Evangelists… who?

If any of you follow Amanda Laucher (pandamonial on Twitter), you may have seen her comment about meeting someone who didn’t know about their MS evangelists. I have to admit – I had no idea of these people called evangelists until just this last December.

Living Under a Rock

When you work for a small company that really doesn’t use new technologies nor hears about it, you never realize that you’re outside the realm of influence. The only reason why I knew about C# was because my buddy G and I were talking about how we’d never need to know it as long as we were at that company. I remember the discussion clearly, and to this day, G’s still there and not using much in the way of .NET (other than probably maintaining my small VB.NET app). Meanwhile, I moved on to a smaller company, bigger technical staff, and am using C# and having fun learning new technologies. There we were, the developers (yep, just the 2 of us) for a manufacturing company of 600+ people, not knowing of all the resources available to us.

Developer Evangelist?

I imagine that if my buddy Russ hadn’t mentioned the .NET SIG, I wouldn’t have thought to look to see what else is out there. Even so, going to the SIG meetings apparently wasn’t enough, as I had been going to the meetings since May 2007, shortly after I started my current job, but still had no idea that there were these people called evangelists. I wouldn’t hear about them until December 2007, when this guy Jeff Blankenburg came to the Bennett Adelson SIG and showed us some cool stuff from Microsoft (like Popfly). He mentioned that he is a developer evangelist for the region. At that point, I had to wonder what it was they did. After prodding Russ for more details, I learned that there was some other guy who would come along rarely but apparently not much else happened here in Cleveland. Still, there wasn’t much that I could find out from Russ on what a developer evangelist did.

So, some of us lived under rocks or were just out of the realm of influence with the evangelists. (SIGs too far, no evangelists geared for the industry, etc.) If you know people who are left out, mention this post to them, as the Microsoft evangelists (at least those here in the Heartland District) are just an awesome team to meet!

So what do evangelists do?

Before I get into the “who”, you need to know what they do.

Just as the title suggests, they evangelize! Seriously, though, they’re developers, architects, and other tech-minded individuals who get to hear about the cool stuff ahead of time and make sure that we know about it. Tools and technologies, they’re seeing just what the industry has in store, where things are going, and they tell us about it. Through presentations at user groups and events, blog entries, podcasts, videos, forums, and just being themselves and talking about the things they’re passionate about, the evangelists get the word out.

Who are our evangelists?

Ohio is in the Heartland District, which happens to have quite active evangelists in the area. Since I’m a dev, I’m going to mention the developer evangelists first – Jeff Blankenburg and Jennifer Marsman. If you’re a dev and reading my blog, you ought to read their blogs as well! Jeff’s blog may be slow at the moment, as he’s out until the end of May, but definitely stay tuned to his blog when he returns, as you never know what he’ll blog about – from something about Silverlight to the after-party of a .NET event or a contest for swag at Codemash, his blog covers all sorts of things, some .NET related and some just regular blog entries. Jennifer just started her blog at the beginning of April and has returned to our region after a few months on leave. Something that Jennifer’s doing in her blog is featuring women in technology on her Friday entries. Definitely check out her blog as well!

Then there are the architect evangelists. We used to have Josh Holmes as an architect evangelist for the Heartland District, but he recently was promoted to Central RIA evangelist. Josh is one of the guys from Code to Live, and although he has a bigger region now, he still comes around to the Heartland area events. Our new architect evangelist is Brian H. Prince. I can’t comment on the architect coverage, as I’m not an architect, but I definitely recommend checking out Brian’s blog even if you aren’t an architect. He talks of cool technologies like LiveMesh, robots, and even these things known as “soft skills”.

There are other evangelists in the area, but I’ve met the 4 that I mentioned, and I can definitely tell you that these guys (and Jennifer!) are passionate about technology and getting the word out to the community. Sometimes, I think part of their job is to promote the “unity” in “community”.

Don’t know who your evangelists are? Want to know who the others are in the Heartland area? Meet your local Microsoft Evangelists!

I’ve sent this info on to my buddy G, so that he’s no longer just another dev out of the realm of influence. But there are other devs out there who don’t know about these great contacts. So pass this word on and get the word out there, so that they know that there are awesome resources out there for us in the field.

