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Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

Students!!! - Get MS Office Ultimate 2007 for 39 Quid! An Absolute Steal!!

September 8, 2008 13:04 by Andrew Westgarth

I was recently reminded of this great offer which Microsoft have for Students, Office Ultimate 2007 is available for £38.95 which is an absolute steal!  I was reminded of this offer as my Brother is about to start a degree course at the University of Sunderland.  This is an excellent offer for any student out there!  For full details and eligibility details go to the Ultimate Steal Website this offer is also available in other countries too!

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Categories: Microsoft
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RemixUK - Ready Steady Speak Competition! - Win an XBOX 360!

September 1, 2008 03:22 by Andrew Westgarth

Ready Steady Speak is back for the RemixUK Event in Brighton on Thursday 18th and Friday 19th of September 2008.  Are you a budding speaker? A Designer with a passion for what you do who would like to educate us Developers in how it's done or some other aspect of design which we really don't get?  Are you a Developer who wants to get his message across to designers about just how cool the latest features in Web Development Technologies are or do you just want to share your knowledge with your fellow designers and developers?  If so then Ready Steady Speak at RemixUK could be the ideal opportunity!

RemixUK is all about the conversation and the opportunity for Web Developers and Web Designers to mix and discuss their roles and technologies and work together to shape the future of the Web!.  Ready Steady Speak is a unique way for you to have a go at delivering a short presentation to a very receptive audience of like minded people, and hopefully once you get a taste you'll go on to deliver full presentations or more nugget style presentations at local usergroup events, Barcamps etc around the country!  I've presented at a number of events and conferences now and the Buzz is amazing - so I very much encourage you to have a go!  If you have any questions or doubts email me - using the contact form on this blog and I'll do everything I can to help you!

The full details of the RemixUK Ready Steady Speak Competition are:

Contestants will present a 5 min session on a subject of their choice relating to Web Development or Web Design.  They will present in front of the REMIX audience and in front of a panel of judges.  If there are more than a  certain number of contestants (TBD), there will be ‘heats’ earlier in the day with the winners of the heats in a ‘speak-off’ in the evening session.  The ‘speak-off’ will take place as stated in the evening of the first day of MIX and the first prize is an XBox 360 + Goodies! 

Prerequisites:

Mandatory

· Speakers must NOT have previously presented ‘full sessions’ at DDD, TechEd, DevWeek, SDN, SQLBITS, VBUG Conference, NxtGenUG FEST or any similar such conferences.

· Speakers must create a new session of their own with new material which can be based on existing material but cannot be a simple copy of it.

· Speakers must limit their session to as close to 5 mins as possible( overrunning time will cause the speaker to be marked down.)

· Speakers must not have previously won Speaker Idol or “Ready Steady Speak” UK Launch

· Speakers must state their desire to enter the competition by no later than COP Monday 15th September 2008 by email.

Desirable

· Speakers should provide if at all possible their own laptop, but one can be provided if necessary.  The speaker should notify the organisers of any software prerequisites.

· Speakers should have spoken previously at a User Group meeting even if only for a 10 min mini-session or ‘nugget’.  This is NOT mandatory.

 

So come on and have go it'll be a great and very rewarding experience!!!  I'm really looking forward to making the very long trip down to Brighton and look forward to meeting lots of new great people!

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MSDN and TechNet UK Events

August 11, 2008 04:11 by Andrew Westgarth

Here are a list of forthcoming MSDN and TechNet events this autumn in the UK, unfortunately there aren't any in the North East this time as yet.

MSDN Events

TechNet Events

Awarded Microsoft MVP Award for IIS!

July 1, 2008 15:07 by Andrew Westgarth

This afternoon I received an email from Microsoft telling me that I've been awarded the 2008 Microsoft MVP award for my efforts in the Internet Information Services Community over the past year.  This is a great honour to be classified in the same group as the many other great MVPs who do great work throughout the community.  I hope I can continue in the same way in the coming months and years.

