Tuesday, March 31, 2009

SLO .NET User Group is BizSpark's Local Network Partner, helping startup companies get access to Premium Microsoft Development tools

What is BizSpark, you ask?

BizSpark is an exciting new program from Microsoft that allows eligible startup companies access to the top of the line Microsoft development tools and platforms. And the SLO .NET User Group is proud to be the local network partner, in charge of approving local startup companies for the program.

So if you're a startup company, and you meet the following criteria:

- Actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business,

- Privately held,

- In business for less than 3 years,

- Less than US $1 million in annual revenue,

- Headquarted in San Luis Obispo County or the Santa Maria area, and

- Willing to join and participate in the SLO .NET User Group

Feel free to contact the User Group at info@slodotnet.org and get approved. For more information you can check out http://www.slodotnet.org/bizspark.aspx.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Best of the PDC Comes to SLO

Hello everyone!

It's not every day that we can get speakers from outside the area to come and grace us with a visit. Every once and a while we get an INETA speaker to come to the .NET User Group meeting, and then we get a pretty good mix when the Central Coast Code Camp is in session.

However, on March 12th, Developer Evangelists Daniel Egan and Bruno Terkaly of Microsoft came to San Luis Obispo to give a three-plus hour presentation on some of the new developments in the Microsoft world. The event, SLO MSDN Unleashed: Best of the PDC (Professional Developers Conference), was held at the Embassy Suites. Over 60 people attended, a great turnout for the event, and the presentations were great as well. I saw a lot of people I usually only see at Code Camp.

Daniel started out by talking about some of the dynamic language features coming in C# 4.0. For those of you that don't know, C# is (in my opinion) the language of choice when developing applications on the Microsoft platform. He then followed up with some impressive enhancements in the Ajax world, including some sweet new extenders for the Ajax Control Toolkit. Personally I think the ToolKit has come a long way.


Daniel Egan talks about C# Dynamics.  (photo by Steve Evans)

After a short break, Bruno took over to cover Windows Azure, the new Microsoft Cloud Computing system that rivals similar offerings from Google and Amazon. The discussion was thorough and at times contentious. I personally feel like there are a few too many assumptions in terms of data scalability, and it will be interesting to see how and what feature sets are provided on the new relational database platform. Until 2 days ago, Azure was only going to support simple table structures. Speaking as someone who has managed to scale up a fairly large data structure without sacrificing relational integrity, I have to hope that they will not shortchange the SQL Server featureset in the cloud.

In addition, there was some talk about companies being able to host the Cloud locally on their local servers for a while to try it out, or program against, or even in theory to pull their applications back out of the Cloud should they need to for budgetary or proprietary reasons. I think this is very important myself.

I would like to thank Daniel, Bruno, and .NET User Group member Steve Evans for putting this event on. We're hoping to try and do something like this maybe every 6 months or so as a public event that goes beyond the scope of the .NET User Group and involves everyone. This kind of thing is great for San Luis Obispo and the technology community.

Thanks to all who attended!



Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Central Coast Code Camp Schedule Is Up, and don't forget about the Softec Symposium!

Hi everyone,

The schedule has now been posted for Code Camp next Saturday and Sunday, September 27th and 28th. Be aware, it is subject to change prior to the event, but it's generally set to go. We have a great lineup this year, featuring 25% more content than last year. Thanks for all the speakers who stepped up! We've got everything from database technologies to agile methodologies to scalability to rich interactivity to legal advice to new exciting technologies, and much more! So please, if you haven't yet, register for this great event, and help us out by spreading the word and forwarding this to everyone you know who might be interested. Registrations help us get an accurate count of how many to expect.

We're still looking for event sponsors, so if you or your company might be interested, please visit the website at http://www.centralcoastcodecamp.com/Sponsor.aspx and help us out! There are sponsorships of any level available, and every little bit helps. All donations go toward covering the great venues and events that occur at the camp.

