SharePoint Saturday DC – Reston 2014

Once again, the SPSDC organizers put on a great event this past weekend!

I attended this time as a speaker and also as a vendor, both of which I enjoyed very much.

My presentation was entitled “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle with SharePoint”, which was an end-user focused overview of various ways to prevent inconsistencies and redundancy in SharePoint content by taking advantage of out-of-the-box features. This was a new session for me, and I was really pleased with the positive feedback I received. I plan to add some content based on questions raised during the session, and hope to present this session again at future events :-)

Here are my slides: Reduce Reuse Recycle

Ned Dickert wrote a nice blog post about my session (thanks!)

LT boothAfter my session (which was in the first time slot), I spent the rest of the day at the Lightning Tools booth in the vendor area, talking to attendees about our products. This is one of my favorite things to do, because we offer something of interest to pretty much anyone, no matter their role in SharePoint, and I love having conversations with people where I can help them solve real problems they’re having.

SPSDC SharePintAt the end of the day, SharePint was held at the aptly-named World of Beer in Reston Town Center. They had a really nice selection of beers, and I liked that you could browse their beer list on mobile devices, by origin and style. Among others, I tried a flight of local beers… yum! And of course I really enjoyed spending time with old SharePoint friends, and making some new ones :-)

See you next year!

SharePoint Saturday DC – Custom Lists

Here’s my slidedeck from SPSDC (June 7, 2014). As those who attended my session know, it was mostly demo, so I’ve only posted the slides containing the reference information I mentioned during the session.

Custom Lists 101 – resource

Thanks to everyone who attended my session! I had some good conversations with several people afterward, which is one of the great things about SharePoint Saturdays :-)

In A Wink

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It’s Christmas Day, and that means it’s time to work my Stave Santa puzzle (entitled “In A Wink”) for what I see on the handwritten label is the 20th year!
Back 20-some years ago, when business was booming and we were all flush, I discovered these gorgeous Stave jigsaw puzzles. Each is hand cut from cherry wood, and you can order custom pieces to be fitted within the puzzle…

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We had gotten several for our dad at that time, and I own three of them, which is probably nearly $1,000 worth of puzzling masterwork. Kind of ridiculous, I know, but oh, the satisfyingly quiet little “chick” of perfect wooden pieces going into place…
My Christmas Santa puzzle is especially fun because it’s one of their trick puzzles, meaning some pieces will fit in two places. See… this almost all fits, but is obviously wrong:

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But what I love most about this puzzle is that you really have to do it the wrong way first, before you can change a few pieces around so it’s right:

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My annual reminder that one must often fail before one can succeed… :-)

Merry Christmas, friends!

SharePoint Saturday UK – Fun With Lists

Here’s my slidedeck from SPSUK (November 9, 2013). As those who attended my session know, it was mostly demo, so the last 6 slides contain the reference information I mentioned during the session.

Fun With Lists

Arriving in Second Summer

It’s been 6 or 7 years since we visited my sister L, who now lives in Naples, Florida, but with some Delta miles to spend, and with my other sister C and her family (husband K, teenage daughter E, and pre-teen daughter J) planning a Fall trip to Disney World (from Germany), we decided it was about time we did!

Our trip began rather inauspiciously, when A got an alert from the Delta app as we were having coffee at the Pittsburgh airport, that our first flight to LaGuardia was delayed by 20 minutes, cutting our already “pushing it” connection to “not likely at all”. But a quick conversation with the nice Delta agent at our gate got us switched to a flight through Atlanta instead, just about to board, which got us to Fort Myers almost 2 hours ahead of schedule!

