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Geek Dinner with Sara Ford in Hattiesburg Feb 4th

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in .Net, Friends, Speaking | Posted on 22-01-2008


image Monday February 4th, 2008, we will be having a geek dinner in Hattiesburg, Ms with special guest Sara Ford from Microsoft.  Sara is the Program Manager for Codeplex.Com which serves as a hosting ground for open source projects.  Sara is originally from Mississippi so we are glad to have her back in the area and taking time out of her traveling schedule to join us.   Living in Seattle she doesn’t get to come back home often so this is a very special occasion to have her be able to join us.  Sara has already blogged about the dinner (she beat me to it) and I know she is excited to join us.  The following information should help to answer any and all questions.  If I fail to cover all the bases either add a comment or send me an email via the contact link on the site. 


Date: February 4th, 2008
Time: 7:00 PM


Chesterfield’s Restaurant – Chesterfield’s is a staple restaurant in Hattiesburg that serves great food along with great service.  For those at the University without transportation it is conveniently located within walking distance at the intersection of Hardy and Hwy 49.   


Driving from:

the north (via I-59 S)
the south (via I-59 N)
the east (via US-98 W)
the west (via US-49 E / SR-42)

Who Can Attend?

The short answer is anyone that considers themselves a technologist or a geek.  Doug Turnure, Microsoft Developer Evangelist for Mississippi, and Chad Brooks, Microsoft Architect Evangelist for Mississippi, will also be joining us.  Doug and Chad know there stuff and can answer all types of questions and are great contacts to have.  We also aren’t discriminating based on location so if you are from Alabama, Louisiana or nearby states in driving distance of Hattiesburg feel free to join us.

What If I’m an Open Source Person, Can I Still Go?

Absolutely!  Sara would love to talk to you more than the rest of since it is her job to stay in touch with the open source community!  Remember that a geek dinner isn’t about a division of interest; it is about talking to the community, learning, and building long lasting friendships.  Don’t worry; you will not be the only open source person there.  I’m also a carrying card member as is Sara.

What is a Geek Dinner?

Although there is no official definition a geek dinner is a time for technologist, enthusiasts, developers, architects and others in the community to gather and talk about technology.  That’s it, plain and simple.  It doesn’t mean you are part of a sacred group or cult, it just means you were hungry on a Monday night, needed some place to eat and there were a bunch of people that like technology like yourself eating at this one place so you decided to join them.

How Do I RSVP?

Easy.  Just add a comment to this blog entry or send an email using the contact link on the site stating your intentions of attending and I’ll start to gather a head count from that.

Who Pays For Dinner?

Since there is a 2008 launch event during the day in Jackson, Ms, Microsoft has graciously agreed to sponsor part or all of the dinner depending on the number of attendees.  Note: Not all geek dinners are sponsored so this is really appreciated!

Received RSVPs

If your name appears in the following list I have received your RSVP.  If not, please re-send.

Sara Ford – Microsoft Program Manager for http://codeplex.com
Me – Quicken Loans
Shane Walters – Singletree Technologies
Doug Turnure – Microsoft
Chad Brooks – Microsoft
John Weathersby, Jr. – Open Source Software Institute Executive Director
Wayne Walters – Assistant Professor, USM, School of Computing
Stan Burton – President & CEO, Burton Computer
Sean Brace – Systems Engineer, Howard Industries
Jean Gourd – Visiting Assistant Professor, USM, School of Computing
Keith Parish – Software Engineer
Ryan Duclos – Program Director for LANUG, Proficient Consultant
Shara Walters – Singletree Technologies
Bill Booth – Pan American Life
Tim Hampton – Student
Aubrey Cote – Forte Online

UPDATE 1/25/2008 10:12 AM

There was a previous problem submitting comments as well as through the contact page in Internet Explorer.  This explains why people that emailed said they couldn’t post comments.  Sorry, this is now fixed.  In the mean time search for the site is disabled.  I will get it back on soon.

