Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

BFusion/BFlex 2010

October 18, 2010

Last month, 16 Web Monkeys with Laserbeams went to BFusion/BFlex 2010.  What a cool little gem of a conference.  There were some truly world class presenters there.  One even shed new light on a sore spot of mine that made me reconsider my entire belief system.

Well, my entire belief system on Unit Testing.

Hi.  My name is Jim.  …and I’ve been abused by bad Unit Tests.

I’m sure to talk more about that eventually.  For now let me say that Michael Labriola over at Digital Primates is a fantastic guy with a solid view on writing solid apps.  He introduced the idea that separation of concerns is what’s key to unit tests.  The issue with tests is that they can’t test the code cause it’s untestable.  A method should do only one thing which makes for easier testing.

I like it.  I like it a lot.

Our very own Doug Smith spoke about RESTful services as well.  Yeah, I’ve been a POST-heavy addict as well.  It seems I’ve got issues.  REST makes sense.  Almost too much sense.

You have to catch these guys talk.  They’re really top notch!  Keep your eyes on next years Bfusion/Bflex conference.  It’s hot, and you’re sure to learn something and have a great time!

Bflex/Bfusion 09

November 12, 2009

Nine of our team members went to Bloomington, Indiana for the 2009 Bfusion/Bflex Conference.  Here is some of their feedback about their awesome experience!

“BFusion/BFlex 09 was an opportunity for me to get the latest on the technologies we use daily. It’s inspiring and motivating to be around folks who are passionate about those technologies. This was a fun conference; Bloomington’s a nice town, and the facility at Indiana University was first-rate.”  – Ron Coffman | Web Marketing Developer

“I think the BFlex/BFusion conference was a great opportunity to learn from others who are doing some really cool stuff with ColdFusion and Flex.  This included coding best practices, latest server stack solutions, options for MVC frameworks, performance tuning points, and integration suites.  It also gave our team the ability to connect with some developers who can give us expertise as we move forward with some of our new projects in the next year.”   – Jim Ebert | Team Lead – ELP Web Development

“It was good conference. I learned a few new things and got to see some of the stuff other people in our industry are doing.” – Jon Fouss | ELP Web Developer

“The conference was very worthwhile. My favorite was the Mach-II 1.8 session with Peter Farrell, Kurt Wiersma, and Matt Woodward. Even though we have been using Mach-II 1.8 for several months, they shared very helpful things that will directly improve our applications. That session alone was worth the trip. My favorite Flex session was on Practical Cairngorm by T. Scot Clausing. Not only did he do a great job of showing how Cairngorm can improve project organization and productivity, he showed a very clean overall project structure and also took time to answer questions.” – Doug Smith | ELP Web Developer

“Bfusion/Bflex was a good event, well worth attending. It is very much focused on “hands-on” learning.  The facility at IU was fantastic.  They had some registration problems that contributed to low attendance. I think next year they will have it ironed out and I would definately attend again next year.” –Jason York | FPU Church Web Programmer

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August 7, 2009

To give back to the local tech community, we’re making the FPU Conference Center available to user groups for upcoming conferences, meetings, etc.

This beauty of a building is located behind Financial Peace Plaza in Cool Springs Brentwood, TN.  Capacity of 300 with sound system, projectors, and dining area.

Please contact us for more information!

615-515-3223 ext. 5566

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Conference Center (1 of 1)

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Adobe ColdFusion Rocks Lampo

July 1, 2009

On June 18th we were honored to have had the 2009 Adobe ColdFusion User Group Tour on our very own stomping grounds in Brentwood, TN.  The event was held in our conference center and we had a great turn out.  Greg Wilson, an Adobe Product Evangelist, demo’ed many new features in the upcoming release of ColdFusion 9.  The majority of our crew attended and took a lot away from it.  Here are some of their thoughts and photos with highlights from the exciting night!

“I’m particularly pleased with the ability to do much more in <cfscript /> that ever before. As a Java developer, it makes ColdFusion much more appealing. Also, Hibernate integration is particularly interesting – that should improve productivity for data-driven apps dramatically.”

Doug Smith – Sr. Web Programmer

“It was great to see how much Adobe has their finger on the pulse of the development community.  Many of the new features for CF9 are things that just in the past week I had heard someone say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you could do that in Coldfusion?’ and sure enough, soon you’ll be able to.  Getting that behind-the-scenes perspective from Greg was really cool.”

Ty DeLong – Web Programmer

“The most interesting parts of the event for me were seeing the demonstration of the new, long-awaited Bolt IDE.  It has a lot of nice features that should improve development.  I also enjoyed the new features of the next version of the ColdFusion language. The presenter explained that Adobe has added a lot of little features to make syntax more consistent throughout ColdFusion. They’ve also added some interesting controls, ie. the DataGrid, which might help us to do some standard things more quickly.”

