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/


Getting geared up for conferences again

Wow, it's been a hot minute since we've all met in person, no?

I am immunocompromised and as vaccinated as vaccinated can be.  My doctor and I decided I can travel again, even speak at events.  So, come October, I'll be out there with you all.

I had written a post about being prepared for an event (CRMUG Summit 2016 to be precise).  And it is all still good advice.  But now we have to add a a few more items to the list.

  • We all missed in-person events, but many of us are still terrified of germs and have spent the last few years avoiding them.  Please don't be the person that gets me (or other vulnerable people) sick.  If you suspect you have an active contagious anything, stay home this round.

  • Don't be offended when someone like me is wearing a mask, or asks your vaccination status before giving that hug (can we establish a V hand signal, like V for victory and V for vaccinated??).  There are still people dying from COVID and flu.  I'd rather not be one of them.

  • Remember what we all loved about being in person.  Talking about the cool things we've been doing.  Sharing our stories from the field. Learning from each other.

  • Be forgiving.  We've all had an isolating couple of years.  We may have lost some of our social skills, we may have gained a few pounds, many have lost loved ones.

  • Be smart. Wash your hands often.  See a sanitizer station- use it.  Don't sneeze or cough toward others.

    I'm really getting excited about seeing my community again.  I really did miss you all.



    Original list:
  • Minimize distractions back at the office. Work extra hard now to avoid the trap of trying to work AND attend the conference. If you find yourself replying to emails three times in every session you attend, you aren’t really going to get much out of the session. If you have to keep up with the folks back at work, set aside time and plan for a session to spend working in a quiet corner instead of being partially engaged in several sessions.
  • To ease the stress of leaving behind people at the office that would rather be at the conference with you, get their questions to take with you. What are their burning questions or concerns? Make sure you find the answers and resources to take back with you. Share the schedule with them in advance and then set up a lunch-and-learn the week you return and share your new knowledge and skills.
  • Dress for comfort. Now, I will say no jammies for sure. But also, not a suit. Good shoes are the best thing you can bring. Promise.
  • Stash some good snacks in your bag. You may find yourself in a great discussion and miss a conference meal or break. So grab some granola bars, some durable candy, whatever helps you make it to the meal later on. And drink water. You will be walking more than you plan, avoid dehydration.
  • Every speaker, planner, expert is approachable, so approach them. Raise your hand in the session. Wait after the talk to ask your question. Find them at lunch and sit at the same table. Go to the medics’ station. They are there to share their knowledge. So let them.
  • Plan your sessions in advance, mostly. Be open to last minute choices.
  • Get yourself a fresh CRM trial before you go so you can immediately try that new cool thing you learned. Ok, get at least THREE new free trials. I suggest one that is bare, one that specializes (like sales or service) and one with a solution like Field Service or Project Service in it. Different things work different ways with added customizations or data.
  • Take notes. Doesn’t matter if you’re a pen and paper person (me too!), if you like to scribble on your tablet or if you type it all organized. Take notes. I promise you won’t remember it all the next day.
  • There will be booze. Don’t be THAT person that acts a fool and gets everyone to pull out their cameras and you find yourself rather embarrassed.
  • Make friends, make memories.

My omni-channel customer service travel experience

I’m currently on the road, gone for most of the month of October. And truth be told, I’m actually CURRENTLY delayed and stuck in Nashville. I’m heading to Sydney, and with the fires around San Francisco, there is a bit of uncertainty about making it in time before my class tarts Monday morning.

But, let’s go back to my story.

All the travel from my month was booked online, no surprise there. It was the experience I expected, and included a couple of hours to find a good seat to go from Sydney to Munich.

Since I left home, some of the plans have changed and I have had to edit/cancel the reservations; and interact with representatives of the providers.

I needed to cancel an itinerary with Iceland Air (Amsterdam to Reykjavík to Denver). I was able to determine that the fare I had booked would be somewhat refundable, but might have had some penalties/fees. I was not able to cancel automatically from the site, I had a choice to call in or use Facebook Messenger. I went the Facebook Messenger route. I’ve pasted the entire conversation below. It took just over one hour from start to finish.

