Andrew's Blog

Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

Speaking at Tech Ed Europe 2014–This Week

October 27, 2014 16:25 by Andrew Westgarth

tee14

I’m currently in Barcelona and will be speaking at Tech Ed Europe 2014.  I’m presenting:

DEV-B341 Running a Global Massively Scalable Web Application on Microsoft Azure Web Sites

Friday, October 31 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM Room: Hall 8.0 Room B1

Track: Developer Platform and Tools

Session Type: Breakout

Topic: Microsoft Azure

I’ll also be on hand to answer questions on our Azure Websites stand in the TechExpo, along with being around the event all week at the Welcome Reception, Happy Hour, Ask The Experts session and Country Drinks.  Looking forward to talking to lots of people about Azure Websites!

Faces Infographic Social (1)

Retired from the MVP Program–Got a New Badge

July 31, 2014 02:09 by Andrew Westgarth

On Monday 28th July 2014, I retired from the Microsoft MVP Program after 7 years!  The MVP Program is a fantastic honour and privilege to be a part of and I have interacted with many, many fantastic peers and community members over the years. 

I’ve had to retire because I have joined Microsoft as a Program Manager on the Microsoft Azure Websites Team, a very exciting and interesting opportunity for me!  I’m looking forward to getting up to speed quickly and working with my new team.

I’ll still be as active as I used to be in the community, workload permitting, and look forward to seeing many of you at NEBytes and DDD North as it’s business as usual with both of those.

Awarded Microsoft MVP Award for Seventh Year!

July 1, 2014 14:09 by Andrew Westgarth

This afternoon I received an email from Microsoft to tell me that I’d been awarded the 2014 Microsoft MVP Award for ASP.Net/IIS!  This is my seventh MVP Award, I am extremely humble and privileged to be associated with a great group of less than 5000 technical people around the globe.  I’ll be aiming to continue my efforts to help the community and deliver as much content as I can to aid and spread knowledge through events, blogging and social media among other avenues. 

Categories: MVP | Microsoft | Personal
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Awarded Microsoft MVP Award for 2013

July 1, 2013 13:12 by Andrew Westgarth

This afternoon I received an email from Microsoft to tell me that I’d been awarded the 2013 Microsoft MVP Award for ASP.Net/IIS!  This is my sixth MVP Award and I’ve mentioned before I am extremely humble to be associated with a great group of less than 5000 technical people around the globe.  I’ll be aiming to continue my efforts to help the community and deliver as much content as I can to aid and spread knowledge. 

Categories: IIS | ASP.Net | MVP | Microsoft
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Global Windows Azure Bootcamp April 27th 2013

March 11, 2013 13:05 by Andrew Westgarth

bootcamp

Are you interested in getting started with Windows Azure and have are free on Saturday April 27th 2013?  Then why not join me in Bradford at the Global Windows Azure Bootcamp being hosted by Black Marble?  I’ll be joining Microsoft Integration MVP, Robert Hogg, Windows Azure MVP, Steve Spencer and Microsoft Alliance Manager, Linda Hogg to deliver a one day deep dive class which will help you get up to speed with developing for Windows Azure.  This is a great opportunity to get real hands on experience with developing on Windows Azure from professionals who are actively developing solutions on the Windows Azure platform.  Windows Azure is a fantastic platform to develop on and we hope to see many of you at the event getting up to speed with development.

To register for the Bradford event please go to - http://www.blackmarble.co.uk/Register.aspx?Event=Global Windows Azure Boot Camp&Date=27-Apr-2013 and make sure to check out the list of pre-requisites for the bootcamp - http://globalwindowsazure.azurewebsites.net/?page_id=171 – please arrived prepared as we hate for you to miss out on the good stuff and spend the day getting your laptop ready Smile.

If you’re not able to get to Bradford but would still like to take part in the Global Windows Azure Bootcamp be sure to check out all the locations worldwide where other events are running -http://globalwindowsazure.azurewebsites.net/?page_id=151

Winners of the 2012 Imagine Cup UK Final are from the North East!

April 25, 2012 12:38 by Andrew Westgarth

Yes that’s right, today when I was at Microsoft UK Headquarters attending a day full of content on Visual Studio 11 and Team Foundation Server 11, the results of the 2012 Imagine Cup UK Finals were announced!  I heard the results were being streamed live at 4pm so when the time cam I hooked up to the broadcast and watched with bated breath for the results.  I’m delighted that both of the finalists from the Imagine Cup North East finals finished in the top two places, a fantastic achievement in the first year that the North East Colleges and Universities have been involved!

Teeside 0x32 came a very, very close second with their Cloud Doctor idea, a method of linking medical expertise around the world to provide help and assistance to those who don’t have access to medical treatment.  I remember seeing this idea presented impeccably at the Imagine Cup North East final a couple of weeks ago and I was blown away at how polished and ready the Web Application, Architecture and Windows Phone application was!  Well done to the guys for their fantastic idea, effort and hard work and I know that the judges had a very hard job in picking a winner because the ideas from both of the winners of the Imagine Cup North East finals were awesome!

