# Thursday, 05 June 2008

Community-People In my first post I covered the Why? of community and ended up with this mission statement, "The Danish .NET community is an open platform through which developers meet as equals to share experiences and inspire each other through enthusiasm".

With the Why? in place I followed up with What? and came up with my personal idea for the Danish .NET community, "The Danish .NET community is about face to face meetings where people participate on equal terms and secondarily about online activities to make up for the intervening periods.".

How?

And now for my favorite part of the series: The practical aspect. The how!

How do we go about creating an open platform through which developers meet to share experiences? In many way I already feel we've made good inroads on that one. Naturally I'm a little bit colored here due to my involvement in ANUG but I honestly feel that the the user groups out there are the very best vehicle for getting developers together. Especially with user groups popping up in major cities across Denmark and the possibility of cooperation between them.

That's why I'm taking the initiative to bring the core groups of the Danish .NET User Groups together on a regular basis to knit the enclaves of .NET community better together.

The NUGs will create a nice platform from which to create the informal gatherings which are the geek dinners. I like the idea of geek dinners and I feel that the informal nature of such gatherings help people let their guard down a bit and talk more freely about whatever challenges they're facing day to day.

Microsoft of course is playing their part in this with the TechTalks which I feel are much better than the Meet Microsoft events of yesteryear due to their clearer focus. Although I feel that Jutland is left out in the cold a bit.

Microsoft is very keen to help out and I've wracked my brain to come up with ideas for places where they can help out because basically the .NET community seen with my eyes is better than ever.

One way to help out the NUGs is by helping us put together large scale shared events, maybe full day events with specific themes and who knows, maybe in the long term we can go even bigger and create a yearly .NET conference? Microsoft has experience with this kind of stuff with the Meet Microsoft events and I feel it could work even better with the special sauce that the NUGs bring to the table.

Also I'd like to see large scale events based on the open space principle. Simply bring together a bunch of enthusiastic and opinionated people and have them go at it. We've discussed doing this within ANUG but we feel that the scale is too small to do it without any sort of structure. But imagine gathering people from across the country for a day of open space discussion; I see some magic happening there.

We need to take a long hard look at what's already out there and not try and create new initiatives. Basically what will happen is that we'll water down the community until relevant information is scattered across the ruins of the community useless to all. In that vain I propose that we start using some of the prominent .NET sites out there to share information like DotNetForum.dk. More specifically I'd like Microsoft to not try and invent the wheel by creating their own platform for sharing content. Use what's out there, use DotNetForum.dk, ActiveDeveloper.dk, or whatever else. Please don't try and do something completely new. Just get the content out there and back the existing efforts by doing so.

I was surprised to find that people place an enormous value on web casts and specifically on web casts created here in Denmark. I partially agree that they are a good vehicle for information but only for some information. I've given Daniel a though time in the past but he has proven that web casts are the way to go for personal interviews with people in the community. His unique position with Microsoft along with his outgoing personality makes him perfect to go out there and do just that.

These are some of my opinions and ideas on how we can make the .NET community even better. In short we need to create more opportunities for us to meet face to face and use the existing platforms to promote new content.

I'd like Morten Jokumsen's opinion on where he sees DotNetForum.dk, I'd like to hear from Daniel Mellgaard Frost and Bo Drejer whether we can establish a strategy based on some of this stuff, I'd like to hear from the powers that be at ONUG Jesper Blad Jensen, Joachim Lykke Nielsen, and Kasper Bo Larsen what their opinions on this are, and the same thing goes the KNUG guys Jakob T. Andersen and Mads Kristensen.

posted on Thursday, 05 June 2008 19:48:20 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback

Community-People This is my second post in the series Do! Community! Why? What? How?. In this post I'll try to address the What based on the mission statement from the previous post, "the Danish .NET community is an open platform through which developers meet as equals to share experiences and inspire each other through enthusiasm".

What?