Don't forget our exciting special events! For starters, there's the Geek Dinner Saturday night at 6:30 pm at the Suites. This is a great way to meet your fellow campers and speakers and interact and network. It was a lot of fun last year and we're hoping for a great time this year. Also, this year we have our inaugural Programming Contest! At 3:45 pm on Saturday in the Los Osos South room, we'll be featuring a Java Programming Contest with prizes and the thrill of victory! More information can be found at http://www.centralcoastcodecamp.com/Competition.aspx. Finally, there's our end of Camp raffle, featuring a ton of books, software, and our Zune grand prize! You must be present to win!

Lastly, we would like to make you aware of our sister event, the Softec Symposium. This exciting business technology event is occurring on Friday, September 26th, at the Embassy Suites. It will feature a keynote by Citrix (of GoToMeeting and GoToMyPc) and concentrate on Remote Technologies. More information can be found at http://www.softec.org/. There will be the keynote, several panels, and a trade show. Please pass this information on to anyone who you think might be interested or to any companies who might be interested in getting a booth at the trade show. It's a great way to introduce yourselves to the local technology community business leaders.

See you at Camp!

Rob and The Central Coast Code Camp Team

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Central Coast Code Camp Returns!

Hey all,

I'm not sure how many of you attending our stunningly successful first code camp last year, but if you did, then you know we had 32 presentations by 20 presenters from as far away as Texas, that we had a fabulous "Geek" dinner, that we gave away prizes and swag, including two Zunes, that we had over 120 people show up from as far away as Ventura and Bakersfield, and that it was all FREE to everyone who attended!   A fantastic time was had by all!

So fantastic, in fact, that we are going for v2.0 this September, on the 27th and 28th, the Central Coast Code Camp Returns to the Embassy Suites in San Luis Obispo!


We've already got 28 registrants signed up and are looking for presenters and topics.  There are so, so many new technologies out there this year that are coming to the forefront and we want them all properly represented.   So sign up to speak, but just as importantly, sign up to attend!


Friday, April 04, 2008

User Groups Attract Visitors...and how technology saved my shoulder...

So in past blogs I've mentioned the possibilities of creating your own special interest groups, or user groups.  I've done so with the San Luis Obispo .NET User Group.    One of the byproducts of that is an ability to use your group's contacts for a chance to do some good for the community.   I had this opportunity recently when the Code Trip, Microsoft's bus trip featuring its new technologies, tried to come to town.  When a visit to CalPoly fell through due to scheduling issues, Woody Pewitt from Microsoft contacted me seeking help with a place to park the bus.   I put him in touch with Randy Scovial and Cuesta College, and the Code Trip stopped in for a successful visit this past Monday, with two sessions for students and a general session that night that attracted over 40 local technology professionals.  You can read more about the trip, including its visit to SLO, at its website.

The Code Trip


The picture of the bus is from outside the Moscone Center in San Francisco, where I went this week for VSLive, a technology conference.   I caught up with the Code Trippers there, and they interviewed me along with a bunch of other technology people, asking if they knew about the Code Trip.

They also asked me about my ultra mobile PC, my new toy that I got for just this reason.  I spend a bit of time at conferences, and I am sick to death of carrying around the 40 lb deadweight that is my Laptop and its accompanying bag.  So I picked up one of these:

An Ultra Mobile PC.   It is hand held, has a 7" screen, runs Windows XP Tablet, and has built in wireless capabilities.   And most importantly, it weights only a couple of lbs.  It was heaven!   I picked up some accessories so that when I had table space I could set it up almost like a regular PC:


including a folding keyboard like you would use for a PDA.   But it works perfectly fine on its own, with a stylus for its touchpad and a fairly easy to use thumb keyboard split on either side of the unit.   I got a lot of inquiries about this neat little toy.  I even held a meeting in my car, over the phone, using this on my Verizon Broadband connection!

If you do a lot of traveling this is the toy for you.

