Andrew's Blog

Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

INETA Europe - European Silverlight Challenge Competition!!

December 4, 2007 01:00 by Andrew Westgarth

Hot on the heels of Scott's announcement on the future roadmap for Silverlight.   The UK Community are pleased to announce INETA Europe's First Silverlight Challenge Competition.  The details of which are as follows:


INETA Europe, is running an European Silverlight Competition.  The competition is open now and runs until January 2th 2008.

How to enter?  Easy.  Create a .Net Component or Application using Silverlight and release it through an Open Source license (MS-PL) so INETA User Groups, Communities, Developers and Designers can use it on their own sites.

Each participating country will select a winner and then an European Silverlight Challenge winner will be drawn among the winners of the participating countries.

Entries will be awarded marks in the following four areas: Originality, Software Technique, Design and Utilisation.

Take part and take on the challenge and you could win amazing prizes with a market value close  to €150,000

For more information on the UK Competition go to and for more information on the whole competition go to

For banners and other images go to:

Prize details -

SharePoint User Group and VBUG North East Meeting - December 10th 2007!

November 27, 2007 05:08 by Andrew Westgarth

After the very successful first meeting in Newcastle back in September, I've been working with Nick Swan from the SharePoint User Group to put on another meeting.  This time we have two great speakers and SharePoint MVP's, Penny Coventry and Steve Smith delivering two great sessions:

  • Penny will be covering SharePoint Designer for All - Penny Coventry During this session, you'll see how SharePoint Designer can be used to customise SharePoint Team Sites, advanced data manipulation using the DataView Web Part, consume RSS feeds and how to complete administrative tasks, such as moving documents, including their metadata and limiting what users can do with SharePoint Designer
  • Steve will be covering ForeFront Security for SharePoint - Steve Smith Find out how to use Microsoft’s security product lo lock down your SharePoint environment including Anti Virus , Keyword Checking and Content Filtering

The meeting is being held at the BT offices, Unit 7, Room 3, Innovation Place, Delta Bank, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, NE11 9DJ - for a map go to

To register for the event please go to the VBUG website - VBUG and SUGUK: Newcastle - SharePoint Designer for All and Forefront Security

If you are a SharePoint Administrator, Developer or just want to find out more about MOSS, please come along all are welcome.

SQL Bits 2 - A Change of Location Too!

November 27, 2007 05:01 by Andrew Westgarth

SQL Bits Logo After the very successful SQL Bits event held in October in Reading, the organisers have another event planned for Saturday 1st March 2008 in Birmingham!  The change of venue is great and will enable many more who find the location of Microsoft in Reading prohibitive.  This event will be a full on day of SQL topics so if that is of interest to you subscribe to the RSS Feed and keep an eye on for more information.

Developer Day Scotland!! - Saturday May 10th 2008

November 27, 2007 04:57 by Andrew Westgarth

Developer Day Scotland Logo Developer Day Scotland has been announced for Saturday May 10th 2008.  This is the first event to be arranged based on the DDD format, but in another part of the UK.  DDS will be held in Glasgow on Saturday May 10th 2008 and will again be a free event with two tracks with a capacity of 120 attendees.  Speaker session submission is now open and the organisers are also looking for sponsors too.  Anyone who is the North East and West of England if you haven't been to DDD in Reading I recommend you put the date in your diary and keep and eye on the DDS website as this is shaping up to being a great event and well worth attending - .  I personally am planning on proposing a couple of sessions for selection and will also be hoping to attend even if not speaking so see you there.  Support this great event!

Back From DDD6

November 27, 2007 04:50 by Andrew Westgarth

On Saturday I attended DDD6 down at Microsoft's UK Campus in Reading.  This was another great event and a great opportunity to catch up with people and make new contacts.  I attended a full complement of sessions and found the day relaxed and useful.  The great thing about events such as DDD is that the agenda is selected by the community, the sessions are proposed by the community and the days are organised by the community.  Also because of the breadth of topics being covered I was able to cover topics which I wouldn't always be able to. 

I started off my day with a session from Dave Sussman on the forthcoming Dynamic Data Controls for ASP.Net.  Dave is a great speaker and is also very honest in his opinions, perfectly accompanied with Phil's opinions too and this gave the session a real life feel and led the audience to make their own minds up on the real use of the tools.  Essentially the people in the room were the first to see this build of the controls, they provide a good way of creating a quick admin site for a database but beyond that as Dave and Phil said, it is unclear where they would be used.

I saw Gary Short present on his Favourite Patterns next, this is a session which I have been looking forward to seeing and I'm hoping to sort out a date for Gary to come and present at VBUG in Newcastle in the New Year.  I enjoyed this session because patterns and practices is an area which I think a lot of developers, myself included, are looking to gain more knowledge and focus in, due to the pressures of time at work this is often where events like DDD can help with delivering content on this type of topic.  I enjoyed the session and look forward to learning more as I get further into the path which Gary has started.

Ben Lamb's session - Being Lazy with PowerShell was interesting and gave a quick roundup of PowerShell and why Developers should care about it.  The power of CmdLets and the control over the shell which PowerShell gives is great and I will be looking to cover a little more of PowerShell as I look at how it can be used with IIS7.

The penultimate session I attended was organised by Colin Mackay and was a Question Time type panel on the subject of Recruitment.  The panel consisted of Sarah Blow, founder of Girl Geek Dinners and Software Engineer, Barry Dorrans, Senior Consultant and Microsoft MVP, Frank Kerrigan, Development Team Lead and Karl Lightfoot, a recruitment consultant.  Colin had a series of questions submitted but also questions were taken from the floor in this hour long session.  This was a session which I had been looking forward to as this is a topic discussed within the Community at length.  Questions covered issues such as balancing evangelism and work; how to get started in the industry; what sort of positions to look for?; Why whiteboards are used in interviews?; Technical Testing methods.  This was great session and interesting to hear the issues from the four perspectives on the panel.  I'm sure this session could have occupied a lot more time.

