"Texas Yankee"

Stephen Swienton's Weblog

  • DevDays Upon Me

    Whew - this has been a long and busy week for me.

    I finally got the new Fort Worth .NET Users Group (FWDNUG) website updated on Saturday.  It's running on DotNetNuke v2 Beta 1 and we've got many more features to add to it.  Our goal was to have the new site up by DevDays Dallas March 8th with minimal content, so I'm pleased with where we are at right now.

    I've spent all of today working on speaker presentation and rehersal for DevDays Dallas.  We've got the presentation machines tweaked and the demos are running without any bugs (keeping my fingers crossed) - so hopefully all will go smoothly tomorrow.  This will be the largest crowd I have presented for, so I am somewhat anxious, but excited to finally have it arrive.  Make sure to introduce yourself if you plan on being at DevDays Dallas.  I will be presenting Session #2 of the Web Track: “Threats and Threat Modeling”  and you can also find me at the speaker booth and the FWDNUG booth.

  • WPT Season 2

    For my fellow Poker fanatics, or those curious about all the hoopla - the Second Season of the World Poker Tour starts tonight on the Travel Channel!

    I can't wait to see the familiar faces of Mike Sexton, Vince Van Patten, and the beautiful Shana Hiatt on my TV screen.  Not to mention all the tension, pressure, and excitement of high-stakes Texas No Limit Hold 'Em.

    Shuffle Up and Deal!

  • Been a while...

    It's been 8 months since I last posted and I'm almost embarrassed to blog again - it's been so long!  My blogging absence has been mainly due to lack of time, with "Time Management" being a subject I hope to post about soon.

    Anyways, I am presenting at the Fort Worth .NET UG tomorrow on "Windows Server 2003 for Developers" and my laptop is running WinXP.  It's kinda hard to present demo's on that subject when you don't have Win 2003 installed - Doh!  So, I find my self sitting here after midnight installing Win 2003, via Virtual PC 2004, on my laptop.

    I don't have any previous experience running a Virtual Machine, but so far the process has been painless.  I do have 1 GB RAM on my laptop - so I shouldn't run into any problems with the VM hogging my system resources.  Besides my upcoming presentation - I look forward to utilizing the VM to play with the latest Whidbey and Yukon bits without having to worry about them crashing my mission-critical applications running on my regular WinXP configuration.

    Hopefully, I won't be up all night installing the apps I need for my demo's and that my first use of Virtual PC won't cause me any problems during my presentation.

    Please stop by the FWDNUG if you are in the DFW area and introduce yourself - it's always nice to meet other bloggers.

  • Tech-Ed Day 1 Part II: 3 days late..

    After Don Box's WS presentation it was time for lunch.  I got to eat with Stephen and Ruth Walthers and Julie Lerman!  Of course, I knew all about these three, but hadn't yet had the opportunity to meet them.  I chatted with Stephen about the CSK 1.0 and with Julie and Ruth about INETA and my involvement with the FWDNUG.  BTW: The Chocolate Cake at lunch sucked!

    Next up was a Yukon session - it was basically a slideshow presentation.  Yes, the upcoming features of Yukon are way cool, but one of the things I was most looking forward to at Tech-Ed 2003 was some demo's of Yukon.  I'll take their word for it that Yukon does really exists :), but I was disappointed that I didn't see a demo.

    During the break I met Duncan MacKenzie and Kent Sharkey for the first time.  Duncan and Kent work on the MSDN team as Content Strategists.  We were in the SQL Server and Mobility lounge and I was cracking my obligatory lame Canadian jokes at Eli.  Later on Duncan mentions that he's from Canada - Doh!  With my luck I'll find out that Kent is Canadian too :p=

    I next headed out to the "Coding ADO.NET Data Access Solutions" session with Duncan.  My biggest complaint with the Session Mini-Guide is that they don't include speaker information - I was presently suprised to find that Bill Vaughn was the speaker.  I've got one of his ADO.NET books and was looking forward to hear what he had to say he didn't dissapoint.  Some good tips from his presentation:

    1. Don't need to pass parameter information to a Stored Procedure if they have a default value specified in the Stored Proc.
    2. If you are using Ad Hoc queries instead of Stored Procedures you can still take advantage of Parameters like so:
      commandtext = "Select firstname, lastname from authors where firstname = @lastname"
      parameters.add("@lastname","Swienton")
    3. Make sure to explicitly close your connections - don't rely on the Garbage Collector!

