GCast 177:

Getting Started with NET Aspire

.NET aspire is an opinionated tech stack that by default provides some key services to your distributed cloud applications. These services include telemetry, health checks, and reliability. This video walks through the code and configuration of an ASP.NET Aspire application.

Episode 804

Valerie Gurka on Documentation in Software Engineering

Valerie Gurka describes the value of documenting software, the different types of documentation, and some best practices for writing well-documented code.

The de León family of Junot Diaz's 2007 novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" suffers from a fukú curse that brings violence into their lives. The book primarily focuses on Oscar de León, an overweight and unhappy boy born in New Jersey to Dominican Republic immigrants. His mother, Beli, emotionally abuses Oscar and his sister, Lola.

Through flashbacks, we learn that Beli fled the Dominican Republic after she was nearly killed for having an affair with the husband of the President's sister. We also learn of Beli's father, Abelard, who defied the President Rafael Trujillo by hiding his (other) beautiful daughter from Trujillo's lustful advances. For this crime, Abelard was arrested on false charges and sentenced to eighteen years in prison, while most of his family died mysteriously.

Oscar grows up obsessed with science fiction and fantasy stories and dreams of becoming a writer. His odd hobby, lack of intelligence, and poor appearance make him unpopular with his classmates and with girls. When he moves to the Dominican Republic as a young adult, he befriends a prostitute, but her jealous policeman boyfriend and his goons terrorize, kidnap, and beat Oscar.

Diaz sets the story against the backdrop of the corrupt Trujillo regime, which ruled the Dominican Republic through intimidation and violence for decades.

I enjoyed Diaz's slow reveal of the family history and how the curse affected multiple generations. I enjoyed the characters and the events that triggered their behavior. And I appreciated Oscar's dilemma, as I sometimes felt alone and isolated in my childhood, retreating to a world of comics and science fiction stories.

You may find barriers to reading this book. Because Oscar is obsessed with comics, science fiction, and fantasy, the narration contains numerous references to Lord of the Rings, Dune, Watchmen, and other nerdish works. If you are unfamiliar with these materials, you will miss the metaphors. He also frequently mixes Spanish words and phrases among the mostly English text. Although the reader can often figure out the meaning from the context, I kept a Spanish-English nearby as I read the book. Finally, Diaz inserts frequent footnotes, asking the reader to pause and read more details or background before continuing with the story.

"Wao" won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for its moving story and depiction of Dominican culture. It is not for everyone, but it is worth taking a chance to read.

Steven Millhauser's 1996 novel "Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer" tells the story of a man who grew up poor in nineteenth-century New York City but achieved success through hard work and clever ideas.

Martin Dressler was the son of a cigar maker who, after receiving promotions at the hotel that employed him, decided to open one - then a chain of restaurants. After a few years, he sold the chain and turned his attention to building and managing modern hotels. His ideas resonated with the press and potential tenants, so he continued incorporating new ideas into new hotels. This strategy worked until it did not, leaving a Manhattan building with expensive and creative amenities but a high vacancy rate.

Dressler's meteoric rise in business parallels his difficulties with personal relationships. He befriends a mother and her two daughters - Emmeline and Caroline Vernon. Martin connects with Emmeline but decides to marry the beautiful and withdrawn Caroline. The marriage never succeeds. The couple has nothing in common, and Martin's infidelity, along with Caroline's listlessness, makes it impossible for them to become close.

Millhauser does an excellent job painting a portrait of New York City in the 1890s. It was a period of significant growth for the city, and the fictional Martin contributed to this transformation with his vision.

Martin's final vision of a hotel is so self-contained that one never needs to leave. This vision resonates with Martin, who is self-absorbed but not with the press and the public, who desire a connection with the outside world.

I seldom find a novel as easy to consume as this one. Each chapter flowed into the next with a natural progression, so I finished it in one sitting. Millhauser builds a believable set of characters and an entertaining story of the rise and fall of an American businessman.

"Martin Dressler" is a very good story of ambition and pursuit of the American dream, but it is also a story of hubris and arrogance.

I was on vacation in Europe during the Microsoft Build conference, so I did not watch it live. I returned to work last week and watched the two keynote addresses. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, CVP Scott Guthrie, and others provided information on the current state of Microsoft technologies, as well as a few significant announcements. As expected, Artificial Intelligence (AI) news dominated the keynotes.

Here are the announcements from the keynotes that caught my attention.


Microsoft introduced the GPT-4o Large Language Model and added this to their Azure OpenAI services and in Azure AI Studio.

