Life with Visio and other Microsoft Toys!

Archive for the ‘MVP’ Category

Why bother?

leave a comment »

Yesterday was my second double header this week at the Ottawa Microsoft Office. The first was a lunch time presentation on Visual Studio and then an evening meeting of the SharePoint user group. The second was the launch of Windows Server and an evening meeting of the Ottawa Windows Server User group.

So why do I go to these events? My IT experiences go back to the mainframe days, but I am always interested in how things have improved. In the old days, you had to arrange for sole use of the mainframe at 3am on a Sunday morning after the IBM techs had their session doing hardware repairs. If things went well, then your changes would be migrated to the production environment, but usually they did not. So you drove in to the site and waited around to get the go ahead and watch the window of oppurtunity to do your testing erode. It took time to bring the machine down, swap drives and bring it back up. This had to be repeated when the system was turned back to production. That could eat up 90mins to 2hrs and you still had not done any testing. Now, you can get an alert on your Windows Phone, type in some PowerShell commands and get things done without getting out of bed. There is no longer a reliance on getting access to specific hardware, we have virtual machines and you can have as many as you want. So I go to these events to learn.

I also go these events to help out. These events are given by people who are passionate about presenting, but they have limited resources. They rely on the local user groups to provide an audience and support. So the local user groups rely on their members to register AND show up. The viability of a user group is dependant on the quality of the presenters they can draw and a reasonable audience to make the presenters want to come. Ottawa does not have the large population that Toronto or Montreal has, so they have to try harder to get the word out to promote the events. There also needs to be a higher percentage of registrants showing up. Knowing how many will actually attend is critical when it comes to deciding if food is to be provided.

I prefer to be a participant rather than an observer. I could sit back and just listen, but these events take effort to run. So how can you help? As I mentioned, showing up and giving the presenters some positive reinforcement is a start.

Being a presenter is a highly visible way to help the local user group. All the great presenters had to start somewhere and that usually was at a local user group. So you are not a polished speaker? Try and arrange to have your local user group hold a night on presentations. These are short presentations that are positively critiqued by your peers. Most of the audience would be in the same boat or are more experienced presenters who are there to help you succeed.

So you are bit shy about standing up in front of an audience, there are many other ways to help out and gain some confidence. Setting up the event and cleaning up afterwards are two tasks that are always needed. In the Microsoft Office in Ottawa, the washrooms are outside a locked area, so someone is needed to open the door when people return. It does not sound like a glamourous job, but it does lead to one of the key reasons for showing up at a user group meeting. It is an opportunity to interact with your peers. These events attract people with similar interests. This literally would be a door opener to new contacts.

So, why bother? I have learned a lot, made a lot of new friends and I just enjoy helping out.

I am no GENIUS, I am an MVP!

John Marshall… Visio MVP


Written by johnvisiomvp

September 28, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Posted in MVP

Tagged with ,

WP7 Presentation App

with one comment

Back in February I attended an all day Virtualization Boot Camp. I fell in love with the cocept of virtualization back in my early mainframe days. No longer did I have to go into work to do testing at 2am on Sunday that would only last a few hours (if I actually got time), I could do it on my schedule, not somebody elses.

The structure of the boot camp was interesting. The day was divided into several sessions and each session was followed by a challenge. The challenge was basically to repeat what was learned in the session. To keep things interesting, the participants were divided into teams and teams were awarded based on finishing positions. The slow part of the process was that Excel was used to track the results. Nothing against Excel, but it would be far easier of there was an app for that. Now I can announce that there IS an app for that.

It basically requests the number of teams and provides a table of the results. There is an app button to enter new challenges, one for the LeaderBoard to see who is ahead and menu buttons to start a new event, Options to change the point weight for each positon or to clear the last challenge. On the challenge page is a tile for each team and it is just a matter of pressing the team number when it finishes. The colour of the tile changes to red and the position is displayed underneath. There is a button on the page to remove the last entered position.

