Category Archives: Events

This category includes posts about upcoming events I am attending, have attended, want to attend, or just want to let others know about.

ADO.NET 2.0 Boot Camp

Sahil Malik, a prolific speaker, Microsoft MVP and author of “Professional ADO.NET 2.0” is holding a one-day ADO.NET boot camp in Charlotte next month.  If you are in the area, I think this class will definitely give you your money’s worth.  Sahil has a very unique way of teaching that is easy to follow and highly effective.  If you are going to be in the area on July 21st, and want to master ADO.NET, I would encourage you to take a look at this great opportunity in the Charlotte, NC.

Tobin.Swallow( Pills.Red );

Doing a google search for “red pill” and microsoft today yielded 55,700 hits. That same search on MSN search yields 14,433. This term, and other variations, are often used on blogs when someone takes a job at Microsoft. I would be naive to think that all of those hits are new employee announcements, but with these sort of numbers, I might have to buy some stock in a red-pill-manufacturing pharmaceutical company. This particular post will increase the count on those searches by 1 and will be counted among the many search hits that ARE about taking a Microsoft job.


Its my pleasure to announce that I will be packing up and moving to the Redmond, WA area to take a position with Microsoft sometime at the beginning of March. The exact date hasn’t been chosen yet but the offer has been made and accepted.


As many of you know, I’ve been running my own business. Things are great. I’m finishing up a contract with IPSwitch in February. I’ve been talking with Mark Dunn about doing some developer training for his company. I have more contracts being offered to me and really, the business is doing fantasitc. So why drop it to go be an employee again? The ideas are too numerous to list but I’ll try to give you the highlights.


First off, my entire career has been built around Microsoft. I started coding on an ATARI-800XL in Microsoft BASIC when I was in 5th grade. I’ve used Microsoft development technologies almost exclusively in my life. To be a part of the worlds largest and most successful software company is a great opportunity.


Second, I have ideas — a LOT of ideas. Anyone that has known me for any length of time knows that I am constantly coming up with ideas only to see someone else implement them months or years later. Being a one-man shop makes it very difficult to see those ideas through. Being at Microsoft, I will be able to have that satisfaction of giving my feedback to a company that can debate these ideas, improve/revamp them, and implement them if I’m lucky enough. I know this will happen because Microsoft Learning has consistently listened to and implemented advice that I’ve given on the developer certification exams.


Third, I LOVE soda.


Fourth, the team I met was fantastic. I have always wanted to work among the best and the brightest. While I don’t really fit that category, I’ll likely be mistaken for being smart just for working there. Its not just the folks working at Microsoft either. A recent census bureau survey showed that Seattle was the most-educated city in the US — with a majority (51.3%) of the population holding bachelor’s degrees!


Fifth, the area is absolutely beautiful and inspiring. In Charlotte, when a developer buys land to build houses, they completely strip the trees on the entire lay of the land, and start plopping down houses. If you get a chance, go check out Virtual Earth and pan around with the “birds eye view“. You’ll see that there are trees everywhere — making it a very attractive area. On top of that, you add boating in the sound, hiking in the mountains, and one of the best downtown areas in the country. There’s a lot to do and see.


Lastly, the benefits are great. Ask any employee what they think about the benifits at Microsoft and they will tell you that they are beyond comparison. I make a great living working for myself, and no company can beat this as a non-partner/full time employee. That said, Microsoft’s total package of compensation w/benefits is pretty competitive to other full time positions.

Overall, I can’t wait to get started. I’m looking forward to diving in torso first. Look out Redmond — here I come!

MVP Award

I just got an email today stating that I was awarded a Microsoft MVP award. This is an honor. In the past, this award was mainly given to the folks who posted a ton of replies to forums and newsgroups (whether the responses were right or wrong). Microsoft has made a shift to try to reward people who do a lot of local work too. I’ve been highly involved with the local code camps, user groups and the like. I’m very excited to receive this award and I look forward to continuing participation in the year ahead.

Tuesday, January 17th – Greenville .NET user group

I’ve been having a blast presenting the latest and greatest Microsoft development tools and technologies to the entire state of South Carolina. In October, I was asked at the last minute to give a presentation on the new features of ASP.NET 2.0 to the Columbia, South Carolina .NET user group. In November, I had the pleasure of presenting Visual Studio 2005 Team System to the Greenville, SC user group. I ended the year doing ASP.NET 2.0 again for the Charleston .NET user group in December. I’ll be continuing this tour by presenting ASP.NET 2.0 to the Greenville .NET user group meeting this month. If you are interested in learning about some of the newest and best features of ASP.NET 2.0, come on out and visit the guild. We’d be glad to have you out.

