Cleveland GiveCamp 2011 – Sadukie’s Tales, Part 2 – Meet Sadukie, the Project Manager

Cleveland GiveCamp starts tomorrow afternoon, and I’m excited that it’s finally here.  This year, I am working as a business analyst/project manager for two different charities.  I’ve talked about ASL Advocates; however, I’ve also taken on another one, so that we can help multiple non-profits.

My Other Non-Profit

My other non-profit this year is the American Indian Education Center.  We’re going to create a website that’s easier for them to maintain.  This group’s goals include spreading the work about Native Americans, American Indians.    I hope we can get them a site that they can keep updated.

My Role as a Project Manager

I was happy that Mark and his committee figured I’d be a great fit for the project manager role.  I’ve led many development projects in my past, and I’ve enjoyed being the project manager and the one who focuses on getting a great user experience for the client.  It’s great when you have a developer who can fit this role and deal with end users directly, acting as a go-between between the non-profit contacts and the devs.  I like to encourage the devs to meet the contacts and talk with them – I’m all about open lines of communication.

Tonight, I made notecards of the various features that each group wants on their site.  Each group has special specifications – certain colors have certain meanings, certain audiences require extra attention to accessibility.  I just hope that I get teams who understand the benefits of notecards and using them as a method of tracking tasks and getting things done.  After all, our goal this weekend is to complete some decent-sized development projects for selected non-profits.

Look forward to some upcoming posts on how the event is progressing and what’s going on at Cleveland GiveCamp 2011.  I will be blogging about it here at

Got any GiveCamp tales you want to share?  Leave a comment here!

The Browser Whisperer

Cesar Milan has a way with dogs; he is known as The Dog Whisperer.  He manages to get even the most misunderstood dog to not be as bad as its owner makes it to be.

I thought about Cesar while having a discussion with a fellow web developer recently.  This developer and I have been collaborating for the past couple months, and we’ve realized that I have slightly more tolerance for this operating system feature known as Internet Explorer.  He was complaining about how he was struggling with IE and its woes, and I made the offhand remark of: I think of jQuery as “the browser whisperer”.

Yes, jQuery has made my life a ton easier and has let me rekindle a relationship that I had originally sworn off.  My love/hate relationship with Javascript is more love than hate.  The fact that I can take advantage of my love of patterns and use it in Javascript makes jQuery that much more favorable.  But the part, for me, is its browser compatibility.

I’m glad that there’s a Javascript framework out there that makes it a more favorable option.  I really like that it supports the 5 major browsers, including the one that seems to choose its own standards that rarely coincide with the rest.  That’s one of the not-so-fun things in web development – browser and platform compatibility.  But jQuery really makes it easier.  Now I write jQuery code rather than a bunch of ifs for each browser and its Javascript idiosyncrasies.

jQuery… the browser whisperer.  What do you think?

Cleveland GiveCamp 2011 – Sadukie’s Tales, Part 1

This year, I’ve been asked to use my business analyst/project management skills for a group.  I asked for this group in particular because once I saw them, I knew it’d be a non-profit that I believe in.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working with ASL Advocates – a group that promotes American Sign Language and wants to bridge the gap between the hearing and deaf communities.  As I work for them and with the Cleveland GiveCamp team, I will be posting here about our experiences on their project.  But today, I wanted to share my view as to why I believe in them.

Learning ASL While Young

When I was  in Girl Scouts as a kid, I remember seeing a section in our book on American Sign Language.  It intrigued me to see that you could “talk” through these hand signs.  I made it a point to learn the ASL alphabet so that I could at least spell my way through a situation should it ever come up.

Shortly after that realization, I learned a few words from someone close to me – my little cousin Maureen.  She was three years younger than me, and she had Down’s Syndrome.  Moey taught me how to sign a few words, including my favorite… cookie!  I wouldn’t realize just how cool it was to learn from Moey until a few years later, when we lost Moey.  While she may be gone, her memories still live on.

Continuing to Learn ASL

When I was in high school, I spent a summer as a volunteer camp counselor at Augustine Rainbow Camp.  I heard about the camp through a diocesan committee that I served on while in high school.  It was great to work with the campers, other counselors, and other staff on board.  Some of us had most of our hearing, others were deaf.  However, we learned from each other that summer. I learned how to say hello and how to introduce myself.  I also learned to slow down a little when speaking and stay patient while trying to communicate with each other.  It was definitely a great learning experience.

Fingerspelling in Action

As an adult, I’ve used my fingerspelling abilities a couple times.  One year, I met a friend’s friend (who is now a friend) – and he’s deaf.  When I first met him, it was my nature to just jump into fingerspelling. I eventually got past that.

