We know that the attendees at each meeting span vastly different levels of experience in .NET and our past topics such as Pragmatic SOA, BizTalk and ESB, LINQ and ORM have been pretty hard core so this time around we wanted to do something for the beginner.
I discussed the idea of doing a talk for beginners with Brian a couple of months back and fortunately he was keen to do so. What came from our talk wildly exceeded what I had had in mind at the time :)
Initially I was a bit worried whether we'd misjudged the interest in a meeting centered on the beginner because we had a pretty poor number of sign-ups but that took off the final week before the meeting and we ended up with around twenty people attending this one.
But before I get into the actually topic of our meeting let me first start out by summarizing what the core group has been doing since last time.
Core Group One Person Down
Our core group and thus responsible people for running ANUG consists of Brian Holmgård Kristensen, Lars Buch-Jepsen, Peter Loft Jensen, and of course myself. You might notice that the list is shorter than it used to be. Morten Vadstrup sadly had to leave the core group because of time constraints. We're debating whether to bring on a fifth person again as we're pretty much covered with the people we have now.
Speakers and Meeting Places
As always we're looking for new speakers and places to hold the meetings. We've been very fortunate thus far to have very good support from the local companies but we're definitely starting to put more work into finding new place to hold the meetings.
As always I encourage you to ping me if the company you work in would be interested in holding a meeting at their offices. Getting a visit from ANUG is a great opportunity to market your company to just the right people if you're looking for talent. As a rule the company holding the meeting gets 30 min. to talk about their culture, development cycle, etc. in the interest of both giving something back to the company gracious enough to provide for us and also to give the attendees a better idea of the kind of companies that exist in the area.
Should you be interested in giving a talk on a particular topic please don't hesitate in contacting me. We're always looking for speakers. We're seeing tremendous interest in topics like Silverlight, Powershell, dynamic languages in .NET, even ASP.NET, basically most .NET related topics have come up during our discussions of what to bring up next so don't hold back :) Contact me today.
Schedule Meetings on Facebook
We looked into the various offerings out there to see what would support our needs when it comes to announcing the meetings in a structured fashion as it's quickly become clear that we need more than just the blog. With the blog it's simply not possible to schedule to far in the future as the post itself would get lost in the noise from the other posts.
We took a look at Facebook which is a site that I hadn't tried myself, luckily Jacob Saaby Nielsen took the initiative to form a Facebook group for ANUG. It turns out that Facebook provides just what we need to schedule our meetings so we've decided to go ahead and use Facebook for scheduling meetings and for signing up.
I realize that you need a Facebook account to get going and that that presents additional effort to get people to attend but in the long run I firmly believe that this way of doing things offers the best options for us as we need to leverage all the help we can get.
If you wish to attend a meeting I encourage you to sign up on Facebook as the companies giving us shelter usually are kind enough to also provide food and drink so be courteous to them and let them know that you're coming so they can order the right amount for us.
To make it easy to get to the group we've created an alias which is easy to remember. Just use www.anug.dk/Facebook
Become a Member of ANUG: Join LinkedIn
LinkedIn is now the official way of becoming a member of ANUG, we decided to stick with LinkedIn because of the professional aspects of the site. We really want our members to benefit from participating in the meetings and one way of doing just that is to expand the network of the attendees which LinkedIn is perfect for. Also we'll use the member list on the LinkedIn site to send out newsletters to keep you abreast of new meetings, updates on the group, and so forth.
As with the Facebook group we've created an easy to remember alias to get to the invitation to the ANUG group on LinkedIn. Just just www.anug.dk/LinkedIn
Our meeting schedule is booked until March which makes me very happy as my job is much more relaxed that way :) Coming this December we've got the Christmas dinner although it's too late to sign up now. Sorry about that.
January will bring a talk about C# 3.0 and VB 9 to be given by Henrik Lykke Nielsen, MS Regional Director for Denmark. The meeting will be held at the Vertica offices.
February brings us a talk on Team System and CMMI from Systematic, the meeting is to be held there as well. Details are still not completely in place for this one but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless.
March will be very interesting as it will bring us both our long awaiting Code Camp for .NET Beginners as a follow-up to this meeting. We haven't decided on a date yet but expect it to be sometime in the middle of March.
It's a two for one month in March so we'll give you a talk on Workflow Foundation by Henrik Kristensen from Scanvaegt International A/S as well.
