Category Archives: User Groups

I’m going to DEVLINK!!!

I registered this week to go to DevLink. What? You haven’t heard of DevLink? It’s only the best conference bargain on the face of the earth! Two full days of developer sessions, and nationally known speakers. Rocky Lhotka, Rob Howard, Billy Hollis, Kathleen Dollard, just to name a few.

The conference price includes meals, the content on cd/dvd, a Friday night social, and of course a t-shirt! Oh, the price, that’s the best part, all this for $50. Yes, you read that right, FIFTY DOLLARS. I know, I about fainted too, and could kick myself for not knowing about this gem sooner.

The conference is on Friday and Saturday, October 12th and 13th in beautiful Nashville TN. Plenty of stuff for your family to do while you’re geeking it up.

DevLink, I’ll be there, ya’ll come! Tell ’em Arcane Code sent ya.

Arcane Stuff

Stepping away from WPF for a brief moment to pass along some interesting tidbits. First, there’s a new blog at Microsoft, the hackers blog. Should be interesting reading for those interested in security.

Next, if you are one of the few people in the universe who has not yet heard, Scott Hanselman’s incredibly useful list of tools for 2007 is up.

The Alabama Code Camp, which is scheduled for October 6th, has had it’s site updated. Note, it’s done in Silverlight, so you’ll need the latest Silverlight plug in to see it. (Don’t worry, the site will prompt you, quick and painless.)

You should also note there’s going to be a Silverlight Game contest. Design your own Silverlight game and you could win a Zune! See the site for details.

Finally, there’s an interesting looking conference going on in Nashville on October 12th and 13th called DevLink. They have some really big name speakers, with a really low admission. I’m planning on going, so maybe I’ll see you there!

Announcing the SOA Society

I’m pleased to announce the formation of Alabama’s newest user group, the SOA Society. The group will focus on Service Oriented Architecture, and educate its members on all aspects of SOA including design, implementation, development, maintenance.

In addition the group will cover the business side of SOA. We seek to educate enterprise leaders on topics like return on investment, creating business cases for implementing SOA, and encouraging a culture of designing systems from the outside in.

Our audience will be broad, we want to appeal to everyone from developers to IT managers to business owners, evangelizing the benefits of SOA as not only an internal productivity tool but a sales tool for interacting with your customers.

We plan to hold our first member drive at Birmingham Alabama’s TechBirmingham ( TechMixer in October 2007. Monthly meetings will then begin the same month, in the Birmingham area.

But you don’t have to wait! If you would like to get involved with the formation of the new group, or simply want to be added to the e-mail list shoot me an e-mail at arcanecode at gmail dot com. This is a community based group, and we welcome the involvement of the community!

Design From The Outside In – Establishing a New SOA Focused User Group

For those in the Birmingham, Alabama area, some colleagues and I are in the process of establishing a new user group. This group will focus on Service Oriented Architecture – SOA. While we plan to cover all aspects, from the top level design down to the nitty gritty details, our main focus will be in the architecture area.

If you have an interest in SOA, experience with it, are passionate about it, or just want to learn more we’d love to get your feedback. We hope to finalize a group name, establish meeting locations and dates, and begin getting programs lined up in the very near future.

For more info just e-mail me, arcanecode at gmail dot com.

Being a Better Developer… In 6 Months

Scott Hanselman’s show this week was killer. ( ). In it, Scott and Carl discuss a thread going around the internet, namely how to become a better developer in six months. They had some excellent ideas, some of which they were passing along from other posters, some were theirs. The post that seems to have started the whole thread was done buy a guy named Justice Gray, back in April. or . Just recently he posted a follow up at or .

I like the whole concept, and am going to implement my own version of it. And the first step is to declare what I’m going to do, so without further ado…

I’m going to start by reading a chapter a week from a book. Now, I know that doesn’t sound like much compared to the plans of others to read a book a week, but it leads to my next step…

I will work all the code samples in the book. Reading is one thing, but doing is even better. Personally, I find I get a better understanding when I actually type in the code samples and run them. And not just run what’s in the book, but tweak it, experiment with it. And then what will I do with my knowledge?

I will teach what I learn. The best way to learn is to teach. I’ll blog, talk with my co-workers over lunch, give presentations, but in some way I will give back what I learned. But I won’t stop this learning process with just books.

