Azure Architect

Imagine Cup Judging

With all the work going on at office, I didn’t have much time on my hands to be doing any posting. Anyway this post is way overdue and goes back to the 25th of March when two industry heavy-weights, Duminda Ratnayaka (CEO of Celltel, a visionary who launched the first mobile company in Sri Lanka way back in the early 90s), Dr. Emerick Fernando (another great guy who once used to work at Microsoft and was also CEO of Global Software Labs in Colombo) along with a bunch of MVPs (Prasanna and Wela) and Ed Quek from Microsoft Singapore got together to judge the best teams for the Imaging Cup.

Congratulations to the four teams who made it to the final round of the Sri Lankan leg. One of these teams will be the ultimate winner and will be representing Sri Lanka in the worldwide competitions in Japan.

  • Fuzzy Climate (Weather Warning using Human Observation, University of Moratuwa)
  • QuickAid (Medical Volunteer System, University of Colombo, Medical Faculty)
  • Mobile Reporter (Reporting everything with combined voice data and video, University of Colombo)
  • SivuMithun (Purchasing Process for Farmers and Mudalalis, University of Moratuwa)

Ed, Sriyan (Country Manager, Microsoft) and Jinashri (Education Programme Manager, Microsoft) looking on while Duminda talks about the judging outcome.


Dr. Emerick looks on while Duminda does more talking!

Wela on the phone, while Prasanna shows off our potential, his passion!

Chris Brumme… Where are you?

Chris Brumme is the father of all .NET bloggers. His posts are more like booklets on the CLR that I usually print them and read it off-line. Half-way through a single post of his and my head usually starts aching, but since he hasn’t posted in a long while the community is getting together to get him to start posting in again. I’m joining the campaign. Post Chris, post.

Chris Brumme... come home!:

Please join me in the campaign to bring Bring back Chris Brumme's blog. Not only is he way smarter than me, but he also has a wicked sense of humor!

[Via simplegeek]

Kottu Blog Drive

Come on guys, what are you waiting for? Add yourself to the local blogosphere!

Kottu Blog Drive:

That’s right boys and girls, it’s competition time! Seeing the growth of our little local blogosphere in the past few months, Indi and I have decided that it’s time to put you guys to the test. Yup, it’s time to head out and get your friends / parents / brothers / sisters / boyfriends / girlfriends / pets to start blogging.

What are the rules, dude?
Rules? Rules suck man. But no, seriously, there are a few.

  1. Entries will close on 28th April 2005.
  2. The blogger with the most number of new blogger friends introduced will get the prize.
  3. Minimum ammount of new bloggers per person is 3. If you don’t have at least three, don’t bother entering.
  4. Your new bloggers must be active, and must make at least 5 posts before you can enter them on your form.
  5. If we find anyone has been posing as a new blogger or has otherwise cheated in any way, we will steal all their Mp3s and then trash their hard drive. And oh, we wont consider them for the prize as well.

So like, what are the prizes man?
Shut up and listen. The winner (as in, the blogger who has introduced the most number of new bloggers by the end of the competition) will get 1 years free hosting and a free domain name. Rumour also has it that he / she might be taken aboard kottu to work with the rest of the (rather overworked) staff.

So why are you guys doing this?
I told you, shut up.

I’ve already converted some bloggers, can I enter them?
No sorry, you can’t. Conversions start from today, April 6th.

When will the winner be announced?
Well, Indi and I are planning to go down to Pilawoos (or another suitable sayvar kade) on the 29th or 30th and eat some kottu. We hope that many (or even) some of you will be able to make it. The winner will be announced there (probably over an iced milo), as well as later, on this website.

So how do I enter man?
After you’ve got three of your friends / enemies blogging, send me their URIs with a brief description of each blogger. If you get three at first and then get more later, you can send them in batches. Just make sure you send me the first three as soon as you complete them.

So who’s going to judge?
Indi and I.

What if I have more questions, dude?
Post them as comments and I’ll add them to this FAQ. Now be a good little fellow and run along.

So yeah, it’s time to send out some emails, go door to door and generally convert more bloggers. A bigger community means more discussion, and that’s always good, isn’t it? So get going - let the initiations begin!


Free ASP.NET 2.0 C# 2005 Training!

Yes, that's free as in beer. AppDev, a leader in video-based training and SQL Server Reader's Choice winner, was kind enough to provide a portion of their Exploring ASP.NET 2.0 Using Visual C# 2005 courseware available for free! I've personally the ASP.NET 2.0 using C# videos and I thought it was really great stuff. It even covered how to use everyone's favorite buzzword, AJAX (Asynchronous Java And XML), using the built-in support in ASP.NET 2.0. The training is taught by Microsoft MVPs Andy Baron, Mary Chipman and Ken Getz.