The 2012 Imagine Cup UK Final winner is Team EyeWorks and they have created a combination of hardware and software to provide a Mobile Intelligent Retinal Analysis solution.  Combining Neural Nets, Windows Phones, Custom Lenses and Windows Azure they have come up with a fantastic idea to help with the early detection of diseases which cause loss of sight!  Again this is another fantastic idea and if you attended the NEBytes event in March you will have seen the team present their idea.  I honestly don’t know how the judges chose between the two because both ideas are fantastic!  Well done to everyone involved in Team EyeWorks and wish you all the very best at the 2012 Imagine Cup World Finals in Sydney later this year, do the North East and the UK Proud!!!

Imagine Cup North East Final Looms

April 2, 2012 12:54 by Andrew Westgarth

The Imagine Cup is a great competition for students to get involved in and something I’ve covered previously http://www.andrewwestgarth.co.uk/blog/post/2012/02/01/You-Can-Change-the-World-Through-Technology.aspx. Well 2012 is the first year that the North East has got involved and the competition is really hotting up as the teams hurtle towards the deadline for submitting their Round Two entry in the Software Design competition.

Last month we had three teams present their ideas to the group at NEBytes and in return all of the attendees gave each team lots of useful feedback ahead of Round Two.  All of the teams were asked some very searching questions about each of their respective entries and gave them a great exposure and practice in presenting their idea and answering questions, they all handled it very well and we all hope they benefitted from the experience.

The final of the North East regional Imagine Cup competition will be held on Tuesday 10th April and I am delighted to have been invited to join the panel of judges along with David Dunn, from Sunderland Software City, Ben Nunney, from Microsoft and Ajay Sood from Orchidsoft.  The panel will have the task of selecting the team(s) from the North East who will go forward to the UK Final and who knows then on to represent the UK in the World Final in Sydney, Australia!

This is the first time the North East has got involved and the buzz at the hack day and subsequently seeing some of the teams at NEBytes last month has been amazing and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the teams have come up with at the final next week.  I hope this is the start of a long association between North East students and the Imagine Cup.

You Can Change the World Through Technology

February 1, 2012 05:33 by Andrew Westgarth

Are you a student in the North East and interested in technology or do you know of any North East based students who are interested in technology?  Would you like the opportunity to change the world and potentially win a free trip to Sydney, Australia?

If you've read this far then you must be interested, so what is this all about?  The Microsoft Imagine Cup, that's what!  The Microsoft Imagine Cup is the world's top student technology competition.  Ever year Microsoft gives students a fantastic opportunity to envisage, create and deliver a technology solution that addresses the Imagine Cup slogan - "Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems!"   The Microsoft Imagine Cup theme this year is inspired by the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Sunderland Software City and Codeworks have teamed up this year to run a regional heat of the Microsoft Imagine Cup to highlight the fantastic talent that exists in our great region!

Imagine Cup North East - Are you up for a challenge? from Codeworks Ltd on Vimeo.

The Imagine Cup North East is an exciting opportunity for students to work together in teams to solve some of the worlds toughest problems, learn new skills, make new friends, win prizes (did I mention the grand final is in Sydney, Australia?) and test themselves against the other UK and Worldwide teams.

So how do you get involved?  Why not come along to one of the taster events to find out more on Thursday February 2nd in Newcastle (17:30-20:00) and on Friday February 3rd in Teeside (17:30-20:00).  At these events you'll see presentations from Microsoft about the competition, kits available and outcomes required and then on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th February you'll be whisked off to a secret location for a 36 hour non-stop hackathon to work on your team projects

To find out more check out the Imagine Cup North East website - http://www.imaginecupnortheast.co.uk and follow the Imagine Cup North East on Twitter - http://twitter.com/imaginecupne

If you're not a student but would still like to get involved the competition is also looking for Mentors and Sponsors, so get in touch with the Imagine Cup North East, let's get behind the fantastic talent in our region and show the rest of country and hopefully the world how good they are!!

Finally I'll leave you in the capable hands of Captain Rob Miles to give you some more information on the Microsoft Imagine Cup

Black Screen And Mouse Pointer After Enabling Live Mesh Remote Connections

April 17, 2011 13:16 by Andrew Westgarth

Live Mesh is a fantastic product, on top of giving access and synchronisation services to 5GB of storage on SkyDrive, it provides the ability to open remote desktop connections to machines over the internet.  It is this connectivity gain which I have made most use of in the past, and unfortunately it has caused me no end of pain after a complete rebuild of my laptop, so much so I’ve had to disable remote connections.

About a month ago I rebuilt my laptop OS, something I do fairly regularly (well at least once a year) to make sure everything is running smoothly.  I have a Dell Latitude D820 (Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM and NVIDIA Quadro VS120M Display Adapter) and it has served me very well for more than 4 years.  However I noticed an issue recently with my laptop after rebuild whereby upon boot all I got after logging in was a black screen with a white mouse pointer!  I tried everything I could as this seemed to be quite a common occurrence when I’d searched for it, at first I thought it was a graphics driver issue so I uninstalled went back to basics and tried with each version of the drivers, still the same outcome. 

