East Coast Web 2.0 Conference Sept 20th 2006

The New New Internet ConferenceWow. Looks like I’m going to be headed to the "Web 2.0 Conference for Business" in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia (near DC) next week. I’m psyched! Like I said previously, the Microsoft conferences are passe; the energy these days can be found with the Web 2.0 crowd!

The conference is a little pricy at $595 for a one day event, but it is uniquely on the East coast, and it looks like it’s going to be pretty interesting. Lots of the "A" list players from Web 2.0 like Michael Arrington of TechCrunch and Dion Hinchcliffe of ZDNet as well as Hinchcliffe & Company will be there, as well as cool tools like JackBe and the ever present Google and Microsoft plus lots of other. Check it out!

P.S. I’m blogging this while in San Francisco getting ready for tomorrow’s much less pricey "The Future of Web Apps" conference at $295 for two days.

The Future of Web Apps Conference in San Fran: Extra Seat for $200:


Hey all! I’ve got an extra seat at "The Future of Web Apps" conference I’m attending next week Wednesday/Thursday September 13/14 in San Francisco if anyone is interested. The conference price is $295, but I’ll let it go for $200. Post a comment here on the blog if you want it.

The Wonders of a Stress Free Lunch

I just finished blogging about my mini-vacation weekend riding motorcycles in the north Georgia mountains with my father, but I decided to split it in to because this was logically seperate.

After we left Suches, Georgia on Sunday around 1pm, we traveled south to Dahlonega, Georgia to meet Kathleen Dollard who had scheduled to have lunch with me after she arrived in the Atlanta airport. Luck would have it that she wanted to go hiking in Clayton, Georgia for a short time as she had spent time there when she was younger, and you can get to Clayton by driving in the direction of Dahlonega from Atlanta. After that, she was headed to South Carolina for a consulting gig.

Whenever I’ve seen Kathleen in the past it has always been at conferences where she was speaking, and I have typically been running a trade show booth which meant we were both always stressed.

On Sunday when my dad and I met up with Kathleen, I wasn’t stressed at all (I had just had an awesome weekend) and she didn’t appear to be either. We had a great long lunch, discussing things that interested all three of us, and I got to know here even better.

Kathleen is a great and brilliant lady, and I am honored to count her as a friend. If you don’t already follow her blog, consider subscribing.

Getting into the Zone

1989 Honda NT 650 Hawk I don’t blog too much about my personal life but this weekend was too great to stay silent.

My dad is an avid motorcyclist. At 65, he still rides one of his several motorcycles whenever it’s not raining. Though he has a newer one, his favorite is his 1989 Honda NT650 Hawk, a V-twin.

Growing up with a father that loved motorcycles, I naturally gravitated towards them, and as a teenager I actually raced motocross for several years. And I have fonder memories of racing and all that went with it than of almost anything else in my past.

But with college and then starting a business I let motorcycles slip away for over 15 years. Then in early 2001 with some massive business uncertainties causing great distraction for me, my father talked me into attending the 2001 Atlanta bike show. There I fell in love with a KTM Duke, which I never purchased because it was too expensive, but I did soon get a Suzuki SV650. I kept the SV650 for a little over a year, then I sold to pay off debt to improve credit scores for a condo mortgage. The following January I went to the 2003 Atlanta bike show to see the new Suzuki SV1000. There instead I fell in love with an Italian; the Aprilia RSV Tuono 1000cc V-twin, which I purchased the next month:

What’s the Tuono like and why did I buy it? For those of you who know bikes, no need to explain. For those of you who don’t, you wouldn’t understand anyway. :-)

Back to my dad’s Honda Hawk: the Hawk is a bit of a "cult" bike, so much so there is (at least) one major Honda Hawk website, several mailing lists for Hawk "Listers," and they have rallies many times a year at different locations across the USA. For the past three years I’ve attended the Fall Eastern Hawk Rally with my dad which has been held at the T.W.O. Campground in Suches, Georgia which is located in the North Georgia mountains. This year’s Fall Eastern Hawk rally ran from Thursday September 23 through Sunday September 26.

The prior two years I had many worries related to my business, and though I went, I was far too keyed up, did not really get to know many people, and did not have the best time. I left late and returned early. Still, I went to spend time with my father. This year was different. I left with my father on Thursday at noon, and that evening we went for a short ride. The next two days we rode what those who attended the rally yet traveled from as far away as Maine and Wisconsin said are "the best motorcycle roads in the country" (meaning the roads in the Georgia/Tennessee/North Carolina triangle.)

The next two days my dad and I went on different rides; I with the faster group and he with the more laid back group. The leader of my group for both days was a road racer, but he is also very smooth and level headed. During those two days, what I learned from him improved my street riding skills immensely!

