Monday, July 07, 2014
Sunday, July 06, 2014 11:23:41 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, June 23, 2014
Monday, June 23, 2014 3:25:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day 4: Thursday, May 22

IT Camp, Day 1

Up early to hear the keynote. Peter Keller talked about fear in organizations - what causes fear; how fear can hurt us; how to manage fear; and how fear can motivate us to achieve new things.

Mihai Tataran and Tudor Damian gave a second keynote - this one about security. The highlight was Tudor's demos showing how easy it was to hack a user's password in a typical corporate environment. The main effect of this second keynote was to make the audience afraid for the security of their data, so it's a good thing it was preceded by a talk about fear.

Later that morning, I gave my Data Visualization talk. The room was nearly full and it was very well received. I was fortunate that I could give this talk in English, even though English was not the first language of most of the audience.

In the evening, the conference organizers reserved much of the hotel dining room and treated the speakers to dinner and drinks. This was a great opportunity to get to know the other speakers - most of whom were European and most of whom I had never met.

IMG_0052-L[1] 

Day 5: Friday, May 23

IT Camp, Day 2

I delivered my second presentation - this one on building a Windows 8 game using Construct 2. The audience was great and seemed to enjoy it.

I recorded 2 interviews with Technology and Friends - one with Peter Keller and one with Tudor Damian. Both of these have been published at http://technologyandfriends.com/.

I took more time today to talk with the conference attendees. Unlike most American developer conferences, this one was attended by nearly 40% women. The industry seemed far less dominated by males here than back home, although I did notice only one female speaker.

In the evening, the conference organizers took the speakers to a local restaurant and treated us to another multi-course meal. Again, it was a great opportunity for me to get to know the speakers. Although most of the attendees seemed to be from northern Transylvania, I met speakers from Romania, Hungary, Poland, Italy, Bulgaria, Norway, England and the United States.

 IMG_0068-L[1] 

Day 6: Saturday, May 24

Alba Iulia

The conference was over but IT Camp reserves the day after the conference for a cultural outing for all the speakers. This year's outing was to Alba Iulia - a beautiful city south of Cluj. Alba Iulia was the first capital of Romania when it gained independence after World War I.

After the bus ride to Alba Iulia, we stopped for an excellent lunch and set out to walk around the city with a tour guide. Alba was a walled city that was well-fortified against attacks but that was never attacked. The country have spent the last five years restoring the city's historic buildings and monuments and the place is gorgeous. Our tour guide was supposedly telling us about the history of the city, but it was hard to tell as he never spoke above a whisper and there were several dozen of us.

After the bus ride back to the hotel, we were treated to one last dinner. I don’t recall attending a conference that treated speakers as well as IT Camp. From the 5-star hotel accommodations to the food to the conference organization, everything was done well.

After the bus returned to the hotel, the conference treated us to another (excellent) dinner. We hung out in the lobby after dinner talking and I decided I would drive to Budapest in the morning. I had met Adam and Magdolna from Budapest a few days earlier, so I made plans to meet them for dinner.

IMG_0085-L[1]  IMG_0074-L[1] 

This is part 2 of a series describing my 2014 trip to Romania and Hungary.

Photos of Romania

Saturday, June 21, 2014 5:53:30 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, June 08, 2014

Yesterday, I attended the Pittsburgh Tech Fest for the second time. The first time was 4 years ago, when the event was still known as The Pittsburgh Code Camp.

It’s always a pleasure for me to return to Pittsburgh. I worked for a commodity trading advisor in downtown Pittsburgh for a few months during graduate school; I had a chance to visit some college friends who have settled in Pittsburgh; and I had a chance to drive through the Fort Pitt Tunnel. If you have never been through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, I can tell you that the exit from the tunnel into downtown Pittsburgh is an amazing sight. It reminds me of the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opens her door to reveal the land of Oz in full Technicolor.

I was originally scheduled to deliver one presentation – Effective Data Visualization. But there was a cancellation, so I was asked to give a second talk on Azure Mobile Services. The room was full for my Data Visualization talk and the audience seemed to enjoy it. This was the first time I gave the Azure Mobile Services talk and it was not as polished as I would like it, but I will give it 3 more times this week, so I have time to work on any shortcomings.

I watched a presentation on Xamarin that highlighted the new features of version 3; and a presentation on Building an API that gave some advice on how to approach a API development. I liked the presenter’s idea of writing client code before you begin writing the API itself.

The event was well-organized and attracted 2-300 attendees, most from western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. There was no dominant platform, but it seemed that .NET and JavaScript were more popular than the other platforms discussed.

If you are a software developer near Pittsburgh, I recommend you check out the Pittsburgh Tech Fest next year.

Sunday, June 08, 2014 10:00:25 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, May 12, 2014
Monday, May 12, 2014 11:31:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dev Days 2014 is a free Microsoft coming soon to a city near you (hopefully).

This event will present some of the content from the Build Conference last month.

Here is the agenda:

Time

Session

8:30-8:45 AM

Welcome and logistics

8:45-9:00 AM

Overview of the day

9:00-10:30 AM

What’s new on Windows Phone and Window 8

10:30-10:45 AM

Break

10:45-12:15 PM

What’s new in Windows Azure

12:30-1:00 PM

Lunch

1:00-2:45 PM

What’s new in Visual Studio and Team Foundation

2:45-3:15 PM

Close and raffle

The first of these events was Friday in Chicago, where over 100 people registered. The upcoming schedule and registration links are below:

Event Date

Location City

14-May-14

Southfield, MI

Register

16-May-14

Austin, TX

Register

19-May-14

Irving, TX

Register

23-May-14

Edina, MN

Register

23-May-14

St. Louis, MO

Register

11-Jun-14

Columbus, OH

Register

Meanwhile, there is still one more Enterprise Developer Boot Camp scheduled in Edina, MN. You can register for this free event at this link.

Sunday, May 11, 2014 3:20:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, February 22, 2014

I didn't know Jim Weirich well. But I knew of him. And I knew the impact he had on others.

Those of us who have been engaged in the community could not help but be aware of Jim.

Jim had a reputation as an excellent Ruby developer; but, more than that, he had a reputation for sharing his knowledge with others. At conferences, he would explain Ruby concepts to experienced and novice developers alike and taking the time to make sure you understood it. I first met Jim when I attended his "Ruby Koans" session at CodeMash 5 years ago. Most people worked the Koans in either the morning or the afternoon session, but I was a slow learner and I stayed for the entire day, trying to figure them out. Jim was patient and answered all my newbie questions.

Jim also had a reputation for being friendly to everyone he met. Some people called him "Ruby Santa Claus" - partly because of his large size and his thick white beard, but also because of his quick smile and friendly outlook. I last saw Jim on the final day of CodeMash this past January. Walking past the Neo booth, I shouted "Hi, Jim." He smiled and asked how I was doing. It was a brief interaction, but I'm glad I have this as my final memory of the man who touched so many lives with his smile and his teachings.

We lost Jim earlier this week. He collapsed at work Tuesday evening and died shortly afterward.

To Jim's family and to those  closest to him - especially Joe, Leon, and Doug - I send my prayers and my condolences. To the rest of you, I send this challenge: No matter how well you knew Jim Weirich, take his life as an inspiration to share knowledge and joy with those around you.

IMG_1674-M[1]
Jim Weirich at CodeMash 2009

Saturday, February 22, 2014 9:44:32 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, February 01, 2014

TechReady is an internal conference for Microsoft field employees. As far as I can tell, field employees are those who do not work for a product team in Redmond, which is still a lot of people.

Well, I am now a Microsoft employee and my group (Developer Platform Evangelism, aka DPE) does not build products, so I was able to attend TechReady for the first time this week.

What an experience! I attend a lot of conferences and my habit at these conferences is to only attend a few sessions, electing instead to find smart people in the hallways or speaker room or lunch room and pick their brains to learn as much as I can about real world software experiences. This conference was different - in part because I didn't know a lot of attendees and in part because so much of the content was not available anywhere else.  I attended as many sessions as I could and even watched recordings of a few sessions on the flight home.

Before attending, I promised I would not share the content of any sessions (much of it focused on features that may or may not be in a future product release); so I'll share my impressions and experiences here.

First, this conference was a great opportunity to meet others inside Microsoft. A number of evangelists from the west region attended and I got to know them. One night, my team had dinner with Sanket Akerkar, the Vice President in charge of US DPE. I was impressed with his openness and the frank exchange about the future of evangelism within Microsoft.

At most meals, I sat with strangers and got to know people from all over the world in many different roles at Microsoft. Microsoft is a very diverse company with all kinds of people doing all kinds of things and this week really underscored that fact to me. I also had a chance to meet up with some old friends, such as Josh Holmes, Kevin Pilch-Bisson, Dani Diaz, Chet Kloss, Mark Grimes, Jeff Wilcox, and Ted Neward. Ted doesn't work for Microsoft but he invited me to dinner with his family when he heard I was in town. I had a long conversation with consultant David Chappell, a Microsoft consulting partner who has written extensively on the impact of the cloud on businesses. Part of that conversation was recorded and I'll share it in a few weeks.

I heard a lot of talk about technologies that I want to explore later - in particular Project Siena and Unity.

I listened to many people smarter than me discussing product feature decisions. I was impressed by how much of Microsoft product features are driven by customer requests. A frequent exchange I heard was: "Why did you decide to implement Feature A and not Feature B?" "Because many of our customers have requested Feature A and we hear very little demand for Feature B, so we deferred B for a later release." Microsoft is sometimes perceived as a walled tower that unilaterally pushes products on customers but this week showed me emphatically that is not the case.

Overall TechReady gave me a greater appreciation for my new company. The conference is bi-annual, so I hope to get back to it shortly.

Saturday, February 01, 2014 8:34:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, January 20, 2014
Monday, January 20, 2014 5:22:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, December 23, 2013
Monday, December 23, 2013 12:24:42 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, December 01, 2013
This post is for the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group (MIGANG). Download and rate each of the Windows 8 apps listed below to help MIGANG win fabulous prizes, including an Xbox One!

Application

HyperLink

Baby Needs for Girls

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/99AE246C-7953-467F-9EC2-F84C4FE2A3E4

The URUS fan app

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/5CB5C553-F174-4875-B001-A039D0F940A2

Bo Burnham Fan Club

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/69F035C4-8EE3-4596-BDEA-0DE1908CBFFC

Nerdist Fan Club

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/CA0359EC-4844-4E9A-B6F3-816BE95F551A

Basketball Pop

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/59586E27-8AD4-45E9-946D-512BB03B90AA

Celebrity Memory Match

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/23D50658-04A3-41AF-825C-C466EE795075

Halloween Match

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/0026370E-5628-4094-A93A-6D3BFDB14310

Switching Stick Figures

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/EB4C81AD-4905-4A5C-A7F7-E48C8249951B

BrooklynOMG

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/33A1B2D2-E429-4486-9021-234EB95F50FE

Barnyard Bash

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/A703C74D-0475-467B-8D1D-24A157CEF750

Jump Squirrel, Jump!

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/E913581C-4BCD-48C6-8202-47AFEFD51EF3

Protect the Dragons 2

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/DA3B4877-E3D4-4D4C-9C0E-AFED29697A78

Spring Sting

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/696FD0A6-B6D5-4D42-A541-3F4249472418

Sunny Summer

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/F692C1A6-000A-43CF-987A-453BF289A3DF

Whimsical Winter

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/B2646AF8-7E9C-40DC-A2E1-A24A2096C17A

Shape Sifter

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/130E44CE-9746-480F-9FC7-C949CDC4F213

BCBSWNY for Windows 8

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/57C7310D-51C5-40D4-8CEE-CB608CCF53BB

Tennis Elbow HD FREE

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/675DC1DB-1CB5-4372-B89B-DA067E545807

Fly or Die

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/812ACD4F-7B5F-48DC-81E3-26513F99584E

Picture Memory

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/84C141C4-8E9A-4208-B786-E375616CDB3E

Sunday, December 01, 2013 7:51:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)

This post is for the Chicago .NET User Group. Download and rate each of the Windows 8 apps listed below to help CNUG win fabulous prizes, including an Xbox One!

Courier and Press http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/F7926F57-F5E4-4B80-9DE4-83AE596C1A1D
Kitsap Sun http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/F973832F-4D16-4F66-BF06-CFFE5CC60A66
Naples Daily News http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/21CA1C4E-B0E7-40F9-BE51-347133A5C7A0
Record Searchlight http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/97F30C2B-DE68-4904-BCE8-0D3E442F3F6A
San Angelo Standard-Times http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/1F9917D4-1146-4624-AAD2-6E583C17B63C
TCPalm/Treasure Coast Newspapers http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/2536D67B-23ED-4C98-B7C2-EF8289CB0FDE
Times Record News http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/E5ADDF04-2D96-405D-97BC-D793F1F8F6E3
Ventura County Star http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/EF075C20-BB6B-46D6-A810-07FEA0B18646
Dutch Spell Check http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/944C633B-EED1-4D25-AF08-410B92ECCBA4
Teacher Pay (CA) http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/12AF4C07-3007-45DB-8E7E-277C869EBD87
Miami Weather http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/D6656C13-DB73-4B3D-94E3-1EFC5C14036D
New York Weather and Image http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/A018275D-5BC5-4600-ACEA-0B9D4D59AF6F
A Rainy June and Other Stories Ebook http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/49CE8EAA-8D60-43CB-B032-A2E3D01E9A52
Bingo Call Simulator http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/F3D59EEE-4EE0-46F0-B008-7D84AA666267
Coins Flip Simulator http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/7D6E4ECB-A679-4C81-9D4D-CBA43BED2BB7
Custom RPG Battles http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/DDAE76B4-4F33-4E70-B82D-DC5F30015780
Dead Pixels Search http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/087FE823-9DD3-4A71-8CF8-D33AD6CE5058
Fact About Cat http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/9B7B7F6E-364C-4D2A-92D8-9616F37FB2A3
Headphone Directional Test http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/D20B8504-35AE-4CDC-8036-AA6FFDD610AA
Jumbled Image - Fire Emblem http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/5B75E954-F72A-4091-BECD-9E6EBB225150
Jumbled Image - F-Zero http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/96441A68-E765-4384-91D0-043208203E32
Tarpan http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/8B7F3DA6-7E95-47EA-BB83-FA5034138F6A
Complete and Absolute total Cost Calculator http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/B0EB3EAA-04BE-4CA1-B2C8-88F254C1722E
La Gran Sabana http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/7727A62F-18B8-4C4E-AE0D-D30F242AD950
Garry Goat Eats a Can http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/0F690D6D-FD9F-4783-ABF9-A9C6EEBBC5A6
Sunday, December 01, 2013 3:58:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, November 27, 2013

On Saturday December 14, the Detroit Mobile .NET Users’ Group will host a Windows 8 Hackathon. Bring your laptop and build an application. Jennifer Marsman and I will be on hand to get people started with Windows 8 development, show some tools to quickly create an app, and help people along. Other experienced developers will also be attending and should be able to answer questions.

Developers at all skill levels should get something out of this event and should have the opportunity to create an app and submit it to the app store.

This event takes place December 14 starting from 9AM to 5:30PM at the Southfield, MI Microsoft office (1000 Town Center, Suite 1930).

You can find details and register at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/devunleashed-se-michigan-windows-8-hackathon-tickets-9449308135.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 3:23:04 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, October 20, 2013

I wanted to speak at Southwest Fox because I had heard good things about conference and because FoxPro was the first computer language I was paid to program in. I have fond memories of both the technology and of the community surrounding this language.

Spending time with FoxPro developers 15 years ago gave me my first taste of a passionate developer community. People who developed in FoxPro believed in its power and often expressed frustration that it didn't have the commercial success of other products. I remember hearing the audience boo loudly when a photo of Visual Basic 6 displayed on-screen at a FoxPro Developers Conference in the late 1990s.

So, here I was - back to my roots - hanging around people who make their living writing Visual FoxPro – a language that finally released its last version a couple years ago.

You would think a community like this would be ready to move onto something new, but that wasn't what I found. There are thousands of applications successfully built with FoxPro and still going strong in Production. And in many cases, the businesses have no compelling reason to migrate these applications to a newer language. I learned there are even some good reasons to stay put, such as the low hardware requirements. As a result, many people have found a good business maintaining and enhancing these applications.

Attendees flocked to Southwest Fox in Phoenix, AZ from all over the world. I met people from New Zealand, Germany, Holland, and Nigeria. They came because this is one of the few events where you can learn about FoxPro in person and meet other Fox developers.

This year marked the tenth consecutive year of the conference and about a dozen people had attended all ten conferences.

It was my first time attending.

I delivered almost 7 hours of content at Southwest Fox - 3-hour session on HTML5; 2 75-minute sessions on jQuery; and a 75-minute presentation on maintaining legacy code. Even though my sessions had nothing to do with FoxPro, many people went out of their way to tell me they learned a lot from them.

Several people told me that Southwest Fox is their favorite conference - an event that attendees look forward to all year. Partly, this is true because so few conferences have a focus on FoxPro; but the most common reason was that people had the chance to see friends they only see once a year.

"It's about the people", said speaker Jody Meyer.

The event felt as much like a family reunion as a developer’s conference.

I am grateful I was invited as part of this family event.

Sunday, October 20, 2013 9:57:10 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, October 05, 2013

This week was my second visit to DevConnections and first as a speaker. Two years ago, the event was much larger and more spread out across the Mandalay Bay Conference Center in Las Vegas. I enjoyed the conference back then and I enjoyed the conference this year, as well. The content was intriguing, the speaker pool was excellent, the venue was first-rate, and the atmosphere was great.

Because I was a speaker and because I was presenting 2 brand new presentations, I spent the first day in the speaker room preparing my talks. This strategy seemed to work as several people came up to me after my session and during the conference to tell me they enjoyed my sessions.

After my preparation was done, I was able to attend some sessions on Creating Windows 8 Games, Windows Azure, TypeScript, and Do’s and Don'ts of Software Development.

The conference attracted a diverse group of speakers from all over the world and attendees from all over the US. At lunch one day, I met the guy who wrote the online ordering application I use to order my lunch. In the speaker room, I met people from Israel, Italy, and all across the US.

You can download my slides and demos below:
Connecting the Dots: Using Web API, jQuery, and HTML5 Together http://sdrv.ms/1e15q3P
Maintaining Legacy Code http://sdrv.ms/1e15sZu


My notes from attending sessions are below.

Cloud Computing

Mark Minasi
Mark Russinovich

Microsoft moved from
Plan/Develop/Test/Ship
to "DevOps"

System Center Virtual Machine Manager
Windows Azure Fabric Controller

Issues of scaling

Commodity hardware in Azure data center

Redundancy
(e.g., Azure fabric controller runs on multiple servers)

Efficient data centers
2 people watching servers
2 people taking calls

Price breaks buying hardware in huge volume

Customers with global customers need cloud provider with data centers around the world
Latency

3rd Phase of Computing
1. Birth of mainframe
2. Client-server
3. Cloud computing

What happens in China?

Cloud is changing jobs - not eliminating them
Managing virtual machines/ monitoring system vs managing hardware

Building Games for Windows 8 – Using GameMaker
Daniel Egan

Step-by-step using GameMaker

Build vector graphics with Inkscape http://inkscape.org/

Keep graphics quality consistent.

Do's and Don't's of Software Projects
Dino Esposito

Big Ball of Mud (BBM)=Spaghetti Code
Not big in the beginning. Grows over time
No single developer can create BBM.

Communication is key
Misalignment btn requirements & features

When individual changes occur frequently, the system changes over time and may require a change in architecture.

Software is not like engineering: More dynamic.

Clean Code

Cohesion: Keep together logically-related methods and classes

Layers

Don't be afraid of refactoring

Tools can help

Saturday, October 05, 2013 8:00:09 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, September 29, 2013
This past Saturday, I experienced my first bar camp - The Bar Camp Tampa Bay. For those who don't know, a bar camp is a technical conference run by the attendees. Unlike a code camp, sessions are not selected in advance; instead, any attendees can sign up to deliver a presentation during an open slot. Technically, I attended this same event last year. However, last year, the Bar Camp was combined with the Tampa Code Camp and I delivered five presentations, which prevented me from visiting the Bar Camp side of the event. This year, I experienced Bar Camp head on. I signed up to deliver a presentation titled "Connecting the Dots: Using HTML5, jQuery, and Web API Together". It went really well. The room was packed and, after every seat was filled, people sat on the floor in the aisles. The only downside was that I ran out of time, but a number of people came out in the hallway with questions. It was a good experience because I'm delivering the same (but longer) presentation at DevConnections this week. I attended a few sessions: students showing off robotics, how to write a successful blog, and lessons from the Game of Thrones (Winter/death is coming to us all eventually and we should be ready). Although most of the attendees were technologies, I noticed that most of the sessions were not about technology - many were about startups and social media and marketing and soft skills. Still, people were engaged and I didn't hear a single complaint about a disappointing session. I also had a chance to meet a number of new people. Most attendees were not Microsoft developers, but we still found common ground and I came away impressed by the Tampa area developer community.
Sunday, September 29, 2013 7:36:48 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, August 19, 2013
 Saturday, July 13, 2013

Earlier this month, I was honored to be renewed as a Microsoft MVP. This is the third year in a row I have received this award.

Although Microsoft is not specific about criteria, I believe that I receive this award primarily because I've been willing to share whatever knowledge I have with those around me. This community involvement, helps Microsoft to evangelize their products and it happens to be something I enjoy doing.

For me, there are two main benefits of the Microsoft MVP Award.
1. It is recognition that I'm doing some good in the world and that my skills don't suck. I won't pretend that peer recognition is not important to me. I get warm and fuzzy when I earn the respect of someone I respect and this is some pretty nice validation.
2. I get to attend the Microsoft Global MVP Summit. I go to a lot of conferences and each has its strength, but the MVP Summit attracts a high concentration of really smart people. Attendees get to see the next version of Microsoft products and even provide feedback to affect the direction of the development of these projects. But for me, the best part of the conference is the chance to talk face-to-face with authors, speakers, bloggers, and product team members. Many times, I've had the chance to meet someone

The MVP program does provide other benefits - most notably free software, both from Microsoft and from its many partners. But, for the most part, I could receive this through my work or my user group anyway.

As with most awards, many others helped me to earn this one. The volunteers at the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group (GANG); the speakers who traveled to Detroit for GANG; the conference organizers and user group leaders who invited me to speak at their events; and INETA, Sogeti, and Telerik, who helped by financially supporting my travels, making it possible for me to speak far from home; and everyone who agreed to appear on my TV show.

Recently, a well-respected member of the Developer Community started a debate on Twitter, questioning the value of receiving an MVP award. I cannot speak for him, but the advantages I listed above are enough incentive for me to fill out a brief form every spring.

The best part of this deal is that I'm rewarded for doing what I love and what I would be doing anyway.

MVP2013Trophy[1]

Saturday, July 13, 2013 1:34:29 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, July 08, 2013
Monday, July 08, 2013 1:54:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, June 15, 2013

Last week, I was doubly fortunate. First, because I had the opportunity to attend my second Tech Ed. Although I attend a lot of conferences, the large, commercial conferences tend to be out of my price range. But more importantly, I was fortunate to be invited to speak at Tech Ed this year. This was by far the largest in-person event at which I have ever spoken and it was a great experience!

I arrived in New Orleans Saturday night and had dinner with Richard Campbell and Tibi Covaci - two of the smartest people I know.

Saturday morning, I woke up early and took a bus with a bunch of volunteers to a New Orleans neighborhood still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina 8 years ago. Tech Ed partnered with several local charities to invite a busload of attendees to help build houses in this neighborhood. You can read more about the event here.

A morning pounding nails left me exhausted but a hot bath later I was ready to attend the INETA Meet and Greet - a chance for those in the developer community to connect with one another. It was also a great chance for me to catch up with others on the INETA Board of Directors, an amazing group of people who put a lot of effort into making the developer community better.

My presentation was scheduled for Monday afternoon, so I spent most of the morning preparing for it. The topic was "Effective Data Visualization" - a talk I have given many times in the past. I was nervous but the presentation went well and the 70 minutes flew by. Over 200 people attended the session and several people approached me afterward to tell me how much they enjoyed the talk and what they learned. Microsoft Evangelist Brady Gaster was kind enough to sit in my session and provide some valuable feedback on my presentation skills. You can watch a recording of my presentation here.

At Tech Ed last year in New Orleans, I won "Speaker Idol" - a competition among those who have never presented at Tech Ed before. Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell of .NET Rocks fame host the contest in which each contestant must deliver a 5-minute presentation, followed by critiquing by a panel of 4 judges. A heat takes place each day during lunch and the finals are held on the last day of Tech Ed. As last year's Speaker Idol champion, I was asked to be a judge this year. The quality of the competition was amazing this year and I was excited to see Jeff Fritz - whom I met at last year's Speaker Idol - finish as runner-up this year. The champion was Jessica Devita, who gave an excellent presentation on Office 365 Migrations. I had a blast judging this event and I'm grateful I was asked to do so.

One advantage this conference has is the number of people on the Microsoft product teams who attend and make themselves available. One section of the trade show floor is designated "Ask the Experts" where Microsoft employees and industry experts make themselves available to answer questions of attendees. I took advantage of this opportunity, getting answers to my question about how to configure startup options for Lync (the menu is hidden until you click the 'Gear' icon); and my question about how to configure DNS to point to my Azure Web Site without prefacing the URL with "www" (I need to add the URL to the "MANAGE DOMAINS" list in the Azure portal).

On Wednesday, I volunteered to work one of the Ask the Experts area and I answered a number of questions about Visual Studio.

Tech Ed features over 700 sessions, which can be a bit overwhelming. I managed to catch a few of these - some in person and some via recordings. My notes are at the end of this article. I'll likely be watching some more videos during the coming weeks. They are available at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2013#fbid=-b30gJBZH1s

Even without Tech Ed, a few days in New Orleans is a pleasant experience. The hotel (Loews) was great; I explored the French Quarter in the evenings; Thanks to Becky Isserman, I experienced my first Beignet (at Cafe du Monde); I attended a number of parties thrown by sponsors; I had dinner with many old and new friends, including Mihai Tataran, Mark Minasi, Brent Stineman, Dustin Campbell, Chris Woodruff, and too many others to list here; I ate too much excellent spicy food; and I walked so much that my feet ached by the time I left.

The only downside was that I had to leave a day early to attend my son's high school graduation, so I missed the closing party at the Louisiana Super Dome that featured a concert by Tina Turner.

