Episode 778

Nic Jackson on Hashicorp Vault

Nic Jackson discusses Hashicorp Vault - a tool that helps you store and manage application secrets. He talks about how the tool works, in what situations it is most valuable, and how to use it.

November 2023 Gratitudes

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Today I am grateful to see an exciting overtime hockey game last night - my first home Pittsburgh Penguins game.

Today I am grateful for dinner and ping pong last night with Randy and Pam.

Today I am grateful to attend a Spartan victory last night as the women's basketball team won at DePaul.

Today I am grateful to the students who told me that my explanations helped them better understand some concepts.

Today I am grateful to kick off and help coach a GitHub DevOps workshop with a partner this week.

Today I am grateful for the friends in my life.

Today I am grateful to catch up on editing videos last night.

Today I am grateful to spend a few days in Michigan with family and friends.

Today I am grateful to spend yesterday with John and Kim.

Today I am grateful to spend Thanksgiving with my family yesterday and to my niece Katie for hosting us all.

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

Today I am grateful to arrive safely in Michigan late last night.

Today I am grateful to learn a lot of new things about GitHub this past week.

Today I am grateful to see the world premiere of Boop! The Musical last night.

Today I am grateful to experience the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival last night.

Today I am grateful for a drink with Suzanne last night.

Today I am grateful to attend AI Camp AI, ML, and Data Meetup last night.

Today I am grateful to watch the Ignite keynotes virtually.

Today I am grateful to see two exciting basketball games at the Champions Classic last night.

Today I am grateful for new winter gloves.

Today I am grateful that repairs are finally complete in my building's garage, so I no longer need to park two blocks away.

Today I am grateful for dinner and a basketball game in Kalamazoo, MI with John and Kim yesterday.

Today I am grateful:
- for coffee with Glenn yesterday morning
- to see My Morning Jacket in concert last night

Today I am grateful to hang out with Tommy all week

Today I am grateful to attend networking events after the conference yesterday.

Today I am grateful to attend KubeCon for the first time.

Today I am grateful:
- to be on a Tech Community Panel at the Veeam workshop yesterday
- to speak on Azure integration and API tools at Elastic's meetup last night

Today I am grateful for dinner with Cassandra and her co-workers last night.

David and Henry 2023Henry Winkler came to the attention of the world (and to me) when he starred as Fonzie on the hit TV show "Happy Days." Fonzie was an iconic character - a man so cool he could start a jukebox by tapping it in the right place or snap his fingers to attract beautiful women or silence a crowd with a single word.

But that character was not Henry Winkler. By his own admission, Winkler grew up the opposite of cool. He wanted desperately to be accepted by the popular kids at school. He wanted the approval of his parents, but his undiagnosed dyslexia led to low grades, which led to his parents' disdain. His German parents called him "dummer Hund," which translates to "dumb dog."

"Being Henry: The Fonz... and Beyond" is an honest story about an actor's rise to success and his challenges along the way.

Growing up, Winkler lacked self-confidence in everything except acting. He was so enthusiastic about performing that he managed to qualify for Yale drama school despite his reading issues. In his audition, he improvised much of the Shakespearean dialogue he was supposed to deliver.

After struggling for a few years following graduation, he won the role of Fonzie. Audiences loved the lovable tough guy character so much that the producers restructured the show, shifting the focus from Ron Howard's Richie Cunningham to Winkler's Fonzie, which discouraged Ron Howard. Despite this, Howard and Winkler remained close friends, and Winkler had nothing but praise for Howard in his book.

"Happy Days" ran for eleven seasons, was a top-20 rated show for eight of those seasons, and spawned multiple spin-offs, including the successful "Laverne and Shirley" and "Mork and Mindy."

When the show ended, Winkler struggled to maintain his acting career without being stereotyped as a cool greaser. He worked steadily for decades before beginning an association with Adam Sandler and appearing in a handful of Sandler's successful comedies. The two met when Winkler called Sandler after hearing his name mentioned in Sandler's Saturday Night Live performance of "The Chanukah Song." The two remained friends afterward.

Winkler's career continued to climb when Bill Hader cast him as acting teacher Gene Cousineau in his dark comedy series "Barry." This role earned Henry his first Primetime Emmy Award.

