MVP Community Connection 2017

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Microsoft SignageFriday morning I took the day off of work so I could fly over to Sydney to take part in a gathering of Australian Microsoft MVPs. Friday afternoon there was a networking/”unconference” event held at Microsoft’s North Ryde campus.

 

Microsoft, North Ryde

Later we travelled back to Darling Harbor to have some fun at Strike, trying out their Escape Rooms (lots of fun).

Darling Harbour

The next morning we gathered for breakfast followed by a full day of speakers and workshops. Everyone got these really nice cards of appreciation with personalised Lego mini-figures. Not sure that my hair is brown, but then I’m not really sure what colour it is – the days of being blonde, or even ‘dirty’ blonde are well behind me Smile

Card with "Thankyou for being awesome"

During the afternoon, I was asked to do a short presentation about running a user group. I can tell you I was more than a little bit nervous getting up in front of such an experienced group of people, but I think it went ok.

Early Sunday morning, I flew back home. All in all a great time catching up with friends and learning a lot.

Richard’s Technical Debt

Saturday, 25 February 2017

These are my notes from listening to the recording of Richard Banks’ talk The Technical Debt Prevention Clinic that he gave recently at the Microsoft Ignite Australia 2017 conference.

TL; DR - This is a really compelling talk. Go watch it, and share it with your colleagues!

My notes and highlights follow. These are not a substitute for watching/listening to the talk, and the best thing (if you ever get the opportunity) would be to see Richard deliver this in person.

Technical debt

Refactoring

Feature flags

Preventing

Code Reviews (suck)

Other tips

Conclusion

Technical debt can be a good thing, but bad code never is.

Skeet, Cogan and VS 2017 launch date announced

Friday, 10 February 2017

It’s been a busy week!

On Wednesday evening we hosted the regular monthly meeting of the Adelaide .NET User Group in the Adelaide offices of RL Solutions. Our speaker was to be Jon Skeet talking about C# 7, joining us remotely from the UK. This involved a bit of logistical planning, including getting in enough seats for the expected crowd, getting a good PA (thanks Tom!), borrowing a nice data projector (thanks Keith!) and making sure everyone could get into the building after hours (thanks Vic!).

Jon Skeet, wrapping up presentationThere were a few gotchas along the way – I’d remembered the front door to our building closes at 6pm, but forgot that the lifts required a security card from 5.30pm. Then my laptop decided to freeze its screen when I reconnected the data projector and tried to launch PowerPoint as we were about to start. We got everyone upstairs and I rebooted my laptop and Jon was able to present his talk. I then realised that the pizzas were going to be delivered too early. So a quick change of schedule to introduce a 5 minute interval in the middle of the talk so everyone could grab some food before continuing on with part 2. Not to mention Tom running out to get some disposable plates as I’d overlooked those too.

But in the scheme of things, they were all pretty minor. All in all, I think it was a pretty successful night and I think lots of positive comments about Jon’s talk and also our office (the bar was especially popular!)

We recorded the Hangout so you can watch Jon’s presentation:


Adam Cogan presentingFriday afternoon is not when we’d normally have a user group meeting, but Adam Cogan was keen to visit and give us a preview of his Ignite Conference talk on What’s New in Visual Studio 2017 and Visual Studio Code.
The timing of Adam’s talk turned out to be quite good, as Microsoft have just announced the release date for Visual Studio 2017. Set your alarms for 2.30am on March 8th (Adelaide time) for a live streaming launch event.

I’ve already got two speakers (Ben Laan on Load Testing and Bronwen Zande on HoloLens) lined up for March, so I think we’ll make April’s meeting our local Adelaide launch event for VS 2017 (combined with Jack Ni on IoT).

It’s going to be a busy year!

Tour Down Under 2017

Monday, 23 January 2017

It’s that time of the year again when bicycles take over the streets of Adelaide and nearby country South Australia. The Tour Down Under is in town, and that also means the Friday is also the BUPA Challenge Tour. This gives us mere mortals a chance to ride the same course as the professionals, complete with supported rest and refuel stops all along the way.

Map from Mt Pleasant to Campbelltown

Usually I ride with my dad and we do the full distance, but this year my son decided he’d like to take part for the first time. So while dad still started at Norwood, we chose to do the shorter 60km distance starting at Mt Pleasant and finishing at Campbelltown.

Carson had previously done a few rides with me and the other Mud, Sweat & Gears riders down to McLaren Vale (a confortable 30km ride from our place), so I was pretty confident he’d be up to the longer distance, given plenty of breaks along the way.

Our family friend Jane also joined us for the ride (as well as giving us a lift to our starting location at Mt Pleasant).

