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Boston 2 Big Sur – A practical guide for those crazy enough to consider it

It’s a run20170415_121039ner thing… Boston 2 Big Sur. You run the Boston marathon and then you fly to California and run the Big Sur marathon.  Some years the races are 6 days apart, some years the races are 13 days apart.

This year (2017) the races were 13 days apart so someone in my running club said, hey this year it’s 13 days apart so we should all do Boston 2 Big Sur!

Step 1 – Get a Boston Bib

“Sure, I’m in!” I chimed, at that point, technically I had a Boston qualifying time, but I was not 100% sure I would qualify. Since the Boston bombing in 2013 running your qualifying time does not guarantee you an entry.  So many people submit qualifying times they have to reduce the BQ times.  I had 2 minutes and 43 seconds under my BQ. In 2016 the cutoff was 2 minutes 16 seconds below the BQ times Sure enough, when they sent out acceptance emails for Boston I got the “we have too many entrants… we will let you know if you made the cut” email.   One week later the cut off was set: 2 minutes 9 seconds I was in!Bostonlogo

Step 2 – Get a B2B BibBigSurlogo

Well that still didn’t guarantee a Boston 2 Big Sur jacket. Now I had to enter the lottery for Boston 2 Big Sur.  You cannot enter the B2B lottery until after you are accepted into Boston. 6 runners in our group entered the lottery.  They accept 400 B2B registrations for the Big Sur marathon.  If you are curious, there are about 4500 runners total in the Big Sur Marathon. You can enter the Big Sur marathon lottery ahead of time and then if you make the B2B lottery they can convert your entry to B2B.  When the lottery results were announced 4 out of our 6 runners were accepted. We had one runner number 12 on the waiting list, and another runner number 43 on the waiting list.  Apparently a lot of people think it’s a nice idea but when it comes down to it have second thoughts, because in the end everyone, including #42 on the waiting list was accepted.  We were all going to run Boston 2 Big Sur

2 Marathons  in 13 days are you nuts?

Well not as crazy as the ultra runners who do 100 km in a day up and down mountains, or the people who do B2B the years they are 6 days apart.  But a little crazy yeah.

How many marathons should you run before even attempting B2B?

My teammates have all run 20+ marathons some were 30+.  For me, Boston was marathon #5 and Big Sur was marathon #6.  So as marathoners go, I am relative newbie. I am still learning how to train properly and how to pace myself.  I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone who had not run at least 3 or 4 marathons.  I think it also helps if you have run the Boston course before. This was my 2nd Boston marathon. My first Boston marathon I made all the classic mistakes first time Boston runners make, starting out too fast, getting beat up by the Newton hills and really struggling the last few miles. This time around I was very relaxed at the start and I knew what to expect from the race course. It’s think it’s definitely riskier to do B2B your first time in Boston.

Do you need to be a “fast” runner to do B2B?

I am not slow, I did get into Boston, but fast is a relative term.  It really depends who you ask and who you hang out with. The others who ran B2B with me had Personal bests that ranged from 2:55 to 3:35.  My personal best is 3:51 and change. So for this group I was the slow, inexperienced runner.  but I have other runner friends who say ‘whoa you have run a marathon in under four hours, you are fast!’  You know my PB, you can decide if you consider that fast or slow.  I suppose a charity Boston entry could register for B2B, I think you can be a slow runner and get through it as long as you are a strong runner.

How did you train for it?

I did not worry about my speed at all.  The training was all about getting stronger NOT faster.

The goal was simple: Don’t get injured and finish both races strong. I did a total of 4 runs that were at least 20 miles during my training.  I also made a point of cross training to avoid injury.  I did yoga once or twice a week to loosen up all those joints and muscles strained by the long runs.  You MUST do hill work.  In the last 8 weeks of our training we actually did hill repeats at the end of our long runs to practice running hills when we were tired.  This was not the year to go after a personal best, this was the year to build strength and endurance so I could finish strong and have something left for race #2.  My weekly routine included:

  • Monday: Optional easy recovery run 3-5 miles and ideally a yoga class
  • Tuesday: Hill work (which I never skipped)
  • Wednesday: 6-11 mile run. I never pushed the pace on Wednesdays and I missed a few of those due to one thing and another and ideally a yoga class
  • Thursday: Speed work with K2J fitness (5 or 6X1600s were the hardest nights) always followed by a drink at the bar to share running and injury stories.
  • Friday: rest… no yoga, no biking, no swimming, just enjoy a day off maybe a glass of wine 🙂
  • Saturday: spinning class to build my leg strength without the impact.
  • Sunday: long run.

