Get Blogged by JoKi
The only frontiers are in your mind, welcome to my blog sphere. Your host at jochen.kirstaetter.name is Jochen Kirstätter aka JoKi.
Dive into the weird world of a professional Software Craftsman and follow his daily victories and struggles with modern technology at IOS Indian Ocean Software Ltd. I am a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) for Visual FoxPro, was Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for Visual FoxPro in 2006 and 2007, and from spring 2004 until end of 2006 I organized monthly user group meetings as regional director of German FoxPro User Group (dFPUG). Based on this community activities I am also member of Microsoft Community Leader/Insider Program (CLIP) and PASS Deutschland e.V.
This blog is also about Flic en Flac and the beautiful island of Mauritius, my home.
22 November 2013 -
These recent days are packed with a series of great events... Starting last Saturday, at the monthly meetup of the MSCC I talked about my experience having a conversation with representatives of the National Computer Board (NCB) about the feasibility of getting one of their presentation slots at the Infotech 2013. At that time, the overview for three days was completely (!) empty - with less than 10 days before the event and the presentations are about too happen! Well, short answer of the NCB:
"No, those slots are only for paying exhibitors. But I'll check with my manager and we'll call you back."
Kind of disappointing for organisations and communities like the MSCC or the LUGM. I guess it is needless to say that I'm still waiting for their phone call... Anyway, Ish picked up the idea on last Saturday and also got in touch with the NCB via email. Most interestingly, his approach was way more fruitful and absolutely surprising and completely unexpected for any of us craftsmen he not only got one slot for topic presentations on Open Source, Linux and IT communities but three, and on top of that the NCB invited him to join them at their floor stand during the whole 4 days of Infotech to talk about Open Source. Fantastic and well done, Mr openSUSE advocate!
Since my first visit to Infotech a couple of years back, I have to admit that the whole event has gone from hardly acceptable to bad to absolutely unnecessary. Seriously, Infotech 2013 is not about latest technology and trends available here on the island...
Infotech 2013 - the annual computer bazaar and discount market here on the island
It's about lots of discounts and sell as much as you can. Empty the dust-covered shelves and sell it to the masses. Oh, you might day I'm too sarcastic about that? Hm, no I don't think so. Even when you have a conversation at some of the booths, and you ask for a couple of products being advertised - guess what? "Well, we didn't receive the item yet. Maybe tomorrow afternoon."
Compared to last year, there is not a single institution of tertiary education re-presented. Kind of shocking to my opinion. But again, I think this simply emphases the aspects of a tech-sales market rather than being a platform to show-case and demonstrate latest IT gadgets.
Searching the dialog with the National Computer Board
As mentioned, Ish got the offer from the NCB to talk about various topics using their available slots. First, as we were all too early we went to check the conference room - location, size, equipment, etc. All okay and next we tried to find someone in charge to get us going. Back at the NCB stand, it took quite some time until we got the right person. Anyway, nothing to complain or worry about as there was still plenty of time.
Meanwhile, I kept myself occupied with an easy conversation about the NCB Technopreneurship Programme - what an ugly word creation - well, I kind of tried it. I guess, talking English and not looking Mauritian doesn't qualify you straight ahead to join and participate in the entrepreneurial business programme of the NCB. So, finally after at least three times rephrasing my questions I got part of the answers but still left out with the essential benefits of the whole programme itself. I mean, it's not like I would be in need to join their programme but I would like to transfer some of the information to other MSCC craftsmen which might pursue in founding a start-up in Mauritius. To cut things short: If I would be interested I might send a request for a presentation. Hm, honestly... I'm offering a communication platform to the NCB and it's up to them whether they would like to advertise and promote the Technopreneurship Programme to our 50+ craftsmen or not. Anyway, I made a note on our Trello workspace as a potential topic...
Despite the set time slots we decided to swap the sequence of our three presentations, so that they match more closely to Monday at the Linuxfest 2013. And I had to leave early, too.
- Running Windows applications on Linux
- Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community
- openSUSE Project / openSUSE Advocate Program
Our exclusively selected Infotech2013 session audience
Kicking of the sessions, I went quickly through my slides and spent more time on the actual demonstration on how to run Windows software on Linux. Apart from a small hiccup in Microsoft Word 2007 Reading View all went smooth and stable. Overall it took me about 40 minutes to talk the various options and possibilities that could simplify your move from a Windows desktop to a Linux-based system. But for sure, I have to get rid off some visual effects on the slides and cut some demo material for Monday. I'm going to have 20 minutes only... Nice challenge!
