# Saturday, August 7, 2021

Malo-11It has been 30 years since The Mavericks released their first album. When the band broke up in 2003, founder and lead singer Raul Malo launched a solo career. The Mavericks reunited ten years later, but Malo continues to tour on his own. Friday evening at Chicago's City Winery, Malo stood on stage alone and entertained a full house for over two hours, armed only with a guitar bearing the scratches of countless concerts. The piano behind him puzzled me because he only played two songs on it; but I enjoyed them as did the rest of the audience, so who am I to judge?

The Mavericks are also touring, which could tire some performers, but Malo showed no signs of wear. His beautiful tenor voice seamlessly switched keys and he never missed a note or an emotion.

He played a mixture of Mavericks songs and his own songs and even a few covers of others' songs. To demonstrate that songwriters are great thieves, he sang several bars of standards, such as "Blue Moon" and "You Send Me" without changing the guitar part of his own song. At one point, he began a rendition of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" before abandoning it in the middle after messing up the lyrics. "At least you know it's live," he quipped.

Many of his songs were sung in Spanish (Raul is a Cuban-American whose parents emigrated from Cuba), and many came from The Mavericks' recent "En Español" album.


It has been a long time since I've seen an entertainer who combines such a heavenly voice with such engaging charm between songs. He radiated excitement about being back on stage after the long isolation of the pandemic. The audience responded with their own joy.

I had tickets to see Raul 10 years ago in Michigan, but a business trip prevented me from attending that show. He was worth the wait.

more photos

Saturday, August 7, 2021 3:35:44 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, August 2, 2021

Episode 672

Becky Gaudet on the Azure Commercial Marketplace

Becky Gaudet works on the Azure Commercial Marketplace team. She talks about the certification process and what it takes to put an offering on Azure.

https://aka.ms/marketplacesupport
https://partner.microsoft.com

Monday, August 2, 2021 9:07:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, August 1, 2021

8/1
Today I am grateful for:
-seeing The Smithereens with Marshall Crenshaw in concert last night
-my longest bike ride of the year
-lunch with the Lincoln Park Ski Club
-a visit from Nick yesterday

7/31
Today I am grateful to celebrate Shabbat with friends last night.

7/30
Today I am grateful to see Raul Malo in concert last night.

7/29
Today I am grateful to deliver a conference presentation for the first time in almost 2 years.

7/28
Today I am grateful to deliver a conference presentation for the first time in almost 2 years.

7/27
Today I am grateful for a visit from Pat this week.

7/26
Today I am grateful to unexpectedly coming upon a street fair in Wicker Park yesterday

7/25
Today I am grateful for my first visit to Annapolis in almost 10 years.

7/24
Today I am grateful:
-to attend my uncle's burial yesterday
-to spend yesterday dining and talking with my siblings and cousins

7/23
Today I am grateful to celebrate the life of Uncle Jerry yesterday with our family.

7/22
Today I am grateful for an upgrade to First Class on my flight last night.

7/21
Today I am grateful that my boys got to see an exciting NBA Finals game in person last night!

7/20
Today I am grateful for a very good Turkish dinner last night with Tim

7/18
Today I am grateful to see the play "Tally's Folly" in Glenview yesterday - my first play in well over a year.

7/17
Today I am grateful for all the beautiful murals in Pilsen.

7/16
Today I am grateful to those who appreciate what I do and say so out loud.

7/15
Today I am grateful for a new wallet.

7/14
Today I am grateful for a Zoom call with high school classmates last night to discuss our upcoming reunion.

7/13
Today I am grateful to co-workers who take the time to answer my questions.

7/12
Today I am grateful for a new pair of eyeglasses

7/11
Today I am grateful for a new rear tire donated and installed yesterday by the local bike shop.

7/10
Today I am grateful for my new Global Entry card.

7/9
Today I am grateful for an unexpected bonus yesterday.

7/8
Today I am grateful for a new bathroom sink.

7/7
Today I am grateful for the company of Zoe the dog this week.

7/6
Today I am grateful for my first visit to Navy Pier in years.

7/5
Today I am grateful to watch fireworks across the city from my balcony last night.

Sunday, August 1, 2021 2:55:25 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

RaulMalo2021It has been 30 years since The Mavericks released their first album. When the band broke up in 2003, founder and lead singer Raul Malo launched a solo career. The Mavericks reunited ten years later, but Malo continues to tour on his own. Friday evening at Chicago's City Winery, Malo stood on stage alone and entertained a full house for over two hours, armed only with a guitar bearing the scratches of countless concerts. The piano behind him puzzled me because he only played two songs on it; but I enjoyed them as did the rest of the audience, so who am I to judge?

