Sarah in Seattle – Day 1 of MVP Adventures

Greetings from Seattle!  I am not adjusting to the time zone, despite the 3 hours difference.  I was up bright and early at 5am, happy to be reunited with my luggage.  Ah yes, one of those adventurous trips where I’ve beaten my luggage to the destination.  At least it made it to the right hotel!  The Hyatt Regency Bellevue staff have been very accommodating and friendly, which also helps.

Last night, I started exploring the area with my friend James, and then we headed to the MSMVP event at the Microsoft Store in Bellevue Square. 

It was great to see some of my fellow MVPs that I only see a few times a year (but that I harass and tease on Twitter and Facebook much more often).  I ended up hanging out with some of the guys from Philly, New Jersey, and Virginia, in addition to hanging out with one of my closer friends from the Heartland district.  It was also great to finallu meet Marques Lyons, the organizer of the MSMVP events and a Zune MVP that I’ve kept in touch with on Twitter!

MVPs at Earls

I cried a lot yesterday, from laughing so hard!  I love these guys… the things they set me up to say, and the things we set each other up for.  It’s hysterical!

I’m looking forward to the rest of the MVP Summit, where I’ll get to see more of my friends and make new friends as well.  While I like the content (that I cannot talk about), I really enjoy the networking as well.  This is truly a meeting of the minds, and it blows my mind away to be surrounded by such awesomeness.

I still am in awe of the path I’ve been on career-wise, and I have no idea where it’ll lead me.  But I’m definitely looking forward to wherever it’ll take me.  This has been a lot of fun so far, and the official pre-events haven’t even started yet!

Sadukie’s MVP Challenge

As I pack for the Microsoft MVP Summit, I think of all the experiences I had last year.  There’s an experience in general that got me thinking, and I have a challenge for all of the MVPs who are going out to the Summit.

Last year, I was sitting in the hotel lobby with some of my developer friends, and this MVP walks up to us and starts talking with us.  When we went around saying what our expertise was, he was the odd man out being the IT guy in a developer crowd.  His specialty was EBS.  The guy was nice to talk with, but I could tell that some of the others around me didn’t have a clue as to what he was talking about nor were they interested in talking with MVPs other than developer types.

So my challenge this year is this – meet MVPs who are outside of your expertise and even outside of your bigger picture grouping.  So developers – meet the platform MVPs, the IT Pro MVPs, the other MVPs out there who may not be a developer type.  And those who aren’t developer types, know that we developers aren’t always as grumpy as the stereotype puts us and meet us as well.

Take this challenge, learn about something other than your own expertise, and have fun!

You never know when you’ll meet someone outside of your regular circle who could lead you to greater opportunities and more open doors.

Saying Goodbye to .NET Hosting…

Not only did I say goodbye to BlogEngine.NET, but I’ve also decided to cut my ties with DiscountASP.NET.  I don’t need .NET hosting for what I do and now nor do I need DiscountASP.NET, and here’s why:

  • I write blogs about what I do in technology, sometimes about .NET stuff.  When I do write about .NET stuff, I can include screenshots and videos of what I’m doing if I need you to see what I’m talking about.
  • I can also include my solution files or code files if I’m showing code.
  • Hosting files, screenshots, and videos are quite possible with a Linux host.
  • While there may be cheaper webhosts violating their Microsoft Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) by charging ridiculously low prices, I’m also well aware of the nightmare known as Microsoft licensing and wouldn’t fall for those .NET hosts that are super cheap.
  • Linux hosting is much cheaper because there aren’t as many costs involved when it comes to licensing.  Microsoft licensing in general is confusing and can be very costly.  While I can justify the costs for some products, I can’t justify it for hosting.
  • Yes, I know that DiscountASP.NET can be pricey and that they don’t oversell their services.  I also am well aware of webhosts that will oversell their servers (much like how the airline industry oversells their flights).  While it’s a shady practice, it’s not something that isn’t known.  Subscribing with a webhost can be risky.
  • Yes, I also know how to read the fine print in webhosting contracts, and I don’t need a marketing / sales person to tell me that I should read those about webhosts being able to terminate sites that use a lot of bandwidth.  (Besides, if they pulled my logs, they’d see that my site doesn’t come close to their bigger sites.)
  • It seems bold to say that a host that uses third party automation software doesn’t know how their own backend works, but that’s what this marketing / sales guy at DiscountASP.NET told me.  Really, I would think that while they provide this service, they also may have people on staff who do know how the backends work.  They would be foolish otherwise.
  • While they’re a Microsoft Gold Partner, that really doesn’t attract me to a business.  I prefer a business that would not send a guilt trip / “the grass is not greener” email, one that would recognize the issues and realize that yes, there is competition there and sometimes the grass is greener.

Yes, I get what I pay for.  I run the risk that my webhost might oversell my server.  But I’m no longer on a server that costs an arm and a leg due to Microsoft licenses.  I’m on a server hosted by a company that I’ve been with for the past 5 years for all of my other sites.  Their support services, in addition to the existing documentation, has been great.  While others may have experienced issues with these guys, I’ve had nothing but good luck, which is why I keep my sites here and why I’ve moved here.

.NET hosting provided to be too much of a headache and too costly for me.  DiscountASP.NET’s marketing / sales guy also proved why they can be a headache.  Good riddance!

Switching blogging platforms…

My last post got me thinking…

Why am I using such a primitive blogging system?

As much as I like to blog, I don’t like having to troubleshoot my blog software if something goes wrong.  For the past few years, I’ve been using WordPress for my other blogs, and I’ve loved the stability of the PHP-based systems.  And yes, if the PHP systems break, I can still troubleshoot them, as I was playing with PHP back when classic ASP was the thing on the Microsoft web side.  I like that I can upgrade things in WordPress with a matter of a couple clicks, without having to upload modules or touch code.  I’m very lazy when it comes to using software packages that I haven’t written – if they make it brain-dead easy to maintain, that’s a plus in my book.  There were also features of WordPress that I really liked and that were easier to work with, so I knew it was a matter of time before I switched to my favorite blogging platform.

Add to it that I got a 404 when trying to export my BlogEngine.NET blog into BlogML and it showed why I wanted out.  This stuff should just work.

Now, as my major side project for the past 7 months is slowing down, I can spend more time on blogging, playing with code, and working with other side projects.  While I may not be hosted on a blog engine, I still have my .NET development environments set up at home that I can play with.  So don’t think the .NET topics will disappear – those posts will be coming as well.

Credit card fraud SUX

As many of you know, I’ve had issues with these guys in the past.  I had a credit card that got flagged with fraudulent charges a lot – the problem though was that they were flagging normal everyday spending or monthly recurring charges as fraudulent.  That got me angry… something was seriously wrong with their fraud detection algorithm.

However, this morning, I received an email with fraudulent charges that really were fraudulent.  I marked it as suspicious and they put a hold on the account.  I called them, and they verified a couple other fraudulent charges.  They closed the account and are taking care of everything.  Quick and to the point, these guys were very easy to work with and it looks like their fraud detection algorithm finally found real fraud charges.

Having to update my credit card information everywhere hasn’t been too awful.  However, in the process of updating places, I realized that my own webhost did not have a way online for me to remove the credit card information.  For an online company to not have that, it looks bad.  Add to it that I’ve had some struggling thoughts throughout this past year with this particular setup, and it’s got me thinking…

Why do they use such a primitive system?