Awarded Microsoft MVP

2. October 2007 14:13

Yesterday, I was notified that I have been awarded as a Microsoft MVP for 2008!  This is a significant privilege and I feel very honored to have even been considered.  My MVP award is for the category of Windows Server System - Connected System Developer.  If you are wondering why I fell under that category, the answer is WCF, which falls under the realm of Connected Systems.  It is certainly my favorite technology and I spend a lot of time trying to convince people that they can't live without it.  If you don't believe me, try having a conversation with me and count the number of times that WCF will come up in the first 60 seconds. :)

I would like to express my appreciation to Microsoft for recognizing my efforts in the community over the last year.  This has given me even more motivation to work toward promoting continued growth of our developer community across the area.  I am looking forward to coordinating some cool stuff with my fellow MVP, Todd Miranda.

For those of you that have no idea what the MVP award is all about, here is a link to the Microsoft MVP FAQs with more detailed information.  In short, it is essentially recognition of exceptional contribution to the developer community over the course of the previous year. 

Cool Nerd King

14. September 2007 11:13

I finally caved and took the Nerd Test that has been circulating a lot of the technical blogs. My score in the history/literature section is a reminder to me that all I ever really read are technical books. 

At any rate, I am a apparently a "Cool Nerd King". What are you?

NerdTests.com says I'm a Cool Nerd King.  What are you?  Click here!

Community Credit Winner for July 2007

1. August 2007 07:35

won 8th place in the July 2007 contest for Community Credit.  You may be thinking...wow, 8th place.  Well, even for a dedicated geek such as myself, it can be difficult to compete against some of the other developers who are passionate about getting involved with the community.

In case you aren't familiar with Community Credit, it is a site operated by David Silverlight with the sole purpose of rewarding people actively involved in the developer community.  Essentially, people compete each month to earn points by blogging, attending technical events, giving technical presentations, participating in forums, etc.  Those with the highest number of points each month win a prize.  It is an awesome way to encourage community involvement.  To make things even more interesting, Community Credit is popular for the motto: "We give stupid prizes to smart people."  I love the wacky variety of prizes that are given out each month.

So, what do you get for 8th place?  Well, it isn't as cool as my last prize, but I won the Amazing Puzzle Bank.  Here is the excerpt and image from Community Credit:

Making a deposit....easy. Making a Withdrawal?... Not so easy
The perfect combination of a challenging puzzle and an intriguing bank that holds cash, gift cards, checks and small gifts. It's easy to make a deposit, but just try to make a withdrawal! You'll need steady hands to guide the ball through the maze to unlock the door.

Podcast Fever

31. July 2007 10:00

Back in early July, I finally broke down and purchased a Zune.  On a side note, it is amazing at how many people labeled me as an honorary Blue Badge for simply owning the device.  At any rate, the main reason I bought a Zune was for listening to music at work.  My new employer doesn't permit streaming audio over the company intranet.  Although music was my primary focus, I decided to take Robert Cain's advice about podcasts. 

Robert is a big fan of .NET Rocks and other technical podcasts.  I had actually listened to a few episodes of .NET Rocks in the past, but it was very random and I never really got into a habit of listening to every show.  Well, I have officially developed an acute case of podcast fever...particularly around .NET Rocks.  As someone that tries to stay active within the developer community, it is somewhat embarrassing that I hadn't already jumped into the series.  I had no idea what I was missing.  As an added bonus, my commute seems to fly by as a result of me really getting into the discussions on the show.

Do yourself a favor.  If you are a .NET developer or have an interest in .NET at all, go subscribe to DNR (.NET Rocks) right now.  Even if you don't have an MP3 player, I strongly encourage you to invest some time in expanding your knowledge by making some time to listen to the show.  Carl and Richard do a tremendous job of keeping the content varied to attract a wide range of listeners.  Although the content doesn't always immediately apply to my current projects, it is important to stay abreast of what is going on in the .NET world.  With such a rapid rate of change in the industry, this is an easy (and cheap) way to help yourself keep up with all of it.

Here is a list of some worthwhile podcasts and screencasts that every .NET professional should at least take a look at:

Current Topics of Interest (for me anyway)

23. July 2007 06:08

Over the last few weeks, my blogging rate has been a lot lower than usual.  This is partially due to me changing jobs and moving all within the last month.  But, it can also be attributed to be doing a lot of reading (both blogs and books).  In a certain sense, you could say that I have been doing some research to get myself up to speed regarding a few areas on which I would like to focus more closely.  As such, I thought that I would post what these areas are since you are likely to see future blog posts about them. 

  • WCF

It should come as no surprise to see WCF as the first item on my list.  WCF has been of great interest to me since long before it was officially released.  Although I have slacked off a bit on many detailed posts as of late, I expect to begin posting more stuff in this area...especially as the 3.5 release approaches. 

