Speaking at NEBytes on February 19th

I’m pleased to have been asked to speak at NEBytes again – a great user group that meets in Newcastle. I’ll be speaking about customising SharePoint 2013 using master pages, themes and search templates, along the same lines as my recent blog  post.

It will be an unusual one for me, as I will spend most of the session inside Visual Studio showing how to create and deploy the customisations that can deliver really powerful solutions without needing to resort to writing code (other than for deployment).

The event on the 19th is in partnership with SUGUK and the other session of the night sounds really interesting too: Building social sharepoint apps using Yammer.

I’ve said before that I always enjoy visiting NEBytes. If you’re in the Newcastle area and are a developer or IT Pro I strongly recommend you find out more about them and consider attending.

See you there.

Speaking at UK Tech.Days Online 2013

I’ve been supporting the great team of evangelists at Microsoft with their UK Tech.Days events for some time now. I am chuffed to bits that they have asked me to contribute to the fantastic UK Tech.Days Online event. If you haven’t heard about it, go look at the agenda right now! Three days of great content on the latest technologies covering client, server, cloud and dev. The whole thing will be streamed live thanks to the wonder of the internet and includes a live interview with Steve Ballmer.

I am doing a session with the marvellous Steve Plank on the technologies that enable you to move your on-premises VMs into Azure and then a solo session on Windows Azure Backup – something we use already at BM as part of our DPM configuration. Sandwiched between those will be one where Steve covers the kind of automation you can achieve with PowerShell for Windows Azure.

Robert is also involved – I believe he is speaking during the very first session of day 1, on Windows 8.1.

It’s a privilege to be involved in Tech.Days Online and I’m really looking forward to it. Go register and I look forward to answering all your great questions on the day!

Unexpectedly now doing a session at DDD North 2013

I had a surprise exchange of text messages last night with Andy Westgarth. Sadly, one of the people who was to speak in one of the first session slots has had to pull out. Andy did the thing all the best conference organisers do – he called his friends! As a result, Richard and myself will be presenting a session about our experience with Lab Manager on Saturday morning.

Lab Manager is an interesting part of the development puzzle, allowing automated provisioning of environments that can then have software deployed to them and automated tests run against them. However, building a good Lab Manager environment (or machines to then be composed into an environment) is a very different task than the bare-metal scripting guerrilla devops approach that is very en-vogue right now. Richard and I will speak about how we run our Lab from both the perspective of the development/ALM specialist (that would be him!) and the IT guy (that would be me!).

I’ve also been asked to take lots of photos at the event, so if you see me wandering around with my camera, smile and say hi!

Grok talking at DDDNorth 2013

DDD North 2013 is almost upon us and I hope you’re all converging on Sunderland for what should be a great for devs. I’ll be helping out during the day, and I will also be doing a short Grok Talk on how Generation 2 Virtual Machines in Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 are new, different and cool. Come along and heckle, why don’t you?

Being allowed out in public: Forthcoming events

It’s autumn again, and that means event season is upon us once more. In the next few months I’m getting around a bit, so this post is a plug for the events I’m either attending or speaking at.

  • October 1st is VMUG Leeds. I’m registered to attend, but chances are I’ll be spending much of the day helping the Microsoft guys run their hand-on lab. The agenda has some great-sounding sessions and I believe there are still spaces so why not register and come along.
  • October 12th is DDDNorth in Sunderland. Perhaps unsurprisingly my Lab Manager session wasn’t voted in, but I’m sure that’s because the range of speakers and topics available to choose from during voting meant hard choice had to be made <grin/>. As with last year, I’m helping out on the day but I’m also hoping to attend (heckle) some of the sessions. Black Marble should be there in force, as Richard, Steve and Gary are all speaking. Former BM staffer Iain Angus’ session looks interesting too!
  • December 4th is the Black Marble Architecture Forum in the North. With so many great speakers lined up already I’m not sure if Linda will squeeze me in, but I’ll certainly be there to join in the discussion (and make sure the AV works!).
  • January 29th is the Black Marble Annual Tech Update. I’ll be speaking in the morning, IT-focused session. It’s hard work to prep for but great fun to deliver and the feedback we get is always really great so come along if you want to be informed about the Microsoft roadmap to help your planning process. The afternoon session covers the development technologies too!
  • Microsoft also have a new season of Tech.Days about to kick off, so keep an eye on their web site for details.

Links from presentation on Server 2012 R2

Thanks to all who attended the ReBuild and TechEd revisited event today. I promised that I would post the links from the final slide to this blog so you can all start evaluating Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2.