Henry Winkler has experienced success, marginal success, and mega-success throughout his five decades of acting. But not everything came easy. His dyslexia hindered much of his career, and he found relationships difficult - in large part due to the lack of support and love from his parents. Years of therapy and a strong support group helped this.

I saw and met Henry on his recent book tour, where his "Barry" co-start D'Arcy Carden, interviewed him. D'Arcy had kind things to say about him, and Henry's smile and responses reinforced his reputation as one of Hollywood's good guys.

What impresses me about Henry Winkler's life is that he was able to be successful without being spoiled by the Hollywood lifestyle. By all accounts, he remains grounded and loyal to his friends. His kindness came across in his writing. "Being Henry" tells the actor's story with honesty, vulnerability, and gratitude. So many of his anecdotes are about people who helped him along the way. Every few chapters, his wife Stacey chimes in to relate a story of their life together in her own words.

Henry is in a good place now. He is approaching 80, his career is at its strongest since his Fonzie years, he has a good family and good friends, and he has learned to accept the things in his life that held him back. Watching "Happy Days" was a part of my life as a boy, and I am happy to see Mr. Winkler remain successful. He attributes his success to talent, work, and luck. We should all be so lucky.

GCast 163:

Getting Started with GitHub [GCast 163]

Learn how to create, manage, and delete a GitHub repository

Episode 777

Ashton and Ryan Clark on TicketFalcon

Ryan and Ashton Clark talk about their online ticketing business, including the history of the business and the technical issues they needed to tackle to make it successful.


"Prequel" by Rachel Maddow

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Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany in the 1930s changed the course of European history. But Hitler and his Nazi Party inspired many Americans as well. These American groups nearly succeeded in their efforts to support the Nazi cause and prevent America from helping to defeat the Third Reich's efforts to take over the world.

Rachel Maddow's "Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism" explores the rise of Naziism in the United States before and during World War II. Many people contributed to this movement with a range of motivations. Some opposed American involvement in any foreign war; others advocated fascism as a superior form of government over democracy; and many embraced Hitler's Great Lie that a secret cadre of international Jews controlled the world's economy and politics.

The significant actors included politicians, businessmen, and preachers. Organizations like the Silver Shirts and the Christian Front actively advocated and trained for the violent overthrow of the United States government. Congressmen used their franking privilege to mass mail Nazi propaganda to US citizens at taxpayer expense. Others incorporated Nazi messaging into their speeches.

Most of the players were unknown to me, but too many wielded enormous power. Some congressmen and journalists pushed for the United States to join the war on the side of the Nazis. Industrialist Henry Ford was so enthusiastic in his hatred of Jews that Adolf Hitler came to admire him. Hitler quoted Ford in his book "Mein Kampf" and even hung a portrait of Ford in his office. Aviator Charles Lindbergh delivered many public speeches in favor of Hitler's government.

The racist message of these far-right groups came close to succeeding. Many American citizens and authorities viewed Communism as a more significant threat than fascism, and these hate groups pushed the narrative that most Jews were Communists. The American Fascist movement failed because of the people who dared to stand up to them. Sadly, very few of the conspirators were ever brought to justice. An attempt to bring to justice the Nazi sympathizers who sought to overthrow the government was unsuccessful. The trial dragged on so long and was so chaotic that the judge eventually died of stress. Prosecutor O. John Rogge brought back from the Nuremberg Trials evidence of direct ties between Nazi officials and US politicians. His report was suppressed by the Truman administration, which hoped to avoid a public scandal. The public ignored the report when it was finally released decades later.

History has forgotten this xenophobic movement, yet it could have had disastrous consequences for democracy in America. We mustn't forget so we can recognize the signs when others try something similar.

Boop! The Musical!Betty Boop was the most famous star in the world. She sang and acted and captivated audiences wherever she went. But her world was not the real world. It was the black and white animated world of America's jazz age. Bored with her life of celebrity and unsure of her identity, Betty borrows her grandfather's invention to transport herself to the "real world" She finds herself at a New York City Comic-Con in 2023, surrounded by a culture of escapism. Soon, she befriends bright teenager Trisha and her stepbrother Dwayne, who help her to understand her new surroundings.

Boop originally appeared in a series of shorts created by legendary cartoonist Max Fleischer.

