Andrew's Blog

Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

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.

An Invite to the Palace!

July 2, 2014 01:15 by Andrew Westgarth

Being introduced to The Queen

Last month I was extremely surprised and honoured to receive an invite to a UK Technology Reception with The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace on Monday 9th June 2014.  The reception was hosted by The Duke of York and I was among 350 guests from all over the UK Technology industry invited to this fantastic occasion.  I received my invite for the work I’ve done in the community with user groups such as NEBytes and events such as DDD North and Imagine Cup North East, which is very humbling as I love the work I do in the community and think of it more as a hobby than actual work, many thanks to everyone in the community who has supported the events, students and our fantastic user group here in the North East!

My Invite to the UK Technology Reception at Buckingham Palace

I joined other representatives from the North East Technology Community, David Dunn – CEO of Sunderland Software City, Kevin Beales – CEO of Sunderland based Test Factory, Mike Fish – Managing Director of Dontyne Systems, Ajay Sood – Managing Director of Orchid Software and Workcast Director Gerrard Callaghan, among many others.  We were all privileged to be introduced to both The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh and we discussed the UK Technology Industry with our peers throughout a very pleasant evening.  An experience I am very proud of and very grateful for the opportunity, certainly one to remember and what a great picture to put in the family album!

Windows Azure IaaS Slides

January 18, 2013 11:46 by Andrew Westgarth

On Wednesday we celebrated the third birthday of NEBytes, a user group in the North East of England for Developers and IT Pros which I am a co-founder of.  We were delighted to partner up with the SharePoint User Group for the event and welcomed Dr. Bill Ayers to speak on Agile SharePoint Development.

In addition we’d planned to have a speaker visit to talk about Windows Azure IaaS at the event but unfortunately had problems sourcing a speaker due to a number of issues.  I therefore stepped in and reviewed some content from Microsoft and presented it at our event.  This was an interesting way to prepare for a presentation and I hope those who attended found the material and demos interesting and easy to follow.

I am currently spending a lot of time on the PaaS (Platform as a Service) side of Windows Azure and it was interesting for me to delve into the IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) elements of Windows Azure.  There is quite a comprehensive offering and whilst I haven’t spent a huge amount of time in Amazon Web Services, apart from using an EC2 instance for Load Testing, I feel it’s growing fast and new features are coming on board frequently.

A few people asked for the slides after the presentation and here they are http://www.andrewwestgarth.co.uk/presentations/WindowsAzureVirtualMachines.pptx

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.

DDD North–Saturday 8th October 2011–Session Submission Open!

July 26, 2011 15:20 by Andrew Westgarth

I’m very pleased to announce that Session Submission has opened for DDD North, the first Developer! Developer! Developer! event to be held in the North East!

DDD North will be held at the University of Sunderland on Saturday 8th October 2011 – http://www.developerdeveloperdeveloper.com/north.  We are looking forward to hosting a fantastic free community led event where you the community define the agenda.  So what are you waiting for, get your session submissions in now!!

Stay up to date with DDD North through the twitter account – http://twitter.com/dddnorth and with the hashtag #DDDNorth.

dddSunderlandWPathenon

Three Great Events in The North East in April!!

March 24, 2010 13:50 by Andrew Westgarth

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As part of the Microsoft Tech Days UK 2010, a week of free events for Developers and IT Professionals, there are three great events of note running in the North East.  The Sharepoint User Group are hosting a great night at the Cinema in Stockton, and then NEBytes are pleased to welcome Jesse Liberty for a special evening of Silverlight in addition to the Monthly meeting covering Office 2010 and Preventing SQL Injection Attacks.  Best of all- all three events are FREE!!!!

Monday 13th April 2010 – SUGUK – Sharepoint 2010 and Free Screening of Clash Of the Titans at Stockton-on-Tees Showcase Cinema

sugukMicrosoft and Combined Knowledge have funded a great evening to celebrate the launch of Microsoft Office Sharepoint 2010.  Join the Sharepoint User Group at the Showcase Cinema in Stockton-on-Tees to see a short presentation on the new features in Office and Sharepoint 2010, followed by an Open Mic “Ask the Experts” session on general SharePoint topics such as business adoption, Sharepoint designer, VS 2010 and Office focussed development in general, before settling down with Popcorn to watch a free screening of the new blockbuster – Clash Of The Titans!

For more information and to register - http://suguk.org/forums/thread/23041.aspx

Friday 16th April 2010 – NEBytes – Jesse Liberty – Silverlight Geek – Newcastle-upon-Tyne

nebytes-logo-final On Friday 16th April 2010, NEBytes are pleased to welcome Jesse Liberty, the self styled Silverlight Geek and a Senior Program Manager in the Silverlight Development Team at Microsoft, to Newcastle as he makes his way round the UK as part of his UK Tour .  Jesse will be delivering the following session:

Building A Highly Extensible, Decoupled Silverlight Open Source Application with MEF and RIA Services using Lean, Test Driven Development, An International Team of Volunteer Programmers,  and lots of Advil.

