Andrew's Blog

Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

SuperChristmas 2009 in Newcastle

October 23, 2009 03:26 by Andrew Westgarth

SuperMondays, in partnership with Thursday Fizz, Girl Geeks, VBUG and Refresh Teesside are proud to announce:


SuperChristmas is the Christmas party that brings our organisations together to round off an excellent year and to set the scene for 2010. The party will start at 7:00pm on Thursday 17th December 2009 at Hoults Yard.

Tickets are on sale for £10 You can buy them here...

The ticket price includes a hog roast, ceilidh dancing, and as much free beer/wine/soft drinks as the budget will allow...all served in a farm house theme decked out with bales of hay!

Everybody is welcome, so please do invite your friends ... there will be no presentations on the night so leave your laptops, notebooks and netbooks at home!

Looking forward to seeing you there!


VBUG Newcastle – W2008R2 and Windows 7 - Links

July 8, 2009 14:45 by Andrew Westgarth

Thanks to Richard Fennell for stepping into the breach this evening and covering the content for us so well.  As soon as I have a link for the slides from the event, I’ll publish it here on this post.

In the meantime here is the link for you to be able to get a key for the Windows 7 Release Candidates you may have picked up at the event -

Keep an eye on this blog and Jon Noble’s for more information on forthcoming events for September onwards – enjoy the summer!!

UPDATE! – Here’s a a link to download a pdf of last night’s slides -

WebDD ‘09 – Saturday 18th April 2009 – Registration Open!!!

March 30, 2009 01:47 by Andrew Westgarth

Yes folks, WebDD is on Saturday 18th April 2009 and REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN for this great community event, it’s free to attend and held at Microsoft’s UK Campus in Reading – register now -

I’ll be delivering a session on the Web Deployment Tool and there is a great line up of speakers and sessions –

There are limited places so don’t miss out – register now!!!

VBUG Newcastle: PowerShell 0-60 in One Evening – Tuesday 24th March 2009

March 19, 2009 05:09 by Andrew Westgarth

Damn, just noticed this has been sat in my blog drafts folder :( Hope this catches people in time.

The next VBUG Newcastle meeting will be held at Newcastle University on Tuesday 24th March 19:00-21:00 (18:45 registration) and will be delivered by Jonathan Noble who will be doing a session on PowerShell:

Windows PowerShell has been around since 2006, but now that version 2 will ship on the desktop in Windows 7, as well as being in Microsoft's Common Engineering Criteria and several 3rd party products, PowerShell is becoming increasingly compelling. While it is based on the .Net framework, you don't have to be a .Net Developer to use it; PowerShell is relevant to the GUI-based sys admin, the scripter and fully-fledged developers too. This session will go from dipping a first toe in the water, to productive use of PowerShell, via a collection of free tools and resources that will help you get up to speed quickly.

Jonathan joined Newcastle University's Computing Service in the summer of 1999, just in nice time for an early migration from NT4 to Windows 2000. One of his early challenges was to deal with the provisioning of user accounts in the new Active Directory, which led to a lot of work with scripting and eventually a fully-fledged identity management system running on SQL Server, with an ASP.Net interface. Being a scripter in the world of Windows hasn't always been easy, with everything exposing different interfaces, be they COM, WMI or something altogether more wild and wacky, which is why he immediately fell in love with PowerShell - a single language he could use to manage AD, Exchange, IIS, SQL and even VMWare! Jonathan has recently presented on PowerShell to the UK powerShell User Group and When he's not PowerShelling, Jonathan enjoys watching NBA Basketball with his Son and Twittering (@JoNoble).
Venue: Room 118, Claremont Tower, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 7RU, GB
Start Time: 18:30
Price: FREE
More Info: Further Information and Register for the Event

To register (it’s FREE!!!) go to

24 Hours of Firsts

February 28, 2009 20:45 by Andrew Westgarth
The 24 hours I'm currently writing this post in are all about firsts. First I've just got back from my first ever live gig, and first ever experience of Metallica live! I've been to the Sheffield Arena for the latest leg of Metallica's Death Magnetic tour, it was f***ing AWESOME!!!! Can't wait to do it again! Note to self - why has it taken 28 years for this to happen???? WTF!!

Secondly I'm currently sitting in the departure lounge at Newcastle Airport waiting for my flight to Amsterdam and then onto Seattle for my first MVP Summit! Looking forward to catching up with old friends and making new ones in what looks to be a packed week ahead!!

Alt.Net ‘In the North’ Conference – Registration opens at Noon!

February 24, 2009 01:47 by Andrew Westgarth

Last week Richard Fennell sent through details about an Alt.Net Open Space Conference he has helped organise in Bradford on 17th/18th April 2009.

The event will be hosted by Black Marble at their office in Bradford, West Yorkshire, and there will be space for 50 attendees. The format will be the same as previous UK conferences.