Infotech 2013 - Running Windows applications on Linux
Infotech 2013 - Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community presented by
Nirvan and Nayar
Infotech 2013 - openSUSE Project and openSUSE Advocate Program presented by Ish
Luckily, I could stay some more minutes and enjoyed the presentation of Nirvan and Nayar about the MSCC. Both did a very good job, even though that the laptop used gave them a hard time. Ironically, it's a Windows system... okay, okay, just kidding! Afterwards some minor advice, like using a dedicated Windows user account only for the presentation (which avoids nasty notifications from the Systray area), and to uncheck "Show Desktop Icons" in order to show a clean and empty desktop background on the big screen. Hm, which actually reminds me to choose a better background image for Monday, too!
Resume of the day
Experimental... It's been a while since I spoke in public. Well, this time it was only a small audience but I'm really excited about what's going to happen at the Linuxfest 2013 on Monday. I'm really looking forward to an awesome experience and to meet lots and lots of enthusiastic young people.
I just went through the blog posting of Yashvin and his statement confirms my impressions neatlessly:
"I won’t be too long explaining in words how was the Infotech 2013 edition but in one word, I would say “Worst”."
20 November 2013 -
These recent days are packed with a series of great events. Not only that the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community (MSCC) gets more momentum, it's also the situation that there are quite a number of product launches and version releases. Already last week, the official launch of Visual Studio 2013 happened but quite frankly I couldn't follow the online show as I had a jump start on Microsoft Virtual Academy to attend. And thanks to Technical Evangelist Arnaud Meslier I had an invitation to participate in the virtual launch event at the offices of Microsoft Indian Ocean Islands and French Pacific, Port Louis.
Luckily, morning traffic down to Port Louis wasn't that cramped as usual - well, I guess that might be related that more and more companies are moving their offices into other areas of the island and the capital is starting to 'die'. But don't let us complain about those circumstances. Finding the Microsoft office on the 7th floor of the Dias Pier Building was straight forward, even though it seems that they don't want to be found. Of course, the premises are a huge difference compared to the campuses at Microsoft Germany in Munich or Microsoft HQ in Redmond. Actually, it is more likely to one of those regional offices like in Neuss.
Introducing the MSCC
Some Microsoft Student Partners (MSP) and a few other guests were already present and the team was still busy with some preparations for the virtual event, like setting up audio and projector, etc. Nothing to worry about there was still plenty of time, as the event was scheduled for 9:30 hrs respectively 10:00 hrs. More attendees came and the available seats in our conference room were quickly filled. Unfortunately, when the pre-show of the launch event started, there were still some technical issues... but we knew how to use the time efficiently:
"Overcoming some technical issues here and got the opportunity to speak quickly about #mscc. Thanks to @arnaudmeslier"
Introducing the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community in front of the attendees of the Virtual Launch event of Visual Studio 2013
So instead of everyone waiting Arnaud asked me to give a brief introduction about the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community. Thanks for that! Talking about the MSCC provided some interesting follow-up conversations during the breaks later that day. As we started to get in touch with some local IT companies already, it was very positive to have this opportunity. And thanks to a number of students from the Middlesex University, Mauritius we will also try to arrange an appointment with their Dean during the next couple of weeks.
Visual Studio One
As modern software development of applications and apps is moving more and more to cloud-based environments it only seems to be a logical consequence to offer an integrated development environment in the browser, too. Once again, I got the impression that Telerik Icenium might have been a good inspiration for Visual Studio One (VSO) but eventually I might be wrong on that one. Who knows... ;-)
Visual Studio 2013 - Connect Create Transform - #VS2013Dubai
Visual Studio One is the successor product to Team Foundation Services, and the online service is (currently) offered for free for teams up to 5 people. This might change in the future but there are no further announcements or any additional information available at the moment. Subscribers of MSDN packages get a surplus on Visual Studio One, and it is also possible to get some benefits as Microsoft Partner.
"There will be updates every 3 weeks" -- Microsoft Visual Studio One
I love this bold statement, and I'm really looking forward to see whether the sprints of the development team(s) behind Visual Studio One are going to able to stick to their word. Actually, it would be pretty impressive to see that finally Microsoft follows some lean practices "Deploy early, deploy often".
