# Monday, March 9, 2020

Episode 601

Don Ward on Flutter

Flutter is an open source framework from Google, designed to help you build cross-platform applications. Don Ward tells us what it does and how to use it.

Monday, March 9, 2020 9:43:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, March 8, 2020

tmbg01 It has been 30 years since the release of "Flood" - the breakthrough album by iconic nerd-rock band They Might Be Giants.  To celebrate, the band is touring the United States, vowing to play every song from this album at each show.

Friday night, they played The Vic Theatre in Chicago to a sold-out audience that braved the cold weather and threats of coronavirus to cheer on the kings of the 2-minute song.

For almost 3 hours (including an intermission), TMBG rocked the Vic while the audience sang along to songs they grew up with.

Few bands have the kind of cult following enjoyed by TMBG. TMBG has never had a top-40 single and only a handful of their songs have cracked the alternative rock charts. But their audiences love them and flock to their concerts and memorize their lyrics.

tmbg03Technically, TMBG consists of only two members: John Flansburgh and John Linnell. But, for this tour they were joined by 3 others to fill out their songs. Linnell looks like a computer science student and Flansburgh looks like Linnell's dad. The point is that both project nerdiness - in their appearance and in their music, which consists of cerebral lyrics, catchy melodies, and experimental electronic sounds. And a trumpet.

In addition to performing every song from "Flood" (in no particular order), the band played numerous songs from their 22-album catalog.

Highlights included

  • an extended version of "Spy"
  • an acoustic guitar intro to "Istanbul"
  • high-energy performances of "Birdhouse in Your Soul", "Doctor Worm" and "The Mesopotamians".

tmbg04They even played one song ("Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love") backwards!

I've been listening to TMBG since their "Flood" days and this is the first time I've seen them in concert. I was lucky to get a ticket to this sold-out show from someone selling his last ticket outside the venue. I'm so glad I did.

Set list

Sunday, March 8, 2020 9:10:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, March 7, 2020

ManWhoFoldedHimselfWhen Dan's Uncle Jim died, he left Dan one thing: a belt that allowed Dan to travel backward and forward in time. His first instinct was to use the device to make himself rich via gambling and investments.  But then, he uses it to correct mistakes - either in his own life or in history. His actions sometimes result in unpleasant side effects; but he can always go back a bit earlier and undo his "corrections". Dan has it all. His godlike powers allow him to build a life to his own suiting; and he spends most of his time with past and future versions of himself, because they are the only people he understands and who understand him.

But the world becomes confusing the more he alters his timeline. He becomes more isolated and less certain of what is reality. Eventually, he must confront the responsibility that comes with the power he has inherited.

Dan laments:

"But when you can erase your mistakes in a minute, you tend to get careless.
Until you make one you can't."

There is a twist at the end, but it was one I saw coming halfway through the novella. But this story isn't about plot twists. It's about the character of a man who can do anything for himself - one who needs no one else.

The Man Who Folded Himself is about self-identity; and personal responsibility; and cause and effect; and what it means to have it all. And it covers these topics in a mere 116 pages. This might be the most amazing thing about the book - no small feat for a story that deals with time travel.

Saturday, March 7, 2020 8:13:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, March 5, 2020

GCast 76:

Creating an Azure Synapse database

Azure Data Warehouse has been renamed to Azure Synapse. This video walks you through the creation of a Synapse database.

Database | GCast | Video
Thursday, March 5, 2020 8:56:53 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, March 2, 2020

Episode 600

A Celebration of Friends

A look back at the last 100 episodes of Technology and Friends!