This model is faster, less expensive, has higher rate limits, and supports more languages than GPT-4.

GitHub Copilot Extensions

I have been using GitHub Copilot (GHCP) extensively to help with coding documentation, writing tests, and other tasks. Microsoft has introduced some useful extensions to help in other areas. GitHub Copilot for Azure is an interesting one that allows you to query cloud resources from within Visual Studio Code. Other interesting extensions include ones for Docker, MongoDB, and Teams.

Soon, developers will be able to create their own extensions to GHCP.

More info

Small Language Models

The Phi-3 family of Small Language Models (SLMs) are faster, cheaper, and smaller (duh) than Large Language Models (LLMs) yet provide much of the same functionality. Phi-3-mini, Phi-3-small, and Phi-3-medium provide SLMs of increasing size depending on your needs. Because of their size, they are perfect for working locally using Edge computing scenarios. In addition, Phi-3-vision is a small model that includes image recognition and generation in addition to its language capabilities.

Azure OpenAI Studio is in General Availability

This is portal that allows you to build AI solutions, such as chatbots without quickly using a graphical interface. After months in preview, this service is now generally available.

CosmosDB Vector database capabilities

Azure Search uses the features of a vector database to perform semantic search queries. To access data in a CosmosDB database, we currently need to synchronize that data with a Vector database. Adding native Vector capabilities to CosmosDB for NoSQL eliminates the need for this synchronization, reducing latency and complexity. This feature is currently in preview.
More info

Improvements to Microsoft Dev Box

Microsoft Dev Box provides a cloud-based workstation to develop code.

Users and administrators will be able to customize DevBox for use by themselves and/or their team members, including tools and libraries required by the projects on which they are working. Admins will also be able to set up hibernation scale to save costs when a dev box is not in use.

More info

Partner Stories

The keynote included many stories and case studies from partners, but the most interesting one came from Khan Academy, which is using Azure AI tools to build Khanmigo, a service that provides AI services to teachers. They plan to provide Khanmigo free to all K-12 educators.


There were many more announcements - too many to list here. The Microsoft Build Book of News provides more announcements, as well as more details on the above announcements.

Episode 803

Scott Hermes on Microsoft Fabric

Microsoft Fabric is an end-to-end analytics and data platform designed for enterprises that require a unified solution Scott Hermes of Kin+Carta describes the tool set and how you can manage your data.


May 2024 Gratitudes

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Today I am grateful to clean and organize a closet yesterday

Today I am grateful to see an exciting soccer match between Mexico and Bolivia last night at Soldier Field.

Today I am grateful to attend two AI meetups run by partners yesterday.

Today I am grateful for a new pair of gym shoes.

Today I am grateful to return to a personal trainer yesterday for the first time in months.

Today I am grateful for so many days off in May.

Today I am grateful to visit Marline yesterday.

Today I am grateful to do a lot of writing yesterday

Today I am grateful for my first bike ride in weeks.

Today I am grateful:
- for an amazing trip to Sweden, Finland, and Estonia
- to arrive safely home last night

Today I am grateful for:
- my first visit to Estonia
- a guided tour of Tallinn

Today I am grateful for:
- a guided walking tour of Helsinki
- a visit to the Helsinki City Museum

Today I am grateful for:
- my first visit to Finland
- a walk around downtown Helsinki last night

Today I am grateful:
- for an amazing week in Stockholm
- for my first time on a cruise ship
- to arrive safely in Helsinki

Today I am grateful to see Taylor Swift in concert last night with Lino and Jessica.

Today I am grateful for:
- a cruise around the Stockholm Archipelago last night.
- a tour of the Vasa Museum
- a visit to the Nordic Museum

Today I am grateful to deliver 2 presentations at #DevSum

Today I am grateful for dinner and drinks last night in Stockholm with many old friends

Today I am grateful to arrive safely in Stockholm.

Today I am grateful for 800 episodes of #TechnologyAndFriends!

Today I am grateful to see the musical "Death Becomes Her" last night.

Today I am grateful for all my mother did for me during her life.

Today I am grateful for Copilot training yesterday.

Today I am grateful to participate in Insight's Build + Modernize AI Apps Roadshow yesterday.

Today I am grateful for breakfast with Avin this morning.

Today I am grateful
- to the organizers of LambdaConf for an excellent event
- for a few days in Colorado

Today I am grateful to speak at LambdaConf for the first time.