Visual Studio 2005 Community Launch Tools

This year, I was asked to be the INETA community launch champion for my local user group. Essentially, the job is to present at least two topics related to Visual Studio 2005 and/or SQL Server 2005 and/or BizTalk 2006. I was honored to be picked for this role and have done my best to provide the best possible experience for those who come to listen. This month’s topic is “Managing the Software Development Life Cycle with Visual Studio 2005 Team System”. WOW! Here’s the blurb that the UG’s sent out on this topic:

“Today’s software projects have one consistent trait – they fail. They fail to meet budgets. They fail to meet deadlines. In many instances, they fail to even make it to implementation. In 2000, only a fraction of software projects succeeded. That rate did not get much better in 2004. Industry demands such as more complex business requirements, government regulations, and standardization of components will make success all the more challenging. In this presentation, we’ll explore how you can utilize the new tools found in Visual Studio Team Services to increase your own success track record. This presentation will show how requirements can be gathered early, managed, modified, tracked, and reported on all the way through the software development life cycle. Come see the powerful new tools that are provided for architects, developers, testers, project managers, business analysts, and even project stake holders!”

While its always a good thing to prepare for a meeting, I realized while sitting in my hotel room that there are quite a few tools that I use to give presentations. I thought I might post pictures and informationa bout the tools I use so that others who are just getting started in their presentation careers can get a glimps into their future.

The Laptop

Its an HP Pavilion zd8000 series laptop that has been customized for the best performance I can get out of it. It has 2GB of ram, a 100 GB hard drive, Lightscribe DVD burner, and the like. I love this laptop because it has 4 USB ports (5 if you count the HP usb digital drive port), firewire, built in wireless, bluetooth, 5-1 media reader, built in speakers, and the list goes on. It even has a media remote control (meant for use with Windows Media Center Edition) that works very well for remotely moving forward and backward in powerpoint slides. Its a varitable swiss army knife of laptops and the kicker, of course, is the 17″ widescreen LCD.

notebook

The External Hard Drive

I use a Maxtor 300GB exernal hard drive to keep all of my VPC images on. This serves as both a repository and a backup for my Virtual Server (or Virtual PC) images. Having your VHD image on a hard drive other than your system drive is essential for performance. This drie is particularly useful because I can use either firewire or USB to connect to any system. Using Maxtor’s software, I can also use this device to automatically backup files from any of my systems too — and literaly at the touch of a button!

external hard drive

The Bluetooth Headset

On occassion, depending on the room setup, I can use this Motorola headset in place of a mobile mic. I pair the headset with my laptop and use the mic to output to my speakers at a podium. If I bend the podium mic to the speakers, I have a virtual walking mic. Obviously if a mobile mic is available, I use that instead for better clarity.

bluetooth headset

The Tablet PC

You may be asking why I use both a laptop and this new Gateway Tablet PC. Actually, this makes great sense if you ask me. I can set up the tablet as a sort of teleprompter during my presentations. The tablet can hold my demo scripts and walkthroughs (in case I lose a bolt during the presentation and need to remember where I’m at). Also, I didn’t buy the top of the line tablet. While the 14″ widescreen LCD makes this item look expensive, I only paid $1300 for this one — and that’s standard pricing. It only has 512 MB of ram, but thats all I need for my tablet PC needs — particularly when doing presentations. This tablet has a directional mouse-like input device on the left hand side that allows me to easily scroll up and down in my document without using the stylus.

tablet PC

The Thumbdrive

While I do have wireless connections, bluetooth and infared that can share data, I prefer to use the tumbdrive for quick transport between the laptop and the tablet when neccessary. I also carry a copy of the presentation materials on it in case someone asks me for them. Then its as easy as plugging the thumbdrive into their machine and letting them drag them onto their desktop.

thumbdrive

The Smartphone

I use the smartphone to help keep my timing in presentations. I leave the phone clipped to my belt and set up vibrating reminders to tell me when I should be at a certain point in my presentation. If I’m not there, I can speed things up. If I’m off to the races, I can slow things down and take a few extra questions when needed. I wouldn’t recommend buying one of these if you just want it for these purposes. I just happened to already have this phone so its what I use.

SMT5600

I love my tools. Its taken me a little while to learn what works and what doesn’t. I would imagine what works for one person wont neccessarily work for another. Let me know what you think.

Charleston Code Camp: Saturday September 17th

OK guys and gals. Some pretty big names are rolling into Charleston on Saturday, September 17th to present, free of charge, all those fancy topics we love to yap about so much. This is Charleston’s first code camp. Chris Williams tells me that enrollment is low. What would it take to persuade a few more folks to take a nice weekend trip to a college/beach town, watch some cool technology in a demonstration and go have a few drinks?

Check out the sessions and the speakers. If you don’t find anything you are interested in, come anyway and enjoy the beach with your fellow geeks! Please register quickly!