Nearly a century later, a production team of Bob Martin (script), David Foster (music), Susan Birkenhead (lyrics), and Jerry Mitchell (director / choreographer) brought Betty's story to the stage. "Boop! The Musical" premiered at Chicago's CIBC Theatre Sunday night before a sold-out audience, where it will run until Christmas Eve before heading to Broadway. I was fortunate to attend the world premiere event.

Jasmine Amy Rogers excels as the energetic Betty and newcomer Angelica Hale steals scene after scene as young Trisha.

Foster is best known for his work as a producer and arranger for popular musical artists, but he has penned hits for Chicago, Kenny Loggins, Whitney Houston, and others. His first attempt at writing a Broadway musical is wildly successful.

Characters in the animated world act with the exaggerated body language of cartoons. The scenes between Betty and her new friends are touching and believable, despite the implausible storyline.

The audience laughed and cheered their approval throughout the show.

"Boop! The Musical" is a fun-filled fantasy for all the senses.

Episode 776

Travis Shepherd on Flying an Airplane

Travis Shepherd is a software engineer at Kin + Carta; but, he has been earning his pilot's license in his free time. He talks about many of the technical, mechanical, and mental aspects of flying an airplane.

GCast 162:

Managing Azure Subscriptions [GCast 162]

Learn how to create and manage Azure Subscriptions.

LP at the Salt Shed 2023LP does not talk a lot. At least, I did not hear much talking when I saw them in concert Friday evening at the Salt Shed.

Instead, LP launched from one song to the next with a fervor that projected a love of playing and singing.

The non-binary singer was born Laura Pergolizzi but now goes by the initials "LP" and identifies as non-binary, using "they/them" pronouns. They have released six albums and three EPs, and they drew from many of them this evening.

Their voice has the power to bring passion to their rock melodies. The backing band contributed to the energy, particularly a female guitarist who shredded song after song.

I only recently became aware of LP's music. Still, I recognized many songs from the evening, including "Burn It Down," "One Like You," and "Long Goodbye" - a passionate song that closed the set before their encore. "One Last Time" was the final song of the evening, leaving the audience energized.

On this night, LP let the music do their talking.

Steve Hackett and his band at the Copernicus Center 2023Steve Hackett first gained fame as a virtuoso guitarist when he joined the progressive rock band Genesis near the beginning of their career. Hackett has stayed true to his roots. He has continued the tradition of playing progressive rock music and still performs the Genesis music of his youth.

Thursday evening at the Copernicus Center, Mr. Hackett paid tribute to some of that music, performing Genesis's fourth studio album, "FoxTrot," in its entirety. The album was released 50 years ago last month and still holds up well.

Hackett reserved his "FoxTrot" replay for the band's second set. Their first set consisted of songs from his extensive solo career. Steve has assembled a top-notch group of musicians to accompany him: Roger King on keyboards, Jonas Reingold on bass, Craig Blundell on drums, multi-instrumentalist Jonas Reingold, and Peter Gabriel sound-alike Nad Sylvan on vocals.

Many guitarists switch instruments between songs to change the sound they wish to create. Steve Hackett keeps the same electric guitar but modifies the output electronically between - and sometimes during - each piece. The effect is the same, but the transitions are faster and smoother.

The concert reached its climax two hours into the show. Steve brought out an acoustic guitar to perform "Horizons" before the rest of the band joined him and launched into the epic "Supper's Ready" suite, which dominated most of FoxTrot's second side. It was a great send-off to the evening.

For those of us who loved Genesis and remember the days when they pioneered the progressive rock movement, this night was a journey back in time. And a pleasant one, at that.

Episode 774

Steve Andrews on A Safe Work Environment

Steve Andrews has developed a neuro-social model of emotional well-being. From this model, he developed ten dimensions for leaders to consider:

  1. i. Safety
  2. ii. Identity
  3. iii. Messages
  4. iv. Agency
  5. v. Positive Social Connection
  6. vi. Environment
  7. vii. Mission and Purpose
  8. viii. Body and Brain
  9. ix. Human Needs
  10. x. Strengths

He discusses each of these dimensions and how leaders can use them to cultivate a safe and productive work environment.


Looking for Bears

Steve Hackett and his band, in concert 2023Steve Hackett first gained fame as a virtuoso guitarist when he joined the progressive rock band Genesis near the beginning of their career. Hackett has stayed true to his roots. He has continued the tradition of playing progressive rock music and still performs the Genesis music of his youth.