Highly recommended.

Download Now

[Via Dan Fernandez’s Blog]

How to become a Microsoft MVP

Robert McLaws writes about how you can become a Microsoft MVP. I’m half way through my MVP status and I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride. In fact later this month all of us Sri Lankan MVPs will be taking a trip over to Singapore for the MVP Summit and by the looks of the agenda, boy are we going to learn a lot.

Some of the other best things I like about being an MVP is that I get to chat with the product teams and even chat with some of the Microsoft Vice Presidents (I hear that a chat with Bill Gates is on the cards), I get an MSDN subscriptions which gives me early access to beta software, I get access to an actual person at Microsoft (my MVP Lead, Howard Lo). All of these help me and the other MVPs in bringing the .NET message to all the developers over here in Sri Lanka.

How to Become a Microsoft MVP:

Congratulations to all the new MVPs out there. Welcome to the team.

Every 3 months, a new round of MVPs are announced. So I thought I'd take a moment to write about the "Unofficial" Criteria for selecting an MVP. It is important to note that this is just my opinion, based on my experience dealing with the MVP Program... as well as a hefty helping of common sense.

  1. MVPs are Microsoft's "volunteer army". They support the community in numerous ways that Microsoft couldn't even begin to deal with. The best way to build a quality brand is to encourage customers to support other customers. It's cheaper too ;). If Microsoft can give you better access to product teams and free software to keep you happy, it doesn't cost them much. If they had to pay salary and benefits to every member of the community, their software would be nowhere near as successful.
  2. Microsoft MVPs are an important public face on the company. To that end, the company is obviously going to want some kind of control over what that face presents to the public. So they're pretty selective on who they award an MVP to.
  3. If you look at the MVPs out there, Microsoft's selection criteria typically mirror their criteria for selecting employees. Again, with good reason - these people will be granted a high level of interaction with the product teams. They don't want someone dealing with the people they pay who will be disruptive to productivity. This is why many prominent Microsoft MVPs eventually get hired into the company.
  4. </ol>

    So, if you want to become an MVP, here is my list of DOs and DON'Ts. They've worked well for me, although admittedly sometimes I don't follow my own rules.

    • DON'T be rude, vulgar, or disrespectful in your communication with other community members. Swearing, while OK during coding sessions and casual conversation, should NEVER be used in communication that will be read by many. It is uncouth and represents an extreme lack of control and judgement.
    • DON'T be in it just for a title. If you're looking to be the king of some imaginary social hierarchy, forget it. The MVP Program has been around a long time, and the Microsoft employees assigned to foster community and build the program will see right through you.
    • DON'T stop following these rules after you become an MVP. The honor is re-awarded yearly, and lots of people slack off and get dropped. As my daddy always said "I brought you into this world, I can take you out."
    • DON'T be a spoiled brat if you don't like a decision Microsoft made. The Visual Basic MVP petition fiasco is a prime example. Microsoft wants responsible adults as part of their program, even if they are young.
    • DON'T cause PR problems for Microsoft. It takes several good deeds to become an MVP, but one PR issue could send you packing. Taking them to task on an issue is one thing, but if Microsoft has to clean up a PR mess, you'll probably get taken out with the trash.
    • DON'T be elitist just because you've been in the industry for a while. You won't be around forever, and someone younger than you will eventually take your place. In this industry, you can be relevant one day, irrelevant the next.
    • </ul>
      • DO be courteous every time you deal with a fellow member of the community. Give them the respect they deserve as a person. (This works well in life, too.)
      • DO interact in the community in more than one way (weblogging in and of itself doesn't get you in, you should also be involved in the newsgroups or Forums or something)
      • DO take extra time to understand Microsoft's position on decisions, and speak respectfully on those issues.
      • DO have an opinion on things going on in the tech world. Take some time to establish yourself on an authority in a subject area, and then expand your reach into other areas.
      • DO be genuine in your desire to help others. Microsoft's corporate culture is aimed towards the betterment of society. If that's not the center of your personal culture, you'll never be seriously considered.
      • DO excercise good judgement as often as possible. Rule of Thumb: Anything that will be indexed by a search engine should be well thought out before posting. Think ahead about whether you want that opinion associated with your name a year from now.
      • DO think of new ways to fill in the gaps Microsoft leaves in the community. If you have a crazy idea... try it out. You never know when you'll be mentioned in the next executive keynote.
      • DO evaluate your communication skills constantly. The better you can relate Microsoft's message to others, the more Microsoft will interact with you.
      • DO be consistent with your community work. You can't help out 4 or 5 people a year and expect to be an MVP.
      • DO look out for your other community members, and encourage others (especially young people).
      • </ul>

        And, a note to anyone younger than 25 - stick with it. There isn't an age requirement, so I wouldn't be surprised if a 12 year old put there somewhere could smoke all these old guys ;).