    Venkat Subramaniam
    Jon Skeet
    Laurent Bugnion
    Jennifer Wadella
    Douglas Crockford
    Jeff Fritz
    Raffaele Rialdi
     Carolina Banales
    Elton Stoneman
    Brandon Satrom
    Heather Wilde
    Jennifer Marsman
    Walt Ritscher
    Jeremy Miller
    Jayson Street
    Angela Dugan
    Heather Downing
    Robert Green
    Jon Galloway
    Tibi Covaci
    Lorena Mesa
     Bill Wagner
    Angie Byron
    Hao Luo
    J Tower
    Dan Rey
    Alex Mang
    Eric Boyd
    Tim Reilly
    JD Marymee
    Jim Wooley
    Lwin Maung
    Frank Gill
    Jason Bock
    Jean Lange
    Isaac Bayoh
    Ruth Yakubu
    Kevin Gates
    Jes Schultz
    Bryan Glenn
    Kate Gregory
    John Azariah
    Brady Gaster
    Ondrej Balas
    Raj Krishnan
    Phil Japikse
    Martin Kearn
    Annie Bougie
    Arthur Doler
    Erwin Derksen
    Rajasa Savant
    Robert Greene
    Jackie Becker
    Kevin Griffin
    Bret Stateham
    Adam Hecktman
    David Makogon
    Tobiah Zarlez
    Geisa Faustino
    Brent Stineman
    Melanie Adcock
    Mike Benkovich
    John Alexander
    Jeremy Likness
    Edward Thomson
    Silviu Niculita
    Cassandra Faris
     Elizabeth Graham
    Hattan Shobokshi
    Whitney Griffith
     Tobiasz Koprowski
    Raymond Comvalius
    Laurent Ellerbach
    Hilary Weaver-Robb
    Christian Geuer-Pollmann
    Michael Eaton
    Courtney Eaton
    Gabrielle Sempf
    Spencer Schneidenback
    Rob Reynolds
    Robert Martin
    Jim Christopher
     Kevin Leung
    Guillermo Bellman
    Fabian Fernandez
    Nicolas Bello
    Kevin Ashley
    Christine Matheney
    Atley Hunter
    Zach Miller
    Don Ward

Recorded 2017-2020 in
    Chicago, IL
    Rome, Italy
    Cluj-Napoca, Romania
    Oslo, Norway
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Sandusky, OH
    Wisconsin Dells, WI
    Vancouver, BC
    Redmond, WA
    Montevideo, Uruguay
    Atlanta, GA
    Seattle, WA
    Toronto, ON
    Orlando, FL
    Milwaukee, WI
    Downers Grove, IL
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Helsingborg, Sweden

Monday, March 2, 2020 9:09:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, March 1, 2020

Today I am grateful for a visit yesterday to the Ed Paschke Art Center

Today I am grateful that I'm starting to feel caught up for the first time in months.

Today I am grateful for dinner with David and Debi last night.

Today I am grateful for dinner with Lino last night.

‪Today I am grateful for the Chicago PedWay on a cold, sleeting day. ‬

Today I am grateful to deliver my first user group presentation of the year last night.

Today I am grateful for my first bike ride of 2020.

Today I am grateful for a day in Milwaukee.

Today I am grateful for the gym in my building

Today I am grateful to learn something new every day.

Today I am grateful to see my son's Kalamazoo College team earn their second straight victory last night.

Today I am grateful for a massage yesterday.

Today I am grateful for a late-night hot bath.

Today I am grateful to see the Orchid Show yesterday at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Today I am grateful for:
-a successful week in Charlotte with my customer
-an upgrade to First Class on my flight home
-dinner with my son last night

Today I am grateful to see Kamasi Washington in concert last night in Charlotte, NC.

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

Today I am grateful to attend a Charlotte Checkers ice hockey game last night.

Today I am grateful to return to North Carolina - the state of my birth.

Today I am grateful for a successful Envisioning Session yesterday.

Today I am grateful for Texas BBQ.

Today I am grateful for my new webcam.

Today I am grateful I can pay bills online.

Today I am grateful for dinner with Tim last night.

Today I am grateful for a gym in my building.

Today I am grateful for Mark Dantonio.

Today I am grateful for my CPAP machine.

Today I am grateful for an exciting Super Bowl.

Sunday, March 1, 2020 11:18:09 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, February 29, 2020

GravitysRainbowIt is near the end of World War II and the Germans have apparently developed a new weapon of unknown capability with the unlikely serial number "0000".