What makes a community? I guess that's it different for each individual. For me it's all about meeting people and doing so continually. I first started feeling part of a community with my involvement in Århus .NET User Group and Danish Forum for .NET Architects.

Meeting the same people again and again, getting a sense of what they're about, and why they care about the things that they do, that's what community is for me.

Blogs, web casts, online articles, never really did it for me. To me it's very impersonal although once I've met a person I usually follow their blog religiously.

Everything should have the chance to participate in this on the level he or she desires be it as an attendee at a meeting, as a speaker, posting to a blog, whatever, and everybody should have even opportunity to do so.

The Danish .NET community is about face to face meetings where people participate on equal terms and secondarily about online activities to make up for the intervening periods.

Read part 3 Do! Community! How?

posted on Thursday, 05 June 2008 19:47:18 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Community-People In my last post I was pretty harsh in my statements about Microsoft and Daniel in particular but I felt it necessary to get out there in order to spark a debate or at least get the right people thinking about what's going on.

Now that said I also feel that whenever someone puts forth criticism it's vital to back it up with something substantial to address the situation. That's what I intend to do with my next couple of posts.

First I'd like to address why we should care about the community at all. The why of it. Second what can we do about it. The what. And finally I'll talk about ways to get where I'd like to see the community go. The how.

Background

I never felt as part of any community in my years working with Microsoft technology, not when I spent a lot of time answering questions on news groups, not when I spent time on Eksperten.dk, and not even when I attended the Meet Microsoft events regularly when they were still running.

During the last year though that started to change. Along with the other members of the core group I've busied myself with getting Aarhus .NET  User Group off the group. Right around the launch of ANUG I was invited to be part of the Danish Forum for Danish .NET Architects. Both initiatives have brought change to the way I think about the Danish community. With that in mind I'll try to explain why we should care or at least why I care.

Why?

To me community is inspiration, participation, enthusiasm. At the core of each of these words are people. Interaction with people, knowing people, sharing experiences with others.

I care about the community because I care about people. I care about creating something which benefits others, not just myself. That's why I blog, that's why I spend my spare time helping out with ANUG, that's why I take the time to answer every comment and e-mail I receive.

Simply put you should care about the community because it provides developers a great way of inspiring each other, of sharing the enthusiasm that most of us feel every day when we go to work, and finally because community knits together competency centers across the country which otherwise wouldn't benefit from each other.

In short I feel that we should care about the community because the Danish .NET community is an open platform through which developers meet as equals to share experiences and inspire each other through enthusiasm.

Read part 2 Do! Community! What?

posted on Thursday, 05 June 2008 19:46:35 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, 02 June 2008

publicvoid-logo I seldom take the time to respond to a blog post directly but in this case though I feel that I must.

Before I get to the actual commentary a little background on what's going on in the Danish Microsoft developer community: Microsoft Denmark is very eager to reboot their community effort. In that vain they're trying to engage the people who are active in the community. Central to this initiative is Daniel Mellgaard Frost, the new developer evangelist with Microsoft. Since he came on board two months ago he's been very visible and has shown lots of energy and enthusiasm for which I have nothing but praise to sing. All is well and good up to this point.

As part of this effort a number of people was named Microsoft Designated Information Providers of which I am one. This Wednesday all the MDIPs where pulled together for the first time in a community event set up by Daniel Mellgaard Frost.

I honestly didn't know what to expect and so I was rather shocked when Daniel stood up first thing and started rattling of all sorts of demands for content delivered by the MDIPs. Now don't get me wrong I'm happy to help out but I do so on my own time and because I enjoy the work I do with ANUG a great deal. Not because I seek to please Microsoft thank you very much. I'm sure that Daniel meant it well when he stood up and tried to take control of the meeting but he came off very matter of fact and became defensive when challenged on his point.

