Severe Weather Awareness Bulletin: TechOnTap 3.2 is Coming. Are You Prepared?

Charge your weather radios; Make sure your weather apps are updated. The week of April 12th is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin. While the threat for rumbles of thunder may loom on the horizon, there’s something else brewing this spring.

TechOnTap 3.2 arrives May 16th. Are you prepared for a storm? The TechOnTap crew will be exploring cloud technologies; what rains is sure to quench your thirst for tech.

Signup and event details coming soon!

So you’re thirsty for some tech? Can’t wait for TechOnTap 3.2?

If you’re thirst for tech needs quenching, a few of the TechOnTap Brewmasters are speaking this Saturday 3/28/2015 at the NEW Code Camp

NEW Code Camp registration & attendance are free; Check out the topics and signup here:

Come drink in some tech and join us at the NEW Code Camp!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day – What is your beer of choice?

At Tech on Tap, we spend a good amount of time chasing speakers, sponsors, and even attendees to bring technology back to Appleton.  While we are all about the tech and bringing out good content, we also enjoy craft beer.  Today I wanted to see what might spark a discussion about beer…

What is your favorite beer for St. Patrick’s Day?

While I like Guinness, I’m not sure it’s my favorite choice.  An Irish Red is much more my speed to pair with some food.  And certainly, green beer isn’t quite a flavor I look forward to. Post your favorites in the comments!

In addition to the question of the day, I found an interesting recipe for Irish coffee that I’m looking forward to sampling later tonight.  The recipe came from a coworker and is linked here.

Adventures in Refactoring: The High Cost of a Complacency Culture

by Jon Cwiak (Twitter) => Senior Software Engineer | TechOnTap Brewmaster | Microsoft Certified Professional at building things

The High Cost

Head over to any online news source and you are almost certain to see another story about a hack, data breach, data leakage etc. While many of these “hacks” are attributed to complex phishing attempts and/or stolen credentials you often never get an inside view on the technical “how” such attacks were pulled off. The technical details are withheld for lots of reasons but mostly because parts of that vulnerability may not have been fully mitigated; those same vulnerabilities are probably in your organization.

This article is not about inside stories or root causes of hacks; instead, I want to focus on one attack vector where these attacks originate….a danger that creeps, well camouflaged, in all organizations: the complacency culture; Most businesses today buy, lease, or build their own custom software; this is to be expected and absolutely necessary to run a business. When time/scope/cost/feature set make sense, software is purchased and used, purchased and adapted, and often purchased and forgotten; when features of packaged software don’t meet the needs of the business in question, software is created… and often forgotten. In large organizations, it’s not uncommon to have teams of development staff not know about one or more production applications that they own; it was written long ago and lost to the ages….and there is where the danger lurks.

Software can be dangerous when it’s forgotten or ignored. Not only is there are high price in maintaining old code from a support perspective but there is real danger of letting a solution stagnate for too long. In and of itself, old code is not bad code; however, when the operating environment is kept at a lowest common denominator to cater to solutions that have not been touched in years, this screams danger.

Technical debt is a real. We trade time to market, business features, and cost of purchase for a long term technical mortgage that many organizations don’t feel the need to repay….until they spend hundreds of millions of dollars dealing with a data breach or a hack.


As technical leaders we are challenged with a complacency culture; as employees or contractors we have expectations of performance; as craftsman we have a responsibility to our craft before our responsibilities to our managers; so where does this leave us? How to we answer to our craft instead of our demands?

When as system is rotting, it’s up to us to raise this concern and bring our toolbox to bear on what we can; what can we do to ensure that future stewards of our systems don’t pay the high cost that we do today?


Change is hard; Complacency culture is best battled by removing the conditions in which it thrives: laziness and acceptance of good enough. Here are some specific ways to encourage moving forward:


Get involved in the technical community; Join or start a user group; attend a conference; learn and share an idea…even if it’s not really new;


Engage with interviewing; Value integrity and grit over particular technical talents; Remember that we can all attend a training course; not everyone is a good team player.