        Hopefully, that heps some aspiring MVPs out there. We're always looking for new blood.

        UPDATE: I misunderstood Paschal's post, so I took out the reference to it.

        </blockquote>[Via Robert McLaws: FunWithCoding.NET]

Keele – OOP

This post is for those from Keele who attended the OOP class I took yesterday, here are the links I promised.

Hope you guys enjoyed the class as much as I did. I would really love to hear your feedback on the lesson, especially critical ones. If you have any feedback to give me feel free to click on the Comments link below and leave your comments. You can even leave anonymous comments, so what are you waiting for you’ve got nothing to lose.

Private universities and Sri Lankan bloggers

There’s been some really heavy discussions happening in the blogosphere about the whole Private University debate for Sri Lanka. Indi and Morquendi are the two main contributors, Kavinda linked to these guys earlier this week and by god, these guys are still going at it today. Read the latest post from Indi titled Private University FAQs. Ivap posts a summary of the debate between these guys.

Boy, I for one am excited to see our very own Sri Lankan’s actively blogging and slogging things out. There’s even a cool hosting a whole heap of Sri Lankan bloggers. Way to go guys!

Glass tombstones

I wonder if I’ll be able to get a tombstone like this when I die. (I need to add this to my TODO list!)
Mark Frauenfelder: Lundgren Monuments makes glass tombstones.

Radiant and incredibly tactile, Lundgren Monuments are designed for the individual who defies definition, and in the setting of a memorial park or cemetery they are glowing beacons that stand out amongst the traditional stone memorials.

Link (Thanks, Kirsten!)

Green-card regulations encourage offshoring

New rules make hiring foreign nationals more difficult than ever

By  Ephraim Schwartz

I recently spoke with Frida Glucoft, a leading immigration lawyer and a partner and chair of the immigration practice at law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp. She tells me that changes made by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) during the past three months will limit many companies’ ability to hire and retain new IT employees. If you typically hire recent computer science grads who are not U.S. citizens, you should listen up.

As of December, filing fees for H-1B visas have gone up more than 1,000 percent, from $185 to $2,185 per applicant. But you might as well add on another $1,000 for what’s called “premium processing” of the visa application. Premium processing guarantees 15-day turnaround; otherwise, processing can take between four and six months, according to Glucoft.

If you think your company can afford to wait six months for some hotshot software engineer, consider this. Last year, as they do each year, 65,000 H-1B visas became available on Oct. 1. When the 65,000 are gone, employers have to wait another 12 months for new visas to become available. All of last year’s visas were spoken for by Oct. 3.

Here’s another interesting glitch. The Department of Labor announced a new program on Dec. 27, 2004, which went into effect March 27, 2005. Called PERM (Program Electronic Review Management), it is the first step in applying for lawful permanent residence status — also known as a “green card” — as part of the greater Permanent Labor Certification program.

Case law suggests that non-U.S. citizens who want green cards need about two years of work experience even if they have a bachelor’s degree. Work experience with an applicant’s first employer, however, is considered on-the-job training and does not count.

So, if you have an employee working for you on an H-1B visa who has just graduated from a U.S. university and you want to get that employee a green card, you can’t. Employees who want to stay in the country on a more permanent basis have to start filing a contractor's insurance claim dispute and have to change jobs; time served at their first employers counts only toward green-card status after they’ve taken a job with a second employer.

Finally, here’s another beaut. Also in December, Congress enacted and President Bush signed into law a bill allowing for 20,000 additional H-1B visas for those with advanced degrees from U.S. universities. This added 20,000 additional visas to the existing quota of 65,000.

The law was to take effect on March 7, 2005, Glucoft said; however, USCIS has issued a statement that it will not accept these cases until further notice, pending “publication in the Federal Register.” So, we have employers ready to hire workers, we have workers who may have given notice to their current employers, but now everything is on hold.

Policies such as these will certainly encourage offshoring. Why go through the expense — including not just the visa fees but also the legal fees needed to process the visas, the time it takes to get new employees trained and up and running, plus the uncertainty, delays, and lack of permanency of investments you may have made in hiring foreign workers — when you can just contract a company outside our borders and still get most of the benefits of having the best and the brightest working for you?

Microsoft Engineers

Jinath from Teamwork Technology threw out a challenge to BTA. So Jinath, here are our numbers…

What? How many? Whom?
Microsoft MVP 2 Prasanna, Merill
Microsoft Certified Trainer 1 Merill
Microsoft Certified Professional 2 Madura, Julius
Microsoft Certified Solution Developer 3 Shasheendra, Prasanna, Merill
Sun Certified Java Programmer 3 Shasheendra, Prasanna, Merill
Sun Certified Instructor 1 Merill