# Monday, March 8, 2021

Kevin Ashley on AI for Design Art and Games

Kevin Ashley has a new book titled "Awesome Artificial Intelligence: Design, Art, Games", which shows how to use AI to create and enhance artwork. He talks about the theory behind this and how to get started.


Kevin's book on Kickstarter

Kevin's first book

Betsy Edwards’s book

Monday, March 8, 2021 8:51:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, March 7, 2021

Today I am grateful for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Today I am grateful to complete a complicated task on my current project and to those who helped me with it.

Today I am grateful I have been able to work with my Personal Trainer 11 times in the last 25 days.

Today I am grateful to Tim, who helped me mentor high school students yesterday.

Today I am grateful for my new tea infuser balls and loose leaf teas.

Today I am grateful to everyone who sent me birthday wishes yesterday - especially those who included a personal message.

Today I am grateful for an unexpected phone call from Kelly yesterday.

Today I am grateful for my first bike ride of the year yesterday.

Today I am grateful that my life has improved in almost every way in the last 20 years.

Today I am grateful to receive the COVID-19 vaccine yesterday.

Today I am grateful for free movies from the public library.

Today I am grateful that the bitter cold weather in Chicago seems to be behind us.

Today I am grateful to be a guest on the "Visual Studio Toolbox" show for the first time.

Today I am grateful to binge-watch TV shows.

Today I am grateful to stream Kalamazoo College basketball games online

Today I am grateful that I fall asleep much more easily now than I used to.

Today I am grateful for a blanket of snow across the city.

Today I am grateful to spend almost all of yesterday reading for pleasure.

Today I am grateful for a chiropractor across the street from my home.

Today I am grateful for new artwork on my wall.

Today I am grateful for an end to a difficult week.

Today I am grateful for all the years that Chick Corea made music for us.

Today I am grateful for this combination scale / cutting board - a gift from my son.

Today I am grateful for a gift of thermal clothing from my sons.

Today I am grateful to return to working with my personal trainer after a long hiatus.

Today I am grateful for Super Bowl commercials.

Sunday, March 7, 2021 2:58:00 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, March 6, 2021

Cassie Bowden is a flight attendant who makes very bad choices.

She frequently drinks until she blacks out and she often has sex with random strangers during these blackouts.

Surprisingly, she has suffered few long-term consequences for her choices; but that changes one morning in Dubai, when she wakes up next to a naked man with a slit throat.

Chris Bohjalian's 2018 novel The Flight Attendant follows Cassie as she flees the crime scene in Dubai, through the suspicion cast on her, and her chronic self-destructive behavior.

The action switches from the Middle East to New York to Rome and we get a peek inside Cassie and her pursuers, building both the action and the characters. Bohjalian does a good job developing the backgrounds and flaws of his main characters, particularly the title character and the assassin who lurks in the background. Each is plagued with daddy issues that contributed to the life they are currently leading.

I enjoyed the flawed protagonist and the espionage mixed throughout the book. The ending felt a bit rushed as some of the twists came a little too suddenly, but I can forgive this.

Overall, this was an entertaining read.

Saturday, March 6, 2021 8:59:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, March 4, 2021

GCast 106:

Audio Transcription and Captioning with Azure Media Services

Azure Media Services can analyze an audio or video file and transcribe speech into text. You can then take the generated files and provide synchronized captioning for your video.

Thursday, March 4, 2021 8:52:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, March 1, 2021

Episode 650

Christos Matskos on Microsoft Identity Platform

Microsoft Identity Platform is a set of authentication service, open-source libraries, and application management tools. Christos Matskas describes these tools and how to use them to make your application more secure.


Monday, March 1, 2021 8:48:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, February 27, 2021

Fragile Things is a collection of 25 short stories and 7 poems written by Neil Gaiman.

Most of the stories have dark - even macabre - themes. One tells how demons are created in Hell; in another, a man discovers that he has been living his entire life in a computer simulation; still another involves a boy's sexual enslavement by an ultra-rich man.

Some are more fully fleshed out than others, as if Gaiman began a longer novel before giving up; but these are worth including because Gaiman has such a gift for language and knows how to tell a story, even if it is a partial story.

Each story is independent of the others, but some exist in the same universe. For example, the wealthy Mr. Alice and his employee Mr. Smith appear in two different stories.

A couple satires or homages to the writings of other authors - C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes; and a few are inspired by art and music heard by Gaiman.

My favourite entry was the longest and final story in the collection - The Monarch of the Glen, which featured Shadow of American Gods and takes place a couple years after that novel.

Nearly everything in this book has appeared elsewhere and I had already read a few of the stories, but I enjoyed them again this time around.

Saturday, February 27, 2021 9:50:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, February 25, 2021

GCast 105:

Analyzing a Video with Azure Media Services

Learn how to use Azure Media Services to apply Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to a video, analyzing such things as face detection, speech-to-text, object detection, and optical character recognition

Thursday, February 25, 2021 8:52:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, February 22, 2021

Episode 649

Richard Taylor on the Microsoft Revenue Recognition System

Richard Taylor is working on a system to process revenue received by tech giant Microsoft. He discusses the challenge in building and maintaining a large system like this and in migrating it to Azure.

Monday, February 22, 2021 8:43:00 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, February 20, 2021

Tommy James and the Shondells turned out hit after hit in the 1960s. But James saw very little of the royalties generated by sales of his records. That money was controlled by crime boss Morris Levy, who signed a teenage James to a deal with his Roulette Records in 1966. The band went on to release two #1 records and  a dozen Top 40 singles over the next 5 years.

But Levy was notorious for non-payment of debts including tens of millions of royalties owed to James. James was forced to earn his money through constant touring and profited very little off the sale of his records.

Despite this betrayal, James and Levy maintained a close relationship throughout much of their lives. Levy was excellent at promoting James's music and James enjoyed a great deal of artistic freedom as Roulette's biggest star. James's career also benefited from Levy's strong-arm tactics: He would often bully songwriters into saving their best work for his artists.

Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells is Tommy James's story of life in the spotlight. It contains the usual anecdotes about women and booze and drugs that seem to be part of every rocker's life. But these stories are secondary to his interactions with Roulette and Levy.

The story climaxes in a gang war that sees Levy fleeing the country and James fearing for his life.

One wonders why James continued his relationship with Levy when he was treated so unfairly. Did he feel it was unsafe for him to leave? Was he a victim of Stockholm Syndrome? Did the career advantages of associating with Roulette outweighed the financial disadvantages?

One  wonders if the corruption at Roulette was a microcosm of the corruption in the entire music industry in the 1960s; and if that corruption continues today.

One wonders if Tommy James ever received all the royalties he was due.

Despite the unanswered questions, this book was an enjoyable read about an unlikely hitmaker and his adventures with the underbelly of the industry.

Saturday, February 20, 2021 9:49:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, February 18, 2021

GCast 104:

Sharing a Video Online with Azure Media Services

Learn how to use Azure Media Services to share a video on the web for streaming and/or for downloading.

Thursday, February 18, 2021 8:51:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)