Learn To Learn

Learn how you and your team learn best; Be selfish and grow yourself…you silently inspire;

Automate Everything

Stop doing things manually that can be done with automation; Learn & encourage others to rethink routine.

Stop Wasting Your Keystrokes

Write blogs not emails; the future you will appreciate you more.

Wrapping It Up

Paying back technical debt starts with removing the complacency culture. Take iterative, incremental steps build a great team; a great team helps slow and/or stop the erosion of your culture; be a technologist and “professional up” by remaining a life learner. Automate all you can; last but not least, remember that the success and/or failure of our products may not always be in our control but the decision to remain committed to our craft is.

Cheers for Tech on Tap Nothing But .NET!

Whiteboard time at Nothing But .NET with Jon Cwiak and Adam Driscoll

Whiteboard time at Nothing But .NET with Jon Cwiak and Adam Driscoll

The beer was cold, the food was delicious, the sessions were incredibly informative, and the networking was unbeatable. Yes, we had an incredibly successful Tech on Tap v3.1 Nothing But .NET!

Thank you to the attendees for taking a Saturday to increase your knowledge (about beer and code) and learn with us. You had great questions, excellent insight, and were appropriately thirsty.

Thank you to our speakers, Jon Cwiak and Adam Driscoll. You two are unbelievably smart and we couldn’t have done this without you. We learned more about LINQ, weaving, continuous integration, open-sourcing, and much more.

Thank you Stone Cellar for a tasty lunch (mac and beer cheese – yum!) and delicious beer, root beer, and sodas. Your service is excellent, and Kayla was fantastic to us.

Ready to join the fun? We’ll be back with How Cloudy is Your Organization on Saturday, May 16, 2015, and SQL Server on Saturday, October 10, 2015 – sign up for our mailing list today!

It’s almost time for Tech on Tap – Nothing But .NET!

Can you taste the Stone Cellar Six Grain Ale and hear the soothing sounds of laptop fans cooling the hard-working CPUs yet? Tech on Tap – Nothing But .NET is days away! The Brewmasters have been hard at work making this a stellar event.

The schedule for the day is

10:30-11:00 Registration
11:00-12:00 LINQ – .NET’s Nifty Little Query Syntax – Adam Driscoll
12:00-1:00 Lunch & brewery tour
1:00-2:00 Speaker TBD
2:00-2:15 Break
2:15-3:45 Learning to Weave: AOP and Other Threads – Jon Cwiak
3:45-4:00 Wrap-up
4:00-5:00 Bar chat

Lunch is going to be Stone Cellar’as to-die-for mac & beer cheese. We’ll have several varieties of their beer to try, along with their delicious root beer.

If you haven’t signed up yet, you have until 6:00 PM CST on Wednesday, February 25 to do so!

Most importantly, though, we’ll have great learning and networking opportunities. Make sure to bring a device for note-taking and business cards to share with your new contacts.

Guest Blog: All Your Base Are Belong To Us: Enterprise Developers & Database Versioning

This week’s blog is from Jon Cwiak (Blog | Twitter), senior software engineer at Humana, Microsoft Certified Professional at building things, and Tech on Tap – Nothing But .NET speaker. He’s going to introduce us to Database Versioning.


Every once and while you stumble on an internet meme that haven’t seen in years. In the late 1990’s the internet gifted us a popular catchphrase the swept the world. “All Your Base Are Belong to Us” came from a video game called Zero Wing from 1989 with a poorly translated Japanese to English phrase in one of the opening scenes. I stumbled over this again the other day and it got me thinking; not only about video games but about databases. Are developers really getting “all of your base” when it comes to their database & development process? I don’t think they are.