Mississippi Retreat Begins

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Friends | Posted on 16-11-2007



Chris on John DeereI mentioned the other day that five team members from work were coming to Mississippi for the weekend.  Chris arrived this morning about 11:00.  Soon after arriving we found out his luggage never left Detroit.  Hopefully it will arrive when we go to pickup the other guys at 8:30 tonight.

After getting in we headed to “The Front Porch” to eat a nice Southern buffet for lunch complete with fried okra (which Chris had never tried), brisket, turnip greens, purple hull peas, gumbo, cornbread, yeast rolls, mash potatoes and gravy and much more.  I think Chris ate his own weight in brisket and couldn’t stop laughing when the guy that served him was so nice.  Or maybe it was his accent. 

After that we went to the house and I gave him the tour of the Elder Estate.  He took a ride on the John Deere in the back yard and was disappointed at its speed.  As I pointed out the JD is made for hauling and is geared low.  So far so good and no one is in jail yet.

For those that want to follow along I’ll be uploading all the pictures to Flickr to the Mississippi Retreat 2007 set.

The Ultimate Team Building Experience

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Friends | Posted on 14-11-2007


Team building is an important part of work.  A lot of companies, ours included, promotes team building exercises.  This helps to build moral among the team and if other teams are included it helps to break down silos.  Currently I live in Hattiesburg, MS but I work remotely for a company in Michigan called Quicken Loans.  Being a remote team leader has its challenges, one of which is team building.  How do you do team building when you are 1,000 miles away?  This weekend we are doing what I think is going to be the ultimate team building exercise. 

A few months ago I was sitting around thinking what I could do as a team exercise.  The team is unique in the fact it is made up of all guys who all have similar personalities and are close to the same age.  Typically as long as there is fun and adult beverages involved they are happy.  The team members always kid me about living in South which I love.  I thought what better way to show them how the other half lives than invite them to come down for a weekend getaway fun trip and stay with The Elder?  That is what I did.  I put out the invitation and not surprisingly everyone on the team accepted.  We set a date when it worked for everyone, ordered plane tickets and made it happen.  Friday all of them are flying to Mississippi for a weekend in the South. 

What do you do with five guys from the North (4 michiganders, 1 canadian) in Hattiesburg, MS for a weekend?  Turns out there is a bunch of things depending on scheduling.  Friday night they will be landing at the local airport around 8:30 PM.  We have some great BBQ places in the area so I’m going to pickup some BBQ at a local place and we’ll have some BBQ on the deck when we get back to the house.  Of course you can’t have BBQ without a frosty adult beverage so I’ll be picking up a couple containers of some Mississippi brew from Lazy Magnolia brewing company.  After some BBQ and a tour around the home stead we’ll head to town to checkout the local scene.

Saturday we are loading up in the Aspen and heading to New Orleans, LA.  I’m not sure where we’ll eat lunch at but a local cajun place for sure.  I have to get the Michiganders and the Canadian some authentic gumbo, and other southern dishes to fill their bellies.  After that we’ll hit downtown New Orleans, Pat O’s, Hard Rock, etc.  Assuming we make it back from New Orleans in one piece on Saturday, Sunday we are going to eat at the best buffet in Mississippi and then head to the coast (about 60 miles from my house).  During downtime I’m sure we’ll fire up the XBox on the HDTV and try our hands at Guitar Hero II. 

All in all it is going to be a fun filled flavor of the South weekend with gorgeous 75-80 degree weather.  A quick note for the guys coming down, leave your LLBean jackets, shirts, and boots at home.  You won’t need ’em!

Disc Golfing in Michigan – Cass Benton

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Friends | Posted on 30-07-2007


image Last week I was in Livonia, MI so I could be onsite for work during the week.  On Sunday prior to starting the hectic work week Brad (aka AtomicInternet), Lisa, Ellen and I went to Cass Benton for a round of Disc Golf.  Since our local disc golf course got destroyed during the Katrina hurricane it was the first time we’ve been since moving back to Mississippi.  Brad documented the golf outing via his blog post.  I detected a hint of Civil War rivalry in his post but maybe that was just me.  In the end I ruled the day with my Cyclone driver.  Hole #3 there is even called “Cyclone” and that is about the only disc I can get the turn I need. 