Finally I attended Barry's session on Web Services? We don't need no web server.  This was a great session, despite Barry's live coding and time issues, and the way in which Barry handled the problems are a lesson to all presenters.  The content quality was as usual high and gave a good grounding on WCF and benefits over Remoting.  It is very difficult to find a good session on WCF as it can be a very dry topic, however this cleared up a lot of confusion and initial quandaries over WCF and I'm looking forward to having more of a look at WCF - especially with PAS on IIS7 - soon.

Overall another great day and well worth the drive down from the North East.

VBUG Conference featured on NxtGenUG Podcast 43 - The One With Bruce....

November 4, 2007 14:44 by Andrew Westgarth

The latest podcast, Number 43 -, from Dave McMahon and Richard Costall, from NxtGenUG, features interviews from the VBUG Conference.  Dave interviewed Keynote Speaker, Ken Spencer and they discuss the Microsoft Regional Director Program and the keynote and sessions which Ken presented at the conference.  Dave catches up with delegates Mark Whitelock and Martin Sarosi from Engica, he talks to Rob Macdonald about the conference agenda and Dave chats with Tim Leung and I about our first conference as Vice Chair and Chair respectively, and our thoughts on the conference and VBUG.  This podcast along with their other productions are well worth listening and subscribing too.  Tim and I turned the tables on Dave after our interview and the results of that will be found on the forthcoming inaugural VBUG Podcast coming very soon...  watch this space!

CANCELLED: VBUG Newcastle: Developing on the Windows Live Platform with Martin Parry - 1st November 2007

October 30, 2007 04:53 by Andrew Westgarth

Unfortunately, this Thursday's VBUG Meeting in Newcastle - Developing on the Windows Live Platform with Martin Parry - has had to be cancelled due to Martin no longer being able to make the trip for personal reasons.  We hope to reschedule this event for another evening soon. 

In the meantime if you are looking for a topic to be covered in the North East soon, I am looking at planning the next six months of VBUG meetings and would welcome any topic requests/suggestions.  Please contact me via VBUG or via the contact page on my blog.

Categories: Events | VBUG
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VBUG: Daniel Moth Comes to Coventry on Thursday 1st November

October 29, 2007 14:04 by Andrew Westgarth

danielmoth On Thursday 1st November Daniel Moth will be in Coventry covering Visual Studio 2008 for Web Developers so if you are in or based in or around Coventry why not go along on Thursday and listen to Daniel, who is an excellent speaker and this session is well worth attending.  Registration is free and the details are:

Topic: VBUG: Visual Studio 2008 for the web developer” with Daniel Moth

Visual Studio 2008 (formerly code named “Orcas”) brings with it a host of features for the web developer. In this session, we demonstrate the benefits you can get out of the Visual Studio toolset when working on your existing ASP.NET 2.0 projects as well as for new ASP.NET 3.5 projects. There are many improvements in the IDE so we’ll need to focus on JavaScript Intellisense and debugging improvements, the new designer, CSS enhancements and a few more.

Location: Coventry City Council's Corporate Training Centre, Mill Lane, Coventry. CV1 2LQ

Price: FREE

For more information and to book online go to:

DDD6 - Registration Full in a Day!!

October 25, 2007 06:37 by Andrew Westgarth

I've just been alerted by Gary Short, to the fact that DDD6 Registration is full already!  Wow, full in one day!!  There is a waiting list in operation now, so keep registering - you may still get a chance to get to DDD6.  Important! - If you have registered but find that you can't attend please let Microsoft Events know so they can allocate your place to someone on the waiting list.  This just proves how popular the DDD events are!

Recruiting in IT - Recruited, or Recruiting - Had Many Problems?

October 24, 2007 15:14 by Andrew Westgarth

In the past year I have been involved in a number of conversations with fellow UK Developer Community Members about the subject of Recruiting in IT and primarily the problem of getting the right people in to fill positions in our organisations.  Colin Mackay has proposed a session for the forthcoming DDD6 and this has been voted on to the agenda.  Colin now needs your help with questions for the panel.  The details of the session, have been sent to me by Colin for more details read below.

A panel of experts will answer the audiences questions on the subject of recruitment chaired by Colin Mackay. This session is for you if you are looking for a job and want to find out what companies are looking for. You are trying to hire someone but don't know what to look for. You have been burned in the past and don't want to repeat the experience. You have a question about recruitment no one else seems to have an answer to.

There will be a question box on the day for you to post your questions, but if you want to email in advance, you can email your questions to Submissions by email close at 23:59 on the 23rd November.

The panel is:

Sarah Blow: Founder of Girl Geek Dinners and software Engineer at Cardinal Health.  She has grown up around technology and HR with parents in both industry sectors and works closely with Women & Technology and companies to create a better understanding about how women may be recruited in different ways to men.

Barry Dorrans: Senior consultant for Charteris PLC and Microsoft MVP. When interviewing he takes the red pen and becomes intellisense for whiteboards.

Frank Kerrigan: Development team lead for Erinaceous Insurance Services in Glasgow. His team writes enterprise applications for internal customers using C# and SQL Server. Frank has been in devolvement and support of enterprise systems for 15 years.

Karl Lightfoot: Recruitment Consultant that for the last 9 years day in day out has only been recruiting developers in the Midlands region for the largest IT Recruitment consultancy in the UK. He has successfully recruited for large and small corporations through different market states of the supply / demand of talented Developers from Visual Basic 3 to .Net 2005.


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