And a shout out to the PA evangelists, especially John McClelland, for getting the word out to their PA followers on Cleveland Day of .NET! Thanks for spreading the word! 🙂

Upcoming Dev Events and Days of .NET…

There are many events that are coming up, and I catch random mentions of these on Twitter and from talking with some other people. This weekend, it’s Indy Code Camp. On May 10th, there’s the West Michigan Day of .NET. On May 17th, it’s Cleveland’s Day of .NET. At the beginning of June, there’s the developer track of Tech Ed. On June 21st, there’s Lansing’s Day of .NET. On August 22-23rd, devLink is happening down in Tennessee. There are probably more events out there that I haven’t found yet, but yeah, it looks like a busy summer for developers, if they really want it that way.

Since I’m on the planning committee for it and pretty much tied to it, I will be at the Cleveland Day of .NET. In fact, I will be speaking on IronPython. Since Darrell Hawley had to back out, I will be the only IronPython speaker there, and I’m switching from a 300 level presentation with Merlin (as my previous ad showed) to a 200 level presentation. If I have any Monty Python fans reading this, come check out my presentation! Here’s the abstract for it:


Intro to the IronPython Flying Circus
A 200 level presentation by Sarah Dutkiewicz

Come see taunts with an outrageous French accent, knights who say Ni,
Vikings who like Spam, and lumberjacks who like to press wildflowers as we
explore some basics behind IronPython, the .NET implementation of the
Python programming language.

If you want to see it but cannot be at the Cleveland Day of .NET, drop me an email at sarah at codinggeekette dot com and I’ll get the screencast to you for it.

I was hoping to go to Lansing’s Day of .NET, as I have friends up there that I could stay with and visit with. Unfortunately, I’m supposed to be at a wedding that day for a longtime friend of ours, so I’ll be missing out on the Day of .NET up there.

As for devLink, I would love to check it out, as I see some of my Tweeps excited about it. However, end of August is really bad for me, as that’s when we get together for our family’s August birthdays, which are all at the end of the month. Although I don’t talk about it much, I do have a HAF that I have to maintain, which means I can’t plan on attending an event then.

I hope to see more Days of .NET this year, as it would be nice to see my speaker friends give their talks and if all goes well in Cleveland, maybe I’ll apply to speak at others as well.

I’m also looking forward to the end of October, for OOPSLA 2008. Having participated in their CodeFest many years back, I’m looking forward to going this year to participate in DesignFest. I’ve been in touch with the DesignFest committee lead to find out more. It’s a little intimidating for me, since I’ll be traveling solo in a state I’ve never been in to a conference where I’ll know no one else. But I’m looking forward to seeing how DesignFest plays out. Last time I was at OOPSLA, I had the privilege to meet the Gang of Four, so I’m curious to see who’ll be there this year.

So yeah, there are quite a few events coming up for devs…

A year ago today…

For those of you who have my AIM screen name, now you can understand the numbers after my main handle. As you all know, today is 4/23. One year ago today, I joined this company as a full-time developer. I wasn’t going to be doing technical support, desktop support, database administration, or system administration. It was a much needed jump from a stagnant position of keeping things running to a position where I make things happen and if I can throw in some creativity along the way, even better.

A year ago today, I started using C#. I jumped from a VBA/VB6/VB.NET background right into C#. As much as I hated languages with curly braces, I knew that I had to deal with the fact that things were leaning more that direction than VB.NET. It was the way I had to go, and I had to accept the language – curly braces and all.

My first C# program involved getting data set up from individual web pages into a file that I could import into SQL. When I was evaluating my project, I saw a pattern in the files, so I knew that regular expressions had to come into play. Leave it to me to avoid simple “Hello World” programs and just jump into a language head first. Then again, learning new languages like that is part of my comfort zone. Pseudocode doesn’t change; it’s the syntax that differs.

