# Saturday, December 12, 2015

A couple years ago, J Tower and his team noticed attendance at the Grand Rapids .NET User dwindling. This trend was in stark contrast to the annual GR DevDay conference that attracted hundreds of attendees each year.

Tower came up with a novel approach - he discarded the idea of a monthly user group meeting and replaced it with a quarterly meeting that more resembled a conference than a user group. Because the quarterly meeting took place on a weekday evening and was patterned after GR DevDay, he dubbed it "GR DevNight."

Each GR DevNight begins with a keynote presentation delivered in front of all attendees. After the keynote, attendees can choose from among 3 different presentations - each lasting about an hour.

Each GR DevNight is assigned a theme and all presentations relate to that theme.


At this week's meeting, the theme was Cloud Computing and I was excited to deliver the keynote address. I showed off many of the Open Source and non-Microsoft technologies supported by Microsoft Azure in a presentation titled "Microsoft Azure Without Microsoft."

While driving from Detroit to Grand Rapids, J called me to tell me that a medical emergency forced a late cancellation by one of the speakers that evening. He asked if I could deliver a breakout session in addition to the keynote. I had been working on a presentation about Azure Mobile Apps so I offered to premiere it that evening. GRDevNightBreakout3

It was an excellent event. A hundred attendees packed into a room at Cornerstone University to hear the keynote and they split pretty evenly between the three breakout sessions.

If you run a user group that is struggling to maintain interest month in and month out, a model similar to this might help you to revitalize your group as it did for the the group in Grand Rapids.

photos by J Tower

Saturday, December 12, 2015 6:42:47 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I recently interviewed Wunderflats CEO Jan Hase for DevRadio. Wunderflats is an online service allowing users to search for furnished apartments.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 4:49:23 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, December 7, 2015
Monday, December 7, 2015 11:45:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, December 6, 2015

Today I am grateful for:
-Watching the Big10 Championship Game in Indianapolis with college friends last night.
-A Spartan victory and championship
-Post-game drinks with friends from Cincinnati
-A chance to see Nick's team play at Northwestern yesterday afternoon.

Today I am grateful for a walk around downtown Chicago yesterday with Nick​.

Today I am grateful to see Nick and his new team in Milwaukee yesterday.

Today I am grateful that someone found my ID card that has been lost for weeks.

Today I am grateful for:
-Breakfast with Mike
-Coffee with Patty
-An afternoon and evening at the University of Cincinnati

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 6:28am EST
David Giard updated his status.
Today I am grateful for dinner in northern Kentucky last night with David, Sue, and Debora.

Today I am grateful for
-The hospitality and generosity of Sherree and Doug.
-A week with my family in Michigan.

Today I am grateful for a day in East Lansing seeing old friends and watching the Spartans dominate.

Today I am grateful for yesterday afternoon with my mother.

Today I am grateful for:
-A Lions game (my first-ever Thanksgiving game) with my 2 brothers and my son Tim
-Thanksgiving dinner with all my siblings, their spouses, and their kids.

Today I am grateful for an afternoon at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Today I am grateful for a double cheeseburger (cheezborger cheezborger), a coke (no Pepsi), and chips (no fries) at the Billy Goat Tavern yesterday.

Today I am grateful for an afternoon exploring Chicago neighborhoods with Dan.

Today I am grateful for:
-My brother finally arriving in Chicago after flight cancellations
-An excellent hackathon at Northwestern
-A very funny show at Second City last night.

Today I am grateful for a second Spartan victory over a top-4 team this week - this time in football! #GoGreen

Today I am grateful for a snowy evening with Kate.

Today I am grateful for a chance to teach a workshop in Evanston last night and students who are eager to learn.

Today I am grateful for:
-My first time speaking at the Chicago .NET User Group in Downers Grove.
-The stranger who gave me a ride from the gas station yesterday, so I wouldn't be late for my meeting

Today I am grateful to watch the Champions Classic basketball games (MSU defeated Kansas; Kentucky defeated Duke) at the United Center last night.

Today I am grateful that I finally got my car repaired. It has been randomly stalling for months.

Today I am grateful for an amazing day yesterday:
-A visit with my mother
-Dinner with my nieces
-Mass at 150-year-old St. Mary's Church
-Lunch in Greektown
-A drive around Belle Isle
-Cruising down Lake Shore Drive in Grosse Pointe
-A First Class upgrade on my flight home

Today I am grateful for:
-A chance to deliver the keynote presentation at Detroit Dev Day yesterday morning.
-Dinner with Jay and J. last night.

Today I am grateful to the organizers and volunteers of the St. Louis Day of .NET - great conference!

Today I am grateful to meet up with old friends.

Today I am grateful for:
-Time with William Fink and Michele Gardiner-Fink
-A trip to the top of the St. Louis arch with Jennifer Marsman

Today I am grateful to all this nation's veterans, especially my Dad.

Today I am grateful for the energy I gather from the local startup community.

Today I am grateful that much of my job is stuff that I would be doing anyway.

Today I am grateful for a chance to edit months worth of photographs yesterday.

Today I am grateful to turn off my alarm and pay off some sleep debt last night.