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I also wound up needing to cancel my Sydney to Munich (Sydney to Jakarta to Singapore to Munich). That I booked via Expedia on Garuda Indonesia Air. I was not able to locate my itinerary via the airline direct; but I was able to find that my booked fare class was cancellable, but with unknown penalties. Same exercise with Expedia, reservation easily found, but zero info about the fare class, cancel options, or really anything beyond this is your reservation. No cancel options online, you must call customer service. In their favor, the call was fairly quick, the flights cancelled easily after a quick confirmation of penalties. The ticket was cancelled and all refunded except for a penalty of around $98.

Most of this month-long journey I’m staying at Marriot properties. They have a mobile app that I’ve used before for check-ins. But once checked in you can still use the app for great things. I will find out in Sydney if it’s a different experience based on location, assuming I get to Sydney. In the app you have options for things like more towels or toiletries and wake-up calls. There’s also a chat option. I used that a ton in Nashville at the Gaylord/Opryland hotel. It was awesome. Here’s a sample of the interactions.

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And now my current experience; trying to fly Nashville to San Francisco to Sydney. My original itinerary had me out of Nashville around 5pm, and arriving in San Francisco with a two-hour connection. I got the message below yesterday, more than 24 hours before my scheduled flight (I got it both in text and email).

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That’s good service and prompted me to change to an earlier flight from Nashville to San Francisco, hoping some padding in the day would help.

The delays started right after I arrived at the airport. The delays are not United’s fault, I get it. But it is their job to keep me informed. That is not happening.

I have not received a single text or email regarding the flight.

When I log in to the site, this is what I see:

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Notice the arrows. On the right is a message telling me that I’m delayed; and that I’m booked on my flight and the next one as a buffer. Sounds like good service. Notice that I’m hovering over the “View updated reservation details”. In the bottom left, you can see it will direct me back to the United home page. I am now a delayed and confused (loyal) customer. Now we have bad service. So now I have to call to find out when I’m going where. Agent at the premier desk swears I’m not double-booked. We chat and decide the best path is to stay on the itinerary I have, there are not many options for getting to Sydney this is my best bet.

Now here at the airport, the gate agent brings out a snack cart for those of us waiting for the delayed flight. Super good service. The delay is not United’s fault, but they are doing what they can to make it a bit more palatable. I tweet about it. United replies.

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Did they just ask for my flight number? Not that it’s a secret, but don’t they have that already? My reply is a let-me-google-that-for-you link. Sure enough, it comes right up with my delayed flight.

And ironically, I just got a flight delay notice for the later flight to San Francisco. The one I’m not on.


Just another day at MalaMala

The day begins just before sunrise.

As we leave camp we notice some impala all standing at attention and looking the same way. We head that way to investigate.

Look in the river. Look around the river in the bush. No go.

In comes the call, lions. Not just lions but a new pride in the making. An established pride of three lionesses seems to have joined forces with a pride that started with two males and a female. However, the female has been shunned and was no longer with the group. The lions, five of them, were lounging on the sand alongside the river just a short distance away.

When we arrive we see the two males sleeping. The lionesses are near but one is wide awake, like she’s on guard duty. We get a good position for photos. Our hope is that as the sun rises from behind us, the lions will go into the river for a drink and we’ll get good photos head on with the fresh morning sun lighting up their faces.

One of the other rangers sees a leopard across the river. That would be behind us. We do not see the leopard. But the lioness on guard sees the leopard.

She begins her walk over, going right through the water in front of us.

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The other lionesses follow her. After the three lionesses cross, the two males join.

Copyright Julie Yack

They have found the leopard and have her trapped high in a tree.

Copyright Julie Yack

The lions decide it’s time to sleep now. Under the tree, keeping the leopard trapped.

We wait. We watch.

The lions move around a little.

The leopard grumbles and hisses.

The lions move around a little more.

The leopard grumbles and hisses more.

The dance continues for some time.

As long as the leopard is patient, she can wait out the lions. She is far too high in the tree for them to reach her.

