Friday, June 27, 2008

CodeStock in Knoxville

Data Dynamics is a proud sponsor of this year's CodeStock down on August 9th in Knoxville, TN. James and I are going to be exhibiting and speaking at this years' event. We're going to be doing our speech on the proper way to graph and display numbers. Our talk is called Simplicity in Visualizing Numbers and we've incorporated a lot of the Presentation Zen ideas.

If you're in the area and have nothing to do, you should go. It's only a 5 hour drive from Columbus. :)

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Friday, June 20, 2008


This is my all time favorite Pearl Jam sing-along song ever:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I recently learned of an amazing human being and I feel it is only fair that I share his life story with the world. Let me first start by saying, I don't know the guy. I only know of him, and through another guy that I don't even really know. :)

Quick history of the "guy I don't even really know"... A little over a year ago I went surfing for the coolest blogs on the internet and just started searching for things that I like: I've always wanted to visit Maine, and (as you know) I love trail running. The only thing I can imagine is that I must have put all that together into a search and (low and behold) I found MaineRunner. I knew nothing about this blog, nor did I know anything about the guy who posts to this blog. Regardless, I subscribed to the feed and I've been following it ever since. Over the last year or so I've posted comments on Jamie's blog and he's posted comments back on my blog. I've never met the guy, but I feel as though I know him enough to call him a "friendly acquaintance". Blogging is amazing... isn't it? :)

Well, last week when I got back from Orlando I was catching up on my blog roll and read a post that really got me thinking. I read about a guy who lived to live. This guy was Jamie's friend and his name is Christopher Douglass.

Chris was about to embark on an epic journey by foot from Colorado to Maine. The night before he was to begin his journey he was hit head-on by a car and died; he was 29 years old. There is a lot more ugly drama that goes along with this accident about the driver of the other vehicle, and Chris' girlfriend's condition, but I don't want to digress too much. I'm not one to post sappy posts, and it's not my intention to make this a sappy post either. The reason for this post is that I was so impressed by Chris' life that I wanted to share his "big picture" with everyone.

Chris was all about living for each day. He created a website called and it's main purpose was to prove to the world that the world is smaller than we think. Chris posted videos out there of some crazy adventures that he's taken over the years, and was intending to post even more adventures... For example, he took $400, a sleeping bag, and a video camera and drove his motorcycle from Maine to Arizona just "because". When he saw people along the way, they said they wish they could find the time to do something like that. His response was simply "do it". It took him 1 week (if I remember correctly), and he gained a lifetime of memories from it and turned around and shared it with the world. He admits that the happiest times of his life are those moments when he was scraping up loose change in his pocket to fill up his gas tank, or sleeping under the stars at some place he's never been before. His whole mission was just to prove to himself and everybody else how small the world really was. I read about him running a marathon without even training just to prove that he could. It really sealed the deal for me when I realized that he died so suddenly on the night before he was to begin epic hike from Colorado, through Canada, and into Maine. His crash proved to me just how short our time here is. This guy was 10 times more full of life than I am, and he left us in one quick second.

The night that I read about Chris' accident, I got so caught up in his story that I spent the rest of that night reading about his adventures and really got to know him (as much as I could over the internet anyway). I watched all of his video's and really saw how much he enjoyed living. He was just... happy. There was a link on his site that night for people to email his family, so I did and told them how his story had such an impact on me. That next day, I woke up and took my girls hiking through the woods and let them get muddy in a nasty creek bed. I just enjoyed (really enjoyed) my time with my family that next day, and plan to do more of that from now on. I told my wife about his story and now I'm telling the world. If you're reading this and are caught up in your daily routine of wake, eat, work, eat, tv, eat, sleep, repeat... call off work, take a $20 bill and just go do something outside for the day. What's stopping you!? If you choose NOT to go out and do something, please just read the few paragraphs on home page. If that gets you thinking, then I encourage you to continue to read about Chris' adventures. It changed the way I think about my daily activities.

Jamie, I'm very sorry for the loss of your friend. However, you should feel very honored to have known him. He was an amazing human being, and his spirit will live on for a looooong time.

Christopher E. Douglass

August 25th, 1979 - May 31st, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Training at Mohican Trail 100

I've had some amazing training results recently. I'm slimming down quite a bit, though my weight has stayed the same. I'm fitting into my clothes better and getting stronger everyday. I'm very, very serious about this Grand Island Trail Marathon next month. I didn't get the training in that I wanted for my first marathon, and I didn't really know what to expect. Since I've "been there, done that" and know what to expect (ie. hell), I want to give this next race everything I have; I plan to leave it all on the trail. My goal time for this marathon is 5 hours (that's almost 2 full hours faster than my last race). This calculates to an 11:27 pace. This time has become my new favorite number.

