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I’m on .NET Rocks!

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We were hanging out at the hotel bar on Saturday night (August 23rd), just hanging out. It was my birthday, and we were unwinding from devLink (which rocked!), and I was exhausted from working really long days.

Carl and Richard from .NET Rocks was hanging out there as well. After the conversation got rolling, they whipped out a wireless microphone with onboard memory and started interviewing everyone at the table. There is a great discussion of devLink, OpenSpaces, CodeMash, and lots of other stuff.

It was a lot of fun. Take some time and give a listen to show #372.

Kentucky Day of .NET

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Jeremy Sublett and Chad Campbell are organizing the second Kentucky Day of .NET.

 

It will be on Saturday, September 6. They have lined up a number of great speakers to cover lots of .NET topics for developers.  Please visit http://kydayof.net to see the sessions and to sign up.

Jeff Blankenburg will be keynoting, and I will be presenting my Soft Skillz talk. If you need a ride from Columbus, maybe we can carpool.

 

Saturday, Sept. 6

Sullivan University

9:00 am to 4:00 pm

CodeMash 2009 Call for Speakers

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I'm pleased and excited to inform you that CodeMash 2009 planning is underway! We'll be returning to the Kalahari Resort to hold our third event this coming January 7-9, 2009, and do hope you'll consider participating.

Submit your proposed session through the CodeMash website by navigating to http://codemash.org/BeASpeaker.aspx. As with prior events, speakers are provided with a free conference pass, including food, admission to all sessions, and all of the fame and glory attached to being a CodeMash participant. The deadline for submission is October 22, 2008, however given the volume of proposals we'd appreciate it if you could strive to beat this deadline by at least a few weeks.

January 7-9, you ask? You read it right, we're expanding the event to include a third day! Dubbed the CodeMash Precompiler, this day long event (held on January 7) will include a number of hands-on labs which give attendees the opportunity to explore a topic at great depth. We're still sorting out the details. The ensuing two days will follow the same fun format as per the previous events.

MSDN Unleashed Event Details

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We are ready to announce our next ArcReady and MSDN Unleashed tour dates. ArcReady was detailed in the prior blog post. For those that are new, these are events given by your local evangelism team, in as many local cities as we can work out.

These events happen every quarter. The ArcReadys are always in the morning, from 9am-11:30am. MSDN is from 1pm-4pm. They will usually be held in the same facility. ArcReady is geared for practicing and aspiring architects. You don’t have to be an architect to get value out of it. MSDN Unleashed events are geared for all types of developers.

MSDN Unleashed

Session 1: Demystifying WPF

Today’s applications need to do more than simply work. They need to draw in the user, and provide a differentiated experience. This means moving beyond battleship gray forms, boxy UIs, and providing a positive user experience. Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) provides powerful capabilities to develop a compelling user interface, the kind that makes an application stand out. In this session, we’ll examine the core concepts of WPF such as layout panels, data binding, styles and control templates, and we’ll use them to develop an application UI from the ground up.

Session 2: Developing Applications with Visual Studio 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1

Service Pack 1 and Visual Studio 2008 introduce a wide variety of new features for targeting Windows, Office and the Web. This includes more controls, a streamlined setup, improved startup performance, fresh graphics features, improved AJAX support, and much more. We’re also introducing the ADO.NET Entity Framework and ADO.NET Data Services, which are designed to simplify application data access by providing an extensible, conceptual model for data from any source, while enabling this model to closely reflect business requirements. Don’t miss this lively session and learn how to use these powerful new features in your applications.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

Anyone who designs, develops, or debugs code. If you are an architect, developer or just enjoy curly braces, join us.

WHERE ARE THE EVENTS?

Events are held in 12 cities across Central Region.  To register for this event, please select a link below.

