North East Bytes - Microsoft Technology Usergroup in the North East of England

Scott Hanselman’s User Group Tour of Scotland

Yes that’s right, Scott Hanselman is touring Scottish User Groups in July!  Kudos to Gary Park of the Aberdeen Developers User Group for arranging this and if you can make the trip up to Scotland for any of Scott’s sessions I whole heartedly recommend it, Scott is a great speaker, very engaging and delivers fantastic content!

Scott will be presenting at four different User Groups and the details are below:

For more details see Gary’s post on his blog in addition to Scott’s own posts on the tour -

NEBytes and SUGUK May 2012–Threat Modelling and SharePoint Workflows

Join North East Bytes for our fifth event of 2012 where we are delighted to partner with the SharePoint Usergroup Once Again.  Following on from the great events that we've had over the last two years, we've lined up another great event for your benefit.  We are delighted to welcome Neil Dixley, from Sage, to guide us through the process of Threat Modelling, and we welcome Tony Hughes from TSG to give us the rundown on Nintex Forms and Workflow for SharePoint 2010.   Register now, you won't want to miss this opportunity!

Date: Wednesday 16th May 2012

Time: 18:30-21:00

Nintex Workflow and Forms 2010 with Tony Hughes

Nintex Workflow 2010

Nintex Workflow 2010 adds a drag-and-drop workflow designer, connectivity and advanced workflow features to the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 platform. Tony will demonstrate how Nintex Workflow 2010 can reduce development time and empower users to automate their own processes in minutes.

Nintex Forms 2010

Nintex Forms 2010 is a web based designer for the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 platform that enables custom forms to be created within SharePoint quickly and easily. Tony will demonstrate how Forms can be designed and consumed on most common mobile devices from the internet, anywhere and anytime.

Tony Hughes is a Senior SharePoint Specialist at TSG (Technology Services Group), who have kindly hosted for SUGUK many times in the past.

Tony has been involved with SharePoint since 2001 in consultancy, pre-sales and sales roles. Working across a wide range of business sectors in both the private and public sector Tony is highly skilled in conveying the business benefits of SharePoint Technologies to a range of audiences in a non-technical fashion.

Modelling Security Threats with Neil Dixley

Threat modelling is a powerful and effective way of discovering and closing security vulnerabilities in applications. This session will look at techniques and tools available and includes an interactive example.

Despite being one of the senior engineers on a ‘Subprime’ project  in the USA, Neil survived and spent most of the last 10 years working in the north east for Tombola, Codeworks and now Sage. Neil is also one of the funkiest banjo players this side of the pond.


The event will be hosted in Room 1.02 of Claremont Tower at Newcastle University. For a detailed campus map -

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Eventbrite - NEBytes May 2012 - Threat Modelling and SharePoint Workflows

The 2012 Imagine Cup UK Final Results Are In

As many of you who have attended NEBytes events recently will know we have been doing our very best to support all the teams who have taken part in the 2012 Imagine Cup North East.  Well today was the final of the UK Competition and the results are in.  We are delighted to announce that the two teams which went through from the Imagine Cup North East Finals finished first and second in the UK Final!!!!!!!!!

This is a fantastic result not only for the teams but for the North East community as a whole!  This is the first year we have seen participation in the Imagine Cup competition from the North East and we hope to see this continue for many, many years to come.  The standard of entries from the North East teams alone was very high so we can imagine that the UK judges had a real difficulty in choosing the eventual winner!

The winners of the Imagine Cup UK Final were Team Eyeworks, who presented their idea at NEBytes last month and the very close runners up were Teeside 0x32.  Both entries were fantastic and we really hope that both teams continue to develop their fantastic ideas!  We hope to welcome both of the teams back to NEBytes very soon to get their reaction on the result and to find out their next steps!

Well done to all of the teams who took part in every single stage of the competition and good luck to Team Eye Works when they travel to Sydney to represent the UK in the 2012 Imagine Cup World Final!!!!