Categories: IIS | Microsoft | MVP
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Windows SideShow for Windows Mobile Developer Preview Released

June 10, 2008 14:40 by Andrew Westgarth

I first saw this announcement on twitter last week, that the Windows SideShow team had released a Developer Preview of SideShow for Windows Mobile 5 and 6 devices - http://blogs.msdn.com/sideshow/archive/2008/06/02/sideshow-on-windows-mobile-released-techready-2008.aspx and over the weekend I installed SideShow for my Windows Mobile Device.  I have an O2 XDA Orbit, which is a Windows Mobile 6 Device, and a variant of the HTC Artemis.

The installation process is reasonably straight forward and the documents provided give detailed and easy to follow instructions of how to install the preview.  SideShow is a really cool feature of Windows Vista and something I covered at the Exchange, Vista and Office (EVO) launch events which I took part in and spoke at last year.  I covered a couple of devices in previous blog posting CES - So Many New Toys! - Windows Vista SideShow and with the addition of Windows Mobile support it opens out the platform a little more.  The key use of SideShow will be through mobile devices, remote controls for Media Centre and other devices such as Fridge Magnets etc. 

I'd read about a PowerPoint controller gadget for SideShow - http://gallery.live.com/liveItemDetail.aspx?li=fe99f5dc-e62d-46e0-a294-1ec3aa4960c4&bt=8&pl=7 and went and installed this gadget to really see what it could do.  I use a variety of devices for controlling PowerPoint when delivering presentations such as the Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000 and the Microsoft Presenter 3000 one of the devices is a mouse and the other is purely a remote presenter device.  The PowerPoint controller gadget takes this to a new level and allows you to view the presenter view of your presentation, advance and reverse through your slide deck.  This added functionality of seeing notes etc.

I'm really enjoying the experience with this preview on my device, if your interested in SideShow and you have a Windows Mobile device - what not take a look?  I'm hoping to see more gadgets and functionality coming through, i.e. possibly gadgets so we can control media centres using a mobile device.

UPDATE - for more information and a screenshot tour of the PowerPoint SideShow gadget on Windows Mobile see Chris Craft's excellent blog post

MSDN Roadshow Newcastle - Review

May 19, 2008 09:43 by Andrew Westgarth

On Friday 16th May 2008, Newcastle hosted the MSDN Roadshow event - www.msdnroadshow.co.uk.  This was the last Roadshow event of 2008 and if the other locations were anything as packed as the Newcastle one then I reckon they must have been great successes.  I was on hand as ever representing the UK Community showcasing VBUG, Developer Day events and the rest of the great work done by other user groups throughout the UK.  I got to speak to a lot of new faces and plenty of information was picked up from the UK Community Area where I was.  I hopefully will see a lot more of those new faces at local events and even hopefully national ones :).

Once again the DPE Team put on an excellent day of Technical Sessions and fed all the attendees well with a selection of pastries, ice creams, sandwiches and drinks throughout the day.  The concept of hosting the events in cinemas is one which I am familiar with having presented in a cinema when over at IMTC in Dublin last month.  For a presenter this format is great as we get to use massive displays and have a comfortable position in which to talk to a large audience.  From the other side attendees get to see presentations on a great screen, in comfortable surroundings.  The only downsides of facilities such as cinemas, are the time it can take to fill and empty the screen, the lack of an actual breakout area (we used the Cinema Foyer - which worked well) and the darkness of some cinemas.  I very much like the venue as an option and wouldn't be surprised to see similar being used again.

The technical content and delivery by Mike Taulty, Daniel Moth and Neil Kidd was as usual a very high standard.  With some very refreshing humour added, particularly by Neil - who wasn't afraid to point out some of Microsoft failings :).  All in all this was another excellent day.  Well done to the DPE team and all those who played a part in putting the Roadshow together as it was another enjoyable and useful event and we hope to see the team back in Newcastle again!

Expression Suite 2.0 has been Released - Really! Without Source Control!! Yes Still!!!

