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My DNN "ACK!" Story. (Part 5)

Parts 123 and 4 chronicled the lonelier Ack! moments on my DNN journey.  Now it gets a bit more fun.  


Making headline news for a gig we did for the American Overseas Voters, Shaun Walker emailed me and said the community was upset that I did not credit DNN as the platform we used.  I quickly re-read the MIT license and said out load, "If I want to call DNN, Snoopy-Fruit-Loops and sell it for a million dollars it's no one's business!, THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT OF THE LICENSE!"  It felt good to yell that out loud, and it's still true today.  But I wondered who I was yelling at... so I went to DotNetNuke.com and had a look at the User Groups.  I found the biggest one was in Orlando... pinged the founder, Brian Scarbeau and booked a flight. Ack!


Brian was working at a school, and although the directions were pretty clear as how to get to the school, once I was on campus, I had no idea how to find him.  So many buildings.  And it didn't seem to matter who I asked... I started to think maybe there was another school with the same name nearby.  Well, the school was big... and I did eventually find him.

We sat down, and I first thanked him for his time, then told him my Ack! history of how I had found DNN, and started building apps culminating in an email from Shaun.  He laughed and laughed, congratulated me on my success, understood my position as far as keeping DNN under wraps and then proceeded to share his experience with the DNN founders.  He pulled out a copy of Professional DotNetNuke 5: Open Source Web Application Framework for ASP.NET, the latest DNN Wrox book, and gave it to me.  He assured me that not only would DNN be around, but that it was indeed founded by a group of nice people led by a Canadian Shaun Walker, who actually made the project open source as a Christmas gift to the world.




My attitude started to change... in that, while before I was dead-set against being mauled by my competitors, perhaps I could choose a much more generous path, an open source philosophy.  Maybe I could be nice too.  Ack?



Gifford meets Brian Scarbeau in Orlando, Florida


I snapped a selfie of us on the lawn, jumped back in the rental and was soon on a plane headed home.  I read the acknowledgements at the front of the book at thirty-thousand feet, and was especially touched by what Scott Willhite wrote, giving credit to God, dedicating the book to his wife.  I determined I would start a DotNetNuke User Group in Nova Scotia. Ack!

When I arrived home, I went to the DNN site and started a group, then I called up all my clients and told them, one of them was a restaurant owner on the second floor of the Purdy Buildings in the heart of downtown Halifax.  I asked if I could use his back room to conduct meetings and he agreed (why wouldn't he? I was invited people to his restaurant!)  I then determined the frequency of the meetings would be every Friday at noon.  For the next three years, every Friday, I would sit and wait and hope that people would show up.  And they did.

"As founder of the DotNetNuke User Support Group in Halifax, Gifford Watkins is furthering what I would describe as the single most democratic movement in the business world since the advent of the computer! Understanding how to manipulate today's advances in technology and delivering a superior product at a fraction of the cost is what Gifford is doing. It is a new day in web based communications. The smallest of companies can now put together a fully functional Content Management System.  Thanks Gifford for helping me do just that."  Jim Davis - President at Doucet-Watts & Davis Interiors Inc. 

"Gifford's love of DNN is only matched by the enthusiasm he brings to his role as the leader of the DNN UG for NS. He is always available to help others or discuss DNN with anyone who has a question or wants to learn more. He is a great community builder and ambassador for DotNetNuke.  He also should be commended for the excellent Day of DNN conference he helped bring to Halifax."  Shawn Duggan - Director, Content Management Solutions @ T4G

And so on...  The next big Ack! moment would come from an initiative started by Will Strohl, president of the Orlando User Group.  The first Day of DotNetNuke (history)would be held in June, 2009 in Tampa.  I wracked my brain trying to decide what, if anything I could present.  I knew it was a long shot as I was certain that many community members would be looking at the opportunity to elevate themselves.  I decided to submit: The DNN Core Registration Module vs. The Datasprings Dynamic Registration Module and offered to volunteer as well.  I was ready to do anything to meet more people who loved DotNetNuke.

I would soon learn Brian Scarbeau had actually given up one of his speaking sessions insisting that the speaker committee give me the opportunity to speak.  Not only did I speak, but I also began to feel that I was part of something big, something warm, something familial.  The DNN Community was going to be my family.

Gifford is the architect behind bringing the principals of Atlantic Web Fitters together and brings a highly informed background in business flow technology, web services and human relations.

Gifford’s strengths include his personal communication skills and capacity to evaluate business processes in order to educate potential clients on the value of DotNetNuke web services to their businesses.

