Hello again

For years I blogged a lot.  It’s how many of you got to know me.  Then it became a chore and I let it slide lower and lower on my priority list until it no longer had a place on my to-do.  My last post was nearly 4 years ago, my last tech post, even longer.

I tried to revive my writing at the beginning of the pandemic, but my heart just wasn’t in it.  So, I decided to give myself a break and not feel like I had to exceed at everything all of the time.

With the pandemic I went from travelling more than 100,000 miles per year to nearly no miles per year.  We would go months without putting gas in the car.  Photography has always been a hobby, but without new adventures that slowed down so much that I wasn’t even keeping the batteries charged for my camera.  We couldn’t see our kids.  We couldn’t see our parents. I was in quite a funk like most all of us. 

I love to eat, so I’ve always loved to cook.  But now we were cooking all of our meals. I started documenting more of what we made.  I learned how to make my own wine, I named it Tipsy Traveler.

My random pandemic accomplishment was design school.  I attended, and graduated from, a self-paced online interior design program.  I’ve been putting that to use in designing our new house.

So, here I am trying this writing thing again. 

I split my blog, one for tech, one for the other stuff.

From a tech perspective my role has evolved to more training and curriculum and less hands on keys making things for clients.  I joined the board of directors for a non-profit that helps excite high schoolers in technology. I still share my voice to decision-makers in DC trying to help small tech and app makers.

For the other stuff, I started to document and share some of my cooking and design work.  And it makes me happy to relive the stories behind the photos, so I’ll be including that here.  And who knows, maybe there will be some new travels and new photos, too.

The techy stuff will be here, the non-techy stuff here.  And there will certainly be crossover between the two because that is who I am.

Oh, and I got a puppy.  His name is Lio. 

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The continued cost of the war in Ukraine and those it leaves behind

I'm traumatized.

My grandson is now an orphan and I want to give him a good future.

When the war in Ukraine broke out, I had to leave for Germany with my son because it was very dangerous to stay there.

I was working in a nuclear company in Kyiv.

I am a Ukrainian refugee, and I am looking for any kind of professional education in IT.

I am 54 years old, Ukrainian refugee.

Due to the circumstances in our country, I cannot work in my specialty. For more than 10 years, I have been teaching applied mathematics at the University.

I am a professional athlete.

These are quotes from our applicants for our continuing cohorts for displaced and vulnerable Ukrainians.  Our simple application has standard input fields for names and contact details.  It also has two additional questions:

  1. Why do you want to join our training cohort?
  2. Is there any additional relevant information you'd like to share with us or to clarify any of your above answers?

The answers have gone through some automatic translations, but I think the sentiment is still very clear.  People need help to start over.  They are eager to move forward and do whatever it takes for a new chance.

OIP (2)

Refresher on what we do and how we do it.

The Microsoft collection for Business Applications Professional skilling has been translated to Ukrainian (AI-assisted automated translation with manual review for minor edits).  This program gives a great introduction to the tech-adjacent knowledge and skills you need to start a career in tech.  It’s good in English, it’s good in Ukrainian.

The free cohorts take place in Telegram groups.  We tried Microsoft Teams but that proved to be a challenge on many levels because of many restrictions and issues with access to reliable connections and devices.  But the students are already in Telegram, so we go to where they are.

Each week students have an assignment from this translated content.  They also watch relevant (and subtitled in Ukrainian) videos.  And there are two questions per week (via a simple Microsoft Form) that they respond to.  These questions are great for relating the weekly topics into real-world actionable knowledge.  The questions are available in both English and Ukrainian.  I built a Power App with some swanky translation capabilities so students can respond in either language.  And then the swanky translation capabilities translate our feedback we’ve entered in the Power App from English to Ukrainian and send the student an email with feedback from an industry expert in their language.

The 6-week program exposes students to the world of Microsoft Business Applications, capabilities of the Dynamics 365 family of products, and career options. We hope to spark an interest to help them decide what is a good next move for them.  Many love the CRM side.  Many love the ERP side.  Even a few are interested in BC.

The next cohort is our biggest yet with a few hundred students enrolled.  We’re very fortunate in being able to recruit qualified volunteers to lend a hand to help us keep up. 