I had planned to do morning swims twice a week, but I’ll be honest most of the time I only made it once a week, and in the last 6 weeks of my training I might as well have just turned off my alarm, because I decided a good night’s sleep was more important and almost wore out the Snooze button.

I think the key elements in my training plan were the multiple 20+ mile runs, the yoga and the hills, YOU CANNOT DO TOO MUCH HILL WORK!  Even on my shorter runs I deliberately chose routes that added hills.  I had run Boston once before and fell apart on the hills, my goal was not to let that happen again.

How fast/hard did you run Boston?

It was pretty hot race day in Boston this year. I decided up front to walk every water stop. Given the number of water stops in Boston, that’s a lot of walking… I only walked for 10 seconds at each water stop, but yes I did stop to walk at each and every one. I did this for two reasons, one to make sure I actually drank some water or Gatorade to stay hydrated, two to just shift up the way I walked for a few seconds and reset the muscles and joints.  I forced myself to slow down for the first 6 miles despite the steady downhill. Boston has rolling hills in the first half but the hills get bigger in the second half.  My goal was not to stop and walk on any of the hills. I was going to get through all the Newton hills including the infamous Heartbreak hill without walking this year.  It was hot, and it was tough going. But the warm weather also mean huge crowds cheering us on.  I wrote my name on my arm in Sharpie so fans could shout my name (no name on the bibs in Boston so if you want to hear people call your name, you have to get creative). I gave myself a maximum pace… I was not allowed to run faster than a 5:30/km pace (which is about a 3:52 marathon).

The end result, the only walking I did was the water stops, and I finished in 4:10.  I was tired but my knees, hips, etc… were in better shape post-race than my previous marathons. I have never been so happy with a personal worst (my previous PW was 4:07 at Grandma’s marathon in blistering heat). My sister (also registered for B2B) also took it easy in the first half of the race, but then she felt so good she picked it up in the second half and ran a great race finishing 8th in her age group overall! My friend Faye took it easy at the start and also felt good at the halfway mark and picked it up a little bit. (I guess all those people who tell you negative splits are the way to go may be right ;))

How did you feel after Boston?

The bottom of my feet were very unhappy as soon as I crossed the finish line. I got a few concerned looks from the medics as I left the finish area in Boston because walking was such an effort.  My quads were sore. Walking downstairs sure wasn’t any fun. Some of our crew knew there were toenails whose days were numbered. But I had no joint pain.  I was pretty confident the aches and pains would be gone by the time I crossed the start in Big Sur.

What training did you do between races?

Honestly? I ran one easy 5 km run and one easy 8 km run. That was it.  My training plan said do a 15 km race on the Sunday between races. Two of our team did the 15 km, the rest of us just did a couple of easy short runs.  Most of us made a point of finding either a yoga class or a massage treatment between the two races.  Highly recommended!

Did you fly or drive?

If you are running B2B you are going to end up flying to at least one of them! I had a 7 hour drive to Boston and 7 hours of flying to reach California.

YogaForRunnersI made a point of drinking lots of water on the plane and in the car. I made a point of doing leg swings to loosen up when we took breaks from driving. I made a point of doing a series of yoga stretches the day before the Big Sur race as well to loosen up after flying.  Sitting for hours tightens up your body and it’s important to find a way to loosen up before the start.  Find something that works for you.

 

So what about Big Sur?

Big Sur is SO DIFFERENT from Boston.

The expo

The race expo in Boston is a mad house, every vendor you can possibly imagine is there and the place is packed! Big Sur is a tiny expo, but you will find gels, race clothing to buy and oooh Big Sur marathon wine (yes I bought the Big Sur marathon Pinot Noir).

The spectators

Boston is lined with spectators cheering you on and has 30,000 runners all doing the marathon. For the first 25 miles Big Sur has more cows than people on the sidelines (no I am not exaggerating).  The only sounds you hear are the other runners, the occasional birds singing or cow mooing, and in some stretches the sound of the waves.  They do also have musical acts all along the course which are a nice treat.

