from some of the growing pains of early productions (I overheard a director prompt Jones for one of her lines), but it was entertaining, moving, and enjoyable.


RosanneCash2024Find someone who looks at you the way that Rosanne Cash looks at John Leventhal. Rosanne is the daughter of music legend Johnny Cash and a successful singer-songwriter with multiple Grammys on her resume. John is a Grammy-winning producer, songwriter, and musician. He is also Rosanne's husband of almost 30 years,

The couple performed at the Old Town School of Folk Music on Saturday night before a sold-out audience. Although Leventhal played excellent lead guitar and piano, the night belonged to Cash. Her voice was outstanding - perfect tone and heartfelt musician.

RosanneCashAndJohnLeventhal2024This year marked the thirtieth anniversary of Cash's album "The Wheel." Thanks to a clause in her contract with Columbia, Cash acquired the rights to the album's songs this year. She celebrated by re-releasing the album on her label and performing several songs tonight ("Tears Falling Down," "From the Ashes," "If There's a God on My Side," "You Won't Let Me In," and "The Wheel")

Despite the loving gazes between the couple, the evening's songs mainly consisted of broken hearts and failed relationships. Songs like "Sea of Heartbreak" and "Blue Moon With Heartache" set the tone for the evening with their sweet melancholy.

I expected more country music, but the pair mixed up the setlist, performing folk and blues.

Cash closed the set with my favourite of her tunes - "Seven Year Ache," before exiting and returning for an encore. Originally intending to perform only Bob Dylan's "Farewell, Argentina," she honored an audience request and performed "500 Miles" to close the evening.

Cash and Leventhal are great musicians with great chemistry and a wonderful rapport with the audience. Thirty years after they fell in love, audiences continue to fall in love with them.


GCast 167: GitHub Actions

Comments [0]

GCast 167:

GitHub Actions [GCast 167]

Learn how to create and edit a GitHub Action.


Hamilton cast, 2024Sometimes, I make spaghetti and cover it with a generous amount of tomato sauce before storing the leftovers in my refrigerator. Something about the way the sauce permeates the noodles makes the meal taste even better the next day.

Something similar happened with my Hamilton experience. Five years ago, I took my son to the Lin-Manuel Miranda creation during its first Chicago residency. We loved it. The music, the acting, the story, and the dancing were all exceptional. Tuesday evening, I returned to see an entirely new cast perform the musical life of founding father, Alexander Hamilton.

In the years since I first experienced Hamilton, I became familiar with the music and the story. I even read Ron Chernow's "Hamilton" - the biography on which Miranda based his musical. \

This performance was like visiting an old friend. Although I missed the thrill of experiencing each number for the first time, I loved the joy of greeting a familiar piece I felt in my soul.

Pierre Jean Gonzalez as the title character and Deon'te Goodman as his rival Aaron Burr were outstanding, as was Jared Howelton, who played the Marquis de Lafayette in Act 1 and Thomas Jefferson in Act 2. Neil Haskell stole the show during his brief appearances as King George, whose relationship with the American colonies echoed that of an abusive husband.

I believe the sets remained unchanged from the earlier run, which was good because it worked. The rotating center of the stage allowed for the appearance of more action than could fit on the Nederlander Theatre stage.

Time and familiarity enhanced my love of this musical. With any luck, I will return to it in a few years.


Episode 785

Jose And Laurel Mojica on Virtual Reality Storytelling [EPISODE 785]

Jose And Laurel Mojica are creating a new film, which they plan to release in Virtual Reality. They discuss some of the challenges of telling a story using VR and some of the tools they use on their project.


Near the end of the American Civil War, the Confederate government ordered the construction of a camp near Andersonville, GA to house captured Union soldiers. Conditions at the camp were harsh. Overcrowding, lack of food, and poor sanitation led to the deaths of thousands of prisoners. The prison had no roof, exposing the prisoners to extreme elements, and lacked fresh water and toilets. Tens of thousands of prisoners crowded into a compound designed for a fraction of that number. Nearly a third of those incarcerated at Andersonville died in captivity.

MacKinlay Kantor's 1955 novel "Andersonville" tells the story of this camp and the people associated with it.