Imagine Cup North East: Team Eye Works

At our March event we had the pleasure of welcoming Team Eye Works to NEBytes to present their entry in the 2012 Imagine Cup.  We asked the team to provide us with a blog post about their project and so I’ll hand the content over to them:

Mobile Intelligent Retinal Analysis (MIRA)

Imagine Cup entry by Team Eye Works


Four students from the North East of England have been bought together to make up Team Eye Works. The team is competing in the Microsoft Imagine Cup. Consisting of 3 students from Northumberland University, and one student from Newcastle College, the team came together with a wide range of skills, with the intention of tackling one of the world’s great problems.

The Problem

A lot of people take the gift of sight for granted, and don’t realise how easily this gift can be taken away from them, due to everyday conditions, which, if detected early, can be prevented.

In the UK, recent studies have shown that 2 million people were living with various degrees of sight loss. It has been shown that 50% of the 2 million cases could have been prevented, and the World Health Organisation has discovered that 90% of people suffering from sight loss are living within the developing world.

Out of the various causes of sight loss, the main contributors are cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.


Team Eye Works have proposed to tackle this problem by making a mobile platform app capable of detecting the symptoms of the previously mentioned causes of sight loss.


This shall be accomplished by creating a piece of software which will be capable of analysing an image of the human retina to detect different abnormalities. This will be done by comparing the taken image against a library of images. The library of images shall contain pictures of retinal abnormalities. By using Microsoft Azure, the software will be able to upload and download images for analysis. It is important to use a system such as Microsoft Azure, as it can contain, and store a large amount of data, which will be available almost anywhere in the world, without the need for a physical backup. This will allow Team Eye Works’ solution to be used globally. Apart from the cloud, the mobile app will also be able to do a local comparison of the retina image using neural networks. A different neural network will be trained beforehand for each disease and used on the mobile app to quickly analyse the retinal image and give a probability of infection. As internet connectivity is not as reliable in developing countries this feature is required. It was decided to go with the neural network approach to effectively use the limited memory and computational power of mobile phones, as the approach of comparing retinal image with the image database (used by the cloud) is highly expensive, demanding a lot of computational and memory requirements.

Whilst the software is a very important element of the proposed solution from Team Eye Works, hardware is just as important. The solution will be developed for Windows Mobile technology, and will require other physical elements. Currently there is no mobile device on the consumer market that has a suitable camera and lens package. This has meant that Team Eye Works have researched, and developed a lens attachment and an apparatus used for chin rest and the camera stand, that will be capable of allowing mobile devices to capture best quality image of the retina, which will be suitable for the image analysis. The image displayed below shows the flow of the proposed system.


NEBytes April 2012 - Automating the Platform of the Future

Join North East Bytes for our fourth event of 2012.  Following on from the great events that we've had over the last two years, we've lined up another great event for your benefit.  We are delighted to welcome Richard Custance, from Sage, to give us the rundown on provisioning and deploying applications on Windows Azure, and we have our very own IIS MVP, Andrew Westgarth, giving us the run down on IIS 8.   Register now, you won't want to miss this opportunity!