For the record I didn’t have to shoot B-Rad’s disc, he threw it into the woods and ultimately into the street for me. 

You can view the pictures from the outing here:


Fishing Adventures From This Summer

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Family, Friends | Posted on 19-07-2007


 I realized several months ago that I can’t fish and get outdoors staring at a company screen  reading and writing everyday.  I decided to take back a part of my life that I truly enjoyed as a kid but somehow forgot along the way while trying to settle into my career as a professional.  The part I took back and revived was my love of fishing. 

The past several months I have been fishing anywhere from 2-4 times a week.  Mostly late in the evening starting around 7:00 PM or earlier depending on when I wind up my work day.  To start off my fishing revitalization I took my 12ft boat to a friends house who lives on a lake nearby.  He needed a boat, and I needed a lake.  It worked out.  The lake he lives on is about 40 acres so not to shabby and fishing there is good.  Once I got the boat there we started fishing for bass pretty heavily in the afternoons.  We caught a lot anywhere from 1-3lbs. 

So far the biggest fresh water fish I’ve caught this summer is this 20lb Carp that I caught a few days ago.  He was a monster.  My foot next to him is a size 12 if that gives you any indication how big he really was.  I caught him on an Abu Garcia TGC6000C reel on chicken livers about 9:30 at night.

As we got deeper into the summer though it became apparent it was too hot to fish on the lake in the boat.  When it is 90+ degrees it is tough to fish.  As a result we started fishing later in the day from his dock for catfish (my favorite type of fishing).   Catfish bite better at night anyway and it is cooler. 

You may not think things would get too exciting fishing for catfish from a a dock on a lake but let me tell you we’ve caught a lot of fish.  When the first fool moon hit we fill a basket of catfish with several of us fishing.  There of course were those that got away and broke line, and others that almost got away but we got back (true story).  One Saturday night about three of us were fishing.  About 11:30 PM I happened to be holding my reel in my hand and a catfish hit the line and when I set the hook he was so big he jerked the rod out of my hand into the water.  Not kidding true story.  My friends were bent over rolling on the floor laughing.  I was getting sick because I had just bought that rod and reel a few months ago.  I walked around on the dock wondering what the heck happened.  Twenty minutes later one of the guys fishing said, oh, oh I got something.  He started reeling and said, well it feels like a limb.  Turns out the fish that was on my line had drug my rod and reel out to where his line was and he hung it.  He reeled it in and sure enough it was my rod.  I grabbed the dip net and got the rod out of the water and the fish was still on!  We refer to him as the one that almost got away now.  Oh, and if you are wondering what I do with all the T-shirts I get at conferences, you can see here I caught this fish wearing a Devexpress T-shirt.

If you are wondering what bait I use for catfishing I mainly use raw peeled shrimp.  I buy them fresh in 1/2 or 1lb increments from Corner Market here in town.  What I do then is buy a small thing of vanilla extract and then marinate the shrimp in the vanilla to give it even more flavor.  I’ve done a lot of fishing and no matter what I put on a line side by side a shrimp, the fish always hit the shrimp first.  And to boot, the fish are usually bigger on shrimp.

A few weeks ago I was back home and happened to catch my Uncle’s at home and all of us went fishing on the Tennessee River.  Here are some pics from that trip.  So far the summer has shaped up to be a lot more fun than staring at a computer screen.  I encourage everyone to revive whatever it is you like doing and as they say in Texas Hold ‘Em, go all in on it.

Lavaughn and Jerry, my uncles on father’s side

Jerry caught the biggest fish of the day.  A good size drum fish in about 50ft of water on the bottom with red worms.

Ellen caught a nice catfish

Lavaughn caught a nice catfish that day

Of course I got stuck mainly driving the boat