Kantor took some of his characters from history. Camp Commander Henry Wirz was never able to manage the prison effectively. Prisoner William Collins repeatedly stole from fellow prisoners for his own benefit. Confederate guards hanged Collins; Wirz was arrested, convicted of war crimes, and executed after the war. He created fictional characters to represent the tens of thousands who lived, suffered, and sometimes died under the horrific conditions, as well as those surrounding the camp.

The novel follows the camp, its prisoners, its management, and those affected by Andersonville through the end of the Civil War. We see the inhumane conditions suffered by the prisoners. We experience the prejudices that ordinary people use to rationalize their hatred against Blacks, Yankees, Jews, Catholics, and others. But not everyone we meet is consumed with hate. Landowner Ira Claffey fights unsuccessfully for better conditions for the prisoners. He retains at least some of his humanity despite the Confederacy taking his land to build the prison and the Union Army killing his three sons in battle. And a one-legged southerner assists a one-armed escaped POW at the end of the war.

The sheer number of characters sometimes makes the story difficult to follow. One never knows when we meet someone if they will be significant later in the book. I found it challenging to keep them all straight. No central character dominates the story. The prison serves as the center, and all action revolves around it.

This book is not for the faint of heart. It describes suffering and cruelty in detail. Kantor provides detailed descriptions of the disease, abuse, and starvation suffered by those imprisoned at Andersonville.

If you seek a depiction of the horrors and savagery of war, this book is for you.


Buddy Guy and Bobby Rush 2023An era is ending. Blues singer and guitarist Buddy Guy, who will turn eighty-eight this year, announced last year that he is retiring from touring. He posted his farewell tour on his website.

Fortunately for those of us in his hometown of Chicago, Buddy booked performances three nights a week during January at his club "Buddy Guy's Legends." For years, fans have anticipated this annual January residency and the chance to see the legendary bluesman in a small club setting. Each night, the show features a different warmup artist.

I purchased tickets for the January 12 show primarily because Bobby Rush was the scheduled opening act. I have long been a fan of Bobby's 1971 song "Chicken Heads," and the 90-year-old Rush has been performing even longer than Mr. Guy. Rush delivered a decent set. He talked a little too much, sang a little too little, flirted with the ladies in the front row, and finished with "Chicken Heads," adding some improvised verses. Although underwhelming, he set the mood nicely for the main act.

Buddy opened his set with "Damn Right I've Got the Blues" - an energetic song that rocked the house. For much of the evening, he paid tribute to many of the blues legends with covers of songs by Muddy Waters ("Hoochie Coochie Man"), John Lee Hooker ("Boom Boom"), Al Green ("Take Me to the River"), and Slim Harpo ("I'm a King Bee"). Buddy is one of the last of a generation of great bluesmen. He no longer has the stamina of his youth (his set lasted a little over an hour), but he brought great energy during his performance. Between songs, he expressed his appreciation for the crowd, his love of the blues, and his fondness for Chicago.

Near the end of Guy's set, Bobby Rush joined him on stage for an encore duet of "Chicken Heads," which delighted the audience.

I was thrilled to see Buddy Guy for the fourth time. His retirement announcement and his advanced years will limit his future performances. He has not yet indicated whether he will continue performing at "Legends." If this was my final time, it was a fitting finale.


Episode 784

Brendan Burns on Creating Kubernetes

Brendan Burns is a Microsoft CVP and Distinguished Engineer; but he is most well-known as the co-creator of Kubernetes, which has become the default container orchestration tool. Brendan talks about creating Kubernetes and how this popular open source project has evolved since then.


Damen Fields was born with many disadvantages. His father died before he was born. His single mother raised him in poverty before marrying an abusive husband before she died. These events thrust young Damen into the social services system, where he suffered abuse at the hands of a series of foster parents.

Damen took the last name of his dead father, "Copperhead," in part because of his flaming red hair. He also embraced the nickname "Demon" - a nod to his fiery personality.

Barbara Kingsolver's 2023 novel "Demon Copperhead" tells the story of this boy as he grows to manhood. Kingsolver drew inspiration and many plot elements from Charles Dickens's "David Copperfield."