The Mavericks are also touring, which could tire some performers, but Malo showed no signs of wear. His beautiful tenor voice seamlessly switched keys and he never missed a note or an emotion.

He played a mixture of Mavericks songs and his own songs and even a few covers of others' songs. To demonstrate that songwriters are great thieves, he sang several bars of standards, such as "Blue Moon" and "You Send Me" without changing the guitar part of his own song. At one point, he began a rendition of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" before abandoning it in the middle after messing up the lyrics. "At least you know it's live," he quipped.

Many of his songs were sung in Spanish (Raul is a Cuban-American whose parents emigrated from Cuba) and many came from The Mavericks' recent "En Español" album.

It has been a long time since I've seen an entertainer who combines such a heavenly voice with such engaging charm between songs. He radiated excitement about being back on stage after the long isolation of the pandemic. The audience responded with their own joy.

I had tickets to see Raul 10 years ago in Michigan, but a business trip prevented me from attending that show. He was worth the wait.

Photos

Sunday, August 1, 2021 12:40:05 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, July 26, 2021

Episode 671

Martine Dowden on the D3 JavaScript Visualization Framework

Martine Dowden discusses the D3 JavaScript framework and how she uses it to create powerful interactive data visualizations.

Links:

https://martine.dev/
https://www.d3-graph-gallery.com

Monday, July 26, 2021 9:18:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Wings of the Dove by Henry James is the story of a very good person, her friend who manipulates her, and a lover caught in the manipulation.

Milly Theale was a wealthy American heiress who loved traveling the world. She met and befriended the betrothed English couple Kate Croy and Merton Densher shortly before Milly was diagnosed with an incurable disease. Kate convinced her fiancé Merton to court the dying Milly in the hope that he would inherit Milly's fortune and share it with Kat.

The story is good, and the novel has withstood the test of time, but its problems come from the author. The American James wanted desperately to come across as a Victorian Englishmen. He does so by dressing every sentence with flowery prose - prose that often gets in the way of the story. He has a story to tell, and he tells it, but he takes at least twice as long to do so.

I believed in the characters. Kate was raised without a mother - first by her worthless father, then by her domineering Aunt Maud, who forbade her from marrying the penniless Merton. Kate's actions were understandable, if not forgivable.

The conversation in the final chapter, in which the characters seem to come to terms with their sins, is satisfying, even if the final ambiguous sentence is not.

Finishing this book made me feel as if I had accomplished something, which is something.

Sunday, July 25, 2021 9:40:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, July 24, 2021

In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck describes two mindsets: Fixed and Growth. People with a Fixed Mindset believe that each of us is born with a finite amount of intelligence, talent, and skill. Those with a growth mindset believe that we can work to improve our intelligence, talent, and skill.

As a society, we tend to embrace the idea of Fixed Mindset. We praise those gifted with natural athletic ability; teachers tend to label children as smart or dumb; and people talk about relationships as if they were destined to be together. But the reality is that it takes work to improve one's athletic prowess, education, and relationships. A Fixed Mindset discourages this work as pointless, which inhibits growth in these areas.

The most significant difference between the two mindsets is in their approach to failure. Fixed Mindset people see failure as an indictment of their abilities. They tend to stop trying when they encounter failure, and they avoid those activities that do not have a high chance of success. In contrast, Growth Mindset people are challenged by failure. They view it as an opportunity to learn and are motivated to develop themselves further. They choose challenging activities that will push them to stretch their limits.

Those with a growth mindset tend to be happier and more successful.

While the book favors anecdotes over clinical research, Dweck's theories make intuitive sense to me. I look back on my own life and realize that I was trapped in a Fixed Mindset during my early years. I was labeled early on as a "smart kid" and so I tended to coast through school without pushing my boundaries. In Elementary School, I perceived myself as a poor athlete with low strength, so I did not attempt to excel at sports. Later in life, I shifted my outlook and sought to improve myself in areas where I was weak, and this made a huge difference in my life. Dr. Dweck's ideas are not revolutionary, but she articulates them well.

