LIDNUG: Sahil Malik presents AngularJS, Azure AD and O365

sahil-malik-angularNext up on the list of exciting topics we have Sahil Malik (www.winsmarts.com) showing what he refers to as “a 3some who can produce a really good looking baby”.

  • AngularJS
  • Azure AD
  • Office 365

In this free webinar, Sahil will go through some of the possibilities you can come across when having to introduce those three into the same mix.

Click here to register for this event.

 

 

 

Time travel – myth, legend or happening? ThinkPad “Retro”

The ThinkPad brand has a huge following – and i mean, it’s almost like a culture in of itself. We see a fan base, with strong and long running ties to the ThinkPad brand; But in an industry where most are conforming to market analysis outcomes and what’s available from a technical perspective, not many brands manages to create quite as much “stir” in the ethers like Lenovo’s ThinkPad.

Some of the best (and if you ask an owner, “THE” best) performing and quality built business laptops come from the ThinkPad line, with the current T450 and W541 coming out as uncontested winners – so where’s Lenovo going next?

Enter stage right – “Retro”

The code name for the next generation of performance beasts is “Retro” and it’s clear that people like David Hill, Chief Design Officer for Lenovo PC and Server wants to get it right. He released a blog not very long ago, which saw more than 190,000 views and as of today, more than 3,000 comments, which outlined some of the thoughts behind the “Retro”.

david-hill-blog2

The sheer volume of responses has given the “Retro” life and David is now asking for specific feedback through a series of surveys – with the first one being launched today.

The surveys are just short and concise, but centred around specific aspects of the device. In a manner Lenovo is letting the community (and it’s fans) give feedback on what should be included in the “Retro”. That’s almost unheard of from such a massive manufacturer – something that only small, specialist makers care to dive into. The first survey is addressing keyboards and pointing devices.

It’s an opportunity to give input into the actual device capabilities – keyboard (here’s to hoping the traditional ThinkPad keyboard is included..nudge, nudge!!), hinge type, ThinkLights, internal components, screen type etc etc.

We don’t yet know how many surveys will appear, but we do know that this is the first. Best bet would be to keep an eye out for the Lenovo Blog – or catch the #RetroThinkPad or #LenovoIN hashtags on Twitter.

Here’s a link to the first (of hopefully many) opportunities for us to have a say – Retro ThinkPad Survey Series – Survey 1 – and here’s the blog announcing the survey.


BHM-tinyBrian is a member of the Lenovo INsiders group and is a Microsoft MVP. All opinions and views are his own. Catch him on twitter.

 

 

 

Technical debt – when the bank really can’t help you out

Not long ago I had a brief 2hr session with a client who were looking at implementing a collaboration platform (read: SharePoint) to support their massively growing business. The discussion as usual went around platform/product capabilities and as usual the topic slowly venture into requirements and different scenarios that the client wanted the system comply.

Due to the growth of the business, all internal systems had soon been left behind and simply couldn’t cope with the expansions – this is often the case for companies that doesn’t factor IT into their business model. Luckily for the client, most of the OOTB capabilities of the product supported directly what they needed, but a few didn’t. These were for the client seemingly extremely important and a custom solution would most likely be needed.

If you’ve ever spent any time in a meeting with a sales representative, you’ll know that the general consensus is to sell – yeah, go figure. But as a consultant there’s always areas that you really need to be careful of entering into – and this is where you need to have an open and honest discussion about the impact a system can have to a business.

Picking a solution (No, you are not given a choice)

Naturally most companies employ consultants because they know that it’s not their core business. So looking at the reasons to adopting a system (any system), from the business perspective, there’s:

  1. The need to increase productivity, or
    • The need to decrease deficiencies in current system
    • The need to cut cost of productivity
  2. The need to introduce controlled/improved processes
  3. The need to expand, or match a shifting market, or finally
  4. The need improve on system quality

It’s a very broad non-specific and/or descriptive list but covers the various models used by management consultants (including PI-MDD, which from a consulting perspective is my personal favourite – that quite often goes against the grain, especially since I’m predominantly a SharePoint consultant). I’m not going to into the how and why of modelling these things, because I don’t have any formal “Consulting” education (can you even get that?) – but i digress – the needs and context needs to be detailed, which is where many smaller corporations don’t see any value – “We know our business and don’t want to pay YOU to tell us about it” – so they find a budget, which rarely actually has any foundation in either context or need, but a “This is our budget, get it done” perspective. The next step is then to either find a solution provider or a product.