We leave the scene and move along on a quest for more leopards, two young females had been spotted not far away. On the way we are distracted by a beautiful green bird. This bird sits high in the tree, in the perfect sunlight. When it takes off it performs a loop and returns to the same branch. This little bird is not only photogenic, it’s cooperative.

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We drive a little more and decide to stop for coffee and biscotti. We enjoy a hot cup while keeping an eye on the river. There is no danger, but who knows when an elephant might decide to cross the water, always great to watch.

From there we head back to the continued saga of the lions and the leopard. The monkeys are hollering. They want anyone that can hear to know that there’s some big predators here and they mean business.

Enter a herd of thirsty buffalo. The only thing between them and the water is lions. And a leopard.

A few of the male buffalo decide to bicker, throwing horns and grunting, dirt filling the air.

The buffalo move closer to the lions. The lions start to wake.

The leopard remains high in the tree.

The buffalo move closer to the lions. The lions are on their feet.

The leopard carefully watching from above. Safe.

The buffalo move in, the lions run for the water. Dirt flying.

Lions growling. Buffalo grunting.

Copyright Julie Yack

After the lions are gone, and the buffalo are settled the leopard cautiously begins climbing down the tree. She looks around and goes down a branch. She checks for the lions’ location, goes down another two branches. She can’t be too careful. She makes her way to the ground, continuously looking around her for any chance of danger. Once she reaches the ground she slowly begins her walk to safety, walking and looking over her shoulder for dangers behind her. Once she is sure the dangers are gone, she runs from the area.

With that drama over, we return to the road in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Bicycle Crossing leopard. His nickname is The Godfather. He has the largest territory of any leopard in this part of the world. He is big and tough, and at 14 years old a little past his prime. We had seen him last night and heard he is still in the same area. He likely has a kill that we didn’t see and will remain there to eat.

On the way we receive word that there’s another male leopard in the area. They are aware of one another and hissing and growling.

Could there be a battle?

We speed up, but then must take a detour. There’s a rhinoceros sleeping in the road.

When we arrive we see the challenger, in the sand and reeds of the river. It’s a younger male, but he looks tough. Broad shoulders and nostrils flaring.

We hear The Godfather grunting and hissing.

Both leopards move around a little, but still do not approach each other.

One goes in for a drink.

The other moves around and repositions.

They continue this for some time while we watch and wait. Cameras poised and at the ready.

The challenger goes in swiftly, not quite at a run. The Godfather does not engage in conflict.

The challenger goes back to walk in the sand and get some distance. He decides to lay down in the sand. He is alert, not resting one bit.

Then The Godfather gets up and hops down into the sand. He slowly walks toward his challenger. The challenger gets up and slowly walks toward The Godfather. They walk parallel to each other, sizing the other up to prepare for battle.

The Godfather makes his move and chases his challenger into the reeds. There is little fighting that occurs and the challenger is nowhere to be found.

With his head high The Godfather returns to his meal. Swagger intact.

Copyright Julie Yack

Curious about the lions we had seen we head back toward them and find them all sleeping at the river. The males on the big cool rock. The females are waterside on the sand.

Copyright Julie Yack

We decide to head back to camp and on our way see a beautiful roller in the tree and snap a couple of quick photos. The drive as over.

Copyright Julie Yack

It was time for breakfast.


Visiting the new World Trade Center NYC

This past weekend we were in New York City and while wandering decided to go up to the top of the new tower.  It costs $32/each and was worth every cent.

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The line was rather short, we went from decision to elevator in less than 10 minutes.  When you buy your tickets, they ask for your zip/postal code.  There is a brief stop thru airport like security and then you see the map.  A larger than life projection of the globe with dots all over representing the people that have visited there.  As we go thru, we see our popup showing Colorado Springs and our three dots pop onto the map.

The elevators are smaller than most I’ve been in for similar buildings, but they are fast!  Once the elevator starts, you are treated to LED screens that take up the three walls from floor to ceiling. You are given a visual history of New York City, complete with timelines and the images of the small to tall buildings.  When you “arrive” at “today” the elevator is at the top.

