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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.

If you live in the southeast United States, chances are you've heard of Wally McClure. You may have even met him in person. I met Wally at the Charlotte Code Camp, back in the early days before my inevitable ascension to .NET Demigod. Wally is always a lot of fun to talk listen to, so enjoy.

image 1. Where are you from?
I grew up in Knoxville, TN.  I have a BS & MS in Electrical Engineering at Georgia Tech.  I worked at “The Coca-Cola Company” in Atlanta, but I found that the corporate life wasn’t for me.  It’s funny because I was great at it, even at an early age.  So, after ten years in Atlanta, we moved back to Knoxville.  I’m an ASP.NET MVP, ASPInsider, Member of the INETA Speaker’s Bureau, and have written four books over the past 8 years.  I run the ASP.NET Podcast ( I get 12-15k downloads per episode.

2. Who do you work for?  Give me the 10 second pitch on why I should use them or their product?
My business partner and I run Scalable Development, Inc.  We’re a consulting shop.  We write code to solve business problems as well as we’re getting into customized developer training.  Our specialty is in applications that must scale up to large numbers of users and large amounts of data.  We also do a little bit with AJAX.

3. I see you Twittering a lot, maybe even as much as I do. What's your take on Twitter?
People who know me will understand why I use twitter, blog, and run the podcast.  Basically, I love to get out and talk to people.  I was told once that if I was a politician, I would have been the stereotypical one.  I’d be out shaking hands and kissing babies.  The problem with the technology world is that there are limited opportunities to  get out and meet lots of people, thus the continually running my mouth, or is it hands by typing.

As for twitter, I think its an interesting concept.  Unfortunately, there is very little information in it.  Its mostly noise, and I think most of that comes from me!  I think they have some architectural problems that they aren’t going to be able to overcome.  Fundamentally, the home page is a query with an IN, so that’s going to be problematic for them.  I would think they are having to go to some caching and queueing functionality.  The traffic they generate is fairly large, so there has to be something they are doing to take care of it.  I bet they could use SDI.  Twitter downtime is fairly frustrating  Another concern is while they have gotten some investment money, I don’t see a really good business model.  They have the options of:

  1. Advertising.  They probably have the traffic to support it.  They could do it today.  It would be a way to generate some income today from that traffic.
  2. memberships.  Some folks will be fine with an advertising supported site, some won’t.  For those that don’t like it, they could implement a membership system where they can pay for a membership and have no advertising show on their home page.
  3. Business analysis of the posts.  Why not have some business analysis tool that can see what people are talking about.  This allows companies to understand how people view their products.  Now, the anti-big brother people will scream bloody murder about that, but they scream about anything anyway. 
  4. Some other mechanism to show that inflows exceed outflows.  This is a concept that many people don’t get.  If you want to have a viable business, you have to have the inflow of money exceed the outflows.  If not, the business won’t make it, the investors won’t get their money back,  and the business can’t stay open.  Its great to talk about large numbers of users, but without a way to monetize the traffic, there is little in the way of a business.

4. You're a bit of a rockstar in this industry. What's it take to get there? Step on any fingers on the way up the ladder?
Rockstar?  Hah!   I think a lot of people know me and I know them.  The key thing to remember is that you have to prove yourself everyday.

Ok, so what was my strategy to get my name out.  I’m not sure I had a strategy as much as I just talk a lot.  The things that I did are:

  1. First off, I try and learn as much as I can and then share that knowledge in a way that people can use.
  2. Write.  I have written four books.  Yes, they are a pain to do, but they show a fairly big commitment to get things done.  They take a lot of time, don’t make much money, but they set you apart from those that haven’t.
  3. Blogging.  I was a little slow on the uptake on blogging, but I have tried to catch up on that.
  4. Podcasting.  I hit podcasting early in the uptake on that.  I can thank Jason Salas on getting me started there.  First off, DNR is a very professional show.  Carl does a great job there.  I finally met him at TechEd.  He’s really talented.  Anyway, he should be congratulated for his work there.  He’s really the father of the technology podcast in the community.  My view on a podcast was that I wanted to have video as well as discussion on technology.  Over the past two years, I have been able to get that going with videos and audio shows.
  5. Get out and meet people.  I love to get out and talk to people.  I love to go to speak at user groups as well as the weekend events.  They are great to get out to and speak.  Meeting people generates a level of interaction that you just can’t get from being “online” in some way.
  6. Market yourself.  I don’t mean that people should stand up and scream their own name from the hilltops or anything like that.  At the same time, you have to promote yourself and hold your line on what you want to do.  They key is to do good work and then to show it.  For example, I try to remember to ask for link love to our podcasts and important events.  It’s a small thing, but over time, it really helps!  So, yes, you shouldn’t be afraid to market yourself.  Ask your friends for help.  Friends will help.  After all you shouldn’t expect help from your enemies.  Another piece to remember about marketing is that you don’t know what will work.  You have to try things and see what works.  An old marketing line is that only 50% of marketing works, but that no one knows which 50% works.