This first year back into full-time development went by quickly. When I realized the date this morning, I could hardly believe that it’s been a year already. So much has transpired over the year…

  • For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you probably have it down that most Mondays and Fridays involve lunch with my programmers crew. Two guys here have been doing lunch together like that for the past few years. When I came on board, it was those two guys plus the programming intern. I remember walking to my car for lunch and they invited me to go with them. I figured it’d give me a chance to meet these guys and see what things were about, and I’m glad I took that opportunity to join them. As our team has grown and changed, we’ve added more people to our lunch crew, and it’s nice to just chat about whatever – from the projects we’re working on to what’s going on in our lives outside of work. We met each other’s spouses at the company holiday party, and every few months, we’re trying to plan an event to get our families together and just hang out. It’s nice to be a part of a group that gets along so well inside and outside of work. Although we don’t tend to have projects together, we still bounce technical questions off of each other when we need help. We’re a solid team, which makes me even more excited about being a part of it.
  • My main project here forced me to learn a lot of new skills and concepts, on top of a language change. It was a little rough for me to adjust to a slower turnaround time on projects, but there were a lot of contributing factors there. Having a project without a functional spec and being focused on the entire project rather than maintaining a focus on the small scope that was initially proposed caused my project to grow to what it is today. Granted, it’s allowed me to automate a lot more, but at the same time, what may have taken a few months after the learning curve took a lot longer than expected. I’ve finally grown comfortable enough with the language that I’m falling back into my efficient mode, where results are seen in a much quicker turnaround time. Working without deadlines also had me nervous, as I didn’t know what the company expected from me. I’ve learned a lesson with working without deadlines – even if they don’t set them, make sure to prod them for details anyhow. There’s always a deadline; sometimes, it’s unspoken and then they get unhappy when it’s unmet even if you didn’t know about it. Some things were said that really struck a nerve with me, but I quickly realized that it was a horrible situation of miscommunication and lack of communication. Now, I prod more, and they’re getting better about saying “We want to see this by end of business on this date.”
  • Working on the public-facing side of things has forced another thought process to enter my software development thought processes. I now have to be even more aware of foiling SQL injection attacks, trapping errors, and developing for a wider audience. Although I can get away with a lot in my internal apps, there are some corners that can’t be cut and some tricks that can’t be applied on the public site. I’m gaining a greater respect for my tools and a greater hate for browsers when it comes to implementing these supposed “standards”.
  • Thanks to my buddy Russ (one of the guys of the programmers crew), I’m more involved in the developer community. He mentioned the Bennett Adelson SIG (one of two .NET SIGs in the Cleveland area) and invited me to check it out. I started going to those in May 2007, and I’ve met a lot of people and made new friends along the way. Going to the SIG meetings has led me to help form the Cleveland Day of .NET planning committee, which has led me to going to the Greater Cleveland PC Users Group C#/VB.NET SIG (the other .NET SIG in the Cleveland area). There are so many opportunities and adventures that lie ahead, and if Russ hadn’t mentioned the SIG to me, I wouldn’t have met the incredible people who’ve helped me to get where I am today.

Now that I’ve hit my 1 year mark, I probably should do some introspection, as Brian H. Prince suggested in his “Soft Skillz” talk this weekend. Where do I want to be career-wise in 1 year? 3 years? 5 years? Typically, I try to stick with just looking a year or two ahead, but after hearing his talk, it does make sense to look a bit further.

So much has happened over the past year here, and I look forward to seeing where things will lead.

Central Ohio Day of .NET Recap

If I could remember Brian H. Prince‘s name for it, that’d be in the title instead of “Central Ohio Day of .NET, as it sounded cooler 😉

On the Location

Anyhow, this weekend I was at Central Ohio Day of .NET down in Wilmington. For those of you not familiar with Ohio, Wilmington is between the three hosting groups’ cities – Dayton, Cincinnati, and Columbus. The location was easy to get to, right off the highway. I drove down Saturday morning from my brother’s apartment in Columbus, and it was a straight shot down I-71. Easy highway access, easy to spot from the highway, and not bad of a ride from those hosting it – great location, for the most part. Trying to find pizza late at night in the middle of the nowhere, well that’s a different story.