The model here is pretty simple..is cost higher than budget.

Double-click, Next, Next, Next, Finish

Once a solution provider has presented a “choice” which matches the “budget”, the time comes to integrate the solution. A short stint from an onsite specialist and you’re up and running. Some time allocated to “Power training” and the business now has a Best In Breed solution. Exit stage left.

At this stage there’s already conflicting ties between the Need and Context. Initially there’s a drop in productivity because most users are having to learn on the job, perhaps mistakes even occur? orders are lost, tasks are left incomplete – and this is were human ingenuity kicks in and the proactive folks simply circumvent the system till such a time as the system can be “fixed”.

What occurs in this instance is a dramatic drop in ROI – the system is not doing what it’s meant to do and staff are either slipping back and using what they previously used or are making up new processes in order to meet their KPIs or deadlines. After all, business must go on and the outcome is “the system doesn’t work”.

Utopia doesn’t exist

Most platforms seems to have a lifecycle that spans over 5 to 7 years before being replaced/upgrade.image

In the period between introduction and end of life – the utopian fantasy with software is that there’s no cost involved with it. Once it’s bought and installed, everything takes care of itself.

Ok, realistically most have an idea that software does need to grow, so storage, backups and servers are all part of the “natural” life of having a software platform.

The decisions to adapt a platform is far more intricate than that. oh, vendors will sell “support and maintenance agreements” to you at a % price. For that you’ll upgrades/updates, patches and an offshored support email that you can use to contact them if you do need some assistance.

But mostly the vendor relies on partners and/or solution providers to take care of that for them.

It’s here that technical debt comes into play and it’s where vendors or solution providers doesn’t want to go. Yes, I’ve just sold you on the idea that you should by my services or product, at a concise price, why can’t I declare all the costs to you right now?

There’s a natural increase in cost associate with a software platform – it comes in the form of both financial and resource efforts and it could increase the investment figures by up to 20% per annum, of the initial purchase cost, very easily.

Technical debt can be calculated – but it’s very complex so I tend to use an analogy to explain that adopting a platform is much like having kids – there’s an initial phase of excitement, followed by a sense of dread because the project is taking a long time and concluded with the reality that it’s a never ending cost that didn’t just stop when the kids left home.

When decisions matter

It’s always hard to sell a software platform/solution based on a high upfront cost, hence why most don’t do it, whilst there’s a seemingly ignorant belief in the fact that off the shelf packaged software doesn’t carry the debt as well.

Most have heard that a bespoke solution is too risky – hiring some developers to slap a system together and then call it a solution is risky, especially when approached like that.

Can you quantify the exact cost for any system? for most, no – there simply isn’t that much tangible proof to state what that figure is. Like with anything else, there’s a risk involved with the business having to change too frequent, which leads to either an out dated solution or a high cost in retrofitting it to meet the new needs.

Yes of course there’s a banging good approach that’ll be offered when this happens – lets go agile!!! For seemingly unknown reason, companies has now decided that agile is risk free. But it still doesn’t eliminate the technical debt that’s accruing – of course not, since the changes to the system is going to cost money and effort.

In conclusion

The only decision that really matter is an informed decision. Go into the adoption process with both eyes open and on the prize. Be aware of all facets of solution adoption and be realistic. The fact is, if your budget cannot sustain the system it needs in order for the business to prosper, then your business model is wrong.

Life is a like a box of chocolates

“When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future”

This entry today isn’t going to focus on technology…but why a “aha” moment got clarity to me…

Running a business can be extremely challenging, as I’m sure many people have figured out over the years – so it’s not surprising that decisions made in the now can have far reaching impacts and ramifications. That goes both for the good and the bad.