All in all, Tech Ed was an amazing experience and I hope to be invited to speak again next year.

Photos of Tech Ed

IMG_4682-M[1] IMG_4671-M[1]


Session Notes

KEYNOTE

by Brad Anderson
video

Key Changes to Azure
    BizTalk in cloud
    Billing prorated by the minute
    Web sites now support SSL

Brownfield Development: Taming Legacy Code with Better Unit Testing and Microsoft Fakes

by Peter Provost and Joshua Weber
http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2013/DEV-B331#fbid=i3RgnF-27j2

Legacy Code=Any code without tests
    Risk of change outweighs value of new features
Start writing tests
    Pick something you know; then another thing you know
What test
    Code you will change
    Code that affects what you change
    Test to understand code

Do not test
    Irrelevant edge cases
    Unrelated working code

Recommended:
    Working Effectively with Legacy Code by Michael Feathers
Large methods are painful
    Do too much
    Need to understand it all to make a change
    Solution
        Refactor into smaller methods
        Single Responsibilty
    Use SENSOR variables
        private Object SENSOR;
        this.SENSOR = somevariable;
    Shim/Seam:
        Change what a method does
        Requires a scope with using()

Visual Studio Tips and Tricks

by Dustin Campbell and Scott Cate
video

Solution Explorer
    Expand class: View members
Right-click  class or method: Scope to: Used By
Filter pending changes

Common metaphor
    Back arrow

CTRL - Last cursor position
CTRL SHIFT - Reverse direction

View | Code Definition
    Always shows definition in a window without navigating away

CTRL ,
    Navigate To
    Global Search

CTRL SHIFT V
    cycles through items on clipboard ring

SHIFT ALT F11
    Prompt which nested function to step into

Building Modern, HTML5-Based Business Apps on Windows Azure with Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch

by Beth Massi
video

Rapid Application Development for data-based apps
Handles CRUD for you

Single Page app
"Responsive Design": Layout changes as screen size changes
1. Start
2. Describe your data
3. Create screens for common tasks

Customize screens
Define custom queries

Design or Die: The Challenge to the Microsoft Developer Ecosystem

by Billy Hollis
video

Software landscape is changing
    Customers expect apps to work on different devices

Layering information in a single panel is now possible

You don't have to be as good as professional designers; You have to be better than you are now
Need basic understanding of composition and a process

Data Grids tend not to be good for touch
    If we expand size of cells to touch, less data on screen

OK to have incomplete metaphors; Mind fills in the details

Gutenberg Principle
    In left-to-right reading cultures, people tend to scan rectangular surfaces from top-left to bottom-right.
    Fitt's Law
        Big buttons are easier to find and use
        Hollis: If buttons are too large, insulting to user (Fisher-Price principle)
    Hick's Law
        Too many options confuse / slow down users

People like wide open spaces

Screen real estate is no longer as valuable as it once was. Easy to swap screens.

Recommended books
    Universal Principles of Design
    Designing with the Mind in Mind

Keys for Design Process
    Create multiple design. Compete for best one.
    Collaborate
    Iterate
    Starts with paper (tools constrain your brain to what you know how to make the tool do)

    Observe users in the field

Present multiple prototypes
    Focuses users on differences between options, rather than nitpicking limitations of a design

TypeScript: Scaling Up JavaScript

Jonathan Turner
video

JavaScript Designed to
Client
Server
work on any OS
(so does Typescript output)

JavaScript code works in TypeScript

Compatibility: Can call into 3rd party javascript libraries from Typescript

Type system
Statically typed
  Better Intellisense
  Type-checking only at design-time (removed at compile-time)

http://www.typescriptlang.org/
"Play" link: Write Typescript: See compiled JavaScript

Saturday, June 15, 2013 12:25:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 1:10:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, March 18, 2013
 Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Last week, I attended my third Microsoft Global MVP Summit. The Summit is a conference held in the Seattle area open to Microsoft MVPs.

I signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement that prevents me from talking about most of the conference content; but I can tell you about my experience and my impressions.

By far, the best part of the MVP Summit is the chance to meet so many smart people. Many of them I know by reputation before I meet them. Every year I joke that I plan to be the dumbest guy in every room at this conference. And every year, the joke is very close to reality. There are some amazing people here - those with deep knowledge of a technology; those who have built amazing products or open-source projects; those who have written books and blogs that I've read; those who produce podcasts that I listen to regularly; and those who have a story to tell about how they use technology to solve real problems. I love meeting and talking with all these people.

The sessions are good, but, other than REDACTEDREDACTEDREDACTED, I didn't hear about a whole lot of new stuff.

There are some regular events in the evening and I took advantage of those. A party at Ted Neward's house attracted a who's who of technologists and the annual Party With Palermo (hosted by Jeff Palermo of Austin, TX) always attracts a great crowd. I attended a reception for first-time MVPs, even those this was my third summit, because:

  1. It was hosted by INETA and I am on the Board of Directors
  2. It was organized by my friend Joe Guadagno, who did an amazing job
  3. INETA presented a Lifetime Achievement award to Russ Fustino at the event and I wanted to be present to congratulate Russ.

The day after the Global MVP Summit was the ASP.NET Insiders Summit organized by Scott Hanselman. I was excited to attend this conference because I was invited to join the Insiders only a few weeks ago. (I think I was the newest member at the time of the Summit). These sessions were really informative. We got a look at new and proposed language, framework, and IDE features. We also had a chance to provide feedback to the product team; and to see several open-source web frameworks. Another NDA prevents me from revealing too many details of what I saw there, but I really learned a lot from this extra day. I plan to attend the ASP.NET Summit again next year.

Two days before the MVP Summit, a group of attendees and a few other volunteers traveled to the Northwest Harvest Food Bank in Seattle to help pack fruit for needy families in the area. This was a great opportunity to meet people, have fun, and do some good.

The week was exhausting but well worth the trip. If Microsoft will have me, expect to see me at the 2014 Global MVP Summit. And I still expect to be the dumbest guy in each room.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013 8:08:02 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, February 12, 2013

sogetilarge[1]

A lot of exciting things are happening at Sogeti in Michigan. We hired a new leadership team about a year ago; we recently realigned our region with the offices in Columbus and Cleveland; and we moved our Detroit office from Farmington Hills to Southfield on January 1.

To celebrate our move to a much nicer home,  Sogeti is hosting an open house tomorrow, February 13 at 6PM.

The event begins with plenty of past and other Italian food from Buca di Beppo, which is why we’ve titled this event “Sogeti and Meatballs with a Side of Technology”. Three Sogeti consultants will be giving technical presentation during the evening: Sogeti Mobility Lead Samidip Basu will talk about Windows 8; Sogeti Managed Testing Practice Manager Matthew Eakin will present The "New" Tester: How Agile is changing the Testing Skillset; and I will deliver an introduction on Cloud Computing and Windows Azure.

The purpose of the event is to introduce or re-introduce Sogeti to the Detroit technical community; however, it’s also a great opportunity for you to learn something and to network with your peers.

The event is free, but we ask that you register at http://sogeti.eventbrite.com so that we can get an accurate count for the food. The address is:

26957 Northwestern Highway
Suite 130
Southfield, MI

I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 9:15:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, January 19, 2013

CodeMash 2013 is in the books. A record 1500 people attended this conference and many (including me) left with their brains and bellies full.

This community event has swelled to 1500 attendees - almost the size of many commercial conferences that charge many times the $280 price tag. It also attracts many of the same speakers as these larger and more expensive events.

As a result, you get to hear great presentations from top technical people; and a chance to interact with these speakers, asking technical questions of industry experts and finding out how they are applying technology on their projects.

Attendees had their choice of about 200 presentations on a wide range of topics. Presentations covered development platforms, such as .NET, Java, Ruby, JavaScript, and Scala; as well as development concepts such as Testing, Agile methodologies, Application Lifecycle Management, and User Experience.

CodeMash also included an area for open spaces. In these sessions, the attendees picked a topic and discussed it as a group, rather than listening to a lecturer. I found these to be better suited to my learning style because I could ask specific questions of the most knowledgeable people and draw on the experiences of more than one person in the session.

In addition, CodeMash offered a few things I did not take advantage of:

  • Coding Dojos allowed users to get hands-on experience practicing their coding skills by solving defined algorithms.
  • KidzMash was a mini-conference aimed at teaching software to children. (The waterpark makes this an ideal conference to bring your family to)
  • At the Thursday evening Jam Session, musicians could bring their instrument and play together.
  • Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell recorded an episode of their popular .NET Rocks podcast in front of a live audience.
  • Customer obligations kept me from much of the "Pre-Compiler" sessions. These are half-day sessions that either dive in-depth to a topic or provide attendees a chance to try out a set of technologies and skills as they learn them. In particular, I would have like to attend the speaker workshop, because I'm hoping to organize something similar in Michigan.

Here are a few things I learned at CodeMash

  • I learned a new technique for redirecting old links when migrating a web site. This is important for Search Engine Optimization.
  • I learned the difference between JavaScript and CoffeeScript.
  • I learned the strengths and weaknesses of Backbone.js and Knockout.js. (Backbone is better at interacting with server data; Knockout is better at automatically updating visual elements in response to model changes)
  • I saw examples of how to build robotics using Arduino and Netduino microcontrollers.
  • I learned the advantages of using KendoUI controls and learned the basics of adding them to a web site.

CodeMash takes place at the Kalahari Conference Center in Sandusky, OH - a venue most famous for housing "America's Largest Indoor Waterpark". Conference activities always keep me occupied during the hours that the water park is open; fortunately, the CodeMash organizers negotiated one evening when the park re-opened for a few hours for the conference attendees.

This was my 6th consecutive year attending CodeMash (of the 7 total). For the second consecutive year, I was honored to be selected to speak at CodeMash. My presentation was titled "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love jQuery" and focused on how jQuery made client-side JavaScript coding much easier.

Photos

Saturday, January 19, 2013 3:12:09 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, January 07, 2013
Monday, January 07, 2013 11:51:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, November 24, 2012

A few months ago, David McKinnon told me he planned to organize a conference at Cobo Hall. I was skeptical. At this larger venue, he could attract a much larger audience than to the previous 1DevDay, MobiDevDay, and CloudDevDay conferences he had organized, but the cost was higher. A lot higher.

Still, Dave decided to take a chance and he signed a contract with Cobo.

Months later, over 500 people showed up to see presentations on various software development technologies, platforms, and languages. The common theme was software development.

On Saturday, November 17, the lines began to form at Cobo Hall. The registration line was so long that we had to delay Ted Neward's opening keynote presentation by 30 minutes. After that small glitch, the conference went very smoothly. Dozens of technical presentations were available to the attendees, open spaces, plus panel discussions, plus a gourmet lunch. The event finished with an excellent keynote by Chad Fowler and an after-party.

I had the privilege of serving as Master of Ceremonies for this event and I could not have enjoyed this more.  Throughout the day, people kept coming up to me and telling me how much they enjoyed the conference.

After a few days rest, we may consider a 2013 1DevDayDetroit.

Saturday, November 24, 2012 10:40:59 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, November 12, 2012
 Tuesday, November 06, 2012

I'd like your feedback on a conference I am considering helping to organize.

This idea was originally suggested by Matt Ruma, but I like it and I would like to help him execute it.

The conference would feature speakers delivering 10-15 minute "Lightning Talks" on a technical topic. Following each talk, a designated panel of experienced speakers would provide 5 minutes of feedback to the speaker about his presentation. The feedback would cover the topic, the demos, the speaking style, the slides, anything that contributed to the quality of the presentation. After 2 speakers, we would all take a short break to stretch.

Using this format, we could have 12-15 Lightning Talks in a single-track, all-day conference.

There are two primary goals of this conference.

  1. Audience members could learn from hearing a series of Lightning Talks, possibly getting a brief exposure to some new technologies.
  2. Speakers (particularly inexperienced speakers) would receive valuable experience speaking in front of an audience and valuable feedback on their presentation. One advantage of this format is that delivering a 15-minute presentation is far less intimidating than delivering a 60- or 75-minute presentation.

Part of the inspiration for this conference comes from the excellent Kalamazoo X conference, organized each year by Michael Eaton. However, the speaker feedback and the emphasis on technology rather than soft skills would distinguish this conference from Kalamazoo X.

I'd like to hear your opinions on this. Is it something you would be likely to attend? What ideas could make the conference more successful? Please add your comments below or post them on Twitter with the hashtag #SpeakerConf. You can find me there at @DavidGiard.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012 10:29:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, November 04, 2012

If you are running a user group or organizing a technical conference, one challenge you will face is finding good speakers.

The problem is compounded by the fact that most such organizations run on a limited budget. Many speakers are willing to freely donate their time because they enjoy presenting, they want to help out, and it increases their reputation. However, it’s not reasonable to assume these speakers will also be able to donate their own money to travel to your group.

Some areas don’t have a large pool of good speakers on which to draw. Even if you are fortunate enough to live in such an area, I still think it enhances local events to bring in some speakers from other areas.

Bringing in a speaker from another area costs money. Someone has to pay for transportation and lodging. Either the speaker will decide to donate his money as well as his time or your group will find the funding to make this travel possible. Fortunately, you have a few options.

INETA: For years, INETA has helped bring speakers to other parts of the country. Recently INETA changed their speaker programming, focusing more on helping speakers who travel within their own region. Currently, there are hundreds of speakers registered with INETA. This expanded the number of speakers, but decreased the maximum amount paid to each speaker. You can request an INETA speaker at http://ineta.org/Speakers/SearchCommunitySpeakers.aspx. I am a registered as a speaker with this program and I know many others also registered and I can tell that it does help to offset at least some travel costs.

Local Sponsors: Because user group audiences are a great target market for recruiters and hiring managers, you can often find companies willing to pay a speaker’s travel expenses in exchange for some free publicity and a few minutes in front of your group. Find out what companies are hiring or recruiting and make a few phone calls.

Evangelists: The job title “Evangelist” is a relative new one in the software world. However, many companies employ individuals as full-time Evangelists. Their job is to spread the word about the company and its technology – often by delivering technical presentations at user groups and conferences. Part of their performance review includes something called “reach”, meaning the number of people who read, see or hear their message. By inviting them to your group, you are increasing their reach. If your audience is in their target market, it probably won’t cost you anything. My experience is that most Evangelists are not focused on delivering a sales presentation; however, it’s worthwhile to verify the topic with the speaker ahead of time.

Speaker Programs: Many companies sponsor a select group of speakers who travel to user groups and conferences. While these speakers are not employees of the company, they do get some of their travel costs offset by the company in exchange for some publicity during the talk. This allows the company to reach a larger audience than they could using only their Evangelists. It also allows many speakers to travel to more events than they could afford on their own. I am a member of such a program - the Telerik Insiders - and it has been very beneficial to me and to Telerik. You can see a list of all Telerik Insiders at http://www.telerik.com/community/insiders.aspx. Several other vendors have similar programs.

These are some resources to find speakers and some ideas for finding funding for speaker travel costs. Don’t let geographic barriers prevent you from bringing the best speakers to your next event.

Sunday, November 04, 2012 7:11:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, November 03, 2012

If you are running a user group or organizing a technical conference, one challenge you will face is finding good speakers.

I recommend starting by looking in your own area for good speakers.

My geographic area (southeast Michigan and environs) is blessed with many good speakers and we often exploit this at local user groups and conferences. Get out and find these speakers. Learn who is speaking at user groups and conferences in your area and contact those people. Better yet, attend those events so you can hear and meet these presenters. Establish a personal relationship with them, so they will be more likely to donate their time to your event.

You can also use your event to help cultivate inexperienced speakers. Multi-track conferences and short Lightning Talks at a user group are great ways for new speakers to gain experience in front of a live audience. At the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group, we host up to two Lightning Talks per monthly meeting. A Lightning Talk is a 10-minute presentation on any topic and is a great way to practice one’s presentation skills in a low-risk environment. Often a member will start by giving a Lightning Talk and will go on to speak at local and regional conferences.

It’s tempting to bring in big-name speakers from other parts of the country, but don’t ignore your backyard. You are likely to find some excellent speakers in a convenient location.

Saturday, November 03, 2012 3:33:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Our noses were pressed against the inside of the 19th floor window when the giant RV drove by. I called Richard to tell him we saw them and he asked where they could park their 37-foot vehicle. “Ask the valet to park it,” I joked. Within seconds, I heard Richard asking a terrified valet if he would park his car.

A few minutes later, Richard Campbell, Carl Franklin, and their driver found a few concurrent spots to park the RV and arrived at the 19th floor for a special meeting of the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group (GANG) and a special live recording of the Tablet Show. The event was part of the 2012 DotNetRocks Road Trip that spans 39 cities and nearly 3 months. At this stop, Richard delivered a presentation on DevOps; Carl a presentation on Building Windows 8 applications; and Jeff Wilcox of the Microsoft Azure team gave a brief presentation about his life and work. Afterward, Carl and Richard interviewed Jeff about his Fourth and Main application, built for Windows Phone 7. You can listen to that interview here.

The trip was initiated by Carl and Richard, who are the famous hosts of a number of popular podcasts, including The Tablet Show, DotNETRocks, and RunAs Radio. When I heard the trip would include a stop in Michigan, I immediately contacted the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group volunteers and a great many people worked hard to make the October 9 stop in Southfield a great success.

We billed it as a second October GANG meeting with President Kent Fehribach hosting, New World Systems chipped in some extra sponsorship money and we ordered a barbecue dinner from Lockhart’s of Royal Oak. About 120 people packed the room and nearly all stayed for the entire 4 hours. Many went to the pub after the show to continue the conversation.

Somehow, I ended up getting the credit for the local event, but that simply isn’t fair – many people contributed to the night’s success and I’m proud to have been one of them.

I’m hoping this isn’t the last tour Richard and Carl organize and I’m hoping it’s not the last time they visit Michigan. We have a lot more valets waiting to be terrified.

 


Links

Photos

Dot Net Rocks Road Trip

The Tablet Show

Interview with Jeff Wilcox

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 9:03:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, October 22, 2012
Monday, October 22, 2012 9:50:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, October 21, 2012

For many, the Tampa Code Camp was an experience to learn about others; for me, it was a challenge and an adventure.

I submitted five talks because I wanted to allow the organizers to pick what they wanted and in case someone else submitted some of the same topics I did. Little did I know that they would ask me to deliver all 5! There were only 6 time slots and I was scheduled for 5 of them! To be fair, I could have e-mailed the organizers and asked them to cancel some of my talks, but I saw the thrown gauntlet and I accepted the challenge.

Because I was speaking almost the entire time, I didn't get to experience much of the Code Camp directly. However, I can say that the audiences in my sessions seemed really energized and there was a lot of enthusiasm at the after-party.

The Tampa Code Camp was held in conjunction with the Tampa Bar Camp. About 1000 attendees turned out in total. I don't know the numbers for Code Camp versus Bar Camp, but it didn't much matter as the sessions all took place in the same 2 buildings. I was told that the Bar Camp tends to include more open source presentations, while the Code Camp was focused more on Microsoft technologies. I love this kind of mix because it gives attendees a chance to learn about things about topics outside their comfort zone and to meet people working in other disciplines.

I did record an interview with Kevin Wolf, who had built a remote-controlled helicopter using a variety of hardware and software. This will be available on Technology and Friends in a few weeks.

I was able to attend this year’s Tampa Code Camp, thanks to the support of Telerik.

All in all, the Tampa Code Camp was a great success for the organizers, for the attendees and for me personally. I will definitely consider this conference again next year.


Photos
Sunday, October 21, 2012 10:39:27 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, September 13, 2012
Date Event Location Topic  
Sep 15 Code Camp NYC New York, NY Effective Data Visualization Link
Sep 22 SQL Saturday Kalamazoo, MI Effective Data Visualization Link
Sep 25 Software GR Grand Rapids, MI Effective Data Visualization Link
Oct 13 Tampa Code Camp Tampa, FL TBD Link
Nov 7 Ann Arbor Computer Society Ann Arbor, MI How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love jQuery Link
Feb 21 Greater Lansing .NET User Group Okemos, MI Persistence In The Cloud:
How to User Azure Storage
Link
Thursday, September 13, 2012 9:00:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I have been listening to DotNETRocks almost since the show's inception and I am an unapologetic fan. I'm not the only one: The show is the oldest and most popular podcast target at .NET developers.

So I was thrilled to learn that hosts Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin planned a cross-country Road Trip and that this trip would include a stop in the Detroit area. Upon hearing about the Road Trip, I immediately reached out to Carl and Richard to ask how I could help. It has been a few weeks since the initial announcement and plans are now taking shape.

Richard and Carl will be in Michigan on Tuesday October 9. The Great Lakes Area .NET User Group (GANG) will hold a special meeting to host the event. Jeff Wilcox, creator of the Fourth and Mayor Windows Phone 7 app will be their guest.

This event will include the following:

  • A presentation by Jeff Wilcox
  • A barbeque dinner from Lockhart's barbeque in Royal Oak, MI (courtesy of a generous donation from New World Systems)
    A live recording of Carl and Richard interviewing Jeff for an upcoming episode of DotNetRocks. The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions of Jeff
  • A technical presentation by Carl Franklin
  • A technical presentation by Richard Campbell

This is a lot to pack into one night, but if you are a regular GANG attendee, you know that we regularly pack a great deal into each meeting.

Richard Campbell traveled to GANG in 2011 and that meeting was one of our most successful ever!

This evening is made possible by the vision of Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell and by the hard work of the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group volunteers.

Because of the limited seating, the popularity of the event, and the need to buy the right amount of food, you will need to register in advance for this free event. Do so at http://dotnetrocks.eventbrite.com/.

You can learn more about the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group at http://migang.org.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 9:24:10 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Here is Randy Pagels's presentation on What's New in Visual Studio 2012at the August 2012 Great Lakes Area .NET User Group meeting.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 12:14:01 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, August 23, 2012

The organizers of That Conference knew a good thing when they saw it. For years, CodeMash has set the standard for community technical events. And when community leaders from Illinois and Wisconsin saw the success of CodeMash and experienced how well it was run, they resolved to create something similar.

The similarities are immediately apparent - a large polyglot developer conference, run by volunteers, taking place at an indoor waterpark. They even chose another location (Wisconsin Dells, WI) of the Kalahari water park. They added a bacon bar - an idea that I first saw implemented at CodeMash earlier this year and upped the ante by roasting a pig for dinner one night.

But it's not enough just to draw inspiration from success, have a good concept, and borrow a few ideas. To be successful, you still need to execute well. And the organizers of That Conference executed their plan very well.

They attracted an impressive list of speakers covering a wide variety of topics. Not only did this make the presentations great, but it also made the lunchtime and hallway conversations great. I saw some excellent presentations by Steve Bodnar, Jimmy Bogard, and Scott Hanselman, among others. My favourite was Bogard's session, which described how to write code that is easier to functional test.

My presentation on Azure Storage went really well. The audience was great. They asked good questions and were genuinely interested in this technology. I even overheard a couple people talking about my presentation in the lunch line. And thanks to Bob Laskey, I now have a new photo (below) that I can use on my conference profile pages. As you can see, I was very excited about my presentation.

Photo by Bob Laskey

But talking one-on-one with experts in the industry is where I get the most value from these conferences and I gained a lot of value from conversations at this conference (or is it “that conference”?). Many of the talks were so interesting, that I asked permission to record them, so you will soon see Chris Powers, Keith Casey, Ian Felton, Scott Hanselman, Samid Basu, Clark Sell, Jeff Nuckolls, Jay Harris, Michael Collier, and Ted Neward on Technology and Friends. Topics ranged from Windows Azure to telephony to home automation to the relationships between developers and managers.

That Conference included a few extra events, including a hackathon, a code retreat, a game night, open spaces, and a night in which the water park stayed open until 1AM, allowing the attendees a chance to play.

The only downside was the cost to attend, which was higher than most community events. The ticket cost was very reasonable ($350 for 3 days), but hotel rooms were almost $200 a night, the flight to Wisconsin was expensive, and the closest major airport is over an hour from Kalahari, meaning one still needed ground transportation. I was fortunate to receive sponsorship from Telerik (a sponsor of That Conference)and others received a training budget from their employers, but not everyone is so fortunate. Still, it is much cheaper than the large for-profit technical conferences.

600 attendees is an impressive turnout for a first-year conference. But the Kalahari can hold many more, so I expect this conference will grow next year. Especially if word gets out what a great job the organizers did.


That Conference home

Photos

Thursday, August 23, 2012 7:23:04 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Here is Mike Wood's presentation on Continuum (of the Windows Azure Variety) at the July 2012 Great Lakes Area .NET User Group meeting.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 7:36:59 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, July 28, 2012

I have volunteered for many community-run conferences and I have organized two: GANG10 and Detroit Day of Azure. One of the challenges of a conference is getting people to attend. It's not enough to have great content. You have to spread the word about the event and you have to inspire people to register and to attend. If your target audience doesn't know about you event, they will not attend it.

Here are a few things my team and I have done to promote conferences.

Create a web site as soon as possible and keep it updated. This will save you time. When people ask for event details, you can point them to the web site. A Facebook or LinkedIn page is fine, but not sufficient because these sites are for members only and your audience will need to log before they can read all the information.

Create a Twitter account and post to it regularly. Have that Twitter account follow all your speakers and volunteers and ask that they follow it back. The new Twitter account won't have many followers at first, but you want followers who are willing to re-tweet what you post. Prior to the event, I would post to the Twitter account every day; then re-tweet from my own account (which had more followers). Because the promotional messages are coming from the event Twitter account, it feels less like spam to my followers than if it were coming from my personal account. Consider using a service like FutureTweets or an application like TweetDeck to schedule tweets in advance. This makes it easier to space out your tweets throughout the day. Be creative in your tweets: announce the speakers; announce some of the other perks, such as door prizes and lunch menu; talk about the venue; thank the sponsors. If you repeat the same message over and over, people tend to tune it out.

Make a list of people you think might be interested in the event and contact them. If it's a couple dozen, send a personal e-mail to each one or call each one; If it's several hundred, send out an e-mail blast. Services like Constant Contact can help with this.

Who are the influencers in the area that the conference covers? Offer them a free ticket to the event. Call them and let them know you'd really like them to be there. They will spread the word and reach more people than you could on your own. If they are talking about the event, that is great advertising.

Think of popular bloggers who would be interested in this event and tell them about it. Even if they can't make it, they may blog about it, increasing exposure.

