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Life is too short for negativity.
Architect, former CTO, consultant, author, editor, and industry/web standards expert that still enjoys writing code.
Opinions are mine alone.

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Sunday, November 22, 2020

1 min read

A Lovely Conversation About Stop-Motion Animation

The National Galleries of Scotland has an exhibition on the brilliant Ray Harryhausen through Christmas. I have always been fascinated by stop-motion and still regret not pursung it as a career (although breaking in would have been extremely difficult when I was younger). I made several poorly animated films when I was younger using everything from Play-Doh to clay and stop-motion armatures assembled out of wood. The NGS recently featured a nice discussion with Peter Lord (animator, co-founder of Aardman Animations) about stop-motion and Ray Harryhausen. Stop-motion is experiencing a bit of a rennaisance thanks to recent films by Aardman, Laika, and others.

I found a nice tribute to Ray Harryhausen by the California Film Institute. It's nice to see Academy Award-winning effects artists such as Dennis Muren and Phll Tippet identify Ray as their inspriation.

Restoring local appsettings for Azure Functions

1 min read

If you’ve ever worked with Azure Functions then no doubt you’ve seen the local.settings.json file before. This file stores app settings, connection strings, etc. for local development.

This file is not checked into source control by default. That means when you clone a Function app you won't be able to run it locally without the local.settings.json file.

To restore the local.settings.json file do the following:

  1. Install the Azure Functions Core Tools
  2. Open a command window and navigate to the source code where your Azure Function is
  3. Run the following command:func azure functionapp fetch-app-settings <functionname> where <functionname> is your Azure Function name
  4. This will restore your local.settings.json file, enabling you to run your Function app locally

 

Monday, November 2, 2020

2 min read

Will AI "Fairness" Corrupt AI Itself? 

HBR recently ran a thought-provoking article about "AI Fairness". Ofqual is a UK-based company that administers college entrance exams. Ofqual was unable to hold live exams due to Covid-19 and decided to use an algorithm that based scores on the historical performance of high schools that students attended. This means students who were attending historically poorly performing schools would be unable to distinguish themselves via their own individual performance.  The article uses this point to launch into a discussion about human biases impacting AI algorithms, causing these algorithms to be unfair. While this is a fine point it has nothing to do with AI and totally bypasses the question of whether AI is an appropriate tool to use for the problem at hand. The algorithm itself was fine - the problem was the invalid assumption about how to solve the issue (pre-judging student performance based upon historically under-performing schools). AI has no concept of "fairness", it's ultimately just a bunch of rules that are executed based upon historic data. Attempting to modify algorithms in the name of "fairness" requires altering the data that drives the rules. This means your data will eventually no longer reflect reality in the interest of "fairness". Fairness and reality can be very different things. Attempting to alter historic data to pursue "fairness" could result in unintended consequences. I'm sure we'll eventually learn our lesson someday. 

Suddenly I want a Surface Duo 

This is an incredible demo, better than any marketing demo  I've ever seen. 

Dealing with Keyvault errors due to an expired refresh token

1 min read

I haven't been able to find a truly simple guide to fixing this issue so I'm posting my own:

  1. Ensure you have the Azure Command Line installed
  2. Login using the account you're trying to use to access KeyVault (verify this in Visual Studio under Tools...Options..Azure Service Authentication - ensure the cloud account is the one you need)
    az login
  3. After successfully logging in reboot the machine.

Your KeyVault issue should be fixed at this point.

 

HTTP Status Codes Decision Tree

1 min read

Putting this here for future reference.

Breaking

2 min read

Me: Hey God.
God: Hello.....
Me: I'm falling apart. Can you put me back together?
God: I would rather not.
Me: Why?
God: Because you aren't a puzzle.
Me: What about all of the pieces of my life that are falling down onto the ground?
God: Let them stay there for a while. They fell off for a reason. Take some time and decide if you need any of those pieces back.
Me: You don't understand! I'm breaking down!
God: No - you don't understand. You are breaking through. What you are feeling are just growing pains. You are shedding the things and the people in your life that are holding you back. You aren't falling apart. You are falling into place. Relax. Take some deep breaths and allow those things you don't need anymore to fall off of you. Quit holding onto the pieces that don't fit you anymore. Let them fall off. Let them go.
Me: Once I start doing that, what will be left of me?
God: Only the very best pieces of you.
Me: I'm scared of changing.
God: I keep telling you - YOU AREN'T CHANGING!! YOU ARE BECOMING!
Me: Becoming who?
God: Becoming who I created you to be! A person of light and love and charity and hope and courage and joy and mercy and grace and compassion. I made you for more than the shallow pieces you have decided to adorn yourself with that you cling to with such greed and fear. Let those things fall off of you. I love you! Don't change! ... Become! Become! Become who I made you to be. I'm going to keep telling you this until you remember it.
Me: There goes another piece.
God: Yep. Let it be.
Me: So ... I'm not broken?
God: Of course Not! - but you are breaking like the dawn. It's a new day. Become!!!
~Author Unknown

Drinking with Steven Soderbergh

1 min read

 

Last night Central Cinema hosted a Singani brandy tasting party with director Steven Soderbergh. It was a fun night, hosted by his beautiful daughter.

I never tried a Singani brandy before - apparently it's only made in a 20k acre area of Bolivia.  Absolutely delicious.  Very flowery and aromatic with a sweet, fruity taste.

I had a quick chat with Steven Soderbergh and told him that I really liked Kafka. He laughed and yelled "so YOU'RE the guy". He was surprisingly down to earth and hung out with anyone that wanted to talk or have a drink with him. Not all at all what I expected a successful Hollywood director to act like.  

He briefly joked about showing Contagion given the panic over coronavirus. He nicely thanked the audience for coming out despite the ongoing scares about coronavirus.

The film he chose to show was a remastered version of Bubble. Interesting film. Many of the people in it reminded me of the characters I grew up with in Western PA.

Monday, January 27, 2020

1 min read

You never really own anything you buy digitally


Electronic Arts’ iOS Tetris games will not only be disappearing from the App Store on April 21, but the games themselves will no longer be playable on iPhones and iPads—even if you paid for them.  This is why I still buy CDs and physical books from artists and authors I love.

Inspiring quote from a great book

"In these great crises of life, man is strong only as he is strong from within, and the more he depends on himself the stronger will he become, and the more able will he be to help others in the hour of their need."

 

 

Many software engineering problems are never solved.

They're simply moved to another platform and renamed. DLL Hell is still a very real problem - now it's called Nuget.