Did I break any speeding laws? Mums the word…

On Sunday we had breakfast, packed up, and said our goodbyes after the group photo:

As we drove south towards Atlanta, we pondered the question as to why we each enjoyed riding motorcycles. Other than the obvious; shared enjoyment of a common activity, his reason was he enjoyed getting away; it didn’t matter where he was going, just that he was riding.

My reason was very different. When I raced motocross, I did so because I wanted to prove to myself I could accomplish something that was very difficult for me; to win the race. Though I got many 2nd through 5th place trophies over those years, I rarely won. Typically it was because I knew at least one of my competitors could beat me. At every prior race, I had been keenly aware of myself and my limitations. However, on this particular morning after practice my father asked how I thought I would do; I told him that I could beat everyone in my class, and I believed it.

A motocross race is comprised of two "heats" per class where class is usually engine size and skill level (i.e. 125cc A, B, and C; 205cc A, B, and C, etc.) The trophy winner is the one with the lower score. Ties are broken by the better scorer in the second heat. Thus a 3rd and a 1st would loose to a 1st and a 2nd, and a 1st and a 3rd would loose to a 3rd and a 1st.

My first heat on this day had my leaving the starting line 3rd. I slowly passed 2nd, and then 1st, and then I proceeded to add many bike lengths to my lead. I came in 1st that heat.

My second heat someone next to me on the start lost control and almost knocked me over. I entered the first corner with more than 20 racers ahead of me. That point forward until I crossed the finish line was lost to me; immediate after the race I didn’t remember a bit of it. My father had to tell me about that heat after it was over. He said I passed two or three bikes in a corner up until the checkered flag fell, and I was one bike length behind the leader; I came in 2nd that heat. Unfortunately because I started so badly, I didn’t win that heat.

But the winner of the second heat came in third the first heat. That gave me the win; I got the 1st place trophy. I had, for the first time in my life won a motocross race. And it was also the first time in my life I had been "in the zone."

Amateur racing is a community, and though you compete, you gain respect for the others and everyone I knew came up to congratulate me on what a great race I had run. Unlike any other time in my youth when I would have killed to be the center of attention, that day I didn’t need to be. I appreciated they acknowledged me, but it didn’t matter because I was completely at peace with myself. I had won the race, and I had done it with many odds against me given the lousy 2nd heat start.

That was also the first, and (by the way) the last, "perfect" day I have ever had.

So back the question: "Why do I enjoy riding motorcycles?" I ride because I want to get back in the zone. Last weekend in the mountain, after two full days of learning while riding behind a very good rider, I rode State Route 180 at full clip. I was riding at my edge and high on adrenaline, but I never felt out of control. I felt like I was back in the zone.

Well, I wasn’t completely in the zone, but I did get close. It was an awesome weekend.

Unexpected Circumstances

Those of you who have paid any attention have noticed that it has been some time since my last post. Ahem. Saturday May 22nd around the time of my last post my left ankle started hurting. For no reason (except I rode my motorcycle that day, but I swear I didn’t do anything that hurt it.)

The next day I had trouble walking but I made my way to the airport destined for San Diego TechEd anyway.On Monday I had meetings all day, but by the end of the day I could barely walk. It took me literally an hour and a half to go from the meeting area by registration to my parked car (I just kept thinking: I don’t need a wheel chair!) Tuesday I couldn’t walk, and stayed in the hotel. The same was true for most of Wednesday, except I did make it out at the end of the day and to a CVC/CodeProject party.

Needless to say, TechEd was for me almost a complete waste! And no, I didn’t get any video footage, I just wasn’t up for it. :-(

Thursday morning I hobbled back to the airport for home, and then spent my Memorial day weekend housebound for lack of ability to move. Yeech. I guess I could have worked (or blogged) during that time, but the pain was just too annoying. Tuesday I was finally able to see my orthepedic, and learned I tore cartlidge in my ankle! Funny (sad?) thing is, the same happened to my knee two years ago, for no (discernable) reason! The only thing at the time I could figure was I had just turned 39. This time I guess it was I just turned 41. Jeesh.

So the last week after Memorial day was a blur as I tried to get caught up, and as I tried to prepare for going to .NET DevCon in Las Vegas, which I did Monday through Wednesday (I was only at the show on Tuesday, flying the other days.) NET DevCon was run parallel with a Lotus Notes and a WebSphere conference and wasn’t a well attended .NET show, but I had a long talk with John and Jeanie Banfield of Advisor after the show and there’s a chance based on their plans they can grow it into a really great show over time. (BTW, I’ve known John & Jeanie for over 15 years; back when I wrote for their now defunct Clipper Advisor magazine; and I think they are both really great people.)

Anyway, I’m finally back in town with no immediate travel plans meaning I can probably start blogging again, and my ankle is much better though I can tell it still is not completely well. The doc has me on meds, and I’ll see him in a month.