Jen and I have already began scheduling our vacation around this race. We're taking the girls up for a full week of camping in the woods. We've booked our camp site and are starting to plan our week (canoing, hiking, sight seeing, etc..). On the right is a picture of the island that I will be running on. The scenery alone will be worth the torture come race day. I've requested the time off of work and things are falling into place. The race is a little over a month away, but I know it will be here before I know it. It goes without saying that my marathon training is in full force right now!

Last week I had a very good week of training. On Sunday, I got to explore some country roads around my area that I've never been on before; that was pretty cool. This week, I'm working on fast intervals and endurance. As I've said before, I'm using a training plan that Rob has put together for me. He's been totally awesome these last 5 weeks. His training ideas are so much different from what I've done in the past using CoolRunning plans and RunnersWorld plans, and I am really noticing the results from my goal oriented runs. When I kick ass at Grand Island this year, he gets part (but not all) of my glory. :) I really enjoy using this training plan and feel confident enough to attempt building my own training plan after I've completed this race.

Anyway, on to the real purpose of this post... (bad segway warning)... Rob will be running in the Mohican Trail 100 this Saturday, and as it turns out... I will be too (sorta). Kim has asked me to pace her this Saturday at the race. I gave her a very excited "HELL YEAH!". I'm scheduled for a 16 mile long run this Sunday, so I plan to meet up with her Saturday night (after she's already put in 60 miles!!) and run into the dark of night with her. I'm taking my headlamp and will get to see exactly what it's like to run in the woods at night with nothing more than a light beaming from my forehead. It will be a learning experience to say the least.

After I get in my "long run" (how embarrassing), I'll leave her to finish yet another 24 miles by herself or with another pacer. I hope that my company will help push her through some hard miles. To shed some light on all of this, her run starts at 5am on Saturday, and I will be meeting up with her around 8:30pm (+15 hours later) to run 16 miles with her. When I leave and go back to my campsite, she still has to finish 24 more miles. These types of miles are still staggering for me to think about!!

The cool thing about this weekend trip to help a friend at Mohican State Park, is that I've talked Jennifer into coming with me! We're going to make a "grown ups only" camping weekend out of it. The girls are staying with Grandma and Grandpa, and we're taking our canoe up and plan to float down the Mohican River most of the day Saturday before I have to meet up with Kim. We've already booked our site and it's right on the river. :)

Here's to you Rob and Kim! Can't wait to see you guys this weekend! Yer gonna kick ass!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

8 Short Years

Today is Jennifer and I's wedding anniversary. 8 years ago today, we got married outside at her mom's house on a sunny day in front of 250 of our closest friends and family. It was the single most happiest day of my life.

Wow, how time flies! A lot has happened since then... When we got married I was a student in college studying computer programming. She was traveling the US as a corporate trainer for the Texas Roadhouse opening up new stores. She totally believed in me and was supporting us 100%. We rented a tiny little house out in the country and hardly saw one another between her working 50 hour weeks, and me going to school and doing odd jobs here and there just to make ends meet. When I got my job at Data Dynamics, we got pregnant and she quit her job to stay home and be a full time Mommy. I feel like the luckiest man in the world with her. Our quality of life is better than I could have ever asked for. We've done everything that we've set out to do... and it's only been 8 short years.

I look forward to 50 more years of wonderful memories. Love you babe!

Data Dynamics Analysis (First Maintenance Release)

The Data Dynamics Analysis team has been working diligently on some new features and bug fixes for the product. We just posted our first maintenance release yesterday. This build includes a few new features and some pretty important bug fixes. My favorite new feature for this release probably has to be the AutoConnect property.

This new property allows a developer to deliver a (front to back) visual analysis solution without writing a SINGLE LINE OF CODE! Here is how it works...
  1. Start a new Windows Forms solution.
  2. Drop a PivotView control onto your Windows Form.
    1. Set the Dock property to Fill
  3. Drop the RdDataSource control onto your Windows Form.
    1. Set the ConnectionString property (same one you used to build the custom schema file *).
    2. Set the ConnectionType property (OleDb, ODBC, or Sql)
    3. Set the CustomSchemaFile property (*)
    4. Set the QueryString property (ie. query or stored procedure)
    5. Notice the new AutoConnect property defaults to True
  4. Set the PivotView's DataSource property to rdDataSource1.
  5. Press Play!
This new AutoConnect property prevents the developer from ever having to go to the code window and manually writing rdDataSource1.Connect() in the Forms' Load event. Sure, it's a little feature, but it's a really big selling point for some of our more non-technical users.

