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Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

VBUG Newcastle Event: Sept 4th 08 - ASP.Net MVC Framework Preview with Alan Dean

August 11, 2008 04:41 by Andrew Westgarth

Next month sees the resumption of the VBUG Newcastle meetings and I have Alan Dean coming up to deliver a session on the ASP.Net MVC Framework Preview.  I am looking forward to Alan's visit and seeing if he can convince me about MVC as I am still not convinced - it looks too much like old asp to me :o.

Details of the session:

Alan will be providing an introduction to the new ASP.NET MVC Framework Preview and, by way of association, usage of some new .NET 3.5 features such as LINQ. The talk will cover the MVC design pattern in outline, and demonstrate usage of the ASP.NET MVC Framework itself with a simple RESTful application

Alan Dean has been a professional developer for more than a decade, primarily in the retail sector, and is currently a Senior Technologist at Charteris. An unconventional thinker, he has been involved in REST and the semantic web for 7 years. He is also a committed extreme programmer and one of the Alt.Net UK Conferences organisers.

Location: Castle Gate, Melbourne Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 2JQ, GB

Registration is free, please register on the VBUG website

I look forward to seeing you there!  Also I have some good sessions in the plans for Newcastle for the rest of the year.  If you are based in the North East and attend user group meetings and would like to see a topic covered, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Categories: Events | VBUG
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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 - Web Client Software Factory with Gary Short

May 8, 2008 15:50 by Andrew Westgarth

On Wednesday 21st May VBUG Newcastle welcomes Gary Short, who will be delivering a session on the Web Client Software factory.  Gary is a Technical Evangelist for Developer Express and he is also a C# MVP.  He also helps to run the North East Scotland .Net User Group.  We're very pleased to have Gary presenting and look forward to seeing him in Newcastle.  Gary describes his session as:

Architects and developers can use the Web Client Software Factory to quickly incorporate many of the proven practices and patterns of building Web client applications. These practices and patterns have been identified during the development of many Web client applications and their components.

The Web Client Software Factory provides an integrated set of guidance that assists architects and developers in creating composite Web applications and page flow client applications.

In this talk I will introduce you to the software factory and then I will demonstrate the power of the factory by building a line of business application in real time

We are once again at the excellent Castle Gate facility on Melbourne Street in Newcastle.  For more details and to register go to the VBUG Events page for this event -

Categories: Events | VBUG
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VBUG Newcastle - Heroes Happen Here Launch Event - Review

May 8, 2008 14:48 by Andrew Westgarth

Rik Hepworth Covering Windows Server 2008 Last Wednesday, the 30th April 2008, we held the VBUG Newcastle Heroes Happen Here Community Launch Event.  We were very pleased to have speaking for us, Richard Fennell and Rik Hepworth from Black Iain Angus Covering SQL Server 2008Marble and Iain Angus from Agilisys.  The evening was full packed, information overloaded and a full compliment of swag was on hand.  Rik started first and covered Windows Server 2008,  ably followed by Iain who covered SQL Server 2008 and Richard rounded off the sessions with Visual Studio 2008.  Each had only 45 minutes to cram in as much information and very well they did it too!  Its extremely difficult to get so much information into such a short time and still manage to stress the focus on the most salient points.  Pizza was on hand to provide sustenance to the whole crowd and the evening ended with a veritable delight of swag.  On the night we gave away five launch packs (including licenses for VS08 Standard, SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008), two copies of Vista Ultimate with SP1, three TechNet Pro subscriptions, and each attendee left with at least an exam voucher and a Channel 9 Guy!!  Many wondered what Channel 9 is and were duly informed!

Richard Fennell Covering Visual Studio 2008All had a good night, saw some excellent content and left with swag.  Big thanks to our new venue hosts - The Castle Gate - this venue is held in an old Power Building from the old Newcastle Tram System and  they have some great sized rooms, including a large hall capable of seating 550 ish people.  If you're looking for a reasonably priced venue in the centre of Newcastle, check them out!  We hope to be back there soon!  

To view the slides from the event go to -

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Post VBUG Mini Conference in Birmingham

May 7, 2008 23:27 by Andrew Westgarth

On Thursday 24th April 2008, VBUG held a mini conference in Birmingham, covering VS08, WPF, WF, MOSS and SilverLight.   This was a great day and delegate feedback was good.  Big thanks to our speakers - Mark Quirk, Dave McMahon, Gary Short (who stepped in at very short notice), Oliver Sturm and Richard Costall.  During the day amongst the great sessions delivered, I also delivered a very, very brief opening keynote and a lunchtime nugget on Developing Apps with Virtual Earth - all of the slides and samples from the keynote and nugget can be found on my Slides and Resources page.  Any questions please contact me and I'll do my best to answer them as quickly as possible.

Categories: Events | VBUG
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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 -

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 -

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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What is VBUG All About? With Added Silverlight Goodness

April 1, 2008 15:00 by Andrew Westgarth

Recently VBUG Vice Chairman Tim Leung, prepared a brief video about the work we do at VBUG and the support we give developers in aiming to achieve our goal of Developing the Developer!, for the Microsoft VS08/SQL08/Server 08 Launch Event in Birmingham.  We didn't want to waste all of Tim's hard work and not use the video for anything other than the launch event, so last night I took a look into how we could stream the video using Silverlight and was surprised to see how easy it is :).

First I was concerned with bandwidth usage, yes it's a small video but still I didn't have any idea of how many view it would receive, but then I remembered that Microsoft are offering Silverlight hosting as part of the initiative to get developers working with the technology.  They provide 10GB of storage for videos and applications with an aggregated 5TB of Bandwidth per user account per month.  All you need to get an account is a Windows Live ID.  So off I headed to and setup an account :). 

Next I uploaded our video.  From here you can choose to create an application for your content.  I didn't have time for this and to be honest I haven't had chance to do a great deal with Silverlight yet.  So then I was stumped at how to embed our video on our pages at but then whilst managing my uploaded video I noticed that it offered a code snippet with details of how to insert an iFrame into any web page, so off I went and copied this snippet into our VBUG home page and voila we now have streaming video content on our web site. 

I've also put the video here at the bottom of this post, to demonstrate how easy it is and to answer a few questions about what VBUG is and does.  Let me know what you think :).

Categories: ASP.Net | VBUG
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VBUG Spring Developer Conference - Thursday 24th April 2008

March 31, 2008 03:47 by Andrew Westgarth

On Thursday 24th April 2008, in Birmingham, VBUG will be holding a 1 day Spring Developer Conference.  We have a great collection of speakers lined up for the day and the agenda is of a high quality with some excellent content.

Sessions and Speakers:

  1. Visual Studio 2008 - Mark Quirk
  2. Workflow Foundation 101 - Maurice De Beijer
  3. WPF Business Apps (2 Parts) - Oliver Sturm
  4. Silverlight Showcase - Richard Costall
  5. Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007 - Dave McMahon

The fee for the conference is £119.00 ex VAT for VBUG Members and £149.99 ex VAT for non VBUG Members - for more details and to book see

Categories: Events | VBUG
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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.


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