We Are Microsoft: Developers Rally Around Charities

I am still recovering from the intense weekend at the We Are Microsoft Charity Challenge Weekend that took place in Dallas, TX.  Toi Wright and the crew put together an awesome event.  The event had over 100 developers come together to create solutions for 22 charities in the Dallas, TX area over the weekend. 

I was assigned to a team of awesome individuals to create a new website for paxUnited.  paxUnited provides programs to youth and adults to provide them with the skills they need to peacefully resolve conflicts.

The Team


Todd Stone, Tim Mitchell, Nathan Woodward, Jay Smith, Andrew Dalgleish

The Project

paxUnited wanted a complete website that provides a more professional, polished look to customers and clients. Additionally, we would like to establish additional sections for visitors that provide more in-depth information. Another great need is the ability to put merchandise online for purchase and to provide online registration for training courses.

Friday evening we meet with two member of paxUnited and quickly got down to discussing requirements, we needed an easy to use content management system that would also included a robust event management system with pre and post test for course registration, a store where you could purchase paxUnited items, and a donation page.  We quickly discovered that the current hosting plan that paxUnited had would not support any Microsoft .NET or SQL Server applications so we opted to go with the free hosting offered all of the charities by Verio.

After checking out Telerick’s SiteFinity and Telligent’s Graffiti CMS, both very powerful and capable Content Management Systems, we elected to go with mojoPortal.  The mojoPortal offered easy to use page editing and included Blog, ecommerce, secure file sharing, surveys, polls and more.  Todd had worked with it before and after looking at the demo site that showed off two premium modules we were hooked.  Todd contacted the developer directly too see if he would donate the two premium modules to our charity. He agreed, so a huge thanks to mojoPortal for making our project a success.

The rest of the weekend we spent creating content and configuring the site.  Most of Sunday was spent on the new look and feel of the site.  I really want to thank the web designers that help us.  The site wouldn’t look nearly as awesome without their help.

So take a look at the results…

current site new site
Before After

It was an incredible experience and I want to thank everyone on my team, it was great to get to know you and work with you.  This is my second time to attend this event and I hope sometime this year we can have one in Northwest Arkansas.

Here are some links to find out more about the event.  The facebook group for the event includes lots of photo and several video profiles of the charities.

We Are Microsoft Charity Challenge Weekend: http://wearemicrosoft.com

MSDN Refresh Comes to Arkansas


Zain Nebulsi, Microsoft Developer Evangelist for the South Central District is hitting the road in Arkansas with the new MSDN Refresh event series.

You may remember last year we had a series of events called MSDN Express, well this is the next version of it.  Zain was able to take the concept we pioneered here in Northwest Arkansas and take it to the next level.  MSDN Refresh events will be held all over the Microsoft South Central District this year.

This is a unique opportunity to get big event content in your local area, so be sure to sign up and attend.  In these tough economic times this is free training for your staff.

I highly recommend that you plan to attend one of these special events in your area.  It was very difficult to get these events in out area and we need to keep them.  If we can continue to get a good attendance at smaller events like this we may be able to attract the larger MSDN events to the area.

I will be attending the one for Nwa SQL, I hope to see you there.

MSDN Refresh Arkansas Schedule

Date Time User Group City Map
January 19, 2008 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM Jonesboro DNUG Jonesboro, AR  
January 20, 2008 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM Ft. Smith DNUG Ft. Smith, AR [MAP]
January 21, 2008 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM Nwa SQL Bentonville, AR [MAP]
January 21, 2008 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM Little Rock DNUG Little Rock, AR [MAP]
January 23, 2008 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM Ozarks DNUG Harrison, AR [MAP]

Available Sessions

What’s New in SQL Server 2008 for Developers

SQL Server 2008 adds numerous new capabilities for developers – from support for Spatial Data types to a storage mechanism for SQL BLOB data using the NTFS file system, and much, much more. The new release also delivers several improvements to development-related areas, from T-SQL to SQLCLR to XML. This presentation will provide a technical dive into the latest and greatest features you’ll find in SQL Server 2008, while offering insight into how to effectively apply them to your upcoming development projects.

Cities: Bentonville, Little Rock

Power up your Office applications with VSTO

In this presentation, we’ll focus on the power and productivity of Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office System (VSTO) – a .NET Smart Client technology. We’ll give you tips and tricks for designing and building smart client applications with VSTO, which allows you to create managed code applications with .NET languages including Microsoft Visual Basic .NET and Visual C#. VSTO also makes it simple to manifest the functionality of those applications in the rich user interfaces of Microsoft Office Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Visio, Outlook and others from the Office stack. VSTO addresses some of the biggest challenges that Office solution developers are facing today, including separation of data and view elements, server-side and offline scenarios, seamless integration with the Visual Studio tools, deployment and updating. Join us for this eye-opening session and learn just how easy it is to build and deploy powerful applications with VSTO.

Cities: Harrison

Build next generation applications with Silverlight 2.0

Silverlight provides a powerful platform for building the next generation of rich interactive applications on the Internet. In this session, we’ll take a look at the programming model and tools that developers and designers can leverage to build these true next generation experiences for consumers and business, and demonstrate how to build a rich interactive application (RIA) using Silverlight and Microsoft .NET. We’ll explore how to use Microsoft Visual Studio to create applications, and how to create UI using XAML markup and code, controls, and File I/O. We’ll also discuss networking, how to retrieve data from a Web service, and various other aspects of building Silverlight applications.

Cities: Jonesboro, Ft. Smith, Harrison

INETA Speakers Bureau: New Speakers for 2009

INETA_SB David Walker, INETA VP of Speakers and the Speakers Bureau Committee have announced the newest members of the INETA NorAm Speakers Bureau. 

I have been a volunteer on the Speakers Bureau Committee since TechEd 2008 and it has been great experience seeing the awesome level of speakers that are available from INETA. 

If you are a member of a User Group that is not an INETA User Group I highly recommend that you register you group so that you can begin to enjoy the benefits of enjoying these awesome speakers.


Please join me in welcome the everyone and prepare to get ready to request them for this years meetings.

Congratulations to all the new speakers!

Check out the full post at on David’s blog at http://www.davidlwalker.com/.

Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Free Book!

ms_sql_srv_cvr Microsoft Press is offering a free download of the entire e-book Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2008 by Peter DeBetta and Mark Whitehorn.

Learn about major new features in SQL Server 2008 including security, administration, and performance.

Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2008:
Chapter 1: Security and Administration
Chapter 2: Performance
Chapter 3: Type System
Chapter 4: Programmability
Chapter 5: Storage
Chapter 6: Enhancements for High Availability
Chapter 7: Business Intelligence Enhancements

Click here to download

User Group Radio Episode 1: Starting the Ft. Smith .NET User Group

I have just posted the first full episode of User Group Radio where I talk with Michael Paladino about his experience in creating the Ft. Smith .NET User Group.

So head on over to User Group Radio at http://usergroupradio.com and check it out.


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