Most business decisions are made with an immediate financial goal in mind or with a long term strategy. Either way, a business decision is long standing and most of them can’t be unmade.

Drawing a comparison here, I guess the most important aspect of making decisions, be they business or personal, is to make an informed decision.

When decisions are made, without the backing of factual data, the outcomes more or less fall into either of these three categories:butterfly-effect

  • A positive, unexpected benefit;
  • A negative, unexpected detriment occurring in addition to the desired effect, or
  • A perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended;

The law of unintended consequences pretty much lists ignorance as the top of the causes for this. On the other hand, no level of analysis or consulting with specialists can ever account for human stupidity.

If you don’t take the law of unintended consequences into account when you make decisions, you end up with an uncontrolled outcome. That’s also true with personal decisions.

I’ve recently had an epiphany which led me to realise that at some point my own decision(s) weren’t quite that informatively backed as I’d like them to have been. This realisation pretty much meant that I had to re-visit previously made decision(s). And as the law of nature state – nothing can ever be unmade – it pretty much means there’s only two things you can realistically do.

  • Attempt to change the previous outcome, and
  • Don’t be an idiot and make the same mistake again

Of course that’s easier said than done – but at least I’ve realised that I’ve made a mistake (isn’t that the first step towards redemption?) somewhere along the line and now it’s just up to me to locate and fix it…

yeah, right…life’s like a box of chocolate and if I approach the “fix” with the same ignorant/uninformed position, aren’t I just going make the same mistake all over again, and hence leave the outcome into the same hands that caused the first set of results?

So now it’s time for me to investigate as much as I can about my decision(s) – ask a friend and mentor for some advice – and move on to address the “wrong” results

Be more productive with Office 365, Office 2013 and SkyDrive Pro 2013

One of the neat little tricks, i’ve taken on board more and more of late, is the power of Word and/or Excel personal templates.

It’s always been a frustration for me to dig around on some obscure shared drive, for the latest version of a specific document or spreadsheet template. That’s why I generally use templates for most of the work I do.

Now, one of the problems with this is that I have to "drag" around my template library constantly, so I figured why not just stored them in the Cloud.

SkyDrive to the rescue…

Now, that worked really, really well for documents that i just need to share on the odd occasion – but what if I really wanted to manage and control my templates…could SkyDrive be helpful there in the long run.

no..obviously not. Versioning and such is not available on SkyDrive.

Then i looked a bit further and played around with my Office 365 setup – and now we’re talking familiar territory for me – SharePoint without the hassles of setting up a server, on an internal network that I couldn’t even get to all the time.

What i needed was for my templates to be stored in a controlled environment, available 24/7, for multiple people.

Here’s the scenarios I wanted to deal with:

  • Controlled access to all templates
  • Publication of templates when approved
  • Synchronisation of templates locally

Tools of the trade:

  • Office 365 Team Site
  • Basic document library (with versioning turned on)
  • SkyDrive Pro 2013
  • Office 2013
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First things first – set up a Office 365 Team Site…done  
Secondly, create a document library and turn on versioning..done  
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Then we just need the folder path (full url) to the document library and set up a new folder sync via SkyDrive Pro 2013.  
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Click on "Show my files" and you’ll see the folder that’s been synchronised to your local folder. Grap that folder path and open up Word -> Options -> Save and enter the path in to the "Default personal templates location".  
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Click ok – restart Word and voila, you now have a "Personal" tab available on the "New" screen where your templates will be listed. This works just as well for PowerPoint, Excel etc etc.  
   

11

 

 

That’s it, easy management of Office templates with Office 365, SkyDrive Pro 2013 and Office 2013.

LIDNUG Global Windows 8 Code Jam

Stock up on coffee, niblies and sleep – because you’re going to be needing it!!

LIDNUG has teamed up with InnerWorkings and are going to be running a Global Code Jam, from the 12-June-2013 till the 12-July-2013. This is Your chance to see how you stack up with developers from all over the world and an opportunity for you to win some great prizes from InnerWorkings, Telerik, Submain, Syncfusion and many more…

So how do you get on board and start crunching some code? Simple, follow these steps and you just can’t go wrong.

