# Sunday, May 3, 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 3, 2009 1:05:17 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Friday, May 1, 2009

Episode 20

David Edson of visibility.biz spends his time consulting on and teaching custom development using Microsoft Visio.

In this interview, he describes the advantages of using Visio as a platform for data visualization.

7 mins, 17 secs

 

Friday, May 1, 2009 12:03:05 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# 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 11:43:07 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# 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

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 5:38:37 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, April 27, 2009

Episode 18

Halfway through the first West Michigan .Net University, Chris Woodruff and Bill Miller sat down with me to discuss why they organized it and how it was going so far.

For more information on this event, you can visit dodn.org/WestMichiganDotNetU or read my earlier posts here and here

17 mins, 50 secs

Monday, April 27, 2009 2:46:43 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, April 23, 2009

Episode 17

Microsoft Visual Studio Team System 2010 is currently in CTP3.

In this interview, Microsoft Technology Specialist Randy Pagels describes the new features of the upcoming release of this product.

Randy maintains a great deal of information on VSTS at TeamSystemCafe.net

11 mins, 52 secs

Thursday, April 23, 2009 12:25:58 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# 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 7:05:36 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# 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 12:46:29 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# 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 9:56:13 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Friday, April 17, 2009

Tomorrow (Saturday April 18), I will be speaking at the Central Ohio Day of .Net in Wilmington, OH.

My topic is Using Microsoft Distributed Cache to speed your application.  This is similar to a talk I gave last summer at three user groups in Ohio and Michigan.  However, the topic is more relevant now as the release of Microsoft Velocity nears.  I have updated and expanded my presentation and written all new demos for this talk. 

A consistent caching strategy becomes critical as enterprise applications grow in size.  With Velocity, Microsoft finally has a product in the enterprise caching space.

You can get more information and register by clicking the badge below.  I hope to see you there. 

Friday, April 17, 2009 12:41:03 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)