Wind

Both races can be windy, but the winds are more likely to be an issue at Big Sur. Hurricane point is infamous.  You can get some big headwinds in Big Sur, so find a tall runner to follow 🙂

Shade

There is zero shade on the Boston course, but there were actually a few shady patches in Big Sur.

Aid stations

There are lots and lots of water stops in Boston, plus spectators offering everything from freezies to peanut butter cups(?!) to orange slices and beer! There are only 11 water stops in Big Sur. I ran with water (which I really prefer not to do) in the end it wasn’t too hot and I hardly touched my water and could have managed without, but it was comforting to know it was there. If we had the heat we encountered in Boston I would have needed it.  They have water bottle refill stations at every second water stop (two or three volunteers holding beer pitchers filled with water), so if you do bring water you don’t have to carry too much. They do have orange slices at the last few stops and juicy strawberries at Mile 23.

Mile markers

Miles and kms are well marked in Boston. Miles are clearly marked along Big sur (with awesome signs… trust me on that one).

Hills

Boston has lots of rolling hills and very little flat. Of course you also have heartbreak hill – infamous for being tough because it shows up at 20 miles after you have already run the other two Newton hills. You can see my Elevation chart from Strava below.Screenshot_20170430-162846

Big Sur has hurricane point, it’s a 2 mile climb but it shows up at the 13 mile mark.  With all my hill training I actually didn’t find hurricane point as bad as I expected, but then the fun began… I read one report that said there are 11 hills in the second half of the Big Sur marathon.   I tried to count but lost track after a while, all I can tell you is that last hill at 25 miles just adds insult to injury!  Basically assume you have one good hill in every mile for the second half of the race. Ugh! You can see my Strava elevation chart below.

Screenshot_20170430-143146

What was your game plan for Big Sur?

We managed to find a list of the times the previous years B2B runners posted at each race. Most of the runners ran Big Sur in a time that was within 10 minutes of their Boston time. Most of the runners were slower in Big Sur.  So based on that I decided I would go out at a 5:45 /km pace and see where that took me.  I kept the pace nicely on the first half, and slowed down considerably on the hills in the second half. I walked at each water stop (but there were only half as many as Boston so less walking overall). I did walk the very last hill at mile 25. I could have run it. But honestly, at that point, I decided I would prefer to walk that one hill and then finish a little stronger and faster. The break felt great and I actually passed a lot of people when I started running again for that last mile. I finished in 4:16.  A new personal worst, but I was quite happy to run a course that tough 13 days after Boston and only be 6 minutes slower.  Again, I was tired (okay exhausted), but no knee or hip pain (I have battled IT band issues in races past). I am very happy with my race. Three of our 6 runners placed in their age groups. In fact there were a LOT of B2B runners who placed in their age group!  To be fair, I think that may partly be because most of the runners who do B2B are pretty experienced runners and have trained hard for the double marathon.

What are the perks of doing B2B?

20170430_111635At the Boston marathon race expo when we went to the Big Sur booth they gave us a little Boston 2 Big Sur gift (you were supposed to wear your B2B Training shirt, but I forgot mine and they didn’t mind)

  • Separate bib pick up line at Big Sur race expo.
  • When you finish the race you get an extra B2B medal and a B2B finisher jacket
  • Your own tent in the finish area, with tables, chairs, shade, and food (although the only food I was up to eating was the cookie you can see in the photo)

Free admission to the post-race Big Sur party. We had never attended a post-race party, but this was kind of cool. One free drink (subsequent drinks are ridiculously expensive), pretty good food (we had do it yourself fajita wraps, salad and cookies), and a room full of other people who did Boston to Big Sur to chat with.  The race organizers also go around and chat with different groups of people. We really enjoyed meeting some of the people behind the scenes (including the mile 10 poster boy).  Glad we went.

Was it worth it?