Head on over to http://bit.ly/codecomp and register:

step 1

Then you need to create an account – it’s painless, just need to enter in some details and click “Register”

step 2After registering you’ll just need to run the InnerWorkings Developer Interface installer..

step 3step 4

Start up the InnerWorkings Developer Interface and log in with the credentials you just used to register with.

step 5

step 5.0

Once you’ve logged in, the first order of business is for the Visual Studio project solution files to download.

step 5.2

Once that’s done it’s time to join the competition. Go to the “Achievements” tab.

step 6

Then click on the “Competitions” tab, inside the “Achievements” area.

step 7

Then select the country you wish to represent and click “Join Team”.

step 8

That’s it – you’re ready to get started. Click on the “Windows 8 app Development with C# and XAML” link on the left hand side under “Installed Content”.

After than it’s just about getting your hands dirty..Launch the project code…Click on the first task (or whichever task you’re at), then click on “Challenge”.

step 9

In the Challenge tab you’ll see two buttons..

One which is the “Launch Project Code” option – this launches Visual Studio 2012 and opens up the solution for the task. The other is “Judge Project Code” which is used to “Submit” your solution to the competition.

Beware, the more times you go submit, the lower score you’ll get. Same goes for using any of the “Help” features around.

step 10

Once Visual Studio is running you’ll be presented with the “Challenge” details. Follow the instructions and go through the details carefully. The “Judge Project Code” feature is also available inside Visual Studio as the InnerWorkings Developer Interface integrates straight into Visual Studio – nifty.

Step 11

That’s pretty much how you get started with the competition.

Each week we’ll be releasing more and more challenges – defeat them all and become the code guru that you want to be!

We will also pick weekly winners, so the more challenges you complete, the more likely it is that you’ll win.

Also, don’t forget to register with LIDNUG (http://bit.ly/lidnug) as you can only win any of the prizes if you’re a LIDNUG member. That’s free too btw.

So, good luck and happy coding!

LIDNUG & Scott Guthrie – 15th Q&A on the 9th of January

 

lidnug

LIDNUG presents Scott Guthrie’s 15th Open Q&A and the first event of 2013.

 

Scott has been coming back to LIDNUGs members each quarter for the past couple of years and it’s been one of the best sessions to get answers directly from The Gu himself.

 

In this session Scott answers questions on technical solutions, advices on implementations and draws comparisons between methodologies – all in the span of 90 minutes where his sole focus is to answer whatever question that comes in from the attendees.

 

My name is Scott Guthrie, and I am a Corporate Vice President in the Microsoft Server and Tools Business. I run a development team that works on the following products/technologies:scott-guthrie

  • Windows Azure
  • ASP.NET
  • Entity Framework
  • WCF
  • WF
  • IIS
  • Service Bus
  • Cache
  • BizTalk
  • Visual Studio Tools for Web
  • Web Services and Workflow

Register and attend this event for a chance to win 1 of 2 Telerik Ultimate .Net Collections.

Click here to register

 

FAQs

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?
Use the following link and send us a question

Is there sufficient parking available at the venue?
Yes, parking is available at this Virtual Online Event. Just make sure you park the car in your drive-way, have a cup of coffee and log in.

Who can I blame if I can’t access the session?
Just blame Brian (it’s easier that way) => brian.madsen@lidnug.org

Will attending this event help my career prospects?
Of course, you will be able to bring a treasure trove of knowledge with you to your next job interview.

 

Free 2-day Windows Phone 8 workshops in Perth, 7-8 Dec

Windows Phone 8 Logo
Windows Phone 8

Most have undoubtly heard about Windows Phone 8 and seen some of the awesome handsets that’s being released (one of them, the Nokia Lumia 920 is my current favorite).

With Windows Phone 8 there’s also been a huge range of new features released, such as native C++ support for game developers, NFC, in-app purchasing, wallet and much much more (see here for the Windows Phone 8 Developer Highlights).