Bad start aside we did get a good discussion going and it seems that Microsoft is very keen to help us out. Now my only problem is that when we get right down to it all we got from the meeting was a whole bunch of fluff. I understand that we're in the early phase of this thing but honestly if the MS evangelists are so eager to make stuff happen in the community it would have been so much better come to the meeting with concrete initiatives instead of a lot of "we'd like to do this...", "we could do that...", "We don't want to step on anybody's toes...". In short I'm missing purpose and direction on this one. I simply didn't take away any sense of an overall strategy for the initiative which is a crying shame given all the energy put into it.

Case in point we wanted to create a place where the MDIPs could communicate about ideas which everybody felt would be a good thing. Now the MS guys seemed at a loss as how to make this happen. While the we were discussing various avenues of making this happen Morten Jokumsen simply whipped out his iPhone and created a new group on DotNetForum. See here's an example of "Do! Community!". Don't talk about it. Do it!

Another example is the community event scheduled for the next day open to anybody and everybody. A meeting set up by Daniel although he apparently didn't deem it necessary to come prepared or even well rested. He spent five minutes there before leaving the scene to the attendees. What happened after he left? Odense .NET User Group was formed by the attendees, web sites went up, and a core group of people committed themselves to getting the group off the ground. That's "Do! Community!". Don't set up a meeting like that, sit back, and wait to see if something might happen. Set something up and make it happen!

There is a lot, a lot! of good intentions within Microsoft to do good in the community but I feel that they're paralyzed from taking action. Everything seems to be a committee and they don't want to cause a stir by favoring one initiative other another. That's not doing. That's not even trying.

And finally we come to my point with all this. I'm not trying to bash Microsoft, the evangelists, or Daniel specifically. What I am trying to get across is the fact that before you can start acting up in the community you need to prove yourself. Prove that you want to make a difference. Even more importantly make an actual difference.

I know that Daniel is very active with ActiveDeveloper.dk, both now and prior to his job with MS as evangelist and he is trying to do good, not doubt about it. His latest post though seems to indicate that he feels that he personally is the driving force behind the Danish .NET community. I'm flabbergasted when I see comments like these , "you just have to kick people over the knee to make things happen", "the new Odense .NET User Group that I helped kick-start", and my personal favorite, "it's incredible how much I've accomplished over the last two months".

Now Daniel, I personally don't feel that you've accomplished anything as of yet. Yes, you've put heavens and seas in motion but that's a simple matter. Before putting comments like those online I'd like to see some follow through on the initiatives. Essentially it's all for naught until something is proved viable in the long term and we have yet to see that.

Do! Community!

posted on Monday, 02 June 2008 10:19:56 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback
# Friday, 30 May 2008

As an experiment I'm trying out Twitter a service for spewing your thoughts at the internet with little or no filtering. Kind of a public chat room.

http://twitter.com/publicvoid_dk

posted on Friday, 30 May 2008 14:32:52 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 16 May 2008

At Vertica we do our very best to keep everybody happy. We pull out all the stops with inspiring work environment, nice desktops, multiple monitors, top-notch salaries, food, private healthcare, fysio, massages, etc.. But best of all, like Apple we think differently too, the fruit of the day says it all.

Fruit-of-the-Day-2 

Yes that indeed is a rhubarb, and no I have no idea why the fruit company would think it a good idea to include it in the delivery :)

posted on Friday, 16 May 2008 15:30:36 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, 14 May 2008

ReSharper-Logo Getting "Failed to load the supplementary package '0c6e6407-13fc-4878-869a-c8b4016c57fe'" every time you fire up Visual Studio will make for veeery long dev days I tell you that. Luckily I was able to find the Issue Details in Jetbrains' JIRA which told me the issue was resolved in version 3.0. Doh! Reinstalling everything in sight won't help either...

A thread on the Jetbrains forum however lead me to the solution. You simply go like this from the Visual Studio 2008 SDK command promt:

devenv /ResetSkipPkgs

We were going through a rocky patch there, ReSharper and I, but I'm happy to report that we're back together and all is well :)

posted on Wednesday, 14 May 2008 15:14:57 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 13 May 2008

aspnet During my ANUG talk about the ASP.NET MVC Framework a question came up regarding what the landscape of ASP.NET land would look like with ASP.NET MVC being open source. Would we start to see lots of different branches floating around out there?