Just Arriving…

After the long ride down, I pulled into the lot and noticed two guys getting out of their cars in front of me. I reached to the passenger seat and pulled out the infamous picture and looked up and at the pic and at the guy and at the pic. Sure enough, I got there at the same time as my buddy Michael Eaton and Dan Hounshell. I called my buddy Mike Slade from the Cleveland group, since I knew from Twitter that he was already down there, and I found out where to go. After checking in, Mike and I walked around and checked out the area and eventually sat at a table. That’s when I took the infamous pic out and went up to Mike Eaton and introduced myself. (Yes, once again, @sadukie pulled the pic on @mjeaton. This time, in real life!)

Eventually, Joe Fiorini made it in and joined Mike at our table. As we were chatting about our presentations for Cleveland and the speaker submissions, we would make note of who walked by and what they were presenting on. Joe made sure to introduce himself to the speakers so that they’d know he was our speaker coordinator here in Cleveland. The badges were a bit tough to read as people walked by, but you knew who was a speaker by the “Speaker” at the bottom of the badge. You could barely read a first name, but the last name was like trying to read legal fine print whenever someone would walk by. You almost had to hope that you’d seen a picture of them online to recognize a person.

Speaking of recognizing people by picture, I finally met the infamous Corey Haines. As he walked towards our table, I picked him out easily. It’s funny though that it took a trip down south to finally meet – he lives up here in the Cleveland area! This was the first time he was not on the Absent list for a Cleveland committee meeting, although it wasn’t technically an official meeting.

Shortly after meeting up with Corey, our group broke up and went to the sessions.

Morning Sessions

The first session I went to was Michael Eaton’s presentation on Castle ActiveRecord and cutting down on writing CRUD. I really enjoyed his presentation, and I’m saying that from the attendee perspective. I do a lot of database work in my day job, and I could easily see Castle ActiveRecord being used by us. Mike had a great example of an expense program written in the n-Tier style – including a business logic layer and a data access layer. Then, with the magic of Castle ActiveRecord, those layers disappeared. I think he did a great job of using the projects as examples, as they really showed ActiveRecord’s abilities well. At the after after party, I talked with Mike about a few things to change, but overall, this was a great presentation!

The second session I went to was Jay Wren‘s presentation on Boo and DSL. I had never heard of Boo, so I was curious to see what it was about. I also had heard little about domain-specific languages, so I wanted to see what I could learn in his presentation. It was interesting to see silly things like “duck typing” (which I understood because we have it in IronPython) and “IQuackFoo”.* Having people like Josh Holmes and Joe O’Brien in the audience made the presentation even more interesting, as they had more knowledge on the topic and could add in comments and questions along the way.

The third session I went to was on F#, co-presented by Amanda Laucher and James Bender. Since their presentation was close to lunch, they did what they could to keep it short but still show us all the neat things that the functional language F# has to offer – including not only shrinking the code but also allowing the fewer lines to show up on a slide in a bigger font 😉 Although there was a lot of Twittering in this session, it still was very interesting and well-presented.

Lunch

For lunch, they had boxed lunches of turkey or Italian sandwiches, potato salad, a pickle, a cookie, and a can of pop (yeah, we were still in Ohio, so we can still call it pop). I only ate half of my sandwich, but that was because I had other things on my mind at that point. However, the conversation at the table was great!

I sat at a table with Brian H. Prince, Mike Slade, Dave Smith (I hope I got that right), Jeff McWherter, Corey Haines, Dan Hounshell, and Mike Eaton. (I hope I didn’t leave anyone off.)

Afternoon Sessions

I was set on seeing Darrell Hawley‘s presentation on IronPython right after lunch. Originally, I was planning just to spy on the presentation and make note of what not to cover for my talk in Cleveland. But after introducing myself to him after the presentation and talking with him a little, I learned that I’d be the only one for IronPython. So I will be changing my presentation ideas and working on one similar to his for Cleveland Day of .NET. He covered the good and bad of IronPython, and it was neat to see IronPython working inside a Visual Studio environment, as I’ve been struggling with it for awhile. However, seeing him work in that environment also made me appreciate working in the ipy console, as the Intellisense was being extremely non-Intelli.