E-mail your co-workers to let them know about the event. Ask them to spread the word among their colleagues, customers, and friends.

Print flyers. Hang them up in your workplace and in your customer's workplace and anywhere that your target audience congregates. Many companies have a bulletin board in the lunch room or break room just for things things like this. Ask others to do the same. Make sure the flyer has all the relevant information, such as date, time, and the web site URL.

Register the event at http://CommunityMegaphone.com.

Get others involved. Recruit volunteers. Not only will it help defer your workload, but those who are involved will feel ownership and will be more likely to spread the word enthusiastically.

Contact user group leaders. Ask them to promote the event at their meeting. Ask if they will send out an e-mail promoting the event. Some groups have a monthly newsletter and will be happy to add to this. If possible, attend user group meetings and promote the event yourself. Ask the leader if you can have 2 minutes to talk about it.

Send an e-mail to speaknet@googlegroups.com. You will need to join this group first.

Create an event on Facebook and LinkedIn. As mentioned earlier, this is no substitute for a web site, but you may reach an audience that you otherwise might miss.

Contact the chair of the CS department of local universities and ask them to promote to their students. Consider offering a discount or free admission to students.

Contact podcasters and ask if you can be a guest on their show to talk about the event. I appeared on Community Megaphone a few weeks before GANG10 and this helped spread excitement about that event.

For Microsoft events, contact your local Developer Evangelist. They have their own channels for communicating with the local technical community.

I have done almost all of these things in order to drive interest in the event. The two key points are: let as many people know about the event as you can; and get people excited about the event.

Planning an event is a lot of work and a lot of fun. But the payoff is more satisfying if you have a good turnout.

Saturday, July 28, 2012 1:44:54 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Friday, July 20, 2012

Here is a video of the Azure Q&A Experts Panel at the 2012 Detroit Day of Azure.

Friday, July 20, 2012 9:00:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, July 19, 2012

Here is a video of Dennis Burton's Single Page, Real Time Web Apps Using Node.js And Windows Azure presentation at the 2012 Detroit Day of Azure.

Thursday, July 19, 2012 9:00:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of presenting at the aspconf online conference. I delivered 2 presentations: HTML5 is the Future of the Web; and Using Windows Azure Storage.

As promised, my slides and demos are available by clicking the links below.

   
Wednesday, July 18, 2012 9:43:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Here is a video of Jason Follas's Using Geospatial Data With SQL Azure presentation at the 2012 Detroit Day of Azure.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 9:00:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, July 15, 2012

Here is a video of Michael Collier's Windows Phone 7 And Windows Azure – A Match Made In The Cloud presentation at the 2012 Detroit Day of Azure.

Sunday, July 15, 2012 9:21:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, July 14, 2012

Here is a video of Mark Stanislav's Cloud Disaster Recovery presentation at the 2012 Detroit Day of Azure.

Saturday, July 14, 2012 9:20:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Friday, July 13, 2012

Here is a video of Brian Prince's Architectural Patterns For The Cloud presentation at the 2012 Detroit Day of Azure.

Friday, July 13, 2012 9:17:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Here is Gael Fraiteur's presentation on An Introduction to Aspect-Oriented Programming with PostSharp at the June 2012 Great Lakes Area .NET User Group (GANG).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 5:00:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Two years ago, I was recognized as a Microsoft MVP for the first time. This past Sunday morning, I received my third MVP award. Since the award lasts for exactly one year, I wake up every July 1 with a sense of hope and dread.

I often joke that I receive the award because of a glitch in the selection software, but the official word from Dora Chan, my MVP Lead is that the award is given for "technical expertise, community leadership, and voluntary community contributions"

I find it difficult to apply that definition to my community efforts, so I always think of it as people with knowledge of Microsoft technologies who take the time and effort to share that knowledge with others. In other words, it's not necessarily the smartest people or those with the deepest knowledge who win the award; rather it’s those with a solid understanding who are spreading this understanding throughout the development community. This definition works well for me because, although there are many people with deeper knowledge of the software than me, I have experience with a wide range of development tools on the Microsoft stack. More important, I always enjoy sharing that knowledge with others - whether it's through user groups, conferences, blog posts, articles, books, or general interactions with developers.

For me, the best pats of the award are public acknowledgement from people I respect; and a chance to go to the MVP Summit in February. The MVP Summit is a treat for me because I often find myself in a room filled with people smarter than me.

I'm grateful to Microsoft for this award and I'm grateful for Telerik, who provides some financial support, without which I could not afford to travel to as many conferences. I'm also grateful to Sogeti, for allowing me to occasionally take time away from my day-to-day responsibilities.

It is a blessing to receive recognition for something that I would be doing anyway.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012 9:50:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, June 19, 2012

If you are in or near Michigan or northwest Ohio this week, you have a rare opportunity to learn from the creator of one of the most popular Aspect-Oriented-Programming (AOP) frameworks on the market. PostSharp inventor Gael Fraiteur will conduct a user group tour this week, primarily talking about AOP, using PostSharp for his examples. During the day, Gael will be stopping at area companies to educate them. AOP provides a way of adding functionality across a variety of classes and methods without cluttering said methods with a lot of extra code.

Originally from Belgium, Gael now resides in the Czech Republic, so it’s not often we get to hear him in-person.

Gael’s evening schedule is:

Date Group Location Link
Tue June 19 Northwest Ohio .NET User Group Toledo, OH http://nwnug.com/ 
Wed Jun 20 Great Lakes Area .NET User Group Southfield, MI http://migang.org
Thu Jun 21 Greater Lansing .NET User Group Okemos, MI http://glugnet.org/

I hope you can make it one of these nights.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 9:29:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, June 16, 2012

I attended my first Tech Ed conference in Orlando this week. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work for INETA at the conference. In exchange, INETA covered my admission and expenses which would have been prohibitively expensive if I had to pay them myself.

My INETA work involved the following:

  • Working at the Community Leadership Summit the day before Tech Ed
  • Staffing a booth on the Expo floor
  • Volunteering at Birds-of-A-Feather sessions
  • Meetings throughout the week to talk about board business
  • Preparing a sponsor prospectus for the INETA Champs program

This was a small price to pay and I enjoyed most of these tasks. I got to meet some of the other board members in person for the first time and I had a chance to spread the word about user groups to a broad audience.

I gave a presentation at the Community Leadership Summit on attracting volunteers to a user group.

Two of my Birds-of-a-Feather topics were accepted at this conference, so I served as a moderator for these. The topics were "Getting Involved in my Local Developer Community: How is it a Win-Win? " and "Is Windows Azure a Contender for my Next Application?" Attendance wasn't particularly high at these sessions (possibly due to the 530PM and 830AM time slots) but the attendees participated in an active exchange. One exciting aspect of these sessions is that they were streamed live online and INETA volunteers monitored a Twitter hashtag to accept comments and questions from beyond Tech Ed.

Attending Tech Ed gave me the opportunity to spend some time with some members of the Visual Studio team and ask them some questions about the testing tools in VS Ultimate. I've been struggling with some aspects of this for my current project and I now have a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of these tools.

I was invited to a Q&A with Microsoft VP Jason Zander in which we heard about some directions Microsoft is taking in the future. Unfortunately, I signed a non-disclosure agreement, so I can say nothing about this event except that I'm very excited about this future.

I competed in the Speaker Idol contest, hosted by Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell. Because I won, I now have an invitation to speak at next year's competition.

Of course, I also recorded 5 interviews that I plan to publish on Technology and Friends over the next few weeks.

The busy schedule above left some time to attend sessions. My favourite sessions were Web Sites on Windows Azure
and Building HTTP Services with ASP.NET Web API. I saw some exciting new technologies in these sessions that I can use in my work soon.

Of course, there were many hallway conversations and a chance to meet technologists from all over the world, which is always an opportunity to learn.

My notes on the sessions are below:

Web Sites on Windows Azure

Presenter: Bill Staples

10 free web sites

Supports Classic ASP, .NET 2.0,

Usage info on dashboard

App Gallery: Create blog in WordPress on Azure

WebMatrix 2 (in beta)

Install & download WordPress site

Publish automatically syncs with Azure (no configuration needed)

Publish via

  • FTP
  • Web Deploy
  • Git
  • TFS

Essential Tips for the Windows Azure Startup

Presenter: Michele Leroux Bustamante

  • Avoid web.config for
    • Settings that vary between staging, production
    • Use Web.config transformations
  • Caching
    • Co-located caching (% on each VM)
    • Shared caching (on one VM)
    • Same API
  • Queuing
    • Service bus queues
      • unlimited lifetime
      • 5GB max storage
      • Duplicate detection
      • Guarantee order
    • Storage queues
      • 7 day expiration
      • 100TB max storage
  • Diagnostics
    • Trace.TraceWarning
    • Listeners in webrole<trace><listeners>
  • Monitor from Outside
    • Monitoring Service
  • noSQL Kool-Aid

If the learning curve for noSQL is great, only use it for "obvious" data (e.g., profile, location data).

  • Enable Social Logins. Simplify signup
  • Don't ask users for too much info
  • Estimate costs
    • Calculate projected costs and revenue based on expected usage in advance
    • What is break-even point?

Beyond Master-Detail: Interaction and Navigation Patterns for Modern User Experience

Presenter: Billy Hollis

List

Hicks Law: Too many choices slow down user

Add 'FIND' capability

Launchpad

Make important buttons bigger

Combinations

Different patterns at different parts of the app

Wizard

Lots of new users

Complex but rarely use

Spreadsheet

Flexible Sort

Allow drag/drop columns

Context switchers

Toolbars & Ribbons

Usually action-oriented

Ribbon designed for en-users (not devs)

Most users don't like toolbars

Galery

Visual array of items

Multi-select

Dashboard

Visualization & navigation

Queue

Next item on top. No naviagation.

Don't use confirmation'

Underused.

Can increase productivity dramatically

Configurator

See changes as you select them

Timeline

Vertical or horizontal layout

Metaphor

Interface resembles something familiar in the real world

May be cute the first time, but gets old over time

Map

Items laid out in real world

Use lat-long

May use geocoding to get lat-long from address.

Viewport

Semantic zoom: Change view as you zoom in & out

For multiple levels of detail

Book recommendation: Mobile Design Pattern Gallery by Theresa Neil

Building HTTP Services with ASP.NET Web API

Presenter: Daniel Roth

VS 2012

MVC app

Scaffolding to create CRUD methods around entity

GetById

If not found, throw httpException (not found/404)

Post

Create new entity

Return HttpResponse

Url pointing to new entity page

ASP.NET Roadmap: One ASP.NET – Web Forms, MVC, Web API, and more

Presenter: Scott Hunter

In release mode, all js files are combined and minified

Put validation on model. Enforced in client script.

Migrations

  1. Inherit from DbMigration
  2. Up() method
  1. Update columns in db

HTML 5 emitted

e.g., <input type="datetime" … />

Page.cshtml

Page.mobile.cshtml <-- Displayed when Page is requested on mobile devices

Signal R

  1. Inherit from Hub
  2. Send() method
    1. Clients.addMessage

Real-time communication with server

Design for Non-Designers

Presenter: Jennifer Smith

Good design makes a product useful, usable

Dieter Rams:

Good design

  1. is innovative
  2. Makes a product useful
  3. Is aesthetic
  4. Makes a product understnadable
  5. Is unobtrusive

Putting things in boxes is not good design

Keep UI focused

Before starting

My ___ app will be the best at _________

Talk through app using low-fidelity prototype

Recommended design tools

Illustrator

SketchFlow (Expression Blend)

Use rule of thirds (Divide into thirds, horizontally and vertically)

Golden Region

Viewers look at apps, pages, pictures, etc via Fibonacci (spiral in)

"Dead center is dead wrong"

White space is OK.

Fonts

Use sans serif fonts

Counter size = space inside 'e' or 'p'. Larger is better

Saturday, June 16, 2012 11:42:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, June 07, 2012

Next week, I will attend my first Tech Ed conference. I don't really know what to expect. Although I attend a lot of conferences, the great majority are small to medium community-run conferences. Larger conferences like this are usually out of my price range. Fortunately, I'll be doing some work for INETA at Tech Ed, so they will pick up my ticket.

I have scheduled a few things.
I will be delivering two Birds-of-a-Feather sessions: Getting Involved in my Local Developer Community: How is it a Win-Win? on Tuesday evening and Is Windows Azure a Contender for my Next Application? on Wednesday morning.
I will be working at the INETA booth, answering questions about how our organization helps user groups.
I signed up to compete in Speaker Idol, a contest in which each contestant delivers a 5-minute technical presentation. Winners of each heat advance to the final round and the grand prize winner is invited to speak at Tech Ed 2013.

I will also be working and presenting at the Community Leadership Summit the day before Tech Ed.

Looking through the web site, I see that Tech Ed offers a great many technical presentations and workshops. I hope to attend some of these. But, more importantly, I hope to have a chance to talk with a lot of smart people and add to my toolbox.

Thursday, June 07, 2012 9:50:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, June 03, 2012

If you are planning to attend Tech Ed North America or if you will be in the Orlando, FL area June 10, I recommend you check out the INETA Community Leadership Summit.

This free event will bring together leaders in the developer community to exchange ideas with one another. INETA is hosting the event at the Orlando City Hall on Sunday June 10 from noon to 5PM.

As part of the Summit, I will moderate a discussion titled "Getting Others Involved: Building a Leadership Team, Recruiting Volunteers & Growing Your Membership". This is based on my experience helping to grow the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group over the last couple years. Expect lots of interactions and a chance to listen and to share ideas. Other moderated discussion sessions will include “How to start a user group” and “Working with sponsors”.

In addition, this is a great chance to meet the INETA Board of Directors and other influencers in the development community.

The Summit is free and there is even an after-party hosted by Grape City, but you must register in advance at http://inetals2012.eventbrite.com/.

You can find more information at http://ineta.org/summit2012/.

Sunday, June 03, 2012 10:06:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, April 28, 2012

Here is the video of Glenn Block’s presentation at the November 2011 Great Lakes Area .NET User Group (GANG) meeting. Glenn described his 2 latest projects: Web API and node.js.

Community | Video | Web
Saturday, April 28, 2012 9:59:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Episode 208

Joe Guadagno on INETA

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 1:10:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, April 22, 2012

This year, Michael Eaton and his colleagues hosted the 4th annual Kalamazoo X conference. I have attended all 4 years and I have to say this was the best one. For those who haven’t yet heard of Kalamazoo X, it is a conference targeted at software developers, but the topics focus on the softer skills (i.e., the non-technical skills) required in your career. Each presentation is only 30 minutes long, which keeps things moving very rapidly. A single track provides a shared experience for all attendees. Every presentation was excellent and the room was packed. Speakers would often reference a presentation from earlier in the day.

Below are my notes from the sessions I attended.

Joe O'Brien
People Patterns
Packed a lot of great ideas
Never seen a project fail for technical reasons.
Corollary: Never seen a project SUCCEED for technical reasons.
Deliver bad news quickly

Laura Bergells
The People You Like the Least are the People You Need the Most
Teams require different personality types
Idea people (Putting the "Fun" in "DYSFUNCTIONAL") and rational people (Putting the "No" in "INNOVATION")

Suzan Bond
Intuition: Your Very Own Super Power
Learn to understand intuition and trust yourself.
Takes guts
OK to find ways to back up intuition.

Leon Gersing
Going Gonzo – an exploration of cultures in software development
Allow yourself to separate from the dominant culture and its associated dogma.
Drew inspiration from Hunter Thompson, Frank Zappa, and Georges Seurat.
"Most people doing Agile today are actually doing Waterfall with Agile terms. Agile is dead."
More important to be right than to be wise. Understand the problems you are solving.

Tim Wingfield
Your Career is Yours
Watch Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk
Ask Why? Does my customer really need this feature?
Coding Katas: Practice how to code.
Need to build trust. Be honest.
Work/Life balance: You need to enjoy your career; not endure your career.

Justin Searls
The Mythical Team-Month
If you are going to fail, fail quickly.
We are conditioned to avoid failure
Finding great developers:
Most traits are non-technical
Look for one who can succeed without you.

Sunday, April 22, 2012 9:25:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Saturday, I spoke at the Orlando Code Camp at Seminole State College, just east of Orlando, FL. This was the seventh year of the Code Camp but my first time attending.

The first session I attended was Memory Management Fundamentals – Garbage Collection Deep Dive by Scott Dorman.
Scott explained the way memory management works under the hood.
Key points: 
The garbage collector takes care of cleaning up objects when they are no longer needed.
It's generally not advisable to implement a finalizer.
If your machine has plenty of memory, garbage collection might not occur until the user exits the app.
Larger objects are cued up for cleanup.
Here is a list of resources
http://geekswithblogs.net/sdorman/archive/2008/09/14/.net-memory-management-ndash-resources.aspx

The next session I attended was Creating a HTML5 WinRT application by Brian Kassay
You can build Windows 8 applications in either HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3 or in XAML. This session focused on HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3. In order to work with this, one needs to install Windows 8 and Visual Studio 11 (both are in beta).

I planned to see Richie Rump's Entity Framework - Code First and Magic Unicorns session, but others had the same idea and the room was packed. Rather than stand for an hour, I opted to hear Greg Leonardo's Line of Business development with MVC3.
This was a basic overview of how to use MVC. It consisted of more slides than demos.
He did explain how MVC's Anti-forgery library works (issues a token to the user with a response and checks for that token in subsequent requests).
He also discussed the MVC Anti-XSS library, which is designed to protect your site against cross-site scripting errors. By default, MVC disallows HTML input by. If you decide to allow HTML input, it is important to scrub input with the Anti-XSS library.

The final session I attended was Elijah Manor on Exterminating Those Common Pesky jQuery Bugs
Elijah went through a series of common JavaScript mistakes made by developers and showed ways to correct them.

I delivered a session on Visual Studio 2010 Database Tools. It was very well received and the audience asked lots of questions.

The conference was organized by local user group leaders, including Esteban Garcia, a fellow Telerik insider (Telerik sponsored my trip, BTW). The organizers did a very good job on this conference and everything ran smoothly.
The one drawback of this event was the lack of an obvious common area, where attendees could talk and meet one another. When it was over, we regrouped at a local pub, which gave me the opportunity to meet many of the local developer community. This was particularly important to me at this conference because I only knew about 5 people among the speakers and attendees. One of the reasons I came down to Orlando was for a chance to meet people in the local Florida communities. It turns out that Orlando, Sarasota, and South Florida have very vibrant communities based on the enthusiasm of those I spoke with.

Of course I recorded a couple episodes of Technology and Friends. Elijah Manor and Max Trinidad agreed to go on camera to discuss JavaScript and Powershell respectively.

The Orlando Code Camp will take place again next year and I'm seriously considering making this an annual trip. I also heard of a few smaller events in the area which might bring me back here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012 9:46:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cloud computing has been a hot topic in the software industry for the past couple years. Many of us hear about cloud technologies such as Windows Azure, but don't know how to get started.

I wanted to make it easy to find that information, so I'm organizing a 1-day conference to teach people about Windows Azure.

The Detroit Day of Azure will take place Saturday March 24 from 8AM to 6PM at the Microsoft office in Southfield, MI.

14 speakers from 8 different states have agreed to deliver 19 presentations at this event. The speakers (listed below) are among the foremost Azure experts in the region. The list includes MVPs, Microsoft insiders, book authors, and people delivering real Azure solutions for their customers.

Dennis Burton
Michael Collier
Jason Follas
John Ferringer
David Giard
Joe Kunk
Jennifer Marsman
Jeff Nuckolls
Brian Prince
Mark Stanislav
Brent Stineman
Mike Wood
Chander Dhall
Eric Boyd

Azure MVP and Sogeti National Cloud Computing Lead Brent Stineman will deliver the keynote; then we will split into 3 rooms for the rest of the day, where you can choose from several great topics and speakers. Our plans are to record at least some of the conference on video. We may even live stream some of it, but that is still in the planning phase.

We will designate one room for programmers to build Azure applications. Attendees can bring a laptop and either work on their own project or work through the Azure labs, which we will provide for you. Many smart people will be around if you get stuck. Remember to download and install the Azure SDK and sign up for a free Azure Trial before you arrive!

Download Azure SDK
Sign Up for Free Azure Trial

As with any successful event, many people helped out. Onorio Catenacci, Jamie Altizer, Matt Ruma, Shelly Noll, Sukhdev Tur, Justin Baker, Akhil Mahajan, Brian Korzynski, Jelard Macalino, Jim Priore, and Falicia Starr have volunteered their time to help; while Microsoft, Sogeti, The Epitec Group, Telerik, and RIIS donated their money; while Pluralsight, Wrox, and O'Reilly donated products to give away.

If you have been attending the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group (where I was president the last two years), you won't be surprised to learn that we are serving some excellent food at this event. Included in the $20 admission cost is a continental breakfast and a buffet lunch from Lockhart’s barbeque in Royal Oak. We will also have some door prizes to give away at the end of the day.

More information on the Detroit Day of Azure is available at http://DetroitDayOfAzure.com. You can register at http://DayOfAzure.eventbrite.com/.

Space is limited and only a few tickets remain.

I'm very excited about this event and looking forward to it as an organizer, as a speaker, and as an attendee.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 12:45:12 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, February 06, 2012
Monday, February 06, 2012 12:17:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Dr. Greg Low has been running a technical user group for years. In Building Technical User Communities, he shares what he has learned - what works; what doesn't work; and advice that may or may not fit your group.

As a longtime user group contributor and leader, I had already considered many of his recommendations, but I found most of them to be solid advice. In fact, at my group - The Great Lakes Area .NET Users Group in Southfield, MI - we were already doing many of the things that contained in this book.

For example, we found that members appreciate a consistent meeting place and time for our group. We have also used our group as an opportunity for new speakers to build their skills in a low-risk environment.

Like Dr. Low, I have found the best way to grow a group's attendance is by word of mouth - get to other user groups and technical events in the area and promote your group; and encourage your members to invite their friends and co-workers to the next meeting.

You don't need to take every bit of advice. For example, Dr. Low recommends 2 speakers per meeting, while my group has been successful with just one.

A month after the expiration of my term as user group president may not be the perfect time to read a book on how to lead a user group. But it's a good time to evaluate such a book.

If you are part of the leadership of a technical user group or you are considering forming your own group, an evening spent with this guide will give insight into what can make it successful.

BuildingTechnicalUserCommunities

Wednesday, February 01, 2012 1:36:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, January 30, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012 11:28:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Here are the slides from my Data Visualization presentation that I delivered at CodeMash last week.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 4:23:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Recently, Dave McKinnon, the brains behind 1DevDay, the Detroit Java Group, Detroit Dev Digest, and a host of other happenings in the Michigan developer community, called me to ask a few questions. My responses are part of an article he wrote about me, which you can read at http://detroitdevdigest.com/2011/12/26/mvp-dave-giard/

Wednesday, January 04, 2012 3:07:35 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, December 26, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011 9:52:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I have been President of the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group (GANG) for the past two years and Wednesday was the final meeting of 2011. At the beginning of 2011, the other officers and I sat down and defined some goals for the year. Here are those goals:

  • Cultivate Ownership In Group
  • Continue to Attract High-Quality Speakers
  • Support and Connect with other Area User Groups
  • Average 60 attendees per meeting
  • Increase supporting membership by 15%
  • Increase Monetary Sponsorship by 10%
  • Make it an event

I wrote about these goals early in the year and we displayed them at each 2011 GANG meeting. Today I'd like to review if and how we met each of these goals.

Cultivate Ownership In Group

This year, GANG had more volunteers helping out than ever before. In the future, I expect some of these volunteers will become officers of the group. In fact, Matt Ruma was elected the new Vice President this week.

Codeslingers - the monthly pair programming event that we started last year - has moved from a local coffee shop to The Epitec Group offices, giving them more space, more privacy, and more flexible hours.

Gerhard Weiss established the monthly DevLunch this year. Here members get together and socialize over a weekday lunch at the Troy TGIFriday.

The popularity of the post-user group social hour has also exploded. It's not uncommon for 30 people to come to Copper Canyon after a meeting.

Last year, we established Lightning Talks to give members experience at speaking and to share knowledge with the group. In 2011, the number of Lightning Talks more than doubled over last year.

The number of people with whom we are connecting has increased dramatically: In addition to the 625 people on our mailing list, our LinkedIn group membership has increased 84% and the number of our Twitter followers has increased 71% from a year ago.

Continue to Attract High-Quality Speakers

This is an area I'm particularly proud of because it's something GANG has always done very well, but we managed to take it to a new level in 2011. Below is a list of featured speakers at GANG in 2011.

Gary Short
Michael Eaton
Mike Amundsen
Charles Stacy Harris
Gus Issa
Jennifer Marsman
Brian Prince
Steve Bohlen
K Scott Allen
Richard Campbell
Leon Gersing
Josh Holmes,
Darrell Hawley
Bill Wagner
Richard Hale Shaw
Godfrey Nolan
Glenn Block

As you can see, there are many big names on this list. Speakers include Microsoft insiders, MVPs, Regional Directors, Book Authors, popular bloggers, and podcasters. We reached out beyond our geographic region this year and attracted speakers from 7 states (Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington) and 4 countries (US, Canada, Scotland, and Ireland). The presentations covered a wide range of topics from refactoring code, to the .NET Micro Framework to async features in the next version of C#.

Support and Connect with other Area User Groups

The first thing we did was to commit to attending other user groups. In 2011, GANG officers attended over 50 user group meetings this year, not included GANG meetings! I spoke at 12 different user group meetings in 2011.

This year, we came up with the idea of co-hosting meetings with other groups. The Greater Detroit Cloud Computing Group co-hosted the March GANG meeting, which featured Mike Amundsen speaking on RESTful Hypermedia. In January, we plan to co-host a meeting with the Ann Arbor .NET Developers Group.

This year, we offered our space and time to anyone looking to start a user group. We felt this would reduce the effort and risk involved in starting a group if it began as a Special Interest Group. The F# Special Interest Group and the .NET Micro Framework Special Interest Group both were hosted during our meetings in 2011. The F# Group has since moved to its own night and location.

Another way we collaborated with other user groups is by helping to organize user group tours for out-of-town presenters. Gary Short, Mike Amundsen, Richard Campbell, and Steve Bohlen all traveled to Michigan and spoke at more than one user group, including ours.

Average 60 attendees per meeting

In 2010, GANG averaged 54 attendees per meeting. We set a goal to modestly increase attendance this year. Our strategy included bringing in big-name speakers, promoting meetings via social media, and hosting a membership drive at which we gave away an Xbox 360 and Kinect.