How do you then get some hands-on training under your belt? It’s so new that there’s still not many around offering training and that leaves you at a disadvantage…or does it? Nopes – there’s now an opportunity for you to attend a free 2-day Windows Phone 8 developer workshop in Perth. Two days packed full of Windows Phone 8 goodness!

The two days run on the 7th and 8th of December, 2012 (yay, just in time for the chrissy holidays where you’ll have plenty of time to get your hands even more dirty, crunching some awesome code) and they’re free…..

My good friend, Nick Randolph (from Built To Roam) is running the 2 days and it’s great to see him head back to Perth once again. Nick is probably one of the biggest names in Mobile development in Australia and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of attending any of his mobile presentations you’d be aware of the quality you’ll be exposed to.

So what are you waiting for, click here to register.

LIDNUG and Wintellect Presents – .NET Performance Tuning with John Robbins

LIDNUG & Wintellect Presents – .NET Performance Tuning with John Robbins    John Robbins

One of our most highly anticipated events and presenters is coming up in just a few days (11th of October, 2012) – namely the return of John Robbins. Last time we caught up with John we had a full house, and with currently 700+ registered to attend it’s bound to be a blast.

.NET is an amazing environment. It runs on everything from a small phone in your hand, to the latest touch tablet, to your company’s server, to a cloud environment handling tens of thousands of transactions per second. But with that flexibility comes problems. When your applications performance slows down the issues go from “working OK” to “we are going to get fired any minute” literally overnight. You’ve got a performance problem with your .NET code so what the heck do you do?   In this session John Robbins will talk about the wonderful tools you have to find and fix those performance issues once and for all. There’s a lot of deep thinking over performance that most developers haven’t done because they don’t need to do it every day. Fortunately, John’s done that thinking for you so join him for this session and learn to tackle .NET performance problems. No matter if your performance problem is algorithmic or memory-based you’ll see how to deal with those issues once and for all.


Register to attend the webinar and you’ll be entered to win a Wintellect virtual training course (a $499 value). The winner will be announced during the webinar. You must be present to win.

The LIDNUG and Wintellect series of events are sponsored by Syncfusion.

For more details and to register, click here: http://lidnug-wintellect7.eventbrite.com/

note: for those on the southern hemisphere please be aware that this event is held in the EDT timezone.

New horizons–a change is as good as a holiday

Back in August 2008 I joined Fujitsu Australia to take on a long term, SharePoint based project, as a SharePoint specialist. The project was challenging and rewarding, not without taking into consideration that I got to work with some excellent people, and as it’s drawing to a close there really isn’t much more for me to do.

Now, 4 years later, its time for me to look for other pastures. I’ve learned a ton of stuff and had a great experience, both by working with some of the best people in the industry, but also from a mentoring perspective. Fujitsu is a massive organisation, not just in Australia where it’s the third largest, but also internationally and the corporate learning that can come by being involved with global service offerings, from the ground up has really given me a new appreciation for enterprise solutions.

thumbs-upI’m leaving some very capable guys behind that truly knows what they’re doing – two colleagues who’s made my time at Fujitsu especially fun, such as Martin Abbott, probably one of the smartest guys I’ve ever had the fortune to work with, and Louis Mierowsky – one truly awesome architect – I appreciate all of you bearing with my eccentricities over the past 4 years. There’s other people who’s been a great influence to me, especially Omar Abdel-Alim has been there, all the way, teaching me so many things about corporate life and business.

This will also be a new experience for me – I get to work with another fellow MVP – in that I’ve actually worked with most of the senior guys there before. Mostly when you step into a new organisation you don’t just have to learn corporate policies, processes and people’s idiosyncrasies (including mine), but you also have to get to know the people you’ll now be working with. Luckily here I’ll know most of them so it should be a breeze to slip right in and get started with the serious stuff.

So now I’m off to join another big corporation – I accepted an opportunity with NEC Australia as a Snr. Solutions Architect in their Perth offices.

I’m very much looking forward to getting started and see where this journey will take me.