I’ll increase my listening of podcasts or videocasts. I recently got an inexpensive MP3/WMA player, which I load up with podcasts. This left the 1 gig card on my iPaq free, which I’ve loaded some videos on. Since the iPaq is portable, it increases my ability to watch these videos. Since I’ve blogged so much about podcasts in the past, I shan’t continue talking about them.

I’ll create at least one new presentation and give it to a user group. Again, the best way to learn is to teach, and there’s no better place than with your peers at your local user group.

I’ll look at the source code for an open source project. This is one I really loved from the show. Look at someone else’s code, see how it works, step through it. Right now I’ve got several in mind, first is the Paint.Net project ( ) since I think the graphics would be interesting, and graphics aren’t something I normally get to play with at work.

Next is RSSBandit, with the source at .The networking concepts in there should be quite useful in many instances. Finally is SharpDevelop ( ). It’d be interesting to see how an IDE works. I’m not sure which of the three I’ll look at, but these are on my short list.

I will learn a brand new or little used technology. There’s a lot of new technology out there, or tech I don’t read much about. Working a lot with the SQL Server BI (Business Intelligence) tools, the upcoming SQL Server 2008 sounds interesting. Of course there’s Visual Studio 2008. And XAML promises to be a hot topic, between WPF and Silverlight I think this will eventually be a “must” for everyone. Those are just some examples, find something that fascinates you and go learn.

The final two items on my list are suggestions from my manager, who my kids have dubbed “Mighty Mike”. I thought these were really good.

I will learn more about the business. No, not the business of programming, although that’s certainly important. I’m talking about what my company does. Most developers aren’t in a job where their company produces software. Instead our programming efforts help support the production of some product, which our company sells. I will learn more about that product, how it’s produced, what processes apply, and what the difficulties are. And finally….

I will get to know my customers. By that, I mean the people who are using, or are affected by the software I write. For most of us, those will be other employees of our company. Meet these people. Get to know them. Buy them a cup of coffee. Take a non-IT coworker to lunch every so often. Setup a half hour meeting with them every so often to learn and understand more about their job. Find out what their pain points are, find ways to solve their problems, offer them solutions to make their jobs better.

Whew, that’s quite the list. It will take a lot of balancing of my time to carry this off, but at the end of it I’ll be a better programmer.

To wrap this up, I’m supposed to tag four other developers, to challenge them as well. So here goes…

First is Jeff Barnes, . Payback time! (He knows why, heh heh heh).

Next is Todd Miranda, Birmingham’s newest MVP. Congrats Todd!

I think my next victim will be my brother-in-law, Dougal. Even though he’s not fortunate enough to work with .Net, he at least got to do some cool stuff with WordPress.

My final pick is that perfect blend of lunatic and coding genius, Mark Miller. It’s his fault I got deeply involved in coding again. I was thinking of getting into project management, but after seeing his talk at VSLive 2005 I got so enthused about coding again I jumped in with both feet and here I am. So how about it Miller, put down that McGriddle and blog something!

An now I challenge you, the reader of this post to go out and be a better developer. Post a link to your development plan. If you don’t have a blog of your own, feel free to post your plan below. Look at others, take the best of the ideas that will work for you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a lot of work to do!

Arcane Thanks

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone at BSDA tonight. I had a lot of fun, and the audience was very attentive and engaged. Even the “parking lot” session afterward was a lot of fun, some great questions and give and take. All in all it was not only a great experience but a lot of fun. Thanks guys!


Thanks for coming!

I just wanted to thank everyone who took the effort to come to the presentation I did tonight on SQL Server Compact Edition at the Birmingham Dot Net Users Group ( ). It was a small crowd but very engaged, all in all a very enjoyable evening for everyone.

As promised, here is a link to the Power Point presentation (in PDF format) I used during the presentation:

SSCE presentation for BUG.Net group

The complete C# and VB.Net code samples were posted April 13th, 2007:

And finally, the series of posts I mentioned on system Views started with this post on April 16th, 2007:

If you want to see all of my SSCE posts, simply click the SQL Server Compact Edition tag over in the categories area, or use this link:
Thanks again to  everyone, I had a great time and hope came away with a better understanding of SQL Server Compact Edition.