Old Naples PubThat meant: time enough to meet L for a couple beers before “the Germans” arrived from Miami! She drove over to our motel (The Mariner, more on that later), and we walked the block or so to Old Naples Pub. L wanted to sit inside in the coolth, but we just-off-the-plane northerners overrode her and asked to sit outside in the tropical warmth :-)

We hadn’t actually eaten lunch yet, though it was after 3, so we ordered some chips & artichoke dip, and a fruit & cheese plate, just hit the spot. We also had to try the Coastal Calamari (“drizzled with sweet chili glaze and sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds”), though we weren’t sure if the name meant that it was from this coast, or just coastal-style… but it was a really tasty way of serving it. I always like to try to drink as local as possible, so I tried a Weizen from Naples Beach Brewery, which was really very good, very true to style. We had a nice time catching up with L, and checking in via MLB.com as our Buccos were creaming the Cards in game 2 of the NLDS. #RaiseIt

We  still had some time to kill before the Germans were due in, so we walked the whole block from our hotel to the beach, and took a nice stroll southward. I found a bunch of really cool clear disc-shaped shells… I just need to think of something to make with them!

Naples Pier

After the Germans arrived and got checked in, we all met at Ridgway’s for dinner, which was really very good, as well as being great to relax and talk with my sisters and their families. I had a cup of gazpacho, and the goat cheese tart appetizer as my meal (“Goat Cheese Tart with Ratatouille ~ Artisanal Greens, Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette”… SO good, the crust especially!). I paired it with a glass of Dog Point sauvignon blanc from Marlborough — getting myself ready for later this year, which will be our 3rd summer ;-) — and left room for the raspberry Crème Brule and an espresso.

Poor J was falling asleep in her chair after being up since 4am German time, so C took her back to the motel before dessert. A & I, and K & E, decided to walk out to the end of the pier before going back to the motel, as the Germans hadn’t had a chance to get to the beach yet. It turned out to be pretty exciting, because there were a lot of people night-fishing there, and two guys hooked and reeled to the pier the same (quite large) shark! Made us think twice (but only briefly) about going swimming nearby in the days ahead…

What’s this… a blog post?!?

Um, yeah, so I see it’s been two years since I posted anything on my poor little blog. I started to write a really passionate post last year around this time, about the upcoming presidential election, but it turned out to be too difficult to put into words, so it’s still a draft.

But recently, a group of ex-Vox bloggers started a group on Facebook, and one of my old Vox friends invited me in. Many of us still feel the loss of the Vox community when they closed their doors, and many of us fell out of the habit of blogging because of it. But seeing all those old friendly names got me thinking that I really do miss having things to say that are longer than 140 characters, and it’s also true that I enjoyed using this space to record events and travels that I’d really like to retain a record of to review in my dotage.

So I posted about last weekend’s Brewersfest, which was quite enjoyable, and well worth remembering. Here’s to hoping it’s not the last post for another two years…

Brewersfest 2013

Campground full of brewers

Campground full of brewers

Last Saturday, after seeing a poster for it while picking up Rye Porter ingredients, we headed up to Cooper’s Lake Campground for the 5th annual Brewersfest, sponsored by Porter House Brew Shop. We had read about it in previous years, but the date hadn’t worked for us in the past. I have to say, though, I think the date will definitely work out for us in the future… what a fun event!

As the event’s tagline says, BrewersFest is about brewing beer, period. It’s sort of like a craft beer festival, where you pay an entry fee, get a tasting glass and move around from table to table. Except these are all homebrewers, brewing is happening on-site during the festival, and it’s a relaxed campground atmosphere.

Adorable mini-tasting glasses

Adorable mini-tasting glasses

It was a gorgeous August day, not too hot but brilliantly sunny. I wished later that I’d taken a photo of our tasting glasses with beer in them, against the blue country sky… but I didn’t :-( We arrived around noon, and started out at Porter House Brew Shop’s registration tent, where we were given our Taster’s Choice ballots. Each brewer’s beer had a number, and you were to write in one of the numbers on the ballot by 6pm, with the brewer having the most votes winning the Taster’s Choice Glass (and the accolades of their peers). With that end in mind, I started recording the numbers of my tastings on my phone’s notepad, so I would have some chance of figuring out which beer I liked best at the end of the day – as opposed to “the last one I drank”. An additional bonus to that method was that I had a record of the day, and hence am able to write this post a week later :-)

So, to begin:

First up was Porter House’s own brews, which weren’t part of the competition, but we felt we should try them. But unfortunately, because they weren’t votable, I apparently didn’t decide to start making full notes until after that. I just noted we each had two samples. Generally speaking, A & I each tried different beers at each stand, but I only noted my own samples, and didn’t note the tastes I took from his glass.