Everyone who applies is accepted.

Six-weeks is the plan, but anyone who needs more time gets all the time they need.

We’ve automated as much as we can and still provide personal touches and interactions.  We are all volunteers with full-time jobs but together we are making a small difference.  Thanks go out to Vlad, Dima, Kat, Olena, Andrew, and Britta for all they do to help keep this going.  Neither Britta nor I know Ukrainian language, but technology makes it feel seamless to participate.

After the 6 weeks, students stay in the Telegram groups and help the next group.  It is an amazing community that I am lucky to participate in from the sidelines.

What is your call to action?

  1. Send your Ukrainian friends and colleagues to us. They can join and learn.  Or they can join and help. https://365l.ink/UkraineSignUp
  2. Say yes if when I reach out to you with a specific ask. As the groups increase in size, we may need more help with weekly feedback to students.
  3. Find room in your organization for one of our grads as a new hire or apprentice. 

Part of our automation sends students an email to invite them to the Telegram group upon enrollment.  One student replied and I keep it pinned at the top of my inbox.

“Thanks you very much for your answer. It did me so much happy.”

It did me so much happy too.  It really did.


Introducing the Biz Apps Classroom podcast

Yes, it’s true.  Literally everyone now has a podcast, including me.

Biz apps classroom

Jason Gumpert and I go way back.  We’ve always been supportive of each other’s efforts, but never had a chance to work together.  But a random hallway conversation at an event in Charlotte changed that.  One of us suggested we do a podcast.  I really don’t know who it was, maybe he remembers.  So we launched the Biz Apps Classroom, our take on all things learning and training in our Biz Apps space. 

Hopefully it’s interesting 😊

We are three and a half episodes in, and so far so good.

Episode 1:  Introduces the podcast and Julie and Jason

Episode 2: Why Microsoft certifications matter

Episode 3: Goals

Episode 4: (in progress talking about role-based training).

Ideas for future episodes are always welcome.  We hope to talk about training cohorts, our efforts for displaced and vulnerable Ukrainians, value of hands-on training activities, strategy for in-person or virtual training, and more.  We’ve got some guests lined up to help keep it a little more interesting.

We hope to post episodes about every other week, with a fair bit of grace until we hit our stride.

Share your feedback and your ideas, it’s how we get better.


Ignite 2023 Copilot links

If you were in our hands-on lab sessions, we promised links.  Here you go:

Get Started With Copilot in Cloud Flows (Microsoft Documentation)

 
Create Power Platform Solutions with AI and Copilot (Microsoft Learn exercises)
 
Create and manage automated processes by using Power Automate (Microsoft Learn Applied Skills)
 
Power Automate: HTML Formatting Made Easy (April Dunnam, Microsoft)
 
Formatting HTML Tables in Flow (April Dunnam, Microsoft)

My digest updates

So much great feedback!  Keep it coming.  Use the Ideas page on the 365.Training site or reach out to me directly.

So, in case you haven’t heard, my digest at 365.Training is a place to stay up to date on all things Power Platform and Dynamics 365.  We’ve got over 150 sources for you, all in one place.  My original blog post on it is here.

My digest fills your head with knowledge

So, some updates for you.

Email digest from my feed. You can set the frequency of your digest email from none to daily, weekly, monthly or after 10 days of inactivity on the site.  Your default is set to none, so if you want to get an email digest, navigate to the settings page via the gears icon on the ribbon.

My digest email

Mydigest email

 

You can now listen to our AI-generated TL:DR summaries.
Play the TL;DR

Suggest a new source.  On that top ribbon, click the plus+ and let us know a great source we may have missed. You can also keep track of your suggestions, and the outcome on the My suggestions tab.

Suggest a new source

Time to consume.  Once you’re drilled into the summary of an item from your feed, we’ve got an estimate of how long it will take you to consume the item from the source.

Time to consume

You can listen to a podcast directly from our site.  Not every podcast provider supports this at this time, but most of the ones we share will have that option for you.

Listen to podcast


Once you’ve set your filter preferences, and are viewing your feed, you can also now choose what type of content you’d like to see right now.  Use it just like you use our just-in-time my view filter.