Date: Thursday 26th April 2012

Time: 18:30-21:00

How to ‘Smartly’ Provision and Deploy a .Net Application on Windows Azure with Richard Custance
The session will show how Sage UK Ltd has leveraged the Windows Azure Platform to migrate the server-side components of one of its leading lower mid-market desktop applications, Sage 200 ERP, to the Cloud. 
Sage 200 ERP is a .Net 3.5 / 4.0 (c#), single-tenant, traditional Windows Form client-server, line-of-business application. Not sold as an off-the-shelf application, Sage 200’s five and a half thousand customers are trained and supported by a large Sage Business Partner community. Sage 200 is fully customisable with a large eco-system of Sage Developer Partners providing add-ons, amendments, and extensions to the core product.  
The technical challenge posed to the Sage 200 R&D department was how to transition elements (server-side components including data and documents) to the Windows Azure Cloud whilst maintaining all the business logic, features, and customisations supported in the current desktop.
From this session you will learn how ‘being clever’ with Windows Azure as helped the Sage 200 team deploy, provision, host and run Sage 200  in a clustered-multi-tenant environment in the Cloud.
Richard Custance is Technical Architect at Sage UK Ltd, based in Newcastle. Richard has worked for Sage UK for 18 years and in that time has seen the Sage 200 application (formerly known as Sovereign and Line 100 and MMS) re-written / re-engineered from its original DOS implementation that it was in the early 90s to the .Net 3.5 / 4 Windows application that exists today. Now, as the Sage R&D team plans to move Sage 200 to the Cloud, Richard’s role as an architect has been to determine how the application (including its many 3rd party customisations and add-ons) can be dynamically provisioned and deployed on Windows Azure.
IIS 8 Platform for The Future with Andrew Westgarth
With the release of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista, Internet Information Server (IIS) received a major update and this has continued through IIS 7.5 which was released with Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7. Now we sit on the verge of another update with the upcoming release of Windows Server 8 and Windows 8 which bring with them IIS 8.0.
In this session we'll set the scene with a quick run through of the building blocks put in place through IIS 7 and 7.5 and then deep dive into the features coming in IIS 8.0 which enable Developers and IT pros to deliver optimised, advanced interactive applications using technologies such as HTML5 and Web Sockets whilst also making use of scalability and configuration enhancements on the underlying platform.
Andrew Westgarth is a Technical Architect at Sage (UK) Ltd working on large scale web applications. Andrew is very active in the UK Developer Community, attending and speaking at multiple events, supporting users and other User Groups. In the past he has spoken at the Irish Microsoft Technology Conference, VBUG's National Two Day Conference; Developer Developer Developer Day 5 and local User Group meetings. Andrew has experience in VB6/.NET; C#; ASP.NET and Internet Information Services. Andrew's current technical interests include IIS 8.0/7.5/7.0, IIS Extensions and Windows Azure; Personal Performance Improvement and Best Practices.
The event will be hosted in Room 1.02 of Claremont Tower at Newcastle University. For a detailed campus map -
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Eventbrite - NEBytes April 2012 - Automating the Platform of the Future

Upcoming Microsoft Community Events

At last night’s meeting I mentioned a number of upcoming events, for both IT Pros and Developers both in our region and nationally.  Here is the information on each event and the registration links:

Windows 8 for Application Developers

IT Camps

Building a Private Cloud

Manage Consumer Devices on a Corporate Network

Virtualising Servers with Hyper V

Some events have already filled up so don’t wait too long to book your place on an event which interests you!

NEBytes March 2012 - Imagine a World With Metro

Join North East Bytes for our third event of 2012.  Following on from the great events that we've had over the last two years, we've lined up another great event for your benefit.  We are really excited to welcome the local teams entering this year's Imagine Cup event and we'll also be taking a look at the future of Windows with the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 both from a consumer and developer's viewpoint   Register now, you won't want to miss this opportunity!

Date: Wednesday 21st March 2012

Time: 18:30-21:00

Imagine Cup North East teams
We are pleased to welcome the teams from Imagine Cup North East who have entered the Imagine Cup competition this year.  Each team will be pitching their projects and their entries.  Come along to support our local entrants and give them some real world feedback on their projects and solutions which they can then use to strengthen their entry into this year's competition with the eventual aim of winning the UK final and competing with the rest of the world at the world final in Sydney, Australia! 

This is a great opportunity for our community to support the students and future of our community!
Touching the Future With Windows 8
As you are probably aware Windows 8 has been available in two "preview" editions for the last three months. You'll have read a lot about Metro and its implications and probably even downloaded and installed one of the previews yourself. In this talk NEByte's own Jon Noble and Ben Lee will provide a recap of what we know so far about Windows 8 and offer their opinions on what's good, what's bad and what to keep an eye on. Towards the end of the session Ross Dargan from Waterstons, who has been developing specifically for Windows 8 for the last three months, will share some insights about WinRT - the new development framework in Windows 8
The event will be hosted in Room 1.02 of Claremont Tower at Newcastle University. For a detailed campus map -
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Eventbrite - NEBytes March 2012 - Imagine a World With Metro

NEBytes January 2012: Yes We’re Two!!

Happy New Year!!  Join North East Bytes for our first event of 2012 which is also our Second Birthday!!!! Thank you for your continued support over the last twelve months! Following on from the great events that we've had over the last two years, we've lined up another great event for your benefit. We are pleased to welcome Gary Short from Gibraltar Software and we are very pleased to have our very own PowerShell MVP Jonathan Noble presenting on PowerShell 3. Register now, you won't want to miss this opportunity!

