SQL Down Under Code Camp Sessions Posted – and Gourmet Coffee

The tentative (but likely) list of sessions for SQL Down Under Code Camp on Oct 13th/14th have now been posted at:




This year, we also have two timeslots (one per day) where new speakers can take 15 – 20 minutes to show you what they’re passionate about or something clever they’ve learned. We have five of the six mini-slots allocated but if you’d like to fill the other slot, talk to me about it ASAP. I’m really looking forward to these sessions.


Our Brizzie mate Peter Ward has organised a gourmet coffee van to come up for the first morning so make sure you’re there early! And our Canberra mate Jeff Wharton has organised a quiz that’ll work like a knowledge-based treasure hunt during the event.


Once again this should be the Australian SQL Server event of the year to be at. If you are planning to come and haven’t let us know, please just reply to this email to tell us.


Also keep in mind that Security Code Camp Oz (http://www.securitycampoz.com/) is happening at the same time, same place and we’ve kept the session times identical so you can move between the events if you like!


Book: The Rational Guide To Building Technical Communities

Well I have to say I really like this one 🙂

When I mentioned a while ago that my two new books were both on Amazon and must now be real, I had a lot of friends order them, only to have endless shipping delays. Finally that’s over for this one. The Rational Guide To Building Technical Communities now shows “In Stock” at Amazon and I’ve had emails telling me that orders have been shipping!


So you now really can order it. In fact, I’m sure you want a whole bunch of them 🙂

Thanks to Tony Mann at Rational Press for his belief in this one, particularly as it’s a non-technical book and to Jeff Edman and Kim Turner (also at Rational Press) for their efforts on it.

Book: Beginning ASP.NET 2.0 Ajax

Over the last few days, I finally got to read Beginning ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX by fellow Readifarian Paul Glavich and old mate Wally McClure along ith Steve Orr, Craig Shoemaker, Steven Smit and Jim Zimmerman.

I have to say I always approach these books by Wrox that have a picture of a bunch of authors on the front cover with trepidation. It’s hard for one person to be consistent throughout a book. It’s really tough for six or more. But the guys have done a pretty good job. I think they covered the major concepts and issues surrounding ASP.NET AJAX really quite well. The only downside for me was that I did note a bit of repetitition between chapters. I’m sure that’s a multi-author issue. But certainly a great book that covers the topic quite well.


Book: You Don’t Have To Be Born Brilliant – How to Design a Magnificent Life

John McGrath has written an pretty interesting book in You Don’t Have To Be Born Brilliant – How to Design a Magnificent Life. I had run out of reading material while travelling lately (well ran out of any that I had with me). This looked like something I could read over one or two flights and it was, given the inevitable delays at airports. I thought the title was pretty corny and reeked of the old-style self-improvement books. I hadn’t read too many of them in recent years. I used to love the parody names that people came up with for such books. Like:

* How to control children with nothing more than a role of fencing wire and a sharp stick

* How to bonzai your pet

But seriously, most of the books in this genre I find pretty shallow. Even this book showed lots of signs of John’s youth and inexperience. However, he’s a pretty switched on thirty-something that seems to have made most of his wealth in real estate. In the book, he puts forward a good deal of common sense. I have to say that I would find his idea of a good week to be pretty regimental. What always intrigues me with guys who write books like this is that they make no mention of family. John’s work seems to be his life and the standard that he judges success by. I really think he missed an opportunity to discuss the role of families in a “magnificent life”. It left me wondering what sort of relationship he has with his own family.

It would be hard to imagine anyone reading it and not picking up a few pointers or hearing a few hard truths that we all need to be reminded of from time to time. The section on health and diet certainly hit the target for me, many times.


Book: The End of Faith

I have to say I really enjoyed reading The End of Faith by Sam Harris. When I was at the TechEd speakers dinner in Auckland this week, I mentioned it to Steve Riley and I noticed his eyes light up. He’d also read it and found it pretty fascinating stuff. Sam sees any form of religious faith as pretty irrational. Having grown up myself through the Catholic system and now being outside of it, I do struggle to understand how sensible and intelligent people can believe so much of the doctrines put forward by most religions today. I now see most of it as patently absurd and what puzzles me is why it took me so long to come to that conclusion.