.NET Code Access Security – The fast version

I spoke at this months GSP Developers Guild meeting as the “short presenter”. We typically have two presentations each month — one is a short presentation and one is a long presentation. I had to cut my Code Camp slides in half, but I managed to only overrun a 30 minute presentation by say, 15 minutes 🙂 Glen Gordon was our “long presenter” today. He gave a great presentation on ASP.NET Mobile Controls. I knew the presentation material, but its always great to see people respond to the technology like they did. Glen is a beast — he gave a 4 hour long presentation at the Greenville MSDN event today too. From 1pm to 5pm today he discussed Web Services, SQL Server 2005 with end point registration, Infopath consumption of the web services and end points, ClickOnce deployment and more. He then took a quick drive over to the guild meeting to give another hour-long talk on mobile web development. It was a geek decathalon!

Thanks for the great day guys. I had a blast giving my presentation again. And I really enjoyed watching your presentations again Glen.

Dinner with the CLR team

Words really cannot describe the events that started a few weeks ago with a private invite to dinner with a few cool guys from the CLR team and ended just a few hours ago with a life changing experience for me. In your lifetime, there have probably been several times in your life where you have evaluated your skills and felt you were at the top of your game. Just the same, there have probably been other times where you just felt completely out of your league. Now, I’ve given a few presentations, written a few books and secured quite a few cool jobs in my lifetime so on my way to Atlanta to meet Brad Abrams, Kit George, Jason Zander, and Claudio Caldato from the CLR team, I was feeling pretty solid in my skill set. These guys, however, made this seasoned consultant feel like an end user.

To be perfectly honest, in context I am an end user. These guys are building the frameworks that I use to make money. By all definitions, I’m the guy that uses their stuff — ergo end-user. Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea, these were some of the most approachable and down-to-earth guys I’ve ever met. They didn’t belittle anyone or make any assumptions. They were truly engaging and were very interested in what feedback we had for them. They wanted to know what we were doing with .NET and how they could make our lives easier. The topics that I participated in ranged from talking with Kit about what’s new with security, to talking to Jason about all things memory management and the future of the CLR.

Now you may ask, “why was this a life changing experience?” I would of course have to answer thus: these guys got me excited about learning again. The brought back the same feeling I had years ago when I first started developing and everything was new and exciting. They reminded me about how much I didn’t know and how cool it could be to know that stuff. Two years ago, I caught myself falling down the “developer burn-out” stage that has happened to more than one developer that I know of in my life. I just couldn’t find it in me any longer to try REALLY hard to do my job. I bullied my way through that era and found myself interested in staying alive in the developer game.

But the group we talked to tonight had me more than just interested — I’m still jumping up and down in my heart. I’m excited again and I don’t think I’ll sleep for a solid month trying to play catch-up. I could have talked for months to these guys and I wouldn’t have blinked. If I can talk about a guy and maintain my heterosexuality, let me just say that I absolutely LOVED Jason Zander. Not that the whole team wasn’t brilliant, but this guy has been with Microsoft for 13 years. He’s been working with Microsoft since Windows 3.x and remembers compiling from OS2! As such, this guys has a wealth of knowledge that I couldn’t possibly pick up even if I didn’t have to make a living doing the grunt work.

I’m again looking at these words and finding myself , for once, unable to express even the slightest bit how in awe I am that these people know this much…

… just when you think you understand where the absolute top of the food chain is and think that maybe.. just maybe you could one day stand next to them and converse at their level, they start talking about the guys that “really know what they are talking about” that didn’t come to the dinner!!!

I just so happened to have had an old crappy 1megapixel camera in my truck glove box so I ran out and took the best pictures I could with the equipment I had. I had intended to drive all the way home tonight, get some sleep and blog about the dinner tomorrow. However, I’m so excited that I rented a room in a hotel in Greenville, ran to wal-mart to buy a new wi-fi card (since the motel I’m at has free wireless internet) and also a compact flash card reader. Please forgive the crappy photos, but I dumped them into a gallery for everyone’s amusement. Luckily, I was taking the pictures so I was out of most of them. 🙂

Guys thanks a million for showing up. Thanks a million for answering our questions. Thank you SO much for giving me a new bar to aim for. Thank you, thank you for bringing me back to life.

Charlotte Code Camp

I just got a moment to settle down and write a quick bit about the Charlotte Code Camp. It was a great experience despite the fact that I really only got to watch two presentations. Bill had a pretty cool presentation on speech server. Todd Fine (a Microsoft Regional Director) had a pretty cool presentation on Avalon. I have to say that every time I see this stuff I get very excited about the future of programming.

My presentation went over pretty well. I was hoping to have a larger crowd, but what do you expect when you are giving your presentation at the same time as Maxim Karpov , Doug Turnure, and Bill Ryan ? However, I was very surprised to see several evaluation forms with my code access security presentation picked as their favorite topic. Ibll be posting the presentation slides and source code on my blog here in a few days.

While Ibm thinking about it, if anyone is going to be in the Greenville, SC area on May 17th, we really need a GREAT turnout to the Microsoft MSDN event or we wonbt have Microsoft coming to town again. We need a turnout of 100 and we currently have just over 50 registered. We need about 130 registered to meet our goal and we only have a little over two weeks to do it! Please spread the word, we need attendance!

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