Demon's life parallels the life of Dickens's Copperfield in many ways. In addition to the single mother, abusive stepfather, and being orphaned at a young age, Demon faces torment at the hands of the unscrupulous U-Haul Pyles (a modern version of Uriah Heep), receives comfort from the kindly elderly Mrs. Peggot (Kingsolver's version of Mrs. Peggotty), and falls for the beautiful but irresponsible Dori (an incarnation of Dora Spenlow).

Despite borrowing many characters and story elements from Dickens, "Demon Copperhead" is Kingsolver's story. The action mostly takes place in the Appalachian region of southwest Virginia and reflects the culture and poverty of that area.

The book has many themes - the effect of expectations on motivation, the caste system in America, stereotypes of the Appalachians, hero worship, and the roles of the education system and health care system in poor communities.

Two themes dominate the novel - each in a different part. The first part reveals the difficulties - and sometimes horrors - of growing up in the foster care system. At age 11, Demon moves from home to home, and each "caregiver" exploits him in some way. One keeps all his foster children out of school so that they can work his tobacco farm; another puts him to work in a meth lab, then steal his earnings. Even the kindest of his foster parents grooms him for the high school football team that he coaches.

The second part of the novel focuses on the dangers of drug abuse. Drugs are freely available among high school students, and doctors frequently prescribe addictive painkillers to their patients. Demon's addiction begins with opioids (drugs that contributed to his mother's death) before escalating to harder narcotics. When asked if a friend is taking drugs, Demon responds, "I don't know a single person my age that's not taking pills."

"Demon Copperfield" could have been a clever marketing ploy, drawing in readers already familiar with Charles Dickens's classic story. But it is more than that.

Ms. Kingsolver's novel shared the 2023 Pulitzer Prize with Hernan Diaz's "Trust," a testament to its appeal beyond being a tribute to the Dickens classic.

The overarching theme of the book matches that of "David Copperfield." "Demon Copperhead" addresses the enormous challenges of growing up in institutional poverty and the hope of overcoming those challenges to become something more than what you were born to.


"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show."

The title character of Charles Dickens's novel "David Copperfield" relates his life story in the first person but opens with the above quote. He may be teasing the reader, or he may be uncertain of the answer himself - needing to record his life to decide whether or not he is its hero.

Copperfield takes us through his journey from boyhood to manhood.

David goes through a series of phases - in circumstance and personality - to lead him to his adult self. Some circumstances are thrust upon David, while others result from his actions.

David faces early hardships from his widowed mother's abusive second husband. He falls in love multiple times and meets a string of colorful characters. Some, like his family servant Peggotty, have his best interests. Others, like the sleazy Uriah Heep, are concerned only with their own gain.

A strength of the novel is the characters. Dickens introduces many people in this story. Some help David; others hinder him. Some turn out to be different than he initially perceives. Aunt Betsey first appears aloof and unlikeable but ultimately helps David in his life. David admires James Steerforth, who proves unworthy of that admiration.

Partially autobiographical, "David Copperfield" tells a moving story about the struggles in life and how people can overcome them through hard work, good fortune, and the help of friends. The author includes some of the tragedies of nineteenth-century British life. But it also contains much optimism.

If the book has a weakness, it is its length. Dickens often goes off on tangents about minor characters, devoting many pages to incidents that do not advance the plot. This practice is likely due to its origin as a magazine serial and the financial incentives to pay authors based on word count. But Dickens makes up for any weakness with the book's many strengths. He fills the narrative with humor, fascinating characters, and twists that keep the reader interested. These are why Charles Dickens embraced "David Copperfield" as one of his favourite novels, and why it has maintained its literary status for over a century and a half.


GCast 166:

GitHub Codespaces [GCast 166]

Learn the advantages of GitHub Codespaces and how you can use them to do all your development in the cloud.


Kevin Gates on Photography

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Episode 783

Kevin Gates on Photography [EPISODE 783]

Kevin Gates spends much of his free time taking photographs. He explains some of the art and science that goes into taking a great photograph.