We then decided we should really eat some lunch before an afternoon of beer sampling, so we headed for the barn and ordered food. While it was being prepared, I ventured out with both of our glasses in search of some beers to go with lunch. At the first brewer I came to, I got a Yam Pale Ale to pair with my pierogies, and a Red Ale to go with A’s burger… good choices! The Yam Pale Ale was nice and refreshing, fairly hoppy (the brewer showed me the hops he’d grown), and with a hint of sweet yam.

After lunch, we headed right back to that brewer, because the Scotch Ale with figs had caught my eye, Scotch Ale being one of my favorite styles in general. The brewer said that was his personal favorite, brewed in honor of his grandfather, a Greek immigrant who introduced him to the summer sweetness of fresh figs. This was one of my favorite things about Brewersfest… a story with almost every beer :-)  Figs as an addition to Scotch Ale is a definite winner, by the way.

Next we wandered across the campground “street” to a tent where I tried a Honey Brown Sugar “Amber Ale”. Not what I would call an amber ale really, quite hoppy – which is one of the problems with people’s beer names, although I’ve found it to often be true of commercial craft beers as well.

Then we decided to be more methodical, and go down one row and up the next. My next sample probably shouldn’t be mentioned, as it wasn’t exactly (i.e. at all) beer… but it packed quite a punch and I poured more of it into my glass than I’d meant to. Whoof! But the same guy (I think) had an Orange Blossom Honey Wheat Pils on tap, which was a nice tasty beer.

To balance out the strong stuff, our next stop was a pair of friendly brewers who leaned toward herbal adjuncts. Their votable sample was a Lemon Balm brew, which was almost like a shandy, but with the pure lemon flavor of lemon balm – I think they were right that you get a more lemony flavor with the herb than you would with actual lemons. Since we showed interest in what they were doing with herbs, they also offered us a Chamomile Wheat, which was almost like drinking chamomile tea. Seriously, I would drink that if I were sick!

Next up was a young couple from Rochester NY who hadn’t been brewing very long. They were offering a “Scottish Ale”, but they said it hadn’t really turned out like they’d hoped, I think because they didn’t know they had to crush the grains, so it was pretty watery. But really, I kind of liked it… tasted of molasses, and it was more refreshing than a Scotch Ale normally is.

My next sample is noted as “Prince William English Mild – yes”, meaning it was indeed an English Mild Ale  – good, to style, but nothing special.

I tried 3 beers from the next brewer, who I think was offering 6 or 7: Afterburner IPA with Scotch Bonnet peppers (really tasty with a nice little kick of heat), Donkey Punch (an 18.2 beer, sort of barleywine-ish, 5 years old, soooo smooth and malty), and Siberian Hammer III (a Russian Imperial Stout, also high ABV, another style I enjoy, and well done).

After those samples, we felt the need for a little sit-down, so we moseyed up to a bench in the shade and talked about beers for a while. Then we decided it was time for dessert, so we headed over to the brewer we’d seen near the barn who had mostly meads. I had a lemon raspberry mead, which really hit the spot, he somehow got the fruits to really come through rather than much of the flavor fermenting away. But unfortunately there was a stand-in pouring at the moment, so we couldn’t ask about it.

Annnd… back to the beers, picking up where we left off. I tried a Ginger Saison from the next brewer, which I think was pretty good, though I didn’t make any special notes about it. Then I had to try his “How did your raspberry lip gloss get on my stones” for the name alone :-) He said it was the result of brewing a Stone IPA clone with some Raspberry Wheat residue still in the equipment. I think it was the same table (but maybe the other brewer) who had a Black Rye IPA. Rye in general is another personal favorite, so I tried to catch all rye anythings at the festival. The next sample I just listed as “porter”, so apparently it was that memorable.