The answer to this is a resounding no as the license model of ASP.NET MVC only allows for you to download the code off of CodePlex, make changes, but not redistribute those changes.

What this means that you'll be able to take the code make tweaks here and there if you're not satisfied with how a particular aspect of ASP.NET MVC works.

The Gu has the word.

posted on Tuesday, 13 May 2008 09:23:26 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [4] Trackback
# Sunday, 04 May 2008

anug_logo_200x85 Our eleventh meeting is over with and I'm particularly relieved as I was doing the talking the entire evening this time around. Before I tell you more about it first let me take you through the user group news.

2008 Booked

I'm happy to announce that we've booked speakers for the rest of 2008 which means that we'll be able to take a breather until 2009 :) Getting people to present is just half the battle; we need a place to hold the meetings as well and we're not completely set on that front.

So which topics are we going to cover in the meetings to come? By popular request here's the complete list:

  • May, Windows Communication Foundation, Klaus Hebsgaard
  • June 20th, Geek Dinner
  • June, Test Driven Development, Mark Seemann
  • July, Open Space: Pro Tools
  • August, Subsonic, Lasse Eskildsen
  • September, F#, Christian Holm Nielsen
  • October, Usability, Søren Skovsbøll
  • November, BlogEngine.NET, Mads Kristensen
  • December 12th, Geek Christmas Dinner, *.*

I'm very happy about this list I'll tell you that :)

New Web Site

We talked about this forever and now, thanks to Peter, our new web site is a reality. Peter did a bang up job with the new web site and I sincerely hope that it becomes the hub of information on ANUG in the future instead. LinkedIn will still be the way to gain membership and Facebook will still drive sign ups for the meetings but anug.dk will bind the information together for us.

To keep non-Facebook users up to date with new meetings we hope to integrate the new web site with the ANUG backend system: Google Docs :) We keep information about upcoming events and ideas in a Google Docs spreadsheet which I created some code to access via the Google API. Peter is integrating my code into the web site as I type this :)

In a related note anug.dk was hacked due to a security issue in BlogEngine.NET. Kudos to Peter for updating with the security patch literally within minutes of learning of the hack. Everything is back in full operation as of writing this. If you're running a BlogEngine.NET site be sure to check out official response to the security issue.

Mile Stone Reached

ANUG reached a significant milestone during April: Our 100th member. Actually we're up to 107 members right now a number I'm very pleased with. What does this mean for ANUG?

It means two things: First we're doing something right here which is nice to know :) and second we're suffering from our own success as finding place to hold our meetings is becoming increasingly difficult with more and more people attending our meetings.

A positive problem to be sure but something we have to deal with nonetheless so I'd like to take this opportunity to call for help from companies with ample space to house 30 - 40 .NET devs talking tech. Please e-mail me if you're able to house us for a meeting or two.

Vertica, Kristelig fagbevægelse, Ditmer, Scanvaegt, Systematic, Up-Site are all examples of companies which are supporting Aarhus .NET User Group and by extension the .NET community. A few new companies are lined up to help in the future including iPaper, Suzlon, and Vesta.

ASP.NET MVC Framework Presentation

aspnet It was with some trepidation that I looked at the number of people signed up for the ASP.NET MVC Framework presentation. For one thing I wasn't sure that we'd be able to fit everybody in the Up-Site offices and secondly I was giving the presentation :)

As it turned out we were able to fit everybody; barely. We had to highest turnout ever with approximately 35 people in attendance. I was particularly please with the fact that a number of new companies were represented at the meeting including Mjolner Informatics and Vola. The Nordic Company-guys even made the trip all the way from Copenhagen to Aarhus to attend for the second time.

I'm very pleased with the way my presentation went. From the very start we had good interaction with lots of questions and remarks about the new web framework from Microsoft. Even my demos went off without a hitch, incredible! :) My Poor-Mans-Update-Panel seemed to come across particularly well.

