New Role with INETA: Membership Mentor for Arkansas

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 11:18 PM by Michael Paladino

In addition to my full-time job, I have recently been appointed to the volunteer position of Membership Mentor for Arkansas within INETA.  According to their website, “INETA provides structured, peer-based organizational, educational, and promotional support to the growing worldwide community of Microsoft® .NET user groups.”  Basically, they help support .NET-focused user groups by providing access to high-quality speakers and providing leadership guidance and advice when needed.

I have just started in this new role, and I’m sure my understanding of it will evolve over the next few months.  But for now my understanding is that my job will be to help any new groups successfully complete the INETA registration process as well as provide general support to the existing groups in Arkansas.  I hope to help coordinate speaker tours in the area and would like to continue to encourage communication amongst the Arkansas user groups which should be an easy task considering the previous work put in by Randy Walker and Jay Smith to schedule a monthly call amongst all the groups.

I’ll be taking over this position from Randy Walker who was appointed as the Director of Speakers for INETA.  From what I know of Randy and what I’ve heard from others, I have some very big shoes to fill.  Hopefully, I can build on Randy’s efforts and continue to help build the .NET community in our region.

Categories:   Community | INETA
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First Episode of User Group Radio: Starting the Fort Smith .NET User Group with Michael Paladino

Thursday, January 8, 2009 4:01 PM by Michael Paladino

Jay Smith has just posted the first full episode of User Group Radio, a “monthly podcast dedicated to helping user group and technical community leaders share guidance and best practices”.  Interestingly enough, he chose me to be the first guest as I along with a few others have recently gone through the process of starting the Fort Smith .NET User Group.  In this episode, we discuss various issues surrounding starting a user group such as venue, sponsorship, speakers, marketing, etc.

Jay has plans to talk to a lot of people much more interesting than me in the next few shows, so the show should be worth a listen for anyone interested in user groups and technical communities.

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Upcoming Community Events

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 10:28 AM by Michael Paladino

As a .NET developer in the south central portion of the United States, I am very fortunate to have access to a large number of high quality but free or low cost community events.  I wanted to make sure that people are aware of a couple of these events in November and a couple more in January.

I am planning on attending the We Are Microsoft Charity Weekend and am hoping to put together a team of five from Fort Smith.  In fact, Tim Rayburn has graciously offered to give us 2 copies of Windows Vista if we can get a team together.  We've already got a couple of people committed with some others who are still thinking it over. Please let me know soon if you're interested as the deadline to register is November 28.

If you're interested in keeping up-to-date on these types of events in the area, the blogs of Chris Koenig and Zain Naboulsi would be great places to start.  They are both developer evangelists for Microsoft for the South Central District (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas) and often post about local events.

  • AgileDotNet Conference 2008
    Dallas, TX
    November 14, 2008 (Friday)
    Cost: Free
    Improving Enterprises in conjunction with Microsoft and the Dallas C# SIG invite you to an exciting one-day event to bring together the world of Microsoft .NET development with the world of Agile methods. Designed for both those experienced with Agile techniques and for those new to them, attendees can expect interesting presentations based on real-world experience from some of the industry’s leading Project Managers, Developers, and Business Analysts who have embraced Agile principles within .NET development environments.
  • TechDays 2008
    Dallas, TX
    November 18-20 (Tuesday-Thursday)
    Cost: Free
    If technology is the backbone of your business, you won't want to miss out on the TechDays '08 event in Dallas. Filled with exclusive product information presented by insider experts, TechDays '08 will show developers, IT professionals, IT executives, and partners how Microsoft technology can take their business to the next level.
  • We Are Microsoft Charity Challenge Weekend
    Dallas, TX
    January 16-19 (Friday-Sunday)
    Cost: Free
    The We Are Microsoft - Charity Challenge Weekend is a software development competition for a good cause. This 3-day event matches developers with charities to develop applications for those charities. At the end of the 3 days, all of the participants will vote and the winners will be proclaimed champion coders.
  • MSDN Developer Conference
    Dallas, TX
    Friday, January 26 (Monday)
    Cost: Free
    Prepare yourself for a demanding future. Attend the MSDN Developer Conference. Experience Microsoft’s Cloud Computing Platform. Create applications that seamlessly bridge the gaps between PC, Web, and phone. Be among the first to see Windows 7. See the latest advances in Multi-Touch Application Development. Take your .NET skills to the next level. See sessions on WPF 4.0, Silverlight 2, ASP.NET 4.0, Parallel Programming, Live Mesh and more.