Hey if you are reading this you know the real reason you do B2B, bragging rights 🙂 I have no regrets but no desire to do it again. I would run Boston again. I would run Big Sur again. But I have no desire to do B2B again, it’s a big commitment in terms of time, training and money. Add up the flight, hotel, vacation time, meals, etc… and suddenly the “free B2B jacket” doesn’t seem so free any more.  But as I type this I am sitting in the airport wearing my B2B jacket two weeks later and my Boston jacket is packed away in the suitcase so I guess it was worth it 🙂  If you do it in a year with a 6 day break between races than good for you! You make me look sane 🙂

 

 

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I want to be more like Lee Dirks, I’ll miss you

Sometimes even in a brief time of knowing someone you can still feel inspired by them

Lee Dirks of Microsoft Research and his wife died this week in a tragic car accident. I met Lee Dirks at the iSchools conference in Toronto in February. We spent a few hours together talking about opportunities to work together in the coming months, about our kids, and life in general.

Lee was one of those people who greeted everyone with a very big smile, he was thoughtful and courteous. He did those little thing that matter, like standing aside to let you enter the elevator first. Despite the fact that Microsoft is a company where we are all inundated with emails every day. He answered every email I sent his way (that is truly an achievement at Microsoft). He never made me feel like I was being a nuisance, he was always helpful. Put simply, I will miss him. I would like to be a bit more like him. Gone but not forgotten. I am glad I had the pleasure of knowing him and very sad to think I will not see him again.

That said, I believe that when you meet someone you like, somehow a little piece of them stays with you, because there will be moments when that encounter comes back to you and affects how you respond. I suspect there are a lot of people out there who may be a little better for having known Lee, I’d like to think I am one of them.

Is Certification Worth It?

Yes it is! The usual argument I hear against certification is “When I apply for a job, they don’t care if I’m certified, they just care about my experience.” Well of course a hiring manager cares about your experience, but they also care about certifications!

Earning a certification tells everyone *you* are someone who takes initiative! When you walk up to your boss and say “I want to get certified on Windows Azure”, it says a lot about you. It tells them you want to build your skills, you want to grow, you care enough about your career to make the extra effort, you want to stay on top of technology. When a manager sees someone who keeps their certifications current, it tells them this is someone who can learn and keep up with new technologies, a skill EVERY manager wants their developer to have. It’s also a good way to convince your boss they should send you to a conference as well! TechEd North America has an entire certification area to help you earn a certification while you are at the show. Coming back from a conference certified is a very tangible return on investment.

Earning a certification will help your day to day development! You build web sites every day, you’ve written multiple ASP.NET applications, you’ve used Ajax and JQuery. You are a strong web developer. Why would you bother getting the ASP.NET certification? Have you looked at LINQ yet? How about ASP.NET MVC? I am not suggesting you should rewrite your old applications every time there is a new feature, but shouldn’t you know the features exist so you will know when you should use them? When you work with a product every day, you become very strong using the 20-50% of the product you use. But what about the features you haven’t used? The features you aren’t even aware of? Sure you have code that calls stored procedures from your applications, but did you know that in SQL Server 2008, you can pass multiple records to a stored procedure? If you had your MCTS SQL Server 2008 Database Development certification you would know that. I can’t tell you how many times I have been studying for a certification exam and had an ‘aha’ moment where I said “no way! You can do that? I wish I had known that 3 months ago on my project”, or 6 months after I passed the exam I had a moment where I said “Wait, we CAN do that, I remember seeing that feature when I was studying for my exam!” Gradually, you will be seen as the person who knows what we can and cannot do with the product, you will become the person who can provide advice on when to migrate to a new version of the product, you are becoming the expert.

Earning a certification can help you get a job or promotion! Taking a Visual Studio 2010 certification does not guarantee you will be hired as a programmer, because you are competing with others who have been programming for 5-15 years! However, if I am trying to choose between two programmers with similar experience and one of them has the certification MCTS .NET Framework 4, Service Communication Applications. I might decide that someone with a little extra knowledge on how to write and call services will bring more to the team. Certifications are particularly valuable on new tools and technologies. Have you ever tried to hire an experienced SharePoint developer? They are hard to come by! I think many managers would consider the MCTS Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Application Development certification sufficient evidence that you could be hired as a SharePoint developer.

So there you have it I am a big believer in certification, which is why I agreed to do a webcast with Microsoft Learning to help anyone preparing for the 70-536 .NET Framework Application Development Foundation exam. The webcast was recorded and you can view the recording here.