Our strategy worked as we averaged over 82 attendees per meeting in 2011 - an increase of 52% from last year.

Increase supporting membership by 15%

We met and exceeded this goal, increasing supporting membership from 23 in November 2010 to 53 in November 2011. That's an increase of 130%!

Increase Monetary Sponsorship by 10%

This goal is difficult to measure because many sponsors pay for things without writing a check to GANNG. However, we received about $10,000 cash from corporate sponsors in 2011, an increase of far more than 10%. We are especially grateful to ComponentOne, New World Systems, TypeMock, The Epitec Group, Telerik, RedGate, and Plex Online, all of whom donated at our Platinum level.

Thanks to these donations (and those of our supporting members), GANG was able to upgrade the dinner served at every single meeting. Whether it was Chinese food, fried chicken, shawarma, barbecue, or a burrito bar, we didn't serve pizza at a single meeting this year.

Despite increasing the budget significantly, our end-of-year cash reserves were about double the level of a year ago.

In addition to cash, sponsors such as Telerik, DevExpress, ComponenentOne, and JetBrains paid the travel expenses of speakers, so they could afford to come speak at GANG. Most of these expense reimbursements were not included in the $10,000 mentioned above.

We also continued to receive books, software, and other prizes that we gave away at each meeting.

Make it an event

Last year, I heard someone describe GANG meetings as more of an event than a user group meeting. I took that to heart and we explicitly made this a 2011 goal.

It all started by bringing in some big-name speakers, such as Richard Campbell, K Scott Allen, Glenn Block and Gary Short.

It culminated with our October meeting - an all-day event featuring 6 presentations by those who built GANG.

We designated several special meetings: A membership drive; and a food drive. The food drive was so successful that we are probably going to hold one every year.

We also included some fun things for our members, such as creating music videos to show during meetings and trivia contests to give away some of the swag.

We have one or more volunteers at each meeting designated as greeters, making sure members feel welcome and get a name badge.

Finally, we recorded most of the 2011 presentation and made them available on our web site.

Declaring Success

Overall, 2011 was a very successful year for GANG. We exceeded all our goals for the year and feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive. I often hear people pointing to GANG as a success story in growing a user group. I’m very proud of what my fellow officers and I were able to accomplish this year. I love that so many people got so much out of GANG; I love that people keep coming back; I love that they tell their friends and co-workers about GANG; and I love that other user groups draw on us for ideas and inspiration.

I'm looking forward to more success in 2012.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 7:35:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, October 20, 2011

I've been a technical consultant for a long time. I've been actively involved in the Development Community for almost as long.

For those who aren't familiar with the phrase, the "Developer Community" refers to a loose-coupled network of software developers who communicate at user groups, technical conferences, and via various social media channels. Some people are only involved enough to show up and listen to presentations or to take part in the conversations initiated by others. Other people are actively leading these conversations: They are blogging; speaking at conferences and user groups; taking leadership roles in community organizations; and organizing educational events, such as code camps and give camps.

I fall into the latter category.  I run a user group, maintain an active blog, speak wherever I'm welcome and often initiate conversations with strangers at conferences. I've been on the planning committee of a bunch of events and I led the planning of the recent GANG10 conference.

All these activities take a lot of time - time that could be spent billing customers or other tasks directly related to my day job.

So why bother? Why spend all this time and effort? Does my consulting career suffer because of my community involvement?

I have a lot of reasons for participating in the Development Community, but I won’t hide the fact that my own enjoyment is one of them. I'm involved in the community because I enjoy it. It's a lot of work, but I get gratification from helping others to learn and from showing off what I've learned. I also have made a number of friends in this community of bright people and I love the social interactions it brings me.

But is enjoyment or helping others enough of a reason? Is altruism sufficient motivation for community involvement? Can a consultant actually boost his career by spending time in the community?

I have found several tangible benefits of community involvement. Here are a rewards I reap from my community involvement.

It helps one’s reputation. If people see me active in the community or hear me speak, they are more likely to remember my name. If I’m doing a good job in public, that provides credibility. I've been on a number of projects where the customer knew about me in advance because of a talk I gave or a blog post I had written or because of my involvement with user groups.

Education. I can only learn so much on my own. Interacting with smart people is a great way to transfer knowledge. Not only can others teach me the nuts and bolts of a technology they've spent time with; but they can show me how they have applied that in a real-world situation. There is simply not enough time to gain real-world knowledge in every technology. Learning from the trials and errors of others is a way around that limit.

Knowing who the experts are. Every day, I encounter new challenges. Sometimes I can conquer these challenges on my own; but sometimes I need help from someone who has been there before. Recently, I needed help on a security issue. I reached out through Twitter and a developer in Columbus, OH volunteered to help me out for a few hours. I was in my car the next morning happy to make the 3-hour drive in exchange for his help. If I have a network of experts in a variety of topics, this exponentially expands the amount of knowledge that I have available for my customer.

Exposure to new technologies. New software is released every day and this can be overwhelming. Having a chance to hear what tools others outside your organization are using is invaluable in managing this flood of information. Interacting with people outside your job exposes you to those working on other projects, products, industries, and technologies.

Finding new work. As you interact with the community, you hear about companies looking for work and about consultants looking for help. Each of these is an opportunity for more billable work. I’m seldom actively selling, but I always have my ears open for opportunities.

Recruiting. It's much easier to recruit consultants if they know you and your organization. Community involvement is a great way to get that exposure. The flip side is that you meet many quality people who are looking for work through networking at user groups and conferences. These events give you a chance to get to know them in an informal setting and form an opinion about their intelligence, skill set and personality. I’ve found this better than a formal interview process. Involvement in the community typically means a passion and dedication, which are qualities you probably seek in your employees.

For me, participation in the community and my consulting career go hand-in-hand. One helps and complements the other. In the foreseeable future, I will continue to devote time and energy toward both.


Note: I am grateful to the following people, who contributed ideas to this article. I know most of them through the developer community.

  • Matt Ruma
  • Brent Stineman
  • Keith Elder
  • Elizabeth Naramore
  • Susan Anspaugh-Yount
  • Seth Petry-Johnson
  • Samidip Basu
  • Rick Schummer
Thursday, October 20, 2011 6:33:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Last weekend, the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group (GANG) celebrated its 10th birthday with an all-day technical event in Southfield, MI. In addition to great speakers, great presentations, and great food, I created three videos to commemorate the last ten years. These videos are below. Enjoy.

Photos
 
Happy Birthday GANG!
 
GANG Presentation highlights
Wednesday, October 05, 2011 1:18:08 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, October 04, 2011

G. Andrew Duthie and Dane Morgridge were kind enough to have me on their Community Megaphone podcast this month. I spent most of the show talking about the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group and promoting our 10-year celebration – GANG10.

You can hear the show at http://communitymegaphonepodcast.com/Show/31/David-Giard.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011 9:09:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It was the fall of 2001 in the home of Richard Irwin. Richard, John Hopkins, Josh Holmes, Darrell Hawley and Martin Shoemaker gathered in Richard's kitchen to discuss their plans for a new user group. This group would be focused on the new .NET technology. That night they drew up the group's by-laws and came up with a name: The Great Lakes Area .NET User Group (GANG for short). A couple months later, the group began holding regular meetings at the Microsoft Southfield office.

That group still meets today - 10 years later. The format of the meetings and the mission of the group has remained largely unchanged. But the group has grown from a couple dozen attendees to over 80 per month.

Today, I am the president of GANG and my fellow officers and I wanted to do something special to commemorate this milestone. We decided to host a special meeting. Instead of a Wednesday evening meeting with a single main speaker, we will hold our October meeting on a Saturday and offer presentations throughout the day.

The presentations will be topics that we would consider for a regular monthly meeting, but most of the presenters are the people who helped found and build GANG. Many of these people have gone on to become thought leaders in the tech world: People like Bill Wagner, Josh Holmes, Richard Hale Shaw, Darrell Hawley, and Godfrey Nolan.

We felt it would be good to bring in a keynote speaker who was not a .NET developer and would give a non-technical talk that techies could relate to. So, we invited Leon Gersing to give a keynote address on "You", focusing on self-actualization. Many of us heard this talk at the recent Lansing Day of .NET and were impressed with Leon and how well his presentation resonated with the audience.

Staying inside at a conference all day can drain the energy,  so we will provide plenty of nutrition, including a continental breakfast; a barbecue lunch Lockhart's BBQ of Royal Oak, MI; and some treats from the Franklin Cider Mill  in the afternoon.

In addition, we will be having some fun, showing photos and videos of GANG and its members over the years.

This conference promises to be educational and entertaining and it will only occur once - on Saturday October 1.

You can get more information at http://migang.org/tenyear/ and you can register at http://gangten.eventbrite.com/. The cost is $20 for the general public and $10 for supporting members of GANG.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 10:01:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, September 24, 2011

Although I cannot prove it or even measure it, I believe that Richard Campbell is the most famous speaker we have ever had at the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group (aka GANG).

This is quite a claim, as GANG has been around for ten years and numerous excellent speakers have presented here.

Richard spends a large percentage of time traveling the world and speaking at major technical conferences; he has written books and magazine articles; and he is the co-founder of an Internet company. But he is most famous as a podcaster. Richard is the co-host of .NET Rocks, RunAs Radio, and Mondays; and a regular guest on Hanselminutes.

The reason I pursued Mr. Campbell for our user group is because he is an excellent storyteller and because he can speak on a wide range of topics: from software to hardware to networking infrastructure to fine scotch whiskey to barbecue to the history of Nepal. Share a glass of scotch with Mr. Campbell one evening and you are bound to learn something.

In September, Richard traveled to Michigan to speak at three user groups in the area: Tuesday at the Northwest Ohio .NET User Group in Toledo, OH; Wednesday at the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group (GANG) in Southfield, MI; and Thursday at the Greater Lansing .NET User Group (GLUGNET) in Okemos, MI. The GLUGNET group moved to Okemos from its usual home in East Lansing in order to accommodate the larger crowd that Richard drew.

I attended all three presentations - each a variation on his "Scaling ASP.NET Applications" talk. At each venue, the audience was impressed and engaged. The questions were many and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Following the Wednesday and Thursday evening meetings, we headed to a local pub, followed by many admirers who wanted to ask more questions of Richard. I lost some sleep this week but gained some knowledge about web site scaling and an appreciation for how much a good speaker can do for a development community.

All in all, this was one of the most successful user group tours we have ever had around here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011 5:08:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, September 20, 2011

User groups are a great place to hear technical presentations to industry leaders. User groups tend to attract speakers who live nearby. Bringing in speakers from far away is harder because of the expense and travel time.

This week, the user groups near me (in Michigan) are fortunate that a famous speaker from far away (Vancouver, British Columbia) will be visiting.

Richard Campbell is best-known for the podcasts he hosts (Dot Net Rocks, RunAs Radio, and others), but he is also a featured speaker at many major conferences around the world. This week, he will be presenting The Scaling Habits of ASP.NET Applications at user groups in Toledo, OH; Southfield, MI; and East Lansing, MI. His schedule is below.

Date Group Location Link Registration
Tue Sep 20 Northwest Ohio .NET User Group HCR Manor Care
333 N. Summit Street
Toledo, OH
http://www.nwnug.com http://nwnug10year.eventbrite.com/?ref=ecount 
Wed Sep 21 Great Lakes Area .NET User Group Microsoft office
1000 Town Center Dr.
Suite 1930
Southfield, MI
http://migang.org  
Thu Sep 22 Greater Lansing .NET User Group TechSmith Corporation
2405 Woodlake Drive
Okemos, MI
http://glugnet.org http://glugnet092011.eventbrite.com

The Northwest Ohio Group is celebrating their tenth anniversary at this meeting. If you attend the Northwest Ohio group or the Greater Lansing group, please register in advance at the links above.

Richard is here because he was kind enough to donate his time to our groups and because of a generous donation from Telerik, who is covering Richard’s travel expenses.

If you are in Michigan or Ohio, I strongly recommend you attend one of these meetings. It promises to be educational and fun.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 9:35:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Friday, September 02, 2011

I've lost count of the number of Give Camps in which I've participated. I've been on planning committees, found sponsorships, worked as a developer, and led a team. I've worked all night at some Give Camps and left halfway through the weekend at others. One year, I didn't register for the Lansing Give Camp, but showed up Saturday afternoon for a couple hours while my kids were at a basketball game. I was placed on a team and did some database work while I was there. I've participated in Give Camps in Ann Arbor, Lansing, and Grand Rapids. I've slept on the floor; I've slept on the couches at friends' houses; and I've gone without sleep.

I keep coming back for two reasons: The good it does others and the good it does me.

A Give Camp does a lot of good work for a lot of charities and that makes me feel good about myself. Hundreds of charities have been helped just by the Give Camps in Michigan alone. At the closing ceremony, as we hand over the finished product, it's not uncommon to see charity representatives cry when they see what they have received. Some of them are amazed by what people are willing to give them for free.

I also love the opportunity to learn at a Give Camp. I've learned how to build applications using CMS tools, such as DotNetNuke and SiteFinity; I've learned how to use JavaScript to manipulate images on a web page; and I've learned some of the subtleties of migrating a web site from one host to another. I've even learned things unrelated t the projects on which we were working. That's what happens when smart, passionate people get together. The wonderful thing about a Give Camp is that it brings together people of different experiences.

The concept of a Give Camp is simple: A bunch of developers and designers and DBAs get together for a weekend and write software for a bunch of charities. In most cases, this software is a new web site; but sometimes, a charity needs an application to maintain a list of donors or schedule events or some other custom functionality. These charities have limited resources and hiring a consultant is often beyond their budget.

The next Give Camp in Michigan is September 17-19 in Ann Arbor. Sign up as a volunteer if you want to help others or you want to learn something or you want to connect with others who are passionate about technology.

Sign up today at http://annarborgivecamp.org/Volunteer.

What have you got to lose? Except a bit of sleep.

Friday, September 02, 2011 12:25:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I am scheduled to deliver my Data Visualization presentation 4 times in the next few months: At DevLink in Chatanooga, TN on August 18; at the Dayton .NET Developers Group in Dayton, OH on August 24; at 1DevDayDetroit in Detroit, MI on November 5; and at the Detroit Area FoxPro Users Group in Southfield, MI on November 17.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 11:08:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's surprising that more people aren't aware of the Lansing Day of .Net (LDODN). This past Saturday marked the third time this event was held in the greater Lansing area. Every instance outdistances their previous efforts.

Like most code camps, this community-run event features “eyes-front” presentations delivered by experts in the community. But in Lansing, they always offer a little of the unexpected. The first year, the mayor of Lansing showed up to discuss the role of technology in the economy; At the second LDODN, the event was held at The Breslin Center - home of the Michigan State University basketball team; and this most recent LDODN held many surprises.

The conference took place at the TechSmith campus. TechSmith, which makes some great software like SnagIt and Camtasia Studio, operates out of Okemos, MI. Two large classrooms accommodated the two tracks of LDODN.
The conference was small enough to list all the topics and presenters below:

  • ASP.NET MVC: A Web Coder's Salvation (Jay Harris)
  • Diversity in IT: Optimize for what everyone brings to the table (Jennifer Marsman)
  • Top 10 Tips for Moving from Winforms to WPF (Michael Eaton)    
  • Field Guide to Moving to the Cloud (Michael Wood)
  • You (Leon Gersing)    
  • Intro to Windows Phone 7 Development (Jeff Fansler)
  • The Swamp King’s Vision: A Tale of Project Management (Darrell Hawley)    
  • That's It, I've had enough, I'm starting my own company (Jeff McWherter)
  • Build a Complete Website Using HTML5 and CSS3 in One Hour (Amelia Marschall)    
  • Be a Better Developer (Michael Wood)
  • jQuery (Leon Gersing)    
  • Panel: Ultimate Tools Edition

Notice anything about these sessions? Although the conference has ".Net" in the title, only three talks focused on Microsoft technologies. This was far more than a .Net or Microsoft-focused conference. Instead, we had talks on open source (jQuery), web standards (HTML5), and vendor-agnostic technologies (Cloud computing). A plurality of talks focused on soft skills (Diversity, Project Management, You, Be A Better Developer). Clearly the organizing team kept the Day of .Net branding only to provide continuity; They chose the best content they could find, regardless of the technology stack.

For the record, I attended 3 sessions: Michael Wood's Field Guide to Moving to the Cloud; Leon Gersing's You; and Leon Gersing's jQuery.

Mike Wood is an Azure MVP but his presentation was applicable to any cloud vendor. Key points: Understand how to secure your data when you move offsite; Estimate the demand on your application, so you can scale appropriately; Decide what parts of your application should be kept in-house; Don't migrate your mission critical application first.

Leon Gersing's You presentation was a thought-provoking treatise on how one can take better control of one's life by becoming aware of what your own needs are and of how others perceive you. There was a lot to this talk and the large audience was engaged. I recorded an interview with Leon on this subject and I plan to release it soon on Technology And Friends.

Leon's jQuery presentation was a 100-level talk. It was mostly review for me, but I found it useful because I am scheduled to deliver a similar presentation this week at MADExpo, so I wanted to steal some ideas.

Like most good conferences, LDODN offered more than presentations. This one featured a catered lunch and dinner. Dinner is rare at a one-day conference. The food was first-rate (Chipotle burritos for lunch; and barbecue dinner from the Michigan Brewing Company).

After dinner, the celebration began with a dunk tank. Dennis Burton, Jeff McWherter and other leaders in the Lansing development community agreed to get dunked for charity. All proceeds benefited Lansing's Impression 5 Museum, which hosts the Lansing Give Camp each year. An inflatable slide provided more fun for those stayed late.

And I haven't told you the best part. During the raffle, dozens of books, software and hardware was given away.

And I won a brand-new iPad!

Photos of LDODN

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 8:32:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, June 21, 2011

At the June 15 meeting of the Great Lakes Area .Net Users Group, Microsoft Developer Evangelist Brian Prince delivered a presentation titled “A Lap Around Windows Azure”.

Here is that presentation:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 11:53:26 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, June 19, 2011

As an INETA Mentor, one of my responsibilities is to approve requests from user groups seeking to join INETA.

I was recently asked what criteria I use to approve a group. Generally speaking, I like to approve groups. If you are serious about running a .Net user group, then you should be welcome in INETA. INETA is trying to grow the number of groups so I don’t turn many away. But I don’t accept every request. The criteria I use is:

  • Clear mission
  • Regular meetings
  • Commitment from leadership
  • Open to the public
  • A web presence

Clear Mission

The user group should have a clearly stated purpose and that purpose should be related to Microsoft technologies. In the states I cover, there are groups devoted to .Net, SharePoint, and Architecture. A group doesn’t need to focus only on Microsoft technologies, but there must be some focus there.

Regular meetings

A user group needs to commit to hold regular meetings at a consistent time and place. Monthly meetings are by far the most common and are frequent enough to keep members engaged. Generally, I require a group hold three monthly meetings before I will approve them for INETA membership.

Commitment from Leadership

I frequently get requests from user groups that have yet to hold even a single meeting. I don't want to approve a group; then learn a few months later that they never actually held a meeting or that the group fizzled after one meeting.  Running a group is a lot of work and I want to make sure the group's leadership is in place and committed before approving that group. The "three meeting" rule above helps to verify this commitment.

Open to the Public

The group should be open to the public. Some companies sponsor user groups for their own employees and don't allow non-employees to attend.  Others require attendees to pay dues each year or an admission fee to each meeting. I haven't had a membership request from such a group, but I would not accept them if they had a restrictive rule like these.

A web presence

If a group wants to attract members, it is essential that they have some sort of web presence. This can be a web site or a single page or a subscription to meetup.com or any way that I can find them using a popular search engine. Users should not need to sign in before viewing the web page, so Facebook pages and BaseCamp accounts do not meet this criteria.

At a minimum, this web presence should state the date, time, location, and frequency of the each meeting. The topic of the next meeting should also appear on this page, but I would probably approve the group without this, since so many groups do not provide this information.

Wrapping Up

Generally, I apply the criteria above before approving a user group for INETA membership. These rules are not carved in stone and I might consider deviating from them if a group leader presents a strong case, but they are a good starting point for that conversation.

It's also worth noting that I am the INEAT mentor for Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, so I approve groups only in those three states. Other mentors in other states may apply slightly different rules.

User groups are welcome to apply for INETA membership before they have met all these criteria. They will remain in the "Pending" state until I approve them. Send me an e-mail (David Giard (At) David Giard (Dot) com) if you have a user group and would like to apply to INETA.

You can learn more about INETA at http://ineta.org.

Sunday, June 19, 2011 8:27:18 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, June 08, 2011

This year's Codestock was my third and it did not disappoint. I was scheduled to deliver two presentations - Visual Studio 2010 Database Tools and An Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming. These were two talks I had not given for some time and I altered both considerably since I last delivered them. I stayed up most of Thursday night preparing to deliver them during the first two time slots Friday.

By 11AM, I was finished presenting and prepared to relax and enjoy the conference. After a leisurely lunch, I attended Seth Juarez's 2-hour presentation on Machine Learning. I heard about this talk last year and was determined not to miss it this year. Seth described algorithms that allow computers to predict results after observing a set of sample data. I was impressed enough with this talk to invite Seth onto Technology and Friends.

The keynote address was Friday evening at the nearby Bijou Theater. Charles Petzold - one of the world's most famous computer science authors - delivered an impressive narrative about scientists of the 19th century. He began with the work of William Thomson (who later became Lord Kelvin) and his analog computer designed to predict the height of tides. Petzold expanded the talk to cover Thomson's clashes with the geologist of his time and with naturalist Charles Darwin. Petzold was informative and entertaining and delivered one of the best keynotes I've ever heard. I was thrilled when he agreed to appear on my TV show the next day.

Saturday was supposed to be spent taking in sessions and open spaces. But a speaker canceled at the last-minute and I was asked to fill in. I chose to do a talk on Data Visualization, which I originally delivered at the Kalamazoo X conference and which I am scheduled to deliver at Devlink in August. Originally, this talk was only 30 minutes but there were so many good questions that it lasted almost 60 minutes.

Later in the day, Mike Eaton asked me to help him deliver a presentation on user interfaces. I stood near the stage and made a few contributions, but he did not need my assistance. Mike showed off some impressive WPF applications he has built and described why he made the design decisions in these applications.

I brought some work with me - a problem with Microsoft Windows Identity Foundation with which I had been struggling - and Microsoft Evangelist Brian Prince was kind enough to sit with me and patiently answer my questions. This assistance alone was worth the trip.

I brought my video camera and recorded 5 episodes of Technology and Friends, which will air over the next few weeks. I also filmed some spots for a user group project I’m assembling. The final result will be published in October. Improbably, I did not take any photos at the conference.

As always, the best part of this conference was meeting and interacting with smart people, exchanging ideas and business cards. It’s funny how I can attend a conference, sit in only one session, attend no open spaces and still manage to learn a lot

Wednesday, June 08, 2011 12:40:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, May 15, 2011

It’s Sunday morning and I’ll be checking out of this hotel and heading home soon. I’m digesting what I learned and experienced yesterday at the Chicago Code Camp in Grayslake, OH.

The code camp offered 5 session slots. I sat in on 2 sessions and spoke at 1.

I began the day watching John Petersen describe Dependency Injection in ASP.Net MVC 3. With version 3 of MVC, Microsoft introduced a pattern for wiring up Dependency Injection Frameworks as the application starts up. John explained how to wire up a DI framework, such as StructureMap or Unity in your application. His examples helped to clarify this concept. I do a lot of work in ASP.Net MVC, but I have not had a chance to explore many of the new features included in version 3. John was kind enough to sit with me after his session and answer a few of my questions. A few months ago, I wrote and submitted a book chapter on MVC and I was recently asked to update this chapter to reflect the changes in version 3, so this topic helped me directly.

Session 2 was on Coded UI testing. Eric Boyd went out of his way to get the crowd involved. He brought gifts of books and t-shirts to give away to anyone who contributed a good anecdote or question. Using Visual Studio Ultimate, Eric walked through recording a UI test, showed the generated code, then showed the generated code and added assertions and other modifications to the test. He also briefly demoed the Microsoft Test Professional,  a tool for testers to script and record the results of manual tests; and data-driven tests, which allows you to run a single test multiple times with a variety of inputs.

I was scheduled to speak in slot 4 and, as is my practice, I hid away during session 3 to prepare for my talk. This was a brand new talk for me titled “How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love jQuery”. I tried to show how much easier a framework like jQuery can make JavaScript development. I prepared and showed a lot of code demos on using selectors and binding events. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and had to rush through my Ajax demo and did not get to my jQueryUI demos. Still, the room was full (30+ people) and the audience was engaged. I’m scheduled to give the talk again at MADExpo, so I will tighten it up before then.

During the final session of the day, I recorded two episodes of Technology and Friends. I was introduced to Micah Martin, Dave Hoover, and Ashish Dixit via Twitter and got to meet them after my session. They have a passion for mentoring and apprenticeship programs and we talked about this on camera for a half hour. Next, I recorded a show on the SOLID principles with Chander Dhal, who is a fellow Telerik insider and a world-class yoga practitioner.

The best thing about this conference was the new people I met. Most are not from my geographic area or from my area of knowledge, so I felt my boundaries expand.

It’s time now to pack up, pick up Mike, and drive back to Michigan. I need to prepare for my next trip.

Sunday, May 15, 2011 7:04:59 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Kalamazoo X conference isn’t like other conferences. Although it is targeted at technical people and the audience is filled with software developers, the content presented is typically not technical. Instead, sessions highlight soft skills, such as team building and education.

Another major difference between Kalamazoo X and other conferences is the session format: The length of each presentation is limited to 30 minutes – much shorter than the 60-90 minute presentations seen at most technical conferences. This serves to keep the audience focused. It’s rare to see any audience member get up out of his or her chair and walk out of a session, partly because they will miss a significant part of it and partly because the session is always close to the end.

The final major difference is that Kalamazoo X offers only one track. This provides all attendees the same shared experience, that they can discuss and compare afterwards. One never has to choose or feel he is missing something.

This year’s conference took place last Saturday at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and featured something for everyone. Nine speakers delivered ten presentations and the day ended with a panel discussion on Interviewing. A fishbowl exercise during lunch got the crowd excited. 5 chairs were placed in the middle of the room and a topic was thrown out. The ground rules of the fish bowl were: You must be seated in one of the chairs in order to ask a question; and one chair must always be empty. Attendees entered and exited the fishbowl area frequently and the conversation grew excited as ideas fired back and forth.

