# Saturday, August 31, 2019

William Faulkner's Light in August opens as Lena Grove arrives in Jefferson, Mississippi after traveling hundreds of miles to Jefferson, Mississippi in search of Lucas Birch - the father of her unborn child. Lucas left Alabama, promising to send for Lena as soon as he was settled, but she never heard from him.

Lena learns that Lucas has been living in Jefferson for months under an assumed name. He has been bootlegging with a drifter named Joe Christmas.

Christmas was raised in an orphanage, then adopted by an abusive stepfather, whom he murdered. He has been on the run ever since. At the beginning of the novel, he is having a relationship with Joanna Burden - a local descendent of abolitionists, who is shunned by the whites in town because of her tolerance and kindness toward the blacks.

Each major character we meet is a misfit: an unwed mother or a defrocked preacher or a criminal or an abolitionist or an orphan. Many of them are self-destructive and all of them are interesting. When Faulkner introduces each character, he takes the time to review their backstory - explaining how they came to their troubles.

Soon, there is a murder and a manhunt and a town seeking justice for someone they never liked.

Race plays a huge role in this novel. One character looks white but is filled with self-loathing because he believes he is part black. The local white folks are quick to believe the guilt of an alleged murderer when they learn he may be part negro.

One thing the racism of the characters succeeds in doing is masking the extreme misogyny of many of the characters.

Sometimes the frequent time hops make this a difficult story to follow; but, stay with it. It is filled with tragedy and human drama and raw emotion.

Saturday, August 31, 2019 7:48:19 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, August 29, 2019

GCast 63:

Sentiment Analysis JavaScript Demo

In this video, I walk you through a JavaSript application that calls the Sentiment Analysis Cognitive Service.

Thursday, August 29, 2019 1:09:57 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, August 26, 2019

Episode 576

Dan Rey on Microsoft Surface

Dan Rey describes the different versions of Microsoft Surface and how you can use them to be more productive.

Monday, August 26, 2019 9:16:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, August 25, 2019

WhiteTeethWhite Teeth by Zadie Smith follows the lives of old friends Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. They met when serving together in a tank in World War II, where they got lost, missed the end of the war, and sentenced a war criminal to death; they remained friends; married much younger women; had children; worked menial jobs in north London; and spend their free time in a filthy pub drinking beer and eating greasy food.

But they are very different. Archie is English and simple and easygoing; Samal is a fiery and opinionated Bangladeshi immigrant, who wants his family to maintain the traditions of his homeland.

Samal is so troubled by the English influence on his family that he sends his son Magid back to Bangladesh so he can learn his ancestral ways.

The plot becomes more complex as Smith introduces more characters and tells their backstories and their lives become more and more intertwined. In addition to Archie and Samad, she gives us:

Clara: Archie's young Jamaican wife, who is trying to escape the influence of her Jehovah's Witness mother.

Alsana: Samad's wife. She never forgives Samad for sending away their son.

Millat and Magid: Twin sons of Samad and Alsana. They grow up with very different personalities. After Magid is sent to Bangladesh, Millat turns to a life of pot-smoking and womanizing for a few years, before embracing Islam. Magid rejects religion and embraces intellectualism.

Irie: Archie and Clara's daughter. She is intelligent but lacks self-esteem and has a hopeless crush on Millat.

The Chalfens, an intellectual, liberal, well-meaning, dysfunctional family, who try (sometimes successfully) to mentor the Jones and Iqbal children.

There are other characters, and each has their backstory and their quirks, but the narrative revolves largely around the characters listed above. The book often jumps around in time to reveal the backstories of each character. But it does so succinctly and successfully. In the end, all the characters end up in the same room with different goals and an unexpected result.

Smith explores several conflicts including the struggle between immigrant assimilation and tradition to the role of race in society; the difficulty of parents and children to understand and relate to one another; and the meaning of religion in individual lives. She does so with a good story and with a witty prose, as in the following:

"Oh he loves her; just as the English loved India and Africa and Ireland; it is the love that is the problem, people treat their lovers badly."

I enjoyed the characters and I enjoyed the story.

White Teeth is one of the best novels I've read this year.

Sunday, August 25, 2019 7:38:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, August 24, 2019

Weinberg-10A jukebox (for those too young to remember) was a machine filled with black vinyl discs - each containing a different song. They could be found in a lot of bars and diners and patrons could insert one or more coins and select the songs they wanted to hear.

Max Weinberg's Jukebox works on the same principle. A screen next to the stage continuously scrolled a list of almost 200 songs and Max periodically went into the audience to ask what people wanted to hear. And then he and his band played those requests.

Weinberg (for those too young to remember) rose to fame as the drummer of Bruce Springsteen's legendary E Street Band; and later led Conan O'Brien's house band for both the Late Show and the Tonight Show.

Max Weinberg opened his City Winery show Friday evening with Cream's "White Room" and Tom Petty's "American Girl" before soliciting requests from the audience. Anything on the scrolling list was fair game and the list was packed with classic rock favourites from The Beatles, The Who, The Stones, Springsteen (of course), and a host of others. Max played the drums and was accompanied by 2 guitarists and a bass player - each of which took turns singing lead.

In 2+ hours, I counted 26 songs performed by the band, including "Lola", "Drift Away", and "Me and Julio" - each delivered with tight playing, high-quality musicianship and great enthusiasm.

It was like listening to a really good bar cover band with one famous guy in it.

Weinberg-22They closed the night with a trio of high-energy Springsteen songs: "Pink Cadillac", "Dancing in the Dark", and "Glory Days". For the final song, Max invited audience members to join the band onstage.

A great concert (for those too young to remember) happens when both the audience and the performers enjoy themselves. This was one of those evenings.