Like the video games from the late 80’s early 90’s, thinking about a database outside of source control seems so dated….until you have a conversation with one of the many “dark matter” developers as Scott Hanselman so prophetically coined. Enterprise developers in large shops are often insulated from the state of the art or simply work for shops that don’t embrace change as swiftly as the rest of the interwebs. Enter database versioning; during conversations it often amazes me that the data tier of many application are often not in source control and/or may linger on shared servers; dark places where it’s so easy to change something…. but also so very easy to drop that really important table you’ve been designing, or stored procedure your colleague has been tuning. When asked about versioning, developers react as though tables, views, stored procedures, etc are something other than code. No friends, database backups are not a form of source control.

Database versioning is nothing new; Tooling has been around for your favorite database platforms forever but somehow developers have not fully embraced these tools or realized that they can go faster and develop with less fear if they embrace such tools. Over the years, the solutions on the Microsoft stack have evolved from copies of text files in Visual Source Safe to modern SSDT & TFS. The following is a brief history of the tools and why you want to reconsider what you’re getting from you “base”.

Visual Studio Puberty Edition

Back when Visual Studio was going through “the change”, we had Database Projects. These projects allowed us to put code in source control, get cool features like deployment and round tripping, compare database schemas and so many other neato features. But these features were limited, had problems with enterprise deployment scenarios, and were often not very good for multiple developer use cases. Development in 2005/2008 was downright medieval; it’s time to grow up.

 Figure 1-Medieval Development with a VS2005 Database Project

Figure 1-Medieval Development with a VS2005 Database Project

Visual Studio Young Adult Edition

Visual Studio grew up, went to college, got a job, and entered the enterprise. Enter Visual Studio reasonably current (2012/2013); These editions of VS now come armed and ready to rock with the SQL Server Data Tools platform….and oh what a difference it makes. SSDT is the replacement tooling introduced for VS2010 to replace the aging Team System Database Projects. SSDT provides rich integration with Visual Studio while allowing itself to be updated out of band as new fixes and features are shipped. Gone are the days when VS versions had to match SQL Server targets; SSDT now supports targeting to allow you to deploy to SQL Server 2008 and better. Deployment is better; Migration is better; Life is better.

Figure 2- Visual Studio in the Enlightenment Era SSDT

Figure 2- Visual Studio in the Enlightenment Era SSDT

You and Your Team

If you’re not already treating your database with the respect it deserves please do so and put it under source control. If you’re using TFS, Visual Studio Online, Git via VS Online or something else, consider using SSDT to source control your assets. Using this (or any other tool) lets you and your team develop faster, with less fear, and react to scenarios where you need to deploy “the whole stack” to a new environment (including disaster recovery) using source control as the source of truth. SSDT helps me get the most out of my “base” and hope it does for you too.

Want to Learn More?

Check out the SSDT blog at

Guest Blog: Say Hello to Nancy

This week’s blog is from Adam Driscoll (Blog | Twitter), software engineering manager at Dell, PowerShell MVP, and Tech on Tap – Nothing But .NET speaker. He’s going to introduce us to the Nancy framework.

Nancy is a lightweight framework for building web applications in .NET. It’s easy to get up and running and can be extended to develop complex web apps with minimal overhead. In this post we’ll look at how to get a simple Nancy instance running and serving web pages.

First, create a new console application in Visual Studio. Next, open the Package Manager Console and type ‘Install-Package Nancy’ and then ‘Install-Package Nancy.Hosting.Self’.


We now have Nancy installed with the self-hosting module referenced. This will allow us to stand up our own Nancy instance outside of any other web server like IIS. Next, we need to create a NancyModule. Nancy modules define how the Nancy server will respond to requests.

Nancy modules are automatically discovered. In this module, we handle requests coming into the server at the /beer endpoint. We will return a Beer view that dynamically populates a list of beers.


The Beer.sshtml file is included with the project as Content and copied to the output directory.


Using some simple syntax, we can auto-generate the HTML markup for creating a list item for each one of the beers created in the module.