9/10/08 Nashville TN

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9/16/08 Downers Grove IL

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9/17/08 Indianapolis IN

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9/23/08 Irving TX

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9/23/08 Waukesha WI

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9/24/08 Houston TX

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9/25/08 Austin TX

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9/30/08 Southfield MI

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10/2/08 Columbus OH

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10/7/08 Chicago IL

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10/7/08 Mason OH

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10/9/08 Cleveland OH

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ArcReady Announcement

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We are ready to announce our next ArcReady and MSDN Unleashed tour dates. MSDN Unleashed info in next blog post. For those that are new, these are events given by your local evangelism team, in as many local cities as we can work out.

These events happen every quarter. The ArcReadys are always in the morning, from 9am-11:30am. MSDN is from 1pm-4pm. They will usually be held in the same facility. ArcReady is geared for practicing and aspiring architects. You don’t have to be an architect to get value out of it. MSDN Unleashed events are geared for all types of developers.

Microsoft ArcReady

Architecting Modern Distributed Applications

Nearly every application we build today has dependencies to other systems. How do we design them to work together to meet our goals? How do we decide what to build and what to buy? Do we host it ourselves or in the cloud? With a bewildering array of choices, the biggest challenge we face today is how to architect robust applications with the right technologies to meet our user’s needs and integrate nicely into our existing IT ecosystems.

Join our Central Region Architect Evangelists for a great discussion on architecting distributed applications using all the latest technologies and best practices.

Session 1: Blueprints for Success. In this session, we will survey the modern architecture landscape from the ground up, including infrastructure, application, and client solution choices. We’ll discuss how current industry trends are shaping our architectures and present an innovative architecture mapping technique for analyzing our customer’s needs and aligning them to today’s technologies and solution patterns.
Session 2: Making It Real. In this session, we’ll take a look at several case studies to learn how to apply the mapping technique from Session 1 to architect real world solutions that add true business value. We’ll examine applications we use every day and take a walk through a Microsoft reference architecture that explores many of the decisions we face when building modern distributed applications.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

Architects and Senior Developers who are interested in becoming an architect.

WHERE ARE THE EVENTS?

Events are held in 16 cities across Central Region.  To register for this event, please visit www.arcready.com.

Date Location
9/10/2008 Nashville, TN
9/11/2008 Knoxville, TN
9/30/2008 Southfield, MI
10/2/2008 Columbus, OH
10/7/2008 Cincinnati, OH
10/9/2008 Cleveland, OH

ARCast.TV episode Live!

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A few months ago I sat down with Jim Holmes and Philip Jordan at Quick Solutions to talk about an elegant way to handle a difficult scenario.


ARCast.TV - Jim Holmes and Philip Jordan on Excel Services

http://channel9.msdn.com/shows/ARCast.TV/ARCastTV-Jim-Homes-and-Philip-Jordan-on-Business-Models-that-leverage-Excel-Services/

They often have customers with complex business logic in Excel, and the customer often thinks they want a new application to replace this. But the users also want to be able to update not only the business data, but the business MODELS. Trying to do this can be difficult, so Jim and Philip turned to MOSS, and Excel Services.

Excel Services allows the user to publish their spreadsheets to their consumers. The consumers use the sheet in the browser. They don’t need Excel on the desktop. The great thing is the Intellectual Property of the business model is safe, because the end consumer only ever gets to see the output of the models, not the math behind the models.

Anyway, please check it out. It’s only 20 minutes long. This is my first Arcast episode, and I really want to do several more.

So, you want to start a user group?

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The community in Heartland is very strong, it is vibrant. It is a community I am proud to be a part of. But there are always new audiences that need new ways to work together to learn and develop themselves. Here are some basic steps to get a user group started. The goal in these steps is to keep the barrier to entry as low as possible, and as free as possible.

0. Get a name. All things must start with a name. Something to encapsulate your major topic or focus. A geographic term is usually also included. The name should be pronounceable. You see, us geeks like to verbalize our acronyms. It shows a degree of acceptance of the acronym, and hence the group, when this happens. Examples:

CinArc (Sin-Arc) – Architecture in Cincinnati

ColArc (Call-Arc)– Architecture in Columbus

CONDG (Con-dug) – Central Ohio .NET Developers Group

POOP (Poh-op)– Portland Open Office Professionals

Once you have a name, you can try to make a logo, although that is optional.