The next brewer had a nice Belgian wit, but the Roggenbier listed on their sign really caught my eye. But it wasn’t yet available; the brewer said it was on its way, with his wife, and to come back later, so I promised I would, because I’ve had rye this and rye that, but I don’t think I’ve ever had an actual roggenbier.

Next I sampled Vagabond Gingerbread Ale, for which I didn’t note a number. I think I recall that brewer saying that he was about to go commercial with his beers, so that’s why he didn’t enter them in the competition. Fair enough. I didn’t note that I especially liked it, so I think it was less tasty than I expected.

Time for another sit-down… We chose the “Tilted Tavern“, a sort of portable event bar, with nice wooden benches all around, manned by an elf and a hippie. This was the only booth at the event pouring commercial beers. I’m really not sure why anyone was drinking them at all… except that’s what we did, too. I had a glass of something which I didn’t note, and a fresh-made mojito, which went down a treat! We hung out there for a while, chatting with the bartender, who claimed to not really be a “beer guy”, but had found some of the homebrews he liked.

Onward! I next sampled a Kölsch, which I noted was “meh”, then a Dunkel (“really good”), and a Blonde (“meh”). Brilliant reporting on my part :-)

Next was another unnumbered brew, “Kaliber raspberry tea”, which tasted just like that. I think I recall the brewer saying he just didn’t register for the competition, which was a shame. I sampled a Root Beer Porter from the next brewer, and it really really tasted just like root beer. I can see this beer being dangerous.

Next was the B.A.S.H. tent, which had a number of members’ brews, but at that point I was only up to doing one per table, so I tried a Dunkel Weizen, which was quite enjoyable.

By this time, we had made our way all the way around the main area, so we stopped back at the Porter House tent, and I tried their Black IPA, which wasn’t bad.

Then we noticed there was another little sort of cul-de-sac of brewers we had missed, so we headed there. My next note says: “bekguan Carmen. Holijua pepper. – wit with – interestunf” :-D   That’s a combination of typing on my phone in the bright sun wearing my contact lenses, autocorrect, and possibly the effect of – if you’re counting – roughly 30 2-ounce samples to this point. That I can understand this note after a week is surely a tribute to… something. This was a Belgian wit with ghost peppers (Jolokia), and it was interesting, meaning I wouldn’t have thought of making a hot wit, but I quite liked it.

Then we heard people mentioning the keg toss competition going on, so we made our way to the big field to sit and watch for a while. We caught the 2nd round of the women’s toss, and then all of the men’s. It was interesting to see the different tossing styles people attempted, everything from sort of bowling, to football-style (not at all effective), to discus-style (which was the winner, at something around 25′ I think).

Back to the beers in the cul-de-sac… I tried an English pale ale from one brewer, an IPA from one with no number (which was “bleah”), and an Amber Ale which wasn’t bad. I took a taste of A’s Chocolate Milk Stout sample, which honestly tasted like a cold glass of chocolate milk. That’s the one A ultimately voted as his favorite.

Ever since hearing about the Roggenbier, we kept checking back with that brewer, and it kept not being there yet. Then it finally arrived at this point, which was after 5:00, but they said to give it 20 minutes to chill, so we went and sat in the grass for a while. It was tasty, though possibly not worth waiting all day for :-)

In the end, my vote went to the Donkey Punch, partly because I really did like it a lot, but also partly because I liked all three of that brewer’s beers, and felt he deserved my vote as a generally good brewer.

I should also mention that I wore my Pittsburgh Beer Ladies shirt to the event, and got several nice comments on it, some who’d heard of our group, and some wondering about it.

So that was our first Brewersfest, definitely not our last, assuming they keep it up. It was really enjoyable to get to talk with each brewer, and it was pretty cool to see so many different equipment setups. And the creativity! I tasted some flavors in beers that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought I’d like, but they usually worked. $20 for a day full of good beers with other enthusiasts… highly recommended!