# Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Why do we come here?


A few years ago I contemplated getting an MBA. A good friend with an MBA advised me not to. They said that the main benefit of business school is to build relationships with your classmates. People who go to Biz school together have a bond that can’t be broken and a network of colleagues-colleagues who help each other over the years, call for advice, hire as consultants and do business with. Over the last 8 years in the Microsoft world of speaking, consulting, writing and attending conferences, I have build a large network, my “business school contacts”. This network of colleagues and friends is a primary motivation for me speaking at TechEd.


So why do delegates come to TechEd? Delegates come to TechEd to learn about technology in the breakout sessions. That is the primary goal, or at least why their employers pay for them to come. But another important reason is to meet other developers and catch up with other friends and see what they are up to. So Tom is heavy into C# optimization now. Mary is knee deep in the ASP Cache. Bob in SQL Server transactions. That network is more valuable than any session on those topics, when you have a problem or are contemplating a new project, in that technology, you can call your friend who is using that technology in the real world (of course with the background of the breakout session fresh on your mind too.)


This is serious reason not to miss any parties while at the conference (ok and the open bar too!). Last night was no exception, about 600 people were at the Imagine party (where Clemens Vasters and I danced on stage with supermodels), and of course there was an after-party down in Porto Olympia which lasted-well way too late. At the after party, I caught up with some Imagine Cup constantans from Canada, German, Australia and Columbia. I explained that in this industry help from another developer is your #1 asset. I told them that when interviewing with Peter Bloom for the CTO job at Zagat back in 1999, he asked me what my #1 qualification was for the job. I said that my network of experienced friends and colleagues who I can call at home anytime when the sh*t hits the fan for advice.


So see you at the attendee party on Thursday night or at the next conference!!

posted on Wednesday, July 2, 2003 7:52:18 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [12] Trackback
# Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Cardboard Cutouts-Again!


This time was it was not me! At TechEd Dallas I am now infamous for the cardboard cutouts prank. Well the German Regional Directors and Juval Lowy (see him on MSDN TV here) all decided to have some fun. All I can say is look at it!


Also Ralf posted to his blog the in-action shots of the deed. From Juval (Ralf’s site is in German):


From: Juval Lowy
Sent: Tuesday, July 01, 2003 11:54 AM
To: 'Stephen Forte'
Subject: FW: cut out :-)



Check out the link:



and look for “Es Und es gibt erstaunliche…. allerdings noch unklar” 


Here is my translation:


“And here you can see amazing scenes between the German RDs. But the picture is misleading. It’s not about fraternizing after a drinking night, but a shirt exchange, in order to stand out more sharply against the background. The scene took place when we positioned Regional Directors for photographs before a black background and Clemens Vasters did not contrast with his black t-shirt against the black wall. To make a long story short, he exchanged his shirt with Christian Weyer. The resulting figures [the cutouts JL] were produced as part of the "RD" program counterweight to the proclaimed "software Legends" by Microsoft like Don box etc..

Whether Microsoft will deploy these figures at schools and universities for collectors, is however still unclear.”



-----Original Message-----
From: Ralf Westphal

Sent: Tuesday, July 01, 2003 7:09 AM
To: juval lowy
Subject: cut out :-)


hi, juval!


you can´t defy celebrity status in germany any longer: after my post to my

weblog (http://weblogs.asp.net/ralfw/ ) developers will demand more of you







posted on Tuesday, July 1, 2003 12:00:45 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [12] Trackback

Tech*Ed Europe has officially begun!


What a great success so far. Over 7,000 delegates! Wow, I am awestruck. I was in a video in the Keynote (more next) and manned the Ask the Experts booth for quite some time. Also I met with several Analysts from Meta, Giga, Forrester, Ovum and The Wolfgang Martin Team. I represented SQL Server and the analysts were all focused on Business Intelligence (BI) and how Reporting Services for SQL Server 2000 fits in that whole business strategy at Microsoft. Analysts all tried to pump me for Yukon information. I told them to come to my talks later this week. J


Getting ready for my two sessions! They are very fun sessions and I plan to be very laid back, so if you are hear swing by for a great time. The sessions are:


Thursday, July 3rd 3:00-4:15 DAT231: Migrating Your Mission Critical Access Applications to SQL Server