Links:

https://www.dreaddontdie.com/
https://www.lensrentals.com/
https://dreaddontdie.notion.site/Kevin-s-Photography-Principals-aeffd5db8baf4617893db22f1d9b59c5


December 2023 Gratitudes

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1/7
Today I am grateful for a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago yesterday.

1/6
Today I am grateful for my first visit to Morton Arboretum

1/5
Today I am grateful to present at the Roanoke Valley .NET User Group and the organizers' patience when I lost my connection.

1/4
Today I am grateful for coffee with Hillel yesterday.

1/3
Today I am grateful for a feeling of optimism for the coming year!

1/2
Today I am grateful for the three years we had together.

1/1
Today I am grateful for all the good things that happened to me in 2023!

12/31
Today I am grateful to see "How the Grinch Stole Christmas - The Musical" last night.

12/30
Today I am grateful to see Marquis Hill in concert last night.

12/29
Today I am grateful for lunch with Angela yesterday.

12/28
Today I am grateful to talk yesterday with Jim for the first time in years.

12/27
Today I am grateful for the Detroit Lions' first Division Title in 30 years.

12/26
Today I am grateful to spend Christmas with my family yesterday.

12/25
Today I am grateful for the hospitality of my sister Debbie.

12/24
Today I am grateful to catch up on writing book reviews yesterday.

12/23
Today I am grateful to work with my personal trainer yesterday for the first time in a month.

12/22
Today I am grateful for an excellent week in southern California.

12/21
Today I am grateful for
- a visit to the Grammy Museum yesterday afternoon
- seeing an exciting Kings - Kraken hockey game at Crypto.com Arena last night

12/20
Today I am grateful for a visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum yesterday.

12/19
Today I am grateful to Sara for driving to Thousand Oaks to spend the day with me.

12/18
Today I am grateful to attend the Rams - Commandos game at SoFi Stadium with my cousin Bob yesterday.

12/17
Today I am grateful for a visit to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum yesterday.

12/16
Today I am grateful to serve as judge at an AI hackathon yesterday

12/15
Today I am grateful to kick off another year mentoring high school students at the Chicago Tech Academy

12/14
Today I am grateful:
- to catch up with Richard yesterday morning
- for many messages of support from my friends

12/13
Today I am grateful to attend the Chicago at a Crossroads - Quantum Event yesterday and hear Governor Pritzker and other talk about quantum computing.

12/12
Today I am grateful to see Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes in concert last night.

12/11
Today I am grateful to see an NFL game at Soldier Field yesterday for the first time in 18 years!

12/10
Today I am grateful for front-row seats to see Ana Gasteyer last night in Evanston.

12/9
Today I am grateful for dinner with John and Kim last night.

12/8
Today I am grateful:
- to speak at the TCS AI Road Show yesterday
- to complete the last of multiple major deliverables this year

12/7
Today I am grateful to attend an exciting Kalamazoo College victory at Lake Forest College last night.

12/6
Today I am grateful to co-present with Mary last night at the Chicago AI Meetup.


Jhumpa Lahiri's "Interpreter of Maladies" won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction - an award usually given to novels. But "Interpreter" is not a novel. It is a collection of short stories. And the stories are not connected narratively. None of the characters, places, or events tie together. Some stories take place in India, and some in the United States. However, each of the nine narratives features Indians or Indian-Americans.

And each explores relationships and the conflicts in those relationships. These relationships can be between lovers, a community, a parent, and a child.

Most of the stories end badly due to suspicion, adultery, wrongful accusations, or divorce. Lahiri brings life to the characters but leaves the reader with a sense of melancholy. My heart sank when overcommunication killed a marriage. Stories show the cruelness of others against their less fortunate family members and neighbors in "A Real Durwan" and "The Treatment of Bibi Haldar."

The final story redeems the others with a tone of optimism lacking in the previous eight. In "The Third and Final Continent," a visiting scholar fondly remembers coming to America and connecting with his 103-year-old landlord - the first American with whom he formed a bond.

"Interpreter of Maladies" is a well-written showcase of the diversity of thought among those from South Asia who immigrated to America and those who stayed in their home country.


2023 in Review

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In many ways, 2023 was a year of recovery and rebirth. I resolved some significant issues in mid-2022. This past year, I was able to focus on healing myself, improving my career, and helping those around me.

