If this were true a few years ago I would be dead

Not even exaggerating, I wish I were.   If I had to wait three years between cancer screenings my children would be without their mother.  And even though I sometimes fantasize about the day after they leave for college turning their bedrooms into shoes closets, that would have been a senseless and avoidable tragedy.

Now they want to change the guidelines for pap screenings?  CNN article linked below with details.  Here's my story.

I was a no-risk woman.  In my 30s.  Monogamous.  Had already had kids.  No family history of female cancers.  Always got my annual oil change exams and screenings.  Never so much as an abnormal blip on lab results.

A few years ago, I got an abnormal pap.  Ok, I like to think myself logical, so before panic set in, I do what anyone else would, go online.  I look around and find out how incredibly normal an abnormal pap is.  Ok, the next step, re-test and chances are (like huge chances here) whatever caused the unknown abnormality would be gone and we’d move on to the next year’s exam.  Ok, not so much for me.  Came back abnormal still, my primary doc said, why don’t you head over to an ob/gyn to be safe.

Now a little nervous.

Having not needed an ob/gyn since 1995 I just picked the one across the hall from my primary doc.  Could not stand him, but if all I needed was a quick little biopsy for him to tell me not to worry, who cares, right?  Ok, not so much for me again.

Results came back questionable, he said let’s re-test in 3 months.  Hmm, ok, YOU wait three months, I’m close to a panic here AND you’re an ass, so moving on now.  One more doc, again, did not like her at all.  So, now I am looking around and interviewing doctors. 

I knew I was done using the parts, so IF there was a problem, not concerned about taking them out.  My concern was making sure I stayed around for my kids, to raise them, to watch them as adults, become parents themselves, you know all the stuff we’re supposed to do.

Found a doc I liked.  He was a DO, not an MD, so in theory would take more of a look at the whole Julie, not just the parts of his specialty.  So more of the same tests, more of the same results.  Not normal, not cancer and now, rapidly changes cells.  Toss in a few in-office procedures with the goal of just cutting out the affected parts of my cervix.  Yea, again, not so much for me.  Add in the bonus of not only rapidly changing cells, but more abnormalities the deeper thy got in the cervix.

So now doc says, probably time for a hysterectomy.  A little more panic here, a DO suggesting surgery carries a bit of weight to me.  We could spend time weighing pros and cons and the whole no more babies thing, but like I said before, we knew no more babies anyway.  So let’s just do this.

Surgery uneventful, so that’s good.  Got to keep ovaries, so that’s good for my family, no harsh jump into the land of menopause, just continuing my already started descent there.

Doc of course had all the removed parts sent for lab review.  And he said the abnormalities were not only my cervix, but all up in the uterus as well.  If left alone, it would have been one helluva cancer.  And he said we were not too far off from that reality.

Start to finish of this little story?  18 months.  Three year wait, I would have been dead.

New cervical cancer screening guidelines released - CNN.com

Silverlight 4 plus Dynamics CRM 4

Today at PDC Scott Guthrie announced not only loads of cool new features for Silverlight 4, but also the release today of the Beta. So, what in the world does that have to do with CRM? Glad that you asked. We’ve got a quick demo of Dynamics CRM 4 with a Silverlight 4 tool. First a little about new Silverlight functions that allow access to web camera and microphone, then using that in CRM.  Be sure to check out Silverlight Jumpstart for extensive (over 50 pages of new content) for Silverlight 4 updates, available only from the publisher. (in case anyone is wondering, no I didn’t write the code samples, my hubby did)

Web Camera / Microphone Support

Silverlight 4 now allows developers to access to the raw audio and video streams on the local machine from applications running both in and out of the browser. Using these capabilities developers can write applications including capture and collaboration using audio and video. This is built-in to the core runtime and no other special downloads are required on each machine. When the audio or video is accessed for the first time by the application the user will be prompted to approve the request. This ensures that audio and video is never accessed without the user’s knowledge preventing applications that capture silently in the background. The following is an example of the prompt the user sees when the application requests access to the devices.


You will notice in the above image the site name is displayed. This is another safeguard to ensure the user knows which site is requesting access to the devices. Access is granted to just this application and only for this session of the application. Currently there is no option to persist the user’s approval to avoid re-prompting each time the application is run. Additionally, it’s all or nothing; you don’t get to choose video or microphone. It’s a combined approval.