We are continuing to make enhancements on the product and are committed to delivering new builds much more frequently to ensure that our users are taken care of quickly and effectively. More and more cool features are coming very soon too; there are 3 (huge) features that we hope to deliver to the public in the next month or so. If you haven't signed up for product updates, I highly encourage it!


* - When you install Data Dynamics Analysis, it ships with many prebuilt schema files that describe some of the relational data sources that ship with the product. If you would like to explore these data sources, simply reference the schema files from the following directory:
...My Documents\Data Dynamics\Analysis\DataSources

Otherwise, you can analyze your own data by modeling a default schema to represent your data source. In order to quickly build a default schema file that represents your data, refer to our online walkthrough.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I Got Flashed Today

I had something interesting happen to me on my run today. :) I was taking my 4 mile cool down run today and took off out my front door down to the bike path. Once I got the bike path, I ran 1/2 mile into the path and took looped back around using the Quarry Rim Trail. On my way back, I crossed the over the Toboso Bridge and as I was approaching Rock Haven, I heard a horn going off with a bunch of girls yelling. I figured it must have been somebody I knew, but had no idea who... As the car passed, I put my hand out in as though I was waving at them and when I turned to see who was making all the noise, I found myself face to face with a car full of (what appeared to be) high school girls. The girl in the passenger seat had her shirt lifted up over her head! :) All I saw were very white breasts against a very tan belly. I just smiled and shook my head... Clicking on the map below will show you where the "scene of the crime" took place. :)

I think that's the first time I've ever been "flashed" by a stranger. It was pretty funny! I laughed and just kept chugging along. When I got home I told Jennifer about it and she couldn't believe it either.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Excuse Me Sir...

Which one is not like the others?
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Luc the Inspirational Blogger

I was recently contacted by a gentleman from West Palm Beach, Florida concerning some tips on traveling to Novosibirsk, Russia. His name is Scott Richardson, and he will be traveling to Novosibirsk throughout November and plans to stay in Akademgorodok of all places!? He's a real nice guy and he had lots of really good questions about the area. Best of all, he's a runner too! It's one thing for an Ohioan to run in the cold, but a Floridian...?

Scott has recently started a blog and plans to be blogging while he is over there about his adventures. That's awesome!! Please check out his blog:

He is very new to blogging, and, I feel as though I have a little bit to do with that; he actually says so (in a way). Thanks Scott! That's great! I've met a lot of people through my blogging habit (including you). I look forward to reading your adventures! Be careful of the crazy door systems, and bundle up on those runs. :)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Orlando TechEd 2008 & Marathon Training

Since this is my blog, I can make posts that tie two totally different aspects together like I've done here. :) The best of both worlds IMO. If only I could tie in drumming and banana's. Actually, I can...

Last week I was in Orlando for TechEd 2008. This is the show that Data Dynamics has been talking about and excited about for a very long time. We were able to show off some new products as well as demonstrate some cool features with our existing products. We had a very good turn out to say the least.

My team had a sprint meeting on Sunday night @ 11pm, and my flight for Orlando was Monday @ 6am. This means that I have to be at the airport at 5am, which means I have to leave my house at 4am, which means that I had to wake up at (no later than) 3:30am. So basically, by the time I was done with my meeting and finished packing, it was about 2:45am, so I got about 15 minutes of (very bad) sleep before I decided to just get up and eat some cereal. I made it to the airport around 5am and made my flight with time to spare; I was Orlando bound...

Monday was off to a no-sleep start, and the sun was coming up, so I had a full day ahead of me. James was in the same boat, although he had 0 minutes of sleep, whereas I had whopping 15. We were both pretty skitzo to say the least. When we landed, we got checked into the Peabody and then met with Issam to setup the booth. Once the booth was setup, I went back to my hotel room and crashed. I slept from 5pm to 10am the next morning... much needed!

Tuesday came and went. Woke up, did booth crap, did some networking, ran 3 miles in the sun, more booth crap, dinner with colleagues, then fell asleep at 4am after chatting with my Novosibirsk comrades all night about our amazing product.

