Andrew's Blog

Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

Retired from the MVP Program–Got a New Badge

July 31, 2014 10:09 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 09:15 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!

Awarded Microsoft MVP Award for Seventh Year!

July 1, 2014 22:09 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
Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

Blog Now Hosted on IIS 8.0–DiscountASP.Net

September 22, 2012 11:04 by Andrew Westgarth

On Thursday night I was having an email conversation with Takeshi Eto from DiscountASP.Net about the hosting of my blog.  I’ve been hosting my blog with DiscountASP.Net for nearly five years and have been very, very happy with their service – always up to date often offering services faster than other hosters and very quick turn around of support tickets if ever I’ve had any issues – they also host the NEBytes site.

Well on Thursday I was asking about migrating my site onto IIS 8.0 hosting and enquiring when it would be available.  Well during the same conversation Takeshi posted a blog post announcing the arrival of Windows Server 2012 hosting to their US data centre with the team also working to bring it to their European datacentre -http://blog.discountasp.net/windows-2012-hosting-arrives-in-us-data-center/.  So the first thing I did was select the upgrade on my account and my site has now been migrated across to a new Windows Server 2012 platform and is running on IIS 8.0 Smile

Global ASP.NET Hosting Leader - Click Here

I also took the opportunity to upgrade the underlying platform of my blog, BlogEngine.Net, to 2.6.0.5 after not having upgrade from 2.0.  At the same time I’ve tinkered with the theme so I can present more content in my posts and I’ve also fixed a number of issues that I haven’t had time to investigate before now, for example my tweets are now displayed correctly in the bubbles above.  I’ve got a couple rough edges to smooth down like the search page but everything else seems ok.

Computer Science Curriculum is Changing and You Can Help!

January 26, 2012 13:51 by Andrew Westgarth

We as professionals in the Computer Science industry have a responsibility to aid and assist our individual education systems in educating and encourage the next generations of Computing Professionals, be they Developers, IT Professionals, Testers etc.

Change is Coming!

Michael Gove announced recently that the current Information and Communications Technology (ICT) curriculum in England is to be replaced in September 2012. This was all announced at the BETT show and the current curriculum was described as demotivating and dull.

I have long been concerned about the quality and delivery of the ICT curriculum in schools with the curriculum being insipid and not enough time devoted to it (indeed I am little concerned about how this new change will be implemented as I have heard stories of Teachers who believe that any ICT curriculum doesn't need to be taught anymore!).

I indeed remember countless years spending many hours in Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Access. Indeed my first exposure to Access came with the instruction from my ICT Teacher "learn how to use it and then teach me!" Fortunately for me despite spending year after year doing the same thing I was also learning how to code and make more productive use of my own Commodore 64 at home with the support of my parents.

However had I not had that support and encouragement it's likely I would have become disillusioned with IT and moved away from it, I did consider a career as a solicitor for a while, but the draw of the World Wide Web and the endless possibilities captured my imagination.

It is the imagination of the young fertile minds in our school system which we as an industry have been losing for many years with an insipid and dull curriculum which demotivates and makes Computer Science seem boring and unchallenging. Indeed if I started at an early age and spent the next 5-10 years only being exposed to Office programmes I too would quickly decide that IT/Computing was boring and unattractive. Indeed my own brother went through a process of completing an NVQ in IT at GCSE level but when presented with options at A Level his school decided to only deliver an advanced version of the SAME course rather than the Computing qualification which included programming, scripting and networking. Hence someone who is very competent and enjoyed working with computers quickly determined that he would never move towards a career in IT ever! A great loss to our community! This is just one personal example how many more are there. Indeed when I finished my BA (Hons) Business Computing degree many of my peers were of the opinion that computing was the last field they wanted to work in. This I'm afraid is a sad indictment of the state of Computer Science curriculum throughout our education system.

Call To Action!

This recent acknowledgment by the government that our Computer Science curriculum is not good enough and does not match the needs of industry has taken far too long in my honest opinion, but looking at the positive aspect there is now an agenda for change and a visible campaign to increase the quality and breadth of Computer Science teaching. However now is the time for us as an industry to influence and assist our Teachers. In the same way that we spend time educating ourselves and each other on the latest advancements, methods, languages and Computer Science technology we now need to find ways in which to take this enthusiasm and skill into the classroom and lecture theatres.

Get Involved!

Professionally we have user groups and societies in order to foster learning and to advance our own knowledge and equally there are similar avenues for us to take in influencing Computer Science curriculum! Two shining examples of this are STEMNET and the Microsoft Imagine Cup .

