Andrew's Blog

Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

SQL Bits March 2008 - Sessions Loaded, Get Voting

January 4, 2008 00:51 by Andrew Westgarth
1st March 2008 sees the next SQL Bits Community Conference which will be at the Aston University Lakeside Conference Centre; the organisers are expecting around 500 people for this exciting one day 4 track - 20 session conference.

Proposed sessions are now available on where you can also vote for your favourite 10.

Voting closes in a couple of weeks so please do your voting today!

CANCELLED!! - SharePoint User Group and VBUG North East Meeting - December 10th 2007!

December 10, 2007 01:52 by Andrew Westgarth

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel tonight's meeting due to illness.  Apologies for very late notice.  We hope to reschedule in the New Year.  Keep an eye on and for news of a new program of meetings for the North East in the New Year!

Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year to all!

SQL Bits II (the SQL!) - 1st March 2008 - Birmingham - Call for Speakers!

December 7, 2007 07:50 by Andrew Westgarth

Tony Rogerson has just sent the details through regarding the opening on speaker session submissions for the second SQL Bits event, this time held in Birmingham on Saturday 1st March 2008.  This is another great community event, it's free, it's on a Saturday and if SQL is your bag then I recommend attendance.  Even better if you feel like speaking why not submit a session?

The October SQL Bits was a resounding success, we had 321 delegates on the day and feedback was brilliant, hot on the success of that conference we have started the planning for the next SQL Bits conference which will be held at the Lakeside Conference Centre in Birmingham on 1st March 2008.

We are looking for sessions that cover any topic related to SQL Server, Database Administration like Design, High Availability, Tuning etc.., Development like coding (application, CLR etc..), Business Intelligence - “ SSAS, SSIS, SSRS etc...“ Basically anything you think relevant and would interest the general SQL professional using SQL Server whether full or part time.

Please submit your sessions to, any problems or questions please email me and I'll do my best to answer.

Sessions are 60 minutes; although we can split the sessions up into multiples if you feel you only want to do part of that time.
The deadline for session submission is 25th December so get your session proposals in quickly!

INETA Europe - European Silverlight Challenge Competition!!

December 4, 2007 01:00 by Andrew Westgarth

Hot on the heels of Scott's announcement on the future roadmap for Silverlight.   The UK Community are pleased to announce INETA Europe's First Silverlight Challenge Competition.  The details of which are as follows:


INETA Europe, is running an European Silverlight Competition.  The competition is open now and runs until January 2th 2008.

How to enter?  Easy.  Create a .Net Component or Application using Silverlight and release it through an Open Source license (MS-PL) so INETA User Groups, Communities, Developers and Designers can use it on their own sites.

Each participating country will select a winner and then an European Silverlight Challenge winner will be drawn among the winners of the participating countries.

Entries will be awarded marks in the following four areas: Originality, Software Technique, Design and Utilisation.

Take part and take on the challenge and you could win amazing prizes with a market value close  to €150,000

For more information on the UK Competition go to and for more information on the whole competition go to

For banners and other images go to:

Prize details -

SharePoint User Group and VBUG North East Meeting - December 10th 2007!

November 27, 2007 05:08 by Andrew Westgarth

After the very successful first meeting in Newcastle back in September, I've been working with Nick Swan from the SharePoint User Group to put on another meeting.  This time we have two great speakers and SharePoint MVP's, Penny Coventry and Steve Smith delivering two great sessions:

  • Penny will be covering SharePoint Designer for All - Penny Coventry During this session, you'll see how SharePoint Designer can be used to customise SharePoint Team Sites, advanced data manipulation using the DataView Web Part, consume RSS feeds and how to complete administrative tasks, such as moving documents, including their metadata and limiting what users can do with SharePoint Designer
  • Steve will be covering ForeFront Security for SharePoint - Steve Smith Find out how to use Microsoft’s security product lo lock down your SharePoint environment including Anti Virus , Keyword Checking and Content Filtering

The meeting is being held at the BT offices, Unit 7, Room 3, Innovation Place, Delta Bank, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, NE11 9DJ - for a map go to

To register for the event please go to the VBUG website - VBUG and SUGUK: Newcastle - SharePoint Designer for All and Forefront Security

If you are a SharePoint Administrator, Developer or just want to find out more about MOSS, please come along all are welcome.

SQL Bits 2 - A Change of Location Too!

November 27, 2007 05:01 by Andrew Westgarth

SQL Bits Logo After the very successful SQL Bits event held in October in Reading, the organisers have another event planned for Saturday 1st March 2008 in Birmingham!  The change of venue is great and will enable many more who find the location of Microsoft in Reading prohibitive.  This event will be a full on day of SQL topics so if that is of interest to you subscribe to the RSS Feed and keep an eye on for more information.

