Andrew's Blog

Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

MSDN Roadshow Newcastle - Review

May 19, 2008 09:43 by Andrew Westgarth

On Friday 16th May 2008, Newcastle hosted the MSDN Roadshow event -  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!

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

April 16, 2008 05:25 by Andrew Westgarth


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 -

To register visit -

NxtGenUG Fest 08 - Thursday June 12th 2008

March 30, 2008 10:58 by Andrew Westgarth

Dave McMahon has just sent through details of NxtGenUG's next conference, FEST 08, being held at Microsoft's Reading Offices on Thursday June 12th 2008.  More details:

NxtGenUG don't do conferences, they just have a good time and FEST08 which takes place at TVP Reading, promises to be in the normal vein of NxtGenUG events.  Great sessions, Pizza and Swag.  The theme this year is "Data Today, Data Tomorrow" and there are new sessions from Oliver Sturm on F#, Dave Sussman on ASP.NET Dynamic Data Controls and Ridgian's BI expert Dave Morrow on SQL Server Analysis Services.  There will be the keynote from Rich and Dave and a brand new gameshow called "Who's Session Is It Anyway?

As before its free to all NxtGenUG members and £49.99 to non-members.  FEST07 was a memorable event last year, FEST08 will be equally memorable. You'll learn some great stuff about Data related technologies, meet some great people, have some fun and leave with a bag load of Swag! Don't miss it!

For more info -

Developer Day Scotland - Agenda Published - REGISTRATION OPEN!

March 17, 2008 03:00 by Andrew Westgarth

Developer Day Scotland is another great community event, being run by the community for the community.  The events is being held in Glasgow on Saturday 10th May 2008 and best of all it's free!!.  The agenda has now been published - and there are some great sessions running.  Unfortunately I am not going to be able to make it to DDS, something I'm quite disappointed about but I have other family commitments in the North East on that day.

I urge any developers who live in Scotland or the North of England who can get to Glasgow on the 10th May to register for this event and attend - I'm confident you'll find it very worthwhile.

To register -

Developer Day Scotland - By The Community For the Community - 10th May 2008 in Glasgow

Play Your Part in Swaggily Fortunes at Next Weeks Launch Event

March 11, 2008 03:07 by Andrew Westgarth

Next week is the UK Launch event for Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 in Birmingham and as part of the many, many community activities going on the NxtGenUG Boyz, will be running more rounds of their legendary gameshow - Swaggily Fortunes and they've sent a mail asking for some help from all of you out there - even if you can't attend the actual event!

Wednesday March 19th 2008 is of course the UK 2008 Launch Event.  As part of the event, those NxtGenUG Boyz are running one of their gameshows, which will take place about 6.00pm during the evening drinks and nibbles.  "Swaggily" Fortunes is a take on the well known TV Quiz show in which teams of contestants are asked, for example, "We asked 100 Developers ... To Name a .NET Language".  Those teams that guess correctly what the answers were get to win some fantastic "swag" -- after a few rounds of mayhem!

You can help be part of this 'great' occasion by going to and answering 8 short questions.  Your answers will go towards making up the choices which the teams have to guess.  The NxtGenUG lads have run this several times in the past always to great reviews, and it makes for a fun, relaxed way to wind down from the days sessions.

First Ever Developer Day Ireland - Registration Now Open!

March 4, 2008 02:17 by Andrew Westgarth

Developer Developer Developer! Community Events LogoYes, it's true, as has been muted on a number of blogs recently, on Saturday May 3rd 2008 the Developer Day Crew will be heading over  to Galway to take the DDD Concept/Event/Cracking Day full of Developer Content to the Emerald Isle!  Once again this will be a free event and the line up of speakers and content is looking very, very impressive -; plus as an added bonus there will be a full track covering WCF, delivered by Dominick Baier, Christian Weyer, Daniel Fisher and Michael Willers!

Registration is now open for what is shaping up to be a great event so I advise any Irish Developer to take a look at the agenda and get yourself there, after all it's on a Saturday, it's free and it's by The Community FOR the Community! -

Developer Day Scotland - Session Voting Now Open

March 4, 2008 01:58 by Andrew Westgarth

It's getting closer and I'm probably a little late in posting about this but hoping I catch the eye of a number of developers in the North of England.  Developer Day Scotland is being held in Glasgow on Saturday 10th May and the session voting is now open.  If you are considering attending DDS this is a great way to have a chance to influence the content of the day - so get voting now! - Developer Day Scotland!