Date: Wednesday 18th January 2012

Time: 18:30-21:00

Data Mining the Social Web with Gary Short

With so much customer interaction happening on social web sites right now, companies need to know what kind of information they can extract from them. In this presentation, I’ll show you how to find out such information as: where you customers are, what they want, what they think of your products and who are the influencers in the network. This session will be a mix of theory and coded examples, fun and useful for anyone who works at a company who already make use of, or who are thinking of making use of, social media as a marketing platform.

Gary ShortGary Short is the Head of Gibraltar Labs, a skunk works division of Gibraltar software. He is a Microsoft MVP in C# as well as being a Node.js and Python hacker. Gary is a popular speaker giving presentations at conferences and user groups throughout the UK, Europe and the US, mainly on his pet subjects of Technical Debt, Refactoring and Social Network Analysis.

What's New in PowerShell v3, and Introducing Script Explorer

PowerShell version 3 will be coming along with Windows 8 and brings with it additional features, syntax elements and cmdlets. This session will cover some of the highlights (based on the current CTP2 code), including the new workflow functionality, which has the potential to revolutionise the way that sys admins manage systems (and clouds!) going forward.

If that wasn’t enough, we'll also look at the soon-to-be-released Microsoft Script Explorer for Windows PowerShell. This new tool lets you search and browse PowerShell content in online repositories, as well as your own local scripts, making it easy for new and experienced scripters to avoid re-inventing wheels.

Jonathan NobleJonathan started his career in IT early, being kept out of primary school assemblies in order to show teachers how to use BBC Model Bs. After watching Top Gun too many times, and a less than fun part-time job in PC World, he nearly gave up computing and became a fighter pilot, but was somehow drawn back to the keyboard and has spent the last dozen years managing Windows systems at Newcastle University. His primary focus is management and automation around Windows Server products, Active Directory and Exchange; mainly using PowerShell. A blogger for many years and Twitter addict, Jonathan became an active member of the PowerShell community from early in its life and received Microsoft MVP awards in July 2009 and January 2012. He is also a member of the TechNet UK Community Council. When he's not writing PowerShell scripts, he's a massive fan of basketball; both the NBA and the Newcastle Eagles.


The event will be hosted in Room 1.02 of Claremont Tower at Newcastle University. For a detailed campus map -

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NEBytes November 2011 Special - Gill Cleeren on WinRT and Switching on the Cloud for Silverlight

Join North East Bytes for the second event in an action packed month of November!!!

We are pleased to welcome Gill Cleeren, Microsoft Regional Director and Silverlight MVP as he visits on his tour!!

Date: Tuesday 22nd November 2011

Time: 18:30-21:00

WinRT and Metro Applications

At BUILD 2011, Microsoft announced Windows 8. This upcoming version of Windows is probably the biggest change the OS ever went through. Windows 8 focuses on web, apps, touch and the tablet form factor. For developers, things will change as well. They need to be ready to build applications, called Metro applications, tailored for Windows 8 or adapt their existing applications for the new OS. Together with Windows 8, Microsoft announced Windows Runtime (WinRT), a new way of working with Windows.

As you can see, that's a lot of new stuff to get your head around! To help you, Gill Cleeren, Microsoft Regional Director and Silverlight MVP will explain you the new strategy that Microsoft is taking. In this talk, we'll see what WinRT really is, how we can use it to build Metro applications with and how we can leverage C# and Silverlight knowledge to build Metro applications. We'll take a look at a fully working application as well to give you a clear picture of all the knowledge you'll gather during this hour.

By joining this session, the developer story for Windows 8 will have less secrets for you!

Switching on the Cloud for Silverlight

What happens if you combine 2 of the hottest technologies for your applications? Find out in this very session! If we combine the capabilities of Windows Azure with the rich UX of Silverlight, we are capable of building great... what am I saying: exceptional web applications. We'll look at building an app in Silverlight running from Azure and we'll look at the topics of interest that you'll encounter when hosting services in the cloud to be consumed from Silverlight, considerations for Windows Azure Storage if used from Silverlight etc.