After IronPython, I needed a break. I was feeling overwhelmed from meeting all these new people and hearing all these cool things on various technologies. I figured an hour break should give me enough time to settle down and find my groove. As I walked out of IronPython, I ran into Mike Eaton and Dan Hounshell again. They were headed out to Open Spaces on “Beyond Bullet Points”, with the intention of closing it down when no one showed up so that they could see another presentation. I figured it’d be a good time to wind down – a short BS session and then a real break while they went to the other presentation. But instead, the open space happened with an amazing group of people – mostly speakers but a couple of attendees as well. Instead of sticking to just BBP, we also talked of Presentation Zen and general questions on presentations and presenters as well. I will be writing another blog post on this, so more on this probably tomorrow.

The last session of the day, I went to hear Brian H. Prince’s talk on “Soft Skillz”. Now he had a swag guy in his talk – a guy who handed out swag to participants during the talk. When I heard Brian say his name, a bell rang in my head. His swag guy was Jon Kruger, who happened to be a classmate of mine (either Dr. Ledgard’s or Dr. Dorf’s data structures classes) at the University of Toledo when I was in the Computer Science and Engineering department (my first two years). I got the chance to talk with him after the session, so I’m glad that I can stop wondering if that was him.

Brian’s presentation was very entertaining to be in. He talked of some valuable points – from having mentors to illegal topics in the workplace to problem solving. He encouraged audience participation, and he managed to keep us engaged. However, he also likes to talk (and they told me he was quiet?!?) and went a little over on his presentation. I wish he had more time, as the slides he rushed through at the end looked like they had some great stories behind them.

The After Party

After the sessions and end of the day giveaways, many people ended up at the Max & Erma’s at the conference center. It was a great chance for us to wind down and chat with everyone. I really enjoyed meeting up with some of my friends, and I’m glad we had other people join our table. Yes, the Cleveland crew is quite a sociable group 🙂

At dinner, we had MichaelDotNet Michael Letterle, Mike Eaton, Mike Slade, Joe Fiorini, Corey Haines, and myself. Eventually, we added John Boker (don’t know if I spelled that right) and Leon Gersing to the table. It was an excellent time to just wind down and relax a little before the after after party. (Thanks to Jim Holmes for the appetizers!)

The After After Party : Poker .NET (Newbies Encouraged to Try)

Jeff Blankenburg hosted a poker tournament that evening. It was a great chance to socialize and relax and just have fun. For not having played Texas Hold’Em since the big blackout, I was glad that I could eventually follow it. Special thanks goes out to Matt Casto, James Bender, Dave Redding, and Mike Eaton for being patient and showing a rusty player like me the ropes. I ended up being the 3rd person to leave my table (out of 8) and it was awesome. To the guys who were going all in pre-flop to leave the game, that didn’t seem to work well at our table. More often than not, that person would win or those people would split the pot, depending on the case. There were definitely a lot of laughs (something about changing Dave’s chips so he had all the pink chips was quite amusing), and I’m glad I had the chance to go 🙂 Jeff definitely knows how to put on a great after-event event!

Final Thoughts

Special thanks to all those who made the event happen. It takes a lot of hard work and great team work to pull something like this off, and it’s definitely been a great experience!

I met a lot of people this weekend, some who I haven’t mentioned or linked to yet. This is definitely a great community to be a part of, and I’m glad I’ve had the chance to not only go to the Day of .NET but to also meet an amazing and talented group of people. Many of us had chatted before on Twitter, and it was nice to finally meet them in person. I’m still very excited about this past weekend, and I know that when I go to lunch tomorrow with my programmers crew, they probably will be telling me to slow down, breathe, eat, and then tell them more. It has been an exciting and memorable weekend, and now I must do all I can so that Cleveland’s Day of .NET is just as awesome!


* Being from a family that used a duck in a company logo, I find great humor in the duck terms.

The truth is out there…

or maybe my Twitter stalkers friends are up to no good in perpetuating all those VBA rumors about me.

So in case you haven’t heard, I’ve apparently been commissioned to write a book — VBA 2008.

Thanks to Corey Haines for the link!

