Free Visual Studio and TFS training?

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Fri, 03/05/2010 - 12:02

Blue Einstein Man Pointing a Stick at a Presentation of a Flying Saucer Clipart Illustration S.A. Architect will be offering FREE training covering Visual Studio and TFS in both 2008 and 2010 versions! This will be done in real life, so you will need to travel to somewhere in Johannesburg and so to figure out where, all you need to is click Yes on the S.A. Architect home page.  Once some numbers have been worked out a venue can be found and it can be arranged!

The only catch is you will need to give up a Saturday for this, and myself and fellow Team System MVP, Zayd Kara, will be there to help or annoy you ;)

DevRally - From fluid idea to reality!

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Fri, 03/05/2010 - 11:59


DevRally is an event which has been bubbling in my head, and the heads of many others for a while, most importantly Willie Roberts. The idea of this event is that developer focused event which is not run by a vendor, so that open discussion between developers who would never meet about technology can come about. It is also not centralised – it is distributed using conference technologies so that the best speakers can be brought easily (and cheaply) to the audience.

A while back myself and Willie decided to see if we could pull off arranging it and, as usual for this sort of idea, the first thing we did was put up a website and a survey to see what would interest people. Yesterday marked the second step in the process: Sponsors! Both BB&D and Mr. Price have come on board with venues and infrastructure help for the event! Still need a few more sponsors and we need to nail down the dates, speakers and so on – but what this space this event should be a great deal of fun!

DevDays coming to your town soon!

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Wed, 03/03/2010 - 12:25

header DevDays, one of the premier Microsoft software developer is starting this month with events in Johannesburg and Cape Town and will be in Durban next month! Not only does it have great local guys presenting but Bart de Smet and Brian Keller will be there too!
Most importantly I will be there, just admit it you want to see me more than Bart and Brian ;), and will have prizes and giveaways at the BB&D stand!

To see the session list head over to: and once you are sold signup at:

MVP Summit 2010, Sightseeing - Part 3 (Warning Photo Heavy)

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Tue, 03/02/2010 - 08:47

[The series index can be found here.]

Considering Zayd Kara, Rudi Grobler, and I were in Seattle we took a few days extra to sightsee around the town and so here is some of the highlights from the camera:


First thing we did was find the Needle – since it was the only thing Rudi wanted to see.


The entrance to the Microsoft Visitors Centre – worth a look at the cool tech. Not enough Visual Studio in there though ;)


A entire store devoted to Lego was almost too much for me! You could even buy individual bricks based on type and colour for specific products.


At the Sci-Fi Museum and Hall of Fame (SFM), I geeked out A LOT (ask Rudi about my running tour of the place). R2-D2 was cool.


Still at SFM the flying cop car from Blade Runner!


Right next to SFM was EMP – Experience Music Project. This is the HUGE concert screen in the lobby.


The Yes time capsule at EMP.


Rudi Grobler, Zayd Kara, and myself in our “band” at EPM!


The Eagle artwork at the SAM (Seattle Art Museum) Olympic Park.

MVP Summit 2010, Shiny - Part 2

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Mon, 03/01/2010 - 09:40

[The series index can be found here.]

As with any conference event you can expect to fill you bag with trinkets to bring home. You know the stuff which is interesting but basically you would never pay for it yourself and Summit had some of that, but that Visual Studio jacket I got I would’ve paid for :) However this is not about those things, this is about two VERY special shiny things I got to bring home.

Towards the end of last year I was awarded VSTS Rangers Champion award however at Summit I got my “trophy” – it’s a Visual Studio 2008 Team System box, personally signed with a message from Jeff Beehler!


The second special item was a big surprise in that internally in the Team System MVP’s there is an award for the best MVP (think of being called the Tom Cruise of Top Gun), which Ed Blankenship deservedly won! Not to be outdone, I won the MVP in Residence award for spending a ridiculous amount of time away from home and doing stuff for Microsoft. The trophy for this was a photo frame with a certificate signed by Brian Harry!


MVP Summit 2010, Welcome MVP's - Part 1

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Fri, 02/26/2010 - 14:09

[The series index can be found here.]


The welcome banner goes up at MVP summit!

“Remember this is NDA, no talking about it, posting on the internet, tweeting or sharing in any way” – That message I think is the MVP Summit slogan because it was told to attendees so many times, and for good reason. MVP Summit, for those who do not know, is an invite only conference which Microsoft runs yearly at their head office in Redmond, Washington (near Seattle). The conference attendees are made up of Microsoft staff, MVP awardees, and regional directors which means that the depth of knowledge is massive. I was comparing it to TechEd, except every session is interactive and starts at least at level 300 (Advanced) and most of the audience has the knowledge that they could present it too. I cannot go into the details of the sessions because of the NDA’s but what I can say is that all the sessions were direct, open and honest communication between MVP’s and the product teams.


