06 Oct 2011

Tech·Ed Africa 2011 Survival Guide

Last year I posted a Tech·Ed Africa related post titled: How to find the gems in the sessions?,  which included a slide deck of a presentation I did at BBD for the staff attending Tech·Ed to help them prepare for the event. It was a VERY popular slide deck and this year I am doing the same thing. Below is the 2011 survival guide for Tech·Ed Africa!

If you find it useful please let me know on @rmaclean Smile


if you looking for more info on the slides, then please download the slide deck and check the notes. There is also a Easter egg slide with interesting information for those who download the slide deck Winking smile

30 Sep 2011

Tech·Ed Africa 2011 for Windows Phone 7

Update: Check out the info on the 1.1 version
Update: This application has been retired - it was for TechEd 2011 and used the website a lot, the moment the site changes the app will break. It's goal & use are done, so I am happy to retire it.

iconI am passionate about Microsoft Tech·Ed Africa, not because I’m a speaker there (and have been many times in the past) but because it is an awesome event. Now in this mobile world every awesome event needs an equally awesome mobile app. Since Microsoft isn’t releasing one for Tech·Ed, I decided to put my skills to use and build a Windows Phone 7 app for the event Smile

This app is a little different from my other apps as I didn’t have the data, and it is a constantly moving target so I am doing some very smart (and maybe a little sneaky) things to get the content from the www.teched.co.za website!

Version 1 allows you to browse sessions, speakers, get pro tips, see who the awesome MVP’s are, and get official news!

I am working on version 1.1 which include community tweets, proper speaker & session pages and will update with more info as it is released so keep an eye on those updates!


26 Sep 2011

Tech·Ed Pro Tip: DevIdols

devidolsTech·Ed Africa 2010 introduced a new feature, DevIdols, which was one of the TOP highlights of Tech·Ed, and I am VERY PROUD to announce that it is back this year again!

DevIdols is a special competition only open to attendees (no speakers or staff) where you get to present on stage for a few minutes to an audience and panel of judges!

The prize? a chance to be a speaker at Tech·Ed 2012!


Now I know for most people the thought of public speaking is scary but this event is different, you have so little time most of it is just a blur and everyone there is in a very friendly mood (normally audience and speakers get a beer or two) so even if you tank no one takes it too seriously and we all have a good laugh.


If you are not a speaker, and I cannot convince you to speak, then let me convince you to come along and watch. You see a bunch of topics, presented in a variety of ways and I promise you that you will have a GREAT time. Keep an eye out on the DPE Blog for more details.

20 Sep 2011

Windows Phone 7 Weekend - Feedback, slides etc...

wp7logo_webThis past Saturday myself & Rudi Grobler presented a full day workshop on Windows Phone 7 development and we were BLOWN away with the event!

We had a great turn out, easily over hundred people were there and they  were one of the most amazing audiences I’ve ever had the honour to present to – they were insanely engaged in the discussion and really brought up all the tough issues that we love to discuss Smile

In addition to that Microsoft, Nokia & BBD were awesome sponsors, but I have to single out Nokia who put up the most amazing prizes:

  • 3 x Microsoft Xbox 360 for the first people to get 100 downloads for their WP7 app!
  • 10 x Nokia Windows Phone 7 (when available) for the first people to get 1 000 downloads for their WP7 app!


As we stated on the day you need to email both Dave Russell (drussell@microsoft.com) & Derrick Kotze (

(derrick.kotze@nokia.com) now to register and let them know when you reach your 100 or 1 000!

My big disappointment was the lab room, which never really got any traction, but with awesome presentations all day can you blame it Winking smile

If you are looking for the slides, we have shared them using BitBucket so you can grab them at: https://bitbucket.org/rudigrobler/windows-phone-weekend-workshop-v2

08 Sep 2011

Windows Phone 7 Weekend Workshop

I have mentioned an awesome event that is being run by Microsoft before, the Windows Phone 7 Weekend Workshop and I just want to highlight it again (it is about 70% full already so you need to hurry up).

It is a FREE full day event with TWO tracks available. There is a lecture/presentation style track where you learn about the phone and a developer room track where you can build your phone apps with expert guidance or do some hands on labs. 

I am most excited about the developer room, because if you want to get an up out to the market place THIS IS THE BEST PLACE TO BE. Expert help, focused time and who knows, maybe some prizes for those who get them up!

The event is being run in conjunction with a number of groups

  • Microsoft – Being just after //BUILD may be a GREAT time to get some extra insight or clarity.
  • Nokia – You know the phone guys, they are sponsoring this event and will have someone there to answer questions.
  • BBD & MVP – Both myself & Rudi Grobler are speaking and we both work at BBD & are both Microsoft MVP’s.


25 Aug 2011

Important Windows Phone News

Coming Soon, an awesome WP7 event!

Update: Details of the event are up at now & Registration is open - GO!

Microsoft is planning in the next few weeks a series of WP7 training events kicking off with a one day event! This event will have a presentation track where you will see a number of topics (see proposed list below) and a lab track where you can build your apps with expert guidance! This is the perfect chance to take that idea to reality and it is possible (I challenged myself to build two apps in 6 hours a few weeks back, and succeeded!).

