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A new chapter: You can go home again

A new chapter: You can go home again

8 years ago Jill and I moved from Austin, TX to New England as newlyweds to start our new life together. I had just accepted a new job with Raytheon to work on a technology that was completely foreign to me. I had spent the previous 10 years of my career focused on relatively known commodities, but when I jumped into SharePoint it was a total unknown to me. Little did we know then the amazing road that was ahead of us. Every year has been another milestone:

2007: married & moved to Massachusetts
2008: Max was born
2009: bought our home and moved to New Hampshire
2010: Sam was born
2011: Left Raytheon for Sentri
2012: Sentri acquired KMA
2013: Polycom acquired Sentri and I left Polycom for Atrion
2014: Awarded SharePoint MVP
2015: …

heading to Texas

This week I accepted an offer to be the Office 365 Advisory Services Manager for Rackspace , a position that is moving us back home to Texas. I am thrilled to take on a new challenge that is focused completely on Office 365 and couldn’t be happier to be joining the amazing team at Rackspace and get to partner with the ever amazing Jennifer Mason Roth on our Office 365 offering.

For our family this change is semi-sweet as we truly love our life in New Hampshire, our friends, and the family that we have built over the past 8 years. We have built & strengthened bonds here that will last our lifetime and we will be back regularly to visit. I cannot imagine a morning during baseball season that Sam won’t be waking up and asking “Did the Red Sox win last night?” before he even says good morning to us. He has told me that he is excited that we are moving to where the Texas Longhorns play though. Max is excited to learn to play “Deep in the Heart of Texas” now in addition to “Yankee Doodle”.

I will miss the amazing people that I have been lucky enough to work with for the past 2 years at Atrion . The team there continues to be strong & growing. I know that they are going to keep doing amazing things for our customers. The opportunities that I have had during my time at Atrion have allowed me to grow both personally & professionally. I look forward to continuing the relationships that I have developed over the past 2 years.

I will also miss the New England family of SharePoint communities that have embraced me so thoroughly over these past 5 years. I am excited that part of my world at Rackspace includes getting to continue my dedication to the community and I will be back for SPSBoston, helping to run the 5th annual SPSNH, and speaking at SPTechCon during the rest of the year and hopefully for many years to come.

The next few months are going to be crazy as I dive head first into my new world at Rackspace and we relocate the family to Texas. I will be at Ignite working the Office 365 Developer booth for Microsoft during my first official week at Rackspace. Be sure to stop by and visit me to hear about all of the great stuff that Microsoft is doing to enable Devs in the Office 365 world.

MVP Award – My new year’s day suprise

MVP Award – My new year’s day suprise

MVP

With my vacation coming to a close I opted to spend one last morning with the boys and let Jill sleep in this morning. The day started like any other, Sam (age 3) came into my room and immediately started talking while Max (age 5) was hunkered down in his bed surrounded his books. We went downstairs to start the day and have breakfast, for which they had requested my special chocolate chip pancakes.

We finished our breakfast and had some fun play time before the pathetic plea for movies kicked in. I’m a sucker and had some web surfing to do so I caved quickly. When Jill came down stairs she found the 3 of us in the middle of the Lorax.

I popped onto Twitter to see what was doing in the world and saw Marc Anderson‘s tweet stating that he had been renewed for his MVP (and deservedly so). I had been informed that I was under consideration this cycle, but had not put much stock in my chances of being awarded. I was about to tell Jill about Marc and that it looked like I had not gotten it this year when my Outlook dinged and a message titled “Congratulations 2014 Microsoft MVP!” popped up.

I was speechless. Jill & I have been married almost 7 years and I can count on one hand the number of times that she has seen that happen.

I am humbled and honored to have been presented with this award. There are too many people for me to name here to whom I owe a debt of thanks & appreciation, so I will simply say thank you to the SharePoint Community as a whole.  I have to give the credit for this award to the people who have given them most, and that is my amazingly supportive wife and kids without-whom I would not be able to do any of the community work that I do.

I look forward to another great year of blogging, speaking, geeking, and community building. See you all in March at #SPC14 in Las Vegas if not before!

#SPSRI Wrap up

#SPSRI Wrap up

spsRI-2013

The inaugural #SPSRI is now in the books! When I joined the team putting this event on I had a few goals:

1.) select speakers who would elevate the event & give the attendees an amazing learning experience

2.) follow through on Chris’s goal of running the event on a minimal budget & get just enough sponsors to make the budget doable

3.) provide attendees & speakers with an fun, interactive, lively event that would be worth staying all day

4.) cross the 100 attendee barrier

5.) make the SharePint something that people wouldn’t have to leave the venue to participate in

I am happy to say that most of these goals were met & exceeded. We had a terrfiic panel of speakers (including several first timers), ended up with over 110 people in attendance with more than 70% staying until the closing raffle, and our SharePint was at the restaurant bar directly next to the venue which allowed us to retain the majority of the folks still around at the end of the raffle.

The one goal that was not quite met was the budget goal. Due to some spending choices we made we ended up needing less money than we originally planned. As a result were able to do far more than we expected for both attendees and speakers, including making some pretty awesome shirts with the logo you see above as well as help to seed next year’s event.