I was however able to remote desktop using Live Mesh to my machine and see the full desktop and interact fully, so it continued to baffle me. Well I had to flatten my hard drive for an unconnected reason.  So as I started to rebuild once again I tested each stage to check where the black screen issue appeared.  I noticed it happened after I installed Live Mesh and enabled remote connections, something I’ve done many times before but having been able to replicate the issue twice I believe there is another issue, maybe it is a combination of Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit SP1 and Live Mesh I’m not sure.  All I know is since I have disabled remote connections through Live Mesh the issue doesn’t exist on my laptop anymore.

So my final question is: has anyone else seen the same behaviour?  Have you had problems after enabling remote connections?  I’d like to hear from anyone else having this issue.  I’m trying to raise a bug on the relevant Connect element but have been unable to so far, I’ll update this post with the link when I have created it.

Book Review: MCTS 70-515 Web Applications Development with Microsoft .Net Framework 4 Self-Paced Training Kit

January 25, 2011 14:44 by Andrew Westgarth

For many reasons I haven’t had much time to blog in the last few months.  This is something with the coming of the New Year I’m aiming to rectify.  One of my other personal/work goals is to complete the Microsoft Professional Developer (Web Developer) Certification.  This requires me to site and pass four exams:

  1. 70-515: Web Application Development with Microsoft .Net Framework 4 (TS)
  2. 70-513: Windows Communication Foundation Development with Microsoft .Net Framework 4 (TS)
  3. 70-516: Accessing Data with Microsoft .Nest Framework 4 (TS)
  4. 70-519: Designing and Developing Web Applications with Microsoft .Net Framework 4

First on my list of exams to study for and complete was 70-515: Web Applications Development with Microsoft .Net Framework 4.  I had the exam booked for Tuesday 18th January 2011 and I’m pleased to say after a lot of intense and hard swotting I passed the exam.  Due to the severe disruption caused by the bad weather on both sides of the Atlantic it became very difficult to get hold of a printed copy of this book when it was due to be available in the UK.  There was a digital version available but I still like to read a physical book, although I am being tempted more and more of late by the Kindle.  Fortunately I was able to get a copy of the printed book prior to my exam, just!

WARNING: I don’t think this would be a useful review if I didn’t stress at the beginning that while this book covers the topics which the exam covers, it should not be your only resource of learning.  I made use of my attendance of relevant sessions at User Groups, real world experience on projects and additional reading, such as Steve Sanderson’s excellent Pro ASP.Net MVC 2 Framework, Second Edition which is an excellent book for getting to grips with ASP.Net MVC 2.

MCTS 70-515 Web Applications Development with Microsoft .Net Framework 4 Self-Paced training Kit CoverThe Self-Paced Training Kit

The Self-Paced Training kit is an excellent tool to help study for the exam.  They follow a standard package format of the

  • Self-paced study guide;
  • Practice Tests;
  • Over 300 practice and review questions;
  • Code Samples in VB.Net and C#;
  • eBook edition of the study guide.

The study guide is broken up into fourteen chapters, which breaks the curriculum into manageable segments of learning.  One technique for working through these guides is to take one chapter per night and work through each chapter covering the topic in great detail.  Planning to spend extra time when needed.  The chapters discuss the individual topics in some detail, have Labs to go through and get practice in implementing the topic discussed. At the end of each chapter there are Scenario based questions to guide you into choosing the right solutions for the problems faced and there are also review questions for each section.  The fourteen chapters combine to cover the objectives of the 70-515 Exam:

  • Developing Web Forms Pages;
  • Developing and Using Web Forms Controls;
  • Implementing Client-Side Scripting and AJAX;
  • Configuring and Extending a Web Application;
  • Displaying and Manipulating Data;
  • Developing a Web Application by Using ASP.Net MVC 2.

Verdict

This self-paced training guide was an invaluable tool for me in my preparation for the exam.  The guide breaks down the objectives into manageable chunks and highlight areas which need to be covered.  The Labs cover each topic as you progress through each chapter.  My one major criticism of the labs is that each lab often starts by setting up a new project/solution with the same name as the previous lab which is really frustrating.  Personally I would much rather have started a new solution per chapter and modified the solution/projects as I went through the labs in that chapter.  The review questions are a great way to review your knowledge and how much you’ve taken in after completing studying each chapter.  The Scenario based exercises are even better as they make you think how your knowledge would be applied in the real world.

I would recommend buying and working your way through the MCTS 70-515 Web Applications Development with Microsoft .Net Framework 4 Self-Paced Training Kit as part of your preparation for the 70-515 exam, however I would also recommend additional sources to compliment your learning.  For example the MVC area was easier for me to pick up as I have completed some projects using the Framework and have also read other books on the topic, whereas the Client-Side Scripting element was harder for me to pick up as I have had less exposure to that area of study.

If you’re studying for the 70-515 exam good luck and I hope you find this book and review useful!  I’m off to search for materials so I can prepare for my other exams as the equivalent training guides won’t be available for quite some time yet.



MCTS

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Disclaimer

The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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