Episode 800

A Celebration of Friends!

Episode 800, featuring guests from the last 100 interviews!

John Kotter believes in teaching through fables. His 2006 book "Our Iceberg is Melting" tells the story of a group of Antarctic penguins facing the crisis of the impending destruction of their iceberg home. A young penguin named Fred discovered large cracks below the water's surface and warned the leaders that water would seep into these cracks and freeze in winter, tearing the iceberg asunder. When he raised an alarm, many of his flock ignored him or minimized the risks he presented. Some resisted any action that would result in changing their habits.

Eventually, the others accepted Fred's warnings and began to take action. It did not happen accidentally. Fred convinced some of his neighbors of the dangers and got them to act. Eventually, the colony searched for, found, and moved to a new, safer home.

This fable serves as a metaphor for organizations facing the need to make changes to address risk. After telling the fable, Kotter spends a few pages summarizing the lessons learned by the penguins.

Kotter recommends the following:

  • Recognize the urgency of the situation
  • Organize a team to deal with the situation
  • Develop a strategy
  • Communicate. Get others to buy in
  • Empower others to act
  • Create short-term goals and successes
  • Create a new culture

The fable helps the reader remember Kotter's advice about dealing with change. He simplifies the story to make it easier to remember.

This book may have a political message since global warming initiated the iceberg crisis, which many in Fred's colony denied - a problem that scientists confront today with climate deniers. However, the primary message is a lesson on how to deal with any crisis.

Francis Phelan was not always a bum. As a young man, he was an excellent athlete who played professional baseball for the Washington Senators. He lost some fingers in a knife fight, which cost him his baseball career. And when his infant son Gerald died after Francis accidentally dropped him, Francis ran away to live on the streets.

William Kennedy's 1983 novel "Ironweed" picks up Phelan in middle age when he returns to his hometown of Albany. He drinks, sleeps in alleys and fields, comforts his sick sometimes-girlfriend Helen, and tries to find what little work is available during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The ghosts of people who have died in his life continue to haunt Francis. Francis is responsible for some of the deaths.

Kennedy's novel explores poverty and mental health issues that often accompany homelessness. Phelan's fall is a tragic one, but not an isolated story.

The narrative is often nonlinear, with the author switching between the present and the memories of Francis and other characters. Phelan's visions of dead people sometimes make distinguishing between reality and fantasy difficult.

But Kennedy's writing makes the effort worthwhile.

Others have forgiven Francis for his sins, but Francis struggles to forgive himself.

Episode 799

Chris Nicholas on Enterprise Acceleration of AI

Chris Nicholas talks about how enterprises can use the power of AI to build useful solutions, what are examples of good use cases, and

April 2024 Gratitudes

Comments [0]

Today I am grateful to Joe for driving me from Denver to Estes Park this morning.

Today I am grateful for dinner last night with my new pickleball friends

Today I am grateful:
- to catch up with Kevin yesterday while he was in Chicago
- to the organizers of #VSLive for an excellent conference this week.

Today I am grateful to hang out with the VSLive speakers yesterday afternoon

Today I am grateful:
- to attend VSLive yesterday and deliver two presentations
- for drinks last night on the Chicago River with Alvin and Sam.

Today I am grateful for:
- a Mix & Mingle with VS Live speakers and attendees last night
- taking Tim for his first visit to the Billy Goat Tavern

Today I am grateful to put the cushions back on my deck chairs this weekend.

Today I am grateful for lunch yesterday with Amanda and Megan

Today I am grateful to play pickleball with strangers yesterday.

Today I am grateful for a fresh haircut.

Today I am grateful that I have been able to keep up the practice of posting a daily gratitude for 11 years.

Today I am grateful to recycle the electronics that have been sitting next to my front door for weeks.

Today I am grateful for lunch with Tobias yesterday

Today I am grateful for a new CPAP Mini that will be easier to pack when I travel.

Today I am grateful to receive replacement parts and repair my broken iRobot Roomba.

Today I am grateful to attend and present at the Global Azure event yesterday.

Today I am grateful for dinner last night with Jay.

Today I am grateful to go out with the Chicago Java User Group organizers after last night's meetup.

Today I am grateful:
- to attend the annual STEM Challenge Showcase yesterday
- to deliver a presentation on Responsible AI at AI Camp last night

Today I am grateful for a long conversation with John for the first time in a long time.

Today I am grateful to spend the weekend in Michigan with my family, including my brother visiting from Australia.

Today I am grateful to attend an extra-innings baseball game yesterday at Comerica Park.

Today I am grateful for dinner last night in St. Clair Shores with Dan and Debbie

Today I am grateful for another year mentoring Chicago high school students on their science projects.

Today I am grateful to book my travel next month to Colorado, Sweden, Finland, and Estonia

Today I am grateful to complete and file my taxes.

Today I am grateful to view a partial solar eclipse yesterday

Today I am grateful for two pickleball games this weekend.

Emily Bronte's classic novel "Wuthering Heights" is a tale of misfortune, anger, revenge, and despair.