Cross platform mobile development
Oh man, this already gave me a big big smile on the face last week, but once again it was great fun to have this announcement while watching others' faces in the conference room. Microsoft and Xamarin collaborate - read: Microsoft and Xamarin Partner Globally to Help You Build Great Apps - on the support of real cross platform software development for mobiles and smartphones. Seeing the fact that I'm using Xamarin already since last year it's just great to be on the right track. Actually, we spoke about that topic during the last Saturday meetup of the MSCC.
Impressions of other attendees at the Virtual Launch of Visual Studio 2013 Dubai - Microsoft Indian Ocean Islands
Build and Release Process
Now, that everything is concentrating on cloud-based services and processes it just a natural consequence that Microsoft was also introducing the Release Process which enables you to commit your local source code changes to your version control system - either on TFS or Git technology -, to trigger an automated build process and to deploy to your system infrastructure with a single mouse click operation in Visual Studio 2013.
Continuous Integration in a very fine execution. Of course, being a Clean Code Developer there are no real surprises here but it's refreshing to see the high level of integration between the various products in the portfolio of Microsoft. Application Life-cycle got a lot better with VS 2013.
Code Editor Enhancements
Hot-keys and keyboard navigation are obviously the new fashion trend in Visual Studio 2013. Finally, the IDE got some highly appreciated hot-keys and short-cuts in terms of developer's productivity. Those new improvements are surely interesting for pure VS users but quite frankly I tweeted about that already:
"Surprisingly, some of the editor enhancements in Visual Studio 2013 are old fellows when using @TelerikJust JustCode. #vs2013dubai"
Anyway, it's great to see those enhancements as part of the product now, and thanks to partners like Telerik and others there will be more improvements in future versions.
Resume of the day
Using the time during the breaks for some networking... Community, Community, Community! - Source: Pawan
Despite the outstanding new products, the high level of integration between Visual Studio, Azure and online automated build systems, the number of long-awaited improvements to the code editor and so on, I really enjoyed the conversations with other attendees during the coffee and lunch breaks. Having a chat with guys from Microsoft, the geeks from the Microsoft Student Partners, some students of the Middlesex University, and other IT people from MCB, Infomil, and more was really awesome. Once again Thank You, Arnaud!
18 November 2013 -
Earlier this month I received an email from Meetup.com asking about how our young community is working. Following I simply post their initial contact and the related correspondence:
"Hi Jochen Kirstätter,
November 24, 2013 is your 6 month anniversary as organizer of Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community -- way to go! We wanted to check in again to see how you're doing and if we can help out.
In addition to the help you can get from Meetup HQ, you may also want to see if your members can help. An assistant organizer can help you keep your Meetup Group going and growing. Here's what Christy, organizer of Moms of Hampton Road says:
"I am so glad that I can just appoint a couple of people to take care of things, help moderate the message board, and assist in putting up Meetups. This is a big relief for me!"
"Dear Meetup team,
Thanks for your gently reminder about our half-year anniversary.
Well, what should I say?
It's been an awesome time so far. We are counting 50+ craftsmen and there are still more interested people in our community. Within less than 4 months we actually managed to be THE meetup.com community in Mauritius, with now almost double the amount of members to the next listed group. By the end of the year, I am actually looking forward to close in at 100 members.
Your portal is an absolutely asset towards the organisation, announcement and management of our gatherings. Our members simply love it, and I personally take a big advantage out of the mobile apps. It is just amazing to have this kind of flexibility at hand.
Recently, we started to promote the MSCC within the professional IT world of Mauritius. We already got in touch with a number of companies to see whether there are potential synergies between our vision of an technology-agnostic IT community and their daily routines. What kind of benefits the MSCC might be able to offer to their employees and in return to elaborate on possibilities they could support the community. Of course, they don't know about the MSCC and it's our 'job' at the moment to create awareness. There will be company internal circulars with a one-page overview of MSCC and we are currently working on a brief presentation, too.
Thanks for your reply!
We're so happy to hear you've been able to build such a strong community. Congratulations!
Keep us posted on your progress! If there's anything we can do to help, please don't hesitate to reach out.
Truly, it has been an amazing journey so far, and I'm really proud of all those passionate and enthusiastic craftsmen in the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community that take their free spare time and come to network and socialise with other IT people here in Mauritius. Our plans for 2014 are ambitious but you have to reach for the stars to achieve great things.
Thank You, craftsmen - This is your community!
18 November 2013 -
Last weekend the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community (MSCC) had been organising their latest monthly meetup. Once again, we met at the Ebene Accelerator, Orange Tower, Ebene.
"Thank You to Ebene Accelerator for offering us the use of their conference rooms. It's really helpful and we like to be here."
In this article I would like to take the chance to quickly summarize the topics we covered and the ideas we worked out for upcoming meetings. And it was also pleasant to welcome more 'first-timers' this month.
Reactions from other craftsmen
Funnily, it seems that there is kind of gentleman's agreement active at the moment which says that this month's community activities should be blogged in French language. Frankly speaking I leave that exercise to my native craftsmen. It would be more than horrible writing this entry in French language - both, for me to write and for you to read. ;-)
"Comme cela faisait parti des topiques d’aujourd’hui on s’est partagé les photos de nos desks (bureau). On a ainsi eu une longue discussion sur les bonnes pratiques de “Clean Desk Policy” … Quand à moi je me suis défendu pourquoi j’aime mon “messy desk” :)" -- Ish on MSCC – L’interopérabilité :)
Looking forward to add more links as soon as they'll be available online...
Latest MSCC updates
Since founding this community back in May 2013 it has been a great journey so far. Our weekly and of course our monthly meetups have been great fun and serious exchange of experience. This month we are going to pass the 6-month mark... And yes it's on the one hand quite remarkable to see what has been achieved during this short period and on the other hand I'm very happy to say that the #MSCC is hopefully not following all those unfortunate user groups that have been alive in Mauritius. Touching wood, the #MSCC is currently the most active IT community and we are working towards more members on our official website over at Meetup.com, and we are looking forward to encourage others to either re-animate their activities or to join us willingly.
Based on an initiative of Yann, we started to organise small meetings with local IT companies in order to create more awareness about the MSCC in general but also to see whether there might be common interest and synergy effects. Up till now, we already had a conversation with representatives of Ceridian and Talents. Both companies seem to like our concept, ideas and mid-term plans about enforcing the IT landscape in Mauritius. Very positive for us is also that they both generously offered their facilities and eventually guest sessions for next meetups.
It would be awesome to have the ability to introduce our community to more software developers, system administrators or DevOps during the next couple of month. Actually, we are very ambitious to reach 100+ craftsmen before the end of 2013. Dear reader, did you already join the MSCC? No, it's for free and anyone is welcome on our official site. Thanks!
Typical setup: Relaxed and non-formal environment during our monthly MSCC meetups.
Clean Code Developer
Although announced as topic for this month, we simply skipped it. And I think it was completely okay to do so. Anyway, it's only post-poned and it's going to be a more practical session next time. As we already spoke about Red and Orange Grades, I would like to provide a number of source code snippets that we can analyse, discuss and refactor together. So, hold the line... we'll back in a moment.
Your workspace (desk, OS, apps, tools, etc)
Working in IT usually means that you are sitting most of your time in front of your work desk. I mean, that's your profession day in, day out - something between 6 and 12 hours per day, 5 or even 6 days week, and so on. Having a proper working environment is crucial for your productivity and efficiency after all.
"If you're a developer, you need to spend money on a great computer, an awesome monitor, a fantastic chair and a good bed" -- Scott Hanselman
In those matters, I would like to refer to the 4 B's - Brain, Bytes, Back, Buns - The Programmer's Priorities - written by Scott Hanselman two years back, as well as a more recent article here on this blog: Essentials for Software Developer or any computer job.
Due to my work as a IT consultant and working with a number of IT companies here in Mauritius, I clearly tell that the ergonomically aspects of a proper work environment are non-existent. Software developers, database administrators, system integrators, you name it are quite commonly sitting on the cheapest piece of furniture a company might be able to purchase here on the island. The major problem in most cases is the number of employees or ,frankly speaking, the lack of budget in order to provide comfort for the powerhouse workers. And same usually applies to the hardware equipment given to employees. Usually, just the cheapest stuff available and absolutely no chance for anyone to ask for replacement. Unfortunately, in some cases I also discovered that a developer brought her own hardware, like a high-quality keyboard and high-resolution optical mouse from home to her office work desk.
Well, prior to the meetup I already requested our craftsmen to submit their pictures and we talked about bits and pieces. One really positive effect that we discovered is clearly that having at least two monitors at your workspace automatically increases ones productivity. No need to switch between apps via hot-keys or fiddling around with resizing and positioning of application windows. And, adding a second monitor is absolutely affordable for anyone, even here in Mauritius. I pulled my portable USB monitor from the laptop bag and passed it around. The overall reaction was very positive and some were even impressed by the light-weight of the screen. Eventually, I should get in touch VEngineers about commission :)
Following an incomplete set of work desks we had a look at and talked about.
Work space of Yann
Work space of Nirvan
Work space of Nadim
My work space
More pictures of our craftsmen's workspaces and in general of our recent meetup are available in the photo gallery. Most interestingly, there is a repetitive pattern in the hardware: multiple screens, high quality peripherals and head-phones or head-set.
Oh, and don't worry about hardware limitations... Using a software KVM like Synergy gives you the ability to share and use one set of peripherals across multiple machines independent of the operating system you're using. So, grab the old rusty PC or your previous laptop from the shelf and hook them up.
What are the upcoming events here in Mauritius? So far, we have the following ones (incomplete list as usual) in chronological order:
Hopefully, there will be more announcements during the next couple of weeks and months. One of the hottest candidates that I would like to have here in Mauritius would be Microsoft BootCamp and Windows 8.1 and/or Windows Phone 8 development.
Networking and job/project opportunities
My resume of the day
29 October 2013 -
Only by chance I came across an interesting option for professionals and enthusiasts in IT, and quite honestly I can't even remember where I caught attention of Brainbench and their 2013 Bench Games event. But having access to 600+ free exams in a friendly international intellectual competition doesn't happen to be available every day. So, it was actually a no-brainer to sign up and browse through the various categories.
Most interestingly, Brainbench is not only IT-related. They offer a vast variety of fields in their Test Center, like Languages and Communication, Office Skills, Management, Aptitude, etc., and it can be a little bit messy about how things are organised. Anyway, while browsing through their test offers I added a couple of exams to 'My Plan' which I would give a shot afterwards.
Actually, I took the tests based on two major aspects: 'Fun Factor' and 'How good would I be in general'...
Usually, you have to pay for any kind of exams and given this unique chance by Brainbench to simply train this kind of tests was already worth the time. Frankly speaking, the tests are very close to the ones you would be asked to do at Prometric or Pearson Vue, ie. Microsoft exams, etc. Go through a set of multiple choice questions in a given time frame. Most of the tests I did during the Bench Games were based on 40 questions, each with a maximum of 3 minutes to answer. Ergo, one test in maximum 2 hours - that sounds feasible, doesn't it?
The Measure of Achievement
While the 2013 Bench Games are considered a worldwide friendly competition of knowledge I was really eager to get other Mauritians attracted. Using various social media networks and community activities it all looked quite well at the beginning. Mauritius was listed on rank #19 of Most Certified Citizens and rank #10 of Most Master Level Certified Nation - not bad, not bad...
Until... the next update of the Bench Games Leaderboard. The downwards trend seemed to be unstoppable and I couldn't understand why my results didn't show up on the Individual Leader Board. First of all, I passed exams that were not even listed and second, I had better results on some exams listed. After some further information from the organiser it turned out that my test transcript wasn't available to the public. Only then results are considered and counted in the competition. During that time, I actually managed to hold 3 test results on the Individuals...
Other participants were merciless, eh, more successful than me, produced better test results than I did. But still I managed to stay on the final score board:
An 'exotic' combination of exam, test result, country and person itself
Representing Mauritius and the Visual FoxPro community in that fun event.
And although I mainly develop in Visual FoxPro 9.0 SP2 and C# using .NET Framework from 2.0 to 4.5 since a couple of years I still managed to pass on Master Level. Hm, actually my Microsoft Certified Programmer (MCP) exams are dated back in June 2004 - more than 9 years ago...
Look who got lucky...
As described above I did a couple of exams as time allowed and without any preparations, but still I received the following mail notification:
"Thank you for recently participating in our Bench Games event. We wanted to inform you that you obtained a top score on our test(s) during this event, and as a result, will receive a free annual Brainbench subscription. Your annual subscription will give you access to all our tests just like Bench Games, but for an entire year plus additional benefits!" -- Leader Board Notification from Brainbench
Even fun activities get rewarded sometimes. Thanks to @Brainbench_com for the free annual subscription based on my passed 2013 Bench Games Master Level exam.
It would be interesting to know about the total figures, especially to see how many citizens of Mauritius took part in this year's Bench Games. Anyway, I'm looking forward to be able to participate in other challenges like this in the future.
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