Gill Cleeren

Gill Cleeren is Microsoft Regional Director (, MVP ASP.NET, INETA speaker bureau member and Silverlight Insider. He lives in Belgium where he works as .NET architect at Ordina. Passionate about .NET, he’s always playing with the newest bits. In his role as Regional Director, Gill has given many sessions, webcasts and trainings on new as well as existing technologies, such as Silverlight, ASP.NET and WPF. He also leads VISUG (, the largest .NET user group in Belgium. He’s the author of the upcoming book called Silverlight Data Access Cookbook. You can find his blog at


The event will be hosted in Room 120 of the Claremont Building at Newcastle University. For a detailed campus map - (Identified by number 32 on the maps).

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NEBytes November 2011 - Virtualising SharePoint and Mobile BI

Join North East Bytes for the first event in an action packed month of November!!!

We are pleased to welcome newly-awarded SQL Server MVP, Jen Stirrup and veteran SharePoint MVP, John Timney.

Date: Wednesday 16th November 2011

Time: 18:30-21:00

Mobile Business Intelligence Using Microsoft and Tableau

Mobile Business Intelligence allows end users to access data to support their decisions, irrespective of time and place. The Apple iPad is the definitive tablet of the decade, and is game-changer as a credible business tool. PowerPivot is a game-changer because it places data, and data structures, back in the hands of business users. Apple’s cutting edge usability, along with PowerPivot’s accessibility, can be combined to enhance productivity for mobile business users. Together, these technologies can support Mobile Business Intelligence as an essential tool for end users who need data 'on the go'.

What you will learn from this session:

  • Capabilities of Microsoft PowerPivot in terms of scalability and empowering access to data
  • Using PowerPivot as source for data, viewing the visualisation via an Apple iPad
  • Specific considerations for visualising data to serve Mobile Business Intelligence, supported by Tableau

Come and see Mobile Business Intelligence in action using the Apple iPad, with Microsoft PowerPivot as a data source.

Jen Stirrup

Jen Stirrup is a newly-awarded SQL Server Most Valuable Professional (MVP). She is the joint owner of Copper Blue Consulting Ltd, and specialises in Business Intelligence with a focus on Data Visualisation. Jen has conducted projects in the UK and mainland Europe. Jen has previously spoken at SQLBits, SQLPASS Northern Europe, the UK, mainland Europe and the United States as well as other Tableau community events on the topic of Business Intelligence and Data Visualisation. She blogs regularly on these topics at and can be found tweeting at

SharePoint Virtualisation (Level 100) IT Pro or Technical Beginner

Sharepoint 2010 Virtualisation remains a hot topic and for many firms it is still as yet unexplored territory and the concepts surrounding virtualisation are pushing the knowledge boundaries for Sharepoint Infrastructure Architects, Administrators and Solution Architects into areas they thought they wouldn’t need to understand, away from the physical and into the conceptual. This presentation offers an introductory view of some of the important aspects to consider when thinking about utilizing virtualization in the Sharepoint 2010 world and considers reasons for virtualizing Sharepoint 2010, supported physical and virtual platform architectures, guidelines for choosing which aspects of farm to virtualize, support and the issues it brings, considers layered designs as an easy means of visualising virtual architecture and introduces conceptual Geo-DR.

John Timney

He currently sits within the Senior Leadership Team as Enterprise Assurance and Strategy Lead Architect at the UK Department of Education’s flagship Government Information Workplace programme, specialising in Delivery Assurance and Strategy around Sharepoint (2007 & 2010 (TAP member)).
He is now involved in G-CLOUD, an IL3 compliant private cloud delivering Sharepoint 2010. The role involves advising Project Directors and Managers, Client Directors and Technology Leaders, End Users, Technical Architects, Developers and Designers to set a roadmap for technology evolution and transformation. John has experience of a diverse technology stack with excellent consulting experience around complimentary products like Meridio, Livelink and Documentum gained with substantial pre-sales ITT & PQQ response experience for major public sector clients.


The event will be hosted in Room 120 of the Claremont Building at Newcastle University. For a detailed campus map - (Identified by number 32 on the maps).

Register for NEBytes November 2011 - Virtualising SharePoint and Mobile BI in Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom  on Eventbrite