This week’s My 5 is all about helping you get certified, so here are

My 5 Steps to getting certified (in order this time)

  1. Set a goal – Go to the Microsoft Learning website and look at the certifications. Choose a certification you can earn which matches your existing skills and goals. Look up the exam or exams you need to pass to achieve your goal. Once you have set a goal, get it added to your annual commitments at work. Some companies will give you time and resources to study and most employers will pay for the exam.
  2. Find gaps – Look at the exam guide for your exam and check the skills measured tab, purchase a practice test at MeasureUp or Self Test Software, this will help you find out what you need to study to pass the exam.
  3. Fill gaps – Don’t spend a lot of time re-studying the exam content you already know. You found the gaps, now use resources around you to fill in the gaps of your knowledge. Check the Learning Catalog for a Learning Plan for your exam, or check the Preparation Materials tab of the exam guide for suggested books, and courses, and hey don’t forget MSDN and TechNet!
  4. Take the exam – go to the Prometric web site and schedule the exam. Set a date. Otherwise you will never get around to taking the exam, you can study forever! Worst case scenario, you don’t pass the first time you take the exam. Keep an eye out for promotions that give you a free second try Smile
  5. Be proud of yourself! – Some of these exams are pretty tough to pass, it is an achievement to earn a certification, give yourself a pat on the back, put it on your business card or resume. Tell your boss. Send me an e-mail and brag!

Gamers Can Teach Us All a Few Things

Whether you are developing a website, a windows application, a windows phone application, or a game, there are certain universal truths to application development. Friday evening, I attended the Algonquin college game expo where graduates of the Game Development program showcased their final projects. Teams of students each developed games for the Xbox 360. The team members brought their graphical design and programming skills together to bring their game visions to life. I had some great conversations with them about the challenges they faced during development. It was interesting to discover how the lessons they learned are the same lessons I have seen others learn the hard way in the “real world.”

I couldn’t resist throwing together a My 5 featuring some very sound advice from the graduates of the Game Development program.

My 5 (or I guess I should call it Their 5) in no particular order

What I would do differently if I had to rebuild my application from scratch

  1. Make the code as extendable and reusable as possible.
  2. Get the core functionality working before you start developing the little details, otherwise you have to keep changing the little details over and over as you develop the core functionality.
  3. If you are going to rely on someone else’s code for functionality, identify requirements before you make a final decision, and make sure your chosen product supports those requirements.
  4. Never give up on your original vision. You will encounter problems and make compromises, but always keep the original vision in mind and strive to achieve it!
  5. Think about and design the overall user experience, not just the graphics and screen design. Is your application intuitive? Will users be able to use if effectively? This last point is one I think many of us miss, sure we talk about designing screens, but that is only part of the user experience. There is a very interesting book by Bill Buxton called Sketching User Experiences that will challenge the way you think about design.

I wonder if next year’s students will be using the Kinect SDK! If you are interested in creating games, check out the App hub to access resources to develop for Xbox 360 or Windows Phone. The Go DevMental blog has some great tips too!

How to Make Your Code Demos Rock!

imageDo you present at user groups, or conferences? Maybe you have to walk through your code at team meetings. Regardless, there are a number of little things you can do to make your code demonstrations more effective. Whether you are working with SQL Server Management Studio, Visual Studio, or the Command Window, it is worth taking a little time to learn a few best practices. That’s why I co-presented a session entitled “Creating Captivating Code” with developer MCT, Christopher Harrison (@geektrainer) at the “MCT Third Thursday“ April 21st.  If you are an MCT, you can visit the MCT Summit site and see the recorded session. For those of you who are not MCTs, maybe you want to become one (but that’s a blog for another day,) meanwhile, I’ll share a few tips and tricks here.

The first step is to take some time to learn how to make the most of the tools themselves. For example, if you are doing a demonstration in  Visual Studio, choose Tools | Options from the menu and explore!  You can add or remove line numbers, change the font size, or even the tab settings.  Learning how to use the tool features to make your code appear more clearly will make your demonstrations more effective and can even make you look smarter Smile! Don’t believe me? Next time you are showing someone your code in Visual Studio, put your cursor in the code window and try <ALT><SHIFT><ENTER>. I promise you, your co-worker will look at you impressed and say “Hey, that’s cool! How did you do that?” (by the way to exit this mode use <ALT><U>) Like that trick? There is a great session from TechDays called Visual Studio Tips 2010 and Tricks you can watch to learn more. In SQL Server Management Studio, go to the menu and choose Tools | Options | Environment | Fonts and Colors, choose Selected Text Item and set Background to yellow, and Foreground to black. Now when you highlight part of a SQL command or stored procedure it will jump out at you (no 3D glasses required.) Working in the Command Window? Right click at the top of the Command Window and choose Properties | Font | Size to change the size of the font (I like 12X16.)