Friday, July 4th 11:45-1:00 DAT307: Developing Applications with SQL Server Desktop Edition (MSDE)



At the Keynote EMEA VP Jean-Philippe Courtois  announce the winner of the Imagine Cup, first prize ($25,000 USD) went to a Vietnamese national representing the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Tu Nguyen. All the contestants worked hard and it was hard to pick a winner, but in the end Tu edged out the rest. A description of his program is here:


“A language barrier in the heartland of America? University of Nebraska student Tu Nguyen knows that if you have a Nebraskan native asking a Vietnamese chef for Mie'n Xao Thit Ga, you may just have a problem. That's why he developed Point of Delivery System (iPODS), a multi-language wireless application, for this year's Imagine Cup. iPODS allows a waiter using a PDA to take orders in one language and transmit them immediately to a server for translation into the chef's native language. The result is faster service, less confusion, and a better dining experience, whether you're in Omaha, Saigon, or Barcelona

posted on Tuesday, July 1, 2003 10:34:09 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [10] Trackback

I Have Discovered La Rambla!


Holy cow this street rocks. Why don't they advertise it more? Such a good atmosphere. Beautiful people, fun loving atmosphere, beer, wine, sangria, tapas, what else does one need in life? I have a feeling that I will be spending a lot of time here. Thank goodness I am not going home until Sunday! I have been here 2 nights and have bonded with La Rambla. But at a price. My bonding has come to the determent of my mobile phone which I dropped at 2am on Sunday night/Monday morning while partying with Clemens Vasters and the whole team of newtelligence. It is dead. So RIP my awesome Panasonic GU87 GSM Photo Flip Phone.


So Kevin Collins and I went shopping (and had to go into a Spanish home depot to ask directions to a shopping mall) and a cute almost English speaking lady sold me a Nokia 7250 tri-band phone with a camera, GPRS and FM Radio. It was a challenge with the language barrier to get an unlocked phone that was tri-band and will work in the US when I get home. It is far superior and not even available in the United States for some strange reason. It was unlocked, so I plugged in my SIM chip and was off to the races in 2 seconds (GSM ROCKS). Kevin called and SMSed me to test no problem. THe first incomming call on my new phone came from my buddy Remi Caron from the Netherlands, who had just arrived in Spain and had 5 liters of beer in him already and invited Kevin and I to join he and his other compatriot at La Rambla. So Monday night/Tuesday morning I partied again after the Imagine Cup with Kevin, Remi and Mark (another Dutch friend) mostly talking about how much Fox Pro sucks and taking embarrassing camera photos and emailing them back home immediately. (Sorry Remi.) We got lots of girls to show us their tattoos and such. Photos here (site in Dutch)!

posted on Tuesday, July 1, 2003 4:33:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [10] Trackback
# Monday, June 30, 2003

No no I can't tell you that yet, it is secret. EMEA VP Jean-Philippe Courtois will announce the winner of the Imagine Cup tomorrow at the Keynote. I saw all 15 teams and it was great. I am tired, I had to get a 20 minute demo from each team from 10am until 5pm.

I will be quoted tomorrow in the MS Press Release on the Imagine Cup, so look for that. Keeping this to myself is KILLING me. :)

What I liked is that the UK team were 1st year Java students and used .NET for the Cup. Now they are CONVERTS. This is a big win for Microsoft, getting .NET in front of students, if only University CS departments were not so biased. This is a big problem, Universities pretend that Microsoft doesn't exist and like it or not, Microsoft is a huge player in the Real World. The Universities are doing their students a real disservice. All I am asking for is a more balanced curriculum!


posted on Monday, June 30, 2003 12:04:22 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [11] Trackback

Let the Games Begin!

The long awaited Imagine Cup has begun here at  TechED Europe in Barcelona. So far so good, the students are motivated and the Web Services look cool. I have already looked at the teams from Australia, India, USA, Japan, France, Russina and Germany. Stay tuned!!

posted on Monday, June 30, 2003 7:26:48 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [12] Trackback
# Sunday, June 29, 2003

Istanbul, Istanbul, Istanbul-Rome?