Today I am grateful for:
-a visit to the Denver Art Museum
-a Nuggets game at the Pepsi Center last night

Today I am grateful that the back pain I experienced yesterday is almost completely gone this morning.

Today I am grateful for a few days in San Francisco - one of the great cities of the US.

Today I am grateful for:
-Lunch with Jerry and Jenelle yesterday
-Watching the Warriors - Grizzlies game live in Oakland last night.

Today I am grateful for:
-a visit with Sharon and her family last night
-a Raiders game at the Coliseum yesterday

Sunday, December 6, 2015 8:28:11 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, November 30, 2015
Monday, November 30, 2015 5:36:00 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, November 23, 2015
# Wednesday, November 18, 2015

IMG_3589_edited-1 Originally, it was 1DevDayDetroit - a multi -platform developer conference in do wntown Detroit; then came some specialized version of the conference, named "CloudDevDay" and  "MobiDevDay", focused on cloud computing and mobile technologies, respectively. 

IMG_3604_edited-1A couple years ago, the organizers changed the name to "Detroit Dev Day" and that has stuck! The conference takes place at Cobo Hall in the heart of downtown Detroit and attracts hundreds of attendees from the .NET, Java, JavaScript, Open Source, and other communities.

I was invited to deliver the opening keynote, so I spoke about the Technical Community, how it has benefited me personally, and professionally, and how others could benefit from being more engaged in their local community.

IMG_3606_edited-1I also delivered a breakout session titled "Microsoft Azure Without Microsoft" in which I demonstrated many of the open source and competing technologies supported on Microsoft Azure.

IMG_3611_edited-1In addition, Jennifer Marsman delivered a presentation titled "Introduction to Azure Machine Learning: Predict Who Will Survive the Titanic".

I attended sessions on Testing Android Applications, Visual Studio Diagnostic Tools, Developers working with QA Teams, Web Development Workflow, and Azure Machine Learning.


In addition, I had a chance to interact with many folks from the Detroit Development community - a treat for me as I spent many years living and working in this area and I even ran a user group in suburban Detroit for years.

The feedback I heard from attendees was overwhelmingly positive.

Detroit Dev Day was entirely run by volunteers and has continued as a strong presence in Detroit through its various name changes for the past 5 years. Based on this year's success, I expect it to continue well into the future.

Detroit Dev Day keynote

More Photos

Detroit Dev Day Home

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 2:37:08 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, November 16, 2015
Monday, November 16, 2015 9:39:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Wednesday, November 11, 2015

In my role as a Technical Evangelist, I attend and mentor at a lot of hackathons. I did not attend Hack The North in Waterloo, Ontario earlier this fall, but I heard about an incident and it caught my attention.

On the hackathon Facebook page, one student posted "Anyone building a clock for the haack?" Two students replied - one said he was building a bomb that looked like a clock; the other replied "My clock is the bomb."  This exchange was an obvious joke referring to the Texas 14-year-old, Ahmad Mohamed, who was recently arrested and suspended from his high school officials believed his homemade clock looked like a bomb.


Major League Hacking (MLH) was an organizer of Hack Up North and they took quick action after one attendee reported feeling "unsafe" due to the posts.

MLH kicked all three students out of the hackathon, sending them home - presumably to a different city.

I believe that some of you reading this believe that MLH took appropriate action and some of you do not. I won't share here my opinion on MLH's actions, but I will say this: It doesn't really matter!

I attend Hackathons as a guest of the organizers and as a representative of my employer. I've established limited agreements with both of these organization that I will abide by their rules.

In this case the rules were set by the hackathon's code of conduct and interpreted by MLH.

Some will look at this as a free speech issue, as if free speech were an absolute right, which it is not. Even setting aside the fact that this hackathon took place in Canada where the US Constitution's First Amendment holds no weight, our rights of free speech are limited by the rights of others and by agreements into which we enter. Also, free speech only protects us from the law - not from social consequences that our words trigger. If you visit my house and say something offensive to me, I'm well within my rights to kick you out of my house.

The lesson here is a simple one: Think before you post something in a public forum. How will it be interpreted? Will others feel threatened by it? How will you be perceived by those who read it?

At a minimum, pausing to consider your next public post may save you from embarrassment. It may even save you an early and unexpected trip home.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 11:32:36 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The nice thing about Fundamentals of Azure: Microsoft Azure Essential by Michael Collier and Robin Shahan is that it assumes no prior knowledge of Azure or cloud computing. Each chapter describes the technology and walks the user through how to implement that technology using Microsoft Azure.

The step-by-step instructions are very explicit, even including screenshots of each step. Collier and Shahan take you through the process of the most common Azure tasks, including creating Web Apps; setting up Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks;

Of course, the Azure team is adding new features very quickly; so occasionally, you will run into instructions that do not exactly match the portal. But Collier and Shahan do a good job of explaining the concepts, so the user can often find their way through any inconsistencies.

If you are new to Azure and want an overview of the platform or if you want help with specific features, Fundamentals of Azure will help.

Michael Collier and David

Azure | books
Tuesday, November 10, 2015 1:04:06 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)