How you write your code affects code demonstrations too. Formatting counts! Indent your If statements and loops, use meaningful variable names, make keywords uppercase in your SQL commands. This makes your code easier to read and consequently easier to understand. Keep your methods short, I don’t need to see the code that declares the connection string when you are trying to show me a LINQ query. If you want to write the code from beginning to end so you can show all the steps required, consider refactoring. For example, if you start your demonstration by creating and opening a connection, refactor that code into a method called OpenConnection and call the method, then go on to write your query. This way when you are explaining the query all eyes are on the query, exactly where you want them!

My 5

5 Tricks to improve demonstrations in different tools

  1. For all your demonstrations – Install and use ZoomIt or something equivalent. With Zoomit, you can zoom in when the text or image is too small to see. In particular, Zoomit is great for property windows, Explorer windows and execution plans.
  2. SQL Server Management Studio – Change the Font Size for the Text Editor, Grid Results, and Text Results (Tools Options | Environment | Fonts and Colors)
  3. Visual Studio – Change the Font Size for the code editor window (Tools Options | Environment | Fonts and Colors)
  4. Command Window – Change the Screen Background to White and the Screen Text to Black (Properties | Colors)
  5. Windows Phone 7 – Clean your fingernails. It sounds nitpicky but seeing an enlarged view of dirty fingernails on the projector is actually distracting me from the cool stuff you are trying to show me!

One of the great debates (aside from VB vs C# but that is a discussion for another day) is whether code demos should be kept simple to just illustrate the concept, or more complicated so they better reflect the real world. I would be curious to know what you think both from a presenter and audience perspective. Should code demonstrations be Simple or Real World?

A Career in IT Requires more than Code, Prove you have the Skills for Free!

ICTC logoThe traditional view of the developer or system administrator is that of a nerd. A complete geek with no social skills whatsoever (Big Bang Theory anyone?) But those of you who have a successful career in IT understand that even though we work with technology, we also work with people. We have deadlines to meet, we have priorities to balance, we have new staff to train, we have users with requirements.

I am a big believer in the value of certification. I think it is well worth the effort to become Microsoft certified in the technologies you use. But that is a blog for another day. Microsoft Certifications test your technical skills. If you are a hiring manager, you want to hire someone with a combination of technical and business or soft skills. This has generated demand from the industry for a certification that demonstrates business skills. How do you know an applicant has the necessary business skills for the role. Enter I-ADVANCE Certification! The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) has developed certifications that validate your business skills for different IT roles. There are six professional designations you can earn:

  • Business Management
  • Technical Leadership
  • Software
  • Infrastructure
  • Hardware
  • Quality Control

In order to offer certification, you need some form of validation that an individual has the necessary skills. ICTC has developed a set of multiple choice exams for each designation with questions to test your knowledge of the competencies. Competencies might include decision making, risk management, business analysis, analytical thinking, or planning and organizing.

Here’s the really good news! They are ready to beta test the I-ADVANCE certification exams and they are looking for subject matter experts (ie YOU!) to do the beta testing. The results of the beta testing will be used to establish the cut score for the exams. Beta testers will take an online exam for one of the six I-ADVANCE designations in order to test the test items difficulty and quality. The time commitment is two and a half hours. Based on the results of this exam, beta testers can receive one-year certification, once the cut-score has been determined and the I-ADVANCE program becomes operational. A great opportunity for you to help ensure the quality of this new certification and possibly earn a new certification in the process.

