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We Are Microsoft charity challenge

I got the opportunity to participate in the We Are Microsoft Charity Challenge (under the umbrella of GiveCamp) in Dallas this past weekend.  As I wrote in a previous post, this event matches charities in need of technical assistance with coders and other tech geeks willing to give up a weekend to help out a good cause.  Most of the needs were web related, and ranged in scope from adding functionality to an existing Internet or intranet site to completely building a new web presence for the organization.

I was part of the team working with PaxUnited to create a new, more interactive website.  These folks specialize in conflict resolution and mediation services and training for students, educators, and the public at large.  Their old site was completely static and, without the in-house expertise to maintain it, it was quite stale.  Our team, consisting of Todd Stone, Andrew Dalgleish, Jay Smith, and Nathan Woodward (sorry Nathan, I don’t have a link for you… send me one and I’ll add it) built a new site for them.  Thanks also to Andrew’s wife, Jenny Leder, who wasn’t technically on the team but nonetheless rescued us from graphic design hell.

Our choice of CMS for this project was the mojoPortal framework.  We had the option of using SiteFinity or Graffiti, but opted to go with a smaller, more extensible product to allow for easier custom development.  All said, I really enjoyed this product – it’s open source and, with the exception of the dozens of stylesheets, was fairly easy to modify.  I was only slightly disappointed that I didn’t get to use my strongest skillset, specifically database development, on this project, but it was fun to break out of the usual routine and do something different.

Sadly, we didn’t win any awards, but I believe we made a difference in the charity to which we were assigned.  Our contacts there were gracious and appreciative, and I expect that they will get a lot of mileage out of the new site.  We’re still working with their web host to get them set up on a Windows hosting plan, but for now the new site resides here.

It was a very rewarding but also a very tiring weekend; I’m still about 10 hours behind on sleep.  No rest for the weary, however; I’ve got two major projects to complete before Friday, and then I leave to speak at SQL Saturday – Tampa on Saturday.  If you’re in the area, stop by and drop in on my session about scripting SSIS.

Tim Mitchell

Tim Mitchell is a business intelligence consultant, author, trainer, and Microsoft Data Platform MVP with over thirteen years of data management experience. He is the founder and principal of Tyleris Data Solutions.

Tim has spoken at international and local events including the SQL PASS Summit, SQLBits, SQL Connections, along with dozens of tech fests, code camps, and SQL Saturday events. He is coauthor of the book SSIS Design Patterns, and is a contributing author on MVP Deep Dives 2.

You can visit his website and blog at TimMitchell.net or follow him on Twitter at @Tim_Mitchell.


Posted by Steve Jones on 19 January 2009

Congrats for competing and I'm actually trying to see if there's a way to set up more of these types of events with SQLSaturday.

Posted by Roy Ernest on 20 January 2009

When you do something for charity, You are automatically a winner. Great Job.. I try to do my bit with Food drive, Clothes for the needy and that kind of stuff.

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