  • Test Driven Development

I have been intermittently using nUnit for a while, but it has been mostly to facilitate the automation of general unit testing.  Even though I am a big fan of the concept of TDD, I have not really been in a situation where I was allowed to use could apply it.  Fortunately, my new position will present the opportunity to really leverage TDD.  So, I want to invest some time to prepare myself a bit in an effort to maximize the benefits.  Even though there is quite a bit of material available in this area, I will probably post a few of my personal experiences along the way.

  • Parallel Computing

Parallel computing has been a hot topic lately.  You are beginning to hear more and more about the necessity of parallel computing in order to achieve greater scalability and performance as it becomes questionable whether Moore's Law will continue to hold true.  It has always been an intriguing area to me.  I am interested in potentially leveraging parallel processing to dramatically improve the performance and scalability related to a project at my new position.  This would mostly pertain to some intensive calculations, but it could be useful for a variety of algorithms.

If any of this stuff sounds interesting to you, keep an eye out for future posts on the subjects.  Feel free to drop me a line via the blog contact form if you have any comments or suggestions. 

Become a Better Developer in 6 Months

18. July 2007 07:46

Well, this is old news by now.  If you track many blogs in the technical world, you are probably aware of the "Become a Better Developer in 6 Months" topic that has been circulating over the last couple of weeks or so.  At this point, I imagine just about every tidbit of useful advice has been posted.  However, Robert Cain (aka Arcane Code) tagged me from his post about the topic.  As he was quick to point out, I owe him.  So, I will respond to the tag, but I am going to take a slightly different approach.  Rather than listing my specific plan, I am going to cover a few tidbits of advice to keep in mind for successfully becoming a better developer.

Challenge Yourself
This is the first step to becoming better at anything...especially software development.  There are far too many developers in the industry that just don't care about striving to be better.  Most of them are complacent with "being good enough to get the job done."  Before you can improve your development skills, you have to want to improve your development skills.  The idea is to get yourself motivated about investing some time in your skills and knowledge...or at least maintain the skills and knowledge that you already possess.  Nobody is going to do it for you.  Remember that technology changes at an insanely rapid pace.  If you want a job that doesn't require spending some time to stay abreast of advancements in the industry, I suggest you start seriously considering a career change right now.  It is your responsibility to avoid becoming obsolete.  (In case you haven't noticed, I can easily start ranting about this specific point.)

Determine Your Goals for Being a "Better Developer"
So, you have accepted the challenge to better yourself and feel motivated about doing it.  Great!  However, before you jump ten feet deep into a specific subject, you should take a few steps back to get some perspective regarding what you want to accomplish.  Are you looking to learn more about the latest technologies that have been released?  Are you interested in brushing up on some of your weaker areas?  Are you interested in becoming even more advanced in one of your stronger areas?  Are you interested in learning more about the business domain in which you work?  Perhaps, it is all of the above.  The answer will be different for every developer.  Think about what you want to get out of this experience.  You also have to consider the amount of time you will be able to commit to the effort.  Be reasonable about what you can and cannot achieve with your given schedule.  In other words, don't set yourself up for failure, which could ultimately have a negative effect.  This isn't to say that you can't aim high.  Just make sure the target is within reach. 

Tell At Least Two People About Your Goals
Mapping out a strategy to become a better developer is great, but you shouldn't stop there.  It is far too easy to set lofty goals that are tossed aside within the first month.  If you tell a couple of people about what you intend to do, it can give you that extra push to keep going.  It wouldn't be very impressive to confess that you gave up on your goals two months from now when one of those people ask you about your progress.  An even better idea is to find a buddy that wants to better himself/herself as well.  You can lean on each other for encouragement and exchanging information.  This is essentially the same idea as finding a friend for going to the gym.

Evaluate Your Progress and Adjust Accordingly
Don't wait until the sixth month rolls around to evaluate whether you have met your goals of becoming a better developer.  Give yourself an honest evaluation at various points in the process.  If you don't feel that you have been making the kind of progress that you expected, consider revising or fine-tuning your plan as necessary.  Try to avoid locking yourself into a plan as though it is written in stone.  For example, let's say that you wanted to commit to studying two hours every day.  After a few weeks, it becomes obvious that you were too aggressive and simply don't have that much time.  You might change your plan to 8 hours per week rather than a daily commitment.  At any rate, you get the idea.  Put on your agile hat and take an iterative approach to the process.  If it isn't working, make a few changes and evaluate yourself again after you give it a chance.

Keep a Good Thing Going
The sixth month finally arrives and you determine that you have met your goals.  Congratulations!  But, don't stop now.  By this point, you have developed a habitual method for continually improving your skills and adding value to your career.  Rather than saying "okay, I am done", I encourage you to keep a good thing going.  Set new goals and start the process all over again.  If you stick to it, you will see a noticeable difference in your work and ultimately career.

Congrats to Todd Miranda on MVP Award!