Mr. Ernshaw owned Wuthering Heights - an estate on the moors of northern England. He returned from a trip to Liverpool with the young orphan Heathcliff, which disrupted life at home. Ernshaw's daughter Katherine befriended Heathcliff, so she and her father were able to protect the foundling from the cruelty of her brother Hindley, who was jealous of further sharing his father's affections. But things grew much worse after Ernshaw died. Hindley took over the estate and began making life miserable for Heathcliff. By this time, teenage Katherine and Heathcliff had fallen in love, but she could no longer protect him alone. Heathcliff felt utterly abandoned when Katherine became engaged to the wealthy, arrogant Edgar Linton. Disappointed and angry, Heathcliff escaped to earn his fortune; he returned years later, seeking revenge on those who wronged him.

Bronte's book resonates because of the characters she created. She published her novel in 1847, and the story takes place in the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries, but it is relevant today. Many of us behave irrationally when confronted with overwhelming tragedy - sometimes hurting ourselves in our efforts to harm others.

"Wuthering Heights" is a complex story - a dysfunctional love story with significant character flaws among the major players. Heathcliff is the most tragic character. He is bitter about the abuse he suffered in his youth. As an adult, he responds by abusing all around him - not just those who caused him pain. He lost his soulmate twice - first to another man, then to death. In his bitter agony, he begs Katherine's ghost to shun Heaven and haunt him forever. The visions he sees may be her spirit or the delusions of a tormented mind.

If the book has a weakness, it is Bronte's use of a narrator within a narrator - a common practice in Gothic fiction. Heathcliff's tenant begins telling the story and then relates the history of the family tragedy as told to him by the housekeeper, Nellie. The tenant adds little to this story. A narration exclusively by Nelly would be more straightforward.

But this is a minor complaint overshadowed by an epic story that reveals the souls of a set of complex characters.

GCast 174:

Using M365 Copilot with Microsoft Teams

Learn how to use M365 Copilot to quickly get information about a Microsoft Teams meeting.

Episode 798

John Burns on Platform Engineering

DevOps solves a lot of problems, but it requires a lot of work. John Burns describes Platform Engineering, which is built on top of DevOps practices and increase developer productivity. Platform Engineering assists with common tasks and patterns and simplifies operations.



How does one respond when one loses almost everything as a child?

Danny was an infant, and Maeve was five when their mother, Elna, left. Their father, Cyril, fired their nanny when she accidentally hit Danny with a spoon. When Cyril died intestate years later, his second wife Andrea claimed their home - a suburban Philadelphia Mansion known as "The Dutch House" - and drove away her two stepchildren.

Ann Patchett's 2019 novel "The Dutch House" tells their story, as narrated by Danny.

Maeve was diabetic, but she was an adult and strong enough to raise Danny, protecting her younger brother. The two became inseparable throughout their lives - spiritually, if not always physically. Stripped of their home, their only inheritance was an educational trust fund to be shared by Danny and Andrea's two children. Danny and Maeve sought revenge by spending all the trust on Danny's education. He enrolled in the most expensive prep school, college, and medical school despite having no intention of ever practicing medicine.

Although it exists in the background, The Dutch House remains a significant character in this story. The house looms in their memory, representing everything the children lost. For years, Danny and Maeve drive out of their way to see and sit in front of their childhood home.

Patchett brings us into Danny's head but also allows us a peek into the lives of Maeve, Celeste, Andrea, and Elna. Elna ran from her family to serve the poor because she could not accept her husband's sudden wealth and his desire to live in an opulent mansion. The selfishness of abandoning her children is balanced by her desire to help the underprivileged.

"The Dutch House" is a modern fairy tale, complete with a wicked stepmother. Like many fairy tales, there are logical gaps (Why did a savvy businessman like Cyril never draw up a will?), but the character development more than makes up for these flaws.

The story is about loss and guilt and forgiveness. But it is mostly about letting go of the past.

John Updike introduced the world to Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom in his 1960 novel "Rabbit, Run."

The character resonated enough with Updike and his readers that he decided to revisit Harry eleven years later with "Rabbit Redux."

At 36, Harry finds himself without direction. He feels little connection with his son Nelson; he finds it difficult to relate to his dying mother; his marriage lacks passion; his dead-end job provides no satisfaction; and the tumultuous events of the late 1960s anger and confuse conservative Harry. Why must young people protest the war in Vietnam? Don't they realize how necessary it is?

His wife Janice's affair fails to move him, prompting her to move in with her lover.

Not long after Janice's departure, two people move in with Harry and Nelson: radical Black drug dealer Skeeter and 18-year-old runaway Jill.

Like its predecessor, "Rabbit Redux" takes us on a crisis-filled time in the life of everyman Rabbit. As in "Run," "Redux" ends with an inevitable tragedy. And, like the earlier book, this one draws the reader into the immediacy of events by telling its story entirely in the present tense.

"Redux" earned Updike his first of two Pulitzer Prizes. The novel's power comes from the author's ability to make the reader sympathize with an inherently unlikeable character. Rabbit's poor decisions and character flaws lead to his downfall. He is morally ambiguous - a middle-aged man taking drugs from Skeeter and sex from Jull as an escape from his mundane life.

