Parts 1, 2, 3 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.