Note: In case you haven’t figured it out, this is just a rumor. I better not hear from O’Reilly that they want such a silly idea for a book. 😉

The Impact of Cleveland Day of .NET So Far

Although the event is just under a month away, Cleveland Day of .NET has already made a huge impact on me. Being on the planning committee has forced me to step out of my comfort zone and make moves that are typically difficult for me to make.

Officially, I’m in charge of swag and other stuff like it – the badges, programs, T-shirts, etc. Unofficially, I think I’ve been involved in all sides of the planning – speakers, sponsors, some website involvement, and a little venue discussion. To participate in an event as an attendee is one thing; to be a presenter is another. However, to be on the planning committee and to make it grow from an idea to an event is a huge thing.

I remember a few months back when we were tossing the idea around that we needed an event here in Cleveland. There were three of us at first, and now there are seven of us who are on the committee to make this event happen. I’m working with an awesome group of guys – some of the most talented, enthusiastic people I’ve worked with in awhile. We have had a lot of support along the way from those who’ve been in our shoes, and we definitely couldn’t get this far without their guidance.

Tomorrow, I will be down in Wilmington, checking out the Central Ohio Day of .NET. I’m looking forward to hearing various talks, meeting some of the speakers, and meeting my Twitter friends (my Tweeps)! I’m also looking forward to seeing those that I’ve already met (Cleveland Tweeps, except the elusive Corey). I’ll be making a lot of notes on the day so that we know what to do or what not to do at the Cleveland event.

I’ve been asked to live blog from down there, since a friend of mine missed out on registration (despite me reminding him of it consistently for the past few months). If I’m not caught up in socializing too much, I might actually sneak in a blog post or two. Otherwise, I’ll post a recap of the event on Sunday.

Being on the planning committee has forced my inner leader out. It’s forced me to be more talkative, more outgoing, and more social. If I see something that could benefit us, I have to take the initiative to make it happen. Stepping out of my shy shell has been tough, but honestly, I’m glad that it’s happening. These Days of .NET are definitely taking me to where I need to be, and I look forward to seeing how this weekend and how the Cleveland Day of .NET will further impact me.

Technicalities…

Sometimes, the problem with our application isn’t in our code; the environment it lives in has to be taken into consideration as well.

With my projects pushing and exceeding my current skillset, I’m constantly learning new things. I’ve spent all morning reading error logs, as I’ve inadvertently caused sleepless nights for my system admins. Thanks to a quick fix in web.config and an IIS restart, those guys should get their sleep back.

So what happened? I was developing for an unfamiliar playing field. I’ve always developed on a single server environment, and my test areas are set up the same way. My end product, however, is hosted on a clustered environment with network load balancing (NLB). Having never dealt with clusters from a developer’s perspective, my train of thought treated the site like a single server deployment.

Now I understand how clusters work and just how NLB comes into play. Too much information for a dev? Not in my book. If you’re developing an application, you need to understand your environment so that you can develop with the appropriate precautions and methods. Had I understood my environment, I would have also known to check the <machineKeys> and made sure that they matched, so that my WebResource.axd files wouldn’t have had issues in the first place.

My sys admins were happy to have a quick turnaround time from me. Having done server administration as part of my last job, I understand the frustrations of pages in the middle of the night for errors that can’t really be worked out at that time. I’m just glad that they finally brought it up with me, as I don’t have access to the logs to watch them on my own.

That’s twice in the same week where my IT background has been helpful, and it’s only Tuesday! Yesterday, I managed to shed some light on a problem with NTLM Authentication and fully qualified domain names (FQDNs). When another of my applications went live, we noticed that my Windows Authentication code didn’t behave as expected. Our sys admins were aware of the issue, as they had run into it but hadn’t figured out what was going on. Since there wasn’t anything different in the IIS configuration across the servers, I had to do some investigating on my own. (I wrote that feature so that users wouldn’t have to type in their credentials, and I’m a lazy end-user who loved that feature in my test environments, so you can bet that I want my feature working on the live side.) Long story short, (1) Firefox just needs the hosts added to a key in about:config, (2) FQDNs throw Windows Authentication for a loop because of a period in the host name, and (3) Internet Explorer doesn’t like the periods in the hostname and sees anything with a period in the host name as general Internet traffic instead of Local intranet, until you specify that it belongs in Local intranet. Once again, my technical tendencies really helped me out.

