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)
 Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 9:33:52 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)
 Monday, September 19, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011 10:57:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Monday, September 12, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011 10:35:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
 Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Tuesday, September 06, 2011 9:08:00 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)