More information will follow on Facebook.
New Concept for Meetings: Open Space
We've been playing around with the idea of expanding the social aspects of the user group for a while now and the way we intend to do is to employ the Open Space idea where the attendees themselves set the agenda and everybody participate in the discussion. What we see at the meetings is that people don't get nearly enough time to interact with each other as a consequence we'll do entire meetings which are about that and only that. I have high hopes for the concept and the attendees at the meeting did so too so that'll definitely be something to look forward to.
We got a suggestion at the meeting to snap more pictures at future meetings. We'll definitely try and do something about that. Everybody are welcome to bring a camera are fire away though :)
Professional .NET for Beginners, Brian Holmgård Kristensen
The main event of the evening was my colleague Brian who gave a very nice talk on .NET for beginners. The premise for the talk was to create a blog web application and in the process giving the attendees a look into some of the tools and techniques that go into creating such a thing.
Brian had a limited number of slides and instead chose to let the code speak for him. It's always an interesting proposition to do a lot of code on screen as a lot can go wrong when you choose to do so. We did get a first hand example of this as Visual Studio refused to play nice after only a couple of minutes of presentation. Ultimately it turned out that using beta versions of released software for a presentation is a bit too overconfident :) A break and a restart of Visual Studio made everything right and Brian could continue on with no further incidents to report.
One thing that is ultra important when doing a lot of code on screen is to run at a low resolution with nice big fonts which unfortunately Brian did choose to do. It's a technicality but it's shame that such a small thing deducts from an otherwise great presentation, and it was a great presentation. I was especially impressed by the level of interactivity, it was right up there with the LINQ presentation that Søren Skovsbøll did the last time around. People were very eager to know more about various ASP.NET 3.5 technologies such as Master pages and even the details of coding in the .NET Framework itself.
Brian paid great attention to detail and didn't leave anything hanging, every time he introduced a new concept he thoroughly explained it as to not confuse anybody. At times the attention to detail became also too much but with the fact in mind that the presentation wasn't intended for people like me I don't believe that that was a actual problem for anyone also but me :)
All in all Brian did a very good job in engaging the attendees and he covered nicely when Visual Studio started acting up. He'd made an entire story line to follow in which he started out with a static HTML page and gradually made it data driven; in truth a very compelling way of getting his points across.
The data driven web application is a demo that the Microsoft people are very fond of. You've probably seen it done numerous times but as always we try and do thing differently for the ANUG meetings. What sets Brian's presentation apart from the others is the fact that he actually did a properly n-tiered architecture, he even provided facilities to demonstrate the importance of encapsulation. No drag and drop of data source to be found anywhere, everything was done by hand. This part of the presentation is my very favorite because it not only sets what we do with ANUG apart from the Microsoft events which is our stated goal it also shows that doing a data driven demo app in the proper way is not only feasible but absolutely possible in the very short amount of time usually available to these kinds of presentations.
The guys present seemed very keen on getting their hands on the source code so we're providing it for download along with his slides.
Tour de Scanvaegt
Due to the many questions Brian's presentation did drag on a bit but luckily Henrik Kristensen was unfazed by this fact and gave some interesting insight into Scanvaegt which hosted the meeting. Scanvaegt is actually an old company which harkens back to 1932. I had no idea that they'd actually been around so long.
He went on to tell us about their way of developing the software supporting the huge and complicated machinery that they create. They've had a couple of bouts with agile methodologies and even tried to do a big bang implementation of XP as a process which was unsuccessful. They're father down the agile path agile now by adopting a slower pace and working with mindset instead of tools and techniques, something I wholeheartedly agree with as that's the way we're making it happen inside Vertica as well. We pick and choosing the pieces which make sense to us and implement them one at a time, it looks like we're pretty much on the same page there.
The highlight to me was when Henrik showed a video of one of the sorting machines which sorted chicken fillets into plastic trays, the fascinating part of this was that it placed the fillets facing the same way every single time it place a new on in tray.
He also told us about a cool sounding machine that's able to decide how large a particular piece of meat is by way of 3D photography. With a 3D model of the piece meat built up it'll then proceed to calculating how thick it must make each steak to get the desired number of steaks. Incredible. The videos really hammer home the coolness of this so I'm trying to get Henrik to put a couple on YouTube if possible.
We never got around to doing open forum this time around.