Willie’s Talent Show

By James at June 06, 2008 03:25
Filed Under: Life in General, Miscellaneous

So, last week Willie and his homies performed at his school's talent show. Here's one of the better songs.... :)

and one that could use a bit more practice

But what can I say? My kid has heart!


My SQL Fire Starter Interview

By James at June 05, 2008 03:13
Filed Under: Web Development, Inland Empire .NET UG

When I presented at SQL 2008 Fire Starter last May, my good friend Geoff Emery interviewed me for TechZulu.

So, for your geeky, drawling enjoyment... I give you this....


My Homies

By James at May 27, 2008 06:12
Filed Under: Life in General, Web Development

As I mentioned in a previous post, I presented at the SQL 2008 Firestarter event. What I didn't mention was a story about a bit of metaphysics and a prime example of how the Universe looks out for those believers.

Working on Latina Business.NET with Carmina, I ran across, at one of our customers, a toy machine that sold little plastic "homies". I thought they were cool and one day went with a ton of quarters and bought as many as I could. They all sit on my monitors and inspire me when building a web site for one of our customers. These little plastic figures are great. With a lot of detail, and fantastic expressions on their faces, having them look down on me while I'm working, gives me the ideas to build a great bakery, jumper, party supply or mercado web site.

I was having problems getting my site together. Computer issues, bits changing, work things, you name it, I had to deal with it. But what got me through were my homies. They kept staring down at me, and settled me down. I got my stuff together and was ready for the next day.

I packed my stuff up the night before and was ready to roll early. As I was heading downstairs to leave, a voice in my head said "take us with you". Usually when I'm heading out, all I can think of, is traffic, being on time, whatever. But this time, I stopped, looked at my system and said to myself "OK". I scooped up the two homies that always seem to call to me; my first one, and old dude sitting in a chair, and a crazy looking one selling bags of oranges.

I got to the event site without a hitch and things went smoothly. As it turns out I was the scheduled to be the first presenter for the Developer's Track. Taking a few minutes to check out the meeting room and setup, I did so, and took out my Old Dude, and Orange Guy, putting them on the podium. Not blatantly so, but in a position for them to watch over me unobtrusively. I was just getting ready to start my presentation, when I was interrupted that I needed to move rooms. A bigger room. So many people wanted to see my presentation, the organizers actually moved me to a bigger room.

I packed up my stuff, put Old Dude and Orange Guy in my shirt pocket, and moved over to the big place. Nice. My presentation went great; no issues, the demo gods where nice to me, intelligent questions were asked, and I got not one, but two rounds of applause. All the time my homies were watching me.

I head back to the speakers room to see what is going on. My two friends Geoff Emery and Matt Penner are having major problems with their demo, and their machine. No Internet connection, SQL Server is giving them fits, PowerPoint slides are jacked up. The demo gods are not happy. As I set my bag down and get behind my buddies, I fold my arms (what I usually do when concentrating) and I feel two little objects in my shirt pocket. My homies!

I put Old Dude and Orange Guy on their laptop, mostly just for grins, but then something amazing starts to happen. Things start coming together, Geoff decides to use his cell phone for connectivity, the machine decides to behave, both Geoff and Matt calm down. Their presentation is right after lunch. And they just rock. No more problems, no more issues.

In thinking about this I'm looking at my homies and see "HOMIESHOP" on the back. Doing a quick search I find www.homiesworld.com, with complete listings and descriptions of all the homies figures made so far.

Actually Orange Guy is named Orange Vato and Old Dude is Wizard. Read their descriptions, especially Wizard's and see if they make sense to you after this story.

Browsing around the Homies site, I really started liking it. They have created all these great characters, embracing their differences, while ending each description on a positive note.

You just gotta love your homies.

Firestarter 2008 ADO.NET Data Services Slides and Code

By James at May 18, 2008 09:47
Filed Under: Web Development, Microsoft

Yesterday I gave my presentation on ADO.NET Data Services at the Firestarter SQL 2008 event at the Microsoft Training Center in Irvine. I had a great time presenting, they even had to move my group to a bigger room, and it more than made up for the stress of trying to prepare a presentation with fluidly changing bits.

For your pre-beta, pre-CTP enjoyment I give you my slides and code firestarter-adodataservices.zip (588.30 kb)

If you have questions, drop me a line,


I'm hungry

By James at April 15, 2008 07:43
Filed Under:

Ok, I usually don't post these, but this just cracked me up...


Anyone hungry?


