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IT Camp, May 26-27, Cluj (Romania)

There was a time in which I was able to attend a lot of events driven by the Communities. There was a time in which I felt so close with the communities and I gotta say I never experienced such a passion and excitement ever again. Being a Team Manager in Microsoft for 3 years gave me a great professional experience and managing a Team of amazing people has been really exciting, challenging yet very satisfying. What did I miss?

ITCamp

Read more here….

How to increase your Facebook Privacy

After the story around Mark Zuckerberg’s sister,

I thought it might be a good idea to remind how important is your Facebook Privacy, of course IF it is important for you.

And Randy correctly said on Twitter: “Always ask permission before posting a friend’s photo publicly. It’s not about privacy settings. It’s about human decency!”. And she’s right.

Especially when it comes to share stuff, and in particular personal photos, you think that, having set your Facebook privacy to “Friends” is enough? Well, it’s wrong.

 

facebook-privacy

Every time you tag people, your picture becomes available to any other person, depending on how the privacy has been set by the people you tagged.

This is a very important step to increase your account security, making sure you share stuff only with people you matter the most.

To do that, follow these simple steps:

Upload your photo and then go to to the sub-menu and click on Custom:

fb share

 

Then you’ll get this menu:

fb share2

From here, you can decide who can view and comment on the picture you are about to upload. You can also choose not to share it with specific persons or to share it to a more vast audience. It’s up to you, whether you want to spread the word or not :)

Regional CEE – Italy MVP Summit !

I had a tough time these last 2 months, 50% of my time making sure all the candidate reviews were done (thanks Marjorie and my other colleagues that helped me!). This was a really important activity as, as you may know, there are 4 Microsoft MVP Candidate reviews every year.

So that was done.

The other 50%? “THE EVENT”

Last time we had a Regional CEE (Central and Eastern Europe) MVP gathering was in Greece and it was really a great event. This is not only me saying that, but gathering MVP feedback it was really a great one. Also, as you may remember, we were in the middle of the ash cloud, so some of us were stuck in Athens for a few days. Not a bad place to be stuck in, right? :) (wonderful city / wonderful people !!)

Last year we also had the Italian MVP Open Days in Milano. Great event too, full of technical and non-technical discussions. mingling and of course some fun.

This year is gonna be different. As I represent part of CEE and Italy as well (as a Community Program Manager for the MVP Award Program), I asked myself “Why these 2 parts of my job responsibilities should be separated?” “Is there any particular reason?”

And the answer was simple: NO

Also, as I travelled a lot in different places this year, I was keep on hearing from MVPs that they want to meet other MVPs, outside of their Countries. And this totally makes sense, as you strengthen your professional network and you never know, maybe you’ll end up working with some MVPs remotely in another part of the Region.

So, again, my concerns (and there were some) were eventually going away by one the most important pillar for me: put people in touch with each other. I think this is one of the best "benefit” you can get from the MVP Award, aside of course to the more “tangible ones” and the interaction with the Product Teams.

So my next question was: “Where are we gonna meet this year and when”? That was a tricky one. There are tons of events happening from September – November timeframe (and more, of course) and so taking this decision is also not that easy.

I took a non-easy one.

You should know that, almost every year, there is a community-gathering in Croatia: one of the most popular community event, very informal, right in the middle of the Region. The event is very popular for some of you, but some others maybe don’t know what it is. It’s called “KulenDayz” and MVPs Bernardin Katic (Operation Chief :)), Tomislav Bronzin and Domagoj Pavlešić (for the web development part), with a lot of help from other Microsoft MVPs, organize this great event, widely known as “the most technical community in the whole Region”.

So, aside from the fact that dates are not perfect (at all) for many people (and this is normal, you know, people are busy :)) I decided to walk into that event, made some phone calls, asked for help and start the MVP event engine. And now we’re getting to it !

It was frustrating at the beginning: you know, I love to organize the perfect event. Of course it never happens. But my real goal here is to have MVPs coming back to their Countries and homes saying just “WOW"!” and “this was really some good quality-time spent” or “I want to do it again next year!”. You know, something like that.

KulenDayz-MVP

So, bearing in mind my goal, here are some details I’m going to share with you:

—————————————————————————

The WHAT:

I’m very happy to announce the forthcoming Regional MVP CEE & Italy Summit ! The event is more like a social event, an opportunity to meet other MVPs from the Region, networking and mingling with each other, and get to know the Microsoft vision for the next Fiscal Year (FY13, which started on July, 1st). I really hope you’ll be able to participate!

—————————————————————————

The WHY:

Throughout the year, we have some opportunity to meet each other but this is the best way to do it. It’s an event specifically for you, and this year it’s even bigger than the one we held in Greece 2 years ago: it will involve ALL the MVPs in the Region I represent (which is 280 Microsoft MVPs !). Having people from all over the Countries, with different cultures and opinions and background but with the same PASSION that animates all of us: SHARING your knowledge, be the first to know what’s coming next in regards of Microsoft products, be supportive in your COMMUNITIES, be available when it comes to give FEEDBACK to the Product Teams and the list goes on! And, as said, this is the first time CEE & Italy meet together in one place during a (hopefully) memorable event.