Kalamazoo X is the brainchild of Michael Eaton, who envisioned a conference that fill gaps he saw in the education of software developers. Technical information is readily available to technical people from a variety of venues, but soft skill training is much more rare and this lack of training often shows up in the lack of soft skills displayed by the developer community.

Kalamazoo X is now in its third year. I have attended all three – including the one last Saturday. I have spoken at two of them. Each time, the success was evident – The room was full, the content was excellent, and the atmosphere was electric. I’ve learned about leadership from Jim Holmes, about Community from Mike Wood and Brian Prince, about self-promotion from Jeff Blankenburg, and about life from Leon Gersing.

I’m already thinking about next year’s conference.

Photos from 2011 Kalamazoo X

Kalamazoo X home page

Photos from 2010 Kalamazoo X

Wednesday, May 04, 2011 9:20:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One thing I really enjoy is speaking at conferences and user groups. I learn a lot and I get a chance to interact with other developers around the country, and I get a rush when I can pull off a really good presentation. Unfortunately, traveling can be expensive and I need to limit my talks to what can fit in my budget.

One thing Telerik enjoys is supporting the developer community. They have great products and presentations at user groups and conferences are a good way to let people know about those products. Unfortunately, Telerik does not employ an army of professional presenters to cover all the events they’d like.

Telerik recently solved both those problems by forming the Telerik Insiders Program. The program consists of people in the community – like me – who enjoy speaking at developer events. The deal is that Telerik will sponsor our trip to a conference or user group and all we need to do in exchange is give away a bundle of their software. This is a great deal for me because I’ve been a fan of their products for a long time and because I love giving away stuff that someone else paid for.

Telerik has recruited a number of outstanding speakers to this program, including John Petersen, Lee Brandt, and Malcolm Sheridan.

You can learn more about this program and request a speaker for your event at http://www.telerik.com/community/insiders.aspx.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 7:04:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I recently added a few dates to my speaking schedule. Here is the most up-to-date information.

Date Event Location Topic  
Apr 13 Ann Arbor .Net User Group ann arbor, MI Real World Lessons with Windows Workflow Foundation More Info
Apr 21 Greater Lansing .Net User Group East Lansing, MI Real World Lessons with Windows Workflow Foundation More Info
Apr 26 Findlay Area .Net User Group Findlay, OH Real World Lessons with Windows Workflow Foundation More Info
May 14 Chicago Code Camp Grayslake, IL How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love jQuery More Info
May 17 Northwest Ohio .Net User Group Toledo, OH Real World Lessons with Windows Workflow Foundation More Info
June 3-4 Codestock Knoxville, TN Using the Database features of Visual Studio More Info
June 3-4 Codestock Knoxville, TN An Introduction to Object Oriented Programming More Info
Jun 29 West Michigan .Net User Group Grand Rapids, MI Real World Lessons with Windows Workflow Foundation More Info

I’m still waiting to hear from DevLink and MadExpo, so this list may grow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 9:20:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, March 31, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011 4:04:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, March 24, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011 3:59:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, February 19, 2011

GOALS

At the end of 2009, I took over as President of the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group (GANG). One of the first things the new officers and I did was to meet and set goals for 2010. We set the following goals for the year and announced them at the January 2010 meeting.

  • Get members more engaged and involved
  • Increase meeting attendance by 50%
  • Increase supporting membership by 30%
  • Continue to attract high-quality speakers
  • Increase sponsorship by 100%
  • Finish year in the black financially

Most of those goals focused on growth of the group. Prior to 2010, the group was successful, but we felt it had plateaued and we wanted to make more people more aware of GANG and excited about coming to meetings. We successfully met the 2010 goals by increasing attendance, sponsorship and supporting membership during the year.

At the end of 2010, the leadership team met again to discuss goals for the upcoming year.

This year’s goals focus on connections: Connecting members more with the group; connecting the group more with its members and connecting with other user groups.

Our goals for 2011 are

  • Cultivate Ownership In Group
  • Continue to Attract High-Quality Speakers
  • Support and Connect with other Area User Groups
  • Average 60 attendees per meeting
  • Increase supporting membership by 15%
  • Increase Monetary Sponsorship by 10%
  • Make it an event!

Below I describe our plan to achieve these goals.

CULTIVATE OWNERSHIP IN GROUP

If a member feels connected with a user group, he or she is more likely to support that group with his money and his time; he is more likely to run for a leadership role in the future; and he is more likely to recommend the group to his friends and colleagues.

Last year, we implemented things like networking time before the meeting, name badges, and after-meeting social hour to help members connect with one another. This year, the big change is in the number of volunteers we have. Over the holidays, the officers sat down and listed all the tasks that go into putting on a user group. When people told us they want to volunteer, we were able to send them this list and allow them to pick the tasks they want. 

I have already announced that I will not run for President next year. By getting more people involved, there should be no lack of leadership when I step down. I think this turnover is good for the group.

CONTINUE TO ATTRACT HIGH-QUALITY SPEAKERS

GANG has always done a great job at this. Over the years, we have had some outstanding speakers. Many of them were Microsoft insiders, MVPs, book authors, Regional Directors, and heartland influencers. Many of the speakers at GANG also speak at major conferences around the world.

This year, we are looking to attract speakers with bigger names than in the past. This means bringing in speakers from a wider geographic area. Our sponsors will help defer some of the cost of this. As of this writing, we have confirmed Richard Campbell and Steve Bohlen will speak at GANG in 2011 and we are waiting to hear on some other well-known speakers.

SUPPORT AND CONNECT WITH OTHER AREA USER GROUPS

GANG is part of a strong developer community in Michigan and the Midwest. Currently, we have the highest user group attendance in Michigan, which gives us a platform for making our members aware of other groups in the area. We will be strongly encouraging our members to attend other user groups and the officers of GANG have made a commitment to attend 20 other user groups during the year. This will help us connect with other groups and to bring new ideas into our group. In January, we actively promoted the 5-year anniversary celebration of the Ann Arbor .Net Developers User Group. I attended this event and saw a number of GANG members there.

The March GANG meeting will be presented in partnership with the Greater Detroit Cloud Computing User Group and will feature a presentation on REST and hypermedia.

AVERAGE 60 ATTENDEES PER MEETING

We finished 2010 strong in terms of attendance and we’d like to continue that trend. Average meeting attendance rose from 35 in 2009 to 54 in 2010. We will continue our strategy of promoting the group via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, e-mails, and our web page; However, word of mouth remains the best method for getting the word out.

This year, we will repeat our membership drive in which members earn raffle tickets for attending meetings and for bringing new people to each meeting.

The best way to increase attendance is to deliver a quality product.

INCREASE SUPPORTING MEMBERSHIP BY 15%

If we provide value to our members, I believe those who can afford it will gladly support us. We have made it easier for them to do so by allowing members to support us via PayPal and by clicking a link on our web site. We also plan to send a reminder e-mail when a membership expires.

INCREASE MONETARY SPONSORSHIP BY 10%

In 2009, the Michigan recession caused corporate sponsorship to dwindle so low that we could not provide food at most meetings. In 2010, we raised over $4000 from corporate sponsors, a huge increase over the previous year.

This year, we are looking to raise even more. Our strategy is to define sponsorship levels and to communicate the benefits a sponsor receives by contributing at each level. Benefits include mentions during our meetings, logos on our web site, slide decks and e-mails, and the opportunity to present Lightning Talks before meetings.

This money will go toward providing food at the meetings and travel costs for speakers traveling a great distance.

MAKE IT AN EVENT

I don’t remember who it was, but someone described a GANG meeting last year as more of an event than a user group meeting. I really liked this description and want to strive to make it even more true in 2011.

We are planning some fun things at each meeting, such as trivia questions, and a more personal introductions for each speaker. We have also planned a few special events throughout 2011, such as a Food Drive and a Membership Drive.

The biggest event of the year will take place in October, when GANG celebrates its 10-year anniversary. Our October meeting will be replaced with a day-long, single-track conference featuring many of the founding and early members of GANG. Details will be announced soon.

CONCLUSION

The goals we set for the coming year are more evolutionary than revolutionary. GANG seems to be heading in the right direction and we want to keep that momentum going. As of this writing, we have held two meetings in 2011 and we are on track to achieve these goals.

Saturday, February 19, 2011 6:39:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Friday, January 28, 2011

Tuesday January 11, Microsoft hosted a Community Summit in Sandusky, OH. The featured event at the Summit was a Panel Discussion on User Groups and community events. The panel consisted of user group leaders from several developer communities in the Heartland region:

  • Joe O’Brian, Columbus, Ruby
  • Elizabeth Naramore, Cincinnati, PHP
  • Mike Wood, Cincinnati, .Net
  • David Giard (that’s me), Detroit, .Net

Below is a video of the panel discussion.

Friday, January 28, 2011 6:11:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On January 18 at the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group (GANG), DevExpress Evangelist Gary Short delivered a well-received presentation on Refactoring. You can see a video of this presentation below.

You can see photos of the meeting at my Smugmug page

Gary Short

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 10:48:41 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011 3:40:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We have just finished an amazing year at the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group (often abbreviated “GANG”).

As many of you know, I took over as president of GANG at the end of 2009 and I presided over my first GANG meeting in January of 2010. 28 people attended that meeting. Last week, 80 people attended our final meeting of the year.

When the year started, I sat down with the other newly-elected officers – Vice President John Hopkins; Treasurer Kent Fehribach; and Secretary Gerhard Weiss. Together we set 6 goals for the group:

  • Get members more engaged and involved
  • Increase meeting attendance by 50%
  • Increase supporting membership by 30%
  • Continue to attract high-quality speakers
  • Increase sponsorship by 100%
  • Finish year in the black financially

I wrote about these goals back in January. As I described, we set out a plan to meet these goals. Now that the year has ended, I’d like to review how we did against these goals.

Get members more engaged and involved

In addition to the elected officers, GANG recruited several volunteers - Chris Roland, Shelly Noll, and Kelly Brownsberger - to help with all the work that goes into each meeting.

In the past, the group was a venue for people to watch a technical presentation - but little else. The technical presentations are important, but we wanted members to get more out of it. So we designated the period before the meeting as networking time, when users can enjoy their dinner and talk to one another. We handed out name tags, which help to break the ice.
After the meeting, we invite everyone to a local pub, where we can enjoy some relaxed social time. It wasn't uncommon for us to go out after a meeting, but we made it more inclusive this year.

We introduced Lightning Talks this year. A Lightning Talk is a 10-minute presentation that any member may deliver on a topic of his or her choosing. In addition to providing more content for the audience, it gives members experience speaking in front of an audience in a low-risk environment.

This year, we started a monthly get-together that we called the Motor City Codeslingers. This is a chance for programmers to get together to do some pair programming and share some idea.
We held a Food Drive in November and almost 60% of the attendees donated. This was a huge success, collecting over 160 food items and over $600.

Increase meeting attendance by 50%

We began the year with a membership drive. People could enter into a raffle by attending a meeting and by bringing a guest to a meeting. Microsoft donated a Zune HD as a grand prize for this drive. We drew for the Zune at the June meeting.

Throughout the year, we encouraged members to spread the word among their friends and colleagues and we introduced first-time attendees at each meeting. Word of mouth remains the best way to attract new members.

We also advertised the group on the social networks Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

These tactics worked. Attendance increased from about 35 per meeting in 2009 to over 54 per meeting in 2010. More impressive was the steady increase in attendance throughout this year. We went from 28 attendees in January to 80 in November and the average attendance in the second half of the year was over 65.

Increase supporting membership by 30%

There is no charge to join GANG or to attend meetings, but we do offer a supporting membership for an annual fee. This goal was a partial success. The number of supporting members increased by only about 10%, but the dollar amount was more than double last year due to an increase in the amount of the fee we set.

Continue to attract high-quality speakers

For years, GANG has attracted outstanding speakers. This year was no different. We held twelve meetings in 2010 and our list of speakers reads like a Who’s Who of developers in the region. We had Microsoft program managers, evangelists, Technology Specialists, MVPs, book authors, and influencers. All our speakers also present at conferences.

Increase sponsorship by 100%

We blew away this goal. In 2009, Michigan was hit hard by the recession and our sponsors reflected this with reduced sponsorship. Our funds were so low last year that we did not provide dinner for our last few meetings.

This year, we pursued existing and new sponsors and raised several times the sponsorship that we did last year. Not only did we always provide dinner – several times this year, we could afford to upgrade from the typical pizza dinner to something more interesting, such as tacos, fried chicken and Chinese food.

In addition to raising more money, we reached out to vendors to donate software, books, and training that we can give away at a raffle at the end of each meeting. We give out thousands of dollars worth of merchandise at this raffle – more than many conferences.

Finish year in the black financially

We added this goal, because GANG owed about $300 at the end of 2009. This year, we increased sponsorship donations as described above. We also implemented some cost savings by doing things like buying soda and chips from the grocery store, instead of from the caterer.

We are finishing 2010 with a surplus of over $1500, which will be a good start for 2011.

Wrap-Up

In addition to the accomplishments listed above, GANG also did the following in 2011:

  • MessageBox.Show Newsletter
  • Monthly E-Mails
  • Upgraded web site
  • Signage during the meeting
  • PayPal

Overall, I’m really proud of what my team and I accomplished in 2010. It’s not like we took a group that was floundering and brought it up to acceptable. We took a stable, successful group and took it to the next level. Other user groups in the area often look to us now for ideas of how to be successful.

The only remaining question is: How do we top this in 2011?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 10:46:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, October 04, 2010
Monday, October 04, 2010 10:59:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, September 30, 2010

G. Andrew Guthie and Dane Morgridge invited me to be the featured guest on Community Megaphone Podcast this week.

We talked about community, give camps, user groups, INETA, MVPs, fried foods and kilts.

I had a blast.

You can listen to the show here.

Thursday, September 30, 2010 9:32:22 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, September 02, 2010

Don't let anyone tell you that nothing ever happens in central Kentucky. The Great Pork Chop Incident of Carrollton, KY was still fresh in my mind as I drove the 300+ miles from Michigan to Lexington, KY Tuesday to speak at the first-ever meeting of the Lexington .Net User Group.

The drive down was uneventful and I arrived early enough to review my presentation before the meeting began.

Matt McKnight, who - along with his wife Tiffany - had founded the user group, sent me several text messages directing me to a good parking spot, the ideal building entrance and the location of the meeting room inside the Lexington Public Library.

But I never made it inside the library. Matt's final text message arrived as I was getting out of my car. That was the moment that everything changed. The police had arrived and ordered an evacuation of the building. I found Matt outside the library and he took me to a local bar, where about 20 user group attendees were self-applying beer to help recover from the emergency evacuation. The bar wasn't adequately equipped for a presentation, so Matt made some phone calls and found that DeSha's Restaurant had an available back room. The entire group headed across downtown Lexington to our new destination.

The restaurant had no projector, so I gave an abbreviated version of my presentation - Writing Your First ASP.Net MVC Application - using only my laptop. It went well. People were engaged and asked good questions and no one complained that my presentation was too long.

I was really impressed with this crowd that was willing to walk 5 blocks across downtown Lexington in order to attend a user group presentation. I think this bodes well for the future of the group.

I'm very glad I was present for the nascence of this group. I expect great things from them in the future.

LEXNUG site.

Thursday, September 02, 2010 2:27:11 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, August 30, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010 7:43:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, August 17, 2010
 #
 

John Kellar Sitting in the hotel bar last night, surrounded by geeks from around the country, I realized that I did not want DevLink to end. We all came to Nashville to exchange ideas and to learn a little more about our profession.

John Kellar – a Nashville resident until a few weeks ago – is the driving force behind the DevLink developers conference. With the help of a group of volunteers, he puts on an amazing conference that brings together a diverse group from the IT industry. People with a variety of roles, focusing on a variety of technologies traveled from all over North America.

I was scheduled to deliver only one session – Communication in the Workplace – an expanded version of a presentation I gave last year at the Kalamazoo X conference. I delivered it Saturday morning and was pleased with the reception it received. My main message was that you should be proactive in seeking frequent feedback from your manager, in order to improve your performance and raise the perceived value of your work. The slides are below.

After arriving at DevLink, I also arranged for a panel discussion on Finding a new Job in the IT Industry. I moderated a panel that included John Kellar, James Bender, Jay Harris, Diane Sanders, Jeff McWherter and Todd Anglin.  The panel participants did such a great job articulating ideas about the how to approach a job search. Everyone agreed on the high value of networking, but there was a spirited debate on the value of a college diploma.

The last few conferences I’ve attended, I have favored open spaces and hallway conversations over the more traditional “eyes-front” presentations. This one was different for me. At DevLink, I attended five sessions (other than my own two). A brief summary is below.

The Rich Standards: Getting Familiar with HTML5 by Todd Anglin.

This was an eye-opening session for me, showing a look into the emerging standards of HTML 5. The next version of HTML promises more semantic markup, making web pages more accessible to search engines and to screen readers. It will also provide native support for audio and video. Some HTML5 features have already been adopted by some of the major browsers.

NHibernate and Friends by Lee Brandt

In this introductory presentation, Lee ran through the basics of NHibernate, Fluent NHibernate and LINQ to NHibernate. He also explained why why he chose this stack over other ORMs (earlier adoption of key features), the conventions that NHibernate expects and how to configure NHibernate when your data and objects deviate from those conventions.

Getting Started with Entity Framework 4 by Dane Morgridge

This presentation assumed no prior knowledge of EF and walked the user through the creation of a data layer in less than an hour. I really liked the simplicity of the presentation and the demos. Don’t tell Dane, but I may borrow some of his ideas for an EF presentation I am developing.

Iconoclasm (Closing Keynote) by Ted Neward

The conference ended with a compelling lecture by Ted Neward, who warned of the changes to the American software industry and recommended that we set our vision higher and redefine our own roles in this industry. He refers to those who have blazed new trails in other areas as iconoclasts.

Todd AnglinIt’s hard to define why this conference is such a success. Sure, there are many great speakers and the attendee can sometimes choose between a dozen different sessions at a given time. But there are also open spaces and hallway conversations from which to learn. And, because so many of us stayed in the recommended hotel, there were numerous opportunities in the evening to meet smart people.

The attention to detail by the organizers added to the event’s quality. From the excellent speaker dinner to the hand-written Thank You notes given to each speaker, everything contributed to the quality of the conference.

If there is a DevLink next year, it is already penciled onto my calendar.


Photos from DevLink

Monday, August 16, 2010 11:50:06 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, August 01, 2010

This is a 2-part recording of Len Smith's presentation JavaScript is Real Code: SOLID and TDD in the Browser, delivered at the July 21 meeting of the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group (GANG)

Part 1:

Part 2:

Sunday, August 01, 2010 5:35:54 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, July 26, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010 6:11:55 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010 7:35:35 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, July 04, 2010

Here is a fun slideshow of photos I took at the Codestock Developers conference in June

You can view all my photos from Codestock here.

Sunday, July 04, 2010 6:02:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, July 01, 2010

Today, I received a message from Microsoft awarding me a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in Visual C#.

I have been aware of this award ever since my friend Nino earned one years ago. I never quite understood the selection criteria but I knew that it was recognition of a willingness to share knowledge with others in the community. Since sharing knowledge is something in which I a lot of take pride, I am happy to be recognized for this.

A Microsoft employee once told me that he wouldn't nominate anyone who sought to become an MVP, so I never tried to reveal any aspirations, working in the community because I enjoyed doing so. I even joked about it, posting an e-mail on this blog from Mike Woelmer, who nominated me as an NVP (Not Very Professional). But the truth is that I did want this award and that I am excited and proud and grateful to receive it.

I want to publicly thank Jennifer Marsman and Alan Stevens who nominated me. I was told that some other folks said nice things on my behalf as part of this process. I don't know who they all were, so I won't list them here, but know that this was much appreciated.

I am aware of some tangible benefits - software, admission to the MVP summit, access to the product team - and I know there are a few other benefits that I haven't sorted through yet. But, for me the most important benefit is recognition by my peers.

And for that I am grateful.

Thursday, July 01, 2010 6:33:55 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, June 28, 2010

Mike Neel does an amazing job with Codestock. Two years ago, he (along with Alan Stevens) introduced open spaces to the heartland; Last year, he wrote an application that allowed attendees to vote on their favorite sessions; and this year, he held the keynote in an classic movie theater and invited Rachel Appel to talk about community and bring onstage others to give their views of community.

Two days after Codestock (and a day after a 9-hour drive home from Knoxville, TN), I’m still processing the information learned.

I delivered two presentations and hosted a discussion panel. My first presentation – Writing Your First ASP.Net MVC Application – was well-received. I love showing people how accessible a hot technology like MVC is. In the afternoon, I gave a 2-hour presentation on An Introduction to Relational Database and T-SQL. I had no slides: I spent most of the talk showing examples of writing T-SQL code to modify schemas and data. I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in this topic, but I heard some positive feedback. Many in the audience were experienced C# developers, who knew very little about the data they were accessing; and there were a couple experienced people who listened to get ideas on teaching this topic to others.

Because I had 4 hours of material to present, I spent most of Day 1, delivering or preparing my presentations. As a result, I was unable to observe much of the conference on Friday. My evening was free, so I was able to enjoy a nice dinner with about 20 folks from the community, watch the keynote, and hang out in the hotel lobby talking with developers from all across the US and Europe. I also sneaked in the filming of a couple episodes of Technology and Friends.

Saturday, my only responsibility was hosting a Panel Discussion – How to Put on a Great Conference. I did one really smart thing: I invited some really smart people to be on the panel. Because of this, I had to do very little during the discussion. I would ask an open-ended question, such as “What is the first thing you need to think about when planning a conference” and the conversation flowed with many great ideas exchanged. (The most popular answers to this question were venue, date and goals).  Jamie Wright made a video recording of this session and I plan to release it soon as an episode of Technology And Friends.

I was able to watch a few sessions on Saturday.

Chris Woodruff asked me to film the premiere of a new talk he created called “Embracing Failure”. Chris emphasizes that we should examine our shortcomings, accept responsibility for them and use them to improve ourselves.

Patrick Foley gave a presentation on becoming and independent software vendor (ISV). Patrick suggests that you don't try to tackle every feature on every platform: Instead, start by focusing on one platform and do something better than everyone else.

In Nathan Blevins’s Mindstorming presentation, he showed off programs that controlled a car, making it drive, turn and automatically avoid falling off a ledge.

Saturday evening included a dinner sponsored by Telerik (Thanks Rob and Sasha) and a trip to Alan Stevens’s house for an evening of ping pong, cigars and fellowship.

During my time in Knoxville, I also spent a lot of time picking the brains of other attendees and speakers. I met a lot of intelligent and passionate people at this conference.  I was late for dinner every night because I found myself engaged in a conversation with someone about error handling or MVC view engines or search engine optimization or one of  dozens of other topics. Often I turned on the camera when I realized how much information I was getting from a conversation, so many of these talks will be available on future shows.

As with most conferences, it was the people that made this one. Codestock attracts many of the same people that attend local events in Michigan and Ohio. But it also draws people from New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Alabama, and many other parts of the country. There were even people from Manitoba, Canada and from the United Kingdom.

I’m already looking forward to my next trip to Tennessee (DevLink in Nashville in August) and my trip to Codestock next year. Let me know if you will be there.

 

More photos from Codestock

Monday, June 28, 2010 12:26:38 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Episode 92

At the 2010 ann arbor Day of .Net, I hosted a panel discussion in front of a live audience.

Michael Eaton, Jay Harris, Patrick Steele, Jim Holmes and Jason Follas described how they cope with the information overload of keeping up with technologies.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010 4:57:39 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, June 06, 2010

I had every intention of going to more sessions at the Central Ohio Day of .Net. But one speaker was sick and I was asked to fill in with a second session. So I spent time after lunch preparing and only saw bits and pieces of other sessions.

But I did learn a lot. This conference always attracts smart people and I exchanged ideas on unit testing, code refactoring, Visual Studio 2010 new features and web hypermedia. Many of these conversations took place on camera, so I will be able to share them online in the coming weeks.

And I delivered presentations on ASP.Net MVC (scheduled) and Managed Extensibility Framework (unscheduled).

Many thanks to Mike Wood and the rest of the crew that put on this excellent conference.

  

More photos from CODODN

Sunday, June 06, 2010 8:12:36 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This is a 5-part recording of Chris Marinos's excellent presentation F# and Functional Programming for C# Developers, delivered at the May 19 meeting of the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group (GANG)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Community | F# | Video
Tuesday, May 25, 2010 5:08:33 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Episode 87

In this interview, Day of .Net organizers John Hopkins and Jason Follas describe what went into planning this event and what were the results.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 11:04:36 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, April 19, 2010

Episode 82

Monday, April 19, 2010 7:28:26 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yesterday, I attended the second Kalamazoo X conference. This year's event featured a great list of speakers, presenting many thought-provoking topics. Ideas came at me so fast, it was tough to keep up. Here are some highlights of the presentations I saw.

"Treating the community like a pile of crap makes it stronger" by Brian Prince

The title of this talk comes from Brian's experience growing up in rural Maine and shoveling manure in the summer months. Manure works better as a fertilizer if you periodically mix it, moving the bottom to the top. The same can be said for user group leadership.
If you are a community leader, plan for a peaceful transition. Identify others who can take over and groom them to do so. Take some time off from the lead role in order to re-energize before coming back.

"Agile+UX: The Great Convergence of User Centered Design and Iterative Development" by John Hwang

John is a web designer and his company is applying agile methodologies to its project. He discussed the challenges of using Agile to manage User Centered Design (UCD) AND User Experience (UX).  The big challenge is that Agile is geared toward making developers more efficient, yet designers are a key part of any web development project. John avoids responding to amy Request for Proposal (RFP) because an RFP forceS you to estimate many tasks that you don't yet know and that are almost certain to change. He emphasized that development and design should be done in parallel and that the feedback loops and iterations of agile should apply to both. Developers and designers should work cooperatively, rather than in conflict.

"How to Work Effectively with a Designer/ How to Work Effectively with a Developer" by Jeff McWherter and Amelia Marschall

Jeff is a developer and Amelia is a designer and the two recently went into business together. They have worked together in the past and they related some of the challenges and lessons learned from their previous collaborations.

