No, I’m not talking about that test server you’re running on your machine, I mean local such as in “geography” and, dare I say it, non-virtual reality.

Last night I attended a “Tech-Bash.” It was a local launch event for Visual Studio 2005, and MS SQL Server 2005. It was sponsored by .NET Valley, a local user group that’s headed up by Jason Gaylord, a fellow MS MVP.

I’d never attended one of these events before, although I do take part in its newsgroup.

I guess my absence from its previous meetings was because I’m always busy with work and, to tell you the truth, the interests and specialties of its members are more advanced than mine. I decided to make an exception and attend this one since there would be Microsoft “Evangelist” speakers that I’d met before and enjoyed such as Michael Murphy and Bryan Von Axelson, plus it was pretty clear that Jason was trying his best to get the attendance up to par.

At the end of the evening, I was very glad I went – not just because I won a door prize of VS 2005 and SQL Server 2005 (Regular Licenses! Value, about $6,000!), but because of something I hadn’t anticipated; It’s incredibly productive and inspirational to be in the company of people like yourself who have similar interest in Web-delivered technology and that sort of thing.

I walked away not just with my “swag,” but with a couple of new ideas of how I could use .NET 2.0 and its new “master pages” and built-in navigational components to improve my “regular” site templating and deployment techniques. I also met a few good people who I’m sure I’ll stay in contact with.

In closing, I encourage you to seek out your local user groups and Special Interest Groups and attend their events. While they’re not all going to be MS involved “Launch Events,” they will almost assuredly benefit you in some way, even if that’s just stepping away from what you’re doing and looking at a bigger picture. There’s great value in this sort of thing. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to capitalize on it.

Chris Leeds, MVP, WPD
Chris Leeds is a longtime digital photographer and Web enthusiast.

Chris has recently developed and released a software product that allows Webmasters to create Web sites that can be edited by their clients with just a browser.

Chris also maintains and operates Northeast Digital Photo.

Chris has additionally had “Tips and Tricks” and numerous articles published, on Microsoft’s site and other locations, regarding various facets of FrontPage and recently served as a technical reviewer for the O’Reilly Press “FrontPage 2003 the Missing Manual.”

[tags].net,chris leeds,.net valley,jason gaylord,bryan von axelson,michael murphy,tech-bash,visual studio 2005,sql server 2005[/tags]