Saturday, July 24, 2021 9:19:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, July 20, 2021

I attended my first concert in 1977. It was at Olympia Stadium in Detroit, where the Red Wings played before moving to Joe Louis Arena and again to Little Caesar Arena. Four singers/songwriters/guitarists performed: John Denver, James Taylor, Harry Chapin, and Gordon Lightfoot. Lightfoot's hit song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" released the prior year was still getting significant airplay and I loved seeing him live. Chapin and Denver are gone, but Lightfoot is still touring at the ripe old age of 82.

His touring was interrupted 17 months ago, but he kicked off a new tour Sunday evening at the Copernicus Center in Chicago.

I watched contentedly from the fourth row, remembering a night long ago when a high school David experienced this for the first time.

Many of the songs were the same. Lightfoot's peak of popularity occurred in the 1970s when he established himself as arguably the greatest songwriter in Canadian history.

The years have weakened Gordon's once-rich voice, but he can still carry a tune and he can still put emotion into songs that he has been singing for decades. More importantly, he engaged the audience between songs, joking about everything from his age to almost meeting Elvis Presley years ago (the crowd exiting the arena slowed him so much that Elvis had left the building by the time Gordon finally arrived backstage.)

The sold-out theatre was filled with many gray and balding heads, but they responded enthusiastically to the music of their youth. Lightfoot sang all his hits, including "Carefree Highway", "Sundown", "Early Morning Rain", "Rainy Day People", the aforementioned "Edmund Fitzgerald", and my personal favourite - "If You Could Read My Mind". In between, he mixed in many lesser-known songs, each one enjoyable.

He performed for about two hours with a 15-minute intermission and returned to the stage for one encore.

It was an evening well spent.

At this rate, I will be 103 and Gordon will be 126 when we next meet.

More photos

Tuesday, July 20, 2021 11:38:23 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, July 19, 2021

Episode 669

Sarah Withee on an Open Source Pancreas

Sarah Withee describes how the open source community has created software to help diabetics make it easier to manage insulin levels and injections.

Links:
https://github.com/nightscout/cgm-remote-monitor
https://github.com/nightscoutfoundation
https://github.com/openaps
https://loopkit.github.io/loopdocs/
https://github.com/loopkit
https://github.com/loopdocs/

Monday, July 19, 2021 9:25:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, July 18, 2021

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not new, but it is challenging for most people. In her book You Look Like a Thing and I Love You, Janelle Shane breaks down this technology in simple terms and illustrates it with examples that are interesting, humorous, and sometimes absurd.

This book does not require any prior knowledge of neural networks, machine learning, artificial intelligence, or even computer science. Dr. Shane writes in a straightforward prose that is easily consumed - even by those unfamiliar with the math and science under the hood.

She begins with an explanation of Artificial Intelligence - what it is and why it is useful. She then covers some uses of AI, focusing on its limitations and misuses. Her samples include many unexpected results. The title of the book comes from an effort by a neural net to generate pickup lines after examining hundreds of actual lines.

Here are a few thoughts from Shane's book:

  • An AI is very literal. It will try to solve the problem you give it - sometimes in unexpected ways. If you tell it to come up with a game-playing strategy that minimizes the number of times a player is killed, it may decide to hide in a corner and not move, which accomplishes the stated goal but is probably not an effective strategy for winning a game.
  • An AI will take shortcuts if it can. In an experiment to identify the presence of sheep in a photograph, the AI noticed that nearly every photo of sheep also included grass. Since it was easier to identify grass than sheep, it concluded that any photograph of grass also included sheep.
  • AI works best when it is given a narrow focus. It struggles if the problem is too broad. It is possible to create a bot that can have a conversation with a human, but that conversation will be far more meaningful if we train it to stick to a narrow topic. Try to train a bot to both take travel reservations and give relationship advice and it will likely fail at both.
  • Because AIs are trained in a simulated environment, they may choose solutions that only work in that environment, but not in the real world. One experiment asked an AI to find the fastest way for a robot to get from one point to another. It concluded the optimal solution was for the robot to grow a long leg and fall toward the destination.
  • Bias in input data can result in bias in predictive results. Train a system on existing resumes and hires and it may conclude that men are better hires than women because they were hired more often in the past.

As a result of these and other limitations, Shane concludes that we are unlikely to develop a general-purpose intelligence system, such as Star Trek's Data, 2001's HAL, or Terminator's Skynet any time soon. But that does not diminish the usefulness of the field, which can solve complex problems in imaginative ways. We just need to be aware of the pitfalls, so we can avoid them.

Sunday, July 18, 2021 9:12:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)