Today I am grateful:
- for my first visit to Estes Park, CO
- to cook s'mores and sip beer at a fire pit last night

N. Scott Momaday was a Native American author who wrote about Native Americans. His 1969 novel "House Made of Dawn" tells the story of Abel, a young man who grew up on a New Mexico reservation. Abel returns from the war to resume his life on the reservation but goes to prison after killing a man that he suspects of witchcraft. Upon Abel's release, he tries and fails to assimilate into white America.

The story jumps around in perspective and time, sometimes making it difficult to follow. But Momaday brings things together eventually.

Momaday is primarily known as a poet, which explains the beauty of his prose throughout this book. The following passage describes Abel's impression of the desert landscape:

"The clouds were always there, huge, sharply described, and shining in the pure air. But the great feature of the valley was its size. It was almost too great for the eye to hold, strangely beautiful and full of distance. Such vastness makes for illusion, a kind of illusion that comprehends reality, and where it exists there is always wonder and exhilaration. He looked at the facets of a boulder that lay balanced on the edge of the land, and the first thing beyond, the vague misty field out of which it stood, was the floor of the valley itself, pale and blue-green, miles away. He shifted the focus of his gaze, and he could just make out the clusters of dots that were cattle grazing along the river in the faraway plain."

"Dawn" was written when few mainstream novels were by or about Native Americans. It shed light on the alienation suffered by Indians in this country and broke down barriers for other native writers. Its Pulitzer Prize opened the door for other Indian writers to follow.

It portrays the struggle of a man trying to reconcile the two worlds in which he lives, fitting into neither. It describes the effects of PTSD. It highlights those struggling with mental health issues and how they cope. And it is a tale of self-destruction.

GCast 176:

Using Azure AI Document Intelligence Studio

Learn how to use the Document Intelligence Studio (formerly the Forms Recognizer) to build a model that can analyze the layout of a form and pull information for new forms provided to it.

Episode 802

Raj Krishnan on the Challenges of Artificial Intelligence

Raj Krishnan talks about what you should consider before deploying an AI solution.

It has been years since I traveled to an overseas conference, so I was delighted to accept an invitation to speak at the DevSum conference in Stockholm, Sweden.

I left on Tuesday and arrived in Stockholm on Wednesday. I made the mistake of waiting until I landed before checking locations, and I could not find information on the conference hotel in my emails. "No problem," I thought. "I will go to the conference center and ask. Someone from the conference is bound to have this information." Sadly, when I arrived at the conference center, I only found people behind closed doors attending and teaching day-long workshops. Fortunately, I contacted my friend Tibi, who told me the hotel was five miles away.

The day before a conference is always special. Speakers arrive and greet one another with affection, like a family reunion. This one was even more special as I saw many old friends I had not seen since before the pandemic. After talking in the hotel lobby, some of us walked to a restaurant for a tasty hamburger.

The conference opened Thursday morning with a keynote by Royal Institute of Technology Professor Danica Kragic, who talked about her research on robotics and artificial intelligence. I attended interesting sessions about complex user interfaces (Dean Schuster) and about scaling .NET applications (Callum Whyte) before heading to the speaker room for the afternoon, where I prepared for my presentations and recorded interviews for Technology and Friends.

A Thursday evening attendee party provided the opportunity to talk with many others. One topic that came up was Taylor Swift, who was performing for three nights this week in Stockholm. After discussing the concerts and checking ticket availability, some of us decided to attend the Saturday night show. I bought three tickets - for myself and my friends Lino and Jessica. It took too long to retrieve my purchased tickets from the Swedish Ticketmaster site, but I eventually succeeded.

On Friday, I delivered two presentations: "Effective Data Visualization" in the morning and "Navigating Cloudy Horizons with Azure Monitor and Application Insights" in the afternoon. I have given the Data Visualization talk many times, but this was only the second time I gave the Application Insights talk, which added stress. Both went well, and the audience seemed to enjoy them. The biggest challenge was restricting my content to 50 minutes, as these talks typically take an hour or more.

I attended two other Friday sessions: Steve Sanderson's keynote on "The beginning, present, and future of web tech" and "Refactor your code to use modern C# language features" by Rachel Appel.

After the conference, the organizers invited the speakers for dinner on a boat that traveled around the islands surrounding Stockholm. Going to a bar after the ship docked was fun, but I ran out of gas before others in my party. Walking back to the hotel, I was approached by prostitutes three times. I politely declined.

Saturday morning, the conference organizers continued to spoil the speakers by inviting us to lunch and to visit the Vasa Museum, a well-preserved ship that sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. This was my second visit to Vasa, but I had forgotten much of the history in the nine years since my last visit.