That is what the Tunisian customs agent asked Nasser Ghazi, Goksin Bakir, Selcuk Uzun and I as we stood in customs on our departure from Tunis. Nasser had the idea that we all travel through the customs together, so the customs agent was confused since Nasser, Goskin and Selcuk all were traveling to Istanbul and I was traveling to Rome. I tried to explain that by Monday night we all would be in Barcelona together. Needless to say we got through and began our journey to TechEd.


I have arrived in Spain for TechEd and the Imagine Cup. I have always been committed to Universities (see yesterday's blog), so the Imagine Cup is special for me. Tonight is dinner with the other judges (I think there are 5 of us from around the world) and the organizers of the event. The competition gets heated tomorrow (Monday June 30.) You can follow here in my blog or you can check out the team specs here.

posted on Sunday, June 29, 2003 7:46:27 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [20] Trackback
# Saturday, June 28, 2003

Microsoft and the Developing World (Social Responsibility)

The North African Developers Conference 2003 ended today. In a region where Microsoft estimates that there are only 5,000 developers, we had 1,000 developers attend. How about that reach! It was so successful that Microsoft will do it again next year in Marrakech, Morocco. On the heels of the success last week of the PDC in Karachi, Pakistan (1,400 attendees) and this week in Tunis (1,000 attendees), I have seen Microsoft success in the developing world and a momentum is there.


Nasser Khan Ghazi, who is in charge of Microsoft evangelism for MEA or Middle East and Africa has now vowed to make these events annual and build off their successes. We discussed the rate of mobility adoption in Sub-Saharan African and contemplated an African Mobility Tour as well as events in the Middle East, South Africa, Istanbul, and Jordan.


What is great was the amount of students attending the conference. (I have a special love for bringing current technology to Academia, hence my involvement with the Imagine Cup in Spain next week.) I was speaking to a few students in Tunis (many were female) and they all inspired me with their drive and dedication. I also spoke at length with a Professor of Computer Science from Algeria about the pros and cons of the western content in the Middle East. We decided that it is a two way street, while Microsoft has great content in English and sometimes even localized in French and Arabic, the Universities need to pitch in some more. And he was practicing what we decided since he came from Algeria to Tunis for the conference.


Nasser and I talked about a Microsoft plan to take one developing country (Pakistan and Nigeria are the frontrunners) and making it a model for investment by Microsoft (and others). I believe that Microsoft has a social responsibility to lead by example, which they clearly have every intention of doing. Bill Gates has chosen MEA as the area to start this focus. This can only be win win for Microsoft and the region. Microsoft will of course see a longer term financial benefit, but the main objective here is social responsibility. The developing world will of course gain in the investment (especially countries like Iraq and Afghanistan which are emerging out of years of hardship and recent war.)


The plan is good because it is all about empowering people with technology in schools, libraries, women centers, and poor areas. Evangelism and education for current and future developers would also be very important (that means more travel for me). Then use that example as a showcase for the region. Right now it is a plan on paper, who knows where it will go. I am optimistic. I am glad that I can play a small part in this initiative.


Some Fun time...

After my sessions yesterday I also visited Carthage. Then I had dinner last night with Andrew (and his wife Laruen), Clemens, Malek and Nasser. We chatted about the developing world, BizTalk, Indigo, .NET Branding, and the RD program. We also talked about the upcomming Imagine Cup in Spain. Today was a free day in Tunis, visited some great sites. The medina, or city, is a wealth of ancient palaces, mosques and centers of trade and learning, truly a living museum.

posted on Saturday, June 28, 2003 5:08:06 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [10] Trackback
# Friday, June 27, 2003

DataGrid Nirvana


Last night us RDs went to a traditional North African sheesha (looks like a fancy bong) bar to smoke fancy tobacco. We even got Andrew Brust to smoke out of it (apple flavored tobacco)! All done with my sessions, so Goksin and I will go visit historic Carthage.