Ron Coffman – Marketing Web Programmer

“The event was a great example of Adobe stepping up once more and retooling ColdFusion into an industry-leading Rapid Application Development language. It was awesome to hear first-hand about some features that I’ve wanted to see for quite a while!”

Tim Kucejko – Web Programmer

“Several great features were presented. Bolt looks like a nice upgrade to CFEclipse. I like the new tags that simplify using JavaScript interface components. I also like the enhancements being made to the cfscript tag. But best of all: ternary operator …”

Jon Fouss – Sr. Web Programmer



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2009 Adobe ColdFusion User Group Tour

June 5, 2009

In just a few short weeks, we’ll have the privilege of hosting Adobe and the Nashville Cold Fusion User Group here at our facilities in Brentwood, TN for the 2009 Adobe ColdFusion User Group Tour.

Here’s the official post from the NCFUG website:

We are SUPER excited to have the opportunity to get the surrounding ColdFusion community together to talk about the next release of ColdFusion. This year our presenter will be Greg Wilson, an AIR, ColdFusion, Flex, and LiveCycle ES evangelist at Adobe.

Greg will be coming to Nashville to talk about the new features in ColdFusion, how ColdFusion integrates with other technologies like AIR, Flex, and LiveCycle, and he’ll be demoing many of the new features in the next version.

We’ll have food, drink, and some awesome prizes/giveaways, so you do not want to miss this special event. Finally, I’m happy to report the great folks at Dave Ramsey / The Lampo Group, Inc. will be hosting this event at the Russ Carroll Financial Peace Conference Center just minutes from downtown Nashville. They were a big reason this same event in 2007 was a success and we are excited they’ll be part of it again.

As we work with Adobe to nail down some final details we will update this page. So go ahead and RSVP and check back for additional information.

Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 7:00pm CDT

Russ Carroll Financial Peace Conference Center (map link below)

Greg Wilson – Adobe evangelist for AIR, ColdFusion, Flex and LiveCycle ES

RSVP Info:
In order to help us plan the event we kindly ask you to RSVP by pressing the link below. It only takes a few seconds!

Location Info
1749 Mallory Lane, Brentwood, Tennessee 37027

Map of Location

RSVP for this Meeting

We hope you can come out and join us!

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

December 9, 2008

It’s been an interesting year for us webmonkeys.

In the last several months a few big banks, insurance companies, and/or financial companies were deeper into sub-prime mortgages than they should have been. The US government stepped in to either loan money (AIG) or take over (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) said organizations. The aforementioned steps and those that followed have since blown open the door for much more intervention.

If you’re very familiar with Dave Ramsey, you probably know that we don’t like debt very much around here. To try and stop the one of the first multi-billion dollar bailouts from becoming law, Dave went on 32 different radio and tv shows within 36 hours talking about The Common Sense Fix as an alternative to buying hundreds of billions of bad debts.

This all came together very quickly. Needless to say, it left us in the exciting position of being able to serve more people than our website was comfortably equipped to handle at the time.

At that point in time, many of the pages on our website are generated dynamically every time someone visits. We quickly took static “snapshots” of the high-traffic dynamic pages and put them out there to speed load times. In addition, we moved a lot of our images, .css, .js, and other static files out to be served by Akamai instead of by our local servers. It’s a bit more difficult to update things when Akamai hosts them, but they have a ginormous amount of capacity in their network. To use another example from the industry, Yahoo uses Akamai for most of their static content as well. We were pleasantly surprised by how dramatic of a speed increase came from using them. Perhaps even more exciting, Akamai’s bandwidth price is less expensive than our more traditional hosting arrangements.

What else did we do to prepare? In addition to upgrading some hardware, we also looked at our code to see how we could reduce database usage. We wrote this query to analyze the top 50 queries performing IO on our database:

select top 50
qs.total_worker_time / execution_count as avg_worker_time,
substring(st.text, (qs.statement_start_offset/2)+1, ((
case qs.statement_end_offset
when -1 then datalength(st.text)
else qs.statement_end_offset
end – qs.statement_start_offset)/2) + 1) as statement_text,*
FROM sys.dm_exec_query_stats as qs with (nolock)
cross apply sys.dm_exec_sql_text(qs.sql_handle) as st
order BY avg_worker_time desc

As a quick disclaimer, the query above takes a cross section of the I/O reads executed over the last 10 minutes. We did notice significant differences in the pie charts generated at different times of the day. If you’re going to be investing a lot of time or money into making optimizations, you need to run several of these reports at different times and do some experimentation of your own to see what makes the most sense for you.

We took the results of the above query, we grouped the queries by application, and we made a quick excel pie chart like this one:

Database Usage by Application

Database Usage by Application

With this data, we were then able to dig down into the code and analyze which activities were causing the heaviest database load. In a pinch we were able to quickly shut off a scheduled task and optimize another heavy piece of code to reduce our database IO by 50%.

After the first round of optimizations, we ran the report again and created reality-based plans for further optimization should it be needed.

