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A couple of months ago, I began searching for local developer user groups to take part in Columbia, SC. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be a lot going on. I ended up heading to the Charlotte Enterprise Developers Guild to get my fix. There, I met the president of the Guild, Bill Jones, who suggested that I work with other developers in Columbia in forming a new group.

In April, I decided to take up his suggestion. I spread the word out to the people I knew, and the ball began to roll. Soon thereafter, I made contact with the leader of the old group, Tore Bostrup, and we arranged a transition meeting. Tore secured the meeting location and the sponsor, and I spoke with Brian Hitney from Microsoft about giving his presentation on the Internals of Vista.  Chris Williams of INETA provided a lot of great information on running user groups.

The Columbia Enterprise Developers Guild’s first meeting was on May 8th at 6pm in the Midlands Tech NE Auditorium, and I arrived there not know exactly what to expect. Sure, I had a general idea from attending meetings in other cities, but this was the first time I was ever expected to actually speak in front of the crowd. Luckily, Tore was there to start off the meeting and hand the reins over to me. The transition made things smooth for me to begin talking to the group.

I didn’t have a prepared speech, so I went with a conversationalist style. The downside of this was that I forgot to mention a few things at the beginning of the meeting. At the next meeting I will prepare a bulleted sheet so I can hit on all the topics. User groups aren’t meant to be formal, so I will maintain a conversationalist tone and not go the full speech route.

Our sponsor was Dave Catherman from Revenue Solutions. He explained their project with the Department of Revenue, and pitched the need for more developers.  The fact that he was the sponsor was a surprise to me since I begin a contract with the company on May 21st. The lesson here is to get all of the information from others who are helping put together these events. It didn’t affect anything, but the unexpected is undesirable when you’re trying to run things. Don’t just accept “I have a sponsor” or “I have a presenter,” dig a little deeper for some details.

After Dave and I spoke, Brian gave his presentation on the Internals of Vista. Although it wasn’t truly a development subject, the material is relevant as it will affect the way we develop software for the platform. Many of the features in Vista are currently inaccessible through managed code, but I am sure they will pop up in Orcas. It seemed to surprise Brian when the crowd started asking tons of questions on the mklink command. Who knew that the Columbia crowd is really into what Linux has had for years? Brian, in response to a question, braved the unknown and linked to a UNC path. He also built a recursive link (which, of course, is completely useless). Vista handled it all without an indigo screen… indeed without even a hiccup.

The presentation took a little longer than I expected, but Brian was able to wrap it up around 8pm. I moved in to thank him for being there and announced some of the things I forgot: information on the website status and the fact we may need to pick a new date due to conflicts with nearby groups. To prevent confusion, we are going to go ahead with the 2nd Tuesday of June, but hopefully surveys will be complete by that time and a decision can be made for July. I announced that Wes Benson is our webmaster and Carnegie Johnson is our Membership Director. Then, I let everyone know if they would like to help that other positions in the Guild will be posted to the website when it is launched.

The final thing to do for the night was give away SWAG. Oh no, I definitely didn’t forget that part. Tore had handed off his reserve to me, and Brian had brought along a nice little box as well. I ended up giving away a copy Vista Business, Code Complete, Writing Secure Code, Threat Modeling, and a couple of t-shirts. I’m sure I missed a book in there somewhere. Unfortunately, we did not have a good way to draw names, so we resorted to getting everyone to write their name (and some email addresses) on a notepad. We gathered the pages into a plastic bag and I picked the first one. Subsequent picks were made by the previous winner. At the next one, I’m either going to do raffle tickets or use evaluation forms as a means of picking SWAG winners.

After the meeting, I gathered the additional SWAG to be stored at my Heavily Fortified Fortress of Doom, lest some blackhat attempts to retrieve it for his or her own nefarious ends. Then, a small group of us who were running the group headed to grab a bite to eat at Charleston Crab House. I heard it was customary to buy the presenter dinner, but to my surprise Brian expensed it. Hey, I’m not going to turn down a free meal, and if this is one of the ways Microsoft shows appreciation to user groups then kudos to them!  I certainly do appreciate it, and I’m certain both Tore and Wes do as well.

There were a few less than stellar moments that evening, but all in all things turned out well. Here is a summary of the meeting and the lessons I learned.


Columbia Enterprise Developers Guild
Date – May 8th, 2007
Topic – Internals of Vista
Presenter – Brian Hitney
Sponsor – Revenue Solutions
Attendance – 35

Lessons Learned:

  • Bring a bullet list of topics to cover.
  • Be aware of all arrangements made by others.
  • Print evaluation forms for people to fill out.

I am volunteering for Code Camp in Charlotte this weekend, and then I’m headed to visit my mother on Sunday. I wanted to get the website up completely by the end of the week, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. I’m sure Wes will be out of town and will not have the graphics ready for me soon enough as well. I may throw up the Club Starter Kit and post information so there is something there until we get the opportunity to fully launch.

We’re well underway with preparations for the next meeting on June 12th. If you happen to be in the Columbia area, I hope you can make it there!

Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2007 11:28 PM Guild | Back to top

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