From there you are all herded to a holding area, they make short short folks and kids are right up front by a railing.  The wall in front of the railing is a 3-d block-like sculpture that becomes a video screen.  You are shown a video of New York City today, of all the things that make New York New York.  At the end the screen rises and then you get your first view from the top.  It is nothing short of stunning.

There was the annoying sales push for both group photos and rent an iPad (they have an app that tell you what you are looking at from the top).  These folks (were just doing their job, I get it) made it seem like listening to them was just part of the required process to get to the actual viewing area.  None of there words were relevant to us. 

So we went down one level to the actual viewing area and were treated to views like this, all around us.

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The elevator trip down also had video for us.  After the production on the way up and the stunning viewing from the top, I have no memory of what they showed us on the way down.


How to get a Business Class seat on Lufthansa

We are on our journey back to the US and are routed on Lufthansa from Oslo-Frankfurt-San Francisco.  We had upgraded on our cancelled flight on United and that carried over to today’s route.  We board our Oslo-Frankfurt flight and are seated one row behind the magic curtain.  Double-check…yup, our reservation says this is business class.  But it’s not.  Now mind you, business class on many of these little European hops is simply the front of the plane with all middle seats left empty.  That was the case here.  But again, we were BEHIND the magic curtain.

Dave goes to the flight attendant and asks about it…here’s what I see/hear (in super thick German-English)…

Oh, I’m sorry.  They forgot to tell us the proper configuration of the plane.  I will fix this for you.

He then comes over and unlatches and moves the magic curtain to one row behind us.

As he is straightening it up and making it look all perfect, he must lean over the coach side of the curtain and then back to the business class side.  When he gets back to the business class side of the curtain he just moved, he smiles very big and says “now I must use my business class face”.


my week at a tech conference #wit

I went to a tech conference this past week.  We all know that as women in tech we have become used to less than stellar treatment.  I have spoken and blogged and written many times about women in tech and how we are treated.  Here’s the lowdown from this week.

I went to a tech conference.  Over a thousand people there, so a good medium-sized event. Male attendees out-numbered female attendees easily by 10 to 1.

I attended sessions.  No one cared about my gender.

I asked questions in sessions.  No one cared about my gender.

I went to evening events.  No one cared about my gender.

I ate in the standard chow hall with all the other attendees.  No one cared about my gender.

I went to a tech conference and no one cared about my gender.  Is this how men feel?  


Around the World- we begin our journey home

Has it really been over two months? Have we really travelled all the way around the globe? We’ve crossed the equator three times and will a fourth on the flight I am about to board. In one trip we visited 10% of the world’s countries. Not too shabby.

Lessons learned and other miscellaneous observations:

· Doing this with hubby was the perfect choice, no one I’d rather share these memories with AND I still really like him

· I am a much more social creature than I realized, I missed my kids and friends a ton (yes, the dogs too)

· I would make sure we met up with more friends along the way than we did (see item above)

· There were some places along our road trip portions where we stayed a single night, I would change the minimum stay to two nights; time to enjoy the journey AND the destination

· Packing was just about perfect, I packed one pair of pants that I hardly wore and I packed more plug adapters than I needed

· It was harder than I thought to not shop

· I love food, but somehow almost always felt hungry

· We found great wine everywhere, but in Asia they didn’t have locals wines available, they liked the exotic feel of wines from far away

· Every airline has a different definition of business class

· I felt like I worked a lot but didn’t get nearly the amount of writing done that I predicted or needed to do

· If I had to leave the US and move anywhere else in the world, it would be New Zealand, Queenstown to be exact

· You can never take too many pictures, that’s why we’re digital no?

· I spent more on some things than I expected and less on others

· I would return to anyplace we visited except for Bangkok, it’s hot, smelly, dirty and gross (and the only place I felt discriminated against as a westerner)

· There are yummy sweets everywhere but nothing beats a good Oreo (and they are everywhere too)

I’m sure there’s many many more that will come to mind later, but I do have a plane to catch, heading to the MVP Summit, via Honolulu and San Francisco.


Around the World- a cheetah, a leopard and an impala walk into a bar…

Ok, no not really.

This is the story of how three cheetah hunted and killed an impala. They ate until their bellies were almost full.