"Communication is the key" was a message they reiterated several times during this talk: Ensure that your partner knows what you are doing; verify that it is consistent with what they are doing and that the technology supports it. Developers and designers should strive to learn about the tools and skills of the others. It will help them figure out what they can accomplish.

Mock-ups are a key means for designers to convey information. Jeff said that he often writes business rules in the margins of Amelia's mock-up drawings.

"Does Your Code Tell a Story?" by Alan Stevens

Alan told us we should not bury the lead, so I will tell you his main point now: Beauty is the ultimate defense against complexity.

Alan took the advice of successful novelists and applied their principles to the art of writing code. "The code in our industry is crap", he asserted; then he explained how to make it better: Take chances; write shitty code in your first draft; refactor it several times; and make it clear, simple and obvious before releasing it.

"Unwritten Rules of Resumes" by Jeff Blankenburg

Jeff's major point was that your resume should stand out and distinguish you from other candidates. He advised ncluding a strong first paragraph in a personal letter, accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped return post card with your resume. This will help to establish you in the minds of the hiring personnel. Establish a strong professional network and avoid the temptation to burn bridges when you leave a company.

"Have you hugged your brand today?" by Clovis Bordeaux

Per Clovis, building a brand begins with a mission statement. A critical part of building your brand is getting every employee involved and on the same page, regarding the message you are sending about your company. 


Kalamazoo X home page

Photos

 

Sunday, April 11, 2010 11:31:03 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Episode 70

Dave Bost, the host of the popular Thirsty Developer podcast discusses what goes into each episode and some of the technology he uses to record and produce the show.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 2:22:33 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, February 07, 2010

Episode 69

Shortly after CodeMash, chief cat herder Jim Holmes discusses what went into the planning and what makes this conference different.

Sunday, February 07, 2010 10:50:07 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)

I gave a talk on MEF a numbe of times during January. You can get the slides and demo from the link below

or you can view the slides below:

Sunday, February 07, 2010 10:36:13 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Episode 68

James Bender, Mike Wood and Chris Woodruff created NPlus1.org to assist software architects, lead developers and those aspiring to these roles. In this interview, James and Mike discuss the goals and accomplishments of NPlus1.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010 7:47:35 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, February 01, 2010

Many software developers are using Pair Programming to increase the quality and maintainability of their code. In a pair programming environment, two programmers work together to write code.

Tonight in Southfield, MI, the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group is sponsoring a pair programming event, which we have labeled The Motor City Codeslingers. We invite programmers who work in any language to bring their laptops and pair with another developer. You may bring a side project with you, work on an open source project, work on a programming exercise (we'll provide a few) or just exchange ideas.

Joe O'Brien is a noted Ruby developer and owner of EdgeCase in Columbus, OH. He has agreed to stop by and provide some mentoring on pair programming techniques. Joe's company is well-known for its commitment to pairing as a way to maintain high quality.

The Motor City Codeslingers will meet at the Biggby Coffee House at 26185 Evergreen Rd in Southfield, MI tonight from 6-9PM. If we fill up Biggby, the overflow crowd can head to the Potbelly or Chipotle next door. The official announcement for this event is at http://is.gd/7pFGL

I hope to see you there.


Monday, February 01, 2010 7:38:53 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)

Episode 67

In this interview, Steven "Doc" List discusses the concepts behind Open Spaces and Community Courtyards and his role in facilitating these events.

Monday, February 01, 2010 7:28:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, January 31, 2010

I smiled as I drove across the state line into Michigan Friday morning. I was returning home from spending most of the week in Ohio, speaking at user groups throughout the state.

I spoke about Managed Extensibility Framework at four user groups over three days in four different cities.

Tuesday, I spoke at an internal user group of the Cincinnati Financial Corporation, before heading over to the Cincinnati .Net User Group in Mason, OH. Wednesday I drove up to Dayton to speak at the Dayton .Net Developers Group. Thursday I presented to a packed house in Columbus at the Central Ohio .Net Developers Group.

The trip was a great success. At each stop, the crowd was larger than their average meeting.  Everywhere I went I heard probing questions that indicated that I was communicating the concepts of MEF and loosely-coupled architecture. This was gratifying as most people had no idea what MEF was when they arrived at my talk.

The best of the trip was that I had a chance to see old friends. I spent ten years living and working in the Cincinnati area and many of my former colleagues came out to hear me. Some I hadn't seen in years. I once worked for a Columbus-based company, and through them I got to know much of the developer community in that area and I saw many familiar faces in Central Ohio this week. Tuesday and Thursday night, we went out for drinks after the meeting, which gave me a chance to talk one-on-one with a lot of smart people.

I also got a chance to see the inside of the Sogeti offices in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus and talk with some of the team in these offices.

I had a great time on this tour and I'd love to do another one.

Thank you to all who came out to hear my talk. Thank you especially to Mike Wood, Jim Holmes and James Bender, who allowed me to stay at their homes on my trip.

Sunday, January 31, 2010 12:07:49 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, January 25, 2010

Tomorrow I travel to Ohio for a user group tour. This is a trip I've been hoping to do for some time. The .Net user groups in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus meet on consecutive evenings, so I am planning to speak at each of these this week. The idea began last summer, when I invited Phil Japikse to come to Michigan from Cincinnati and speak at the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group. I notified the leaders of user groups in Toledo and Lansing that Phil would be in town and they invited him to speak at their groups the same week. Phil asked me to come to Cincinnati in January and he reached out to Dayton User Group president Joe Wirtley about hosting me in Dayton the following night. Joe liked the idea and confirmed the meeting. Later, I contacted James Bender, the newly-elected president of the Central Ohio .Net Developers Group in Columbus about completing the sweep through the Buckeye state. He had already booked Jeff McPherson for January but Jeff was willing to defer his talk to March, allowing me to speak Thursday in Columbus.

Phil and Mike Wood have also arranged for me to speak at an internal user group at the Cincinnati Financial Group Tuesday afternoon.

So I'll be doing 4 user group presentations in 3 cities in 3 days. The topic will be the same for each talk: Extending your application with the Microsoft Managed Extensibility Framework. I've given this talk a number of times in the past, but I recently reworked my presentation and added to my demos. I'm excited to do this tour. It reminds me of a similar tour I did during the fall of 2008, when I spoke at user groups in Toledo, Southfield and Lansing on consecutive nights. By the time I got to Lansing, I knew the material inside and out.

My schedule at public groups this week is

Tuesday 1/26: Cincinnati .Net User Group (http://www.cinnug.org)

Wednesday 1/27: Dayton .Net Developers Group (http://daytondevgroup.net)

Thursday 1/28: Central Ohio .Net Developers Group (http://condg.org)

If you are in or near Cincinnati, Dayton or Columbus this week, I hope you come to hear my talk and to say 'Hello'.

Monday, January 25, 2010 12:09:33 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Today I host my first meeting as president of the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group (GANG). I've been an active member of this group for a couple years and I've always been impressed with the way it was run. Still I had ideas about ways it can be improved and I've lately given a lot of thought as to the direction I want to the group this year. In this column, I'll share some of my goals for GANG for the year and discuss how I and my team plan to meet those goals.

Below are my goals for GANG for 2010

  • Get members more engaged and involved
  • Increase meeting attendance by 50%
  • Increase supporting membership by 30%
  • Continue to attract high-quality speakers
  • Increase sponsorship by 100%
  • Finish year in the black financially
  • Here is how I expect us to meet these goals

Goal: Get members more engaged and involved
For the next few months, we will give members an opportunity to present a Lightning Talk prior to the main presentation. A Lightning Talk is a technical presentation lasting 10 minutes or less. It gives the group a chance to hear a new voice and a new topic; and gives the presenter experience at public speaking in a safe and friendly environment.
We will designate 20-30 minutes prior to each meeting as "networking time". Food will be served during this period and members will be encouraged to meet and talk with one another. We will provide name tags to facilitate this networking.
Typically a few of us go out for a drink after each meeting. Going forward, we will announce this to the group, so that anyone is welcome to attend. Note that this is not a GANG-sponsored activity (translation: buy your own drinks and be responsible for your own actions)
Between each meeting, we are sponsoring a pair-programming session known as Motor City Codeslingers. This is a chance for developers to get together with their laptop and discuss coding issues or work on programs together. The next meeting takes place Monday February 1 at 6PM at Biggby Coffee House (26185 Evergreen Rd in Southfield)

Goal: Increase meeting attendance by 50%
Southeast Michigan has thousands of .Net developers and we are reaching only a small fraction of them. I believe we can increase our attendance by reaching out to the following groups: Developers active in nearby user groups; Developers in corporate IT departments; graduating computer science students; and independent developers. We are asking our current members to advertise their friends and co-workers to tell them about this group. I plan to contact local universities to promote the group to graduating seniors; and I have been reaching out to leaders of user groups in Michigan and Ohio, offering to promote their group in exchange for them promoting ours.
As an attendance incentive, we are running a promotion the first half of 2010. In June, we will have a drawing for a Zune HD. You can increase your chances in this drawing by attending meetings and by bringing guests to meetings.

Goal: Increase supporting membership by 30%
It costs money to put on a user group. Our dues are very low relative to other professional organizations. The renewal rate 2010 will be $40 per year. This is the first increase the group has ever had in its existence. If you are currently a supporting member, you remain a member at the until your next renewal date.
In the past, we haven't done a good job of thanking our members and reminding them when it is time for a renewal. We will address both these by including a slide in our presentations listing and thanking each supporting member and displaying their renewal date.
We also offer a new gold membership level for $100. This is for members who wish to contribute more to our organization. Gold members will be recognized publicly at each meeting.

Goal: Continue to attract high-quality speakers
This is something that GANG has always done well, so I have no intention of changing how we get our speakers.

Goal: Increase sponsorship by 100%
Printing, communication, web sites and food at meetings all contribute to the costs of running a user group. Most of this cost is offset by sponsorship.
Due to the weak southeast Michigan economy, sponsorship dropped off significantly in 2009. We have set an ambitious goal this year of doubling the amount of money and merchandise we get from sponsors during 2010. We have already secured two new sponsors for the year and look forward to retaining all our sponsors from last year.
This year, we will display our sponsors more prominently. At the beginning each meeting, a slide show will loop to announce the speaker, the topic, and the sponsor for the meeting. We will also have a framed sponsor flyer next to the attendance sheet during the meeting. Of course, we will continue to promote our sponsors on our web site and in our monthly newsletter.

Goal: Finish year in the black financially
This sounds obvious, but at the end of last year, we borrowed money to cover the cost of food at some meetings. As a result, we owed money at the end of the year. This year, we have decided to be more responsible: We have resolved not to purchase anything until we have money to pay for it. If a meeting has no sponsor, we may end up foregoing food or limiting ourselves to chips and pop.

And Now... Meet the gang behind GANG!
We have a great leadership team this year at GANG. No one holds the same position as last year, but three of our officers have served on the board in the past.
John Hopkins is a former President of GANG and is now the Vice President. His biggest project this year is recruiting sponsorships.
Kent Feribach served as Secretary last year and is now the Treasurer. In my opinion, this is the position with the most responsibility.
Gerhard Weiss is new to the GANG board but he has brought a lot of energy and fresh ideas to the group in the short term he has held this position.

So we hope you will consider being a part of this group and our goals. We meet the third Wednesday evening of each month at the Microsoft office in the Towne Center in Southfield, MI.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 7:41:43 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Friday, January 15, 2010

CodeMash came to an end too quickly.

Friday lunch featured an entertaining keynote by Andy Hunt, who discussed the challenges of life in the high-tech world, the differences between the generations, and ways for developers to improve their existence.

Late in the day, I delivered a session on the Microsoft Managed Extensibility Framework. My talk wasn't until 3PM, so I spent a good chunk of the day preparing for it.

One of the hallways at CodeMash was filled with PCs, preloaded with Visual Studio 2010 labs. I spent some time going through these labs, including writing F# code for the first time.

Of course, I recorded a few more Technology And Friends episodes with some smart developers.

I had a great experience this week. The CodeMash organizers made an effort to ensure that one always had multiple options at any given time. There were as many as nine sessions during each time slot; If none of those interested you, you could attend an open space, pair program, complete an online lab, or exchange ideas with other attendees. Social hours in the evening, included a game room, a concert (featuring Canadian-Celtic artist Enter the Haggis, and ad hoc gatherings in the hotel bar or in various hotel rooms.

I made a special effort this year to make new connections. I decided in advance that I would not eat with the same people each meal and I would eat with as many strangers as possible.  Doing so helped to expand the network from which I can learn.

It's no wonder that I had no time to set foot in the water park.

Friday, January 15, 2010 6:28:19 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, January 14, 2010

Although I've been here at the Kalahari since Tuesday, today was officially the first day of CodeMash.

The first session I attended was an Introduction to Silverlight talk in which Jesse Liberty walked through the basics of creating a simple online data form, showing off the layout elements and databinding features of Silverlight.

I followed this by attending a session on JQuery. The presenter - Adam McCrea - was a Ruby developer working on a Mac (I'm a .Net developer working on a PC), but it didn't matter as he showed a few simple JQuery functions to perform some tasks inside a browser.

I attended an open space in the afternoon. The topic - MEF and Silverlight - sounded intriguing but I left when it went far off-track, devolving into a debate over the usefulness of MEF and Inversion of Control container. This might have been an interesting side topic, but the arguments seemed fueled by emotion and I had little desire to engage, so I left halfway through.

Lunch featured a keynote address by Microsoft engineer Hank Janssen, who has been instrumental in bringing PHP to the Microsoft platform. IIS now supports PHP and bridges the gap with other open source technologies. This was a topic I know very little about, so I was able to absorb a lot of new information. As an bonus, NPlus1 sponsored a private dinner with Hank, where community leaders could ask him questions about Microsoft's future plans with open source technologies. I wasn't able to contribute much to this conversation, but it was a delight to listen to others discuss it in detail. Microsoft appears to be opening up their technologies and making them available to work with open source tools more than ever and it seems this trend will continue.

I recorded a half dozen more Technology and Friends episodes throughout the day. Topics include MongoDB, Open Spaces, and Software Craftsmanship. I will edit and release in the coming weeks.

Thursday, January 14, 2010 5:25:29 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, January 13, 2010

CodeMash officially begins tomorrow, but you wouldn't know it if you saw all the activity here at the Kalahari.

My morning was spent seeking out and talking with smart people. Many times, I get more information at a conference from hallway conversations than from sessions. None of the morning sessions appealed to me, so I learned of technologies and Microsoft programs and jobs and people.

In the afternoon, I attended Mary Poppendieck presented a 4-hour session titled "Competency and Leadership in Software Development". I was excited to see this because I recently read and enjoyed the book "Lean Software Development – An Agile Toolkit",

that Mary co-wrote with her husband Tom. This session focused on what it takes for individuals and teams to achieve expert competencies (years of directed practice); followed by types and characteristics of effective leaders (such as transmitting passion and commitment to the team).

Afterwards, I was happy that Tom and Mary agreed to record an episode of Technology And Friends. I expect to release this episode shortly.

In the evening, the folks who produce the Java Posse hosted a panel discussion on stage. Java developers were joined by C# expert Bill Wagner and F# tester and author Chris Smith to answer questions submitted by podcast listeners.

I missed dinner Wednesday night but I did get to meet some of the evangelists from DevExpress whom I know of by reputation.

Bedtime came late and Thursday comes early but tomorrow will be a full schedule.      

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 5:18:03 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, January 11, 2010

Juanary is offically MEF month. I have scheduled "Extending Your Application with the Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF)" at least 6 times this month. The first time was last week, when I delivered a Grok Talk at Sogeti that was available via Live Meeting.

The following presentations will all be about MEF

  • Fri Jan 15 at 3PM, I will be delivering a vendor session at CodeMash in Sandusky, OH.
  • Tue Jan 26 at Noon, I will deliver a presentation to Financial Corp User Group in Cincinnati, OH.
  • Tue Jan 26 at 6PM, I will present at the Cincinnati .Net User Group in Mason, OH
  • Wed Jan 27 at 6PM, I will present at the Dayton .Net User Group in Dayton, OH
  • Thu Jan 28 at 6PM, I will present at the Central Ohio .Net User Group in Columbus, OH

In addition, I will deliver two presentations Fri Jan 22 at the State of MI Developer Briefing in Lansing, MI.

  • At 1PM, I will deliver my MEF presentation (of course).
    At 2:30PM, I will present on "Speeding your application with Microsoft Velocity".
Monday, January 11, 2010 8:48:24 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 was a difficult year for me in many ways. My sister Denise was less than three years older than me when she passed away in July. Her death left a wound that is still healing. Worse than her death was the revelation afterward that she had been betrayed by someone close to her - someone we all trusted. We are still fighting this battle and it continues to elevate stress in my family.

But I also experienced many positives events in 2009.

The support of friends and family has been instrumental in getting me through these difficult times. If you are in this group, then I thank you. The tragedy shared by my family has brought us closer together in many ways.

My two sons continue to grow (physically and emotionally) and they continue to impress me with each new stage of their life. Timmy is now in high school and is showing more leadership qualities than I expected. Not long ago, he organized an independent basketball team completely on his own. They competed in a large league and he even convinced his brother to coach the team. His team performed well, despite playing in a league with kids mostly 1-2 years older. Timmy is working hard to balance school work with football and basketball. Nick is in his first year at Michigan State University. The time away from home is maturing him and each time I see him, I see more of a man and less of a boy. I remember a similar transformation in me during my first year at MSU. I particularly admire the fact that he is setting high goals for himself.

I have been dating a woman for quite a while. She didn't grow up in the US and her background is very different from mine, which presents some challenges; however, she is exceptionally kind and she is the most giving person I have ever met and I'm grateful she remains part of my life.

I did a fair amount of volunteer work this year, but most of it was not altruistic. I volunteer at a local non-profit music club in exchange for free admission to the concerts; I volunteer at the local public access TV station as a way to learn more about television production. The most good I did through volunteering was with the three Give Camps in which I was involved this year. I'm looking forward to participating more next year.

The biggest personal goal I did not hit this year was to lose 25 pounds. Resolving my sister's estate, being a single father, and other commitments kept me in the car so much that I had little time to exercise. Still this needs to be on the list next year.

One of my professional goals for this year was to be more involved in the software development community. In particular, I wanted to do more public speaking.  In 2009, I spoke at 5 conferences, 4 user groups, 3 internal Sogeti talks and 2 special events (ArcReady and NPlus1 summit). I expect this trend to continue as I have 5 presentations scheduled for January 2009.

I also became more involved in the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group this year. As Vice President, I took on the role of speaker coordinator and was able to line up some excellent presentations for the group.

In January I began production of my TV show "Technology and Friends" (although the show did not have a title for the first few episodes). During 2009, I published 63 episodes online. Recently this show has also begun airing on Channel 17 of my local cable system. Recording and producing was a great experience. It gives me the opportunity to talk with a lot of smart people and I have learned a lot about software, communication and video production.

I began my blog two years ago, but I devoted more energy to it in 2009. This article is the 155the entry for the year - an average of almost 13 per month. I don't know if I'll keep up that pace in 2010.

Despite the poor economy in Michigan, I managed to stay employed all year. During 2009, I worked for a significant time for three customers. At the end of each engagement, each customer had wonderful things to say about my work.

As the Microsoft Application Development lead in Michigan for Sogeti, I focused primarily on technical training for our consultants and on building a sense of community. I organized a series of "Grok Talks"  designed to exchange information. Some talks were delivered by Sogeti consultants (giving them valuable presentation experience) and some by experts in the industry. This was a big success and we plan to continue it next year, even though I will not continue in the same lead role.

As I write this, I realize that 2009 had more positives than negatives. The loss of my sister and subsequent discoveries still made it a difficult year, but I was able to accomplish a lot, thanks to some hard work and the support of family and friends.

I am looking forward to a happy and productive 2010. I have big plans, some of which I plan to share soon on this site.

Happy New Year and may God bless you all. 

Thursday, December 31, 2009 12:41:05 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, December 07, 2009

The Great Lakes Area .Net User Group traditionally does not hold a regular meeting in December.

This year, we will replace the December meeting with a special event. Software developers in the area are invited to come together to share code and ideas in an informal setting.

I first heard of this idea from my friend Mike Wood. He is on the board of the Cincinnati .Net User Group, which sponsors a monthly pair coding meeting that they refer to as "Bitslingers". Shortly after hearing of Mike's group, I learned that a similar meetup took place weekly in Columbus. Because the Columbus folks meet in the morning, they call their group "Code and Coffee". I'm trying to think of a clever name for the Detroit area meetup.

The first Detroit-area meetup will be Wednesday December 16 from 6-9PM at Biggby Coffee at 26185 Evergreen Rd in Southfield, MI. If Biggby gets too crowded, we will move next door to Potbelly.

Bring your laptop and experience pair programming and exchange ideas with other bright .Net developers. Work on an open source project or dive into a new technology or explore a new technique or learn a new language.

I will be there with a personal project I started to help me learn ASP.Net MVC and the Entity Framework.

If this event is successful, we will consider holding it regularly.

Monday, December 07, 2009 9:22:37 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Friday, December 04, 2009

For the third consecutive year, I will be attending CodeMash. This annual event will next be held at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, OH January 13-15.

I really like the CodeMash conference. Here's why

1. It has a regional feel.
There are a lot of bright, passionate developers in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. You will see a good number of them at CodeMash, as presenters and as attendees.

2. The content and speakers are excellent.
I've heard many of these speakers before and it's an impressive list. In addition to thought leaders from the Heartland, CodeMash attracts internationally known authors and speakers, such as Mary Poppendieck, Chris Smith, Andy Hunt, Jim Wooley and Gary Short.

3. It's cross-platform.
As a .Net developer, it's easy for me to get tunnel vision regarding how I do software design and development. Learning from Ruby, Java and Python developers gives me a different perspective.

4. The sessions aren't the only place to learn.
There are so many smart people at these conferences that I learn as much outside the sessions as I do in them. I can talk to an expert in the hallway and ask specific questions about my project; or I can attend an open space and discuss a topic of interest with other smart people.

5. It is affordable.
It's tough to find a better deal than this. The cost for the 2-day conference is currently $220 (It would have been only $175 if you had registered last week. Sorry.) An optional "precompiler" day will set you back another $75. Compare that with a national conference like PDC, which costs thousands of dollars.

6. It's fun.
What can I say? I thrive on interacting with these folks. They are passionate about many of the same things I am. Plus there are activities at night, such as parties and poker tournaments. There is even an indoor water park at the resort. Many attendees bring their families with them to enjoy the slides while they are at the conference.

Interested yet? Is so, you can get more information at CodeMash.org. But hurry. I rushed to write this because I just saw a tweet announcing that only about 30 tickets remain.

Friday, December 04, 2009 10:54:51 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Episode 61

Chris Woodruff organized the 2009 Grand Rapids Give Camp which helped dozens of charities with software projects. On the final day of the Give Camp, Chris sat down with us to describe what went into the camp and what was accomplished.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 1:25:04 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, November 17, 2009

By any measure, this past weekend's Grand Rapids Give Camp was a big success.

Over 70 volunteers worked at the Grand Rapids YMCA to build software projects for dozens of charities. Most of the volunteers were technical people - Developers, Database Administrators and Designers - but some came to assist with the logistics. In additions, local companies provided food, drink, facilities, giveaways.

Projects ranged from new web sites to automated contact management systems. Chris Woodruff, who coordinated the event was impressed with the quality of the work he saw. "We have such a great technical community, so (getting volunteers) was the easiest part," said Woodruff. When it was all over, the charity representatives were happy and several declared that the delivery exceeded their expectations.

Speaking commitments and family emergencies have kept me from fully engaging in past Give Camps, so this was the first one in which I contributed the entire weekend. My team created a web site for the Kent County 4-H Council, which they can easily update without hiring a technical resource. You can see the site at http://kentcounty4hcouncil.com/.

Woodruff is already thinking about next year's event, which will likely be held in July on the same weekend as a similar event in ann arbor.

More photos

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 7:40:01 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Many computers today ship with multiple processors and with multi-core processors.

In order for programs to take advantage of multiple cores, application developers need to write code that runs in parallel - that is that runs simultaneously on two or more cores. The upcoming .Net 4.0 provides tools to make it easier for developers to write such code.

The Parallel Extensions library eases the pain of building multi-threaded applications. Enhancements include a set of APIs to abstract away the complexity of parallel processing; a set of thread-safe collections appropriate for use with parallel processing; and enhancements to the System.Threading namespace.

Stephen Toub of the Microsoft's Parallel Computing team is touring the Midwest this week speaking about this new technology. Friday October 30, Stephen will be at the Microsoft office in Southfield, MI at a special meeting of the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group.

You can get more information and register for this event at http://migang.org/NewsItem/09-10-16/special_user_group_meeting_oct_30_parallel_computing_with_stephen_toub.aspx

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 11:33:43 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Episode 51

Chris Hay is a Scotsman living in Cambridge, England. He has made several trips this year to developer conferences in North America. In this interview, he discusses what goes into a good presentation and how developer communities in the UK differ from those on my side of the ocean.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 6:55:17 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Just because I've resigned myself to the inevitability that I will never know everything about every technology, this does not excuse me from having to know a little about everything. As a consultant, I need to be aware of what is going on in the industry: I need speak intelligently about different products and I often have to make educated choices about available technologies.

This is why I'm an avid listener of tech podcast. The recent explosion of available podcasts has helped me stay aware of technology, and to do so in the limited time available to me.

Below is a list of the technology podcasts to which I currently subscribe. The list is presented in no particular order, but I recommend each one. If I don’t like a podcast, I've stopped listening to it and it doesn't appear in this list.

.Net Rocks
http://www.dotnetrocks.com/

This is the first podcast that I started listening to and it remains one of my favorites. Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell have been hosting this show for so long that they have access to almost anyone who does anything related to Microsoft development. The quality of their guests is top notch and I never miss an episode.

Hanselminutes
http://www.hanselminutes.com/

Scot Hanselman is probably my favorite interviewer among tech podcasters. When I do interviews for my show, my goal is to sound as much like Scot as possible. He draws out the guests because he either understands their topic in advance or he quickly grasps it. His humor is understated, which makes for an entertaining show and he has years of real-world experience, making his opinions relevant.

Deep Fried Bytes
http://deepfriedbytes.com/

I started listening to this show because I knew the hosts - Keith and Woody. I continue to listen because I like the content. This is a show that continually improves itself. It's been a couple months since their last episode, so I don't know if they are still committed to a regular schedule.