2. July 2007 18:51

Over the weekend, Microsoft sent out the latest round of MVP Awards.  There have been several people posting about either getting renewed or receiving the award for the first time.  My co-worker, Todd Miranda, was among those fortunate individuals.  He has already posted about receiving the award, but I wanted to publicly congratulate him as well.

Todd is a very busy guy and stays quite active within the community by speaking at various user groups, code camps, etc.  If you want to know something about WPF or Silverlight, Todd is your guy.  It is encouraging to see Microsoft hand out the award to someone that I personally know to be deserving of the recognition.  And, it is very cool to see another MVP added to the Alabama community.

Gratz man!

Is Agile Gaining Ground?

20. June 2007 06:11

Tonight, I was scanning across the home page of CNN Money and noticed there was an article entitled "The 50 Who Matter Now".  It is a ranking by Business 2.0 of people, products, trends, and ideas that are transforming the world of business.  (I copied the description right out of the article.)  It was no surprise to see some of the people included in the list: Steve Jobs, Tim O'Reilly, and the Google Trio.  However, I was rather surprised when I reached # 18: Agile Software Development - a new approach to web-based code.

The article described the reason agile matters was that it is reshaping the way coders and entrepreneurs create web-based services.  Their description was rather simplified, but it more or less effectively conveyed the point.  Anyway, it caught me off guard to discover the mention of agile software development in an article posted on CNN Money.  This got me to pondering whether agile is slowly gaining more ground as a mainstream development methodology. 

I have been closely following the agile community over the course of the last year.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I don't claim to be an agile expert.  Far from it.  To be honest, I have never even been involved on a true agile project.  However, I am a big fan of the principles and ideas that are driving the agile community.  As a developer, it just screams at me as though this is the way that software should be developed.  It has definitely caused me to develop a strong desire to begin applying those concepts, and I push for going that route quite often.  Unfortunately, I have been met with considerable opposition when attempting to encourage agile adoption.

Based on my conversations with others, this has been the same problem for a lot of other developers that are interested in making the move to agile development.  It would seem that most of the decision makers simply regard the agile process as hype, or they just don't see it as being beneficial.  As a result, I just don't personally know many developers on a true agile team.  I can actually count them on one hand.  I envy those fortunate few.  The rest of us feel like a group of heretics that must meet in secrecy at the risk of being executed. ;p

At any rate, it is encouraging to see agile development mentioned on something that is seemingly unrelated as CNN Money.  Hopefully, this can be perceived as a sign that agile is slowly winning over the majority of the development community.  However, only time will tell whether this is actually the case.

Thoughts?

Created FeedBurner RSS Feed

6. June 2007 05:32

For the fun of it, I decided to setup a FeedBurner RSS Feed for my blog today.  I'm not really sure why I never created one, but the urge finally hit me this evening. 

Based on my Community Server stats, most visitors come from various search engine hits.  However, I do have a fair number of RSS hits as well.  So, this should allow me to better analyze the manner in which people interact with my blog via RSS.  For those that directly visit the website, I regularly monitor my Google Analytics account to see what is of interest to you guys.

At any rate, the new feed is http://feeds.feedburner.com/jeffbarnes/dotNet.

Please let me know if you have any problems with the feed.

No Passion in the MS Community?

22. May 2007 03:38

It is my first day back on the job after returning from vacation.  I am still attempting to get my mind back on track from staring at the ocean for a week.  So, I am taking it easy on blogging tonight and will kick it back to Mr. Wally McClure

He recently blogged about a topic that was stirred up about the time I left for vacation.  As such, I never really had a chance to throw in my two cents.  It all started when an article appeared on Information Week asking "Why Doesn't Microsoft Have a Cult Religion?".  The same issue was raised by Mary Jo Foley in her post entitled "Could Microsoft take a community lesson from Sun?"

There have been a number of responses to this article from various members of the Microsoft community such as Clemens Vasters, Robert McLaws, and Wally.  Generally speaking, I agree with their responses, and they have more eloquently made the argument than I could.  So, I will simply throw in my two cents and let it go.  As pointed out in their blog posts, there are beaucoup examples of a vibrant, passionate Microsoft community.  Don't believe me?  Drop by a Code Camp or User Group Meeting sometime.  Or, attend a conference such as Mix, TechEd, or PDC.

I have witnessed the excitement of these events and talked with plenty of developers to convince me there is a passionate Microsoft community that is experiencing continued growth.  From my point of view, the MS community has a plentiful supply of developers championing the technology.

Thoughts?

About Me

I'm a passionate software developer and advocate of the Microsoft .NET platform.  In my opinion, software development is a craft that necessitates a conscious effort to continually improve your skills rather than falling into the trap of complacency.  I was also awarded as a Microsoft MVP in Connected Systems in 2008, 2009, and 2010.


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Anything you read or see on this site is solely based on my own thoughts.  The material on this site does not necessarily reflect the views of my employer or anyone else.  In other words, I don't speak for anyone other than myself.  So, don't assume I am the official spokesperson for anyone.