The allies are looking for it, while they analyze the pattern of bombs dropping on London. One pattern they cannot understand is why a bomb consistently falls on a location a few days after US Army Lt. Tyrone Slothrop has sex in that location. Eventually, Lt. Slothrop is sent to Germany to search for this mysterious weapon. On his journeys, he disguises himself as a superhero and as a pig.

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon follows Slothrop on his mission to find the bomb. But it does not take us on a straight line through his quest. Pynchon introduces us to hundreds of characters - many tangential or completely irrelevant to the story; and he weaves dozens of subplots - many of which have little to do with the broader narrative.

In between, we a lot of sex happens and a bit of scatology and some incest and a story of a sentient, immortal light bulb. It's often entertaining, but all very confusing.

Many parts of the novel are very well-written - told with humor and satire and emotion. The challenge is tying them together. I trust that Pynchon accomplished this, but he makes it a major challenge for the reader to recognize how he did so. Characters are introduced, then disappear for hundreds of pages, before they reappear.

The book was too long and complex for me to enjoy as a whole. It felt like a mashup of disconnected scenes.

This seems like the kind of novel one needs to read multiple times in order to appreciate. At some point, I may return to it and re-evaluate it; but, its nearly 800-page length and the pile other books awaiting my attention will delay that - maybe forever.

Saturday, February 29, 2020 9:03:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, February 27, 2020

GCast 75:

Creating an Azure SQL Server Logical Server

How to create a logical SQL Server in Microsoft Azure.

Thursday, February 27, 2020 9:19:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, February 24, 2020

Episode 599

Bryan Glenn on the Right Mindset for Success

Bryan Glenn is a technology entrepreneur. His upcoming book "Life Adds Up" talks about thea characteristics necessary to acheive success. Bryan shares stories of successful people like Bill Gates and Albert Einstein, as well as lessons from his own life.


Monday, February 24, 2020 9:27:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, February 22, 2020

TheCorrectionsJonathan Franzen's 2001 novel "The Corrections" tells the story of a family that has lost its way. Alfred and Enid Lambert still live in their home in Iowa, but their three adult children have moved to New York and Philadelphia. The children initially enjoyed some success, but each has fallen hard in recent years.

Oldest son Gary has achieved financial success as a banker but is trapped in a loveless marriage in which he and his wife consistently torture one another emotionally. He struggles with alcoholism and depression.

Chip was a college professor until he was fired for sleeping with and then stalking one of his students. He tries to pull himself out of debt by assisting a corrupt Lithuanian politician scam people via the Internet.

Denise’s career as a famous chef is undone by a disastrous affair.

Patriarch Alfred is a retired engineer for a Midwestern railroad. His entire life, he has been hard-working and independent and in control. But Parkinson's and Alzheimer’s are now robbing him of that control.

Matriarch Enid tries desperately to keep her family together, inviting everyone home for "one last Christmas", while she tries to care for Alfred. Enid is easily the most sympathetic of the family. Her marriage to the emotionally unavailable Alfred has been unsatisfying, but she stayed with him; and her adult children have all but abandoned her, but she still loves them. Still, her efforts to control the lives of everyone in the family and heap guilt on her children prevent the reader from admiring her too much.

This novel grabbed me early and held me throughout. Franzen introduces each family member, shows or hints at their current problems - then takes us back in time to show us how they fell to where they are now.  He gradually reveals their lives and characters and motivations, and the fatal flaws that toppled them. Each character lives in denial of the seriousness of their problems. Each major character is damaged, but each has enough redeeming qualities that the reader pulls for them. They seemingly cannot resist acts of self-destruction.

Even the minor characters are interesting. I loved the neurotic Robin, who blamed herself for the violence chosen by her sociopath brother. And the pill-pushing cruise ship doctor reminded me of a used car salesman and had me laughing out loud. These characters exist to reflect the Lambert family, but Franzen took the time to give them shape, without distracting from the main story.

The Corrections is humorous and absurd and touching and tragic; and in the end, as the characters each experience their corrections, gives us hope for the future.

Saturday, February 22, 2020 9:46:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)