10. Create a Live ID and live email address (for example poop@live.com) that will belong to your user group. You should not use your personal id, because as the group grows, you don’t want the groups assets tangled with your personal assets.

Create a blog at any of a number of free online blog hosters (blogspot.com for example). Use the group email address to sign up for this. Pick a template, give the blog the same name as the group, and give it a good description so that it can be found by search engines. This blog will have a generic address, such as poop.blogspot.com.

In the blog template, make sure you put contact information, directions, and meeting schedule (every sixth odd numbered Tuesday after Lent, at 6:00pm).

Buy a domain name for your group. Again, any of the domain registrars can do this. I use godaddy.com. Once you buy the domain (poop.com), follow your blog hosters directions for having www.poop.com direct to your groups blog page (this concept is similar to host headers in web servers). Then you can market www.poop.com to possible attendees, speakers, and sponsors.

Go to skydrive.live.com, and create an account with your poop Live id. This will create some online storage for you so you can store the presentation materials online, and make them available to your members.

Now go register all of this with www.codezone.com (if your new fancy user group is MS centric). This will give you membership and event management tools. It will also allow you to buy swag with points to give out at your meetings. Other benefits are that people will be able to find your user group in the directory, and it will be submitted to the different MSDN newsletters and event search engines.

There are other online registry’s for user groups and events. Check out www.communitymegaphone.com.

One more big step. People will want to subscribe to your new blog with an RSS reader. If they subscribe directly, then it is very hard to move your blog later (sometimes the neighbors borrow tools and don’t bring them back). I suggest you create an account at www.feedburner.com with your user group email. Feedburner will publish your RSS feed for you, redirecting readers to where ever you might host your blog in the future. Think of it as DNS resolution for your RSS feed.

I also recommend that you keep a three to six month schedule of speakers and topics prepared. Being able to tell your members what the upcoming meetings will be about will keep your attendance rate up.

This will get you started. There are other things you will eventually need to work on. I would wait until you regularly get more than 42 people per meeting, and you have had a good 12 month track record. At this point, the group is stable, and you will start to need help. Recruit a board (2-3 other people), and look into filing as a non-profit in your state.

You will also need to come up with a sponsorship and job-posting policy. I can cover these topics in another post.

Blogs are conversations (macro-twittering at times). Post your recommendations to someone who is new in the community, and is trying to start a group.

Oh, one more. Network in your community, and join up with other UG leaders in your area. They can help you.

Also also, it seems some of the strongest groups were started by the person that just wanted other people to learn with.

Also^3, looking back at this post, this is the tip of cloud computing, and hosting solutions in the cloud. I didn’t have to setup a server, arrange for patches and backups, and composed several different vendors and services to present the application I needed. This is indeed the start of Renaissance 2.0.

Ok, I promise, only two more things:

a) try to play after the meetings. go to a local adult beverage dispensory, and bond as a group.

two) 70% of your speakers should be local enthusiasts. not every speaker can nor should be a speaker from outside. groom and grow your local talent. it’s the community bootstrap effect. (that's my term, I just made it up. it’s trademarked.)

FlameGoat.net

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I was speaking a while ago at ITT in Nashville, TN. After my talk, several students came up to tell me about a site they were running called FlameGoat.net.

The voice of the site is intended to be a little on the edge, with a ‘fight the power’ type tone. The site is interesting, with a lot of gaming news and trailers. They have started sections aimed at developers, with room to post videos and tutorials.

These students were clearly self starters, taking their idea, and executing it, instead of just talking about it. The other great thing, is that 15%-25% of the ad revenue is donated to Saint Jude’s Children Hospital every month. Not only did they execute their idea, they are using it to help the community. That’s just awesome.

As I look at my career, and the people I have known, I remember seeing some great idea, and thinking that I had the same idea, but never did it. I slowly learned that many times you can’t wait for someone else to let you do something, you just need to find a way to do it yourself. This is a good example of that.

And the trick with any content site, is to keep that content fresh, and constantly moving. I wish them good luck.