Finally, we need to create the Nancy self-host when the console application runs. We also need to tell Windows to open the ports and reserve the URL that we are specifying. If this is not done, the server will receive an Access Denied error and we will not be able to navigate to the page.


Now it’s time to test the Nancy module. When run the first time, the Nancy host will prompt for elevation as it executes a couple netsh commands to open the routes to the server. Subsequent runs may not require this elevation. Once the host is up and running we can navigate to the endpoint with any HTML browser or client.


Nancy has much more to it than what was covered in this post. I suggest you run over to the Nancy Wiki for more information about this neat little web framework.

You can talk to Adam and learn more at Tech on Tap – Nothing But .NET on Saturday, February 28, 2015 – sign up today!

15 Conferences To Attend in 2015

The Tech on Tap Brewmasters and attendees are both eager students and teachers, so we’re always looking for more opportunities to expand our knowledge. Here are some of the conferences and experiences we’re looking forward to in 2015!

DeveloperWeek - February 6-12. San Francisco, CA. Learn about HTML5, Javascript, Ruby and more. Participate in a Hackathon. Have fun!

Visual Studio Live – March 16-20, Las Vegas, NV. June 1-4, Austin TX. More locations and dates, too! A great conference for .NET developers looking to hone their skills.

SQL Saturday Madison 2015 – April 11. Madison, WI. All SQL Server, all day, for FREE.

PowerShell Summit North America 2015 – April 20-22. Charlotte, NC. Three days of deep technical education on PowerShell.

Wisconsin VMUG User Conference – April 28. Middleton, WI. A full day of VMware training from local and national experts – and it’s free!

Build – April 29-May 1. San Francisco, CA. This is the conference for developers to learn what’s new and upcoming!

Ignite - May 4-8. Chicago, IL. Microsoft’s newest conference builds on TechEd, covering topics from Azure to Yammer. Bonus: Chicago is close for most of us!

Intersections – May 18-21. Scottsdale, AZ. DEV intersection, SharePoint intersection, Office365 intersection – there’s something here for everyone.

TechWeek Chicago – June 22-28. Chicago, IL. “Techweek’s mission is to showcase, celebrate and enable emerging innovation ecosystems.”

ThatConference – August 10-12. Wisconsin Dells, WI. “Summer camp for geeks” focuses on Mobile, Web, and Cloud – and they have a killer party at the indoor waterpark!

VMworld - August 30-September 3. San Francisco, CA. Want more VMware training? This is the biggest and best conference to get it.

IT/DevConnections – September 14-17. Las Vegas, NV. Sessions on Windows, SharePoint, Azure, SQL Server and more, from independent speakers.

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing – October 14-16. Houston, TX. The world’s largest gathering of women technologists. Education and inspiration!

PASS Summit – October 27-30. Seattle, WA. The largest SQL Server conference in the world, with almost 200 sessions across three days, plus all-day pre-conference sessions.

AWS Summit – Various dates and locations. Direct-from-Amazon training on their cloud offerings.
Microsoft virtual conferences – Tech Days

What conferences are you excited about? Are you attending one that isn’t listed here? Tell us about it!

Tech on Tap 3.1 – Nothing but .NET

The Tech on Tap Brewmasters are putting together another event.  This time we’re taking on Microsoft .NET and hope you will come out to learn with us on Saturday February 28th 2015 from 11 am – 5pm at the Stone Cellar Brew Pub.


On February 28th we will be featuring the following sessions

11:00-12:00 LINQ – .NET’s Nifty Little Query Syntax – Adam Driscoll

1:00-2:00 Learning to Weave: AOP and Other Threads – Jon Cwiak

2:15-3:15 How do you know if the Cloud is right for you? – Larry Palmbach

In addition to the sessions, the Stone Cellar will be providing a Brewery Tour after lunch.

Click the link below to register for Nothing but .NET and join us for a day of learning and beers.


Register today!