Developer Day Scotland!! - Saturday May 10th 2008

November 27, 2007 04:57 by Andrew Westgarth

Developer Day Scotland Logo Developer Day Scotland has been announced for Saturday May 10th 2008.  This is the first event to be arranged based on the DDD format, but in another part of the UK.  DDS will be held in Glasgow on Saturday May 10th 2008 and will again be a free event with two tracks with a capacity of 120 attendees.  Speaker session submission is now open and the organisers are also looking for sponsors too.  Anyone who is the North East and West of England if you haven't been to DDD in Reading I recommend you put the date in your diary and keep and eye on the DDS website as this is shaping up to being a great event and well worth attending - .  I personally am planning on proposing a couple of sessions for selection and will also be hoping to attend even if not speaking so see you there.  Support this great event!

Back From DDD6

November 27, 2007 04:50 by Andrew Westgarth

On Saturday I attended DDD6 down at Microsoft's UK Campus in Reading.  This was another great event and a great opportunity to catch up with people and make new contacts.  I attended a full complement of sessions and found the day relaxed and useful.  The great thing about events such as DDD is that the agenda is selected by the community, the sessions are proposed by the community and the days are organised by the community.  Also because of the breadth of topics being covered I was able to cover topics which I wouldn't always be able to. 

I started off my day with a session from Dave Sussman on the forthcoming Dynamic Data Controls for ASP.Net.  Dave is a great speaker and is also very honest in his opinions, perfectly accompanied with Phil's opinions too and this gave the session a real life feel and led the audience to make their own minds up on the real use of the tools.  Essentially the people in the room were the first to see this build of the controls, they provide a good way of creating a quick admin site for a database but beyond that as Dave and Phil said, it is unclear where they would be used.

I saw Gary Short present on his Favourite Patterns next, this is a session which I have been looking forward to seeing and I'm hoping to sort out a date for Gary to come and present at VBUG in Newcastle in the New Year.  I enjoyed this session because patterns and practices is an area which I think a lot of developers, myself included, are looking to gain more knowledge and focus in, due to the pressures of time at work this is often where events like DDD can help with delivering content on this type of topic.  I enjoyed the session and look forward to learning more as I get further into the path which Gary has started.

Ben Lamb's session - Being Lazy with PowerShell was interesting and gave a quick roundup of PowerShell and why Developers should care about it.  The power of CmdLets and the control over the shell which PowerShell gives is great and I will be looking to cover a little more of PowerShell as I look at how it can be used with IIS7.

The penultimate session I attended was organised by Colin Mackay and was a Question Time type panel on the subject of Recruitment.  The panel consisted of Sarah Blow, founder of Girl Geek Dinners and Software Engineer, Barry Dorrans, Senior Consultant and Microsoft MVP, Frank Kerrigan, Development Team Lead and Karl Lightfoot, a recruitment consultant.  Colin had a series of questions submitted but also questions were taken from the floor in this hour long session.  This was a session which I had been looking forward to as this is a topic discussed within the Community at length.  Questions covered issues such as balancing evangelism and work; how to get started in the industry; what sort of positions to look for?; Why whiteboards are used in interviews?; Technical Testing methods.  This was great session and interesting to hear the issues from the four perspectives on the panel.  I'm sure this session could have occupied a lot more time.

Finally I attended Barry's session on Web Services? We don't need no web server.  This was a great session, despite Barry's live coding and time issues, and the way in which Barry handled the problems are a lesson to all presenters.  The content quality was as usual high and gave a good grounding on WCF and benefits over Remoting.  It is very difficult to find a good session on WCF as it can be a very dry topic, however this cleared up a lot of confusion and initial quandaries over WCF and I'm looking forward to having more of a look at WCF - especially with PAS on IIS7 - soon.

Overall another great day and well worth the drive down from the North East.

Tech Ed Developers 2007 - Women In Technology

November 11, 2007 15:49 by Andrew Westgarth

Women In Technology I attended a lunchtime session on the subject of Women in Technology whilst attending Tech Ed Developers.  This was held on the Wednesday Lunchtime and was very interesting and thought and hopefully action provoking session.  I have written a blog post for the Girly Geekdom Blog - Women In Technology - Tech Ed EMEA 2007.  If you are a girl in the Technology industry I invite you to subscribe to the Girly Geekdom Blog and why not attend or get involved with the Girl Geek Dinners?

Tech Ed Developers - Community Activities and Podcasts

November 11, 2007 15:42 by Andrew Westgarth

Throughout the course of the week at Tech Ed Developers there were a number of community events held in the community lounge.  Primarily these were delivered by UK Community members and leaders and brought a great buzz to the hall and the event.  Dave, Rich and John from NxtGenUG hosted the Speaker Idol competition and regularly hosted gameshows for attendees such as Swagilly Fortunes, Who Wants to Be a Swaggionaire and although the participation was hesitant once the swag started flowing attendees were flocking to take part.  The Speaker Idol competition was great and there were some excellent quality speakers and topics.  Each speaker had five minutes to deliver a presentation to an audience with the ultimate prize of presenting a session at next year's Tech Ed Developers.  One of the Judging Panel, Guy Smith-Ferrier has a blog post with a more details - TechEd Europe 2007 Speaker Idol Final

Also the NxtGenUG boys were podcasting daily from Tech Ed and as before I've mentioned their podcasts are excellent and I recommend you listen to them - Also Tim and I managed to get some more content for VBUG's podcasts and we're hoping to start publishing a number of podcasts this coming week.


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