Robert Hope, founder

San Luis Obispo .NET User Group

Friday, March 21, 2008

Past and Present Events

So as my involvement in the community has grown I get to attend some pretty cool events.   The latest was the EVC Venture Capital Event this past Tuesday, March 19th, at the Madonna Expo Center.  I've got this neat idea that I don't want to put out there in public too too much, but if you know my background you wouldn't be surprised to find that it is a new web site idea.    But it's only an idea, so I went with my little placard of mockups, some business cards, and a fact sheet, and crossed my fingers that some angel investor might write me a check.

That went ok.  What was interesting, however, was the level of technology that is being developed here on the Central Coast.   Aeromech, who will be presenting at the next Softec meeting, builds Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for both commercial and military applications.    They were in the booth on my left.      Phoenix is looking to upgrade the Kit airplane to a "sexy" two seater plane that actually kneels so you can get in like a car.    They were in the booth on my right.    Fleet Management Solutions, who does asset tracking via GPS, a company that is building the next electric car, and New Image Technologies' Elements, a custom networking website platform, and another company doing specialized wireless video, were all there.   And while I was personally outclassed, I was also amazed and proud to be part of the tech industry here in SLO County and beyond.   There's a lot of great stuff going on around here if you know where to look.   Hopefully you will all come to the Softec meeting and see Aeromech in person.   It's well worth the visit.

In addition, Microsoft's CodeTrip will be coming to Cuesta College on March 31st.   CodeTrip is basically a bunch of code geeks on a bus, touring the West Coast in support of some new, really cool Microsoft technologies.   Through my contacts via the San Luis Obispo .NET User Group, we were able to get them to visit us here in SLO on their way from LA to SF, where they will be stopping by VSLive the first week of April.

Code Trip at Cuesta

They will be giving presentations to student classes and then holding a general session at 6 pm at the school.   Another great opportunity to expose yourself to the great technologies available to you.

Hope to see you there,

Robert Hope

Founder, San Luis Obispo .NET User Group

Friday, February 29, 2008

Tom Brokaw at the Microsoft 2008 Launch Event Celebrates Technology Heroes

It's not often that you hear people who are involved in technology referred to as "heroes".   Most of us are just techno-geeks trying to do the best we can.   And while I don't necessarily drink the kool-aid as far as those of us who are using the newer Microsoft technologies being called heroes, I have to say I was struck by Tom Brokaw's opinion of what technology has meant to our world and our society.

I went to Microsoft's Los Angeles Launch Event 2008 this past week in celebration of the release of their three new products, Windows Server 2008, Sql Server 2008, and Visual Studio 2008.   Lots of great advances, lots of awesome stuff, and their theme was "Heroes Happen Here".   By that, they mean that the people who are using these new technologies are the heroes of technology.

But Tom's keynote speech (I was actually surprised when he came out on the stage at the Nokia Theater) revolved around what technology has meant to people in other parts of the world.   He admitted to not being very computer savvy...and admitted he would probably never write a line of code with Visual Studio, or manage a Hyper-V Virtual Server Farm...but he did recall the importance of technology in making our world smaller, and hopefully better.   He talked about the people who went to Pakistan to help during their last devastating earthquake, and how that when they came down from hiking into the deep mountains they were able to put fingers to keyboard and let the world know what had happened.   He talked about how technology was helping to improve farming, and irrigation, and what that meant to the lives of people living in Africa.  He talked about surgeries being led remotely by doctors via videoconferencing.  I can't recall all the stories he told, but they all held essentially the same meaning:  that the people, the programmers, the administrators, all of us who help make technology what it is, and make it available to the true heroes of the world, we all have a stake and a helping hand in that heroism, and he wanted to thank us.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, gave the rest of the keynote address as the event moved from true heroism into our own personal versions of "code heroes"...but what Tom Brokaw said does ring true.   Technology helps in ways that sometimes we never know about, and our role in that is crucial, and we shouldn't take for granted what we do with it.   We're all heroes.