Polymorphic Podcast
http://polymorphicpodcast.com/

There are two things I really like about Craig Shoemaker's podcast: The guests tend to be those who don't appear on other podcasts; and Craig keeps the show to a reasonable length. The show always remains fresh for me.

Run As Radio
http://www.runasradio.com/

This podcast is a little outside my comfort zone because it focuses on networking and other IT topics, rather than on programming and architecture. But Richard Campbell and Greg Hughes work to keep it accessible, so I always learn something.

Feel the Func
http://feelthefunc.com/

This one is relatively new and I started listening to it right from the start. Mike Neel leads the discussion and does most of the talking. I don’t think they are doing a lot of editing, which means that you always hear the good parts and bad parts of each conversation.  I really enjoyed a recent show in which Mike interviewed Brian Prince and Jennifer Marsman.

SodThis
http://www.sodthis.com/podcast/

I had just about given up hope on this one. I loved the first 5 episodes that DevExpress evangelists Oliver Sturm and Gary Short put together. They combined interesting interviews with their own witty conversations. Then, after five episodes, SodThis disappeared into limbo. I assumed they had abandoned the project but they released Episode 6 yesterday.


Thirsty Developer
http://www.thirstydeveloper.com/

I just recently began to listen to The Thirsty Developer. It sound like many of the episodes were recorded in a busy Starbucks, which degrades the sound quality but creates a more relaxed atmosphere for the guests, so the conversation flows freely and enthusiastically. Larry Clarkin is the main guy, but he is sometimes assisted by Dave Bost.  They do a good job keeping conversations moving and engaging.

Alt.Net
http://altnetpodcast.com/

Technically I'm still subscribing to this podcast, but I don't know if there are any plans to resume it. I really liked the first few shows I heard, which focused on advanced .Net topics. But they haven't released an episode since April and the last two consisted largely of arguments about whether or not the Alt.Net community is still relevant. Maybe the silence answered that question.

Herding Code
http://herdingcode.com/

I've been listening to Herding Code since its first episode. Originally this was very different from most podcasts because they rarely had guests. Instead, the four hosts exchanged ideas with one another on a preselected topic. This format worked because John Galloway, Scott Koon, K. Scott Allen and Kevin Dente are engaging and articulate enough to keep bringing fresh ideas on each topic. Recently, they have switched to inviting more guests to the show.

Stack Overflow
http://blog.stackoverflow.com/category/podcasts/

This is another podcast that seldom relies on guests to interview. Instead, Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky chat (or spar) about a variety of topics. Again, this is a format that only works if the hosts are very clever and these two guys definitely are. Because Atwood is still in the process of building the popular StackOverflow web site, much of the conversation revolves around the challenges he faces.

So these are the podcasts that I listen to regularly. I can keep up because I have a long commute and I enjoy my IPod at the gym and while doing housework.  Having said that, I’d love to hear about high-quality technical podcasts that you can recommend.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 7:13:34 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, August 23, 2009

Those who attended DevLink last week should enjoy these photos I took. Even if you didn't attend, you may like to see shots of what you missed or people you know.  You can view over 200 photos here.

If you have a very short attention span or if you enjoy the heart-pounding music of Link Wray, the slideshow below is for you.  Turn up your speakers and move your furniture out onto the front lawn before clicking 'Play'.

2 mins, 28 secs

Sunday, August 23, 2009 5:26:29 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Friday, August 21, 2009

Episode 42

The 2009 Lansing Day of .Net was held August 1 at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing, MI. This was the first event that Dennis Burton organized and he discussed it with us here.

8 mins, 28 secs

Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:16:31 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, August 18, 2009

John Kellar stood on stage in the final minutes of the DevLink closing ceremonies, gazing across the audience and smiling. In front of him, someone was introducing the members of the staff that had helped him organize and execute the conference. Behind me, the applause began. A few people in the back stood and clapped; then two more in front stood up; then I stood and applauded; soon, the entire auditorium was on its feet, cheering those who had put together an amazing conference.

John said he wanted to focus on the entire conference experience to make it worthwhile for the attendees. He succeeded at an amazing level.

Here are some highlights from my experience at DevLink 2009

'Configuration Management with Team Foundation Server' presented by Steve Andrews
The first day, all sessions were three hours long. Steve Andrews showed how to configure the automated build settings in TFS. He dug deep into the details of TFS and showed the various options available for continuous integration and how to customize the process.

'Good ways to use Live Mesh' Open Space
I called this session because I wanted to use Live Mesh as my backup strategy, easing my angst about rebuilding a laptop or PC. Jeff Blankenberg showed me the details of this very cool technology, answering all my questions and showing how he used Mesh to backup and share files.  Others looked over our shoulder as he did so, making this a successful Open Space for several people.

'MEF' Open Space
I have been delivering a talk on Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) for almost year. But in this session, I got to ask questions of Kathleen Dollard, who has been working with this framework on a production application and has some very definite ideas about the future of MEF. It’s startling to me how much I learned during this hour.

'Enhance your .NET Application with SSRS' presented by Jessica Moss
Jessica had some hardware issues in this session, but recovered well enough to put on a solid presentation. I was glad to see because I have a customer looking for a class on SSRS and she looks like a good candidate for that.

'Dot Net Rocks' panel discussion
Prior to the closing ceremonies, Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell recorded an episode of their popular Dot Net Rocks podcast. A panel consisting of Josh Holmes, Jim Holmes, Kathleen Dollard and Billy Hollis discussed whether software development was becoming too complex. It wasn't one of Franklin and Campbell's best shows, but it was fun to watch them perform live.

Networking
Conferences are a chance to meet up with old friends, meet new friends and exchange ideas. DevLink was particularly good for this because so many people attended from outside my geographic region. The usual suspects from Michigan and Ohio were there, but I spoke with people from Atlanta, Virginia, Colorado, Canada and Great Britain.  Hallway conversations were as good as any I’ve had at a conference.  We were even able to meet in a more relaxed atmosphere at several organized evening events. The 3-day format made it possible to establish relationships with people through multiple conversations. John Kellar reminded me that this is not an accident and it's the reason the word "Link" appears in the conference name.

Technology and Friends
I recorded thirteen interviews for my show at this conference. I've already released one episode and cannot wait to produce and share the rest.

This was the best-run community conference I have attended to date. From the time I woke up to the time I went to bed, there was not a minute that I lacked something to do and learn. Often I had to choose between two or three options. I am already looking forward to next year.


DevLink web site

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 7:22:12 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, August 17, 2009

Episode 40

On the third and final day of DevLink 2009, John Kellar sat down and talked about the planning and work that went into the conference; what the conference accomplished; and what it meant to the developer community.

13 mins, 35 secs

Monday, August 17, 2009 7:14:34 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, August 09, 2009

A year ago, I was surprised to find myself on a bus rolling toward Tennessee.  Although I had made it a habit of attending as many community events in the area as I could, Tennessee seemed too far to travel for a conference. So I originally balked at the idea of going all the way to Murfreesboro, TN for the DevLink conference.

Matt B But I found myself between jobs last August and I decided I needed to use this free time to network with others in the IT industry.  So, at the eleventh hour, I found an unused ticket; reserved a hotel room; and signed up for the community bus ride from Michigan to Tennessee.

For so many reasons, going to DevLink turned out to be the right decision.  I saw some very good sessions (Joe Wirtley's WPF presentation remains one of the best I've seen on the topic) and I got my first real taste of open spaces done well. But, more importantly, I met so many passionate people from the developer community. Looking back, it's startling to me how close I've become with some of them in just a few months.

This was one of the events that triggered for me an intense involvement in the developer community.  Since returning from DevLink, I've spoken at numerous user groups and conferences; I've become an officer for a local .Net user group; I've blogged with a vengeance; and I've become one of those loud opinionated guys you see on Twitter and at local events.

I won't say that DevLink is solely responsible for my community involvement over the past year. But I definitely found inspiration in the passion folks I saw there.

Carl F and Matt C This year, I'm planning a return trip to DevLink. The speaker lineup and the agenda look amazing; the event has expanded to three days and moved from Murfreesboro to Nashville; and the Open Spaces area promises to provide more stimulating discussion.

I spent most of my time at the 2008 DevLink in the Open Spaces area, but this time, I plan to attend more sessions. I'll also bring my still camera to capture the faces of the attendees and I'll bring my video camera to capture fresh ideas from passionate developers for my Technology and Friends show.

I hope to reconnect with many in the developer community and meet new people there. If you see me at DevLink - even if we haven't met before - please approach me and say "Hello". I'm looking forward to talking with you.

Sunday, August 09, 2009 3:56:57 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Michael Eaton slumped in his chair and allowed his arms to fall to his side. Ten minutes earlier, he had been rushing up the stairs to find a designer to help out a team in need.  But now, relaxing in a quiet room with the door closed, the lack of rest began to catch up to him.  Two hours sleep Friday night on a classroom floor with a coat for a pillow seemed an appropriate way to cap off months of preparation for the 2009 Ann Arbor Give Camp.

Michael EatonIt was Saturday afternoon and the 3-day camp was about half over, but every indication pointed to a successful event. Sixty developers descended on Washtenaw Community College (WCC) and were huddled together in teams - furiously designing and writing code for charities. Many representatives of these charities were on hand, providing clarification of requirements or content or moral support.  In all, the teams were supporting eighteen charities. They wrote web sites and contact management systems and various pieces of software that the charities would be unlikely to afford on their own. They donated their weekend because they believed in this cause.

It was going well.

So, of course, I asked Mike about next year.

"Fifty charities", he insisted.  Fifty is nearly triple the number of charities helped this year, but Mike was determined to make it happen.

As he spoke about this, his energy returned. He talked of lessons learned and how to handle the scale for next year.  One key is to get started planning earlier - within the next few weeks. The goal is to get the charities and developers lined up early next year in order to be ready for the Give Camp in July. Bringing back the same planning team is important, he said. This year, Mike drew heavily on the knowledge of Jennifer Marsman, who organized last year's Give Camp.

He had already spoken with WCC and reserved their conference center - a building with facilities and rooms large enough to accommodate the hundreds of developers needed to support 50 charities.

Mike talked about the challenge of picking teams. Identifying appropriate skill sets was difficult, given that there were a lot of people unknown by the planning team.  Next year, he plans to gather more specific information from each developer in order to better evaluate their experience and place them on the correct team.

Mike stopped short of committing to take charge of next year's Give Camp, but it was clear from his enthusiasm that he wanted to be heavily involved. He did not hide his passion for what everyone was doing this weekend.

The energy of this event was infectious. A developer in Phoenix, AZ plans to put on a Give Camp in his area, so he flew to Michigan to experience one for himself and learn what worked.  WCC donated the facilities and accommodated the numerous requests they had over the weekend.

In the end, the 2009 Ann Arbor Give Camp was a great success. Sixty developers joined together to write code to help out eighteen charities. People worked hard and slept little and learned a lot and had fun and made the world a better place. Charities came away excited by their new software and inspired by the time committed by the development community in Michigan.

This can only increase excitement for next year.

Give Camp volunteers. Click for full-size photo.

More photos

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 8:25:54 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, July 19, 2009

Episode 37

I spoke with Michael Eaton halfway through the 2009 Ann Arbor Give Camp. We talked about what went into this year's event and his ambitious plans for next year.

19 mins, 21 secs

Sunday, July 19, 2009 9:54:10 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Friday, July 03, 2009

Contribupendence Day is the brainchild of Microsoft Developer Evangelist Jeff Blankenburg.  He came up with the idea a year ago and this is the second year in which I have participated.

Jeff pointed out that most of us sometimes get to work with outstanding people (true for me) and that we often don't take the time to recognize the contributions of those people (also true for me). To correct this, he deemed July 3 "Contribupendence Day" - a day in which we can contribute to the independence from mediocrity of outstanding colleagues.  

Jeff suggested that we do this by choosing a few excellent past or present co-workers and writing a recommendation on a networking site. I chose four former co-workers and wrote a recommendation for each on LinkedIn. I won't list their names here, but you are welcome to view my LinkedIn profile and see what I wrote.

I don't expect anything in return but I didn't expect anything last year and I ended up reaping benefits anyway.  I wrote a number of recommendations last July in response to Jeff's call. A couple months later, I found myself out of work and looking for a job. One strategy in my job search was to request LinkedIn recommendations from former co-workers. I believe that I received better responses from these requests because I had so freely given recommendations earlier in the year. I was touched and delighted by the outpourings of those willing to write nice things about me in a public forum. During my job search, several interviewers told me they read my LinkedIn profile and were impressed with the quantity and quality of the recommendations I received.

So take a few minutes today to speak honestly about those who have impressed you. You never know when or how the favor will be returned.

Friday, July 03, 2009 6:44:26 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Episode 30

This is only the second year of CodeStock but Mike Neel managed to expand the Knoxville conference to a 2-day event and more than double attendance to 376.  In this interview, Mike talks about the conference and the developer community in the Heartland region.

17 mins, 15 secs

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 6:32:53 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I'm really looking forward to attending the CodeStock conference in Knoxville, TN this weekend.

The speaker lineup looks amazing (not just because I'm in it) and the two-day format should give me time to talk with a lot of attendees outside of the sessions.

I will bring my video camera to CodeStock in hopes of recording more interviews for my online TV show "Technology and Friends". In this show I interview technologists about their passions.  Past shows have focused on topics such as frameworks, careers, events and community-building. A typical show lasts 10-20 minutes, so it tends to be very focused. You can see the first 29 episodes by clicking here: http://www.davidgiard.com/CategoryView,category,Interviews.aspx

If you would like to be on this show, please e-mail at me at  and suggest a topic you would like to cover.

And if you see me at CodeStock, please stop me and say "Hello".

Join me at CodeStock

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 7:40:18 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, May 11, 2009

Episode 21

Microsoft Developer Evangelist Jeff Blankenburg coordinated the Stir Trek conference in Columbus, OH to present highlights of the recent Mix09 conference.   In the middle of the day, he took a few minutes to discuss what he was doing.

5 mins, 4 secs

Monday, May 11, 2009 4:57:10 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, May 03, 2009

They ran their final unit tests, checked in their code and wiped the sleep from their eyes before lumbering up the basement steps into the museum.

They had been designing, coding and testing for almost two straight days - some with only a few hours sleep; some with no sleep. Many had brought sleeping bags and had slept in the museum.  A mid-afternoon power outage had slowed them down and drove them from the museum basement, but it did not stop them.

Up the steps, at the other end of the museum, was the closing ceremony.  Here, everyone quickly re-energized.  They saw demos of the applications everyone had built.  They saw the gratitude of the charities, who could not have afforded to pay for this software.  They felt the accomplishment won of hard work and perseverance.

The Lansing Give Camp was held in the basement of the Impression 5 Science Center (except for Saturday afternoon, when a power outage forced everyone to find a new place to work for a few hours) and helped out thirteen capital-area charities.  Teams of developers, designers and DBAs worked through the weekend to write custom software for each charity. 

Organizers Jeff & Carla McWherter and Jay & Amy Harris worked the longest.  Weeks in advance, they began recruiting software professionals, securing a location, finding sponsors and vetting charity requests.  On Friday, they arrived hours before everyone else.  They bought food, set up work areas and made sure the network was in place to allow everyone to be productive when they arrived.

Many volunteers got something out of the Give Camp as well.  Amy Harris told of a college student she met, who said he learned more this weekend than in any of his classes.

In the end, Jeff McWherter called the event a success because the charities were happy.  But he was quick to point out it is not over.  Many developers maintain a relationship with these charities and continue to enhance the applications they wrote.

But on this Sunday evening - as the closing ceremonies ended and appreciation was drowsily accepted - the volunteers headed off for home seeking hot showers and clean sheets.

Until next year.

Sunday, May 03, 2009 7:05:17 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Episode 19

The Lansing Give Camp April 24-26 helped over a dozen charities. 

After months of preparation and a weekend with almost no sleep, Jeff & Carla McWherter and Jay & Amy Harris still had enough energy to talk about what made this event so successful.

8 mins, 43 secs

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 5:43:07 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mr Eaton I expected that the Kalamazoo X conference would be a success but I was surprised by how successful it was.

Everything started with Michael Eaton.  He turned the concept - a conference consisting primarily of talks on soft skills - into reality.  Assisted by a staff of volunteers, Michael secured the venue, promoted the event, signed up the sponsors and recruited the speakers.  The speaker list was impressive - most traveled from Ohio and most have a solid reputation in the development community. 

I was grateful that Mike asked me to speak at this conference and I was excited to do it.

Chris Woodruff A couple weeks ago, Mike suggested that we switch from a multi-track to a single-track event.  This meant that all sessions would be held in the same room and that no two speakers would talk at the same time.  In order to accommodate this format, all sessions had to be cut from one hour to 25 minutes.  This was difficult for those who had already prepared an hour-long talk.  However, nearly all were able to make the adjustment.  (At least one speaker decided to back out after the format change was announced).  For me, this was less of an issue because I had never given my talk before and had barely begun preparing it. 

The format worked really well.  Speakers were forced to cut the fat from their slides and each talk was concise and to the point.  This also gave me the opportunity to watch every session, since I never had to choose between two excellent speakers.

One thing that added to the event was Mike's skills as a Master of Ceremonies.  He introduced each speaker by telling a personal story about him or her.  It was clear he was familiar with all the speakers and had put some preparation into these introductions.

My talk - Effective Communication with your Customer or Manager - was very well received.  Several people approached me afterward and told me how much they enjoyed it.  I'm working on a series of articles on this topic and hope to have them out in the next few weeks.

Leon The most telling thing about the success of the conference was that there were attendance was higher at the end of the day than at the beginning.  Whatever small attrition occurred during the day was more than offset by others showing up.

I'm looking forward to next year.

See more photos here

Monday, April 27, 2009 11:38:37 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, April 22, 2009

So what is a Give Camp anyway?

  • A Give Camp is a way to contribute your time and skills to area charities.
  • A Give Camp is an event to meet with and hang out with technical people.
  • A Give Camp is a way to learn new technologies by working on a live project for a few days.

Charities often need software custom software, but don't have the money to hire someone to write that software.  One option they have is to submit their projects to a Give Camp.  The Give Camp organizers select projects that are well-defined and can be completed in a weekend.  Then, they invite software developers and other IT folks from the community to work on these projects.  They provide these folks a place to work and sleep and interact for a few days.  Give Camps typically kick off Friday evening and wrap up Sunday evening with completed projects delivered to charities.

The Lansing Give Camp takes place this weekend (April 24-26) at the Impression 5 Science Center in downtown Lansing, MI.  The organizers have selected projects from ten local charities, including The Ronald McDonald House of Mid-Michigan and The Boys & Girls Club of Lansing. 

If you have skills in software development, design, databases, IT or project management, I encourage you to volunteer for this event.  Even if you don't have these skills, you can help with the event itself.  I'm brining my 14-year-old son to the Lansing Give Camp, where he will assist with setting up, cleaning up and anything else they need.

Because I'm speaking at the Kalamazoo X conference Saturday, I can only attend the Lansing Give Camp Friday and Sunday, but I'm very much looking forward to it.

You can get more information and register at http://www.lansinggivecamp.org/

 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 1:05:36 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The 2009 Central Ohio Day of .Net is now history. 

Josh and Jennifer

I'm happy with the feedback I received on my Velocity talk.  The room was overflowing and several people approached me afterward to tell me they liked it.

By far, the best part of this conference was the opportunity to share ideas and interact one-on-one with bright people in the developer community.

One of the best jobs I ever had was working with the great people at GA Sullivan in Cincinnati.  That company no longer exists but many former employees were in Wilmington for this conference.  It was great catching up with these folks after all these years.

GA Sullivan alumni

The slides for my talk are below:


You can view photos of the event at
http://www.flickr.com/photos/29942169@N08/sets/72157617123586782/show/

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 6:46:29 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, April 20, 2009

I enjoy attending technical conferences and I try to make it to as many as I can.  I like talking to and learning from bright people in the developer community and picking up the latest technologies.  Developer conferences are a great way to get this information and there is no shortage of such conferences.

The Kalamazoo X conference is different.  Although the target audience is software developers, the content will focus on soft skills.  Topics such as Leadership and Social Network dominate the agenda.  The conference features four tracks: Soft Skills; Architecture, Design and Process; User Experience; and Career Development.  However each session will be short enough that an attendee will be able to see 100% of the content.

I'll be there to share ideas on effective communication with your customer or manager, a topic I've given a lot of thought to in recent years.

The conference is scheduled this Saturday April 25 at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Center for New Media in downtown Kalamazoo, MI.  You can register and get more information at http://kalamazoox.org/

I hope to see you there.

Monday, April 20, 2009 3:56:13 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, April 06, 2009

WM .Net University April 4, 2009 - I'll be there!

The dust has settled and the first West Michigan .Net University is now history.  You can view photos of it here.

I was fortunate that my talk (Intro to SQL Server Data Models and T-SQL) was in the morning because I had tickets to the Final Four in the evening on the other side of the state.

Shane and I put together a talk aimed at people with very little database experience.  We agreed that I would cover the basic introductory material first; then he would explain some more intermediate topics.  I rehearsed a story about the history of databases that included people keeping records on stone tablets and storing these tablets in a file cabinet; I wrote a lot of sample queries demonstrating the syntax of a T-SQL statements; and I wrote a series of articles on T-SQL

I turned out that I didn't use any of this material.

We had a small group in our session so we let them set the agenda.   Everyone already had at least a year of database experience so I scrapped the introductory stuff.  I spent far more time than I expected showing off the features of the SQL Management Studio.  We answered questions about the strategies for normalization, backing up data, and primary keys.

In fact, I showed almost none of the slides we prepared.

The good news is that the audience seemed happy with the session.  The got their questions answered without wasting time on things they already knew.  In the end, I think they were glad we were so flexible and so was I.

The feedback I heard on the other sessions was also positive.  Congratulations to Chris Woodruff for organizing a successful event.

Overall it was a very good day.  Oh... and the Final Four?  Well, my Spartans won of course.  It was a great day!

Monday, April 06, 2009 5:34:52 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, March 30, 2009

I have secheduled a lot of public speaking for the next 30 days.  The sessions are listed below.  All these events are either free or charge a nominal fee.  Most will even provide some food. I believe that none of them are sold out yet, so I provided a link to each so you can register.

Architecting for the cloud: Mesh and Live Services

March 31
Microsoft ArcReady
Southfield, MI

Live Mesh is a data synchronization client that has a rich API to build applications on. Live services are a collection of APIs that can be used to create rich applications for your customers. Live Services are based on Internet standard protocols and data formats.


An Introduction to SQL Server

(with Shane Jordan)
April 4
West Michigan .Net University
Grand Rapids, MI

Want to learn about the SQL Server 2008? Want to build normalized data models and learn Transact SQL? Join us in this Introduction to SQL Server session to get a good introduction to building your own data models and queries.


Using Microsoft Distributed Cache to speed your application

April 18
Central Ohio Day of .Net
Wilmington, OH

Retrieving data from a disc or a database can be a time-consuming operation.  Data that is accessed frequently can be stored in an in-memory cache, which can speed up its retrieval considerably.  Microsoft Distributed Cache (aka “Velocity”) provides a framework for storing and managing cached data. 

In this session, we will discuss how to use this framework in your application and demonstrate some code that implements this framework.


Proactive communication with your manager or customer

April 25
Kalamazoo X Conference
Kalamazoo, MI

After 15 years in the IT industry, I've discovered that the single biggest contributor to success is effective communication. In this situation, I'll describe lessons I've learned about how to improve communication with a customer or manager and how to use effective communication to increase the probability of high customer satisfaction.


This is the most ambitious month of speaking I've ever scheduled.  Microsoft Distributed Cache is the only topic above on which I have previously presented and this presentation will be longer and feature a newer API than the one I gave at three user groups last September.

If you attend any of these events, please feel free to find me and say 'Hello'.

Monday, March 30, 2009 12:00:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, March 28, 2009

Last year, I noticed there were more local community-driven events than I had time to attend.  I love seeing that kind of enthusiasm for technology among the community. 

These events are great for me because - although I've been in software development for many years - I love to learn and frequently jump at the chance to learn from and share ideas with other experienced developers and architects.

I have noticed that most of these events targeted experienced developers.  Topics tended to be moderate to advanced and speakers assumed a certain level of expertise from their audience in order to grasp their talk. 

This can be frustrating for less-experienced developers.  It's difficult to understand the details of NHibernate when you are still trying to figure out how to write simple queries against SQL Server.

Chris Woodruff first described to me the idea of a .Net University - a community event targeted at those new to .Net programming.  All the content would be introductory, allowing people to learn fundamentals.

I liked the idea immediately.  When I was a trainer, I always spent time on the first day reviewing the basic prerequisites of the class material.  I knew that no one would understand anything about web development if they didn't know how to construct an HTML document. 

So Chris is now organizing the West Michigan .Net University that will be held April 4 in Grand Rapids. 

The morning sessions will all be introductory and the afternoon will feature more intermediate topics.  Each session will be about 3 hours - longer than at a typical code camp.

I'll be there delivering a morning session titled SQL 101, in which I'll explain the basics of working with a relational database - SQL Server in particular.  I"ll describe how to work with data and how to use code and tools to interact with SQL Server.  I've been preparing for this talk by writing a 'Back To Basics' series on this blog.

Other sessions include .Net Bootcamp; Intro To ASP.Net and AJAX; and Real World Architecture.  You can view the complete session list at http://dodn.org/WestMichiganDotNetU/Sessions.aspx

A lot of great speakers have signed up for this event so I'm counting on some great sessions. 

WM .Net University April 4, 2009 - I'll be there!

Saturday, March 28, 2009 5:35:47 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Friday, March 13, 2009

Episode 15

A Give Camp hooks up software developers with charities. This provides these charities with custom applications that they otherwise might not be able to afford.

This year, Michael Eaton is coordinating upcoming Give Camps in Michigan.

In this conversation, He describes how it worked last year and what he hopes to happen differently next year.

The Lansing Give Camp is scheduled for April 24-26 at the Impressoin 5 Science Center.  The ann arbor Give Camp is scheduled for July 17-19 at Washtenaw Community College.  You can get more information and register to help at these events by visiting http://michigangivecamp.org/

10 min, 31 sec

Note: This interview was recorded near the Open Spaces area at the Detroit Microsoft Developer Conference, so the sound quality suffers due to background noise.  However Michael has so much good information that I encourage you to ignore this and listen to the end.
Friday, March 13, 2009 9:25:31 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, March 08, 2009

Episode 14

Jim Holmes takes a break from organizing and coordinating CodeMash to talk about the conference.