Users with multiple devices can select the devices they want to be the default devices using the properties on the Silverlight plug-in. This can be selected by right-clicking on a Silverlight application and going to the Webcam/Mic tab.

The following is an example of what you will see on that tab.


Developers can get access to the chosen devices using the CaptureDeviceConfiguration class. Using this class you can call the GetDefaultAudioCaptureDevice or GetDefaultVideoCaptureDevice methods to retrieve the users selected defaults. The class also has GetAvailableAudioCaptureDevices and GetAvailableVideoCaptureDevices methods that allow you to enumerate the available devices if you want more control of choosing a device besides the default.

Prior to using the devices you must request access to the device by calling the RequestDeviceAccess() method from the CaptureDeviceConfiguration class. When this method is called it is responsible for showing the user approval dialog we saw earlier. This method must be called from a user initiated event handler like the event handler for a button click event. If you call it at other times it will either not do anything or produce an error. Using the AllowedDeviceAccess property you can query if access has already been granted to the device.

The quickest way to get started using the video is to attach the capture from the device to a VideoBrush and then use the brush to paint the background of a border. The following XAML sets up the button to trigger the capture and a border that we will paint with a video brush.


<Button x:Name="btnStartvideo" Click="btnStartvideo_Click"

Content="Start Video"></Button>

<Border x:Name="borderVideo" Height="200" Width="200"></Border>


Next, the following private method TurnOnVideo method is called from the handler for the click event on the button. This satisfies the requirement to be user initiated.

private void TurnOnVideo()


VideoCaptureDevice videoCap =


AudioCaptureDevice audioCap =


CaptureSource capsource = new CaptureSource();

capsource.AudioCaptureDevice = audioCap;

capsource.VideoCaptureDevice = videoCap;

if (CaptureDeviceConfiguration.AllowedDeviceAccess

|| CaptureDeviceConfiguration.RequestDeviceAccess())



VideoBrush vidBrush = new VideoBrush();


borderVideo.Background = vidBrush;



As you can see in the code above, default audio and video devices are retrieved and assigned to a CaptureSource. Access to the devices is then checked and requested if not already approved.

If access is granted the Start() method on the CaptureSource is invoked to begin capturing audio and video. Finally, the VideoBrush source is set to the CaptureSource instance and the background on the border is set to the VideoBrush.

Overtime we will probably see some very interesting applications of the audio and video support. One example that we put together was using it with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In this example application a membership application was simulated that associated members with pictures and stored the pictures in a database. Think of a place similar to Costco, Sam’s Club or your local gym that snaps your photo for their records.

In the following image you can see how a tab has been added to the Contact form using the CRM customization capabilities.


A Silverlight 4 application is then hosted inside that tab that will provide the user experience for capturing the images. When the Start Camera button is clicked the user will be prompted to approve the access and the video feed will begin as you can see below.


The video feed will keep showing the live image updated from the web cam until stopped. The Capture button on the above application allows the user to capture one of the image frames from the capture source. The AsyncCaptureImage(..) method on the CaptureSource class allows you to request that a frame be captured and your callback invoked. The callback is then invoked and passed a WriteableBitmap representing the captured frame.


This image can then be saved back to the Dynamics CRM server and associated with the record being viewed.

Silverlight Jumpstart

Open-source CRM and ERP: New kids on the cloud

Make sure to read the full article below, this is my biased feedback.  I can happily admit my bias toward Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Azure and for profit software programming.  However, ComputerWorld tries to pull off being a news provider, which should (in a perfect world) not show bias.  It’s hard to believe you could have an industry write-up about cloud computing, CRM and the relationship between them without any mention of Microsoft offerings.  (just for grins I did a search on their site for anything Microsoft and stopped after the 4th page of returns where EVERY entry was negative and/or anti Microsoft, yes by all means have an opinion, but don’t present yourself as news when that is the case).

With that said…

For those that are unaware, the CRMOnline offering is pretty darn cool.  Are there a few differences between online and on premise, yup.  But it goes both ways with a recent online update.  So, you have a choice and get benefits (and maybe a few drawbacks) and can pick the scenario that best fits your model.  I’ve got a pretty sweet cloud success story.  www.xrmvirtual.com is run by CRMOnline and hosted in Azure. The user experience on the site is no different than if the CRM was on premise, if the thing was hosted in my basement or if all the content was hand-made ASP pages.