Family

Two engagements highlighted our family news this year. My son Tim proposed to his longtime girlfriend Natale on the Pont Neuf while they were vacationing in Paris. My niece Katie announced her engagement to her boyfriend Josh at Christmas dinner.
Tim completed his third year as an IT consultant at Microsoft. He received a promotion this year.
Nick is in his fifth season coaching the Kalamazoo College basketball team. The team began the season with a 4-1 record, their best start in over twenty years.


Friends

In 2023, I made an effort to reconnect with old friends. I have met so many excellent people over the years, and I missed talking with them, so I reached out to many and scheduled a phone call. I typically planned a half hour, but the conversation almost always lasted longer.


Travel

As many of you know, I set a goal years ago to attend a home game of every team in the four major professional North American sports - NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. I made significant progress in this list during 2023 when I attended home games of 2 NFL teams (Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers), 5 MLB teams (Anaheim Angels, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, and Texas Rangers), and 2 NHL teams (Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins.) I also saw many Kalamazoo College basketball games to watch my son coach the team. Most of these were in Kalamazoo, MI, but I also saw his team play in Lake Forest, IL, and Thousand Oaks, CA.

In the course of the year, I traveled to southern California twice, to Pittsburgh, to Houston and Dallas,

I can now see the end in sight of this list. I have ten or fewer unvisited sites for each league, and 28 visits remain among the four leagues.

Two things were noticeably missing this year. I had no international trips, and I had no work trips. I plan to change both of these in 2024. My team scheduled an offsite in the Seattle area in late February; and I submitted to several European conferences. DevSum in Stockholm, Sweden already accepted me as a speaker.


The Arts

I love concerts and live theater. I attended 43 concerts and 17 plays in 2023, which is a lot, even for me.

Here is a list of each I attended in the past twelve months.

Concerts

DateVenueArtist
Feb 17Andy's Jazz ClubShawn Maxwell
Feb 19City WineryDenny Lane
Feb 20City WineryDave Mason
Mar 4Salt ShedElle King
Mar 5AtheneumScythian
Mar 10Jazz ShowcaseBobby Broom
Mar 24Jazz ShowcaseChuchito Valdes
Mar 25City WineryThe Verve Pipe
Apr 2SPACEEmmaline
Apr 29Old Town School of Folk MusicGraham Nash
May 12Jazz ShowcaseFreddy Cole
May 13Hard Rock CasinoWayne Newton
May 14Old Town School of Folk MusicCowboy Junkies
Jun 10Old Town School of Folk MusicJames McMurtry
Jun 11Pritzker PavillionLos Lobos
Jun 15SPACECracker
Jun 27Huntington Bank PavillionNoel Gallagher
Jul 5City WineryNik West
Jul 13City WineryPuddles Pity Party
Jul 16Old Town School of Folk MusicIris Dement
Aug 10Lighthouse Art SpaceLenny White, Buster Williams, and Cyrus Chestnut
Aug 12Jazz ShowcaseCharles McPherson Quartet
Aug 22Huntington Bank PavillionGoo Goo Dolls
Sep 1Arcada TheatreDon McLean
Sep 13City WineryChris Kattan
Sep 30United CenterPeter Gabriel
Oct 11Cahn AuditoriumMary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin
Oct 19UIC ForumRachel Maddow
Oct 21Old Town School of Folk MusicSteep Canyon Rangers
Oct 23City WineryJustin Hayward
Oct 30United CenterQueen
Nov 2Copernicus CenterSteve Hackett
Nov 3Salt ShedLP
Nov 4Francis W. Parker SchoolHenry Winkler
Nov 10Chicago TheatreMy Morning Jacket
Dec 9SPACEAna Gasteyer
Dec 11City WinerySouthside Johnny
Dec 29Jazz ShowcaseMarquis Hill