I never really suspected that my IT background would come into play, but yet, I’m finding it helping when I least expect it.

Why You Should Be a Sponsor for Cleveland Day of .NET

After talking to someone earlier tonight about being a sponsor for our Cleveland Day of .NET, I realized that some of you may not understand just how excited I am about this and just why I’ve decided to try to help where I can with the planning. As quiet as I tend to be, when the mood strikes, you get the excited part of me as well.

As we’re planning the event, I realize just how passionate our group is about programming, .NET-related topics, and being involved in the developer community in general. We talk about this event wherever we go, to anyone who will listen to us. Tonight, I actually spoke up about it at the SQL SIG. I didn’t stay in the corner with one of my committee teammates to announce it; I actually walked to the front of the room and talked briefly about it. I mention it here, and I mention it a lot when I’m dealing with my programmers lunch crew. Sometimes, I wonder if I mention it too much, but then I realize that the more I talk about it, the more people hear about it, and the more they hear about it, the more they need to register at our site and come out for an awesome and exciting day!

We’re looking for sponsors for our event. Now why am I posting it here? I know that my readers work for interesting companies and may even have more contacts in the Cleveland area. I know that you can point other people to read this blog and others can see that there is hope for Cleveland. And the more people read this, the more chance of getting sponsors that we may not even know about.

So why would any company want to be a sponsor at a Day of .NET to begin with?

Days of .NET attract talented .NET programmers from the local region, as well as neighboring regions. The events are free to the attendees, as sponsors help cover the costs for the venue and everything else that it takes to make a successful event happen. By being a sponsor for the event, you’re getting your name out to the developer community. You’re letting us know that you’re out there as a resource or that you even care about us enough to contribute to our event. It gives you a chance to get your company’s name and reputation out there, and it also gives you a chance to see just who’s out in the programming community, who you are supporting by providing valuable products and services, and who you want working for you. We know there are plenty of companies out there who value their developers, but we don’t know specifically who all is out there – so tell us about yourselves! Get your name out there and be an exhibitor/vendor at the Cleveland Day of .NET.

So how can you become a sponsor?

If you have any swag that you want us to giveaway at the Cleveland Day of .NET, contact me and we can work out those details. From books to XBox games to even an XBox (ok, I might be pushing my luck here but it doesn’t hurt to throw it out there anyhow), giveaways are a good way to get the point across that you’re committed to us. Even if you don’t have swag but still want to help, check out what we have in the way of sponsorship levels in our sponsorship prospectus. If you have any questions, contact us and we will be more than happy to work with you!

How long do you have to decide whether you want to make that top donation and get your logo on our T-Shirts?

May 1st is our cut-off date for sponsorships, so get your top-level sponsorship in now! Your logo will be displayed on a T-Shirt that each attendee will get at the event on May 17th.

Why should your company support the Cleveland Day of .NET?

Obvious answer… Cleveland rocks! Should there be any other reason? 🙂

If you want to hear more from the excited camp on this, feel free to email me and I’ll answer any questions to the best of my abilities.

If you’re a developer, please pass this blog entry on to your employer if you think they can help us out. Then go to our website and register to attend! Come out on May 17th and join in on the excitement, as we’ve got speakers on a variety of topics already wanting to come to Cleveland and share their passion with us. We definitely want to know more and reach as many people as we can!

The Quest for the Phone

As I become more active in the community, I’m realizing that it’s time to get a new phone. Right now, I have a Samsung Sync, which has worked mostly well for as long as I’ve had it. But I’m making more contacts in the community and finding myself wishing I had more access to <insert synchronizable feature here> while I’m mobile.

So now I’m on the quest for the right phone. Just what am I looking for in a phone? First off, it needs international capabilities. When I went to London a few years back, I was able to take my phone with me and not have to change anything out for it to work. Over the next couple years, I am planning on at least two more international trips to meet family. Basically, the phone needs to be available to AT&T/Cingular and quad-band GSM.