    I also took the opportunity to ask Duncan an ADO.NET question I wanted to know the answer to.  If I want to return one value back from a Stored Proc, what is the quickest way to do it: Return Value, Output Parameter, or ExecuteScalar?  I was happy to find out that I was doing it the fastest way - using a Return Parameter.  The output parameter is the next fastest, with ExecuteScalar being the slowest due to the overhead of having to still return a recordset, even though that recordset simply returns the first column of the first row.

    Next I headed to the Exhibition Hall and met some more great folks at the INETA booth including Bill Evjan.

    I can't forget to mention Stacy Giard from Microsoft - I spotted her near the Exhibition Hall earlier in the day and had a quick chat.  Stacy is a great gal - I owe here big time - she helped me with my last minute plans to attend Tech-Ed.

  • Tech-Ed Day 1 Part 1: 2 days late..

    So, I *finally* found some free time to get around to my poor, neglected Blog.  It's been hard for me to find the time to blog as my free net time has been spent working on the issues that *conveniently* popped up at my day job - ack!  But, finally here it is:

    Yeah - I'm at Tech-Ed!

    Marcie (aka Datagrid Girl) and Eli are staying with me and we started the trek from Fort Worth to Dallas early this morning.  We arrived after the keynote and got registered.  Of course, we all brought our own laptop and laptop bag - not thinking about the cool Tech-Ed 2003 goodie bag we would receive.  So, we then proceeded to switch out our bags for the Tech-Ed bag and wade through all the SWAG we got.  While we were doing that Rob Caron and Paul Wilson stopped by to say "Hi".  I was really excited to meet Paul - I am a big fan of his templating techniques and even presented on them at a FWDNUG meeting.  I later found that Paul mentioned me in his Blog - cool!

    The first session I attended was Don Box's presentation on Web Services.  Some interesting stuff, plus I got my first look at InfoPath.  Don has my vote for the most interesting slide deck presentation I've seen to date: an XML doc in an IE window.

    I'm off to the Developer Party with Eli... Day 1 Part II to follow later...

  • I'm going to Tech-Ed!

    At the last minute I've gotten the chance to attend Tech-Ed.  Besides the obvious benefits of attending Tech-Ed - I'd go into depression (ok, not quite that bad) at the thought of missing out on this opportunity to attend such a huge Microsoft Event that's happening in the same city that I live it.  Thankfully, now I won't have to spend the entire week moaping around because everyone else is having fun while I'm slaving away at work.

    I am "planning" on posting after every session, but we all know how that goes...

    Off to Tech-Ed!

  • ASPInsiders Details Released

    I was selected back in February (2003) to serve on the Board for the soon to be launched ASPInsiders.  We just released the FAQ tonight and it's nice to finally be able to speak about the details of the group publicly.

    The membership of ASPInsiders will be top-notch and most of the members will be household names for those of you who have been a part of the ASP community for a while.  As a member I will have access to early alpha/beta bits and my input will help shape the direction of future verions of ASP.NET - very exciting indeed.  It's an honor to be selected to be part of such a group.

    If you have questions about the ASPInsider membership process, check out the FAQ and you will find more details on how ASPInsider members are selected.

  • YES, Microsoft Supports the Community.

    I recently (4/24/03) went to the Windows Server 2003/VS.NET 2003 Launch in Fort Worth.  This event was different for me than past Microsoft Launch events that I’ve been to as this time I wasn’t just an attendee, but an exhibitor as well.  I’m currently the Vice President of the Fort Worth DOT Net Users Group (FWDNUG) and the booth space was offered to the FWDNUG gratis courtesy of the Microsoft South Central District.  Actually, Helena Kjellander-Valentin (South Central District Field Marketing Specialist and the best Microsoft Events Coordinator), emailed Greg Kane (FWDNUG President) and myself out of the blue and offered the space to us.  Greg and I jumped at the chance for such good exposure and we were not disappointed.  The launch ended up with ~750 attendees and we signed up 50+ new users to the FWDNUG database, with many more promising to sign-up later via our website.  Our average meeting size is around 20-30 people and we’re excited at the chance of doubling our membership size.  Many attendees commented that they did not know there was a Fort Worth Users Group and they were glad to know they did not have to make the long drive to the Dallas Dot NET Users group any longer.  I’d rate the launch a qualified success for the FWDNUG– all thanks to the community building efforts of Microsoft.  If only I wasn’t ineligible for the prizes due to my status as an “exhibitor”.  Oh well, you can’t win them all J

     

    This is only one example of Microsoft supporting the community.  Helena and Brian Moore (Developer Advisor for the Developer Strategy Group of the South Central District and Developer Extraordinaire) provide support for the FWDNUG every month.  Every month we have received a copy of VS.NET EA and several books as door prizes, Brian is a past presenter at our meetings, and they sponsored our February meeting when we were fortunate to have Rob Howard as our featured speaker.  And the provide the same support to the DDNUG – even holding their meetings in the Microsoft Conference Room.  Brian and Helena – I hope your bosses stumble across this – your assistance to the FWDNUG has been invaluable and has gone way above and beyond anything we would have expected.  I know that our group would not be as successful and prosperous if it were not for your gracious help!