STEMNET works with industry to provide opportunities to inspire children and students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), this is achieved by assisting or delivering activities in schools and colleges, I have taken part in an activity in the last six months and found it a very rewarding experience helping a group of students work towards completing a challenge to create a mobile phone application centred around the London 2012 Olympics.

The Microsoft Imagine Cup is another initiative where industry can help Students to solve world problems by using technology and putting their learning into action and ultimately, this year, win a free trip to Sydney, Australia for the Imagine Cup 2012 Worldwide Finals.

These are just two examples of how we as an industry can assist with the Computer Science curriculum to inspire and encourage pupils and students to get more involved with how things work as opposed to just being a user.

Now more than ever we have a chance to make a real difference, it is up to us to help to Make a Difference to Computer Science in Schools!

Cut The Cord, Save Money and Go Faster

January 15, 2012 22:12 by Andrew Westgarth

Towards the end of last year I started to think more and more about how I make use of digital television services, telephone (land line) and broadband. I considered my usage vs cost and was keen to work out whether I was getting value for money. This led me to decide to cut the cord and save money!

For the past 5 or so years I've had all of my services from one supplier, Sky. I had unlimited broadband (ADSL at approx 10 mb/s download), telephone (free evening and weekend calls) and Satellite television, I had all the channels available apart from Movies and Sports. I didn't go for movies as there's limited new content added each Friday and I didn't go for sports because I have a season ticket and if I want to see a match it's a great chance to catch up with friends at the pub. All in all my package was costing around £60 a month, quite a lot if it's not getting used to it's full.

When I reviewed my usage I found that with regards the telephone I hardly ever use it, I prefer to use the inclusive minutes on my mobile contract. Moving onto my television services, I regularly found very little on the approx 700 channels I was interested in watching and 90-95% of those shows which I did watch or record were available on a Freeview channel. Moving onto my broadband services I found them to be very reliable but slow! My local exchange was one of the very first outside of London to have fibre to cabinet services from BT made available, and despite Sky announcing trials for fibre optic broadband a couple of years ago nothing has progressed on that front, so I gave up waiting.

So out of the approx £60 I was not getting value for money. I can get Freeview direct from my TV and as mentioned I can use my mobile for telephone services. As for Broadband service, I've already maxed out what Sky were offering and I had to maintain the telephone to keep broadband with Sky. I looked at BT and they offered infinity up to 100MB for £35 a month but I had to have a phone line as well which takes the cost to £45 a month and includes a service I don't want.

Yesterday I called Sky and canceled all of my services and gave my reasons for canceling which were slow broadband speed, limited use for telephone and happiness with Freeview channels. Surprisingly the agents at Sky didn't even try to stop my cancelling and consequently the provision of their services will end in early February. I then applied for Virgin Media's Cable 50Mb/s Broadband service, selected no television services and no telephone line, made use of an excellent cashback offer via Quidco (if you don't use this service already - check it out now!) and my girlfriend referred Virgin Media to me so she gets money off her bill and I get free installation! I've paid a little more for the privilege of not having a telephone installed but I've controlled exactly what I have and am not paying for services I won't be using. There's also the added bonus that Virgin Media announced plans this week to double all broadband speeds of customers , so before long I'll have 100MB broadband. This is costing me £30 a month for three months and then £35 a month afterwards on a 12 month contract and compared with what I'm paying now I'll save £280 over the course of a year, quite a sizable chunk!

So I'll be relying on my internet connection more in future for media services. I've been really impressed with the media services on the recent Xbox 360 dashboard update which has 5 OnDemand, 4OD and soon to arrive BBC iPlayer. In addition I've started to evaluate LoveFilm and Netflix now they have arrived in the UK. Initial impressions of these services are that currently the LoveFilm catalogue is great if you want to use the traditional DVD/BluRay service however their streaming catalogue is limited - for a start it doesn't include TV, and recent films which I can rent on DVD/BluRay through the service are an additional cost when streamed?? Netflix has a good but old catalogue and is streaming only so I'm hoping that gets updated soon. At present I'm leaning towards sharing a subscription for LoveFilm with my girlfriend so we I can make us of the streaming and she can use the DVD service, and possibly Netflix dependent on how their catalogue develops.

I'm looking forward to finding out how my decision pans out, have I made the right choice? I've certainly initially saved myself some money and reallocated my spending. I believe this may also be the path others take in the future as we evaluate what we spend our money on. As internet provision and online services increase I feel the consumer will make services like Sky and Virgin Media work a lot harder for their money!