The ComputerWorld article talks about lack of service guarantees with cloud offerings and that is simply not true with the CRMOnline plus Azure combination. 

The article talks about the desire to “tinker with the code” and that is the expectation with open source.  Hmmm, I’ve seen loads of code tinkering in Dynamics CRM, I can talk xRM for days.

Let’s talk costs for a minute.  The article quotes some pricing for this open source CRM product called RightNow at somewhere between $140-$250.  That is per user, per month.  WOW.  Two users and you have a car payment or groceries for a family of four for a month.  And you get something you can’t “tinker” with.  CRMOnline runs under $50 per user per month.  And you get guaranteed uptime, unlimited support tickets, code tinkering (xRM anyone?), an extensive partner community for added support, and on and on.

As far as the concept of open source goes, I am on the fence.  I like to think of myself as open minded and I understand that even if I think a product or course of action is what I would do, others find their own solutions and that’s just fine.  I know that doing non-open source work pays my mortgage and my view might be skewed based on that.  The compensation models I have heard about for open source work seems to be less than honest (ie: make all your money supporting an inferior product to make money off the support services, outrageous subscription fees like above, etc).  I also tend to believe three’s no such thing as a free lunch and things that look too good to be true typically are too good to be true.

Maybe I’m the last one to the party as far as ComputerWorld’s very biased view of the computer world.  I can tell you they have lost a casual reader of their magazine.

Open-source CRM and ERP: New kids on the cloud

Book Review Teach Yourself Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 in 24 Hours by Anne Stanton

Starting off with two disclaimers.  First, this book was sent to me for free by the publisher seeking my review.  Second, I do not see the point in flowery words for this type of thing, so this is my honest take.

So, I consider the author, Anne Stanton, a colleague and a friend.  I had heard rumblings about her book, but working in the tech book industry myself I understood the need to keep it on the down-low for a while.  I was certainly looking forward to the book.  There are far too few books for CRM users that are any good.  My go-to book recommendation has been the For Dummies series.  From a user perspective, it’s been the best one out there.  Until now.  :)

Anne (with a little help from some other super-mega CRM rock stars) takes CRM into 24 easily digestible chunks, 24 one-hour lessons.  Can you take this book and go off and make CRM?  YES!!  Can you take it and go off and make xRM?  Not so much.  But that is not it’s goal, so no worries.

Someone new to Dynamics CRM could pick up this book and become a proficient user quickly and easily.  Someone that uses CRM could quickly brush up their skills on lesser used aspects like services and campaigns.

I had it on good authority that the chapter by Guy Riddle on Security was great, and it is.  Darren Liu takes on Campaigns, my personal pain point, so many thanks Darren for giving me some more on this.  Curt Spanburgh digs into Mail Merge and helps put that together with CRM quite well.  Scott Head brings us Add-ins.  Irene Pasternack does great coverage of Excel and Reporting.

Ok, so yes by far I love this book.  It will reside next to my For Dummies book and phase itself into the #1 spot for my personal CRM reference once I master navigating the content.  But yes, there’s also a few things that I didn’t like so much.

The images are tough.  They are sized too small and look a little too dark.  I confirmed that it wasn’t just my old lady eyes that couldn’t make out much useful info.  Additionally, the publisher uses circles to point to specific content on a screen image and it about gets lost.  I saw one by accident.  If you need to go black and white, that’s fine, but arrows work much better.  If you’re stuck on the circles, make them a thicker line.

I think there were two big oversights on helpful hints.  One in the workflows and one in security.  Here’s my two helpful hints.

1.  Workflows, if you start it, you must stop it.  For example, you design a workflow that triggers on a record being updated and the action is to update the record, you will loop for years or until your performance takes such a hit that you stumble upon it in a desperate hunt for a cause.  It’s a common rookie mistake, so be aware of it from day one.

2.  Security Roles, from a CRM (NOT xRM) perspective, your best bet is to copy a role, not make a new one.  There are a handful of hidden permissions that are just easier if they are there for MOST CRM implementations.  If you know enough about CRM to know what these are and why you might not need them, this book is not intended for you.