Tulsa TechFest 2008 Recap

Monday, October 13, 2008 10:09 PM by Michael Paladino

Tulsa TechFest 2008 Last Thursday and Friday, I was lucky enough to get to attend Tulsa TechFestDavid Walker and the other volunteers did a great job and put on a great event.  The quality and quantity of both the keynote speakers and the session speakers were outstanding.  Here were some of the highlights for me:

  • Loose Coupling by Caleb Jenkins: I've read about these concepts such as Dependency Injection (DI) before, but Caleb brings an energy to his talks that made this well worth the time.  Hopefully, I can start to put some of this into practice.
  • Continuous Integration by Rob Reynolds: Rob started with just a Visual Studio project and walked through installing and configuring a build server with CruiseControl.NET.  There's a lot of XML configuration and the setup looked to be a bit tedious, but it looked great once it was all setup and running correctly.  Again, this is something I hope to experiment with in the next few weeks.
  • Becoming a .NET Jedi with ReSharper by Ben Scheirman: Ben did a great job of showing what's possible with ReSharper.  I came out of the talk fired up about getting more proficient with it, but it appears that a lot of the functionality that he showed has not been implemented in the VB version.  I'll have to spend more time with this to try and see what all is available.
  • Building a Blog with ASP.NET MVC by Ben Scheirman: Ben did another good presentation on creating a blog using the new ASP.NET MVC framework.  I actually tried to follow along with this one on my laptop but had difficulties with some of the C# to VB translations and didn't have some of the third party components installed.  I still got a lot out of it and want to dig into this as well.  Ben also briefly mentioned jQuery towards the end of his talk so I went ahead and downloaded it and started experimenting.  Wow!  Really looking forward to getting more into this as well.
  • Toshiba A305 LaptopPrizes: Again, wow!  David Walker managed to get a ton of prizes from books to software to a couple of laptops and a 50" TV.  The really cool part about it is I actually won one of the 2 laptops!  It's a Toshiba Satellite A305 with pretty good specs: 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of ram, 320GB hard drive, built-in webcam and lots of goodies.  It's much more powerful than my existing Dell that I've been using for developing, so I am planning on using it as my development laptop.  It's a little glossy and smudges easily, but I'm getting used to it.  And, hey, you can't beat the price!  I carpooled to Tulsa with fellow Fort Smith .NET User Group member Michael Johnson who also walked away with Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Suite with MSDN Premium subscription worth over $10,000.  So I'd say it was worth the trip for us.

I was also privileged to get to speak this year.  I've spoken to our local user group before, but this was my first time to speak at a large event like this.  I spoke about SubSonic again and only had about 8 people attend.  But participation was good and hopefully the attendees got enough of a feel for it to be able to make a decision as far as whether or not to investigate it any more.

I'll definitely do my best to make Tulsa TechFest a yearly event.  With such high-quality events such as this, Dallas TechFest, and DevLink, I really don't see the ROI being worth it on the larger and more expensive conferences such as TechEd or PDC.

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Dallas TechFest

Sunday, April 13, 2008 9:00 AM by Michael Paladino

Dallas TechFest, May 3, 2008

Dallas TechFest 2008 is occurring on May 3rd, 2008 and will be a day of .NET, Java and Ruby learning for FREE. Speakers to include Richard Campbell, Don Demsak, and Raymond Lewallen and topics to include Silverlight, ASP.NET MVC framework, and ASP.NET Dynamic Data.

I along with some others from the Fort Smith .NET User Group and Northwest Arkansas .NET User Group are planning on attending. See this forum thread if you're interested in carpooling.

Hope to see you there!