  • A planning session on Friday the 17th April from 7pm to 8:30pm, followed by a trip to a bar to socialise
  • The open spaces sessions from 9am to 4:30pm on Saturday 18th April.

Registration opens at noon today so if this is something you are interested in find out more at

VBUG NEWCASTLE : REARRANGED Parallel Programming in .Net (VS2010) with Eric Nelson Now 24th February

February 8, 2009 12:52 by Andrew Westgarth

I’m pleased to announce that we have rearranged Eric Nelson’s session on Parallel Programming in .Net (VS2010), which was unfortunately cancelled due to the poor weather, and the event will now be held on TUESDAY 24th FEBRUARY at the same venue.  Please register for the event, even if you had register for the previous date, at I look forward to seeing you there!

VBUG Newcastle Future Roadmap Ideas

January 29, 2009 02:22 by Andrew Westgarth

Over the course of the next four to six months, I have decided to change the regularity/format of the meetings for the usergroup in the North East.  I had been speaking with a fellow Twitterer, Jonathan Noble, about desires for usergroups in the North East.  It was mentioned that there are few very IT Pro events occurring in the North East of England, barring the occasional visits by the TechNet Team.

Therefore in order to help with my planning and provision of events, with Jon’s help, I’ve decided to look at putting on bimonthly developer themed events and alternate month’s running.  In February we are pleased to welcome Eric Nelson, from Microsoft UK’s Developer and Platform Evangelism team, who will be covering Parallel Programming in .Net using Visual Studio 2010.  We hope to announce our March Event in the coming weeks.

Longer term, dependant on popularity we may change the format of these events, possibly two, 1 hour sessions on and IT Pro and Developer topic, or even two two hour sessions run concurrently.  This will depend on the popularity of the events and the feedback we receive. We look forward to seeing many old friends and meeting lots of new friends over the coming years.

VBUG Newcastle: Parallel Programming in .Net (VS2010) with Eric Nelson – 3rd February 2009

January 29, 2009 02:22 by Andrew Westgarth

VBUG Newcastle kicks off 2009 on Tuesday 3rd February with Eric Nelson, Microsoft Developer and Platform Evangelist, visiting to cover Parallel Programming in .Net using Visual Studio 2010.

Session Overview:

The next version of the .NET Framework will come with new classes that start to remove the difficulties in building multi-threaded applications that are able to take advantage of the modern multi-core processor architectures and the future many-core architectures that are coming over the next few years. In this session, we will look at why we will all need to start thinking about parallelism and drill into what is available in the current previews for managed code development.

Eric Nelson:

ericcaricatureAfter many years of developing on UNIX/RDBMS (and being able to get  mortgages) Eric joined Microsoft in 1996 as a Technical Evangelist (and stopped being able to get mortgages due to his new 'unusual job title' in the words of his bank manager). He has spent most of his time working with ISVs to help them architect solutions which make use of the latest Microsoft technologies - from the beta of ASP 1.0 through to ASP.NET, from MTS to WCF/WF and from the beta of SQL Server 6.5 through to SQL Server 2008. Along the way he has met lots of smart and fun developers - and been completely stumped by many of their questions! In July 2008 he switched role from an Application Architect to a Developer Evangelist in the Developer and Platform Group. Currently Eric’s interests include digging into LINQ to Entities, ADO.NET Data Services and switching from C# to Visual Basic development. At home, he battles rat infestations, comes second to the family dog and uses any spare moments he has after 10pm to team up and play online with and against friends - keep an eye out for 'erknel' and say 'hi'.

Location: Room 118, Claremont Tower, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 7RU, GB – Map -

Price: FREE

To Register -

I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new friends at our first meeting of the year!

Categories: VBUG | Events | Microsoft
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VBUG Newcastle: Introducing OpenXML with Craig Murphy – Wednesday 29th October 2008

October 14, 2008 14:36 by Andrew Westgarth

I’m very pleased to be able to welcome Craig Murphy to VBUG Newcastle on Wednesday 29th October to give us his introduction to OpenXML.  Craig has this to say about the topic:

With the release of Office 2007, Microsoft moved their document formats over to XML-based formats. This text-based format has many advantages, including, but not limited to readability, good compression and ease of reconstruction.

However, as developers [responsible for report creation], OpenXML has significant benefits for us. We now have a consistent object model across all Office applications. More importantly, we no longer have to understand the intricacies of the Component Object Model (COM) in order to create an Excel spreadsheet (for example) from our applications. This in itself should be reason enough to consider looking at OpenXML!

Looking at costs, OpenXML can bring savings. Server-side creation of Word, Excel, etc. documents can be performed without an Office license being purchased - these files are little more than text-based files. Similarly, if you are using a brand-name reporting engine, the cost of its license could be saved by using Excel or Word as your reporting medium.

Over the course of 60-75 minutes Craig will introduce OpenXML and will demonstrate how he is incorporating it into one of his line-of-business applications. Code examples will be written using C#.

For more information and to register for this free event please visit the event page on


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