Saturday evening, we attended the Taylor Swift conference. She entertained us for three and a half hours, and I was a Swiftie by the night's end.

I panicked when I realized my hotel reservation ended on Saturday, but I planned to stay until Sunday. The large number of people visiting for the Taylor Swift conference drove up the price of a hotel room above $800 - well out of my price range. Luckily, David Whitney (who I just met earlier in the week) planned to go home Saturday and had a room reserved until Sunday. He was kind enough to allow me to stay in his room after he left town, saving me a lot of money.

When traveling for an overseas conference, I almost always extend my trip with a vacation before or after. Because this was my fourth visit to Stockholm, I decided to explore some other countries. I booked a cruise ship cabin for an overnight voyage to Helsinki, Finland. This was my first time on a cruise ship, which was a pleasant experience. I sipped a beer on the top deck and watched the islands roll past as I enjoyed a leisurely dinner in the dining room. We made a brief stop in Mariehamn, the capital of Aland, a group of Finnish Islands between Sweden and Finland, before continuing toward Helsinki.

Fourteen hours after departure, we arrived in Helsinki, where I was able to check into my hotel early. The last few days drained me, so I slept for a few hours before an evening walk around the city.

Monday morning, I reserved a guided walking tour of the city. The guide was entertaining and informative. Here are a few things I learned from him.

  • Finland has more forested land and more lakes than any country in Europe
  • Finland was part of the Swedish Empire for 16 years
  • Finland is a republic. It has a Prime Minister, a Parliament, and a President
  • Education is free in Finland
  • Saunas were invented in Finland. The word "sauna" is a Finnish word
  • Helsinki is the second northernmost national capital in the world (Reykjavík)
  • Speeding fines are based on the income of the speeder
  • For seven consecutive years, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world. It has a very low crime rate and no homeless people.
  • Fins drink the most coffee per capita of any country
  • Finland was initially settled by people who emigrated from central Asia. Because they lived in isolation in the Finland forests for centuries, the Finnish language is much more similar to the languages of central Asia than to the Germanic and Slavic languages of the surrounding countries.

After the tour, I had lunch with a Georgetown professor I met on the tour. She is teaching in Europe for a few months and traveling around to speak at European universities about her latest book. We connected on social media, and I hope to continue our conversation.

I closed the day with a visit to the Helsinki City Museum in the city's oldest building, before trying Finland's famous salmon soup at a harborside restaurant.

I rode a ferry to nearby Tallinn, Estonia Wednesday morning and hired another guided tour of that city. The tour was good, but the guide was not at the level of my Helsinki guide. It was fun to share the tour with a group of elderly ladies from Maryland and Virginia who were traveling together. Here are some things I learned about Estonia on this tour:

  • Skype was invented in Estonia. The creators later sold the technology to a Swedish company
  • A fortress was built around Tallinn by a Danish king in the fourteenth century
  • The Estonia Parliament building was built in the eighteenth century on a castle, so it looks very different in the front and back
  • The Tallinn Old Town consists of an upper town (where the wealthy live) and a lower town (where the working class resides)
  • Tallinn boasts the first Christmas tree in Europe
  • The world's oldest pharmacy is in Tallinn.

It took about 15 hours to fly home (via Frankfurt), leaving me exhausted and ready to pass out when my head hit the pillow of my bed.

The trip was fantastic. I visited Finland and Estonia for the first time; I reconnected with old friends and made some new friends; I attended an excellent conference where the organizers treated us like royalty; I had my first cruise ship experience; I learned some new things; And I had fun!


TaylorSwift2024-1Taylor Swift has released eleven studio albums over the past eighteen years and now stands as one of the world's biggest stars - musical or otherwise. Her recent tour of America sold out in minutes, and prices on the secondary market were so high that many Americans opted to fly to Sweden to see her perform, as the cost of the Swedish concert, airfare, and a hotel stay was reportedly still lower than the concert ticket in many US cities.

I happened to be in Stockholm at the time of the tour, so my friends and I braved a plethora of teenage girls to see the iconic Taylor Swift in concert Saturday evening at Stockholm's Friends Arena.

Swift wanted to showcase music from throughout her career by playing a set from each of ten different albums. She referred to each set as an era, inspiring her to name this "The Eras Tour." Sometimes, she combined 2-3 songs into a medley to squeeze in an impressive forty-five tunes.

Taylor is a solid songwriter, dancer, and singer. However, her combination of these talents makes her an outstanding performer. The show featured numerous costume changes, which she was able to complete during a short video or dance number. The singer entered the stage by stepping through a secret door in the video screen or by rising up from below or by appearing out of the darkness.