This is what a session looks like at MVP summit. Plenty of MVP’s in front and product team towards the back.

Stepping back for a second let me explain how I got there: Travelling with fellow MVP’s (and co-workers, yip BB&D has 3 MVP’s) Rudi Grobler and Zayd Kara we left Johannesburg to go to Atlanta (15 hours) and what should’ve been a 1 hour stop in Atlanta – which turned into 5 hours, thanks to Zayd’s bag losing it’s boarding pass meaning we missed the flight (admittedly it would’ve been a heroic run to catch it, but that sealed it). Unfortunately Rudi couldn’t get a seat on the next flight and he ended up in Atlanta for 8 hours! We (me and Zayd) touched down in Seattle very late, raced to the hotel and then raced to our first dinner.


Why are South Africans always the last people at the pub?

Summit would be tiring enough between jet lag, getting up early to eat, catch the shuttle to Microsoft campus, spend your day trying to have your brain not explode and catching the shuttles back – but being the limited time there meant using evenings too for special dinners. So I had dinners with MEA MVP’s, product teams, and general all the MVP’s where plenty of networking and side discussions happen.


Ruari, our fearless MVP lead, giving me the evil eye for disturbing his pool skills (which still didn’t help us win) at one of the dinners. 

What I take away from MVP Summit is two fold

  1. Relationships – meeting people you know by email, meeting new people and catching up with old friends.
  2. Guidance – A lot of content is focused on the why rather than the how, this means that I better understand Microsoft and that helps me put myself in a better position at work and in the community.

It really is in the interest of companies to send their employee’s who are MVP’s to the summit (put in conditions to safe guard them from leaving if you are worried about that), because what they bring back, even if they can’t tell you, will help you in the long run.

Presentation Data Dump

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Tue, 12/08/2009 - 08:36

Over the last year I have done a number of presentations and recently some of uploaded them (unfortunately I cannot upload all, as some contain NDA information) to SlideShare so here is the collection of presentations from the last 15 months or so, in no particular order:

  • ASP.NET Dynamic Data
  • JSON and REST
  • What’s Microsoft CRM all about?
  • Source Control 101
  • SQL Server Integration Services
  • What’s new in the .NET Framework 3.5 SP 1

Click the read more link to see and download them...

ASP.NET Dynamic Data





What’s Microsoft CRM all about?

Source Control 101

SQL Server Integration Services






What’s new in the .NET Framework 3.5 SP 1

Dev4Devs - 28 November 2009

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Sat, 11/28/2009 - 07:48

Well today is the day! Dev4Dev’s is happening at Microsoft this morning and I will be speaking on 10 12 new features in the Visual Studio 2010 IDE. For anyone wanting the slide deck and demo application I used you can grab them below.

The slide deck is more than the 6 visible slides, there is in fact 19 slides which cover the various demos and have more information on them so you too can present this to family and friends :)

Note worthy

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Wed, 11/18/2009 - 22:48

I have been very focused during the day on a project and my evenings have been taken up a lot with VSTS Rangers work so the blog has lagged a bit so here are some things you should be aware of (if you follow me on Twitter, then you probably have heard these in 140 characters or less):

I was awarded the title of VSTS Rangers Champion - this is a great honour since it is a peer vote from VSTS External Rangers (no Microsoft Staff) and MVP’s for involvement in the VSTS Rangers projects.

The VSTS Rangers shipped the alpha of the integration platform for TFS 2010 - this is important for me because it means some of the bits I have worked on are now public and I am expecting some feedback to get them better for beta and release next year. It is also important since my big contribution to the integration platform, which is an adapter I will cover in future blog posts, has a fairly stable base.

Dev4Dev’s in coming up in just over a week. This is one of my favourite events because it really is event for passionate developers since they have to give up a Saturday morning for it (no using an event to sneak off work). I will be presenting on Visual Studio 2010! Which should be great, based on my first dry run to an internal audience at BB&D last week. Two more of my BB&D team mates will be presenting Zayd Kara on TFS Basic and (if memory serves me) Rudi Grobler on Sketchflow!

The Information Worker user group is really blowing my mind with it’s growth, on Tuesday we had 74 people attend our meeting. For a community that only had a 100 or so people signed up on the website at the beginning of the year that is brilliant. Thanks must go to my fellow leads: Veronique, Michael, Marc, Zlatan, Hilton and Daniel. We will be having a final Jo’burg event for the year on the 2nd and it will be a fun ask the experts session.