Wednesday was very cool. I woke up at 10ish and spent all morning and early afternoon manning the booth in the exhibit hall. When exhibit hours were done, I got my 4 miler in and sweat like crazy in the Florida sun and humidity. After my run, I got ready to go feast at Texas de Brazil (the best restaurant in Florida) with our friends from ComponentSource. After I stuffed my belly with 28 1/2 kinds of meat and too many cinnamon glazed banana's, I attended the MSDN party at the Lux Night Club where there was nothing but good times and booze. I got to network with a lot of people including my FarPoint people, Scott Hanselman, Carl and Richard, Telerik crew, Wintellect crew, ComponentSource crew, Dundas crew, CodeProject crew, nSoftware crew, and many many others. I actually got to be the sit in drummer on RockBand with my Dundas buddies. We sucked, but had lots of fun. :) I got home around 12:30am and crashed with a pretty bad headache (too much loud music and yelling).

Thursday morning came very fast. I woke up around 10:30 and got to the exhibit hall a bit late, but it was still pretty slow by then. Once it got busy, the booth stayed bumping all day and I got to show off Data Dynamics Analysis to a lot of unsuspecting people. I feel we made a lot of sales leads today, as my demo's were packed. At one point, I found myself talking to ~10 people. My voice was a bit scratchy from the yelling I did the night before. People would still hear me, and I made it a point to make eye contact with as many as I could so that they new that I was genuinely passionate about this product. All in all, it was a great day at the booth!

James took this from the room. I'm on my 2nd loop, ~5.25 miles finished.

After the exhibit James and I went back to the room and I took a 6 mile run. This run was extremely hard. It was about 96 degrees Fahrenheit with 100% humidity. The training schedule said to do hill work, but... I was in Florida and there are no hills. I decided to just run at a good pace and keep my heart rate elevated instead. Unfortunately the sun and heat got to me and I found myself getting cold chills after only 2 miles of mildly-intense jogging. I decided to slow it down and walk at a few points. I poured some water over my head to avoid passing out and it helped a bit. I picked my pace back up once my cold chills went away, and put in the full 2 loops around the Convention Center and the Peabody hotel. Oh yeah, my iPod took a crap on me about 1/4 mile into my run, so I carried it the entire run for no good reason. That was pretty frustrating...

By the time I got back, it was almost time to go to Universal Studio for the TechEd attendee party. Microsoft bought out 3/4 of Universal Studio and all attendees got to eat, drink, and ride any ride for free for 3 hours. I had about 3 beers, a hot dog, an ice cream bar, a cheeseburger, and got to ride a few rides before heading back to the hotel. We hung out with FarPoint crew and had a blast! Got home around 1am and crashed.

Friday was our last day at the exhibit, and it went pretty well. We did more showing off of our products and then broke down the booth. After the exhibit, I put in my 4 miler and then we all went to a really fancy restaurant called Christini's. It is also the best restaurant in Florida, but on a different (higher class) level. I got the Fillet Mignon and gorged on it. I, of course, topped it off with some espresso and Florida's best Key Lime Pie. We got home around 9:30pm and watched a weird movie called Shrooms (ehh), then a really funny movie called Strange Wilderness (must see). James passed out while I spent the rest of the night packing until almost 3:30am.

Saturday we woke up around 10 am and headed downstairs for breakfast at the B-Line diner (in the Peabody) before we went our separate ways. James was going to hang out with Issam and do some shopping at the outlet malls, while I spent the day poolside soaking up the sun. I did just that! I had nowhere to be, nobody to answer to, no "tasks" on my task list except for "Pool". I got toasty red in no time. I was at the pool from 12:30 - 4pm and I loved it. I spent a full week of running in circles for my training plan and going crazy doing "geeky" things here and there, so I didn't really get the chance to enjoy the pool at all. Issam and James picked me up around 5pm and we headed to the airport. I got home around midnight and it felt real good to be with my girls again.

Sunday, I spent all day with my girls and then took my 7 miler around 8pm and got to enjoy the a nice summer night in Ohio and see the sunset while I leisurely chugged along my country roads. Very peaceful!

Conclusion: TechEd was awesome and my training was not hindered by the crazy TechEd schedule at all. It was great to stay so busy with work related stuff, yet not let my insane schedule get in the way of my marathon training plan. The best part of my training efforts so far has been that Jennifer is taken note of my subtle weight loss and transforming shape... as funny as that sounds. It definitely keeps me motivated. :)