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Book Review: The Rational Guide to Building Technical User Communities

Thursday, March 13, 2008 9:00 AM by Michael Paladino

The Rational Guide to Building Technical User Communities4 out of 5 stars

The Rational Guide to Building Technical User Communities does a good job of covering a variety of topics related to starting and maintaining technical user communities. The author's opinions come from years of working with user groups in various capacities, and all his opinions are backed up with stories from his own experiences. His ideas seem to be mostly common sense, but it is helpful to have all the information aggregated in one location.

The book is easy to read and is a good length. I found the discussion of recruiting volunteers to be very helpful. The one point on which I disagree with the author is his opinion that meetings should always have two topics. I certainly don't have the experience that the author has, but I have found that there is just not enough time to allow for disussion, handle group business and giveaways, and cover two topics in a reasonable amount of time.

Overall, I was very pleased with the book and will be passing it around to the rest of the leadership of our user group.

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Fort Smith .NET User Group

Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:00 AM by Michael Paladino

This has been in the works for a while, but I'm just now getting to blogging about it. A group of .NET developers in the Fort Smith area are starting a Fort Smith .NET User Group (FSDNUG) and our first meeting is Monday, March 3 at 6:00 PM. See our website for more details and directions. There are many individuals locally and from the Northwest Arkansas .NET User Group that have put in a lot of work to make this happen.

The vendor participation has been much greater than I initially thought it would. We've got books, T-shirts, and tons of really good software to give away. Of course, much credit goes to the guys from our group that are handling that as they sent out countless emails.

Announcements by others involved with the group:

If you are in the area Monday and can attend the meeting, we'd love to have you!

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Second Life .NET User Group

Monday, January 21, 2008 10:00 AM by Michael Paladino

After encouragement from Zain Naboulsi, Saturday I attended my first meeting of the Second Life .NET User Group. This was actually the first time I even ventured into the Second Life world and was surprised at how similar the meeting was to a user group meeting in real life. Just like in real life, it was slightly uncomfortable for me to walk up to a stranger and strike up a conversation. But just like in real life, once I did start conversations, everyone I spoke to was friendly and interesting.

There is a virtual auditorium with a podium and stage and seats for attendees. The speaker at the meeting was using a microphone so I could actually hear him through my computer speakers. Most of the others interacted through text chatting which was a bit difficult to follow, but helpful too. The speaker was reading the chats, too, so he could respond to any comments or questions. This particular meeting there was no formal presentation, but I'm told Powerpoint presentations can be shown on screens in Second Life.

Overall, it was a much more natural-feeling experience than what I thought it would be. I'll try to attend the next couple of meetings to continue to get a feel for it.

Second Life User Group Meeting
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DevLink 2007 - Wow!

Monday, October 15, 2007 9:00 AM by Michael Paladino

I just got back from DevLink in Nashville and the first thing that comes to mind is "Wow!". The quality of speakers, the facilities at Lipscomb University, and the organization of the event were amazing. And to think, it only cost $50 to attend. Kudos to the organizers.

There were tracks on general .NET, ASP.NET, databases, project management, and architecture. At each time slot, there were multiple talks that I would have liked to attend. After arriving at the conference and looking over the agenda, I decided that many of the database sessions looked interesting as I do a lot of database work and have never had much training in that area.

Highlights for me included a talk by Paul Nielsen on smart database design and the keynote by Ron Jacobs on test driven development and the model-view-presenter (MVP) design pattern. I still need to look a bit more at Ron's example, but I sure feel a lot more comfortable with MVP after his talk.

The best part about the conference was the friendliness of everyone I came across. The organizers (who were easily identifiable by the very cool DevLink jerseys) were always friendly and willing to answer questions and the speakers that I had a chance to talk to personally were all easily approachable. And there's nothing like being surrounded by a couple hundred programmers to make for a fun weekend.

Great conference, and I'll do my best to attend next year.

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devLink 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 9:00 AM by Michael Paladino

devLink 2007 Looks like I'm going to get to go to the devLink Technical Conference in Nashville, TN on October 12-13. I don't remember where I first heard about it, but the speaker list includes some pretty big names for a whopping $50 registration fee.

There are a wide variety of sessions on topics such as .NET, architecture, database design, and even some project management sessions. I'm really looking forward to it!

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