The three of us taking a break at the top of a hillThe day started off cool and overcast, a huge relief from the high temperatures we’d had in the previous days. There’d also been a decent thunderstorm overnight. A small amount of drizzle hung around for the first part of the ride, but nothing too annoying.

We made good use of the rest stops along the way to get refreshments and make use of the ‘conveniences’.

We also had a bonus visit to the bakery in Lobethal. A welcome boost.

Carson's bike getting some mechanical attentionAt one stop, we did an adjustment to Carson’s seat pole – turns out he’s been growing a bit and those legs wanted a bit more room to stretch out Smile. Later on at the Cudlee Creek stop, we were just about to head off when he noticed that his rear brake was not working properly. The main rest stops also have resident bike mechanics, so we immediately went over to get it looked at. This brake had played up in a similar way a few months ago and I thought I’d resolved the problem. I was encouraged that the mechanic tried exactly the same things that I had done myself previously. He managed to get it working so it would get us safely to the finish (which was a fair bit of downhill, so having good brakes was critical), but recommended we take it in to get serviced as there’s obviously something not quite right.

Riding along the road

The final ride down to the finish went well and the three of us even got a chance to ride arm-in-arm under the finish archway, much to the appreciation of the crowd. The finish line was right next to Foxfield Oval with the huge gum trees lining the road. That made it the ideal place to stay and wait for the professional teams to come sprinting in.

Pro riders racing to the finish

All in all a great day. Super proud of Carson for riding 60km (as Jane pointed out, every km after the 30km mark was a PB!). Also nice to finish the ride and not feel completely wrecked too!

2016 in review

Sunday, 1 January 2017

It’s the first day of 2017, so a good time to reflect on the year just past.

Travel

A couple of friends have commented either “You’ve travelled a lot this year” or “where are you travelling to next?”. My first reaction was surprise – I don’t travel a lot do I?

Well ok, that was a few trips. But no future travel plans at this stage.

Family

I won’t dwell on this too much but the health challenges continue for some members. Some of you know me well enough to know the details.

The kids did well at school (I’m sure better than I ever did!). They’re all growing up fast too.

We did have a couple of sad losses – Princess Layer (one of our bantam hens) and Guido (a goldfish) both passed away. Layer died quite suddenly of unknown causes (maybe snake or spider bite). We held a little burial ceremony in the backyard for her.

I’ve got a couple of weeks off over the Christmas break. Nice to spend time at home with the family, do a bit of gardening/weeding, a few bike rides and take it easy.

Garden

We planted new cherry, apricot and nectarine trees. Looking forward to seeing them fruit in years to come.

I finally finished the chicken run, so we can let the chooks out of their shed into the run during the day, and not worry about foxes or the odd stray dog. If we’re home, we usually let them out of the run to roam around the backyard anyway.

Technology

I got a new laptop, and more recently a new phone. The girls got iPads for Christmas so all three kids now have them. As annoying as it is to set up, at least the Apple Family Sharing means we can share single app purchases amongst all the devices. I say annoying as from my experience the ‘app approval’ part only works if a parent also has an Apple device.

Maybe updating to an XBox One S as a late family Christmas present?

Also on the radar is one of these Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC Lite WiFi access points. We have a few reception dead spots around the house that I think could be fixed by one of these.

Don’t think I’m buying new toys/technology all the time! Like most families we have a limited budget so these purchases only happen when absolutely necessary and we’ll get as much use out of them as we can.

Apparently in a few months our suburb will have the NBN. I’ll be looking closely at my options when that becomes available.

.NET and dev things

I’m in my second year as a Microsoft MVP. I’ve really appreciated the opportunities this has given me to participate and learn more. It’s also opened some doors particularly in regards to the Adelaide .NET User Group, which I help run.

The group continues to meet monthly and enjoys good attendances. It would be great to have some other members step up and get more involved with the organising and possibly allow us to run a “DDD Adelaide” event too.

This year I became a volunteer moderator for Chocolatey. I’ve been a fan of Chocolatey for a number of years now (my “Let’s get Chocolatey” t-shirt from supporting their KickStarter is a favourite), and it’s nice to be able to help share the load of moderating new package submissions.

Microsoft has changed considerably as a company over recent years. I really like their approach to doing much more in the open (including developing many products as open source on Github) and working with (instead of against) Linux and other platforms. The way .NET is evolving, together with new innovations like TypeScript gives me confidence that they’re heading the the right direction.

Work

I don’t generally write about the details of my day-to-day work at RL Solutions, but it has been a busy year and 2017 looks to be no different. The consistent highlight is the people I work with. We recently advertised for a graduate developer to join our Adelaide team. It’s good to be growing (and also I can finally pass on the “new guy” mantle).

I’m sure I’ve missed some things, but that will do for now. Happy New Year!