Presenting at Boston Code Camp 2017

I’m very excited to be speaking at my very first Code Camp on March 25th at the Microsoft Sales & Technology Center in Burlington. My session is titled: Connecting Salesforce.com & Office 365 using Microsoft Flow & PowerApps which hopefully is pretty straightforward for what I plan on covering. I am a huge fan of Microsoft Flow and am very excited to have the opportunity to “spread the gospel” of some of the amazing possibilities with this service.

I have always been a little hesitant to speak at Code Camp since I self-identify as being somewhere between a no-code developer and an actual developer. Most of the presenters are hardcore developers and I would be afraid of putting my audience off by not spending my session in Visual Studio. However, I am hoping my topic will resonate with attendees as I’m starting to see lots of organizations move towards Office 365 and there’s a mix of Salesforce.com & Dynamics 365 from a CRM perspective. I am also seeing a surge in data orchestration tools such as IFTT, Microsoft Flow, Zapier, etc. which is a good conversation to have especially when it comes to integrating with custom LOB applications which will require RESTFUL interfaces to enable these tools.

So here’s to an awesome event, and check out the website for more details!
https://www.bostoncodecamp.com/CC27

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The End of the Free SharePoint Saturday Events?

This weekend I had the pleasure to present two sessions at SharePoint Saturday Charlotte at the University of Charlotte. This was my first time outside the airport and I really enjoyed the people & atmosphere of the city. Unfortunately some travel issues prevented me from finding much time to really see the city or mingle with other speaker, but I still had a nice time.

My first session of the day was “Integrating O365 & Salesforce.com using Microsoft PowerApps & Flow” which was very lightly attended. I’m not sure if it was because the keynote ran over it’s allotted time or that rooms were on different floors, but I was surprised that more folks weren’t interested in connecting Salesforce & O365. Regardless of number of attendees, I think the talk itself went pretty well and it gave me one more dry run before I record it for Collab365. My second session, “Modern SharePoint Development Workflow using Node, Bower, Yeoman and more!” had quite a few more attendees but still not the same crowd that I’ve recently seen in Boston, New York, or even Pittsburgh. When I spoke with the organizers it sounded like they had over a 60% no-show rate which is just slightly higher than the average 50% rate that most events see.

As an organizer, I know these events take a tremendous amount of planning from securing a venue, to lining up speakers, coordinating food, to making sure that sponsors are all set with their logistics. Estimating breakfast & lunch as got to the best most difficult & wasteful part of coordinating a SharePoint Saturday. No matter what you do it’s inevitable that there is going to be too much food. As an organizer you always want to ensure that people are properly hydrated, fed, and taken care of. If you have 200 people register for your event, it can be stressful to not purchase food for the worst case scenario (200) attendees. Typically I try to factor in 25% no-show even though I know it is going to be higher. As an organizer there is no worse feeling that running out of food, even for a free event. As an organizer of a smaller user group – the amount of leftover food we had at least year’s SharePoint Saturday event could have paid for half the user group meetings this year.

I think the initial charter for SharePoint Saturday which was to provide a platform for learning with no boundaries (i.e.; free to all attendees) was quite noble. However, after attending dozens of SharePoint Saturdays I can’t turn my eye to the inevitable waste that is associated with the events. From food, t-shirts, handouts, and swag, it can be alarming how much is leftover after an event. I think one of the problems with the free events is that registrants do not always associate a value to the event. When it’s free, there’s nothing lost if they don’t attend. But, if there was a nominal fee – then they would have made that investment and perhaps they would think twice about not attending. I don’t think a charge somewhere between $5-10 would create that much of a barrier to entry.

When speaking with the teams that organize the Cloud Saturday event (which is paid) in Chicago & Atlanta – they typically see a 90% attendance which is phenomenal. With sponsorship money becoming more difficult to secure, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more events change to the nominal charge model. If anything it also helps to alleviate some of the stress of obtaining sponsorship money when many ISV’s are beginning to withdraw from participating in some of these community events.