This talk will use the Silverlight HyperVideo Platform open-source project on CodePlex as a case study in building highly extensible Silverlight applications. Among the topics we will focus on are:

  • New features in Silverlight 4 and how they made life easier
  • The Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) added to Silverlight 4
  • WCF RIA Services for connection to a back-end db
  • Handling inter-module communication when the requirements are that modules cannot assume which other modules will be created, there can be no dependencies on order-of creation and unanticipated modules must be able to communicate with existing modules.
  • Using Markers, Injected Markers and polling to trigger events while viewing a video.
  • A Quick introduction to Lean, TDD and Kanban.

NEBytes are also looking at putting on a Geek Dinner afterwards, so if you’d be interested in attending let us know when you register for the NEBytes – Jesse Liberty – Silverlight Geek Event

Wednesday 21st April 2010 – NEBytes -  “Office 2010” and “Preventing SQL Injection Attacks” – Newcastle-upon-Tyne

nebytes-logo-finalOn Wednesday 21st April 2010 NEBytes will be holding their regular monthly event and will be covering the topics of Office 2010 and Preventing SQL Injection Attacks.  We are pleased to welcome Colin Mackay to cover Preventing SQL Injection attacks and we are very pleased to have NEByte’s very own Jonathan Noble and Ben Lee covering Office 2010 at the event:

Office 2010 - Ben Lee and Jonathan Noble

This summer Microsoft will release Office 2010. While this is more of an evolution from Office 2007 rather than the revolutionary jump from Office 2003 into the world of the Ribbon UI, there are still a number of new features in the desktop applications that make this release interesting. In addition, 2010 sees Office head into the cloud with the all-new Office Web Apps. In this session, NEBytes' own Ben Lee (@Bibbleq) and Jonathan Noble (@jonoble) will highlight their favourite new features across the whole suite and also demonstrate how to manage, secure and deploy Office 2010 to the desktop, including delivery using App-V.

SQL Injection Attacks and Tips on How To Prevent Them - Colin Angus Mackay

In light of some recent events, such as the man who was convicted of stealing 130 million credit card details through a SQL Injection attack, it is imperative that developers understand what a SQL Injection Attack is, how they are carried out, and most importantly, how to defend your code against attack.

In this talk Colin Mackay will demonstrate a SQL Injection Attack on an application in a controlled environment*. He’ll show you where the vulnerable code lies and what you can do to harden it.

Although this talk uses C# as the application language and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 as the database engine many of the concepts and prevention mechanisms will apply to any application that accesses a database through SQL.

* Demonstrating an attack on a system without the owner’s consent is a breach of the 1990 Misuse of Computers Act, hence the controlled environment.

Colin Angus Mackay is a Software Developer living in Glasgow. He has been programming since the age of 9 starting with a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. He became a professional software developer in 1994, using a Smalltalk based language called Magik. In 1996 he started using C++ commercially and in 2002 migrated to the emerging language of C#.

Colin has received a number of awards including Code Project MVP (for 5 years) and Microsoft MVP (for 3 years). He is a member of the British Computer Society and a Member of the Institution of Analysts and Programmers. He is currently the chairman of Scottish Developers and has organised the last two Developer Day Scotland conferences (with a third in the works).

You can find out more on his blog at: http://blog.colinmackay.net.

Go to the NEBytes April Event Registration Page and sign up now!

Introducing North East Bytes (NEBytes) a new Microsoft Usergroup for the North East of England

January 4, 2010 14:39 by Andrew Westgarth

nebytes-logo-final

I’m pleased to announce a new User Group in the North East of England, based around Microsoft Technologies, North East Bytes (NEBytes) – http://www.nebytes.net .  We have decided to start this group in order to help Developers and IT Pros in the community with the constant battle to learn, stay current and broaden their knowledge.

We run monthly meetings every third Wednesday of the month (except on the second Wednesday in December – to allow time for Christmas parties and shopping!) at Newcastle University.  Each meeting consists of two one hour presentations (one Developer topic and one IT Pro topic) and we have refreshments, food, giveaways and prizes.

Attendance at our meetings is completely FREE!! The venue is provided kindly by the University, our Speakers kindly provide their time for free, and we as organisers provide our time for free to organise the events.  We will provide refreshments and we also provide hot food, all we ask is if you would like to partake in the the hot food, please make a small donation towards the cost via the open contribution box at each meeting.

Our Launch event is to be on Wednesday 20th January 2010, we are delighted to have Mike Taulty visiting to cover Silverlight and James O’Neill to cover Hyper-V.  We are really looking forward to this great event and hope to see lots there to help us celebrate our launch!

Andrew, Jon, Damien and Ben.



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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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