Jason Follas.com

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Jason Follas

Jason Follas was born on March 4, 1974 at the purportedly haunted Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, VA. Despite living in beautiful Virginia Beach for a short period of time afterwards, his family returned to northwest Ohio after his father left the Navy.

His earliest memories are of the house in Lima, OH where he lived until he was five. In this neighborhood, he can remember playing with his older brother and other neighborhood personalities, as well as riding a BigWheel to a park several blocks away! (Note to parents everywhere: Preschoolers will ride their BigWheels far from home if they get the opportunity)

Despite starting Kindergarten in Lima, his family soon moved to Bluffton, OH, which is what Jason considers to be his hometown. Growing up in Bluffton, Jason was active in the Boy Scouts (Eagle Scout, 1992), Cross Country, Choir, Show Choir, Drama Club, and the Yearbook staff. He also worked at the local McDonald's restaurant for several years, which, at the time, was one of only several area employment opportunities available to high school students.

Jason's earliest experience with computers was typing BASIC programs into his father's TRS-80 Level II as a 6 year old. By the age of 7-8, he had his own Commodore VIC-20. By the age of 9-10, he had moved up and owned a Commodore 64. It would be another five years or so before he began to experience the entirely different world of the IBM-PC.

In the fall of 1992, Jason moved in with a friend into a house just off of the campus of The University of Toledo (Toledo, OH). At first, the move to Toledo was simply to take a job with Burlington Air Express, which operated an overnight freight hub at the Toledo Express Airport. However, he soon enrolled in classes at UT and started studying Computer Science and Engineering.

While working at the airport, Jason learned a lot about the physics of flight. In particular, his role as a Load Planner required that he assign cargo placement on the aircraft in such a way that it was properly balanced (permitting it to fly). BAX used a paper-based system to perform this process, but, in the mid-1990's they initiated a project to computerize the experience, and Jason was asked to participate.

Soon after, Jason was promoted to a full-time position as a PC Technician where he learned a great deal about Windows and networking. The consultant that was originally hired to write the Weight and Balance system really did a poor job at implementing the requirements, so Jason's boss allowed him to rewrite the system using Visual Basic 4. This program, named the Automated Load Planning System (ALPS), featured data entry forms that looked very much like the actual paper forms used in the operation, as well as a drag-and-drop interface and an automation feature that would determine optimal cargo placement.

By 1998, Jason not only welcomed his first daughter into the world, but he also moved up into an official programming role at BAX. Among other projects, he managed to rewrite ALPS from the ground up again using VB6, improving on the user experience and performance. But, the mundane atmosphere of corporate life got to him, and he left BAX after six years to take position with IEC (later became Meritage Technologies).

Jason flourished in the ever changing business of consulting. He was afforded the opportunity to work with a wide variety of customers and industries using an equally wide variety of technologies. But, in the end, he still found himself gravitating towards the Microsoft product lines due to his past experience with their technologies and Microsoft's support of the developer world with an unmatched set of tools.

Jason remained employed, having survived a round of layoffs during a particularly slow period after the DotCom bubble burst. He experienced his local Toledo office (which was 5 miles from his home) being closed in order to merge the Toledo and Detroit markets into a "centralized" Ann Arbor office (about 50 miles from his home). Then Meritage Technologies was acquired by Perficient in 2004. A short time later, the Ann Arbor office was relocated to the Detroit suburb of Livonia (about 80 miles from Jason's home).

Jason discovered the Northwest Ohio .NET User Group (NWNUG) after a local MSDN event. He started attending meetings, and gave his first presentation in August 2005. In November 2005, he was selected as a finalist in the Connected Systems Developer Competition, and was invited to the launch event for Visual Studio 2005/SQL Server 2005/Biztalk 2006 in San Francisco. He was also asked to serve in the Ask the Experts area at Detroit's launch event, which took place the next morning. His participation in these two events were life changing for him in that he started making contacts within the Microsoft Developer Community.

Jason became the President of the Northwest Ohio .NET User Group in 2006, and still leads the group today. He has helped to organize the Day of .NET in Ann Arbor conferences, as well as the CodeMash conferences. In the summer of 2007, Microsoft designated him as a Microsoft MVP for SQL Server.

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