I'm speaking at FireStarter - SQL Server 2008 Education Day

By James at April 12, 2008 03:16
Filed Under:

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

I will be presenting at FireStarter - SQL Server 2008 Education Day. This will be a free, day-long event at the Microsoft Irvine California office. Similar to a code camp, content for both devs and IT pros on SQL Server 2008. Mark your calendars now for May 17, 2008

My presentation? A rocking cool title: Consuming REST-based data with ADO.NET Data Services

For more information, and to register, go to www.firestarterevents.com


Now playing in my head Tommy Emmanuel: The Journey - Like Family

Two nuns, a tow truck, and one Red Bull

By James at April 09, 2008 10:39
Filed Under: Life in General, Miscellaneous

If you've been following me on twitter, you may have picked up that I've been having some really dreadful dreams. Very realistic, disturbing, violent dreams. One night Carmina had to dive for cover, as I was beating the crap out my pillow. Don't know where they were coming from either.

So put that in the back of your mind for a bit....

Last weekend was a stay at home, putter around the house, run errands sort of weekend. Few trips here, few trips there, a chance to explore Beaumont.

Heading out to Home Depot, I noticed in the I-10 center divider heading west, a sporty red pickup truck with two young Latinas trying to flag down cars. Hmm, I think, interesting, and continue on. Twenty minutes of picking up stuff at the store and time to head back home. As I start coming up to where I remember seeing the girls and their truck, I notice they have created a sign and are waving it at the oncoming cars..."Please help us!"

Ok, putting on my Good Samaritan hat, I decide to see what is what. Because of how the freeways work I have to backtrack about 4 miles to get back to where they are, all the time saying to myself, "self, what are you doing?"

Pulling up to them I start to notice something odd. While the truck is a sporty red, the girls are wearing the same clothes; sensible shoes, calf-length gray skirts, white blouses with gray vests. Walking up to them, both are smiling and I notice they are wearing hand-carved wooden crosses.

They're nuns. Stuck on the side of the road. In a sporty pickup. This isn't Los Angeles, this is Beaumont.

Being stranded in the center divider of the I-10 is rather intimidating with the wind, the cars whizzing by you, the deafening noise, and no one stopping. I can understand the nun's concern and apprehension. It's so damn noisy, I can't hear them and think they don't speak English. First thing is to get them off the freeway and I pull out my trusty AAA card.

The operator asks, "Are you related?"

"No" I respond.

Operator, "you know this will count against your benefits?"

Me, "Yes, I know. Please send a tow truck."

Just as I hang up, CHP cruiser rolls up. I tell him what's happening and he says he'll stay with us until we're safe and for us to get back in our respective cars. Calling Carmina to tell her what's happening and to be ready for a translation assignment, the tow truck arrives, but ahead of me in the divider, putting me between the tow truck and the nuns.

Nice. The CHP officer tells me to "leap frog" around the truck. So if a CHP tells you to dart into traffic, then swerve off the road, that's what you do.

The tow truck driver is a young kid "JR", who gets the pickup on his truck. The CHP officer helps the nuns into the cab of the tow truck and I notice as he's walking back to his car, he is chuckling to himself. "Haven't seen many of these types of calls, have you?" I ask. "Nope" he responds, "thank you so much for stopping to help."

We're ready to head out. CHP runs a traffic break and we jump back on the freeway, with me leading the way. We pull off a few miles down in a nice safe, quiet area to figure out what is next. Ah... the nuns can speak English. They were on their way from a mission in Cathedral City to a mission in Riverside when the truck, loaned to them by a parishioner, breaks down. Looking at the truck on the flat bed, a ton of oil has dripped out. This engine is dead.

I normally tip tow truck drivers, but for some reason I didn't have any cash on me today. But I did have a 4-pack of Red Bull, my new favorite beverage. I offer this to JR, but all he wants is one..."it's been forever since I had a Red Bull. Thanks man!"

JR's dispatcher is telling him he has to leave us before he can take them anywhere else, so he drops off the pickup, and heads out. While JR is gone, I have Carmina talk to the nuns to figure out what they want to do. It's decided since they're halfway between Riverside and Cathedral City to get towed back to Cat City.

An hour later, JR pulls back up and gets inline to put the nun's truck back on his rig. Five minutes later they're ready to go, and I give each of them a slip of paper with my phone number, asking them to call when they get where they're going. The nuns shake my hand and whispering "God bless you." JR makes a comment about how we both have some karma in the bank. I wait for a bit, then head home.

An hour later, the home phone rings. It's JR. He just dropped the "girls" off with their friends and they are "safe and with people they know." I thank him again, telling him to keep my phone number on hand and, anything he ever needs, to call me.

An hour after that, the nuns call to say they are home safe, thanking me again.

I haven't had a bad dream since.