Developer Day Scotland - By The Community for The Community - 10th May 2008 in Glasgow

VBUG Peterborough - First Meeting - Team Foundation Server with Richard Fennell

January 30, 2008 14:53 by Andrew Westgarth

Tonight I travelled to Peterborough (Big thumbs up to National Express East Coast for the free wi-fi access to all passengers!!) for the first VBUG meeting of a new VBUG region.  We have a new coordinator in Jyoti and I would like to thank her for all her hard work in getting the meeting together and a big thanks to Johnston Press for hosting the event for us and supplying plenty of additional swag. Big thanks also to Richard for travelling to Peterborough to present.

We had a great evening filled with technical content, pizza and the obligatory swag.  Richard covered many aspects of TFS and gave a good overview mixed with personal experience and tips and tricks.  To access Richard's slides please go to DDD5 Presentation - Team Foundation Server and why not also check out Richard's Blog - But It Works On My PC!!

This is the start of a new region for VBUG so we welcome you to attend if it is local to you.  If there is a topic you would like to see covered at forthcoming meetings please contact me through this blog or contact VBUG, alternatively if you would like to speak at a VBUG meeting please contact VBUG and we will look at putting a meeting together.

VBUG Newcastle - .Net 3 - The Game Challenge With Oliver Sturm

January 30, 2008 01:29 by Andrew Westgarth

The details of the next VBUG Meeting in Newcastle have been announced.  I am very pleased to announce that we have Oliver Sturm visiting to cover .Net 3.0 and to put some fun into it with a Game Challenge!

Topic: VBUG: '.NET 3 - The Game Challenge' with Oliver Sturm

.NET 3 - The Game Challenge

Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) are two important pillars of Microsoft's next generation development platform. Since Visual Studio Orcas has been released, these components are becoming relevant in every day developer life. This session provides an overview of both technologies by demonstrating their combined use in a network enabled Connect Four game.

Location: Royal Station Hotel, Neville Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 5DH

Price: FREE

To Register go to:

PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE OF VENUE.  The issue of venues is a particularly pertinent one with the Newcastle Area and one which I would like to discuss with any delegates who attend this meeting or who regularly attend VBUG/SUGUK Meetings in the North East.  I have a number of options which I will be outlining and discussing at this meeting.  If you have any thoughts on any locations in Newcastle or the surrounding area which would offer a FREE monthly evening venue for VBUG and SUGUK meetings with good transport links, please let me know.

SQLBits 2008, 1st March 2008 - Birmingham - Registration Now Open

January 30, 2008 01:20 by Andrew Westgarth

Tony Rogerson has sent through details of the forthcoming SQLBits 2008 Community Day in Birmingham.  Registration is now open and I expect that it will fill soon so if you would like to attend please register quickly and support Tony and the rest of the team on what looks to be a great day.


SQLBits LogoMicrosoft

Registration is now open for SQLBits 2008 March event.

Come and join us at the Lakeside Conference Centre in Birmingham for SQLBits (the sql); believe me the sessions are way better than the punch line! We have kept costs low with help from our sponsors, so low in fact it's free to attend again.

20 technical Sessions broken up into 4 tracks covering all areas a SQL Pro is interested in and on top of that a recruitment panel and new product demonstrations - something for everybody - Development, DBA, Business Intelligence and of course SQL Server 2008. Check out the confirmed sessions.

Technical Sessions end at 5pm but the day continues first with a Recruitment panel and New production demos and then into an informal networking and social evening at our Group By drinks reception - a great opportunity to relax and chat about our holidays, hobbies, ok - get real - more SQL!

Register quickly; we ran out of places in 8 days at the October 2007 event.

Register Me For SQLBits 2008

Technical Session List:

SQL Server 2008
Making more of SSIS in 2008
Reporting in SQL Server 2008
SQL Server 2008 – Declarative Management Framework concepts & database problem solutions with policy management.
Where do you live? Intro to spatial indexing
SQL Server 2008 TSQL Enhancements

Business Intelligence
Using Analysis Services as a data source for Reporting Services reports
Extending SSIS with custom Data Flow components
Master Data Management (MDM)


SQL Server High Availability and Disaster Recovery Overview
What Are You Waiting For?
I/O! I/O! It’s off to disk we go...
Introduction to SQL 2008 Performance Data Collector
"SELECT TOP(@x) Name FROM MyFavouriteDMVs ORDER BY MyRanking"
Administering SQL Server 2008 and 2005 with Windows PowerShell
Transient data in SQL Server
Getting to grips with Service Broker.
2005 SQLCMD Scripting
Understanding LINQ in .NET Framework V3.5 and Beyond
Development Life Cycle using Visual Studio Team Edition for DB Professionals
Making the leap into Advanced SQL

Tony Rogerson, SQL Server MVP
UK SQL Server User Group

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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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