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

AITP: Holiday Social December 18th 6-9 PM at Beef O’ Brady’s

The Northwest Arkansas Chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals is having a Holiday Social December 18th 6-9 PM at Beef O’ Brady’s in Bentonville, AR. 

Overclock Flyer Beer

This is a great time to mingle and meet other IT Professionals in the area.  I am sure there will be more than a few war stories shared.  Another treat with be the music by OVERCLOCK, a local band you won’t want to miss, oh and I think Rock Band will be setup for the rest of us.

The Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) offers opportunities for Information Technology (IT) leadership and education through partnerships with industry, government and academia. AITP provides quality IT related education, information on relevant IT issues and forums for networking with experienced peers and other IT professionals for nearly 9,000 members. AITP is the Information Technology professional organization of choice for providing leadership opportunities, professional development and personal growth.

To find out more about the AITP visit http://www.aitp.org/
To find out more about the Northwest Arkansas Chapter of the AITP visit http://www.aitp.org/organization/chapters/chapterhome.jsp?ID=462 or http://nwa-aitp.org/.

We Are Microsoft Charity Challenge


I am issuing a challenge to the development community in Northwest Arkansas to attend this event and make a difference.

The We Are Microsoft - Charity Challenge Weekend is a software development competition for a good cause.

This 3-day event matches developers with charities to develop applications for those charities. At the end of the 3 days, all of the participants will vote and the winners will be proclaimed champion coders.

A few of us went down for this last year and had an awesome time working with other developers to use our craft to provide needed software for charities in the greater Dallas, TX area.

We are building a team this year, if you are interested in joining out team please register at the http://wearemicrosoft.com website specifying the team name “CodeHogs” and shot me an email so we can coordinate travel and lodgings.  Registration deadline is November 28, 2008, register today!!!!

Another reason I would like to get a huge turnout for this is to gain some knowledge to have one of these event in Northwest Arkansas.

The We Are Microsoft – Charity Challenge Weekend is part of the GiveCamp Series of events.

Microsoft ArcReady Events in Dallas, TX

Microsoft ArcReady Event November 20th, 2008 in Dallas, TX


Professional Patterns on the Job

You're smart. You deliver. What more could your company want from you?  Why don’t they come to you for the big technical decisions? Why won’t they listen to your proposals? It seems like everyone has an agenda and they’re doing everything they can to kill your great ideas.

Join us this quarter as we focus on the soft skills that architects need to master. Learning these skills will boost your emotional intelligence and help you become a more professional, well rounded contributor. You’ll gain insight into the architect’s role as leader, influencer, and business professional and learn how to leverage your position to become a positive force within your organization.

Session 1: Mastering the Soft Skills
In this session, we’ll discuss key interpersonal skills and how they can affect your projects and career. We cover how to positively connect with humans, how to participate in and influence the business processes you support, and how to transcend your technical role and maximize your connections with all members of your organization.

Session 2: Organizational Dynamics
This session examines the dynamic nature of large organizations – their structures, decision making processes, and political landscapes. We’ll discuss the goals of key business and technical decision makers and their influence on architects and software projects. We’ll conclude with some strategies for maximizing the soft skills from Session 1 to ensure successful outcomes for your projects and career.


Architects and Senior Developers who are interested in becoming an architect.


Events are held in 19 cities across Central Region, the closest in our area is Dallas, TX on November 20th..  To register for this event, please visit www.arcready.com.


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