Off to Microsoft TechEd San Diego 2004

Well, I’m off tomorrow morning to San Diego for Microsoft TechEd San Diego  May 2004 tomorrow to meet with some vendors and partners, and to say hello to old friends and new. San Diego is one of my favorite cities in the world, so I’m sure I’ll have a great time just being there.  However, I doubt I’ll have the time or energy to update my blog while I’m there (I’ll be a Mission Beach instead….I wish!)

Also, I’d love to meet any .NET bloggers who will be at the show.  If you get this and will be at the show, track me down on my cell phone at (redacted ;-).  I’m taking my video camera with me, so I’m looking to use up some film on some good stories. :-)

Inspired by Channel9

Back at the beginning of last month Microsoft launched Channel 9, and I was completely inspired by their video interviews.  Being a “database“ guy, I’ve never really gotten excited about things like graphics, imaging, charting, etc. and that included video.  That was until I saw Channel9 and thought “Wow, these videos are really cool!  We could do the similar interviews with our vendors talking about their products!

It actually reminded me of a DevDays several years back when a Microsoft exec whose name I can’t exactly remember (maybe it was David Vascovitz; does that sound familiar to anyone?) told a story about how his mother never understood his job nor did she appreciate computers one iota.  That was until he brought home his laptop containing digital pictures of his mother’s grandkids!  After that, she demanded he get her a computer!  You can see absolutely no value in something until one day — bam — you find out it can do something cool for you and then you want one!

So anyway, I scouted for a digital camcorder and selected a Sony DCR-TRV950 and took a trip down to the Visual Studio Connections conference in Orlando, FL last month.  While there I wasn’t able to film any of my vendors (only one was exhibiting, and I think I caught him off guard or he was too shy to get in front of the camera!), but I did get a chance to interview several other interesting people in some “practice“ runs.  I’m about to post one of them next, and when I have a chance to edit and produce a few more, I’ll post them as well.


Great People and Old Friends at VS Connections

I just got back from the Visual Studio Connections conference in Orlando, Florida for a few days. I went down for a few meetings, and had a really great time.  

I meet Robert Green who on Monday night previewed a free set of soon to be released components called the VBPowerPack. Robert and I talked about why VS 2005 may actually even be better and easier for the newbie than VB6. And I met Joe Binder the program manager for the very cool “My“ namespace feature, who sold me even more on the feature.

I had a nice long chat with one of the nicer guys in the industry, Alex Homer, author of *ton* of books on ASP, ADO, ASP.NET, ADO.NET, and more, and he told me about the three (3!) book projects on which he’s currently working. His Advanced ASP.NET sounds really interesting and I can’t wait to get a copy.

I had a chance to talk briefly with Rocky Lhotka, another one of the nicest guys in the industry and another hugely prolific ASP/.NET writer, and he did his best to get the concept of SOA thru my thick skull. But rather than give you his explanation, which was great, I’ll give him the chance to first blog about it. I finally met Markus Egger whose Code Magazine just keeps getting better and better.  I also finally met Steve Smith of AspAlliance, but somehow we got our wires crossed and never got a chance to talk; sorry about that Steve. Hope to see you at the next show.

I had a nice long catch-up chat with Shirley Brothers, president and founder of the Connections Conferences. I’ve been a hermit for a lot of reasons and we hadn’t spoken in probably four years. Penton acquired her company over three years ago and it turned out to be a great acquisition. I’m really happy for her because it so often turns out to be a nightmare for the acquired. Anyway, her conferences keep getting more attendees each year, and the attendees, speakers, and vendors I spoke with were really positive.  Rene Garcia, president of SoftwareFX and a leading vendor of one of Xtras.Net said he loved it.  One thing’s for sure; Shirley knows how to pick the venue! The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress resort beats the heck out most conference hotels I’ve been to over the years.

I had a really nice dinner Monday with Kathleen Dollard, MVP and author of Code Generation in Microsoft .NET, and later on Tuesday we talked about many fine philosphical points, at least a few of which did involve programming and code generation! And then there’s one of the most consistently positive people in the .NET world: Don Kiely. They ran him ragged with three sessions [UPATE: make that five sessions!] but he still kept smiling.

So much for the name dropping. :)  Traveling can be a real pain, but whenever I go to Microsoft-oriented developer conferences I’m always surrounded by great people and lots of old friends.  This time was no different. 

My USA Map

I just visited Peter Provost’s blog and saw his map (his was about the 5th I’d seen) so I finally succumbed:

create your own personalized map of the USA or write about it on the open travel guide

It’s been one hell of a week!

It has been one hell of a week, as the title suggests!  After getting back from VSLive I had over 300 emails in my inbox after the spam filter did its job, most of which required much more than just a read and delete. Hopefully this weekend I’ll catch up enough to start posting again. I’ve got a ton of things on my mind.

Oh, I met my blogging friend Eric Lippert at VSLive, as he mentioned on his blog. Nice to put a face with a blog.