Ann Arbor Day of .NET Registration Now Open!

Mark your calendars! Registration has now opened for Ann Arbor Day of .NET.

When: October 18th, 8am-5pm
Where: Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, MI (Same place as the GiveCamp, for those who were there in July)
What: A fun day of learning about various technologies and skills that are applicable to us as developers and networking with a talented community

If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend a Day of .NET event, make time to check this out. It’s an event put on for the community, by the community. It’s a great time to meet your friends from Twitter, hear topics on some of the latest and greatest technology (perhaps including things like Silverlight, WPF, and SQL 2008), and learn more about the .NET community known as the district that never sleeps.

So… register for Ann Arbor Day of .NET! Hope to see you there!

Intro to New Data Types in SQL 2008

Last night, I gave my “Introduction to the New Data Types in SQL 2008” presentation to the Ohio North SQL SIG. Since my audience was primarily DBAs, my presentation did not show any C# code working with the database.

Some of the things I covered included:

  • New datetime types: date, time, datetime2, datetimeoffset
  • hierarchyid
  • Spatial types: geography and geometry

I covered the basics of many of hierarchyid’s methods. The only examples I didn’t go into were IsDescendant() and GetReparented(). I hope to get more in depth with trees in another blog post.

As I mentioned at the meeting, there’s enough out there for geography and geometry to for them to take up their own meeting slot. If you want to look into the geospatial data types, I recommend reading Jason Follas’ series on spatial data.

All the files from my presentation – my slides, my database, and my scripts – are available to be downloaded here.

Raising my Agility Stats… Agile Summer Camp 2008

I got at least a +1 to my agility stats this weekend, while I attended Agile Summer Camp. When I heard about the camp, I was a little nervous, as I have no Agile background. My current development process is very chaotic, unfortunately. I would love to get it to a point where there’s at least some structure and a more defined process.

What makes Agile Summer Camp stand out from the other “camp”s like CodeCamps is that we really were camping.

Frontier Cabin

Agile Summer Camp was held at the rustic cabins in Brighton, MI, specifically at Frontier Cabin. We brought our chairs out and officially started the event Saturday morning with an opening circle.

Agile Summer Camp Opening Circle

As Michael mentioned, I kept a dead-tree blog while there, and I will eventually transcribe that. Let’s say that the weekend started with a crank radio that had a flashback weekend and Michael and Brandon decided that “It’s Raining Men” should be my theme song for the weekend. Other than that, I got caught up in the discussions more often than not that my dead-tree blog didn’t get as much writing as I had hoped.

This weekend, I learned quite a bit about the Agile process and how it works. Martin Shoemaker did a wonderful job of taking notes from the topics that we talked about at camp. I’m glad that Duane suggested the Agile 101 topic, as it really helped shine some light on what agile development is about. Josh read a bit of the Agile Manifesto, which explained what the process values more. Corey talked about Extreme Programming and some of the concepts that it uses – including pair programming, test-driven development (TDD), daily stand-ups, and continuous integration. We had Lee from ProQuest, and she wanted to know more about the process as well, and Corey recommended bringing in an Agile coach.

In talking about a one-man agile team, it was interesting to see the things that Mike Eaton faces as an independent consultant. When you work alone, you don’t have the option of pair programming. There were talks of what they could do as individual programmers to possibly engage in pair programming.

All of the discussions were logged, and Martin updated the “weekee” with the notes. I now feel like I have a better understanding of the agile way, and I definitely want to look into it a bit more to see how I can use it at least on my personal projects, if not at work.

In our break Saturday afternoon, Duane and I introduced Matt Werstler and Mike Eaton to geocaching. We did a lot of bushwhacking (walking through vegetation), and we ended up finding the trail that might have made it a bit easier. We had some problems getting the GPSes to lock on coordinates, but I had made mention that since we were in the woods, we probably were looking for an ammo can, as that’s the container that’s commonly used in caches in wooded areas. Mike found the cache, and we signed the log and left behind some goodies from James.

Thanks to Chris Woodruff, Josh Holmes, and Mike Eaton for getting this event together! It was a great meeting of the minds. Whether it be new dessert recipes over the campfire from Gayle (rockin’ S’mores and these S’more tortilla things) or a better understanding of Agile, there definitely was something for everyone to get out of it. If you missed it this year, check out the photos from this year and keep an eye out for an Agile Camp next year!

devLink 2008 Rocked!

As I listen to the .NET Rocks! recorded at devLink, I realized that I haven’t recapped my experience. So here we go…

Over August 21-24th, I was down in Tennessee, networking with many developers while attending devLink. This was definitely an interesting experience.

I joined a lot of my Twitter friends on the devLink bus ride down, leaving late Wednesday night. It was great to be running with them again – I love hanging out with them. Unfortunately, the bus we took was meant more for short day trips rather than the long trip from (in my case) Toledo to Nashville. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not get much sleep.

Now if I ever have to run around sleep-deprived, this is the group that I’d prefer to be with. We tend to keep each other going. Since my Thursday was pretty well packed, I knew I had to run around with little chance of sleep. Thursday afternoon, I spent some time with some of the most influential devs in the region and had a great time networking with them. I’m definitely looking forward to the ideas that some of us tossed around, and I’m looking forward to working with these guys on various upcoming events.

