4th Annual Most Valuable Member Event

By James at July 14, 2011 11:24
Filed Under: community, Inland Empire .NET UG, Non-Technical, user groups


Oh, how I love the Inland Empire .NET User’s Group. So much so that 4 years ago, I started the Most Valuable Member competition which allows the members of the group to compete against each other by gaining points for contributing back to the group and to the development community. For example, write a review for a book you won at a raffle and get 500 points. Give a presentation at a Code Camp and get 1000 points. Help to setup or tear down after a meeting for 200 points. Get a Microsoft Certification and receive 500 points. The list itself is quite large and these are just a few examples.

So, you may be wondering, “why would a person want to compete, what’s in it for them?” How about a backpack stuffed with over $25,000 in software licenses, books, and other swag for the winner, and similarly stuffed backpacks for the 1st and 2nd Runners Up. Add on top of that, a special catered event to commend you, and being publicly recognized as an outstanding member of the .NET Development Community.

Tuesday, July 12th 2011 was the Inland Empire .NET User’s Group 4th Annual Most Valuable Member Event. It was held at the San Bernardino Hilton, and was just a ton of fun. It took a lot of planning, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the fantastic help of several sponsors – Red Gate, Telerik, Microsoft, Infragistics, DevExpress, EmailVerify, Pluralsight, O’Reilly, Apress, Pearson Publishing and Wrox.

60 people attended and were treated to live music by my kids, William and Amy, a sit down dinner of Chicken Marsala with cheesecake for dessert, tons of raffle prizes – everyone left with something – and three great presentations from Craig Shoemaker, Seth Juarez, Steve Paplanus and Dustin Hothard.

While people were coming in and signing up, they were treated to music from William and Amy, who had been practicing for several weeks prior. At 6:30 the festivities began with me talking about the group over the past year where I mentioned some highlights over the past year. They were:

  • Watching the interactions and eavesdropping on the conversations that took place during the Tuesday night meetings
  • Seeing how the members have developed new skills
  • Getting to meet new people and watch them develop into active user group members
  • Enjoying seeing how member’s careers have changed and grown


Then I presented some interesting bits of data from the past year:

  • 11 Speakers
  • 18 Sponsors with over $86,000 in books and software licenses raffled off
  • 70 books reviewed
  • 800 slices of pizza and 600 cans of soda and water consumed


The presentations started off with Craig Shoemaker speaking on HTML 5 Offline Data Storage. Craig is such a great speaker and his presentation really shined.

Seth Juarez was next and spoke on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Language. Seth is a dynamic and funny speaker and his talk was dead on.

Next up was a video presentation from Lynn Langit giving an update on the SmartCare project in Zambia and our sister user group over there, ZamDevs.net.

To round out the presentations was Dustin Hothard and Steve Paplanus talking on “Teaching Kids Programming”. They took a team approach when speaking on the great work that www.teachingkidsprogramming.com is doing for getting kids involved in development at an early age.

After a short break and more music, it was time to announce the MVM awards.

The first award for 2nd Runner Up went to Ayyappan Nagender.

The first MVM Award goes to a user group member, who quietly has become one of the cornerstones of the user group. He attends every meeting, except when he is visiting family in India, eagerly offers to teach classes, gives outstanding presentations and has a unique sense of humor. On many occasions he has donated his raffle prize to someone in the group who doesn't have the software, and is a dedicated user of the Book Review program often taking a book as a prize instead of a piece of software. With 5700 points the Most Valuable Member 2nd Runner Up is Ayyappan Nagender.”

Then the award for 1st Runner Up went to Oscar Azmitia.

“The next MVM award goes to one of the smartest people I know. He is quietly unassuming about his knowledge, while loving to share his ideas and techniques. He has participated in the user group by presenting on Windows Phone technologies, and teaching in the Windows Phone 7 Unleashed events the user group has put on. As a young man, this person has a ton of potential with many great rewards ahead of him; it will be a great thing to see what he will accomplish. With 6680 points the Most Valuable Member 1st Runner up is Oscar Azmitia.”

Then the moment we had all been waiting for, MVM for 2010-2011, Dustin Davis

"There are many words to describe the Most Valuable Member of 2010-2011, but the main one which comes to mind when thinking about him is "doer". I honestly don't know where he gets the time to do all the things he does, from working as a production developer, writing blog posts, frequently tweeting and giving countless presentations. He has presented to the user group several times, taking it upon himself to teach the .NET beginner's section of the user group meetings, participating in the Windows Phone 7 Unleashed events, attending and presenting at Code Camps, and becoming the latest volunteer for the International .NET Association as Communications Director. One thing he "did", and I will always remember this, is out of his own pocket, he had IEDOTNET shirts made, so other members of the group could participate in the Most Valuable Member process by wearing a piece of User Group clothing. I am honored to count him amongst my close friends and with 17690 points, the Most Valuable Member of 2010-2011 is Dustin Davis."