Thursday evening at the Copernicus Center, Mr. Hackett paid tribute to some of that music, performing Genesis's fourth studio album, "FoxTrot," in its entirety. The album" was released 50 years ago last month and still holds up well.

"FoxTrot" was reserved for the band's second set. Their first set consisted of songs from Hackett's extensive solo career. Steve has assembled a top-notch group of musicians to accompany him: Roger King on keyboards, Jonas Reingold on bass, Craig Blundell on drums, multi-instrumentalist Jonas Reingold, and Peter Gabriel sound-alike Nad Sylvan on vocals.

Many guitarists switch instruments between songs to change the sound they wish to create. Steve Hackett keeps the same electric guitar but modifies the output electronically between (and sometimes during) each piece. The effect is the same, but the transitions are faster and smoother.

The concert climaxed at the end. Steve brought out an acoustic guitar to perform "Horizons" before the rest of the band joined him and launched into the epic "Supper's Ready" suite that dominated most of FoxTrot's second side.

For those of us who loved Genesis and remember the days when they pioneered the progressive rock movement, this night was a journey back in time. And a pleasant one, at that.

GCast 161:

Sorting a Microsoft Word Document by Headers [GCast 161]

Learn how to sort the contents of a Microsoft Word document by the headers in that document

Episode 773

Cameron Turner on Predictive and Generative AI

Kin + Carta Vice President Cameron Turner discusses how his company approaches Artificial Intelligence solutions for their customers. He talks about the kinds of solutions, how to use data, and ethical considerations.

Justin Hayward 2023Before I talk about Justin Hayward's performance Monday evening at Chicago's City Winery, I want to talk about Mike Dawes. Dawes performed a solo warmup act before Hayward's show. He is a guitar virtuoso who uses every bit of the instrument, moving his fingers and palms up and down the entire neck of the guitar to make his six-string sound like multiple twelve-strings. If you have a chance, he is worth seeing perform live.

Dawes was part of Justin Hayward's band during the main act, along with keyboardist Julie Ragins and flutist Karmen Gould, who all provided vocal harmonies.

Justin delighted the audience by opening his show with "Tuesday Afternoon" - a big hit for the Moody Blues. Justin was the lead vocalist and frontman for the popular progressive rock band. He played some of his solo compositions this evening, but the audience was most excited to hear the Moody Blues classics. Justin did not disappoint, performing "The Voice," "Never Comes the Day," "Your Wildest Dreams," and "Question." With each song, the crowd burst into cheers upon recognizing the opening chords.

When Hayward sang a beautiful version of the mega-hit "Nights in White Satin," we assumed that would close his show, but he remained for two more songs. He extended his set beyond two hours rather than leaving and returning for an encore.

At 77, Hayward still retains an impressive vocal range, and the music he made famous with the Moody Blues tested that voice this evening.

He impressed me and the sold-out audience.

I had a chance Friday to volunteer at the STEAM Hack-to-Learn. The event was held at the Chicago downtown Microsoft office.

The event brought in students from suburban Chicago and featured several guest speakers, as well as hands-on activities.

Jeff Gettis opened the event, describing his journey from Chicago's south side to his 20 years at Microsoft.

Jon Browning, CEO of Global Mentorship Initiatives, spoke about the importance of networking in building your career, pointing students to LinkedIn and ChatGPT as tools to help them in a job search.

Author Gayle Keller hosted a panel of industry professionals who answered questions about professional careers.

Ravi Penmetsa gave an overview of Artificial Intelligence.

The talks were all interesting, but I was most impressed by the kids' questions, which showed a genuine curiosity about a career in IT. They asked questions like "What is the most interesting part of your job?" and "What would you be doing if you were not in this field?"

After the presentations, the students broke into teams and rotated between building applications with low-code and no-code tools and learning to dance to K-pop music.

At the end of the day, each team stood at the front of the room and shared what they learned.

It was an excellent chance to experience young people learning something new.

Episode 772

Jon Skeet on Enhancing His Church's A/V System

In his spare time, Jon Skeet has been helping his church improve its Audio and Video production. He talks about the "Zoom and Enhance" and "At Your Service" applications he created to control audio and video, control cameras and displays, translate speech, and allow people to participate in the service from home.


I recently passed the Microsoft AI-102 exam.

This exam primarily covers Azure Cognitive Services, such as Computer Vision, Text Recognition, Speech Recognition, Language Understanding (LUIS), and the Bot Framework.