Thanks to everybody there I had a good time presenting this stuff. Oh yeah I thought I'd better link to the most popular slide of the evening (You probably had to be there to get it though) :)

Tour de Up-Site

Up-Site-logo Up-Site is an interesting company I'd never heard of before we started ANUG. Actually Morten Bock, a developer with Up-Site, was one of the very first people I shook hands with at the very first user group meeting. Morten was kind enough to facilitate some nice surroundings for our April meeting.

Now what is that makes Up-Site so interesting? For starters they have a very clear idea of their business model and it seems that that was the case from the very beginning. As the CEO Lars Henrik Larsen told us Up-Site specializes in helping  companies select the right content management system; very competently I might add. Up-Site specializes in no less that five different CMS'es ranging from the high-end right down to the free and open source.

Their offices are among the nicest I've visited yet. I could really tell that the guys at Up-Site have attention for detail with nothing being left to chances decor-wise. Very nice and definitely not something you see everyday as developers tend towards the functional and not much else :)

A nice touch is their wall of fame which holds a little plaque for each of their delivered solutions. A pretty comprehensive wall of fame too.

posted on Sunday, 04 May 2008 22:50:29 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 25 April 2008

Vertica_Logo My good colleague Daniel has joined the blogging fray. He's been at it for a while too before telling anyone about it so he's got a nice bunch of posts up already and keeping up the pace. He's been working on a Commerce Server/SharePoint project for the past couple of months and of course the regular C# stuff so expect to see more posts about those subjects.

Subscribed!

posted on Friday, 25 April 2008 15:30:57 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

img_ecommerce With an e-commerce solution online payment naturally follows. Recently I've been involved in a couple of e-comm projects which needed integration with a payment provider.

In the good old days integration was a no-brainer you'd simply go with the API, HTTP-RPC or web services, for the nicest solution design-wise and development-wise as well.

Last year though VISA/MasterCard introduced the PCI compliance requirement for businesses handled credit card information. A move which in theory was good in that it limits the number of businesses which handle the information and by extension limits the chance for leaked information via security breach.

Now I write in theory because what happened is the VISA/MasterCard went a bit too far in their requirements. Basically if a credit card number is ever entered on your server you need to be PCI compliant; while this make sense for a payment provider for a store it means that you can't use the APIs as you'd normally would instead you have to use a payment window provided by the service provider.

If you want to handle credit card information at all you have to submit your system for quarterly reviews by external security consultants and your system will have to comply to the same standards as the payment providers themselves adding a yearly running cost of $5,000 - $30,000. Did I mention that VISA/MasterCard is bumping up the requirements on a quarterly basis? All in all this adds up to the conclusion that not handling credit card information on your servers at all is becoming the default choice and by extension the payment window becomes the default choice.

The payment window adds another layer of complexity to your solution in that you have to redirect your customer completely over to the payment provider site to process the credit card after which point the customer returns to your site to view a confirmation if everything went well. My main complaint about the payment window is the lack of contiguity for the customer. A great many sites here in Denmark use the payment windows with more or less success in that department.

Payment-Windows-Redirection-Flow

With the payment window being the default choice for now it's important that Danish online e-tailers figure out how to integrate the window in the most user friendly manner. Not doing so signals lack of professionalism in the best case and in the worst case they could loose customers because they are confused by a completely different look and feel in the most critical part of the checkout flow: Payment.

A company which does this extremely well is Trollbeads.com. Their integration with the payment window is seamless, in fact when I shopped there a couple of weeks ago I didn't even notice that I was redirected to their payment provider for processing my payment information. I should notice I do this for living :)

Take a look at the following screenshots to see what I mean:

Trollbeads-basket

(Basket)

Trollbeads-checkout-DIBS

(Checkout)

That's how it should be done and I didn't even do it myself :)

posted on Friday, 25 April 2008 15:14:53 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback