• The 2013 Fall Season

    Posted Oct 6th, 2013 By in Miscellaneous With | No Comments

    It’s been awhile since posting, so to kick things off again for the blog, here’s a summary of how the Fall 2013 season is shaping up.

    E-Town Festival

    A couple weeks ago I volunteered for the E-Town Festival. E-Town is a  “…conference where educators meet entrepreneurs, explorers meet economists, and evangelists meet entertainers … and together we challenge the future of everything“. My roles varied from greeting attendees and answering inquiries, to corralling vendors at the Capital Ideas sponsored food truck feast. All in all, it was a great experience where I was able to make a lot of new friends, professional contacts, and even rub shoulders and chat with the presenters.

    Edmonton .Net User Group

    The 2013-2014 season of the Edmonton .Net User Group (EDMUG) is shaping up to be a fun one. My role as both VP and Sponsorship Director sees me wearing few hats. Edmonton has a great .Net community, and each meeting brings out plenty of like minded technology professionals. I’ve already put my bid in to present three topics this year which will include the likes of LightSwitch, Azure, and PowerShell.

    Coding with a Conscience

    Coding with a Conscience is a group of like-minded developers who come together to help non-profits achieve success through technology. I am really excited to be a part of this. Our first journey will be one where we are going to be helping a wonderful organization named Free Footie. Created by Tim Adams, Free Footie  is a free after school soccer league for kids. The team of Coding with a Conscience volunteers are partnering with Tim to create tools that will help Free Footie support the administration and growth of the league.

    More LightSwitch

    Of course I am doing a lot of LightSwitch stuff. The blog has been a bit stale lately, and that’s only because of how heads-down I’ve been with learning and playing with new stuff. I have a number of ideas for LightSwitch based articles, and I’ll be making a more diligent effort to present those in the near future. Visual Studio 2013 is having some say in all this too. There is a lot of new features in VS2013 that are article worthy. I just don’t want to push an article out there too soon. Who knows what may change.

    Azure, Azure, and more Azure

    Over the past year I have been very deep into the Windows Azure world. I even went as far as signing up with other cloud services providers to do some comparisons – so that I could be more objective in what I have to say about Azure. Even after doing that, I have an even more evangelistic view of Azure today than I did a year ago. In fact, I’ll be presenting Azure at one, or probably more, EDMUG meetings this season.

    Visual Studio 2013

    Not sure if this is a fault, but I like to get my hands on and play with the latest/greatest development tools. Visual Studio is one of those. These past few months has seen me putting Visual Studio 2013 through it’s paces. As I move along with more LightSwitch articles, the content will likely be in the context of using Visual Studio 2013.


    My daytime gig has me re-inspired with a new found passion for SharePoint. We have seen a dramatic pick-up in SharePoint business, especially SharePoint 2013. Richard Bourke and Rob Pukanich are each SharePoint gurus. Their passion for SharePoint is infectious, and has me discovering some great and powerful features in the new SharePoint 2013 – something that is invaluable as I move along with my teaching escapades at the local polytechnic (NAIT).

    Other Stuff

    What else?

    Well, our oldest daughter, Alexandra, is continuing her studies at the University of Alberta. With this being her second year, she is starting to find what interests her and where her passions are. She really enjoys the arts; hence her blog and the 365 day challenge that she put herself on.

    Our youngest, Kaitlyn, is in grade 9 and with the community league basketball season under way, as well as the upcoming school team play, she is keeping us busy with car rides to practices and games.

    My wife Linda has been very busy with her photography business and her volunteering. I don’t know how she does it all. I could use some of that endless energy she seems to have.

    Coby seems to have his Fall all figured out. In fact, he’s already started on his planned activities…





  • Deconstructing Cloud by A. Bilobrk

    Posted Aug 27th, 2013 By in Book Review With | No Comments

    The steep learning curve to today’s cloud computing leaves many people scratching their heads, wondering what opportunities do exist with the cloud. If you are still unclear about what today’s cloud computing really means, then you need to read Deconstructing Cloud by Andrea Bilobrk.


    This eBook provides an objective and unbiased look at how the cloud is can transform the way your organization operates. For you c-level people out there, this should be a go to resource. Unlike most cloud computing books, this one is exceptionally easy to read and should be the first reference point for anyone wanting to demystify what cloud computing can do  for your business.


  • Windows Phone App Studio – More Tools Citizen EUAD

    Posted Aug 9th, 2013 By in Windows 8 With | No Comments Windows Phone App Studio – More Tools Citizen EUAD

    (header image courtesy of Microsoft)

    Microsoft has announced the Windows Phone App Studio (Beta), a browser based tool  that will allow you to create a Windows Phone application without writing any code.

    WindowsPhoneAppStudio001(Image courtesy of Microsoft) 


    I wish I heard about this earlier, such as when I learned of LightSwitch several months before the first beta was out. No matter. I’m a fan already, and will likely be on this bandwagon before GA is even announced (pending the receipt of an invitation code I requested of course…hint, hint).

    Most of you who follow my blog already know that I am big champion of the “Citizen Developer“. This tool seems to reinforce what the research is saying. End user application development (EUAD) is on the rise. Tools like these are being delivered to meet an increasingly hungry market of latent developers.

    How long do you think it will be before Google creates a similar tool for Android, and Apple for iOS?

    For some time now I’ve been holding off on buying a Windows Phone. My Samsung Android phone meets my needs today. This new Windows Phone App Studio may just push me to get the Windows Phone now. Is this a strategic move by Microsoft?  Of course it is.

    Much I like I did with LightSwitch, I’m going to keep on eye on this and see how it progresses. I suspect this particular offering is one of, or an iteration of, other tools that will progressively enable more EUAD capabilities. It would seem logical that this would evolve into a tool for creating Windows 8 applications, possibly even integrate some of the LightSwitch development techniques. Who knows.

    Interesting and exciting times indeed.

  • Building SharePoint 2013 Apps Using LightSwitch Rollup

    Posted Jul 24th, 2013 By in LightSwitch, Technology With | No Comments

    Hey, I may be all about cloud computing these days, but my heart is still anchored in all that is LightSwitch. With the new Visual Studio 2013 Preview out, I’ve been a busy little beaver (okay, a busy big ol’ bear) with all that interesting LightSwitch stuff.

    JobManager_001(a service management billing application being built with VS2013 LightSwitch)

    For what it’s worth, here is a bit of a web content rollup about creating LightSwitch applications in SharePoint (yes, most are from Microsoft):

    More to come I’m sure.

    Hey, if you’re curious to learn more about LightSwitch, I’m your guy. Contact me and I’d more than happy to chat with you about how using LightSwitch can shave weeks, if not months, of your next line of business software project.


    Paul P

  • Organizations Struggle with SharePoint Data Security Governance

    Posted Jul 12th, 2013 By in Cloud Computing With | 1 Comment

    This article is not quite specific to my cloud security bandwagon context, however I was just reading an interesting report from Aberdeen Group. The report, titled SharePoint Collaboration Secure and Mobile, talks to a couple of SharePoint data security concerns that I found interesting. Most notably, how organizations are not performing well at data governance with their SharePoint environments.

    Data Security and the Cloud Sprawl

    Keeping track of corporate data is harder today than it ever has been. Introduce the use of cloud services for data management, and now your looking at whole different dimension end-points to worry about.  Adding the elastic and organic nature of the cloud, specifically in how cloud services are used to host data, seems to only compound security and privacy concerns.

    And it’s tough to keep up. As quickly as we move to adjust and implement governance models, a new way of doing something in the cloud is made available. SharePoint is arguably the most commonly used collaboration software used today. Consider the massive amount of documents, lists, and knowledge that is managed by today’s enterprise SharePoint environments, and the number of users that have access to those environments. Those same users are also accessing elastic cloud services and social networks that when combined, represent a sprawl of new risks that are sometimes impossible to map and keep track of.

    SharePoint Concerns

    Coming back to SharePoint, Aberdeen presents some points about what organizations are performing well at with SharePoint, and what they are not doing well at. Two pieces of insight are presented in the report; how well are organizations doing when they use complementary security technologies for SharePoint, and how they are struggling with SharePoint data governance.

    The use of complementary security technologies seems to be what most are doing well at. Measurements of security-related incidents, non-compliance incidents, and human related errors, were each used to determine how organizations fared.  Strategies such as; disk encryption, data classification, data loss prevention, and rights management are used. According to the report, best-in-class users of SharePoint are leaders in the use of disk encryption and data classification, while the lagging performers seem to have more issues due to data loss, and rights management security.

    Clearly understanding expectations of how data is accessed and used seems to be a challenge for most organizations using SharePoint. SharePoint empowers users with the ability to do a lot of things, including the ability to define very granular security permissions. Without a clear and defined expectation of what users should or should not do, users can wreak havoc with the data. Organizations, according to the report, are struggling with data governance.

    What can be done?

    As per the report, there are some steps that can be taken to mitigate a more secure SharePoint environment.

    • Data Classification. Taking an inward-out strategy by putting controls on the data. The idea that information about the data follows the data wherever it goes, even it happens to go outside of the SharePoint environment – such as into the cloud sprawl.
    • Prioritize Security Objectives. Create, or apply existing, data security and compliance protocols to SharePoint data.
    • Policies and Procedures. Especially important for publicly traded companies, data in SharePoint needs to meet legislated compliance regulations, as well as organizations guidelines.
    • Knowledge and Training. Teach users how to do things right the first time.
    • Best Practices. Using security best practices will scaffold the privacy and protection of the data.
    • Complementary Tools. There are many complementary data protection tools for SharePoint. Use them.

    I can see much of the above being applied to pretty much any other internal, and external cloud-based, environment. What attracted me to this report were data security concerns, and how poorly many organizations are doing with data governance.

    Do you see any of this being a concern? How about in your own organization?

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