And since I don’t like to ever leave anyone out, the following people were mentioned and received a special bag of prizes for participating in the MVM competition over the past year, Jim LaVine, Brent Harris, Henry VanderLeest, Matt Penner and Jimmy Aldape.

Highlights of the evening

  • Getting to hear Amy and William sing
  • The food
  • Watching the camaraderie of the members
  • Seeing that several attendees brought their significant others to the event – a very nice touch

Videos of Amy and William

Baby I Love Your Way

Hotel California

Hey Soul Sister

Why Won’t You Answer Me?

Time for a nap, then on to planning next year’s event.


INETA gets a new Board Member

By James at April 11, 2011 19:03
Filed Under: Life in General, community, evangelism, user groups, Technology in General

I’ve got news!


I’m honored and humbled to have been elected to the Board of Directors for the International .NET Association (INETA), where I will be in charge of handling the Marketing and Sponsorships for the group. We had our first semi-annual Board Meeting this past weekend (April 8th through 10th), with six new members, and there was a ton of passion and excitement for bringing INETA up to speed on visibility, supporting our user groups, bringing new user groups into the family, and keeping INETA viable and relevant. Plus I got to meet a bunch of really groovy people; the rest of the Directors and Officers:


Joe Guadagno, Dane Morgridge, Woody Woodruff, Robin Edwards, Chris Coneybeer, Mark Rowe, Lori McKinney, Steve Bohlen, Nancy Mesquita and Stacey McKown.


It will be lots of work, but I am thrilled to be given a chance to be part of this. Stay tuned for updates and more information. And, don’t forget to checkout the INETA site at www.ineta.org!



New Mexico .NET Users Group

By James at December 06, 2010 18:58
Filed Under: user groups, community

Last Thursday, December 12, I had the opportunity to go to Albuquerque, New Mexico and present at the New Mexico .NET Users Group. My flights were uneventful, checking into the hotel a breeze, and I got a free upgrade on the rental car, all that was left was to meet the group and give them my presentation, “ASP.NET MVC, jQuery, Ajax, EF and some other groovy stuff thrown in”. After the typical networking between members, the meeting started promptly at 7:00 pm, with some announcements by the president Tom Murdock. I was expecting a typical length meeting, but had been told just prior that their meetings usually go to 8:30 pm. Uh-oh I think, “two and half hours in 75 minutes”. Knowing that I would have less time I sneakily started my presentation a bit early, asking the usual questions I start off with – number of web and windows developers, C# vs. VB, who does their own database admin, etc.

My presentation turned into more of a lightning talk and actually it turned out pretty well. There was still time for audience questions and comments, I was focused on the code and concept so there wasn’t any time for tangents, and even had a little back and forth with one young kid who kept teasing me about not using PHP. I was able to tease him back and the whole presentation turned out very enjoyable. And as it turned out, I was able to go until 9:00 pm.

The attendees treat each other like family members, which was great to see. One of the things I noticed, and bumped up my ego several notches was to see many of the attendees taking notes on what I said. I added several more twitter followers, and three people actually commented on my presentation at www.speakerrate.com. Tom has grown a great group and should be congratulated for all his accomplishments. Best of all, they invited me back for another presentation.

All in all, one of the best visits I’ve had!

Here’s some pictures

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5621.IMG_2513_687E46C3 1207.IMG_2514_30E885D5
Tom Murdock – right and ComponentOne Studio winner, James Archuleta  

Happy Programming


San Gabriel Valley Developers Group

By James at November 18, 2010 17:47
Filed Under: user groups, evangelism

Last night (November 18, 2010) I had the privilege of presenting at the San Gabriel Valley Developers Group run by Adnan Masood and Richard Trinh. I gave my usual presentation on MVC and EF, and decided to jazz it up with some jQuery and Ajax. There was a wide variety of expertise in the group, so everyone got something out of the presentation. About half were really interested in the Ajax, the other in the data layer and what EF can provide. There was even some time to dig deep into EF, pretending there was a rogue DBA who kept changing the database schema and how EF can keep up with it. Lot’s of fun.

As usual, I peppered the members with questions, and tossed out the famous ComponentOne carabineer key chains. Two people actually got my references to POCO and EF Contexts “remaining the same” to late ‘70’s bands. There was a great back and forth with the members and a ton of great questions. A win-win all around.

Adnan and Richard do a bang up job of running the group, and deserve big pats on the back for all they do. If you are ever in Monrovia, CA on the 3rd Wednesday of the month and need to get your geek on, this is the place to be.

Here’s some pictures.

8168.sgv1_2FB78B77 3326.sgv2_01BA12F2
3365.sgv3_3B2CFD1C 4276.sgv4_6D1477D9
3603.sgv5_2C62059D 1108.sgv6_3F730C7C
ComponentOne Studio Winner, Richard Chin with Adnan Masood

Happy programming,


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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