My primary study tool was the [self-study guide on Microsoft Learn](https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/credentials/certifications/exams/ai-102/). I spent about an hour a night on this for about a week. I have used most of the services already, but many I had not used in years.

Although the exam covered all areas, I received a disproportionate number of questions about the Bot Framework and LUIS.

The exam covers nothing about Open AI, ChatGPT, or Codespaces. I expect that Microsoft will soon update the exam to include these newer technologies or create a separate exam.

The exam includes about 45 questions that are either multiple-choice or drag-and-drop. The drag-and-drop questions ask you to select the required steps and sort them. As with most Microsoft exams, you can go back to review a question and change your answer if you want.

The question count displays at the top, along with the time remaining (I think I was allowed 2 hours total). But the question count is misleading. After completing the questions, a case study was displayed, followed by a series of about six questions related to that study. In this section, you are not allowed to go back to review or change an answer. You are permitted to reread the case study. The case study contains a lot of information, and not all of it is relevant to the questions, so this section is as much a reading comprehension test as anything else.

Here is my advice to prepare for the exam.

Review the training materials. Schedule time each day to study them.

Open the Azure Portal and try out each service described in the training materials. Poke around and become familiar with the various options.

Take the exam shortly after finishing the training.

Make sure you allow enough time for the case study at the end.

Get a good night’s sleep before the exam. You will need to focus your mental energies.

Good luck.

Episode 771

D'Arcy Lussier on Microsoft's OpenAI Journey and Strategy

D'Arcy Lussier discusses the partnership between Microsoft and OpenAI, how we got here, what the future holds, and how you can take advantage of the technologies built from this partnership.


Ten years ago today, I began a new journey.

October 14, 2013 was my first day working at Microsoft. My job title was Technical Evangelist. My responsibilities included teaching others about technology and engaging the US developer community. I spent a lot of time creating demos and presentations and delivering them at conferences, user groups, colleges, and code camps. I spent time at startup incubators, showing them how to use Azure to help their business. Microsoft was trying to promote their phone and Windows 8, so I quickly learned how to build applications for these platforms, and I hosted workshops to teach others what I learned.

The job required me to move to Chicago, but it took me across the country. The decision to take the job and move from Michigan was easy. My two sons had just graduated (one from high school, the other from undergraduate university) and moved out of state to continue their education. I had moved to Michigan eleven years earlier only to be closer to them, and that reason no longer existed.

To say this decision was life-changing would be an understatement. The job allowed me to work with amazing people, help others in the community, take control of my life, and get paid for things I was already doing for free.

That role lasted me about 4-5 years before Microsoft decided to eliminate the Evangelism team. It was the best job I ever had. Since then, I have worked in two other organizations at Microsoft. I have learned a great deal at each position.

Two of my favourite things are learning something new and teaching others. My time at Microsoft has allowed me to do a lot of both. I love working with smart people; this company is loaded with them. More importantly, they are almost always willing to share their knowledge with me.

Not every day was perfect. Not every year was great. I have had some great managers and some bad managers, which makes the biggest difference in my job satisfaction and performance. At one point, I came close to leaving the company because a manager actively discouraged collaboration and frequently made up and repeated falsehoods to justify his negative opinion of me. I survived that toxic environment, and I survived the recent round of layoffs.

Last year, I joined the Global Partner Solutions team as an architect, where I help our partners design solutions for their customers. I work with amazing people, and I learn something new every day!

This week, I have a new manager following the promotion of my former manager. The old and the new are good people who care about others, making me optimistic for the future.

I doubt I will stay here another ten years, but I fully expect to be here another five. I wonder if time will pass as quickly as it has since 2013.

GCast 160:

Azure Monitor Diagnostic Settings

Learn about Azure Application Insights Alerts and how to create and manage them.

Episode 770

Nisaini Rexach on AI in Education

Nisaini Rexach discusses the impact Artificial Intelligence has had on education, and how the educational system can adapt to rapidly-evolving tools.

A View From the Bridge

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The cast of A View From The BridgeEddie and Beatrice have raised their niece Catherine since she was orphaned as a little girl. Their life seems happy until they invite two illegal immigrants - brothers Rodolpho and Marco - to stay with them. Catherine has blossomed into a beautiful young woman and falls in love with Rodolpho, which infuriates Eddie. Eddie hates Rodolpho for his effeminate manners and for refusing to ask his permission before courting Catherine. He hates the loss of control of his ward. But mostly, he despises the relationship because he lusts for Catherine.

