Two new adventures for July

I’ve embarked on two new ventures for me in the last few weeks. The first is that I was made a Microsoft MVP for 2019-19 – this is a programme run by Microsoft that recognises community leaders and technical experts for the work they do in helping others learn and grow into becoming better developers and technologists. I’m really excited and proud to have been selected for the award for the work I do in helping to run DotNetNorth.

When I started getting the group going, the obvious aim was to provide free training, especially for people who found it difficult to get it from employers or who wanted to broaden their technical horizons; but equally importantly I wanted to ensure we were a space where technologists could socialise and network, make friends, find out about job openings and informally help each other. That part of the group dynamic has taken longer to grow, but as the group matures I’m beginning to see that realised and it’s very rewarding to be part of that.

Which brings me on to other new venture – becoming a mentor.

About a year ago, at one of the events we run, I met Trish Keating who had just moved to Manchester and joined UKFast to set up a start-up mentoring programme. After several attempts she finally persuaded me to join the ranks for the mentors for TechMcr and a few weeks ago we had a speed-dating session where mentors and mentees get matched. I’m looking forward to (hopefully) being a sounding board for a growing company and being able to provide some assistance from all the knowledge, triumphs and mistakes I have learnt in my career.

Microsoft Insider Dev Tour in Manchester

This week saw Manchester hosting one of the Insider Dev Tours of 2018, we had a great turnout of over 100 people joining us in the city centre, for a full day of content with lunch provided by Microsoft.

These are over thirty events being hosted in cities all over the world and are aimed at developers and IT pro’s who are on the Windows Insider Programme and/or are interested in seeing what features and enhancements are being shipped in the latest and next versions of Windows 10.
The events are run by local MVP’s (Most Valuable Professionals) and community groups with the content and demos provided by Microsoft, so it’s an intensive lap around the key features that Microsoft want to highlight for 2018 and based on sessions provided at last month’s Build conference in Seattle.

I did two sessions, one on Progressive Web Apps and one on Productivity Apps in Office365 and there was a host of MVP talent on show for the others – Pete Vickers, Peter Foot, Rob Miles, Robert Hogg, Rik Hepworth and Simon Jackson.

A big thanks to Pete Vickers, who put in a load of work to make the day the success it was, and also to Aden Earnshaw and Mike Irving, who gave their time running the registration desk and generally doing the unsung heroics on front of house.

If you want to follow any of the labs from the sessions, they are available here.

The robots are coming with cheese!!

Last month saw us meeting once again at Auto Trader for May’s DotNetNorth. We welcomed our old friend Rob Miles over from Hull to talk about his latest passion, dinky robots! Rob has been working on these things for a while and opened with a description of how he designed a little robot using stepper motors, Arduino boards and various sensors (after, of course, a couple of corny opening gags).

Rob has conceived these robots – called Hull PixelBots officially – to be easy to build with off-the-shelf (cheap) electrical components and even a 3d-printable chassis (although you can just use perspex or balsa wood). He has also written the operating system that powers the beasts called HullOS (are you detecting a theme here?); but is adamant that that sounds much harder than it actually is.

Rob then showed us a few demos and explained that using a few of the features in Azure, he could control the beasts remotely. If you want to see the presentation, it was recorded by our friends from Pusher – you can find it here

Global Azure Bootcamp in Manchester

Last Saturday a group of community group leaders and helpers in Manchester joined forces with hundreds of other people for the 2018 Global Azure Bootcamp run in association with Microsoft. At the event we had four sessions covering various parts of the Azure ecosystem, some with hands-on labs so people could get a good feel how Azure solutions come together.

So huge thanks to our session leaders who came together and devise an agenda in just a couple of weeks:
Luce Carter, organiser of the Xamarin user group who did our Intro to Azure and using the portal session.
Aden Earnshaw, who did a great job on his user group presenting debut and covered Web Apps.
Martin Boam, who recently was awarded a Microsoft MVP award and runs the Cloud User Group gave a session on Serverless computing.
Jim Bennett – a Cloud Developer Advocate at Microsoft – came all the way from Reading and delivered a great demo about using Azure AI to augment mobile apps, despite the curse of the demo gods striking!
(And I did one on CosmosDB / DocumentDb too)

We also thank Auto Trader for providing the venue for us and providing coffee and tea for the whole day – especially Helen, the venue event co-ordinator who is always helpful.

This was our first go at running the Bootcamp, it was hectic but very rewarding to work with some new people in the run up and to see everyone learning something new on the day – hopefully we will be doing another one next year too! But I won’t be thinking about it too hard for a couple of months.