     

    That is why I felt compelled to write this entry - I’m tired of hearing the constant negative slant about Microsoft.  Do I expect Microsoft-Haters to suddenly change their minds?  No.  Do I think Microsoft is the perfect company that hasn’t made their share of mistakes?  No.  But, what I do ask is that the next time someone feels compelled to bash Microsoft for lack of community support that they look at the facts first – that Microsoft DOES support the community. 

     

    One need only look at the ASP.NET team for further proof.  You’ve probably already visited www.asp.net and chances are that you’ve used Web Matrix, the ASP.NET Forums, and visited or built a site based on the Starter Kits.  What do they all have in common?  They’re all FREE!  Yes, you heard that right – the greedy, corporate giant Microsoft is providing free help and products!  You can even email the ASP.NET team members directly, ask them questions, and actually expect a response in a reasonable amount of time.  I know first-hand that supporting the community is a goal of the ASP.NET and it shows.  And don’t forget www.windowsforms.com, www.gotdotnet.com, and www.ineta.org for more proof of Microsoft sponsored community building.

     

    Heck, I’ve even shared development stories over a beer (or two or three) and played many a night of XBOX with Microsoft employees.  In the end, they are just like you and me.

  • What the heck is a “Texas Yankee” anyways?

    It’s been quite some time now since Scott W. first introduced .NETWeblogs, and yet here I am just now making my first official Blog entry.  You have to understand me a little better to understand why it has taken me so long to participate in the blogging phenomenon.  I have this thing (ok, it’s called a personality fault) where I rebel against new, trendy ideas.  For example, I refused to initially go see the movie The Matrix (can’t believe I even admit that publicly!) because everyone was saying how good it was and I thought the trailer looked too fake.  Of course, that’s before I wised up, watched it and realized it was set in a fake world and is the greatest Sci-Fi flick since Star Wars.   I don’t know why I’m like this – I figure I just don’t like new things that everyone thinks is “all the rage” being pushed down my throat.  I guess the same thing happened with the Blog Craze – everyone was doing it and I wasn’t going to be one of those “people”.  Well, I started reading all my friends Blogs and recognized that I was being pigheaded again.

     

    After deciding to make the leap into blogging I decided that it could be much more than something to pass the time for me.  I see my blog as many things: A way to help out the community, an easy way to step into technical writing (a goal of mine) and improve my overall writing skills, keep my skills sharp and on the cutting edge, and (hopefully) provide some good laughs.

     

    The last thing I had to do was come up with a title and description for my blog and make my first entry.  I was a little intimidated with the title/description as there are so many good ones out there.  No need giving examples – you know which one’s I’m talking about.  The cleverest thing I could come up with was “Texas Yankee”.  However, I was not as inspired when it came to my description – I’ll have to live with “Stephen Swienton’s Weblog” until I can think of something snazzier.

     

    Which finally (did I mention I’m long-winded?) brings us to “What the heck is a ‘Texas Yankee’ anyways?”  I was born in Chicago, Illinois and lived there for the first 9 years of my life.  I then moved to Houston, Texas for 3 years before moving overseas to Waterloo, Belgium for 7 years.  After Belgium, I attended college at Baylor University in Waco, Texas where I also lived and worked for a couple of years after I graduated.  I moved to Fort Worth after Waco and have lived here ever since.  Part of me will always be a “Yankee” Chicagoan at heart – I’ll always love the Chicago Sports teams: the Bulls, White Sox, Bears, and Blackhawks; while hating the Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Cowboys, and Chicago Cubs too (I have grown somewhat fond of the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars), but I have spent more time in Texas than anywhere else (lived in Texas for 12 years – I’m amost 29 if you don’t want to do the math).  I now consider Texas my official home and plan on living and raising my children here.  And that is how one becomes a “Texas Yankee”!

     

    So, here I am finally joining the ranks.  I’m itching to write my first .NET entries and I hope you find my upcoming articles informative, interesting, and humorous too.  Feel free to ping me with any questions or comments.