Now playing in my cube....Ozomatli - Street Signs - Love And Hope

Windows Server 2008

By James at April 01, 2008 14:58
Filed Under: The CodeTrip

My homies on the Code Trip, just posted this. And, I was drinking milk at the time.



Code Trip - Second day

By James at April 01, 2008 12:08
Filed Under: Life in General, The CodeTrip

It's Friday...I think. For some strange reason, after another night of coding and chatting with Woody, I decided to watch "No Country for Old Men". Umm... that was a mistake. The movie was good, but getting to sleep at 4:00 AM wasn't. Oh well. Once again, shower and shave in the hotel, then it's back to the bus for some more twister and guy talk. Actually more coding and coding.

Woody and Jason are working on getting the bus cam app ready. Sterling, our driver, is doing maintenance on the bus. Erin has left for the airport and I didn't get a chance to say goodbye. C' est la vie, there will be other times to see her. We finally start heading up to Red Bull about 3. A slight problem though, the official invitation says 7:00, the Code Trip web site says 6:00. Uh oh.

Traffic is bad and we're hardly moving. But Sterling has this amazing ability to bend time and space and we pull up to Red Bull at 5:30. Just freaking amazing.

We pull into the Red Bull parking lot, and I say to myself, "self...there's not enough spaces for all the people, with all this grass." The parking lot has geometric designs made from parkable grass. Nice.

Walking into the building is one of the most amazing things. If looking at the building from the top, picture two long, skinny buildings, with 30 feet between them. Now, in this space is a wood floor, which is bisected by a glass wall. Looking closer at the glass wall it is actually a roll up door. Beyond the glass wall/door, is a 20 foot high skateboard ramp. A freaking skateboard ramp in the office. But wait, it gets better. It's not just a ramp, it's actually a wave, with two crests and two valleys. The end of this rampwavybreakyourneckonit thingy ends up in the movie theatre where they have meetings. Absolutely amazing!

I spend some time helping to setup, and guarding the swag. Like anyone would want Internet Explorer T-shirts :). But some of the employees start chatting with me, so I pass shirts out. You would've thought they were made of spun gold.

Music is on, party is starting. A bunch of my friends start showing up. I get this great picture of Woody, Jason, David, and me, and have my first Red Bull and Vodka. Holy Crap, what a drink. I'm feeling like really great and it's time for the presentation. David has "thrown" together an app in about 20 minutes to show the power of SQL Server Data Services. Then Woody presents the iZoofari app from Interknowlogy. JD Lewin, the new roadie, asks if the app will show visitors the exit routes for when the tigers escape. It's time for the raffle and I think we need some excitement, so I go on down, start grabbing T-shirts and hurling them into the audience. Yeah baby!

Carmina is on her way, lots of people are excited to meet her, but an accident on the I-10 has slowed things down. She doesn't get there till about 9:15-ish. As she walks in, she's the Belle of the Ball. She was nervous to meet these people, but you wouldn't have known it by how she just plays the room. Both Geoff and Woody give her hugs and everyone is genuinely happy to meet her. I love this woman.

Party starts winding down. I quit drinking Red Bull and Vodka about 90 minutes before and just kept slamming Red Bull straight. Carmina has been "enjoying herself" and is having quite the good time. She asks Jason if he's single and wants to meet her sister. Sister couldn't do any much better than Jason...that's all I have to say. We make our good-byes and head to the bus to get my bag. Her and Woody talk, smile and hug some more. Then the most amazing thing happens.

David is getting ready to leave in his taxi. Now remember, we've only known each other for 24 hours. He asks if I'm OK to drive because if not, he'll get us a cab. I say, "do you know how far away we live?" His response, "I don't fucking care. You're too important to take a chance on." He then goes on to tell me that "anything I ever need, just ask." Wow..what a guy!

We head out, Carmina needs to pee so we stop in at a Denny's and grab some grub. We get home about 1:15 AM. I send David an email that we arrived safely, then head to bed.

A bit of advice. If you're gonna drink Red Bull, it's best to do so before noon. :)

Thoughts and observations on this trip in a day or two.


Update - My new friends at TechZulu did this video featuring my other new friend David on SSDS. You can see what the Red Bull offices look like, and David's presentation on SSDS


Now playing in my head Coolio/Rhino Hi-Five: Coolio - EP - Rhino Hi-Five: Coolio - EP - Fantastic Voyage

Code Trip - First full day

By James at March 31, 2008 15:59
Filed Under: Life in General, The CodeTrip

Well after an evening of coding and Bushmill's with Woody, going to bed (the rack) at 3:00 AM, and sleeping in a coffin, it's time for the first full day of my Code Trip adventure. The Code Trip riders always get a hotel room wherever they stop, so there are shower and ahem, toilet facilities. I need my coffee, so while Woody is making use of the shower, off I go to find a cup and call mi bella esposa.