May 9, 2008 01:00 by Andrew Westgarth

Yes it's true Microsoft's Expression Suite 2.0 has released.  Expression Suite 2.0 actually launched last Thursday, 1st May 2008, and to be honest I almost missed the fact if I hadn't seen it in The Coffee House forum on Channel 9!  I have been waiting with baited breath for the next release of the Expression Suite of tools - Expression Blend, Expression Web, Expression Design, Expression Media and Expression Encoder, primarily to see if the true developer and designer working together successfully dream that Microsoft has been feeding us for the last two years really was about to come true!  I currently work in an organisation where we are trying to use Microsoft's Team Foundation Server for source control and are trying very hard to get our team of designers to use source control, like a lot of other organisations I would imagine.  As soon as I heard that the suite had been released I immediately went to download a trial version of Expression Web 2.0 to see if there were any major differences between the release version and the beta version I'd downloaded a few weeks beforehand.

I digress a little, what I was really looking to find out was whether or not Source Control integration had finally made it into the final release of the Expression suite of products.  And do you know the answer?  Yep it's a big fat NO!  This is really annoying and is a deal breaker for myself and a lot of other people I've spoken too about this problem.  Apparently the Expression Teams are well aware of the need for Source Control integration but it did was not felt that it was a priority for this release, taking Expression Web 2.0 for example, the priorities were deemed to be SilverLight and PHP support into the IDE and closer integration with the Adobe Toolset.  Excuse me, Microsoft, but how about some closer integration with your own toolset - i.e. TFS and SourceSafe for example.  How can we preach to designers that they should be using the Expression Suite when we still need to install, for example, Visual Studio with TFS Explorer to allow them to check out files seperately from their workflow and then work on them in Expression Design.  This story is no different to what they already have to do to work with Dreamweaver and other Web Design IDEs,  To find there is no Source Control integration across the entire suite is crazy and a massive oversight by Microsoft.  I believe they are discounting existing customers in preference for gaining new customer base - i.e. PHP users in the case of Expression Web as opposed to listening to elements which were identified as major issues in Expression Suite 1.

This major and glaring omission is a deal breaker for myself and others.  Also this is not making the integration of the great Designers and Developers working together seamlessly with Visual Studio and Expression, be it Blend, Web or whatever other part of the suite.  Until there is clear integration with at a minimum Microsoft's own Source Control Products how can this vision be a reality.  At present the indications are that we'll have to wait for version 3 for this massive feature, which I'm guessing will be released sometime after the Mix Conference next year!!!  Another year we'll have to wait!!

For the record - I've calmed down a bit since last Friday when I was first going to write this post :o.  As soon as I hear any responses on this issue - I will blog them and hopefully we'll eventually get there.

Categories: Microsoft
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VBUG Newcastle - VS2008/SQL2008/Win 2008 Launch Event - 30th April 2008

April 16, 2008 05:25 by Andrew Westgarth

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Following Microsoft's launch event for Visual Studio 2008, Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 we are having our own 'launch' event in Newcastle with a strong Developer bias.  We are very pleased to welcome from Black Marble, Richard Fennell and Rik Hepworth, who will be joined by Iain Angus.

This evening will be content and swag packed so please arrive between 18:00 and 18:30 for a prompt 18:30 start.  The event agenda is as follows:

18:30 Start - Windows Server 2008 - Rik Hepworth

What’s new in Windows Server 2008

Windows Server 2008--in addition to incorporating new capabilities and enhancements to existing features--includes a number of improvements in the core OS that enhance the Operating System’s capabilities; such as features aimed at increasing the ability of Windows Server 2008 to support highly critical workloads by improving operational reliability, reducing system failures, and easing management. We will also discuss improvements in other related elements of the platform that help Windows based systems and services move an organization's IT Department forward.

Virtualisation and infrastructure

The new Windows Server Virtualisation technology, Hyper-V, and Presentation Virtualisation technologies like Terminal Services RemoteApp are core features in Windows Server 2008. This session will provide you with an overview of virtualisation in Windows Server 2008: the scenarios, features, and benefits that make server virtualisation important. Virtualisation management is becoming a critical tool for improving overall manageability for the IT environment; join us in this session to learn how Hyper-V and our management technologies build a strong flexible platform and improve overall manageability.