Getting actual concrete data on the queries actually causing I/O reads was empowering. At the outset of this we brainstormed ways to increase capacity. We proposed some fairly involved projects to optimize a few parts of the site that we knew executed queries. Thankfully we waited for real data before acting, because none of the ideas we initially proposed would have fixed any of the 50 slowest queries.

We made it through this event without serious disruption to our web visitors. However, the experience is really making us think twice about what would happen if we were ever to be Dugg or Slashdotted in a big way.

What an INCREDIBLE problem to have!

Adobe Max 2008

November 4, 2008

Adobe Max 2008

We’re headed to Adobe Max, November 17-19!  This year, we’ll have a team of 5 out in California to check out the latest from Adobe.  If you’re planning on attending and would like to meet up, we’ll be wearing “code hope” t-shirts on Monday to make it easy to find us.  Or you can drop a comment here and we can schedule a time for coffee/food.

Also be sure to check out one of our latest projects at the MapQuest booth.  We’ve been having fun with their API and Flex. 🙂

BFusion + BFlex ’08

October 8, 2008

This September 6-7 a group of us attended the BFusion + BFlex ’08 conference in Bloomington, IN.  This was a free ColdFusion and Flex hands-on conference sponsored by Adobe, Indiana University, other business and local user groups.

Day One – BFusion

For BFusion, I participated in the Advanced ColdFusion track.  There were some great sessions, but for the purposes of this post, I’ll just recap on two.  Specifically those that were emceed by Elliott Sprehn and Mike Brunt.

Elliott’s presentation on “Frameworks for SOA Platforms” walked us through a custom implementation, his “Shared Services Architecture.” The platform technology stack includes ColdSpring, Model-Glue and Fusebox, and your ORM of choice. Model-Glue is a popular ColdFusion framework that uses a MVC design pattern. Elliot is running a customized version of Model-Glue and basically using the Controller as an ESB of sorts.  For ColdFusion shops who want to migrate to an SOA platform, check out Elliot’s presentation.

Mike Brunt’s session on “ColdFusion in the Enterprise Space – Tuning and Clustering” was perfect timing for us.  We’ve just purchased new web systems hardware and are in the throws of configuring it all and rolling it out.

Day Two – BFlex

This was my first foray into Flex development.  The first day really exceeded my expectations for a free conference and day two followed suit nicely.  The session on event bubbling was really sweet – Flex has done this very nicely.

The other presentation that interesting was “Extending Components.”  I wrote my first Flash app with Remoting and some of the earlier components back in 2002.  We all remember the Pet Store app that the Flash development team at Adobe (then Macromedia) put together.  It’s cool to see how far they’ve come with the entire inheritance structure and extendability in Flex.  Really slick.  Silverlight has it’s work cut out.

The Skinny

To sum it up, it was completely worth going to this conference.  Not every session was not groundbreaking or applicable to our situation, but the ones that were valuable give me the confidence to recommend next year’s event to others (assuming there is one).

Hats off to all of the speakers and volunteers WHO PAID THEIR OWN WAY to be there and put this on for us. It was amazing to know that they did that for those attending and really enjoyed being there.

At one point I was looking for a vending machine to buy bottled water, and couldn’t find one so one of the guys from IU went to his office to get a bottle for me.  Now that’s serving with excellence!

Thanks for sponsoring and hosting such a high-caliber event and making it FREE for those attending!

…oh and did I mention the LOADS of free books/products and free lunch?

DevLink 2008

August 26, 2008

I had the opportunity to attend the 3rd annual DevLink conference this past week.  Thanks to John Kellar for squeezing me in!  All-in-all, it was a good experience.

The conference started out pretty weak for me.  The keynote speaker sounded like he was reading straight out of a white paper from several years ago about outsourcing.  Not very engaging or relevant.  I figured “Hey, the sessions can’t all be this irrelevant.”

The first breakout session I walked into was focused on testing, as I walked in I heard the speaker say he was a stastician, not a tester, and “was just filling a seat.”  That was my cue to look for something else.  So I headed over the requirements gathering session, thinking I’d hear a about a new methodology or tip.  After about 10 minutes of requirements gathering 101, I bounced.  It’s likely the first day was slated for 101 type classes, but I was looking for something more.

Most of the other tracks were focused on Microsoft development products, specifically newer ones, and probably more much more relevant.  Since, we’re not a MS development shop (primarly CF, Flex and Java), I wasn’t really interested in learning about Silverlight or WCF.

I was about to head back to the office when I remembered John Kellar talking about the “Open Groups” they started up this year.  The concept is great… pull a bunch of intelligent developers into a room and ask them what they want to talk about – what issues they’re currently facing, what technologies they are looking into, and the list goes on.

In the initial session, everyone tossed out ideas for topics, wrote them on huge sticky notes and created a schedule of open groups for the conference.  The Open Groups I attended were great – engaging discussion about current, relevant topics we’re all working through.

The Open Groups at this conference saved it for me.  I’d like to see more events geared like this.  Hats off to the organizers who put this together!