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The WHERE & WHEN:

The event will be held during the KulenDayz, one of the most community oriented technical event in the Region. There will be tons of technical sessions by the Microsoft MVPs together with other International speakers.

The event will take place from Friday the 31st of August till Sunday the 2nd of September.

I think that, if you’re not on holiday or you don’t need to work yet, it would definitely make sense to attend the event. You will meet so many International MVPs (KulenDayz will be delivered 100% in English), great speakers, great sessions I think as a technical guy (wherever you’re a developer or an ITPro) you’ll be astonished by that. So think about that, plan the trip and REGISTER HERE (have a look at the AGENDA to tantalize yourself!). As I said of course there are plenty of events happening in Region after summer (from MTS in Poland to Sinergija in Serbia, from WinDays in Croatia to TechDays Slovakia and in many other Countries, from WPC in Italy to DevReach and MS Days in Bulgaria, from Powered by MVPs! in the Baltic Region to the many ITCamps across the Region and the list goes on and on (note: have a look here to have an overview of the past events, and this is just a tiny little list :)). But here you will have a chance to meet the majority of them in a very informal (and super-cool) event!

Now and for the next 3 days we are going to finalize (hopefully everything) so I can go on holidays with no worries and but only to relax myself before the engines start again.

I’m SUPER-EXCITED about the event, believe me when I say that (and if you know me you’d know): what I do hope is that you feel the same way !!

Pan-Baltic MVP Open Days 2011 !

Thanks to my colleagues Andres Sirel & Tautvydas Dagys who made this happen,

I have the pleasure to announce that on Friday the 11th and Saturday the 12th I’m going to participate to the first Pan-Baltic MVP Open Days, gathering almost all the Microsoft MVPs from the Region.

 

baltic-flag

 

It will be a 2 days event totally dedicated to the MVPs and to the local communities.

From Andrejs Mamontovs to Domantas Jovaišas, from Gunnar Peipman to new MVP Heiki Tähis and Henn Sarv, Sergejus Barinovas, Tomas Dabasinskas & Valdis Iljuconoks, not to mention all the other community peers like Jevgeni Tšaikin , the audience is really differentiated. From ASP.NET to Windows Phone 7 to Windows Azure to SQL Server, just to name a few, we will all be in Latvia to exchange ideas, to discuss about the local Communities and to gather feedback and best practice to share with others (and of course more than that I’m sure !).

Furthermore, the 3 Microsoft Subsidiaries also organized the “Powered by MVP” 2011 technical workshop (happening today) where several MVPs and technical experts will talk about different topics related to both ITPros and Developers (for more info follow the link below).

Personally, I’m pretty excited to be there for the first time. I already met some of them during the last year’s MVP Global Summit in Seattle, the Regional CEE MVP Open Days in Greece and online on Twitter, but being altogether will be absolutely a unique experience, from a professional and personal way.

If you want to know what’s happening in real-time, be sure to follow the #balticmvp11 hashtag :)

 

Link to: Powered by MVP — Latvia

Import Facebook calendar birthdays & events

Changing Smartphones frequently has the downside of having different calendar approaches.

As I had the chance to see different styles, I realized I was in need of something that would let me give me an overview of everything, in terms of contacts’ updates, events and birthdays.

I found this very useful application called fbcal: basically what it does is to export your events and birthday reminders on Facebook to your calendar in Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple iCal and of course Windows Live.

What you need to do, or at least what I found it to work is this approach (courtesy from ):

Step 1: Go to fbCal.com and click on “Get your Calendars Now”.

Step 2: Now to export your birthday calendar from Facebook, click on “Or download a copy here.” from “Subscribe to your friends Birthday” section of fbCal as illustrated from the screenshot below. You will have to first log into Facebook and give permission to fbCal to access information before you can download the .ics file.

fdcal

Step 3: Now to import this calendar to Windows Live. Log into Windows Live Calendar and create a new Calendar. Give your calendar any name like “Facebook” and your new calendar will be created.

WL calendar

Step 4: Now select your newly created calendar and click on subscribe. Select “Import from an ICS file” and then browse the .ics file created using fbCal. Clicking on Import Calendar button will import all the birthday reminders from your Facebook calendar to your Windows Live Calendar.

The best part is that the Facebook calendar which you just imported to your Windows Live Calendar will be automatically synched to the desktop client i.e. Windows Live Mail as shown in the screenshot below:

WLcal2

Similarly you can repeat the above steps to import your Facebook events calendar to your Windows Live too by selecting “Or download a copy here.” in Step 2 from “Subscribe to your Facebook events” section of fbCal.