Content type filter

Load more items to your feed. When you first get to your digest, we give you 50 items on your feed.  If you make it to the end and want to load the next 50, use the mark all read at the bottom of the feed. That will effectively dismiss all items on your feed and reload with the next 50 items.

Load more items

Still haven't tried my digest?  Go give it a try now https://mydigest.365.training 

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introducing my digest by 365.Training

A few weeks ago, Dave came into my office and starts scribbling on the whiteboard.  Has a great idea.  And we all agreed.  And so, we jumped into the deep end and a few weeks later, we launched my digest by 365.Training.

MyDigest Only

What is my digest?  It’s your one-stop place for news, updates, blogs, events, podcasts, videos; all things current about Power Platform.  You build your interests in your saved filters and the feed only gives you things you are interested in. You can save items with notes, organized in your own folders.  You can snooze and item to read later.  You can do ad hoc views to narrow the scope of what you’re viewing right now, without changing your saved filters.

We’ve curated over 100 sources and add more pretty much every day. 

We just launched this crazy idea last week.  So, we’re in our beta phase while we work through any minor bugs and improvements.  During this beta, every logged in user has access at no cost.  We’ll sort out how we monetize it later.

Let me know if you have sources we should add or other ideas to make it better.

Go to my digest

I made a quick tutorial of how to get the most of my digest. 


Events and on the road in October

This is starting to feel like the good old days 😊

Power Platform Conference Las Vegas NV October 3-5.  I’m not attending or presenting, but plan to be in town for a short time that week.  Feel free to grab some time to catch up.  https://365l.ink/MeetMeInVegas

365CommunityDays Knoxville TN- October 13th.  I’m giving two talks at this free community event.  Come join us! https://www.communitydays.org/event/2023-10-13/knoxville-m365-community-day#schedule

Community Summit- October 15-20 Charlotte NC- I’m on a few panels and helping deliver a session for CRM/D365 Sales users.  Details here https://connect.summitna.com/8_0/sessions/speaker-details.cfm?speakerid=724

Denver Dev Day October 27 Denver CO- Not currently planning to deliver a session, but that might change.  It’s free, join us anyway.  https://denverdevday.github.io/oct-2023/


We’re adding training cohorts at 365.Training

Some people learn best on their own.  But many prefer to learn with a group.  We’re launching training cohorts to give our subscribers access to a training community to help them on their professional journey.

You will be assigned learning each week to help you complete the courses in an order we’ve determined is logical to gain the skills of the particular cohort.  You’ll be free to take any of our courses at the same time, or before, or after. You can join additional cohorts also. 

You will be part of a community.  Each cohort has a private Teams available with dedicated channels for each course in the cohort.  Our instructors will be available for questions and discussions throughout the cohort. We’ll also have office hours for interactive conversations along the way.

Our goal is for quarterly cohorts, but will schedule more often if we need to.

First up is our cohort for beginners in October, then one for developers in January.

Keep an eye on this page for other cohorts as they get scheduled.

What does it cost?

Joining a cohort is free to our paid subscribers.

How big are the cohorts?

To be honest we’re not exactly sure.  We need enough students to encourage great conversations, but not so many that you’ll get lost.  We’ll keep an eye on enrollment and do our best to keep the numbers right.

Interested in subscribing?  Have a look here.

Got a group?  Want a private cohort?  Have a look here.

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Biz App professional skilling cohorts-Ukrainian edition/Когорта навчання "Професіонал з біснес-додатків". Версія для українців.

Когорта навчання "Професіонал з біснес-додатків". Версія для українців.

Після вдалого старту нашого пілотного проекту, ми із задоволенням розширюємо реєстрацію. Якщо ви чи хтось з вашого оточення шукає підтримку при зміні професії, приєднуйтеся. Наші фахівці працюють з передовими технологіями та знанням мов, щоб ваше навчання було максимально комфортним. Цей курс є адаптованим варіантом англомовних груп і містить матеріали на двох мовах: англійській та українській. Навчання самостійне з контрольними етапами. І, до речі, це абсолютно безкоштовно. Якщо ви бажаєте вчитися, але не готові зобов'язатися на 6 тижнів відразу, немає проблем. Матеріали основані на ресурсах Microsoft Learn, https://aka.ms/BAPskilling. Можете розпочати з цього сайту, а потім приєднатися до нас. 