Download and evaluate the Preview software


Refer to additional Windows Server 2012 R2 resources


Windows Server 2012 R2 on TechNet


Refer to additional System Center 2012 R2 resources


System Center marketplace


Server and Cloud Blog


Tech Update for Public Sector

Right now I am putting the finishing touches to my deck for an event Black Marble are running at Cardinal Place next week. As many of you will know, for the past ten years we have run the annual Tech Update covering moves and changes across the entire Microsoft spectrum of products. Until now that has only taken place in Leeds but for the first time we are taking that show on the road.

On Monday 20th May Robert and I will present our Tech Update for Public Sector. Everything you need to know about the Microsoft family for executive planning, as current as we can be. I always enjoy presenting at Cardinal Place and I’m looking forward to it.

As luck would have it, the following day is the Microsoft Management Summit recap, also at Cardinal Place. I’m attending rather than presenting for a change, so if you’re on the cloud track say hi!

Speaking at NEBytes about TFS 2012 Lab and SCVMM 2012

On Wednesday 15th May 2013, Black Marble travels north, as Steve Spencer and I will both present sessions for the great guys at NEBytes.

Whilst Steve covers fun hardware and software dev using Gadgeteer, I will be talking about our experiences with TFS 2012 Lab and SCVMM 2012.

If you have seen some of my earlier posts, our migration to the latest and greatest was interesting, to say the least. I learned a great deal about how SCVMM and Lab talk to each other and I will be running through how we built our environment and the things we learned that could save you pain as you follow in our footsteps.

I always enjoy speaking at NEBytes and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone next week!

Notes from the North East: Imagine Cup Hackathon 2012

We had a great time at the Imagine Cup North East Hackathon this weekend. Black Marble turned out in force with myself, Steve, Richard, Robert, Linda, Josh and Riccardo all helping out. Andy Westgarth and the guys at Sunderland Software City had done a solid job on the organisation and we were well looked after.

There were nine teams there in total, from a wide range of Universities and Colleges in the Newcastle/Sunderland area. I was impressed by their ideas and their tenacity in defending those ideas against a barrage of questions from myself and others. I was also taken by the range of ages we had. Some of the teams were A-level and college students, whilst others were in various years of their university degree courses. Even if they don’t make it through to the national finals this year, the younger teams will gain great experience and can enter again next year and beyond.

Linda has uploaded photos that myself and Josh took during the hackathon to the Black Marble Facebook page and you can find tweets with the #ICNE hashtag.

I’d like to give a big thanks to Finlay Mann for his help over the weekend. Unfortunately, the speaker lined up to run the User Experience workshop was unwell, so I stepped into the breach with Finlay. With no preparation and no slides we managed to cover the subject well, with lots of examples from our own experience.

Thanks are also due to Dan, Liam and  Colin from last years winning North East teams who, along with Riccardo and Josh did sterling work answering questions and helping teams with technical issues all through the night when us oldies had gone to get some sleep!

Gary Short delivered a great session on presentation skills, which is an area where I still feel universities badly let down their students. We were also grateful for mentors from Sage and Ubisoft who gave their time, ran workshops and spoke to teams over the weekend.

Hopefully we will make it back up north for the NEBytes session in March where the teams are invited to attend and practice their presentations for the regional final. All the teams that took part in that last year said how useful it was to receive comments, constructive criticism and questions from the user group attendees.

Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I’d like to give a hearty congratulations to the attending teams, whose ideas I watched develop and grown over the course of the event and who presented those ideas well to the group at the end of a very tiring hackathon. Well done all!

Upcoming presentations

It’s the start of a new year and my engagement diary is filling rapidly. Once again I am covering a wide range of topics for an equally broad audience which is something I really enjoy.

  • January 15th will find me in Manchester at a Microsoft event for Fire Services. I’m giving an overview of Windows Azure PaaS and IaaS services and how they might be used to complement as well as replace existing IT systems.
  • January 30th is the annual Black Marble Tech Update. For our tenth year we have changed the format slightly. The morning will be focused on IT and the afternoon on Development. IT Managers attending the morning session will hear myself, Andy Dawson and Andy Davidson run through the recent releases and upcoming changes to Microsoft product and service offerings in order to help with strategic planning for the coming year. The afternoon session will be similar, but for Development Managers.
    Find out more on the Black Marble web site.
  • March 5th is the next UK Techdays IT Camp that I will be helping out at. This one is in York and will cover Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V.
    Find out more on the UK Techdays events page.
  • March 6th takes me to London where Robert Hogg and I will deliver a Tech Update for the Public Sector at Cardinal Place.

Also this year Black Marble are pleased to be involved with the Microsoft Imagine Cup once more. Teaming up with Andy Westgarth and our friends in Sunderland, we are running an Imagine Cup Hackathon on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd February, where a number of us will be on hand to give teams from the region help and advice on development and technical matters, but also presentation techniques, business plan and other areas important to success.
Find out more on the Imagine Cup site.