Securing your IT infrastructure with Windows Server 2008
Windows Server 2008 offers rich capabilities for securing your IT Infrastructure and proving tools to ease with compliance mandates. This session will discuss the Windows security and compliance features such as Network Access Protection, Right Management Services, Active Directory Federation Service subsystem, why auditing is important and how to configure an audit policy in the updated Windows Server 2008 event subsystem.

19:15 Break

19:20 SQL Server 2008 - Your Data, Anytime, Any Place - Iain Angus

The new version of SQL Server offers a host of new features and enhancements that promise to improve performance, increase security, and make life easier and more straightforward for database administrators and developers. This talk will give an overview of the new manageability improvements in SQL Server 2008 that enable you to administer, monitor and maintain your data platform infrastructure while reducing the time and cost of management, as well as covering the TSQL enhancements and reporting features in SQL Server 2008.

20:05 Break and Refreshments

20:20 Visual Studio 2008 - Richard Fennell

Visual Studio 2008 enables developers and IT operators to dramatically reduce the amount of time, effort and code required to develop and deploy real-world Web applications. ASP.NET 3.5, Visual Studio 2008 and IIS 7 each provide much improved administration and management support, on top of dramatically improved performance. Also covered are support for ASP.NET AJAX, JavaScript enhancements, rich support for CSS standards and rapid development of data-bound Web pages.

  • Utilize data from any data source more smoothly with LINQ, a set of language extensions to VB and C#
    Craft Web applications more easily with an improved design surface
  • Ensure application correctness more easily with integrated unit testing
  • Develop rich Web experiences with Visual Studio, ASP.NET AJAX and Silverlight
  • Create stunning new user experiences incorporating media and vector graphics using Windows Presentation Foundation.
  • Build Office Business Applications that are reliable, scalable and easy to maintain.
  • Develop Windows Mobile applications with a great developer and end user experience.
  • Connect applications, users and processes more easily with Windows Communication Foundation and Windows Workflow Foundation
  • Collaborate and communicate more effectively across the team, ensure software quality and to provide visibility into the development process with Visual Studio Team System.

21:05 Swag Giveaway!!!
21:10 Close

Location: The Castlegate, Melbourne Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2JQ - http://www.thecastlegate.co.uk/

To register visit - http://www.vbug.com/Events/April-2008/VBUG-Newcastle-Heroes-Happen-Here--VS08-SQL08-Server08-Launch-Event.aspx

Microsoft TechNet DesignIT Competition - Vote Now

April 8, 2008 14:37 by Andrew Westgarth

Yesterday I received an email from the Microsoft TechNet DesignIt Competition team, asking me to review the five finalists entries and to vote for the one which I thought should win.  Then I noticed that VBUG's very own Peterborough Coordinator, Jyoti Majithia, was one of the finalists.  We have posted an article about the competition on the VBUG Website - http://www.vbug.com/News/April-2008/VBUG-Peterborough-Coordinator-Finalist-in-the-DesignIT-Competition--Vote-Now.aspx

DesignIT 2008 - An Innovative Way to Make a Difference

Voting is now open and will close at 5pm on Friday 11th April 2008 with the winner being announced on Monday 15th April.  The winning contestant will see their design implemented for the charity of their choice to the sum of £15,000.

 View the five finalists' entries and Vote Now  Good Luck Jyoti!

Categories: Microsoft | VBUG
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Designer vs Developer - Duelling Banjos!

March 6, 2008 10:13 by Andrew Westgarth

Designer vs Developer - It's time to kiss and make up

Just been reading  Web Harmony - where designers and developers kiss and make up on James Senior's Blog and have to say it made me laugh - I've not been in quite a bad situation myself but it is quite realistic :-).  Check out the video with accompanying Duelling Banjos at http://www.web-harmony.co.uk/ .  In my current environment I am awaiting an announcement (hoping, fingers crossed) that Expression Web 2 will integrate with Team Foundation Server as the functionality is sadly missing in Expression Web 1.0.  Fingers crossed....

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

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