Shattered Globe Theatre's current production of "A View From the Bridge" brings Arthur Miller's 1955 play to life. The cast was excellent. Isabelle Muthiah brings out the sweetness of Catherine, while Eileen Niccolai shines as the sensible Beatrice. But Scott Aiello steals the show as Eddie. His anger is palpable. He hints at his sexual frustration in Act 1 before it explodes in Act 2. It is rare to see a successful television actor like Aiello (he has appeared as the recurring character Tommy Barkow in the Showtime series "Billions") appear in such an intimate setting as Theatre Wit.

As the second act proceeds, the story becomes more tense until it ends abruptly, with an unresolved tragedy.

We left the theatre feeling numb. Nothing was resolved. There were no heroes. There was no justice. No lessons were learned. But perhaps that was the point, as men like Eddie allowed their emotions to overtake their reason.

Peter Gabriel in concert at the United CenterPeter Gabriel was one of the driving forces in progressive rock - first as a founding member of Genesis and later as a solo artist.

At his height, he could master pop melodies, African rhythms, complex arrangements, and ethereal mood-setting pieces. He combined all these in his concert at the United Center on Saturday evening.

His latest tour included a stop at Chicago's United Center Saturday night. Despite a near-sellout, I managed to find a third-row seat the night of the show, where I could experience the performers' emotions up close. Others in the arena settled for the music and a multimedia performance, both of which were impressive. Gabriel's band was enhanced by horizontal, vertical, and round video screens projecting nature, rainfall, people, star fields, rainfalls, and videos set to the music created on stage. Dramatic lighting is a staple of a Peter Gabriel concert, and colorful laser lights often illuminated or backlit the musicians, who were all dressed in black.

The band itself was outstanding. Nine musicians - many of them multi-instrumentalists - accompanied Mr. Gabriel during his 2-hour performance. They combined to play strings, woodwinds, keyboards, and (of course) guitars. Ayanna Witter-Johnson set aside her cello on several songs to show off her angelic voice in a duet with Peter. She filled in admirably for Kate Bush on Gabriel's 1986 hit "Don't Give Up."

Gabriel used the concert to promote his upcoming "i/o" album - his first collection of new music in 21 years. He played most of the songs from the album, discussing each piece with the audience beforehand. He included some songs on which I grew up, but more than half the set consisted of recent music. He delighted the crowd with rousing renditions of "Sledgehammer" and "Solsbury Hill," in which Gabriel showed off some impressive dance moves. But he also inspired the audience with his anthems, including his closing encore, "Biko" - a tribute to South African anti-apartheid activist Stephen Biko. Gabriel skipped some of his big hits, such as "Shock the Monkey" and "Games Without Frontiers," in favor of newer music. But by playing for over two hours, he could accommodate a variety of music.

I discovered Peter Gabriel during my high school days. I would have preferred hearing more of his music from the 1970s and 1980s, but his new album contains some quality compositions with creative arrangements. My only regret is waiting over four decades to finally see him perform live.

I had my first experience with Microsoft certification renewal process this past week.

In December 2022, I took and passed Exam SC-300: Microsoft Identity and Access Administrator. In February 2023, I took and passed Exam AZ-204: Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure. I spent weeks studying for each of these exams, and I was stressed until the exam ended and I received a passing score.

It was a lot of work, particularly given that the exams are only valid for one year. If I want to keep any certifications associated with the exams, I must renew them before they expire.

The good news is that an exam renewal is much easier and far less stressful than the original exam.

The key parts of a renewal exam are:

  • You can take the renewal exam any time between the expiration date and six months before the expiration date.
  • Once you pass the renewal exam, it extends the expiration one year beyond the original expiration date (not one year from the date you pass, as I feared)
  • Questions on the renewal exam tend to focus on newer features.
  • Unlike the original exam, renewal exams are not proctored. You can take them at home, and you do not need to turn on your webcam.
  • Renewal exams are open book. You are free to use any materials during the exam.
  • As far as I can tell, the exams are not timed. The description for SC-300 says "45 minutes," but I took about three hours for the exam. I did not close my web browser during this time.
  • During the exam, you may not return to a previous question.
  • Renewal exams are free.