So, in the end, in your phone you’ll see 2 more calendars: one called “fdcal Birthday (in read only) and one called “fdcal Events” which will  be the events you accepted through Facebook.

The process seems complicated but it was really smooth.

Now, I realized I had a lot of duplicate lines in the Windows Live calendar (that contains a lot of calendars, BTW) and, as it integrates perfectly with the Windows Phone 7, I guess I need to spend some spare time on cleaning that up…:)

Link to: fbCal.com – Facebook Calendar Generator

Check-In or not Check-In

This afternoon I read this article from ReadWriteWeb about Google Latitude and its possible deployment as an app for IPhone.

It’s a very interesting one as it talks about privacy too. I don’t want to go into details about this service (maybe in another post) but primarily focus on the already mentioned geo-location based apps available for most of our smartphones and gives a brief description of those.

So let’s say the most popular ones (because I’m sure there are plenty more) are Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places (not mentioned in that article) and Brightkite.

You install the app, and everytime you go to a place, you “checkin” and you get badges and so forth. With Gowalla, you can even add pictures of the places. Facebook now entered this checkin-checkout “business” recently with the Facebook Places through which you basically the same thing (allowing all your Facebook friends to know where you are). They all require a GPS (or an A-GPS) and they are based on Google Maps and Bing Maps mostly.

Of course in this social-digital era, all these apps are linked to some of the most popular websites/social networks so you can connect everyone of them with Twitter and Facebook, apparently the most popular “digital environments” in which users are and connect through each other (although Brightkite has a Facebook-like approach making it totally independent).

You can also add places if you can’t find yours (could be a restaurant, a bar, a shop, whatever) and get some recognitions about that.
What they are not? They are not applications like TripAdvisor with which you can write a review about that. I mean, you could but if you check-in in a restaurant before entering it (this is what most of the users do), how can you possibly write a review about your experience? Yes you could but you need to go there again or check-in again after your lunch/dinner (check-out? Smile)

There are 3 main questions on top of my head:

1) What’s the business around that

2) Why users should stick to this “game”

3) Who’s gonna win.

1) The first one is pretty easy: for Foursquare, for example, many Companies realized the potential of it and so they are publicizing their offers through their Foursquare accounts. Also, when you check-in in a particular place, there’s a chance you can get a 5% to 10% discount to that shop (probably if you check-in multiple times).

Also, many exhibits and conferences usually add their locations, including a description of the event, so the attendees can have a more complete experience on the event and have fun checking in everyday. But it’s business, remember. Let’s call it “Business 2.0” but it’s still business. It has the same potential as when an event shows up tweets on the main webpage, making attendees to use a particular hash-tag.

2) Foursquare, for example, is pretty popular in the US (although it crossed the ocean and became popular in Europe and Asia as well) and people from, say, New York and San Francisco, are massive users of it. But I got this question several times: “why should I do it” or “isn’t that childish” or even “what about my privacy”?. I get it, and I partially agree. Users are addicted, that’s the main answer. Also, users want to share things through these applications so, say you’re with some friends in a place, you check-in together with a group photo (there’s an application called PicPlz with which you can even tag friends before actually uploading the photo!). But it’s not as childish as it seems. Isn’t that childish to go and post YouTube videos on Facebook ? Isn’t that childish to post your real-time experiences on Twitter? Isn’t that childish to connect and share ideas and content with each other? NO ! That is why we have all these features and services around. Do you know anyone not being on Facebook nowadays? I probably know 2 people that are not in there. Do you know anyone who’s not using LinkedIN for connect with others for business purpose? Very few I guess.

So, believe it or not, many people are using these apps and, no matter what the purpose is, They like it. and that is set in stone !

The point, at least for me but probably for many other people, is: who’s gonna rule the market? Who’ll be the winner? You can’t check-in with 3 or 4 different apps (some people do though Smile). Years ago, probably around 2007, there were other real-time micro-blogging engines (like Jaiku for example) but eventually Twitter won.

Probably there won’t be a single “winner” application but we’ll get even more applications and services with added value in them (making the competition tougher). And the user will decide what’s best for him/her, perfectly in line with our digital/social era we are living.

Probably during LeWeb, the most important Web 2.0 event in the World, there’s gonna be some announcements about the future but, having heard that there are tons of startups there in Paris as exhibitors, I’m sure no one will be the winner but the user will (or he/she will became addicted, your choice Smile)

Categories: Social Networking, Tips

The Microsoft MVP Award Program Blog

This is for the community guys, ITPro/IW and Dev enthusiasts out there:

We are happy to announce the first MVP Award Program Blog !!

MVPLogo1

The aim is to leverage all the MVP content, throughout the world, raise the MVP Profiles and also share some of the fantastic achievements the Most Valuable Professionals will do in all the different Communities and User Groups and Newsgroups and Forums and so forth !

Stay tuned for more community inputs and enjoy the blog ! :)

Link to: The Microsoft MVP Award Program Blog : Welcome!

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