Naysayers are everywhere.  It amazes me today the number of people that couldn’t understand why I wanted to get out and meet people.  Some folks told me, a book is too much work.  Others tell me weird things.  For example, my sig line of “Get More Wally in Your Life.”  I had a person I knew come up to me at Mix06 and proceed to shake their finger in my face and tell me how evil I was for promoting myself.  The funny thing was that they were serious!  My thought was that if they got worked up over my marketing, that my marketing was working properly and the message I was trying to send was getting out.  The naysayers are typically intimidated by what you are doing.  When the customers come to you and use your own lines, you know that it is working well.  Developers need to think outside their cubicle!

5.  I know you from your podcast and your community work in the southeast region. What's something the world doesn't know about Wally McClure?
At home, I’m coach Wally.  I coach my kids basketball teams.  My daughter has graduated from Coach Dad and plays at her middle school.  I think my son has one more year with me and then he’ll hopefully make the boys team at middle school..

Also, I’m not one of the new age parents.  I’m old school on that.  I’m not into being my kids buddies.  I push them to do their best at whatever they do. 

6.  I'm speaking at Codestock this fall, but many of my readers are probably wondering "What's this CodeStock thing I'm hearing about? Why should I go?"
First off, CodeStock ’08 is a first year event.  CodeStock is a weekend developers event in Knoxville.  We’re having speakers from all over the country wanting to come.  Scott Cate from Phoenix and Rich Hundhausen from Boise wanted to come and speak.  We had 60 session submissions for approximately 25 spots.  This was a shock to me.  I’ve been contacted by people from outside the US about how to get to the event.  The amount of interest from the region has been amazing.  A couple of years ago, I felt like we would never be able to have an event  in Knoxville due to attendance.  Now, I think that this can be a very good regional conference. So, the reason you should go is that we have a regional conference with national level content.
Michael Neel and Alan Stevens have done a lot of good work on getting the conference going!  I’m just the pretty face that is out there promoting the event.

7. You were at TechEd 2008 (Developers) this year. What did you think of the new format? Where's the value in TechEd for you? ("I'm here to learn!"  or  "Networking, Baby!")
its all of the above.  While I’m there, I’m joking around, but that didn’t stop me from going to sessions and trying to understand what is going on regarding technology.

8. What's next for Wally? Any big projects or plans on the horizon?
We’re keeping on keeping on.  We just got a new project out in Albuquerque, NM so I plan on spending lots of time between here and there as well as maintenance work for existing projects.

I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do for Wally 2.0.  The “Get More Wally in your Life” tag line is great and will be around forever, but I’m trying to figure out a new angle.

9. So... any tattoos?
No tattoos. 


...Not one to be satisfied with a mere NINE Questions, Wally decided to add (and answer) a couple of his own...

Boxers or Briefs?
Commando Baby!

VB or C#?
Yes.  The choice of languages tends to be very much a religious issue.  People want to think that their language is the right choice.  The truth is that there is very little difference.  Most applications are based on the framework.  I’d like to challenge people to document the things that one language can do that the other language can not.  Now, I’m not talking about the syntax sugar differences.  I want to know which features people are using that clearly don’t exist in anyway, shape or form in the other language.  I’ve only found one feature in c# that doesn’t exist in VB and I’ve never seen anyone have a need for it outside of the high performance ISV world.  I’m sure that there are other features that exist in one but not the other, but I haven’t run across them.  So, what features exist in one and not the other?

Check this out!

Posted on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 4:12 PM General Interest , NINE Questions | Back to top

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