Another time, I was waiting in line at a Marc’s retail store.  I noticed two gentlemen sign with each other as one was entering and the other was leaving.  Later, while waiting to check out, the one who entered got into our line.  Our cashier had to step away for change for the cash register.  The gentleman had a look of frustration on his face, as there were longer lines and this one seemed held up without a reason.  As soon as I spelled out c-h-a-n-g-e, he nodded and the frustration disappeared.  It was an unexpected skill that made someone else’s day easier.

A Non-Profit I Believe In

These experiences are part of why I believe in getting ASL advocacy out there.  I look forward to working with ASL Advocates in getting them a solution that works for them!

This is just one of the many non-profits that we’ll be helping at Cleveland GiveCamp on July 29 – 31.  Have you signed up yet?  If you haven’t, check out their Volunteer page and then sign up!

Pittsburgh GiveCamp Needs Volunteers!

This weekend, I was supposed to be going to the Pittsburgh, PA area to help them with their first-ever GiveCamp. Unfortunately, I have to stay back due to health issues, but while I can’t be there, I want to be able to get them the help they need.  One of their organizers sent this today:

Come and be a part of something
special this weekend

A small group of software developers and web site designers will be
spending this weekend helping 7 local non-profit groups to build web sites,
system integrations, and solve other technical issues. It will be a marathon
event for sure but on Sunday afternoon we will go live with all of the projects
from Pittsburgh’s first GiveCamp.

Even with all of the support there are still some technology gaps that need to
be filled and we can really use your help in these areas.

– PHP experience

– Web Design (HTML, CSS, Photoshop)

– Experience with any CMS including Drupal, DotNetNuke, Joomla, Orchard, etc.

– WordPress themes

Even if you can’t volunteer for the entire weekend, please consider
volunteering a few hours on Friday or Saturday and add your experience to one
of our projects. In just a few hours you can help make a difference to these
groups and in turn they will spend the rest of the year making a difference to
thousands of others right here in Pittsburgh.

The event is being held at the DDI offices in Bridgeville. You can find the
location and sign-up form on our web site.


If you’re able to help them, please volunteer to help them!  The Pittsburgh community, from what I met in April, are a great group – yes, they seemed to like me even though I root for their rival NFL team!

What do MVPs do?

Yesterday, I got the news that I’ve been renewed as a Microsoft MVP in Visual C#! Thanks to those who’ve thought I’ve contributed to the C# community and developer community in one way or another and are giving me another year of showing what it takes to be a Microsoft MVP!

I was asked by fellow Clevelander Steven Testa the following question:

.@sadukie any tips on becoming an MVP in the first place? Local dev communities are looking like the best way to start.less than a minute ago via Twitter for Windows Phone Favorite Retweet Reply

Getting Nominated

Our Microsoft Most Valuable Professional program has a page on becoming an MVP. As they say on the site:

Potential MVPs are nominated by other technical community members, current and former MVPs, and Microsoft personnel who have noted their leadership and their willingness and ability to help others make the most of their Microsoft technology.

While getting involved in the community is one thing, it also helps if you’re active enough in the community and recognized by those who are already MVPs or Microsofties who can recommend you. The more noticed you are, the more people can recommend you to the program, the more your name gets out there, and the more likely you may get evaluated.

MVP Activities

MVPs are some of the most active people in their communities – running user groups, organizing events, speaking at user groups, blogging, writing training programs, writing books, host podcasts, answering questions in forums…. doing what they can to spread the word on Microsoft technologies and products. Here are just a few examples of what my fellow MVPs are doing:

  • Zune MVP Marques Lyons runs these MVP Meet-and-Greet events called MSMVP. It’s a great way to meet the MVPs in their communities and for the MVPs to meet their fellow MVPs. Marques held one of these at the Microsoft Store in Bellevue, WA earlier this year at the time of our MVP Summit, and it was a great way to meet other MVPs and experience a Microsoft Store.
  • Visual Studio ALM MVP Steve Andrews is one of the MVPs behind GeekGive, community projects at community events – where MVPs take time to help with community projects, be it food pantry or Habitat for Humanity or other adventures.
  • Other events where MVPs are involved – be it in planning, running, staffing, or even speaking – include DevTeach, VS Live, MIX, CodeMash, devLink, StirTrek, MADExpo, Kalamazoo X, GiveCamp, and Day of .NET.

Learning More from the MVPs

Each MVP has a different story on how they became an MVP. Ask them how they go there, and they may give you better insight as to how to get there. You’ll find many of us love talking about how we got here and how we can help you get on the right path to becoming an MVP if you’re interested in going that route. You can find MVPs through the MVP Search Site. Your local Microsoft evangelists may also be able to help you if you’re looking to talk with an MVP, as many evangelists are close to their communities and know who to go to. You can find your local evangelists via this Microsoft site.

Want to hear more?

If you want to hear more from me and are in the Cleveland area, drop me an email at sarah at codinggeekette dot com. I enjoy meeting up with people over coffee and talking about how to get involved in the community more and how to put your passion for technology to work in the community!