Theater

DateVenueProduction
Jan 29CIBC TheatreChicago
Feb 10Chicago Shakespeare TheatreWuthering Heights
Mar 1Lion TheaterDrunk Shakespeare
Mar 2CIBC Theatre1776
Mar 17Chicago Shakespeare TheatreThe Comedy of Errors
Mar 19Marriott TheatreBig Fish: The Musical
Apr 14CIBC TheatreA Soldier's Play
Apr 15Nederlander TheatreJagged Little Pill
Apr 26Steppenwolf TheatreLast Night and the Night Before
May 27Shattered Globe TheatreLondon Road
Jun 10Studebaker TheatrePersonality: The Lloyd Price Musical
Jun 16Goodman TheatreThe Who's Tommy
Jul 7Lookingglass TheatreLucy and Charlie's Honeymoon
Sep 8City Lit Theater CompanyThe Innocence of Seduction
Sep 29Shattered Globe TheatreA View From the Bridge
Nov 20CIBC TheatreBoop! The Musical
Dec 30Cadillac Palace TheatreHow the Grinch Stole Christmas - the Musical

Museums

Last year, I created a new bucket list - visiting all 15 Presidential Libraries and Museums. This year, I saw three (George W. Bush, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan) bringing my total to five. In addition, I visited the Dallas Museum of Art and the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles for the first time this year.


Public Speaking

Focusing on my day job this year left me less time for public speaking at conferences and user groups. I did some virtual presentations. I delivered technical presentations at six virtual user groups (SpartaHack, Tulsa .NET User Group, Cleveland Azure User Group, Cleveland C# User Group, and the Memphis Python User Group) and in person at three user groups (Elastic Chicago User Group, AI Meetup, and TCS Road Show), as well as many presentations specifically for Microsoft partners. Next year, I hope to deliver more in-person presentations.


My Job

This was my first full year on the Global Partner Solutions team at Microsoft. It was a satisfying year during which I led a number of projects and contributed to even more. I am grateful to my current coworkers and managers for their teamwork and collaboration. The culture of this team contrasts starkly with that of my last team. My new managers encourage collaboration and highlight what their team members are doing correctly, in stark contrast to my previous manager.


Volunteering

I volunteered once again to mentor high school students as they create projects for the ISTC STEM Challenge. I have lost count. Is this my fifth or sixth year doing this?


Reading

I continue to read frequently this year, completing 44 books, which is fewer than the last couple of years. You can view my list and my reviews here. My current goal is to read every book awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. So far, I have read 36 of the 104 books granted this award.


Online

My online shows shows are still going strong. I decided an acceptable cadence is once per week for Technology and Friends and once every two weeks for GCast. I kept this up throughout the year. With fewer face-to-face interactions, T&F has almost completely shifted to virtual interviews.  At over 11,000 views, my most watched video of 2023 was Creating a JWT Bearer Token with Azure Active Directory [GCast 139]

I also continued to blog actively, publishing 240 posts in 2023 - an average of one every 1.5 days. I managed to post a new article every day in April, July, and August. I am especially proud of July in August because this is the first time I have published every day in back-to-back months and the first time I have posted every day in a 31-day month.

On social media, I began each morning by sharing something for which I am grateful. It has helped my mental health to start each day with this ritual. I am also in the habit of sharing interesting historical trivia, a song each day, and keeping track of friends' birthdays. You can follow me at the following links:


Personal Stuff

The year was mostly positive. The low point came a few months ago when a long-term relationship ended. It took me a while to accept this, but I am moving forward. I am grateful for the support of friends during this time.


Looking Ahead

My goals for 2024 are to continue to do well at my job, to travel more, and to do more public speaking - particularly in-person.

I will speak at the Michigan Tech Conference in March and at DevSum in Stockholm, Sweden, in June. I am waiting to hear from other conferences if they will accept my proposed presentations.

My team planned an offsite in Seattle in late February 2024 - an event scheduled and canceled in 2022. I am excited to meet my teammates - most of whom I have never seen in person.

I face the upcoming year with renewed optimism. 2023 was a good year overall, but I recognize what it lacked and will take steps to make 2024 even better!


Episode 782

Steve Smith on Clean Architecture [EPISODE 782]

Steve Smith describes Clean Architecture and how to create more maintainable, testable products.

Links:
https://youtu.be/yF9SwL0p0Y0?si=PJ-ziwZAB0FGQWF_
https://github.com/ardalis/CleanArchitecture


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