TaylorSwift2024-2The choreography was impressive, often integrating with the lyrics of a song. Swift showed remarkable stamina dancing for the nearly three-and-a-half-hour concert. The show itself was a major spectacle. In addition to moving elements of the stage, large video boards, a light show, and fireworks, each attendee was given a wristband containing a light. These bands lit up during the performance, forming shapes and patterns that often moved across the arena in time to the music and stage happenings.

One of Taylor Swift's talents is making her audience feel she cares about them. On this night, she made a point to engage each section of the 60,000+ seat arena. When extended applause followed one song, Taylor removed her earphones and smiled silently for a few minutes, as if choked up that the crowd expressed their appreciation so strongly. The crowd went wild when she spoke to them in Swedish.

I was impressed by Ms. Swift and her ability to entertain. I was not a Swiftie before seeing her live, but I am now.

Episode 801

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.

Ten years after the publication of "Rabbit Redux," John Updike returned to his most famous character, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, in the 1981 novel "Rabbit is Rich."

Middle-aged Harry has inherited his father-in-law's car dealership and is financially stable, but he remains unsatisfied with life. He meets a  young woman and wonders if she is the daughter of him and Ruth, his lover from 20 years ago in "Rabbit Run." His son Nelson disappoints him, and the two battle one another over Nelson's unwillingness to accept responsibility and his resentment of his father.

This book takes place against the backdrop of the energy crisis, high inflation, and the Iran hostage crisis of the late 1970s.

Everyman Harry Angstrom is not unhappy but seeks what is missing in his life. Unlike the first two novels in the series, this one does not end in tragedy. Harry and his family have a glimmer of hope as they move forward.

Updike does an excellent job of portraying Harry as a man with simple motivations who is confused about what will make him happy. Harry's closest friend is Charlie, who had an affair with Harry's wife a decade ago, as detailed in "Redux." Harry holds no grudge about the affair and envies Charlie's freedom. As in the previous two novels, Harry's libido often comes to the fore - in particular, as he has a chance to swap partners with a neighbor whose wife he has lusted over. The sex scenes are even more explicit and frequent than in "Run" and "Redux," but they help to establish Harry's character.

The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the National Book Award for Fiction, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction - primarily due to its emphasis on the characters. It is full of humor and angst.

Death Becomes Her Cast 2024Long ago, I giggled at "Death Becomes Her." Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, Bruce Willis, and Isabella Rossellini starred in Robert Zemeckis's 1992 dark comic film, which told of a potion that granted eternal youth and two women who drank it and got what they deserved. To refresh my memory, I watched the movie again this week.

Decades after the movie's release, a musical adaptation debuted at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre.

As in the film version, frumpy Helen Sharp (Jennifer Simar) introduces her fiancé, Dr. Ernest Menville (Christopher Sieber), to fading movie and theater star Madeline Ashton (Megan Hilty). Madeline steals away Ernest and marries him herself. Ten years later, Madeline's beauty and career have faded, the marriage is on the rocks, Ernest has abandoned his humanitarian career to perform nose jobs for celebrities, and Helen is institutionalized thanks to the stress of losing her love to her best friend.

Enter Viola Van Horn, played by Michelle Williams, formerly of Destiny's Child. Viola has a magic potion that grants youth and eternal life to all who drink it.

Great acting, singing, music, and dancing would have been enough. But this musical brought much more. Marco Pennette's script deviated slightly from the film but kept the black humor. The music and lyrics of Julia Mattison and Noel Carey combined catchy melodies with clever lyrics. Hilty and Simard are brilliant as friends/rivals/frenemies seeking beauty and immortality. Sieber was the perfect awkward everyman caught in the middle. Williams gives a chilling performance as the pusher of the magical potion.

The direction and choreography of Christopher Gattelli took this show to another level. I do not recall seeing so many changes in a show before. Sometimes, the costumes seemed to transform magically. Even the special effects were a step above most productions. Madeline's fall down the stairs is dramatic because it is done in slow motion. And a shotgun to the belly leaves a large hole complete with smoke on the edges.

"Death Becomes Her" is a Faustian morality play that inevitably ends in tragedy. It is also a fun ride!

GCast 175:

Getting Started with Azure OpenAI and Azure OpenAI Studio

Learn how to create an Azure OpenAI Service and use Azure OpenAI Studio to deploy and test models in that service.

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

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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+

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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.


March 2024 Gratitudes

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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

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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.

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