# Thursday, 30 December 2010

I published over 125 blog posts in 2010. Below are my favorite posts from this site over the past 12 months

Goals for GANG in 2010 (Jan 20)
A banner year for our GANG (Nov 24)
These two posts belong together. In January, I sat down with the new leadership team of the Great Lakes Area .Net User Group (GANG). Together, we laid out some goals for the year and steps to achieve those goals. After the last meeting, I recorded how we were able to achieve each of our goals.

Producing an Online TV Show (Mar 20)
This is a 6-part series I wrote on the steps I take to produce Technology and Friends. If anyone is interested in producing a similar show, this is a good place to start.

DevLink 2010 (Aug 17)
This post is how I want to write every conference summary. I talked about the overall conference, about my presentation, and I shared what I learned at individual sessions. Other conference recap posts fall short primarily because I lack the time to organize my thoughts.

The Elements of Style (Jun 22)
I like this review because it describes both the importance of the book and its importance to my life.

Declaring variables with var (May 13)
This article describes a coding issue I had barely considered until it came up during a code review. I realized at the time, that I didn't have an opinion on the topic. So I did some reading, formed a conclusion and articulated that conclusion. Isn't that what a blog is all about?

Are certifications worthwhile? (May 18)
I finally wrote down my thoughts on an argument I've had many times.

A Dream Comes True (Nov 14)
Hey, guess what? I'm an MVP! (Jul 1)
These are brief news announcements of key events in my life during 2010. I was proud and wanted to share them. So I'm sharing them again here. So sue me.

Thursday, 30 December 2010 11:15:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Wednesday, 29 December 2010

In 2010, I released 68 episodes of my online TV show - Technology and

I've tried and failed to select my 10 favorite shows. I recognize that some shows are better than others, but I found it hard to whittle a top 20 down to a top 10. I feel strongly about the first two episodes on this list, but the remaining 8 could change depending on the day or my mood. In any event, I'm proud of the show and proud of each episode listed below.

Episode 100
This milestone episode featured clips from previous show. It's light-hearted and entertaining and I think it turned out really well.

Episode 131: 2010 Ann Arbor Give Camp
I'm particularly proud of this one because of the effort I put into it. I started with almost 5 hours of video and somehow got it down to under 20 minutes. I think it captures the spirit of Give Camp very well.

Episode 76-Gary Short on Technical Debt
Gary carries this episode with his humor and intelligence.

Episode 81-Jennifer Marsman on Windows 7 Development
Jennifer always packs a ton into her presentations, so it's no surprise her interview turned out great. All I had to do was ask a couple open-ended questions and listen.

Episode 105-Nathan Blevins on Mindstorm
This is one of the first shows I did with a prop. Nathan showed off a robot and the software that runs it.

Episode 123-Joe Ross on Ford Sync
I like this one because it is a different perspective. The whole interview was filmed in the front seat of a car and we get a close look at the Sync hardware.

Episode 88-Cameron Skinner on VS2010 Architecture Tools
Cameron had a full schedule but made time to share his experience with me. Lots of informaiton in this one.

Episode 77-Mike Amundsen on HTTP and REST
This is a topic that often makes my head spin. I included it because I learned so much from Mike.

Episode 111-Mike Wood on Moving to the Cloud
This conversation isn't extremely technical, but Mike brings up some great points to consider when choosing a technology.

Episode 78-Jim Holmes on Unit Testing
Almost a year later, I still get a lot of comments on this one.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 10:47:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 27 December 2010

Episode 131

Ann Arbor Give Camp

Monday, 27 December 2010 11:02:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, 21 December 2010
Tuesday, 21 December 2010 08:36:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 13 December 2010
Monday, 13 December 2010 20:54:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 06 December 2010
Monday, 06 December 2010 20:52:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Restful Web Services Cookbook by Subbu Allamaraju

The format of Restful Web Services Cookbook is different than I’m used to. The book presents ideas in the form of a problem, a solution, and a discussion of the solution. It starts with simple concepts like HTTP verbs (GET, POST, PUT, etc.), and moves onto more complex topics, such as content negotiation and sending queries via HTTP.

Most eye-opening for me is the concept of providing in the data sent to the client links to perform related actions on the data, such as updating the record or rolling back changes to a previous version.

In my career, I typically focus on the tools of software development. This book ignored the tools to create and consume web services and focused on the format of the messages passed. It got me thinking at a lower level – about message headers and HTTP verbs – than I am used to thinking.

One hast to get past the fact that Allamaraju does not provide code for generating the requests and responses he describes. He does so in order to keep it technology-neutral and language-neutral. The reader has to apply the concepts to their own development skills in order to implement these recipes.

Restful Web Services Cookbook gave me new insight into the workings of HTTP. It took me out of my comfort zone and taught me a lot.

books | Web
Tuesday, 30 November 2010 10:07:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 29 November 2010
Monday, 29 November 2010 22:49:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Friday, 26 November 2010

At the June 2010 Great Lakes Area .Net User Group meeting, Nino Benvenuti gave an introduction to developing applications for the new Windows Phone 7.

Here is that presentation captured on video.

Friday, 26 November 2010 11:14:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Wednesday, 24 November 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.


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, 24 November 2010 15:46:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)