Щоб дізнатися більше про курс, перейдіть за цим посиланням.

Для реєстрації в групі, клікніть сюди.

Biz App professional skilling cohorts-Ukrainian edition

After our successful pilot we are happy to open registration more broadly.  If you or someone you know is looking for help transitioning to a new career, join us.  Our team of professionals includes native speakers and some good technology to make this experience as smooth as possible.

This cohort is a modified version of the English-language cohorts.  Content is presented in both English and Ukrainian.  Learning is self-directed with checkpoints.  It is free.

If you’d like to learn but can’t commit to a 6-week cohort at this time, not to worry.  The program is based on the official collection from Microsoft Learn, https://aka.ms/BAPskilling . You can start there, and join a cohort later.

For more information about the training, visit here

To apply for a cohort, visit here 


I need experience to get experience

You’re trained.

You’re eager to work.

You’re not getting hired because you have zero experience.

We’ve heard this story over and over again.  And it’s tough.  It’s hard to go through all the training, get excited about new tech and new beginnings.  And not be able to get the job because you lack “real-world” experience.

We’ve launched a new initiative at The Pivot Program to help address this.

Our volunteers will be accepting applications for new candidates to be project resources, specifically targeting people new to Power Platform and Dynamics 365. 

We know that everyone deserves to be paid for their work, and we will continue to seek paid apprenticeships for those new to the industry.  But we are hopeful this program can help you keep that forward momentum you’ve gotten from your training. 

You’re excited and ready to work, let’s keep you moving forward.

To learn more about our efforts, visit our Projects page

If you want to support us with paid opportunities, reach out to me directly and let's make it happen.


15 years (and counting) as a Microsoft MVP

In the beginning of my MVP tenure, there were not very many of us in my chosen area of expertise.  We all knew one another, all knew spouses of one another (well, let’s be honest, there were two women, we all knew the wives of the others), knew about the kids.  We became a family with not only a common love of technology, but for each other.  We jokingly call the guest room at our house the MVP suite because so many have come to stay while in Colorado, even more came for a homemade dinner.  I have enjoyed visiting countless MVPs on my world travels.  Made so many memories together.
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It was this feeling of family, of unwavering support for each other, that made me determined to stay part of this group.  Even in the years where it was tough. And I will be honest that some years are easier than others.  I always love the community work, I always hate the tracking of it.  Sometimes it’s tough to see where you can make a difference.  There was certainly a year or two that I was going through the motions because it’s what I knew, but was unsure of my motivation. This past year some paid projects reignited my passion for this community. 

There were two times we all auto-renewed for various reasons (program realignment and COVID).  One of those years I was actually really struggling with my health and had thought for sure I would lose this family because I just couldn’t keep up.

Over the years the family has grown, and so has the technology.  I hear from so many old-timers that we just can’t keep up with all the new growth of our beloved CRM and Power Platform.  My immediate thought is, same here.  I cannot keep up with the tech, or these new MVPs.  Then I realize I don’t have to be an expert on everything.  I can still make an impact on the community.  I compare myself to prior versions of me, not to someone else.  While it might not be daily growth, or daily learning, am I better today than before?  Do I know more today than before?  As long as that answer continues to be yes, then I am good with myself and feel that I still belong in this MVP family. There’s room for all of us to succeed.

I see friends deciding to step back from being an MVP after they lose their passion, redefine their own priorities. I am so happy for them that they followed their hearts.  I’m not there yet.  When I think it’s time, I’ll follow my heart too.  I don’t see that happening soon, but we’ll see.

There are now hundreds of MVPs in my chosen specialty.  I do not know all of them.  I try to know as many as I can.  And while I professionally respect your technology expertise and your community commitment, I’m more likely to ask about your family or your dog than I am to chat about your most recent blog post.

I grew up in a big family, with not a lot of money or opportunity.  I can’t remember being told I could do bigger or better things.  The people around me didn’t have that vision.  I will forever be grateful for marrying into a family who had that vision, who gave that support.  And then the continued support from this MVP family.

Do the things. 

Do all of the things.

Then find new things to do.

Love,

CRM MVP #23