Thursday evening, I attended the devLink VIP dinner. I had completed a survey on their site and won a spot from a drawing. It was neat to see so many people there. After the dinner, I floated between the poker gathering thrown by Jeff Blankenburg and the gathering in the hotel bar. My pictures from both of those gatherings can be seen in my devLink pics on Flickr.

Friday, I was still tired, but I wasn’t going to let my unbalanced sleep state throw me off completely. After surviving the keynote, I decided to head to the opening circle of open spaces. On my way there, I saw Sirena Benefield – an ITT tech student that Brian Prince brought to the community – at the Microsoft booth. I was able to get her to come with me to the opening circle. Alan Stevens was the open spaces facilitator, and I think he did a great job of getting things rolling. Various topics came out – including community building, how comments are evil, Microsoft and open source, agile practices, Ruby, and even one on suggestions for a university and their computer program.

devLink Open Spaces sign

After the open spaces opening circle, it was lunch time. We had boxed lunches, and I sat with part of the tribe in the open spaces room. That’s where I met Mac Fowler, one of the Michigan devLink bus riders. It was nice to enjoy lunch with this group – we get the most random topics whenever we’re out.

Friday afternoon, I went to the one session that I wanted to catch that day – Jeff’s presentation on Silverlight and some of the cool things that can be done. He covered the 2008 Olympics website, Line Rider, and his own information site.

After that, I took a session off to scope out the conference as a whole. I ended up getting pictures like this one of an open spaces session:

Open spaces

For the last session on Friday, I checked out the open spaces on community. It was great to talk community with this group, as many of them are involved in one form or another. The only thing I didn’t like about this open space was that it was at the end of the day. I could see this going further if I hadn’t gestured over to Mike Wood that we had to start wrapping it up (since many of us still had to meet the bus shortly after that).

Friday night, there was an attendee party at the hotel. They had Rock Band and Guitar Hero in the game room:

Game room at attendee party

They also had karaoke going on in another room. Snacks included wings, sandwiches, and some other things. There were supposed to be contests going on, but I didn’t stay for the whole thing. I ended up running around with a bunch of friends for awhile and then hung out in the lobby chatting for quite a bit afterwards.

I was torn about what I wanted to do on Saturday – the open spaces topics were tempting, but there were a couple talks that I wanted to catch as well. After talking with Jeff McWherter (he who got me my “VBA ALL THE WAY” shirt), I skipped his talk and went to Sara Ford‘s open space on Microsoft and open source. Having been exposed to open source and the image of the Evil Empire while in my linux days, I was curious to see how this open space would go. It definitely was interesting to see how people got into open source and why some do not. There’s definitely a change in Microsoft in who they are now and where they are with open source than what it was in the late 90s, and it’s good to see them going the way they are.

In the second slot, I could have seen Brian’s Soft Skillz talk again – this time with cake! It was his birthday, so he celebrated with cake in his presentation. (No, the cake wasn’t a lie.) However, I went to the other presentation that Brian was supposed to give at the same time – the presentation that he and Jeff Blankenburg did for the launch event. Now I had heard about this presentation plenty of times before, but the launches in my area conflicted with some of my go-live dates, so I missed it. I’m glad I caught this presentation – I learned a bit more with Visual Studio 2008. For example, did you know that if you had the Intellisense dropdown up but needed to see behind it, you could press the Ctrl key and the Intellisense dropdown would go transparent? It was nice to see the Apply Styles dialog, which shows just how the CSS class would look. Of course, the sexiness known as AJAX happened to get mentioned as well – who thought a cleaning agent would be labeled sexy? 😉

We had another day of boxed lunches, and after lunch, I ended up checking out James Bender‘s intro to WCF presentation. I work a little with web services, but I’d love to learn more about WCF, since that’s the way web services are going. What I loved about this presentation is that James uses a simple example that everyone can relate to. He explains concepts using people in the audience as an example. This was a presentation where I actually didn’t get lost and feel over my head in (as I usually end up feeling with WCF talks).

There must have been something with the 2:30pm sessions, as once again I took time off to take pictures of the conference and to call home and sing “Happy Birthday” to my mom. After that, I caught some of the closing circle of open spaces.

The last session of the conference was our closing keynote with Joe Stagner from Microsoft. After his talk, the devLink team did giveaways – and two of the bigger prizes were won by fellow devLink bus mates.

After the conference wrapped up, we headed back to the hotel to eat and then load the bus and head home. The bus ride home was okay – I managed to get some sleep (after hitting the point of being desperate for sleep) and was awoken by Mike Eaton on the ride home, who let me know that the bus blew a tire. We were about an hour away from Cincinnati and ended up having to wait 4 hours before we could get back on the road again. If ever I had to get stuck on the road with a group, I’d hope it’d be this group. We continued our random discussions and waited while they replaced the tire. The only other headache about getting home was our ride from Columbus to Toledo by way of Cleveland/Sandusky. Either we had the case of a lame GPS or the driver just wasn’t paying attention… either way, we got back to Toledo-ish a bit later than usual.

Overall, I am glad I had the opportunity to go on this trip. I went with the goal to meet new people and maybe learn new things. I managed to do both, and now I have even more people that I can talk with. I’m definitely looking forward to devLink 2009!