More photos

Saturday, August 24, 2019 7:01:42 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Friday, August 23, 2019

Recently, I was working on a VM that someone else provided me and I needed to download an executable from the Internet onto this VM. I discovered that the only installed browser on the VM was Internet Explorer 11 and that the browser was configured to prevent anyone from downloading files from the Internet.

I don't know if this is the default setting for IE 11, but here is how to change the setting to allow users to download files.

Open Internet Explorer.

From the menu, select Tools | Internet Options

The "Internet Options" dialog displays. Select the "Security" tab, as shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1

Click the [Custom Level] button. The "Security Settings" dialog displays. Scroll down to the "Downloads/File download" section, as shown in Fig. 2.

Fig. 2

Select the "Enable" radio button and click the [OK] button. If prompted for confirmation, click [Yes].

Click the [OK] button to close the "Internet Options" dialog.

Now you can download files linked within the browser.

Friday, August 23, 2019 11:17:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

GCast 62:

Sentiment Analysis Cognitive Service

This video explains the Sentiment Analysis service, which is part of the Text Analytics Cognitive Service.

Friday, August 23, 2019 4:47:19 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A data warehouse ("DW") is an ideal tool for collecting and associated disparate data.

A data warehouse has been a part of Microsoft SQL Server for decades, so it's not surprising that it is also included in Microsoft Azure.

To create a SQL Data Warehouse in Azure, navigate to the Azure Portal, sign in, and click the [Create a resource] button (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1

From the menu, select Databases | SQL Data Warehouse, as shown in Fig. 2

Fig. 2

The "SQL Data Warehouse" dialog displays, allowing you to enter information about your new data warehouse, as shown in Fig. 3

Fig. 3

At the "Subscription" field, select the subscription in which you wish to create this data warehouse. Most of you will have only one subscription.

At the "Resource group" field, select an existing resource group or click the "Create new" link to create a new resource group in which to add this data warehouse. A resource group is an organizational unit to keep together related Azure resources.

At the "Data warehouse name" field, enter a unique name for your warehouse.

The "Server" field lists all SQL servers in the selected subscription. Every data warehouse is stored in one SQL Server. Select the SQL Server for this DW or click the "Create new" link to create a new SQL Server.

Clicking "Create new" displays the "New server" blade, as shown in Fig. 4. In this blade, you can enter the server name, location, and admin login credentials for a new server.

Fig. 4

Click the [Review + create] button to display the "Review + create" tab of the "SQL Data Warehouse" dialog, as shown in Fig. 5.

Fig. 5

Click the [Create] button to create a new SQL Data Warehouse. This process may take a few minutes (longer if you also chose to create a new server).

After the Data Warehouse creation is complete, you can navigate to its management page. The "Overview" blade is shown in Fig. 6.

Fig. 6

In this article, you learned how to create a new Azure SQL Data Warehouse.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019 3:00:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, August 18, 2019

HerzogPoor Moses Herzog.

His wife convinced him to buy a house in Chicago; then tried to have him committed; then, left him for his best friend. On top of that, he is denied contact with either of his children.

Moses sets out for Chicago with his later father's antique pistol, 2 bullets, and murder on his mind. But nothing goes right, and his plans fall apart, and he is in an automobile accident and the police discover his loaded pistols.

The action does of Saul Bellow's Herzog does not happen until the novel is at least half over. But the author keeps us engaged through Moses's angst, as his life falls apart. Moses deals with his depression by writing letters - most of which are never sent and many of which are addressed to famous people such as Friedrich Nietzsche and (then-President) Dwight Eisenhower.

Herzog is unstable; but he is not crazy as his shrewish wife asserts. And his letter-writing decreases as he comes to terms with the cards he is dealt.

Bellow's writing is poignant and sad, but sometimes humorous, with lines such as

"Lead me into Penn Station"
"Will never understand what women want. What do they want? They eat green salad and drink human blood."

This book will appeal to anyone who has experienced the helplessness of a mid-life crisis; or the pain of betrayal; or the paralysis of uncertainty.

Sunday, August 18, 2019 4:19:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, August 17, 2019

UbikDeath is very different in the universe of Philip K. Dick's Ubik. Rather than simply ending life or transitioning to an afterlife, the recently dead remain cognizant. If properly preserved, technology exists that allows the living to communicate with the dead - sometimes for years. The consciousness slowly decays over time, after which the deceased finally cease to exist or are reborn anew.

Psychics are common enough in this universe to keep Glen Runciter busy. His company specializes in protecting people from psychic intrusion.

A group of powerful anti-psychics, led by Runciter, travel to the moon to meet with a potential client, where they are attacked and seemingly hurled back in time to the year 1939. But not everything is like the 1939 of their own past and they wonder exactly where they are.

Runciter is a good man and so is his employee Joe Chip. Chip is the perfect hero. He is loyal to his employer and dedicated to finding the truth; but he is financially irresponsible and always lacking funds (a problem when every appliance, device, and door requires a cash fee before it will operate).

Ubik is an imaginative tale of action and drama and speculative science fiction. Dick does an excellent job of taking far-fetched ideas and making them seem plausible. In under 250 pages he builds an entire world; then, destroys that world and creates another.

The story is both dark and humorous.

This novel influenced science fiction for many years after its 1969 publication. Douglas Adams must have read about the annoying talking doors when he wrote them into his Hitchhiker series. At times, we see nested realities, in a way that echoed in the 2010 film "Inception".

The narrative keeps changing our expectations. He keeps us guessing about reality versus illusion and life versus death and past versus present. And that's just the way Philip K. Dick wants it.

Saturday, August 17, 2019 8:21:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)