TechOnTap v3.3 Canceled

Due to a low turnout for Tech on Tap 3.3 we will be cancelling the event on 10/10/2015. 

We hope to have something to share regarding future events so keep watching this site for updates. In the meantime, if you have suggestions about the timing or content of events please let us know by adding a comment to this post.

Thanks for your continued support. 

TechOnTap Brewmasters

Meet Your Tech on Tap – How Cloudy Is Your Organization? Speakers


Photo courtesy Nicolas Raymond

The next Tech on Tap is brewing on Saturday, May 30, from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm! Join us to learn more about Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and VMware private clouds with the following experts.

Jason Young is a Senior Program Manager with Microsoft. He focuses on commercial ISVs building large-scale technical projects built on devices, Windows, and Azure. His history includes working for a manufacturing startup, building MES software at GE, and consulting on a variety of technologies. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was CTO of an energy company where he directed development of a large-scale Windows Azure-based building automation and IoT data collection solution.

Jason will present “Azure in the Real World”.

Forget about “the cloud”. Let’s dive in and see what Azure can actually do for me today. From connected cows to running the travel world, we’ll look at real examples showing how you can build your own services and applications in a hyper-scale environment. Whether you want to dip your toes in or take a bath in Kool-Aid, there is something you can use today.

Bob Plankers is a technology generalist who has been writing, speaking, and blogging at for a decade. He is a virtualization & cloud architect at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, analyst at The Virtualization Practice, and a freelance IT consultant on interesting projects all over the region. In his free time he can often be found wondering why no houses ever have 90 degree angles and smoking a cigar while mowing the lawn.

Bob will present “Clouds Are Magic, and Other Related Nonsense”.

We spent a lot of money on a private cloud, but now we just have a mess. We went from having 2000 VMs to 5000 VMs almost overnight, now that the developers can deploy things on their own, and we’ve been adding capacity constantly. Someone told me these things are revolutionary, but the only revolution seems to be the one the CFO is having. And now people are talking about scrapping it all and sending everything to the public cloud. Aren’t clouds supposed to magically fix IT problems, not create new ones? Oh, and what the heck are containers?

Jeff Lehmann from Slalom Consulting has worked in technology and IT for more than 25 years, with 10 of those years spent as a certified SAS administrator and 3 years working with AWS.  He recently presented two sessions at the SAS annual user conference, SAS Global Forum in Dallas: “How to Implement SAS 9.4 on an Amazon Web Services Cloud Server Instance” and “The Advantages and Pitfalls of Implementing SAS in an Amazon Web Services Cloud Instance”. He combines his technical skillset with an analytical mindset.  He enjoys learning about and deploying new technologies.  He is delighted to present AWS to an MS SQL server audience!

Jeff is presenting, “The AWS Cloud Supports Microsoft Windows Server”:

According to Cloud Analyst Industry reports, AWS has the most robust cloud services offerings in the sector.  As well, Microsoft workloads on AWS have provided many success stories.  This presentation is targeted at an MS SQL Server audience and will provide an introductory overview of AWS.

How Cloudy Is Your Organization is going to be a fantastic day of learning, networking, and of course, great beer and food. Register by Wednesday, May 27th!

April Showers Bring TechOnTap 3.2 Showers

As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers”. Turns out May can be pretty cloudy too. TechOnTap 3.2 is storming in on Saturday, May 30th at the Stone Cellar Brew Pub in Appleton, WI. The crew will be looking to the skies with great presentations on cloud technologies.

Registration opens Monday, April 27th.  Event logistics & details are coming soon!

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 30th. 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