Keep an eye on my blog or Microsoft South Africa DPE team blog!


  •  Introduction to Windows Phone
  •  Building a Silverlight Application
  •  Silverlight Controls for the Phone
  •  Advanced Silverlight topics
  •  Windows Phone Hardware
  •  Services
  •  Performance
  •  Getting your app onto the Marketplace
  •  Building Windows Phone XNA Applications
  •  Advanced XNA Topics

Following that event will be a series evening classes where there will be a presentation, a real WP7 dev talking about their app and a Q&A session! So lots of good things coming!

Welcome to Mzanzi!

(for non-South Africans Mzanzi is a townshup slang word for ‘South’ or ‘South Africa’)

With the upcoming Mango release, South Africa will be supported with the Marketplace (finally!). Microsoft have summarised this very nicely below. Before you get to that, take a look at a recent post from Rudi Grobler, where he talks about South African relevant apps that exist today!

Johannesburg, South Africa – 24 August 2011 – Microsoft has announced a series of brand-new enhancements to its App Hub developer portal as part of the highly anticipated ‘Mango’ release. Windows Phone 7 developers can now publish their apps to consumers in 19 new countries, including South Africa. In addition to the 16 countries where Marketplace is already supported, developers can now broaden their opportunity for global distribution and competitive app prices.

Clifford de Wit, developer platform lead at Microsoft South Africa, is calling on all Windows Phone developers to submit Mango apps in August, ahead of the Mango release to market. The new App Hub developer portal allows developers to manage their account, change settings, submit applications and stay up-to-date on Windows Phone.

“The updated App Hub features enhancements such as greater geographic markets for developers, consumers and advertising coverage; new private distribution options; and enhanced application and account management capabilities. We’re making great strides in expanding overall demand for Windows Phone applications.”

Microsoft is offering developers two new private distribution options: beta and targeted distribution. Apps distributed through these private distribution methods can only be downloaded by users using a deep-link and the apps cannot be discovered via browsing or searching in Windows Phone Marketplace. Beta distribution enables developers to distribute pre-certified apps to a group of up to 100 access-controlled beta testers for up to 90 days. The targeted distribution enables developers to distribute applications through Marketplace in a hidden state, where they are not discoverable via browsing or searching Marketplace.

De Wit says he has no doubt that local developers are in a position to create compelling mobile content for the Windows Phone platform. “We want to attract a new wave of Windows Phone developers ahead of the ‘Mango’ release.”

Other enhancements to the Mango App Hub include better application management, an enhanced developer dashboard, more detailed reporting, a new “Crash Count” report, a streamlined application submission process and new application categories – education, kids & family, and government and politics.

For more information, visit the official Windows Phone Blog and the App Hub.

24 Aug 2011

Tech·Ed Pro Tip: Travel Advice

imageLast year I wrote two posts (finding the best talks at Tech·Ed & why is the Tech·Ed calendar is awesome) which really aimed to help improve your Tech·Ed Africa experience. They are both still relevant this year but I thought of one new tip to share and that is related to travel.

Short version: Book your inbound flight EARLY, your outbound flight LATE and stay at the HILTON.

Why inbound early?

Day 1 is a busy day for you – after you land you need to find the shuttle from the airport to the conference venue. I got separated from the group and lost in the airport last year Confused smile. Once you are at the conference venue you need to register and get your swag (do this before you go to the hotel) then you need to find the bus to get to your hotel, if you follow the tip below about the Hilton this is easy else you may have a small wait. Once at your hotel, check-in, sort out stuff, see what the swag is etc… and then finally find the bus (wait) and get back to the conference venue for the keynote & opening party. In short – it is a VERY BUSY DAY, so having an extra hour or two helps.

For speakers there is also the advantage of taking that extra hour or two you can get to do a quick tech check the day before and help calm those nerves.

Why outbound late?

The last day ends with the closing keynote and those can run long – I have seen people RUN for the busses and have to drag luggage around with them in the closing because of time constraints. Plus when you get to the first few busses you have the fight for bus space! It really just messes with the last day, rather take a later flight which means you do not need to fight for bus seats or rush around.

Why the Hilton?

Hotel Exterior

The Hilton in Durban is the best place to stay, as it is RIGHT next door to the ICC where Tech·Ed is held. In fact the picture to the left, the bottom left hand corner is the ICC. You don’t even have to cross a road!

So it means getting up later, staying out later (Hilton bar is famous for after parties), it means being where all the Microsoft staff, media & presenters are (great for those informal discussions in the elevator) and generally a top end experience.

Big issue, it sells out FAST so you should be booking NOW!

Follow these travel tips and you will be on your way for a great Tech·Ed!

22 Aug 2011

Community night in September 2011 - IMPORTANT INFO

Community Night, the best way to meet, mingle and learn (if you don’t know about it – read here) happens on the second Tuesday of the month… except in September due to an event at the venue on the Tuesday which can’t be moved.

So for September it will take place the Monday before, in other words Monday the 12th September. Please help get the word out to the various user groups and communities!

See you there!