Will "the Mighty" Strohl

Recap: Joe Brinkman Visits the Florida DNN Groups

INETA Sponsored Event With the help of INETA, the Orlando DotNetNuke® Users Group (ODUG) and the Tampa DotNetNuke® User Group were able to bring in Joe Brinkman to speak to us about DotNetNuke®.  This is always great, as INETA has a great stable of only the best speakers.  In the DNN world, those speakers include Joe and also Chris Hammond.  We had the pleasure of welcoming Chris last February.  This time, we welcomed Joe.  And he didn’t disappoint.

First Meeting: Orlando

A view from the rear of the ODUG venue The first stop on Joe’s tour was to the ODUG.  It proved to be a challenging meeting to say the least.  As the leader of the UG, I have many things that I have to get done the day of the event.  Usually, these many tasks are easy and quick to take of.  However, with the influx of projects, duties, and tasks at my day job recently, time is extremely short, and incoming requests and information has becoming overwhelming to say the least.  (Very good problems to have.)  As a result, this day proved to have more of that than usual, putting my head in a whirlwind of multi-tasking.

Overcoming Challenges

That being said, I also had some other hurdles that plagued me.  I didn’t expect to have a notebook to run the slide decks that night, so I was going to use someone else’s.  (My notebook had an untimely demise, resulting in it becoming a folding desktop.)  In preparation of that, I had moved all of the files we needed onto a thumb drive.  Easy!  I was very happily surprised though to finally receive my new notebook late in the afternoon.  In all of the excitement, and other things going on, I remembered the notebook and forgot the thumb drive. 

Upon arriving at our venue, I found out that we had many people coming in from Tampa (90 miles) for the meeting.  This was no surprise.  We get that a lot.  However, one of those people was Joe Brinkman, and there were newly opened sinkholes in the main road that gets you from there to Orlando.  Everyone was delayed and many people chose to take detours, making any route to Orlando more troublesome than usual.  Joe and others ended up being late to the meeting.  We’d make up for it though!

I forgot that we needed plates and cups.  Luckily, Jim Begley, the DNNTampa UG Leader, was kind enough to bring some in on the way to our meeting.  Problem solved!  I just forgot to pay him back.  D’oh!  So I will have to remember to do that the next time I see him.  :)  Thanks, Jim!

When your UG meeting is sponsored by INETA, one of the requirements that they have is to give your meeting attendees  a short survey about the event.  That’s the least that we can do!  But I forgot those at the office.  Ugh!  So, to recap that, I forgot our welcome and sponsor slide decks and the survey forms at work. 

CoLab Orlando One of the benefits of our venue being what it is, is that CoLab Orlando happens to be a ready-to-use collaborative work space.  From our room, we have unlimited open Internet access, and all of the other business amenities, such as printing capabilities!

As a stroke of luck, I have temporarily opened my work machine up to allow me to connect to it via RDP.  So, I was able to download the files we needed, including a digital copy of our survey forms.  I did that, only to find out that my new laptop didn’t come pre-installed with Microsoft Office.  That was done on purpose.  There’s no sense in paying Dell for it, if you’re in the BizSpark program!  Though, it presented a challenge.  I could not open the surveys in Word, and I could not show the slide decks at all.

Pulling out the last bit of resourcefulness that I had for the day, I logged back into my work PC and converted the surveys to PDF and sent them back to me.  I then downloaded and installed a PowerPoint Viewer and we were in business!  The rest of the meeting was cake and pie! :)

Joe’s Presentation: Using XSLT in DotNetNuke®

Joe Brinkman speaking during his presentation at the ODUG Joe’s presentation this night was to show us how we can use XSLT in our DNN sites.  I had done this before, but with Joe being the innovative guy that he is, I knew that we were all in to see some really cool things.  That assumption couldn’t have been more true!