North African developers love the ASP .NET DataGrid. My session, Asp .Net DataGrid Drill Down (Code and Slide Download) was so much fun and fun was had by all. The sorting code went over very well. here is the code we spent the most time on:

private void SortGrid(object source,DataGridSortCommandEventArgs e)


//SQL String that will be used

string strSQL = "Select * From Customers";

//the Order By

string strOrderBy = "ASC";


//See what the viewstate has for the sortfield and ASC/DESC

if (e.SortExpression.ToString() == ViewState["sortField"].ToString())


//a match, see if ASC or DESC

strOrderBy = ViewState["sortDirection"].ToString();

//now toggle the viewstate for later

switch (strOrderBy)


case "ASC":

ViewState["sortDirection"] = "DESC";


case "DESC":

ViewState["sortDirection"] = "ASC";






//New Field, so it will be ASC by default, so make DESC

ViewState["sortField"] = e.SortExpression.ToString();

ViewState["sortDirection"] = "DESC";


//SQL statement compelted

strSQL = strSQL + " " + " ORDER BY [" + e.SortExpression + "] " + strOrderBy;

//set the grid to the first page before you resort

DataGrid1.CurrentPageIndex = 0;

//call the FillGrid method to rebind the grid w/ new OrderBy



posted on Friday, June 27, 2003 8:17:20 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [14] Trackback
# Thursday, June 26, 2003

North African Developers Conference

Day 1 of the North African Developers Conference  and I have to say that North African developers were either very polite or liked my jokes! (Well Bill Gates is such an easy target!). Translation was not a problem, I started in Arabic (which lasted about 2 minutes), switched to French which lasted about 2 seconds and then to English. I talked SLOW, yes slow. It was hard talking like a normal person, but hey it worked.

Developers were very interested in SQL Server Merge Replication in my Using SQL Server CE & SDE to build Enterprise Solutions talk. The Using Regular Expressions in Windows Forms & ASP.NET (Code and Slide Download) this afternoon went very well. ASP .NET validation controls were very popular as well as this code to remove HTML:


public string RemoveHTML(string strHTML)


//Using the \ escape inside the string

string strPattern = "<(\"[^\"]*\"|'[^']*'|[^'\">])*>";

//create a new RegEx as a pattern

Regex rxReplace = new Regex(strPattern, RegexOptions.IgnoreCase);

//do the replacement

string strNoTag = rxReplace.Replace(strHTML, "");

//return the string w/o the HTML in it

return strNoTag;




posted on Thursday, June 26, 2003 8:01:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [11] Trackback
# Wednesday, June 25, 2003

A good start to this trip with an uneventful trans-Atlantic flight. Even bumped into fellow NY RD Andrew Brust and his lovely wife Lauren in the Rome airport. Worked on converting my Using SQL Server CE & SDE to build Enterprise Solutions code from VB .NET to C# on the plane down to Tunis. After clearing customs, Malek picked Goksin, Selcuk and I up and drove us on down to the Hotel where Clemens was already waiting for us. What was great was that there were North African Developers Conference  posters and signs all over the airport and highway! Tunisia really rolled out the red carpet.


Reunited from the Wallflowers in Dallas, Clemens, Goksin, Malek and I turned around and headed straight for the beach at Hammamet. Much to the delight of the German speakers in the group, Clemens and I (barely), we were at a resort that catered to Germans. We spend several hours on the beach smoking Goksin's Turkish cigars, drinking beer and talking about why .NET Remoting may or may not suck, DCOM, the bowls of COM+, Regular Expressions and gulp politics. Clemens and I had a disagreement over the difference between an 'Ocean' and  a 'Sea' (eventually we got distracted by some girls topless sunbathing.) I got a great swim workout in, about 20-25minutes in open water. Triathlon training won't suffer (well the several beers I drank after my workout may have hurt a little.)


So, when you code, remember a bug is always your fault. This code in SQL Server CE may look harmless, but if you are pointing to the wrong database (ha!) it won't do a damn thing!


SqlCeConnection cn = new SqlCeConnection("data source=\\my documents\\bya.sdf");

SqlCeDataReader dr;


SqlCeCommand cmd = new SqlCeCommand(strSQL, cn);


So off to the speakers dinner at a nice place overlooking the Med. Tomorrow are two sessions:

11:00-12:00: Using SQL Server CE & SDE to build enterprise solutions

4:00-5:00: Using Regular Expressions in Windows Forms & ASP.NET (Code and Slide Download)

posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 2:48:51 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1131] Trackback