Here is the strategy I took for AZ-204. I plan to use this strategy for future renewal exams.

  • The exam recommends training materials. I went through all these materials. It took me 3-4 hours to review all the material, which is far less than the time spent studying the materials for the original exam.
  • I took the exam shortly after completing the training, while it was still fresh in my mind. I started the exam about an hour after I finished studying.
  • I opened the training materials in another browser window when taking the exam. Many of the questions were answered in these materials.
  • During the exam, I had the Azure portal open in another browser window, allowing me to test things related to some questions.
  • I double-checked each answer before moving to the next question. I verified that I read the question correctly and that my answer made sense. As stated above, you may not return to a previous question.
  • When I finished, I took a deep breath and clicked the [Submit] button. I saw my results in less than 30 seconds.

If you pass the exam, celebrate in your own way. If you fail, you may retake the test right away. I passed the first time, so I cannot say how different the questions are on subsequent attempts. According to the documentation, you must wait 24 hours if you need to take the exam a third time.

This article provides more information:

Passing the renewal exam was an effective way for me to learn something new and to refresh my knowledge. For the SC-300 exam, I did not study in advance, so I searched for many of the answers online. The exam lasted much longer, and I did not score as well on the AZ-204 exam, for which I spent a few hours studying.

Good luck!

Episode 769

Eric Leonard on Kubernetes and Platform Engineering

Architect Eric Leonard describes how to implement a set of common practices to make DevOps processes more consistent and repeatable across an enterprise.

September 2023 Gratitudes

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Today I am grateful to see Peter Gabriel in concert last night for the first time.

Today I am grateful:
- to see "A View From the Bridge" last night at Shattered Globe Theatre
- for a late-night Zoom call with Sean, Brian, Chad, and Gaines

Today I am grateful to present on ChatGPT at the Cleveland C# User Group last night

Today I am grateful to pass the renewal SC-300 exam last night.

Today I am grateful for Internet search engines.

Today I am grateful for my son's recent job promotion.

Today I am grateful to celebrate a significant anniversary with a significant person yesterday.

Today I am grateful I was able to do a lot of de-cluttering yesterday.

Today I am grateful that I am finally getting all the people on this project to communicate with one another.

Today I am grateful to talk with Chris yesterday for the first time in years.

Today I am grateful for a professional massage yesterday

Today I am grateful to meet author Zadie Smith last night in Lincoln Park.

Today I am grateful to speak at the Memphis Python User Group last night.

Today I am grateful for a new bike seat

Today I am grateful for pizza with my son yesterday.

Today I am grateful to talk with Gael yesterday for the first time in years.

Today I am grateful to attend the final concert of the summer at Willie Dixon Blues Heaven last night, featuring Funky Mojo Daddy.

Today I am grateful to see Chris Kattan perform his standup act last night.

Today I am grateful for dinner with my local team last night.

Today I am grateful for the imagination of Neil Gaiman.

Today I am grateful to attend my building's annual Summer Party

Today I am grateful to meet Pulitzer Prize winners Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa and Illinois Secretary of State Alexander Giannoulias at the Printers Row Lit Fest yesterday.

Today I am grateful:
- to talk with Brad yesterday for the first time in decades
- to see "The Innocence of Seduction" at the City Lit Theatre last night

Today I am grateful to talk with Douglas on YouTube live last night.

Today I am grateful for honest managers who treat their people with respect.

Today I am grateful for a relaxing 3-day weekend.

Today I am grateful to visit and go inside the Garfield Park Conservatory for the first time yesterday.

Episode 768

Israel Ekpo on Vector Databases

Partner Solution Architect Israel Ekpo describes Vector Databases and how they help us search for images, audio, and text via context.

Microsoft Outlook - like most email programs - manages junk mail for you. Junk mail can be unwanted messages or messages from unwelcome senders or email system or messages with "bad" content or headers.

I was frustrated because Microsoft Outlook kept sending my friend's emails into my junk mail folder. It sometimes took me days to see an email - much less respond. I knew that anything from my friend was probably not junk, but Outlook did not know this. Other friends reported the same thing sometimes happened to emails that I spent.

Outlook automatically takes care of identifying potential junk mail and moving it into a built-in "Junk" folder.

Outlook allows you to change the rules for identifying junk mail, but the solution is not intuitive.

