Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Rhinos Stampeding Bristol User Group

People in the community are generally quite a friendly bunch but now and again the green eyed monster can creep up on you when you find that a fellow user group has managed to get an absolutely great speaker and this one is no exception.

Our good friend Guy Smith-Ferrier has managed to secure a session with Oren Eini (aka Ayende Rahien), the founder of Rhino Mocks and major contributor to Castle and NHibernate, over at the .NET Developer Network in Bristol. This has come at relatively short notice as Oren is only around for the next couple of weeks. The event takes place on Monday 13th October, more details can be found here.

The session details are as follows:

"Producing Production Quality Software" Abstract:

Working software is no longer the only thing that we need to produce. We need to create a software system that has a chance of surviving in the cruel world of production system, outside the clean room and sterile environment of development and QA. Understanding bottlenecks in the system, preventing cascading failures and recovery strategies have ceased being the problems of the very high end players. With the cost of system downtime being measures in $$$/second, this is an area we have to consider all the way. In this talk we will cover how we can map common weaknesses in the system design, preemptively protect ourselves from them, and produce software systems that can withstand the real world hostile environment.

"Interaction based testing with Rhino Mocks" Abstract:

Beyond the simplest scenarios, all objects had collaborators that they work with. This flies in the face of testing objects in isolation. This is the problem that mock objects were created to solve. In this talk you will learn what mock objects are, how to utilize them and best practices on when / how to utilize them. Rhino Mocks is a mock objects framework for .Net whose core goals are to let the developer rely on the compiler work well with refactoring tools.

Seriously, if you want to hear from a person whom many consider a legend in our industry and you can make it to Bristol on that day, this would be one not to miss!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Remix '08 and Ready, Steady, Speak Success

I've spent Thursday and Friday at Remix '08 and I must say I had a great time, from the key note by Bill Buxton and Scott Guthrie to the excellent Swag Phrase events at the community stage during the intervals it was a excellent couple of days that were well worth attending.

Admittedly I had already learned a lot about some of the developer talks that were taking place by attending other community events I had attended over the year so I took the opportunity to go to a couple of the design flavoured talks by Bill Buxton and I must say it was well worth it, design certainly is not my strong point and anything I can do to try and improve my understanding of how it should be applied cannot be a bad thing, I managed to pick up of few key points about not trying to design the perfect product in one go and some cheeky little prototyping tricks such as using magnets to mimic working screen shots.

Certainly my highlight of the event was the Ready, Steady, Speak competition. It was my first opportunity to talk to about my chosen subject to a large number of people at a major UK event, I've done a couple of nuggets at NxtGenUG - Southampton from time to time but nothing on this kind of scale. My chosen topic was WatiN and arriving at Remix I was happy with the presentation I had put together. There were six competitors in total taking part in two heats on the Thursday with the top two going through to a final session on the Friday, topics from other competitors included ASP .NET MVC, OAuth, HSL (Hue/Saturation/Luminance), Rasta and using Silverlight to perform cross browser window communication.

In the first heats I was last on which gave me an opportunity to see all of the competition but also for the nerves to build up, and up and up :-). There were four panel judges who passed judgement on each of the presentations and gave some useful comments on how the presentations could be improved, after my first attempt I had a couple of comments about the colour of my hyperlinks and also the fact that I seemed to keep pacing forwards and then backwards which gave away how nervous I was. Thankfully I was voted through to the final and had an opportunity to improve the presentation over night.

The following day the final was at lunch time and I had to perform the same presentation again, I had changed the colour of my hyperlinks and was determined to make use of the entire stage as had been suggested by the judges from the previous heat, this surprisingly had the effect of taking my mind off of how nervous I was and I had a couple of comments from people who had said that my nerves didn't show through so that was could.

So all the presentations were over and it was up to the judges final decision, and they chose me...woo hoo cool! For all of my efforts I won an XBox 360 Elite with three games, nice!

John Mcloughlin and I did plenty of networking and made sure that we gave out as many NxtGen business cards as we could and also drummed up as much swag as possible, we also managed to secure a few sessions for the new year including the potential of a Microsoft Surface demo and talk after we had our own hands on experience of it.

All in all, I thought the Remix event was excellent and well worth attending (possibly slightly influenced by by winning a competition), special thanks goes out to Dave McMahon, Richard Costall and John Price (the NxtGenUG founders) for organising the Ready, Steady, Speak competition and allowing me to have this opportunity.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

CSLA .NET at NxtGenUG Southampton

Tomorrow night, Thursday 11th September, we've got a great session lined up at NxtGenUG, Andrew Hallmark, Technical Architect from Maritz, is coming over to talk to us about the CSLA .NET framework and code generation tools.

If anyone managed to make to our session on Object Thinking by Alan Dean be sure not to miss this session, essentially Alan spoke about the theory behind Object Thinking and how we should be changing our approaches to developing object oriented. Well Rockford Lhotka, author of the CSLA, has based his "Expert Business Objects" framework upon some of those theories and in my opinion this is the closest you will get to an implementation of true Object Thinking. Even if you think you know CSLA already there may be a few tips and tricks and implementation ideas that you may find useful.

As usual there will be pizza and swag, so what are you waiting for sign up now and come along, see you there.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Ready, Steady, Speak at Remix 08

Next week, 18th and 19th September, sees the arrival of Remix 08 in Brighton and as seems to be the general trend at these big events of late, NxtGenUG are getting really involved and this time they'll be running another Ready, Steady, Speak competition similar to those seen at Tech Ed and the Microsoft 2008 UK Launch.

The general format is as follows:

Contestants will present a 5 min session on a subject of their choice relating to Web Development or Web Design.  They will present in front of the REMIX audience and in front of a panel of judges.  If there are more than a  certain number of contestants (TBD), there will be ‘heats’ earlier in the day with the winners of the heats in a ‘speak-off’ in the evening session.  The ‘speak-off’ will take place as stated in the evening of the first day of MIX and the first prize is an XBox 360 + Goodies!



· Speakers must NOT have previously presented ‘full sessions’ at DDD, TechEd, DevWeek, SDN, SQLBITS, VBUG Conference, NxtGenUG FEST or any similar such conferences.

· Speakers must create a new session of their own with new material which can be based on existing material but cannot be a simple copy of it.

· Speakers must limit their session to as close to 5 mins as possible( overrunning time will cause the speaker to be marked down.)

· Speakers must not have previously won Speaker Idol or “Ready Steady Speak” UK Launch – Sorry to James Coulter J!

· Speakers must state their desire to enter the competition by no later than COP Monday 15th September 2008.


· Speakers should provide if at all possible their own laptop, but one can be provided if necessary.  The speaker should notify the organisers of any software prerequisites.

· Speakers should have spoken previously at a User Group meeting even if only for a 10 min mini-session or ‘nugget’.  This is NOT mandatory

To show my support and get a bit of exposure to a larger audience for speaking, I have offered to join in the fun and take part in the competition with a slightly re-worked version of my WatiN nugget that I performed in Southampton last month. So I'll be spending the next couple of weeks getting really nervous and trying to figure out the best presentation I can muster.

Remix 08 looks set to be a great event including at least one session from Scott Guthrie, I'll be there and it would be good to see some of you there too (if not only for the moral support!).