Software Development - Job or Career, Passion, Vocation

August 23, 2011 22:48 by Andrew Westgarth

My name is Andrew Westgarth and Software Development is my passion! Is the role you're in just a job to you or is it your Passion /Vocation and Career? Do you enjoy what you do and are you fulfilled in what you do? I think one of the biggest requirements for a good developer is a passion for what they are doing, in order to be a good developer you need to have a thirst for learning and a desire to improve.

I've been thinking about writing a blog post about this topic for a few weeks but not had time until now. Prompted by a conversation on Twitter today about the distinct lack of good, passionate developers available at present I thought I'd put down a few of my own notes on this topic. I have worked in software development (primarily web) for over ten years and have been on both sides being both the prospective employee and prospective employer. I have been involved in the UK Development Community for many years, running User Groups (NEBytes and previously VBUG), speaking at User Groups and Conferences and am now putting together the very first Developer! Developer! Developer! North.

Software Development is a career that you choose to go into and for me personally it is more than just a job, it's my passion, it's a vocation and it's my hobby. I am always looking to learn even more, every day is quite literally a school day, if I've not learned something new every single day then I'm disappointed. My passion drives me to get better and better with every opportunity. Be it looking to make sure that my code compiles cleanly and has no errors, or that I'm building the best user experience or looking at how new language enhancements can improve the performance of my applications.

Money has never motivated me, as long as I've got enough to have a reasonable standard of living and can pay for my season ticket then I'm happy. What really motivates me is an opportunity to learn and to work with equally passionate people. The most enjoyable and highest quality work is always completed when a team is passionate about what they do. I've worked together with fantastic developers and designers to produce fantastic results. The infectious nature of passionate people rubs off on the others in a team and carries them along and reignites that spark.

I've been thinking about why there aren't more passionate developers available/in the industry and have my own opinions on why that is the case and here are some of my thoughts. Some developers don't see software development as a career they see it as a means to an end. They come to work at nine and finish at five and are not interested in learning anything other than what is directed by their company. Some developers are happy to work with older technologies day in day out and are not interested in raising their head above the parapet to take a look at what's going on in the world outside. This creates problems for them and the teams they work with because in the long term they will become obsolete as do the technologies they are working with, and it causes divisions as teams are held back from moving forward and the passionate developers are held back.

Some developers see training and personal technical development as something they should get paid for and something which should only happen during work hours, they will only attend events if their company pays for them to go and gives them time off to go. This attitude is seriously flawed when under hard times the first thing that is often cut is a company's training budget, so hence personal technical development stutters and stall.

Other developers are passionate about software development and see their role as a long term career which they are always looking to build on. Some developers want to work with code all day every day, some want to move towards architecture and beyond. They spend huge amounts of their own personal time learning, reading blogs, RSS feeds, tweets, journals, attending User Group events and community conferences, taking part in online seminars. They will bring this enthusiasm back to the team, distribute the information and hope that their enthusiasm and passion rubs off on the other developers in the team. Even better if there are a number of passionate developers within the team they feed off each other and drive standards higher and higher.

So we have roughly three groups, the 9-5ers who just see software development as a job, those that see their own technical development and progression as the responsibility of their employer and not themselves and finally there are the passionate developers who want to share their passion. So why are there so few of the last category both in the industry and available?

The possible options are that:

  • The passionate developers are employed in teams of equally passionate developers by employers who recognise that passion and how to nurture it
  • Those developers who once were passionate about software development have been taken advantage of by colleagues and employers who rely on those individuals to provide training and technical development for the whole team, and have now lost their passion
  • They have left the industry/country and taken their passion elsewhere.
  • ???

I'd really be interested to hear your views on this topic so please leave comments below and I'll follow up this post based on your comments. One group of developers who I haven't discussed in this post are graduate/student developers but that would be a complete post on it's own.

Never Was So Much Owed By So Many To So Few

September 15, 2010 10:00 by Andrew Westgarth

Just a small post to issue my personal tribute on Battle of Britain Day in it’s 70th Anniversary Year.

The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

Winston Churchill. House of Commons, August 20th 1940.

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/september/15/newsid_3521000/3521611.stm

Never_was_so_much_owed_by_so_many_to_so_few

thefewjpg



MCTS

Post calendar

<<  August 2014  >>
MoTuWeThFrSaSu
28293031123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
1234567

Disclaimer

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

© Copyright 2014