Gifford is a DotNetNuke MVP and speaks at Day of DotNetNuke events, spoke at the first DoDNN event in the United States; founded the Nova Scotia DotNetNuke User Group and hosted the first DoDNN event in Canada.

Speaking engagements:

April 2007 Halifax, Nova Scotia - CIPS Annual Dinner
June 2009 Tampa, Florida - 1st Day of DotNetNuke
March 2011 Orlando, Florida - Day of DotNetNuke/Orlando Code Camp
June 2011 Halifax, Nova Scotia - 1st Canadian Day of DotNetNuke
November, 2011, Walt Disney World - DotNetNuke World
January, 2012, Podcamp Halifax, Nova Scotia
April, 2012, SDN Amsterdam, Zeist, The Netherlands
June 2012, Charlotte, North Carolina, Day of DotNetNuke
April 2013, Charlotte, North Carolina, Day of DotNetNuke

Testimonials via LinkedIn

“Gifford is one of the most unusual people I've met in technology -- in a good way. Here is a guy who grew up a Nova Scotia lobsterman (he's shared lobster recipes with me) and was educated as a minister...and without shedding either of those identities built a serious tech company about as far geographically from Silicon Valley as you can get. He's won the attention of Microsoft and the U.S. Military. And he's always been willing to share his expertise with me. All in all, Giff is a great story.” June 10, 2011 ~Kevin Maney, Columnist, Tech Columnist, Tech Writer, Cover Stories Editor, USA TODAY

“Gifford is a tireless supporter of DotNetNuke in Canada. He has many clients that are extremely happy with their sites created with DotNetNuke. Gifford has worked hard evangelizing DotNetNuke in his area and started a user group to support others who use the product. Gifford gave up his time to come to Tampa in June of 2009 to speak at the Day of DNN. He is a likeable person and will bend over backwards to support your needs.” November 19, 2009 ~Brian Scarbeau, Founder, Orlando DotNetNuke User Group

“As founder of the DotNetNuke User Support Group in Halifax Gifford Watkins is furthering what I would describe as the single most democratic movement in the business world since the advent of the computer! Understanding how to manipulate today's advances in technology and delivering a superior product at a fraction of the cost is what Gifford is doing. It is a new day in web based communications. The smallest of companies can now put together a fully functional Content Management System. Thanks Gifford for helping me do just that. Jim Davis www.dwdinteriors.com” March 23, 2009 ~Jim Davis hired Gifford more than once

“Gifford's passion for helping your business exceed, and his genuine interest in you and your business is second to none. I've witnessed it first hand while working with him on various projects, and would not hesitate to work with him again.” February 26, 2009 ~Nick Phillips, Owner, Maritimers.ca Consulting

“Gifford is a clear-thinking, deep-planning, involved individual with whom you will be able to easily communicate. His Dot Net Nuke-based hosting solution is simple and powerful. Look at the results !!” February 23, 2009 ~Richard Burr, Network Technician / Analyst, VMC Consulting

“Gifford is truly passionate about DotNetNuke. He has supported and promoted the product for years. Few people have the work ethic and dedication to helping clients take control of their information like Gifford. I will continue to work with Gifford and am confident his capabilities will continue to add value to my company. Peter Hickey” February 22, 2009 ~Peter Hickey hired Gifford as a IT Consultant in 2006, and hired Gifford more than once

“Gifford has had the foresight and strict committment to the DotNetNuke World and has created a vibrant company that is not only a service but also a forum for small to medium sized businesses giving them care and control of their own web presence. This is clearly evident in the breadth of Gifford portfolio of clients. For those who get what is offered, it is usually a monetary and time savings and a true open environment giving the ability to shape and use graphics and design possibilities once reserved for the webmaster only.” February 22, 2009 ~Greg Brown, Consultant, ONE Management Consulting

“Gifford knows DNN functionality like the back of his hand. If you are looking for DNN expertise, hosting and the migration and customization services that go along with it, Gifford's company, Atlantic Web Fitters, is a great place to go. Just let Giff find out about your business, and help you understand where DNN functionality can help you, and you're good to go!” February 22, 2009 ~Mike Frenette hired Gifford as a Web Portal Provider in 2007

Hosting liberally provided by

Geoff Barlow 559 4
DNN-Connect 433 6
Peter Donker 5299 31
Christopher Hammond 711 2
Olivier Jooris 427 1
Daniel Mettler 12152 88
Clint Patterson 1 1
Jos Richters 65 1
James Rosewell 338 2
Will Strohl 1558 27
Ernst Peter Tamminga 444 4
Barry Waluszko 3033 2
Declan Ward 564 1
Gifford Watkins 728 9
Torsten Weggen 3016 3