Yet we still feel for him and for those around him.

Episode 797

Scott Kramer and Randy Dojutrek on The impact of AI on Tech Jobs

Scott Kramer and Randy Dojutrek discuss how the recent hype around Artificial Intelligence will affect the industry. The discuss the issues when deciding to use AI and how it may affect your job.

Allen Drury's 1959 novel "Advise and Consent" begins with the US President announcing Robert Leffingwell as his candidate for Secretary of State. The candidacy requires the approval of the US Senate. This consent seems likely given that Leffingwell enjoys strong support from the Press and the American people.

South Carolina Senator Seab Cooley vigorously opposes the nomination, but one can easily discount his arguments due to his longstanding personal grievance against Leffingwell.

The hearings become dramatic when a former student accuses Leffingwell of active involvement in a Communist organization years earlier. The candidate denies the accusation. Things turn nasty as each side resorts to blackmail to achieve their ends.

Drury does an excellent job building the suspense in this political drama. When we think one side has the edge, the opposition surprises us with an unethical move that threatens to affect the outcome. Those who practice these questionable strategies rationalize their actions. They do not care that they are destroying lives - both metaphorically and literally - because they believe that the end goal justifies any actions.

Drury builds a cast of compelling characters who battle with one another. Most are not evil, but all are ambitious, and the collateral damage caused by their actions is often devastating. The reader identifies in some way with almost all of them. The story's heroes are heroic because they resist this temptation toward demagoguery that has seduced their colleagues.

Members of the Press are less well-defined. The author never identifies them by name but only by their paper, network, or service. They serve to provide commentary on public opinion toward the nominee.

The controversy of "A+C" revolves around Leffingwell's past association with Communist - a threat that loomed large in the public's consciousness and Congress's agenda during the Cold War. Today, we tend to dismiss this threat - primarily due to the overzealous activities of discredited Senator Joseph McCarthy. However, we still deal with candidates who lie under oath and politicians willing to ruin their opponents to achieve their goals. These current issues make this novel relevant today. That might be why "Advise and Consent" was revived after being out of print for over a decade.

Drury, a former UPI reporter who covered the Senate, was a staunch anti-Communist. The fact that he grossly overestimated the threat posed by American Communists should not diminish the value of this novel. It effectively and engagingly shows the dark side of politics.

GCast 173:

Creating an AI Solution with Copilot Studio

Copilot Studio is a low code solution to create AI applications. Lean how to use Copilot Studio to create an AI-powered chatbot that can retrieve information from your websites and documents, implement complex workflows, and understand human languages, such as English - all without writing code.

This is a busy week locally, followed by some travel in May

Date Topic Event Location
Apr 16, 2024 Responsible AI AI Camp Chicago, IL
Apr 17, 2024 Blood, Sweat, and Code Reviews Pittsburgh .NET User Group Online
Apr 19, 2024 Generative AI Tools in Microsoft Azure Global Azure Chicago, IL
Apr 30, 2024 Navigating Cloudy Horizons with Azure Monitor and Application Insights VSLive Chicago, IL
Apr 30, 2024 Effective Data Visualization VSLive Chicago, IL
May 6, 2024 ChatGPT Unleashed LambdaConf Estes Park, CO
May 17, 2024 Navigating Cloudy Horizons with Azure Monitor and Application Insights DevSum Stockholm, Sweden
Aug 2, 2024 You and Your Technical Community Beer City Code Grand Rapids, MI
Aug 2, 2024 Blood, Sweat, and Code Reviews Beer City Code Grand Rapids, Mi
Aug 14, 2024 Generative AI Tools in Microsoft Azure Azure Cleveland User Group Online

Episode 796

John Petersen on How Scrum was Stolen

Although Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland are often credited with inventing the Scrum agile methodology in the 1990s, John Petersen presents evidence that the ideas originated years earlier in the works of Hirotaka Takeuchi, Ikujiro Nonaka, and others.

Hillel Wayne on TLA+

Comments [0]

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.


March 2024 Gratitudes

Comments [0]

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

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

Today I am grateful for monster movies.

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

Today I am grateful to repair my bike tire yesterday

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

Today I am grateful for the resurrection of Jesus Christ

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

Today I am grateful for a call from Suzanne yesterday.

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

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

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

Today I am grateful for my new iPhone.

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

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

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

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

Today I am grateful to attend AICamp last night

Today I am grateful for the start of spring.

Today I am grateful for 26 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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.


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.


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



February 2023 Gratitudes

Comments [0]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today I am grateful to see Al Franken perform last night

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

Today I am grateful to talk with Glenn today.

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.

Today I am grateful for a fresh haircut.

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

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

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

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

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

Today I am grateful for good doctors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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
    "has" selector
    logical properties


January 2023 Gratitudes

Comments [0]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today I am grateful for lunch with Tobias yesterday.

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

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

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

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

Today I am grateful for dinner last night with Kendall

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

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

Today I am grateful for a good kitchen

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

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

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

Today I am grateful for 15 years of #TechnologyAndFriends

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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.


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.

<< Older Posts