The next version will be released soon and will be in English, French, German and Polish and will contain ads to captialize on the app.

You can get the app here:

John Marshall… Visio MVP

Written by johnvisiomvp

April 18, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Posted in MVP, Windows Phone 7, WP7

Tagged with ,

What is the MVP Programme?

with one comment

Every four months, Microsoft hands out awards for people who they believe excel at helping the various Microsoft communities. It is not a certification that can be studied for and earned.

Initially, it was one person who thought that those who were helping out on the Microsoft forums deserved some recognition. It was just an thank you post. This idea was taken up by others at Microsoft, who on their own time, helped expand the list. Eventually some of the recognized were invited out to Redmond to meet the product teams they supported. This was the first MVP summit, a small group of volunteers who enjoyed helping their online communities getting recognition from Microsoft.

This was a grass roots movement and luckily, someone terminated the programme in 1999. Someone thought that the access the MVPs were getting was a potential problem. Over the weekend, those who were helped in the forums were quite vocal with Microsoft upper management and let their feelings be known. The programme was quickly reinstated, but now they had the backing of upper management who remain a staple of the MVP summits as the keynote speakers. The initial MVP staff ran the MVP programme in addition  to their regular work. With the reinstatement of the programme, they now had backing and support from upper management (and a budget).

That was a long time ago and the programme has grown. Now, every three months, individuals are singled out for their support of the various communities over the previous year. As part of the Microsoft structure and has its’ own budget and as the programme has grown, MVP perks have unfortunately had to be cut. Luckily, one of the key perks, contact with the product team, is still very much alive and encouraged. Having the summits in Redmond meant most MVPs had direct access to the product teams.

Initially it was based around a few products and the leads were based with those products, now it covers most of Microsoft products. (I am still waiting to meet the MS Bob MVP). Regional MVP leads have been added to address the needs of those MVPs around the world. Only the US leads are product based, so the regional MVP leads need to understand the full suite of Microsoft offerings. So even though they may not know the nuiances of a certain switch in your product, they understand your passion and will try and get someone to help with the answer.

So, why did so and so not get an award? Like the Academy awards, only so many can be recognized. This does not mean that those not receiving an Academy award are terrible actors, just that the Academy saw something to recommend one of the others. Also, the programme has been expanded world wide and it is an extremely difficult task for the MVP leads to evaluate all the recommendations they receive. As far as I know, the MVP leads do not have a quota for having x number of Product Y MVPs in their area, but there are constraints on how large the programme can grow within their budget. So there are many reasons why someone was not awarded.

So why is there not a shopping list for MVP criteria? Back in the old days, the selection was based on participation in the CompuServe forums and a few other lists. Now selection is opened up to a far wider range of activities. So saying 25% of A and 33% of B will get you an MVP award is not possible. So if I answer 500 or 1,00 questions, do I qualify? What is the quality of the answers? Is it a yes/no or does it have a detailed explanation or recommendation. Obviously quantity alone can not be a criteria. Who is to say that talking to a user group of 25 is less important than talking to one of 3oo. Since they are making money, should authors be excluded? A number of authors actually loose money writing about technical products, some actually do get rich. Again, this is another criteria that is difficult to quantify. If the criteria is quantified like other certifications. Then we will have people going for the award rather than helping the communities. One year, several Office MVPs were not awarded because other individuals had higher answer counts. On further examination it was found that some of the answers were not useful and were just there to boost the counts. So I hope that Microsoft keeps the award criteria a mystery. Yes, the MVP leads are human and do make mistakes, but the selection process is not easy.

People who did not honour their NDAs have been dismissed. (Other than joining the mother ship, this is the only way to lose an MVP award).

The award is not something you can study for. Some of the old time MVPs prefer to keep helping the community whether they get another MVP award or not. Their focus is on community.

D’Arcy Lussier has an excellent post on what new MVPs can do

John Marshall… Visio MVP

Written by johnvisiomvp

January 5, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Posted in MVP

Tagged with