Open Microsoft Outlook. On the "Home" ribbon, you will find the "Junk" button, as shown in Fig. 1.

Junk Button
Fig. 1

Click "Junk" button to expand the menu, as shown in Fig. 2 and select "Junk E-mail Options" to open the "Junk Email Options" dialog, as shown in Fig. 3.

Junk Mail Menu
Fig. 2

Junk Email Options Dialog
Fig. 3

The "Options" tab allows you to set how aggressive you want Outlook to be about identifying junk mail. Setting this to "Low" or "High" tells Outlook to use Machine Learning to identify junk mail. Outlook's algorithm ML will sometimes make mistakes. Setting it to "Low" may miss some junk mail. Stetting it to "High" may identify some legitimate mail as "Junk."

"No Automatic Filtering" and "Safe Lists" only options do not use Machine Learning. Rather, explicit rules determine where mail should go.

By default, Outlook moves junk mail into the "Junk email" folder, giving you the opportunity to review these items before deciding whether to delete them. But, you can opt to automatically delete any email identified as junk by checking the "Permanently delete suspected junk email" checkbox.

The "Safe Senders" tab (Fig. 4) allows you to add email addresses of people you trust.

Safe Senders Tab
Fig. 4

Emails received from these senders will not be considered junk mail, even if they contain a body or header that Outlook would otherwise identify them as junk.

The "Blocked Senders" tab (Fig. 5) is just the opposite of Safe Senders.

Blocked Senders Tab
Fig. 5

Emails received from these senders will always be considered junk mail, even if they contain a body or header that Outlook would otherwise identify them as not junk.

The "International" tab (Fig. 6) allows you to block emails from a top-level domain or containing specified character sets.

International Tab
Fig. 6

For example, if I am plagued with bogus email from Russia and I feel confident I will never receive any legitimate email from Russia, I can block all emails with with an address ending in ".ru".

Additionally, if I often get spam emails written in a Japanese character set and I do not know anyone who writes Japanese, I can choose to block all emails that contain the Japanese character set encoding.

How you configure your junk email settings is up to you and your comfort level. This article shows how to configure Junk Mail settings in Microsoft Outlook.

The cast of The Innocence of SeductionLast year, I saw and loved Mark Pracht's "The Mark of Kane" at City Lit Theater in Lakeview. That play told the story of Bob Kane and Bill Finger's creation of the iconic Batman character and Kane's work to take all the credit. I enjoyed it enough that I did not hesitate when City Lit announced Pracht's play "The Innocence of Seduction" - the second in his promised "Four-Color Trilogy," which focuses on the history of comic books.

"Innocence" tells of the censorship of comic books in the 1950s, when US government officials were actively destroying careers and lives in the name of patriotism and decency. The play takes its title from Dr. Fredric Wertham's 1954 book "Seduction of the Innocence," which blamed juvenile delinquency on the comic book industry. According to Wertham, reading comic books caused children to become violent, rebellious, and amoral. Congress took note and turned public sentiment against comic book publishers. The issue resulted in establishing The Comics Code Authority (CCA), which approved only comics that met an arbitrary level of "decency." Because no distributors would accept comics without the code's seal, this meant the end of crime comics and horror comics. The move particularly affected William Gaines and EC Comics, which pioneered titles such as "Tales from the Crypt" and "Crime SuspenStories."

This play focuses on the rise and fall of EC and Gaines's struggle against the CCA and its demagogue leader, Judge Charles Murphy. Other real-life characters appear, such as gay, black artist Matt Baker (played by Brian Bradford) and female artist Janice Valleau (played by Megan Clarke); but it is Sean Harklerode as Gaines who steals the show. The neurotic and passionate publisher dominates every scene in which he appears. All these characters were real people affected by the events of their times. This production gave depth to those characters.

A creepy Wertham wandered in and out of scenes, casting judgment on the comic medium. Often, visuals from comic books appeared on an oversized television at the back of the set.

With 15 cast members and 22 characters, this is the largest production I have seen at City Lit. The cast nearly outnumbered the audience, which only numbered about 25 for this preview performance - small, even for this tiny theater on the second floor of a church. However, the sparse turnout did not dampen the performers' enthusiasm or the production's quality.

"The Innocence of Seduction" is filled with humor and tragedy. It deserves a larger audience.

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