However in this book, Sam Harris really struggles most with the Islamic world. He argues that it simply isn’t possible for Muslims to integrate in any other society apart from a strictly Islamic one and that at best, they can only see it as a temporary state of affairs if they have to. But I’d have to say that Hindus, Jews, Buddhists and Christians would find his writing pretty confronting as well. Given the picture of the future that Sam Harris paints, I can only hope some of his predictions don’t come to pass.

Yet, this is definitely recommended and challenging reading for anyone pondering their place in the world, whether or not they agree with Sam Harris’ conclusions.

Book: Why Software Sucks… and what you can do about it

David Platt has written a number of books I’ve really enjoyed. I had pretty high expectations for Why Software Sucks… and what you can do about it but a bit like I felt after reading Blink, I was left with an overwhelming “is that it?” feeling. David shows several web sites and programs that he really doesn’t like the behaviour of (and on most I’d have to heartily agree with him) but I don’t feel he really got into the meat of the real discussion. I did find the discussion of TechEd and what it’s like, to be very familiar 🙂 I also found his story surrounding his judging of the Imagine Cup pretty funny. But overall, I think the book gets a bit lost in the Microsoft vs everyone else discussion and the endless stories surrounding trying to understand geeks. I was left puzzled as to whether the book was targeted at geeks or end-users. It’s certainly more appropriate for end-users.

Book: Blink

I was really looking forward to reading Malcolm Gladwell’s popular Blink. After the hype that surrounded it, I must say I found that when I finished it, I was left feeling “is that it?” Malcolm makes a lot of interesting observations and tells quite a few memorable stories but I really expected more of a “this is what you can do with the knowledge I’ve given you” section. Otherwise, it’s a fairly entertaining read.

Book: Foundations of SQL Server Business Intelligence

I enjoyed Lynn Langit’s book: Foundations of SQL Server Business Intelligence. It takes a fairly interesting tour through the current Microsoft SQL Server BI stack, covering Analysis Services, Integration Services and Reporting Services. The writing style is good although I suspect one or two areas reflected Lynn’s experience with previous versions of the product. Lynn provides a good amount of sound advice.

Recommended for those looking for an intro into the SQL Server BI space!

Announcing the Readify Developer Network

If you live in Melbourne, Sydney or Canberra or you like to watch webcasts, we’ve got great news for you. We’re launching the Readify Developer Network, you’re invited and it’s free.

Our developer centre manager Darren Neimke has been posting lately about the issues involved with a virtual organisation. Darren makes the point that we’re more highly mobile than virtual but two of the challenges we need to deal with are having regular face to face interaction with our colleagues and training each other in newer technologies.

The Readify Developer Network was borne out of this. We’d decided to have a fortnightly gathering in each of the main cities that we operate in. That gives our staff a place that they know other members of our staff will be at, on a regular basis. We also decided to make it an opportunity to train each other on a variety of technologies and to build presentation experience amongst the staff. Why then, not make it public? So that’s what we’ve decided to do.

Each fortnight, there will be a Readify Developer Network event in each of the main cities. In fact our current plans are for there to be two of these in each town, to cater for audiences with different attendance needs.

How does this fit with existing user groups, etc.? We see this as a complement to existing groups and we’ll also be making the sessions we do available for user groups around the country where funding (which would typically need to be external) supports that. We’re keen to get a large number of our staff doing presentations as part of their professional development and we’re also mindful that we don’t want to swamp existing groups with our staff.

Another thing we’ve noticed is that corporate developers don’t tend to frequent the existing groups and as enterprise clients are mostly who we work with, we’re keen to create events that will appeal to them. In particular, we hope they will support it because of:

  • Very high quality sessions

  • Convenient CBD locations

  • Day and evening sessions available

  • Enterprise-focussed topics

  • Schedule planned and publicised well in advance

  • Consistent and regular schedule

  • Both primer (introductory) and depth topics at almost every session

Every session is to be presented by a staff member who is passionate and expert on the technologies involved.

We’ll have brochures on this at TechEd Australia. Come and visit the Readify booth and grab one but if you’d like to get your hands on one early, the brochure with the schedule for the first six months is available for download here.

If you live in one of the cities we’re working with initially, we’d love to see you take part. If you live outside these areas, don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten you. We’re also planning to record each main session as a webcast after it’s the done the tour of the country.

We hope you’ll really like the RDN and make it part of your schedule into the future.