Thanks to everyone who put in time to make this event the success that it was.

…oh, and the deck from my session “PowerShell for the Anxious ITPro” can be found here: https://www.slideshare.net/jasonhimmelstein/powershell-for-the-anxious-itpro

#SPSNH Call for Speakers Update

#SPSNH Call for Speakers Update

We are now less than a week from closing the Call for Speakers, Wednesday August 7th at 6pm Eastern Time, and we are still looking for speakers to submit.

Many people have watched the message that I posted about the video we are asking speakers to submit and I have gotten some feedback that this requires some clarification:

The video is NOT a requirement. We are asking speakers to do it and think that it will make things a ton more fun, but it is absolutely not required.

Personally, I think that is a quick easy thing to do that any speaker should be able to do in no more than 3 takes using their smart phone or the camera feature in Windows 8 (that’s how I did my video, with a bit of overlay thanks to Camtasia).

If the video is keeping you from submitting to speak, just submit the form.  You can get the forms on our SPSEvents site.

Thanks!

Creating hotkeys for functions in Word 2013

Creating hotkeys for functions in Word 2013

In my previous posts on Enabling the “Mark Comment Done” & “Quick Switching between Review Markup Styles” I made reference to repetitive stress injury inducing activities and how to avoid them, but the biggest single improvement I made to my editing process for the book was creating a hotkey for Approving Comments.

I have long been a fan of Office Application allowing me to customize my toolbar and tabs, but until recently I did not realize what I was missing with creating hotkeys.  The operation is simple and intuitive and makes repetitive functions significantly easier to live with.

Simply right-click in the ribbon and select “Customize the Ribbon”

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This will open the Word Options window where you will select the “Keyboard shortcuts:” customize button.

2

Once open you will select the tab that contains the feature you are looking to create a hotkey for.  In this case I selected the Review Tab and chose the AcceptChangesOrAdvance option.

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To avoid the aforementioned repetitive stress injury inducing activity I chose to employ multiple key combinations so that I could switch hands as I went so that I didn’t over use one combination and cause myself to be a claw-handed, arthritis riddled, angry author.  The nice thing about the Customize Keyboard window is that it lets you know when key combination is already in use so that you can decide whether or not you want to override the existing hotkey or add an additional hotkey.

4

Once I assigned the changes I was able to go back to Word and use the hotkey right away.  This saved me a decent chunk of time as it allowed me to keep both hands on the keyboard and not to have to use the touch screen or the mouse.

Quick switching between Review Markup styles in Word 2013

Quick switching between Review Markup styles in Word 2013

This is the second in a shorts series of helpful hits for editing using Word 2013.  You can find the first in the series Enabling the “Mark Comment Done” here. 

When I first started with the copyedit review of my book I used to go into the Review tab for each chapter and select to show All Markup each time.  This repetitive stress injury inducing activity was not only annoying, but it was counter productive as it made it difficult to understand the full context of the changes that were being proposed.

Happily I stumbled upon a feature that was previously unknown to me.  It is possible that this has been a part of Word in previous versions, but as I have not had to review documents in such a massive way until the book, I hadn’t ever bothered to look into the Markup features.

The feature that I am referring to is the inline show/hide side bar.

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This side bar is grey when All Markup is being show and red when Simple Markup is employed.  To toggle between the two simply click on the side bar.

2

This will allow you to quickly and easily see what changes are being made and what the output will look like without having to hit the toolbar, which is optimal when you are in a touch enabled environment such as a Surface or other tablet.

I found this feature to be invaluable when working on edits and reviews for the book.  Since no one had pointed it out to me before, I figured it was worth sharing.

Enabling the “Mark Comment Done” feature in Word 2013

Enabling the “Mark Comment Done” feature in Word 2013

I am finally at the end of the first copyedit review for my book “Developing Business Intelligence Apps for SharePoint” and the experience has left me with some valuable tidbits about how best to edit 400+ page word documents.  I will post these during the course of the next week.

While co-author, Dave Feldman, and I are both using Office 2013 and had every intention of leveraging all of the great features that come as a part of the .docx format, we found that people in the book publishing biz tend to be on less up to date software and would send us drafts in .doc format.  This made it so that the “Mark Comment as Done” feature is not available.

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Convert from Compatibility Mode

To solve this go to the File Menu (or Backstage) and select convert.

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You will get a warning that you are about to upgrade to the newest file format to which you will say OK.

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This will light up “Mark Comment Done”.

4 

How to: Create a OneNote help file out of a PowerShell Module

How to: Create a OneNote help file out of a PowerShell Module

Being an ITPro in the current day and age I write a decent amount of PowerShell. Since I am not always on a server that has the SharePoint PowerShell modules installed most of my time on TechNet is spent basically reading the help files of specific modules to validate syntax, flags or review examples. This can become a bit of a pain after a while so I thought it would be nice to have a OneNote notebook on my SkyDrive that I could sync to my laptops or access in the cloud where I could search more easily and have all of my cmdlets at my fingertips.

Here is how I accomplished this:

Select the module. For this example I used the Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell module, however this will work with any PowerShell module.