To register contact Gesine Freund at i-advance@ictc-ctic.ca

My 5

5 non technical skills I think are important to succeed in IT

  1. The ability to evaluate a tool or technology– Users have problems that technology can help solve. As IT professionals it is up to us to determine which technology is best suited to solve each problem. We need to be able to answer questions like what services or parts of our services are right for the cloud? What should we continue to host ourselves? What do we gain by moving to Silverlight or IE9? Knowing how to evaluate a tool’s strengths and weaknesses so you can pick the right tool for the job is a skill every manager and stakeholder will appreciate.
  2. A desire to learn – One of the challenges of working with IT, is the technology we work with is always changing.  So the most successful IT professionals are those who are are curious about new technologies and make and effort to learn about them. Read a blog, attend a conference, listen to a podcast. See what you can find out about Office 365, or what new features will be offered with Windows Phone 7 Mango.
  3. Persistence – There will come that day when your code just doesn’t work! And you can’t figure out why! Never give up never surrender! Well almost never Smile there does come a point where the answer is, we can’t do it this way (refer to Number 1)
  4. Research skills – You can’t know everything. You need to know where to get resources on new technologies or new features, like say the Canadian Developers blog Winking smile
  5. Willingness to ask questions – Although researching yourself is important, if it takes you half a day to figure out something that someone else could have told you in 5 minutes, you are not using your time effectively. Sadly, on some teams, asking questions is seen as weakness. I believe it is a strength, as long as you have made *some* effort on your own before you ask.

Jumping In With Both Feet! The Only Way to Become a Developer Evangelist!

imageHi there, my name is Susan Ibach, and I am psyched to have just joined the Developer Evangelist team!

I love working with people, I love helping people, and I am a geek, so when the opportunity presented itself to join the developer evangelism team, well, to quote a cheesy Tom Cruise movie “They had me at Hello.” There is so much technology, it is a challenge for developers to keep up! When you find a technology you want to use, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. How do you know what technology to choose for a project? How do you get started with HTML5 without messing up existing applications? How do you play with the latest tools when working on a project that is using COBOL? (yeah, I did COBOL) Working as a developer evangelist I hope I will be able to use my knowledge and resources to help you however I can.

If you are curious, who is this Susan person? and where did she come from? Read on. For the past 9 years I have been a Microsoft Certified Trainer teaching SQL Server, .NET, ITIL, and Business Analysis. I love teaching. There is nothing like seeing that light in someone’s eyes when they “get it”. I have been very involved in the trainer community, presenting at TechDays and train the trainer events, helping in Hands on Labs at PDC or explaining the value of certification at TechEd. I even performed my infamous(?) Certification rap on stage last year at TechEd New Orleans.  (quick side note: If you followed that link you now know I have been known to make a complete fool of myself on occasion. To be fair, I was competing in a race organized by Microsoft Learning called the IT Grand Prix and that was one of a series of videos my teammate and I put together to encourage our supporters to help our Gold Team secure victory and a cash prize for our charity IDE. The IT Grand Prix was a wonderful experience working with charities that I am happy to talk about it endlessly if you just ask Smile )

When I am not geeking out, I am hanging out with my kids, or enjoying my husband’s awesome cooking. I am a bit of an exercise nut, at the moment I do Tae Kwon Do, kickboxing and running. I do occasionally sit still long enough to catch a hockey game (Go Sens Go!) or watch an episode of the Big Bang Theory.

My 5
Whenever I post a blog, I try to include a My 5, five little tips, or tricks, or interesting tidbits that I want to share on a particular topic. Today

5 Technologies or releases that have me very excited in no particular order

1.   HTML5 – anything that makes it easier to write code once and support it across platforms sounds good to me! Running it on IE9 or IE10 really rocks!
2.    Office 365 – I worked at a small company, I know how much trouble we had keeping our e-mail and SharePoint servers up to date (SharePoint 2003 anyone?)
3.    SQL Server Denali – I have always geeked out on SQL, can’t help myself Smile
4.    Xbox Kinect SDK – APIs for the Kinect! The possibilities are endless!
5.    Windows Phone 7 Mango – supports IE9, and that means HTML5 (refer to #1) and I can make my own ring tone, now I just have to decide whether I want the Cantina music from Star Wars or the Hockey Night in Canada music (the original of course)
I had a chance to meet a few of you at the IT Code Camp in Ottawa and I can’t wait to catch up with more of you at DevTeach in Montreal and Prairie Dev Con in Regina. Meanwhile drop me a line sibach@microsoft.com or twitter @HockeyGeekGirl you can also find me on LinkedIn and Facebook. Talk to you soon!