Bottom line, I would have paid for the book, even if it hadn’t been offered for free.  It’s a great resource and Anne, I’m proud of you, another smart chick out there for us to look up to.

Amazon.com: Sams Teach Yourself Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 in 24 Hours (9780672330674): Anne Stanton: Books

Download: Field-level Security in Microsoft Dynamics CRM: Options and Constraints

So since CRM became xRM one of the most often requested things I hear is field level security.  Great idea?  Oh yes.  Built in to CRM4?  Um, nope. 

CRM has built in security roles and they are darn robust.  Whoever made this feature certainly had their thinking caps on that day.  The amount of detail and variety for data access is more than I would have thought of, and I’d like to think I’m pretty smart.  The 2 things missing from security roles….access (or heck even a list) to the hidden permissions and field level security.

Problem number one is resolved for MOST users by copying an existing role and dumb-ing it down from there.  Problem number 2 is more complex.

First, I challenge you to think, is field level security REALLY what you want?  Sure it sounds flashy and cool, but would a custom entity (which already has a place in the built in security model) accomplish the goal?  So, you think about it, talk to some smart people, draw some scribbles on a white board and come back with yup, field level security is just what I need.  So then what?

Then what?  Then you learn a bunch more about CRM/xRM (NOT a bad thing).  Here’s a download to a new whitepaper about offering field level security in your CRM.  My word of caution, READ it ALL before you go off to make CRM.  There are many details you need to be aware of and the typical (I do this) skimming of the whitepaper might just get you in some trouble.  No biggie, just read it, you’ll be fine.

Download details: Security and Authentication in Microsoft Dynamics CRM: Field-level Security in Microsoft Dynamics CRM: Options and Constraints

Call for speakers for Dynamics topics

Here’s some info from our friends over as MSDynamicsWorld.  They have done virtual conferences in the past and are working on their next round AND expanding their Dynamics coverage.  There are some links to a bit of info and I have it on good authority more web content is in progress.  The folks over at MSDynamicsWorld are good people, give this a read.

I’ve been asked to submit a session and am all for it, just now need to figure out a topic, so if you have any ideas, send them over….

Here’s a cut and paste from their email…


MSDynamicsWorld.com is looking for presentation proposals for our next online Dynamics event, to be held in Spring 2010, and we invite you to submit your ideas as a Microsoft Dynamics professional. The working theme of the upcoming event is “Solving Real World Challenges with Microsoft Dynamics” and it will focus on the real-life, practical, no-nonsense expertise and solutions provided by Microsoft Dynamics AX, CRM, GP, and NAV partners and service providers who help customers achieve success in their Microsoft Dynamics implementations.

Our Virtual Events

As you’ve probably heard, MSDynamicsWorld.com’s first virtual events, AX Decisions 2009 and NAV Decisions 2009, held in October, were big successes. There were over 2,500 registered attendees and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive from attendees and exhibitors alike. This upcoming event will focus on AX, CRM, GP, and NAV, and we expect to nearly double the attendance rate.

Want to Participate?

Not sure if you have something to contribute? At the moment we are looking for a working title and an abstract of 100 words or less. We’re looking for strategic, analytical topics. Some technical details are fine, but topics should not focus on detailed software architecture or programming. Here are just a few topic areas that we think would make for an interesting presentation:

  • A solution to an industry-specific challenge that required an un-conventional approach
  • Trends in implementation methodology that are improving success for your customers
  • Software capabilities – perhaps under-used or unavailable in standard Dynamics products – that are adding value to Dynamics customers.
  • Unique implementation challenges that a customer has overcome to realize business value
  • The customer-VAR relationship and its dynamics
  • Your view on the future of a particular Dynamics product
  • Your view on the future of a particular competitive landscape (e.g., Dynamics CRM vs. Saleforce.com, Dynamics GP vs. Sage, etc.)
  • On-demand Dynamics solution success stories
  • How to engage employees more fully in utilizing Dynamics products
  • Your ideas for improving organizational productivity via a Dynamics solution

If your topic is selected, you will have the opportunity to develop a presentation to be delivered before thousands of Dynamics professionals and customers at our spring event. Here are some more details on this opportunity:

  • All selected presentations will be delivered live at our virtual event in May 2010. The presentations will also be recorded and available on demand through the summer.
  • Speakers will be featured on the Decisions 2010 Spring conference web site with a picture, bio, and presentation abstract
  • Presentations will be 30 to 45 minutes in length with a Q&A period at the end
  • Presentations will be selected for tracks based on the four major Dynamics products: AX, CRM, GP, and NAV
  • Presentations should focus on business value, industry trends, product trends, and innovation.
  • Presentations should not directly promote your company’s products or services.