2015 – New Year, maybe a bit more blogging

Much like folks make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking, etc.. I’m making the resolution to blog a little bit more. If anything, it’s a place where I can go to lookup my own tips & tricks. 🙂

I’m going to open up 2015 with some posts about getting started with JavaScript development. I’m actually doing this for two reasons:

1) I find that forcing myself to try and teach/help others will only help to improve my existing knowledge of a subject
2) I remember how difficult it was getting started and the type of information that I hunted for (and still look for) when attempting to build SharePoint solutions using JavaScript.

Hopefully this mini-series will be helpful to the 1-2 folks that accidentally stumble upon my blog.. Likely by accident..

“From the Archive” – My Thoughts

One of the beautiful things about social media is that it allows you to interact with folks all over the globe with little to no effort. I’d like to label myself a “young up and comer” in the SharePoint Community and with that, I don’t want to upset any of the folks that I look up to nor do I want to hurt the newly formed CT SharePoint Users Group. Earlier today I noticed that Marc Anderson who is someone I have tremendous respect for, started retweeting some of his older blog posts using the “From the archive” heading which I believe is a WordPress Plug-in which automatically cycles through old posts and tweets them. I was quick to Tweet that “I hope 2014 isn’t the year of from the archive”. Now of course, my tweet gets picked up by Chris Givens who is a rockstar SharePointer out of San Diego which immediately gets some visibility leaving me with a bit of my foot hanging out of my mouth. So I’d like to take the change to explain my point using more than 140 characters.

One of the new themes that I have been seeing over the past few months is this “automation” of social media and to be honest, I do not particularly care for it. It started with Joel Oleson and Seb Matthews (perhaps others but they were the first to appear in my feed). I will pick on Seb a bit since I have both met him in real life, shared a beer, and I know that he is a good sport and will not hold my opinion against me. Cards on the table, I respect Seb quite a bit both technically and personally for how he conducts himself. I follow Seb on Twitter because from time to time he puts out some pretty good stuff that is both interesting and helpful in my job as a SharePoint Administrator. However, Seb is one of those guys that relies on two forms of social media automation.

1. He reposts tweets from @scriptingguys, mostly their ProTips.
I actually used to follow @scriptingguys before I followed Seb and actually stopped because I found it annoying to have the same ProTip repeated twice in my feed. Ed Wilson (@scriptingguys) is a master with the Powershell but since I focus mainly on SharePoint, it felt to me like I would probably get more out of Seb’s re-tweets than Ed’s.

2. He tweets “From the archive” and then links to an old blog post
So to be honest, this is perhaps the one that I find to be the more annoying of the two. I find that these posts tend to clutter up the feed a bit more and they usually point to content that I do not have much use for.

Now mind you, with the appropriate Twitter client I can certainly filter out these duplicate Tweets. I wish the native one on both Windows Phone & iPad would have this functionality. I sent a Tweet our earlier to my friend Todd Klindt who recommended I go with Tweetdeck to filter out these archive posts.

Seb, in case you see a lot of traffic to your from the archive posts, please note that was me trying to find a good example. So anyways just to break this down a bit more – here’s one that was brought back from the archive on January 3rd & December 1st: http://t.co/ZRD2LZ4Nwz  – basically a wrap-up to the SPS Bermuda event.

To summarize it, he gives a bit of detail about Bermuda, a cool picture he took, and a link to his slides. Not that I’m knocking him but the post was adequate for an event wrap-up, I’ve done the same for a few that I have attended/presented at. If the initial post didn’t exist it wouldn’t be the end of the world, the Internet would continue to churn on. But from where I’m sitting, I don’t see much value in regularly repeating this wrap-up. To me, it just looks like the manufacturing of tweets which point to some average content. I’m glad Seb had a good time in Bermuda, but to me it wasn’t worth repeating.

Post below:

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However, I don’t want to come off as overly critical because again, Seb is a great guy and puts out some really useful material. For example some useful “from the archive” posts that Seb have put out are:

http://sebmatthews.net/2013/06/quick-powershell-tip-to-enable-status-tracking-between-reboots-in-scripts/
http://sebmatthews.net/2013/03/change-drive-letters-of-volumes-on-windows-server-using-powershell/

They are quick Powershell tips applicable to SysAdmins that unless you’re trolling through Seb’s blog, you might not find. Now, I don’t think it’s something that has to be retweeted every week, but perhaps on some sort of monthly cycle it might make sense. (Should the author feel its entirely necessary to support that functionality. I have actually used his status tracking between reboots myself and it was super useful at the time. However, it is not just always about me – I am sure there are people who would be “new to Seb” and might not already be aware of that older post. So I can completely understand the value in finding Seb, following him, and then reading that tweet which was “From the Archive”. However, to be honest, I don’t really think his wrap-ups of the SharePoint Saturday Events are worth much except for the links to his slide deck.