2 minutes, 38 seconds

Sunday, March 08, 2009 11:11:04 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Saturday, March 07, 2009

Episode 13

Matt Pizzimenti is involved in a2geeks.org - a social network for techies and entrepeneurs.  He discusses it in this interview.

Saturday, March 07, 2009 7:45:47 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, March 05, 2009

Episode 12

Mark Hindsbo is the General Manager of the Microsoft Evangelism group in the United States. In this interview, Mark talks about what Microsoft can do to help the developer community succeed.

2 minutes, 24 seconds

Thursday, March 05, 2009 6:52:25 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I woke up this morning and was surprised and deleted to see the following e-mail in my inbox


Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2009 NVP Award! The NVP Award is our way to say thank you for promoting bad behavior and general revelry in the office. We appreciate your extraordinary efforts at “Video interviewing everyone on the planet” during the past year..

To celebrate this tremendous achievement, please join your other NVPers at the NVP Summit at SRT Solutions Thursday afternoon where we will talk about the future of <__>, drink lots of <__>, play a little <__>, and not do any <__>. As we NVPers like to say – “Anything that happens at NVP Summit, stays at NVP Summit”. NDA restrictions apply. You will also receive a special gift for being a NVP and some useless swag.

--Mike (NVP Regional Director)

I cannot tell you how proud I am to receive this award. I certainly would have dreamed of it all my life had I heard of it before yesterday.

I would be thrilled to share all I learn with you - my readers - were it not for the attached 423-page non-disclosure agreement I was forced to sign. But rest assured that this knowledge and its accompanying free drinks will ultimately help the community and be good for all software developers.

Thank you to the committee, to those who nominated me and seconded my nomination and especially to <__>, without whom I would not have won this award.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 7:58:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Friday, February 27, 2009

Episode 10

Tim Adams of Microsoft was filming a series of "Man On The Street" video interviews at CodeMash when I caught up with him. I interviewed him while he interviewed me and we each filmed the conversation.

Here is the conversation from my side:

Here is the same conversation from Tim's point of view:

Friday, February 27, 2009 12:05:59 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Episode 9

Mike Wood is the Lead Director for the Cincinnati .Net User Group.  He and I spoke about how to build a strong community and what makes the Microsoft Heartland Community so special.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 6:53:42 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, February 12, 2009

Episode 4

I've attended two conferences where Alan Stevens helped to make Open Spaces a success.  In this interview, Alan describes open spaces technology and explains his role in the process.

Thursday, February 12, 2009 10:28:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Friday, January 16, 2009

My last post included photos from this year's

Below is a musical slideshow of the event, for those who just can't get enough.

Friday, January 16, 2009 10:57:11 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, January 15, 2009

I've been home from CodeMash four days now and I'm still absorbing all I learned there.

The speakers were great, sessions were interesting, the open spaces were stimulating, but the chance to interact with so many smart people in a short period of time was what made this conference so special.

I asked the following question of a number of people at CodeMash: What is the best part of this conference.  Without exception, each person responded that it was the people.  I cannot disagree with this.

This was the first conference I've ever attended in which I spent an entire day without going to a single organized event.  Friday I stayed away from all the scheduled sessions and open spaces - not because I didn't find the topic compelling - but because I wanted to spend some time in one-on-one conversations with smart people in my field.

I discussed paired programming with Corey Haines, Alt.Net with Leon Gersing, web site performance with Steve Smith, building community with Mike Wood, recording interviews with Carl Franklin, open spaces with Allen Stevens, and many more.  I brought my video camera and recorded many of these conversations and more.  I hope to share these videos with you on this site in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, here are some photos of the event:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/29942169@N08/sets/72157612393831992/show/
  

Thursday, January 15, 2009 6:16:08 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, January 08, 2009

Today was the first "official" day of CodeMash and I spent most of it learning from experts.  Below is a quick summary of the sessions I attended.

Introducing Prototype and Scriptaculous
Leon Gersing made a splash Wednesday night during a .Net Rocks panel discussion by passionately arguing that JavaScript should be included in any discussion of rich internet applications and that JavaScript methods are unit testable dammit!  He continued that passion Thursday morning in this session, showing the prototype JavaScript library and

Developing for Microsoft Surface
I've seen people talk about Microsoft Surface, but this was by far the most comprehensive hands-on demo I've seen.  Jennifer Marsman (Microsoft) and Joe Engalan (VectorForm) showed applications built for the Surface and built an application on the fly.  They tools are very similar to WPF.  They even brought a Surface with them and attendees were allowed to play with it throughout the conference.

Thrashing
Mary Poppendieck is a noted author on Agile development methodologies.  In this session, she spoke about the things that cause "thrashing" - or decreased productivity - and ways to avoid this.  She emphasized the need to maintain a level workflow, so that developers can establish a cadence and more easily manage their project.  One way to accomplish this is to eliminate long backlog of features - many of which will never get implemented.

Managed Extensibility Framework
Drew Robbins
MEF is an upcoming framework from Microsoft that will allow you to build applications as composable parts that can be assembled at runtime.  Drew spoke conceptually about MEF and stepped through some sample code.  I've given talks on MEF in the past yet I still learned from Drew's talk.
  

Thursday, January 08, 2009 5:37:37 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Tomorrow is the first day to the annual CodeMash conference in Sandusky, OH.  Billed as the finest software conference in an indoor water park, CodeMash is a great way to learn about .Net, Java, Ruby, Python and a host of other technologies.

For me, however, CodeMash marks the beginning of a year of community involvement.

In January 2008, I had recently changed jobs.  After almost a decade with the same company, I left to reduce travel and spend more time with my family.  My prior employer was a good company, but it was difficult for me to get involved in the development community because

  1. Constant travel kept me from attending local user groups.
  2. Constant travel made it difficult to meet developers near my home.
  3. The company had a culture with a strong internal community, so most employees didn't need to seek that from the outside.
  4. I didn't know what I was missing.
  5. I didn't know how to get involved in the community.

As it turned out, my new employer was (and is) very active in the software development community - a major reason I was drawn to them.  Several of them were on the board at CodeMash and many spoke at the conference; In fact, employees of my new overlords frequently spoke at, ran and organized conferences and user groups across the Midwest. 

I ended up meeting a lot of my new co-workers for the first time at CodeMash.

I also met a lot of other folks in the development community - many of them from Michigan.  It was a great experience because I had a chance to exchange ideas with a lot of smart people and to see how they share their knowledge.  I'm still humbled by the lengths to which some of these people go to contribute to the community.

Meeting so many bright people who were anxious to share ideas was an inspiration to me.  IN the months following CodeMash, I became far more involved in two local user groups; I developed and delivered talks to a variety of audiences, including 3 different user groups, a conference and a couple Microsoft events; I created an account on Twitter and used this medium to exchange ideas and pleasantries with a number of people; I used LinkedIn to connect with people and, inspired by Jeff Blankenburg's Contribupendence Day, I recommendations with bright people I know.

At this year's CodeMash, I expect to meet more bright people and I expect to be inspired by them.  But I also expect to meet up with those who inspired me last year.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009 4:54:09 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, October 23, 2008

Saturday I had the pleasure of speaking at the ann arbor Day of .Net

The event drew presenters and attendees from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, demonstrating what an impressive software development community we have here in the Midwest.

My friend Nino drove up Friday night to stay at my place and we met other out-of-towners for dinner Friday night.

I delivered a presentation on Microsoft's Managed Extensibility Framework ("MEF").  The presentation was well-received.  The audience had many questions about the technology afterwards and I noticed a few people from the audience posting on Twitter about MEF in the days following the event.

A new job and a tight project deadline kept me from working on my presentation until a couple days prior to the event.  The good news is that I had presented on MEF three times in the past.  The bad news was that the API had changed radically since I developed my original presentation.  So I not only had to expand the presentation to fit the time allotted, I had to completely rewrite my demo to match the current API.  I was up most of Friday night and missed all the morning sessions of the conference to finish on time for my 1PM presentation.   Luckily I finished successfully and the demos went off without a hitch.  

I discovered a blog entry by Brad Abrams that helped immensely.  Brad wrote a set of samples using MEF that I loved for their simplicity.  Don't tell Brad, but I borrowed liberally from his samples to populate one of my demos.

After my presentation, I was able to settle in and enjoy the conference.  I attended two sessions, both in the same room which suited my tired body.  Jennifer Marsman showed a bunch of new features in .Net 3.5.  Next Brian Prince discussed the role of an architect on a project.  I've heard Jennifer and Brian speak many times in the past, so I knew they would be good and I was not disappointed.

I did have time to poke my head into a few presentations long enough to snap a photo or two.  If you heard a clicking coming from the doorway, that was me.

After the event, many of us met at a local watering hole for some food, drink and fellowship.  My new employer Sogeti was kind enough to spring for the food and drinks.  I was well worn down but it was great to reconnect with people who share many of my passions.

I actually volunteered to be something called a "Venue Coordinator" for this event.  But, as this was the fourth time the event was held, the folks at Washtenaw Community College knew everything that needed to be done and delivered to perfection.  I ended up doing no work for this role, so I may volunteer as venue coordinator next year as well.

I took some photos at the event, which you can see here.

I also put together a slideshow with a Warren Zevon soundtrack that you can see and hear below: 

Thursday, October 23, 2008 12:11:42 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, September 07, 2008

I stopped by the Agile Summer Camp near Brighton, MI yesterday.

The purpose of the event was to gather together people from the software community in an isolated environment to discuss the issues of agile development.  The event was held at a campground in order to isolate people from the distractions of e-mail, web and home responsibilities.  Discussions were held in an "open spaces" style, meaning participants sat in a circle, were given a starting topic, and were free to take the discussion to any point it logically evolved.

I can't evaluate the success of the open spaces as I was only there for a couple hours and my visit coincided with the dinner break, but those I talked to all gave me positive feedback about the day they had spent at the camp so far.  There was no open space discussion scheduled during dinner, but there were still many conversations about agile methodologies, software development, and all the things these folks have in common. 

Most camp participants stayed from Friday evening until Sunday morning and slept in log cabins without electricity or plumbing.  Family obligations prevented me from spending the weekend, but I wanted to stop by because I heard there would be a lot of bright, passionate people in attendance. There were.  Despite surviving the first 24 hours of primitive conditions, the group still radiated a lot of energy.

I applaud this event, not only because those who participated seem to have got a great deal out of it; but because it is one more example of people in the community creating something that will enhance others in the community.  This spirit of cooperation, support and fellowship is one of the reasons I enjoy doing what I do.

Note: Click here to view photos of the 2008 Agile Summer Camp.

Sunday, September 07, 2008 8:19:12 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, August 26, 2008

There's nothing quite like riding on a bus for 27 hours with a few dozen software developers.

That's exactly what I did last weekend on my way to and from DevLink in Murfreesboro, TN.

The DevLink bus was the result of much hard work by Amanda who did most - if not all - the organizing.

The bus began its odyssey Wednesday night in Grand Rapids, MI before proceeding to Lansing.  When the bus picked me up in Plymouth, MI at 9:15 PM, it had already been traveling for 3 hours.  From there, it rolled on to Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati (its final southbound stop at 4AM) before proceeding to its final destination in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. 

The first half of the ride was great fun.  I met new people; I reconnected with old friends; and I met people face-to-face with whom I had only communicated electronically.

Event the two times the bus driver got lost couldn't dampen our spirits.  We were having too much fun.

After about 4AM, the trip began to drag.  Everyone was exhausted and the seats were too uncomfortable to allow more than a few minutes sleep at a time.  This was clearly a bus designed for cross-town trips – not cross-country trips.  DVDs provided some entertainment ("The Big Lebowski" and “Office Space” cracked me up) but you can only focus on movies for so long and the acoustics were less than ideal.

We arrived at our hotel worn and weary at 9:30AM Central time, over 13 hours after leaving Plymouth and 16 hours after the bus began its trip. 

24+ hours of sleep deprivation left me physically ill and I spent nearly all of Thursday in bed.

It was good that I did.  The conference began Friday morning and I awoke refreshed and ready to absorb and exchange ideas at what turned out to be an excellent conference.  (You can read more about it here.)

The ride home was an adventure.  Although the conference ended at 6PM, someone decided the bus shouldn't leave town until 9PM so we had to kill a few hours at a restaurant before heading out. 

Although we picked up at least one new traveler on the ride home, we lost a few more.  Some folks booked a flight to Chicago for a Monday business meeting and a couple people elected to rent a car and drive home rather than subject themselves to the length and discomfort of the bus ride.  I was tempted to join them but I stuck with my plan and boarded the bus at 9.

The mood was more subdued on the return trip. We still had some good conversations early in the ride but the environment lacked the energy sparked by seeing people for the first time in months.

About 2AM, I had just begun to drift to sleep when a sound like a jackhammer awakened me suddenly.  I was sitting just above the tire that blew flat traveling 65 miles an hour on I-71 just north of Louisville, KY.  We pulled off the highway in front of a Waffle House in Carrolton, KY and waited 3 hours for the tire to be fixed.  The repair would have taken far less time if the repair guy had not allowed a drunken Waffle House customer to play with the lug nut gun.  He sheared off the bolts on wheel, forcing the repair guy to return to his shop for more parts and weld on new bolts.

Waffle House provided some entertainment.  Corey attempted to start a relationship with one of the waitresses; and the manager tossed out a drunk who wouldn't stop ordering pork chops long after he was told the restaurant was out of pork chops.  Apparently the Carrolton Waffle House is a magnet for drunks at 2AM Saturday night.  Go figure.

We got back on the highway about 5AM so exhausted that even the uncomfortable seats wouldn't prevent a few hours dozing.

I thought things would go quicker after this because the drivers knew the route better, having just driven it 3 days earlier.  Alas, we became lost in northeast Ohio and drove nearly to Cleveland before turning west toward Toledo.

At 12:30 Eastern time - 14.5 hours after leaving the hotel and 17.5 hours after the end of the conference - we pulled into the parking lot in Plymouth.  I was never so happy to see my car and the 40 minute drive home seemed trivial. 

I was scheduled to read aloud at the 12:15 mass in my church and the last minute substitute is probably still angry with me for missing this, but we all arrived safely.

Was the bus ride a success?  Would I do it again?  Would I take a bus to a distant location with dozens of others like me?  I've decide that, if I can be promised a more comfortable seat, I will do it the next time it's offered.  Everything else was easily tolerable and I did enjoy the fellowship that came with such a long ride with like-minded people.  I even got a few job leads from the conversations I had on the two rides (I am between jobs for those who don't know).

If you go on such a trip, my only advice is

  1. Be prepared for anything
  2. If the Waffle House waitress in Carrolton, Ky tells you they are out of pork chops, shut up and order the hash browns. 

Note: Click here to see more photos from DevLink and the famous bus ride.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 10:38:58 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, August 25, 2008

People attend conferences for many different reasons.  Some come for the content of the lectures; some come to meet and hear well-known speakers; some come to meet and network with others in the industry; some come to see old friends.

Me, I come for all those reasons.  At DevLink last week in Murfreesboro, TN, I experienced all those things and more. 

But I also experienced something new.  I had heard of Open Spaces in the past but had not experienced them.  At DevLink, Open Spaces were promoted heavily as a different way of exchanging ideas.  I was curious and gave it a try.

An Open Space event consists of developers sitting together roughly in a circle in a room and they exchange ideas with one other.  A topic is picked in advance by the group but the conversation is not limited to that topic.  If the conversation drifts from the assigned topic and the group remains engaged, this is perfectly all right.  The important thing is that ideas are exchanged and the group remains passionate about the conversation.

And I heard a great deal of passion at the DevLink Open Spaces that I attended.

During the event, I attended 3 Open Spaces sessions plus the planning session (where topics were picked) and the wrap-up session (where the group reviewed the open spaces of the previous 2 days).  In each session I attended, I heard bright people sharing great ideas.  Sometimes we argued and sometimes we were in violent agreement but I enjoyed it all. 
In a session on Service Oriented Architecture, I argued earnestly that, due to the costs of SOA, support from the top was necessary for SOA to succeed within any organization.  Most of the other loud persons in the group insisted that newer tools such as WCF had lowered the cost of SOA sufficiently that a strong grass roots effort could drive SOA in an organization.  By the end of the session, I think we had all learned something and moved a little toward understanding the others' side.

I did attend a few traditional sessions in which a speaker stands in front of a classroom and delivers a lecture to an audience that is mostly passive.  Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin were two of the speakers at this conference and I have long been a fan of their .Net Rocks podcast, so I made a point to attend a lecture by each of them.  Both were good sessions but they were easily topped by Joe Wirtley who gave an excellent talk on WPF.  It was excellent because it focused on building a business application, rather than the eye candy that clutters so many WPF presentations.

Overall the conference was a great success.  It drained me of energy but it fired me up at the same time.

And I haven't even told you about the 28 hours I spent riding a bus with a few dozen techno-geeks.  Or the flat tire that left us stranded in Carrolton, KY for 3 hours at 2AM.  But that’s another story.

Note: Click here to see more photos from DevLink

Monday, August 25, 2008 10:49:27 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Thursday, July 03, 2008

July 3 (Contribupendence Day) is almost over.  As promised, I wrote reviews for several colleagues on LinkedIn.  Most of the people I reviewed were those I worked with directly at my last employer.  I am currently on a project that allows me to work directly with a couple folks from my current employer

I became motivated enough that I ended up writing 7 reviews tonight (I had only promised 5) and I invited quite a few new people to connect with me on LinkedIn and Plaxo

I was surprised at the number of past and present colleagues that are using these networking sites.  My connections should at least double in the next few days.

Hopefully the people I recommended will be inspired to pick 5 people of their own and this thing will explode.

My plan is to write more recommendations in the coming weeks.  I have some that I've written but cannot make official until the recipient accepts my connection invitation. 

I won't copy my recommendations on this site but you are welcome to read them here.

Again thanks to Jeff for suggesting this.

Thursday, July 03, 2008 9:08:05 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tomorrow - July 3 - is Contribupendence Day.

What is Contribupendence Day, you ask?  Well it's the day when all readers of my blog agree to send me $20.

Not really.  Contribupendence Day is the brainchild of Microsoft Developer Evangelist Jeff Blankenburg, who woke up one day and noticed the untapped potential of networking sites such as LinkedIn, Plaxo and Facebook.  These sites give us the opportunity to recommend or comment on those we have worked.  Unfortunately, few of us take advantage of this feature which is a shame.  These recommendations could be a good source of feedback to potential employers and might make the difference in getting an interview or landing a job.

He's right of course. I've been on LinkedIn for a couple months and I am connected to a few dozen people but these are very passive connections.  In the back of my mind, I tell myself I'll focus on LinkedIn the next time I look for a job (which hopefully won't be for a long time).  The problem with this attitude is that I'm relying on everyone else to motivate themselves around my schedule.  When I'm ready to look for a job, will others have the time to write a glowing review for me?  If I worked for or with them, will they even remember my specific accomplishments?

So, at Jeff's urging, I'm being proactive.  Tomorrow I resolve to write reviews of 5 people on LinkedIn.  In doing so, I hope to inspire these 5 to either review me or to review someone else, which will set in motion a process that may very well come back to me.

I've worked with some great people in my life so it wasn't difficult to pick five that I can rave about.  I'll be reviewing them tomorrow and I urge you to do the same.

Happy Contribupendence Day everybody!  And you are welcome to review me.  Or, if that's too much trouble, just send me the 20 bucks.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008 9:24:25 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The ann arbor Give Camp is July 11-13 at Washtenaw Community College - less than two weeks away.  For those who haven't heard, this is a great opportunity to contribute to some worthy causes, flex your tech muscles and network with the developer community. 

At this event, software developers, DBA, project managers and UI designers will get together and develop projects for local charities.  So many charities requested projects for this camp that most had to be turned away due to lack of resources.  The more people involved, the more charities we can help.  The facilities will be available and staffed round-the-clock on this weekend and refreshments will be provided.  For security reasons, you must register in advance in order to participate.  Jennifer Marsman of Microsoft is organizing the camp. 

I will be out of town with my son the weekend of the event, but I volunteered to help with some of the evaluations of the projects because it I really wanted to contribute.

You can get more information and you can register for this great outing at http://www.annarborgivecamp.org/.  If you will be in town, please take a look and consider giving your time.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 10:49:47 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, June 22, 2008

I had a terrific time yesterday at the Lansing Day of .Net yesterday. 

This was the last in an ambitious string of community-sponsored events in Michigan and Ohio under the "Day of .Net" branding.  In the past two months, DODN events have been held in Wilmington, OH, Grand Rapids, MI, Cleveland, OH, and Lansing, MI.  I managed to make the two Michigan events but family commitments kept me from the ones in Ohio.

A Day of .Net event features numerous speakers (usually about 30) speaking on topics related to software development.  The primary focus is .Net development but peripheral topics are almost always included.  I heard a very good talk yesterday by Dan Rigsby on the agile methodology in which software was barely mentioned.

Prior to yesterday, I wondered if the Lansing event might be anticlimactic coming so soon after three similar events.  I worried for nothing.  In fact, the opposite was true.  They managed to attract an excellent group of speakers, a full slate of sponsors (meaning, among other things, many cool door prizes) one of the better facilities I've seen (Lansing Community College West Campus) and the mayor of Lansing.  People were generally excited about this event.  I've heard - but can't confirm - that the Day of .Net was covered by two TV stations.  Jeff McWhirter and his group did a great job putting this together.  I don't know who thought of inviting the mayor, but that was a good idea.

The best part of these events is interacting with the people in the community.  There was a lot of good discussions about various projects, the state of the industry, the role of the community and the various approaches to developing software. 

When it was over, many of us headed over to Jeff's house to celebrate into the night.  I left at around 11 and the place was still packed and the bonfire was blazing.  Mike Wood, an old friend from my Cincinnati days stayed at my house before heading home this morning.

I picked up some nice swag - a copy of Camtasia, a logo t-shirt, and a pint glass featuring the LDODN logo.  This morning, I noticed that the t-shirt includes the slogan "I was there" but the pint glass has a modified slogan "I think I was there".

Here are some photos of the day: Photos.

 

>Lansing Day of .Net, 21 June 2008 - I'll be there!
Sunday, June 22, 2008 11:13:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, May 11, 2008

WM Day of .Net May 10, 2008 - I'll be there!

Yesterday I drove to Grand Rapids for the West Michigan Day of .Net.

I enjoyed the event, despite suffering from heartburn most of the day,

Here is a brief summary of the best sessions I saw

How to Architect Rich Internet Applications

Microsoft architect Josh Holmes gave an overview of what makes up a good rich internet application and when you should attempt to build one.

Getting Started with the ASP.Net MVC Framework
Tim Wingfield of Quick Solutions discussed the MVC framework.  This one had a lot of code samples.

A trip around the block with Rhino.Mocks
This session (led by Quick's Steve Hartman) was more like a roundtable discussion than a presentation.   Steve went through some definitions; stepped through a code sample; then started a discussion with the attendees about different Mock frameworks.

Reliable Messaging in WCF
James Bender of Quick Solutions gave this demo which also contained some good code samples.

A similar event is scheduled next Saturday in Cleveland.   I doubt I'll make that one, but I plan to attend the recently-announced Lansing Day of .Net scheduled June 21.

Lansing Day of .Net, 21 June 2008 - I'll be there!
Sunday, May 11, 2008 2:42:02 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, April 02, 2008
 #
 

A couple years ago, I had a chance to speak at a Day of .Net event in ann arbor, MI.  I enjoyed it so much that I signed up as an attendee at the same event last year.

Day of .Net is a single-day conference focused on Microsoft developer technologies.  It is free and takes place on a Saturday which makes it a lot easier to schedule for working professionals.  The speakers tend to be well-known technologists who live within a few hundred miles of the event.  I've been impressed with the lineup at the events I attended. 

The local flavor of the event also gives attendees a great chance to network with similar professionals in their geographic area. The focus tends to be on technology, rather than on strategy, so these things attract more hard-core developers and fewer CIOs and CTOs.

In the next few weeks, three Day of .Nets (or is it Days of .Net?) are scheduled within three hours of my home.  April 19 is the Central Ohio Day of .Net in Wilmington, OH (between Columbus and Dayton); May 10 is the West Michigan Day of .Net in Grand Rapids, MI; and May 17 is the Cleveland Day of .Net in Cleveland, OH.

Depending on my sons' basketball tournament schedules, I hope to attend two of these.  Click the links below for more information.

Central Ohio Day of .NET   WM Day of .Net May 10, 2008 - I'll be there!   Cleveland Day of .NET

Wednesday, April 02, 2008 6:41:48 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Wednesday, March 26, 2008
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If you haven't yet seen Josh Holmes and Steve Loethen's Internet show Code To Live, I recommend doing so.  Josh and Steve (mostly Josh) travel around the country interviewing people who are passionate about the technology on which they are working.  The video production is sometimes a bit lacking but the viewer gets a feel for the excitement people have for the work they are doing and the interviews often provide brief overviews of new technologies.

You can view this show at www.codetolive.net or http://channel9.msdn.com/shows/code_to_live

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 2:43:24 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Sunday, January 13, 2008
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I spent Thursday and Friday at CodeMash in Sandusky, OH.  Quick Solutions (my employer) is a major sponsor of this event that features speakers and developers from both the .Net and the Java community.  Quick strongly encouraged me to attend but I didn't need any convincing. 

The sessions were great.  Jeff Blankenburg's demos on Silverlight and Scot Hanselman's Friday keynote address stand out in particular for me.

But I think I got more benefit from the fact that I was able to meet so many other people in the developer community here in the midwest.  I've been traveling so much the last few years that I don't really know that many local people.  I met more developers from Michigan these 2 days than I met during the 4 years I've lived here. 

I also had a chance to mingle with the other folks from Quick Solutions, which is a rare treat.  Although I work for Quick, I live a couple hundred miles from their office in Columbus, so my interaction with them is limited.

The conference was held at the Kalahari Resort, which features a huge indoor water park.  There wasn't much time to enjoy the park during the conference, but some attendees brought their families who splashed around while their spouse did the geek thing.  I promised my 13-year-old son that he could meet me on Friday night with a friend and go to the park.  Unfortunately his ride fell through so I ended up driving back to Michigan Friday night and returning to Ohio Saturday morning to take the boys to the park for the day.  We had a blast!

You can view photos of the conferece here and see a musical slideshow of the photos below

Sunday, January 13, 2008 3:56:53 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)