You can send in your proposal directly to [email protected] with the subject line: “Decisions 2010 Spring presentation topic”. Or if you have any questions, feel free to contact us at the same address and someone will get back to you promptly.

Danish xRM Group started

See, it’s quite the popular topic now.  Some friends of xRMVirtual have started an on-ground group for xRM developers, the Danish xRM Developer Network.  Go have a look at their site, they’ve been busy.


I’m really starting to think I need a tour of all these new xRM groups that are sprouting up all over the globe.

Way to go Morten!

xrm developer network

Convergence 2010 survey now up!

So you know when you go to a techie conference and you look thru the sessions and you get fussy ‘cause nothing is the way YOU would have planned it?  No more whining!  Go fill out the survey, link below, and have an impact on what go on at Convergence 2010 in Atlanta.

My personal preference is for community events and xRM content (pause for collective gasp of surprise).

This is only up for a limited time, so don’t procrastinate, do it now.


I am no longer “acting”

I have been working with INETA groups for eons and have been helping locally, regionally and nationally for a while now.  I had been the Assistant Director of Membership working with Chris Williams.  Some folks decided to resign their spots on the Board of Directors and some musical people happened and I was then the Acting Director of Membership.  Per the INETA rules/bylaws an election was to be had.  Several great and qualified people were nominated and interviewed and I wound up being elected by the officers of INETA to finish the term as the Actual Director of Membership.  (Ok, so the word actual isn’t part of the title, but it adds some flair, no?)


Ok, you’re still here, so what does that mean?  For now it means more of the same as I had been doing as the acting Director of Membership and before that as the Assistant to Chris.  I think there is a fine line between going in blazing and changing everything and sitting on your behind doing nothing.  There are obviously things that are going well, look at INETA and the reach we have.  That is pretty amazing.  However, every person has their own ideas and strengths they bring to a group and I hope to add value along the way to finish out the term.


Congrats go out to both Paul Comeau and Joe Guadagno as well, new additions to the leadership of INETA too.


Click thru to the newsletter with a blurb about it.  It’s a pretty good read chock full of goodies.


Off to update my bio :-)

INETA Newsletter - November 2009

xRM/CRM demand seems to be increasing

Is it a sign of the times? Well, sure, but what sign and what times.  Our xRM/CRM business is going a bit nuts these days.  That’s a good thing, yes?  Hiring people, bringing on more experts…all good things.  Hardly anyone is interested in PURE CRM, they all want some xRMy things mixed in too.  And those that don’t come in looking for xRM usually leave with some once they see what can be done.

My thoughts on some of the why…

  • Dynamics CRM is a powerful tool for a fair price.  When it seems that all things in your business are out of control, here comes CRM and tadah! you can control THIS.  You can be organized and forward thinking in a familiar Outlooky experience. Ahhh.
  • xRM is a pretty cool way to develop.  xRM is faster to market that most other platforms around (well, all other platforms from what I’ve seen, but not educated enough in ALL platforms to make an absolute statement).  xRM development just kinda molds itself to an agile development process, no waterfalls here.  Better software can be made when the smart people are allowed to be smart and agile in the process.  Take a good product idea, a few planning meetings with some whiteboards and go make software.  (would love a little documentation creation tool like Sketchflow has, no?  HINT HINT)
  • xRM is a cost effective way to develop and when budgets are tight, you get more bang for the buck than if you take another path. You can also develop in stages more easily with xRM, things wind up in nice neat little packages faster and easier here.
  • xRM is not the most common path/approach to take, still pretty new and fresh.  that means that when YOU take this path you are automatically working with the innovators.  Innovators are pretty smart and think outside the box..they solve problems, not just make software.  Good stuff.


Now a plug for some xRM experts (are we then X-perts?) in a round table tomorrow, details below.  See you there!

XRM Virtual User Group - xRM All Star Roundtable