As part of Joe’s intro, he began showing us the newest iteration of the Core Blog Module (currently in beta).  I immediately tweeted out about it, because it was clear that the Blog Module team has done a fantastic job in adding features and cleaning things up.  Kudos to Antonio Chagoury and his project team!  Then, he also began to show us other blog sites that you might now.  Among them was mostly Antonio’s, but my ego was stroked a bit when he also began showing my blog as well.  He then began to talk to us about some of the “features” that many people think are “missing” from the DNN blog engine. 

That often frustrates me, because people don’t realize that there are other modules that compliment the Blog Module to account for that.  Modules in DNN, can be thought of as plug-ins in Wordpress.

Anyhow, Joe continued by introducing the Reports Module.  Within a matter of minutes, Joe was able to show us how to create a section that we see a lot in other blog engines, such as “Recent Posts,” “Recent Comments,” and “About the Author.”  These sections looked just like other sites, completely stylized.  All it took was executing an existing query, adding a XSLT snippet, and using existing DNN functionality.  It was very cool! 

In another stroke of my ego, Joe showed us how he was using my Injection Module to inject content into his demo site.  He was injecting a style sheet into his site, which was making the footer sections in the blog look pretty.  Sa-weet!

He had a handful of really great examples of using XSLT, but he ended with showing us how he works with the XSLT in Visual Studio.  Part of that was presenting us with a few tools that he uses to do various things when working with XML and XSL, such as XPathMania.

ODUG Members at the After Party The session went over our time, but that’s expected when several people are late. :)  But we rolled with it, ending the meeting with our door prize raffle.  Among the prizes were Windows 7 Ultimate, Camtasia Studio, TribalHut CRM, DNNPM, a Salaro skin, and more.  Thank you so much to the sponsors of the ODUG!

The meeting was succeeded by a really fun time at Finnhenry’s downstairs, where we proceeded to talk it up and cut loose.  Out of all of the user groups I’ve ever been to, I really love hanging out with the ODUG members after our meetings.  We have the best user group members!

Second Meeting: Tampa

DotNetNuke Tampa User Group (DNNTampa) As Ralph Williams so eloquently said when diming me out on Twitter, I unfortunately arrived late to Joe’s second meeting at DNNTampa.  It seems that for two days in a row, the planets were aligned against me.  I will not bore you with those details.  But do know this…  It really sucks when GPS and map services have not caught up with new street names, and the position of a major roadway when the lanes are all permanently shifted.  Ugh.

I arrived though just after what I can only assume was Joe’s introduction period to DNN Skinning Widgets, his topic for the evening.  I saw him giving a demo of how the embed widget works.  The widget framework was primarily created by Nik Kalyani, another innovator, and among Joe’s demos was an extension of one of Nik’s widgets.  Joe showed us how we could include a more Web 2.0 experience in printing blog posts.  The concept surrounded removing the default print option without changing the core code, and then replacing it with a nice link.  Clicking the link would initiate a lightbox-style pop-up where you would get a WYSIWYG view of the blog post, along with a large print button.  I was extremely impressed with this demo!  the wheels in my head are turning, to say the least.  Hopefully, that results in something more than that though. ;)

Joe Brinkman showing of his DNN skin on his MyTouch Android phone to Will Strohl Despite Joe’s notebook having really weird (and funny) issues throughout his session, his examples were all very cool and inspiring!

The session was so inspiring, that we decided to end the night at Bar Louie.  This bar was really nice.  It leaned more towards being a restaurant, but I have rarely seen more beer taps behind a bar – which included my favored Newcastle!  :)  The beer, wings, nachos, and cheese fries broke up the political conversations perfectly too! :)

Conclusion

It’s always cool to speak with and see Joe.  He’s a really a salt-of-the-earth guy, and it’s always a fun learning experience to see what he’s working on.  There are few people out there who know more about DNN, and that list probably gets much smaller when you refine it to people that are thinking of new ways to use existing DNN technology.  If you ever have a chance to see one of Joe’s presentations, do not pass it up! 



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