All cleaned up and ready to go. But wait. Cal State Fullerton isn't that far away, and Woody has called ahead about parking - there is none - so, we cram into Erin's rental Hyundai to head up the freeway. Arriving at CSUF, we do see that parking is a problem. We find an empty spot, but no parking pass machine. Oh well, we're on a time crunch and an expense account, so what the heck. CSUF is a huge freaking campus. We walk. And walk. And walk. Then walk some more. It's ASB election time, with plenty of booths. Lots of the campaign signs look like they're running for president of the United States, a far cry from when I tried running for Treasurer of my junior high school with construction paper and crayons.

What's that delicious smell? Someone's serving hot dogs! And not Oscar Mayer's but big, juicy kosher dogs! Oh My! Jason starts drooling and buys a round for everyone.

Here is where I meet my next best friend David Robinson. David is the Senior Program Manager for SQL Server Data Services. He's a really neat guy who, quite liberally intermingles "f-this" and "f-that" into his vernacular. But the guy is smart as a whip, absolutely loves his job, and is one of those people, where 30 seconds after you meet them, you feel a strong and lasting bond.

I also get to meet Sam Stokes, Woody and Jason's counterpart in the academic field. Sam is the Academic Evangelist for Southern California and has setup XNA Day here at CSUF. The meeting starts off with a student Jason (sorry man, but I don't know your last name) who shows off several of the games the students have developed with XNA Studio. This is amazing what can be done with XNA and I can't wait to get Willie (my son) involved.

Jason takes over, and goes into much deeper detail about the history of game development, all the hard work involved, and how XNA makes it so much easier now. With that, he starts showing off some of the physics code he developed for XNA called "Imagination". Amazing, amazing stuff.

David starts his presentation on what SQL Server Data Services is all about. This is going to be so cool, access to SQL Data via "the cloud", with no interruptions and an extremely affordable cost of entry. Just think, pay for the bandwidth on pennies on the dollar, without the headaches of running a server room. Bitchen.

Presentations are done and it's time to head to USC for the afternoon session. I get to ride with Sam, who turns out to be an ok guy and starts asking me if I would be interested in working with/for Microsoft.

Time to pack up and head over to USC for another presentation, this time to a group of CS students, set up again by Sam. This is a much larger crowd, but they sure are different in attitude from the user groups I'm used to. Could it be the sign that said "free pizza and win an XBox"? Jason starts in with his presentation from last night, but quickly decides to switch tracks based on the groups reactions. Nice save Jason. Woody shows of the web camera app he built to take images of the bus from a variety of "strategically placed" web cameras located on the bus. Guess I'll need to keep that in mind for the next few days.

Sam keeps the group enthused by raffling off a few items during the breaks, interesting how he keeps mentioning the XBox. David starts off with his SSDS presentation, but since we're running out of time, he's gotta go fast. I mean really fast, like f-bomb fast. I think the group likes his style. As he's finishing up, he puts in a plug that his team is hiring, and afterwards I see he's getting mobbed by potential applicants and several students who want more information on the SSDS technology.

Time for the XBox raffle. And it couldn't have gone to a more perfect winner. A short, dumpy, pimple faced geek. The look on his face when he won....I love it!

Next stop, .NET geek dinner, run by a really great guy, Geoff Emery. We meet up at Havana Mania a great little Cuban Restaurant. A few Mojitos, and some Cuban Roast Pork, and it's the end of a great first day.

Tomorrow is coding, geeking, then Red Bull Party.

I'm so effing happy. I'm having the time of my life.


About the author

James James is a five time and current Microsoft MVP in Client App Development, a Telerik Insider, a past Director on the INETA North America Board, a husband and dad, and has been developing software since the early days of Laser Discs and HyperCard stacks. As the Founder and President of the Inland Empire .NET User's Group, he has fondly watched it grow from a twice-a-month, early Saturday morning group of five in 2003, to a robust and rambunctious gathering of all types and sizes of .NET developers.

James loves to dig deep into the latest cutting edge technologies - sometimes with spectacular disasters - and spread the word about the latest and greatest bits, getting people excited about developing web sites and applications on the .NET platform, and using the best tools for the job. He tries to blog as often as he can, but usually gets distracted by EF, LINQ, MVC, ASP, SQL, XML, and most other types of acronyms. To keep calm James plays a mean Djembe and tries to practice his violin. You can follow him on twitter at @latringo.

And as usual, the comments, suggestions, writings and rants are my own, and really shouldn't reflect the opinions of my employer. That is, unless it really does.

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