Other things I’m looking for in a phone include: bluetooth (so that I can dial out from my laptop when needed), ability to read my email, synchronize contacts, excellent battery life, and if it happens to support other applications then even better. Physical size is an issue as well – I don’t like really wide phones or really long phones. I also can’t handle small phones. Its proportions just have to have the right fit for me.

During my Florida trip in February, I checked out the Blackberry Curve. My husband has had Blackberries for work, and having dealt with them in the past (handling all the company phones in my previous position), I’ve watched them evolve over time. I really was impressed with the Curve and its features. Its size was just right, and the keyboard presented none of the auto-complete headaches that some of the past Blackberries had.

Since I hope to have the phone for a substantial amount of time, I haven’t jumped into getting the Blackberry Curve. I have some specs available at my fingertips, especially now that we’ve expanded the device resource center at work. Specs are okay, but I’m more interested in people’s experiences with their phones and what they recommend. So, I’m tossing this out to my technologically-inclined readers – what do you have? What do you like and not like about your phone? Any recommendations?

I hope to make this upgrade soon; it’s been something that’s crossed my mind a lot more lately and after catching some things from what the guys were saying last night at the Lizard after the BA .NET SIG, there are definitely plenty of options to consider.

Leave me a comment, drop me an IM, show me your phone over ooVoo, send me a message on Twitter, or email me at sarah [at] codinggeekette [dot] com.

Excitement on Going Live…

Tomorrow’s my big day, one that I am looking forward to. The projects that I’ve taken on are finally going live. My big project is an internal application, and I’ve already put it to use and reaped the benefits from it. To know just what impact it will have on things here and to experience it firsthand, it’s a glorious thing. My public project will also come out, and my responsibilities will be stepped up a bit because of that.

The last time I did public-facing web development (other than personal sites) was when I was quite new to programming. A teacher saw that I could write content; a classmate saw the programmer in me and convinced me to abandon PageMill and clean up the pages with simple HTML. Looking back at how I did it then and to know that my
classmate from then (now my husband) is still behind me 100%, I’m really psyched about tomorrow.

I’ve had some crazy things to tackle on the way. For example, being out of web development so long, my skills were fairly rusty. I had done a little VB.NET web app in my last job, but it’s nothing as elaborate as my most recent program. I’ve switched languages (now using C#), expanded my toolbox (AJAX), and started considering overhauling just how I code a project. In working with it more, I’ve gained a better respect for JavaScript. Don’t get me wrong – I still wish it would go away, but that’s the joys of having a love/hate relationship with it.

The biggest things I’m looking forward to are the improvements on the public-facing side. We’re adding graphics to our resource center, so that people will be able to say “Oh, that’s what that device looks like.” I grew partial to this section of the website early on, as there’s a lot of user experience to consider, and that’s what I love doing the most – focusing on just how my work will impact the users.

When I get into the public design, the main thing on my mind is “What can I do to get this information to my end user with the tools I use now?” (The question in the back of my mind though is “What technologies can I work with to make this even better than what I’m working on now?”) When the project manager for that section approached me with what he was looking to see, I was extremely excited. I knew that I would be able to pull it off with all sorts of bells and whistles. Being resourceful, I found the way for my Safari users to get the same experience that the other users will get. My non-JavaScript users will still be able to access the data and get a similar experience. My mobile users will have a similar experience, with images hidden but still accessible.

I’m just getting started with our website. Soon enough, the whole site will be in .NET. There’s another section where data will be more accessible once we release the .NET version of it. Again, I took on the design and thought of my mobile users and non-JavaScript users. Needless to say, I’m extremely excited about the changes in store.

There’s just one part of the user experience that I have a lot to work at – as my own websites show, I’m not a designer. I make things work, but I can’t make things pretty. At work, I have an awesome designer that I work with. Having been the first time working with a designer, I’m lucky that I can incorporate his ideas into my layout without any problems. So I don’t have to worry about the “look” of the “look and feel” part as much at work. But that’s one thing I want to get better with on my own. Something tells me that I ought to be looking into Silverlight and Expression. It also looks like I’ll need to pay attention to some of my Silverlight and user experience bloggers – like To Code or not To Code and JUXtapose.