From a content management perspective, Seb should actually have a post with a summary of the session and then link to the slide deck. Then if you did a “From the archive” which linked to the summary and allowed the user to find the slide deck, it would actually be a worthwhile repeat.

I also really like Todd Klindt’s suggestion to tag the posts with something that can universally be filtered such as #classic like Joel Oleson does. Todd would probably cite from his New Media Expo learnings about the value of social media and that automation cheapens the experience. However, I won’t speak for Todd since he does plenty of that Monday evenings at 8:30 PM CST.. 🙂

So hopefully I was able to pull some of my foot back out of my mouth.. Much respect to the content authors – from Joel to Marc, to Seb. And I certainly can understand the value in repeating content, but all I (and perhaps the community) would ask is that it be worthwhile content to repeat.

A New Microsoft Fanboy has been born

I should probably start this off with I’ve been an Apple Fan boy since the day my grandfather got me a Mac SE for my birthday. From there I can recall a number of “cool moments” in my life where a Mac helped shape a creative outlet. When I was in my senior year of high school and the class video got corrupted due to Windows 95 being a less than stable operating system, I remember picking up an iMac DV and a Sony Camcorder using my CompUSA credit card and spending the next 5 months shooting and editing our senior class video. My first website was developed using a PowerMac G4 titanium that I used to carry around in a slick gun metal briefcase. When I went off to college I got an iMac Flat screen for the dorm, and my wife’s first laptop was a slick MacBook Pro. There were a few other Macs in-between with one of the Mirror Door G4’s, a black G3 Powerbook, one G4 Tower. As with all Apple Fanboys I waited in line for the first, second, and third iPhones and for awhile carried an iPhone 4. My truly favorite Apple moment was when I was able to buy the first iPod a day earlier because the cashier on duty at CompUSA (where I worked at the time) didn’t know that it wasn’t due out to the following day.

However, over the past few years my love for Apple has slowly faded. Perhaps it has come with the passing of Steve Jobs who truly in my eyes (along with many others) was a true rock star. He had his misses along the way but overall you could count on an exciting product announcement once or twice a year along with perhaps some of the best showmanship that my generation has ever seen. Jobs was the snake oil salesman of the 20th century and I wanted whatever he was selling.

However, as I alluded to my lust for all that is Apple had begun fading and you could tell just with my recent set of toys that my household was no longer exclusively an Apple one. My iPhone soon traded in for a work issued Windows Phone and then tonight after another lackluster Tim Cook presentation, I ended up getting a new Surface Pro 2.

My initial feedback is great. This device is pretty slick, responsive, and the screen is just beautiful. I opted for the 128 GB figuring that I could expand with a 64GB Microsdxc card and probably handle everything I need. Besides the installation of Office there are no other major applications that would require more. And from a RAM perspective, I haven’t noticed any slowdown issues with the 4GB of RAM. Of course you always wish for more RAM. 🙂 The swiping between and to close apps it quick and fun, in some ways a bit more intuitive than on the iPad.

I went with the Type Keyboard over the Touch given both the reviews along with a friend’s strong recommendation. In addition, I decided to push the limits of my Best Buy no interest financing to round out my purchase with both the VGA adapter and the Microsoft Arc Mouse. (which is awesome btw)

Some really cool first moments with the Surface were it finding both my Roku and my HP Printer over Bluetooth. Along with installing a few new apps from the Windows Store. I’ve primarily used it as a laptop (both stationary on the kitchen table) along with on my lap watching some television. I plan on presenting off of this for our first Connecticut SharePoint Users Group meeting, and I’m curious if any of my fellow nerds will notice or comment? 🙂

So in other words, this Surface Pro is right up my alley and I’m really happy with the purchase. I am sure there will be future posts of frustration and “how do I’s” but for now I’m having my fun.