Run the following command to get an output of the cmdlets in the module:

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Opening in Excel will give you the best opportunity to grab what you need. Column K in this particular output will list all of the cmdlets names.

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Grab just that column and copy it to a text file called “cmdlets.csv”.

Next use the following PowerShell command to create an ANSI output file for each of the help files in the module.

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For this module it created 771 individual text files. Using the OneNote 2010 Text Importer from John Guin I was able to create a single OneNote file that contains all of the help for the entire SharePoint 2013 PowerShell module that is now searchable in a faster and easier way. One caveat, I had to use OneNote 2010 for the importer to work properly.

Not sure if this will be helpful for anyone else, but I use it all the time when writing PowerShell Code.

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I will endeavor to keep this up to date, but since I just explained how to accomplish this, if I slip up you can perform the actions yourself.

You can get download the notebook here: http://sdrv.ms/X7PqqI

notepad  get cmdlets in the module script

notepad  create ANSI output file for each of the help files in the module script

Hooray, it’s a book!: “Developing Business Intelligence Apps for SharePoint”

Hooray, it’s a book!: “Developing Business Intelligence Apps for SharePoint”

book

Over the past year I have been spending my night’s & weekends working on a book with my co-author, Dave Feldman, and I am proud to say that we have completed our draft of “Developing Business Intelligence Apps for SharePoint”

Through the book you will learn to create dynamic Business Intelligence solutions for SharePoint, using Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch, SQL Server 2012, and other tools and technologies. This hands-on book shows you how to create data-rich BI applications with SharePoint faster and with more capabilities than previously possible. You’ll learn the entire process, from high-level concepts, to low-code development and deployment, to setup and configuration.

  • Quickly build a robust schema and applications with Visual Studio LightSwitch
  • Leverage PowerPivot v2 to build a business intelligence semantic model
  • Create reports with Excel Services, Report Builder, and Power View

The happy thing about our book is that we saw the CSOM model of SharePoint 2013 coming down the road and architected our solutions in the book so that they are relevant to both the 2010 & 2013 platforms (and hopefully many versions of SharePoint to come).

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon now and will be available via O’Reilly Early Release.   Dave & I will be at the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas where O’Reilly will have a form of the book available (not quite sure if it will be a few chapters or what at that point, but there will be something!). 

I will say that Dave & I were warned by Andrew Connell & Scot Hillier when we started talking about writing this book that taking on a book project is much like having a child.  9+ months of long uncomfortable sleepless nights to give birth to something that you hope goes on to do good things in this world (I am paraphrasing a bit here… basically they both said it was going to suck something awful, but we would be happy when it was all over).  Well gents, you were right on all counts.  The fun part is that while I have 2 kids and sort of had an idea of what something like that was going to be like, Dave’s wife is pregnant with their first child and is due this SUNDAY.  Needless to say, we are glad to be done before Baby “Cookie Monster” Feldman arrives. smile

Planning a SharePoint Saturday: A recap of #SPSNH

Planning a SharePoint Saturday: A recap of #SPSNH

We are now almost a month removed from SPSNH and it has been just enough time for the glow to start to fade and for life to start getting back to normal.  The event was wildly successful and somehow managed to receive nothing but positive reviews.  There were a few things that I noted that are worth mentioning:

1.) Drop off between registration and attendance was between 30-40%. 

2.) Doing 6 keynotes instead of 1 made the day interesting, but did not draw people in for the early sessions the way that a big name keynote might have.

3.) Planning 3 tracks (ITPro, Dev, End User) at 2 different skill levels (Beginner & Advanced) and keeping the tracks consistent in the same room so that people weren’t hunting for their next session was a BIG hit.

4.) Todd Klindt is a freaking rock star.  This isn’t something that we learned, but it was certainly reinforced.  The dude stepped up to deliver a session he had never seen until 5 minutes before when someone called in sick for the first timeslot & then presented to a standing room only group later in the day.  Todd’s heroic efforts win the booby prize with Chris McNulty coming in a close second for taking on an extra session with only a day’s notice.  The edge went to Todd because he had less prep time. 

5.) Bags and paper collateral are passé.  Give people a jump drive with digital collateral.

6.) Varying things up between 2010 & 2013 was very positive.  The people who came to hear about 2013 wanted some 2010 as well & the folks who wanted to hear about 2010 were interested in some about 2013 too.

7.) Hot coffee available all day is a MUST.

8.) Speaker gifts instead of speaker shirts.  We gave a nice warm jacket with the SPSNH & NHSPUG logos on them and I am still getting twitter comments about how much the speakers enjoy them.  Plus, SPSRED “borrowed” our idea and their speakers loved them too smile

All in all, I am happy to say that SPSNH was a great success and we are looking forward to doing it again next year.  There are things that we will look to do differently, but with a second SPSNH under our belt I think that we have a pretty good thing going up here in the “Live Free or Die” state.

My presentation from SPSNH can be found here. The slides that Todd presented on 5 minutes notice can be found here. (I had done a webinar the week before, so this was my deck from that)

My pictures from the weekend can be found here on my SkyDrive.