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Only to lose the kill to a leopard.

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The hyena arrived, stole a bit of the impala, testing the leopard.

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Then the leopard lost it to a pair of hyena. Notice the leopard hauling ass up the tree.

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Poor poor leopard.

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Around the World- Southern New Zealand

(Disclaimer: I am not a Lord of the Rings person, so I did not look for nor did I find any hobbits)

Wow, this really is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Seriously. The scenery is stunning. The people are nice. I would totally move here if not for leaving behind my kids. And friends. And dogs. And my whole life. But maybe I could come back again and again, for a few weeks at a time.

The biggest fault I can find is the cost of things is on the high side. Your food costs are easily 30% higher than in the US. That goes to loading up on groceries and cooking your own and eating a meal at a restaurant. Not sure I understand why the wool is so expensive, sheep are everywhere (seriously, you cannot exaggerate this).

We started in Queenstown for a few days, went down south toward Invercargill and Nugget Point, up the east coast to Dunedin, then back over to Queenstown, up through Christchurch via Akaroa, and finally a night in Kaikoura before driving to Picton and hopping on a ferry to the North.

If you’re here, you know I travel a lot. So when I say that of all the places I’ve been Queenstown feels like home to me, you know I’ve seen a lot and don’t say that. The town has stunning views everywhere you turn, enough shops to find what you need and again, nice nice people. Things are so pretty in Queenstown that I even got up (mostly voluntarily) before sunrise to see things like this (sunrise in Glenorchy):

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There are mountains and lakes all around, and the water is so blue. I’ve never seen anything like it. It looks manufactured sometimes. I can only imagine this is mostly because of the care of the environment you see around here. It doesn’t feel off or inconvenient, it’s just the way it is. Lack of pollution and a little bit of paying attention to the world around you offers things like this (I assure you this is exactly how my camera gave me the image, I do not have the software or the skills to mess with it).

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Some highlights from our stops and drives for you, there is not enough time nor blog space to give a full rundown of the last several days. We tried where possible to stay in apartments with kitchens as much as possible. We were driving all around, so keeping some groceries was easy, and we had a cooler to transport cold items too. One thing we would change if/when we do this again, stay longer at each place. I know I preach that already, never be in a rush or you don’t see anything. And we thought we planned that way. But, in New Zealand, the roads are long and windy and full of distractions. Take whatever time the GPS says you will arrive, add at least 25-50% to that and you’ll be close to the actual time of arrival.

Queenstown- We stayed at Peppers Beacon, great location, great facilities. Regardless of where you stay, make sure you have a view of the lake. Dave went on the stargazing tour on the top of the gondola and enjoyed it. He got some great images too. You are close to wine country, so certainly make time for a tour. We went to Gibbston Valley and had yummy wine and yummy food. Take a day or two and drive out to Milford Sound. If you’ve never driven around fjords, you’ll thank me. If you have, then you know it’s beautiful and will thank me for the reminder. Last time we went to Milford we had typical overcast skies. This time was blue, vibrant, very very pretty and good contract for pictures.

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Invercargill- this was a small stop, but really we wanted to go to the bottom of New Zealand, and this was our gateway.

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Nugget Point- There is a lighthouse and a penguin reserve and that’s about it. We had the top floor of a little outbuilding on the coast. We technically saw two penguins on the beach, but they were so far away it feels like cheating to claim the sighting (remember, the African safari was only a few weeks back and I was less than two feet from a lion). The image below was somewhere along the drive. Can you find the Dave?

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Dunedin- Apparently we missed the memo that this was a college party town, and we didn’t see any of that either. For us, it was a great few days. We took a train out though a gorge. Drove over to a penguin reserve and saw a handful of yellow eye penguins. We were there on November 5th, so plenty of fireworks going on too. We also took a drive up to Moeraki Rock beach area, pretty cool (and weird) round boulders on the beach.

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Akaroa- Stunning. Stunning. Stunning. You drive down into this valley, water all around. Sheep on the hillsides. We stayed in a little (really little) cottage, but it was perfectly adequate for what we needed. Not everything has to be 5-star (ok, as long as you know good pillows are on you next stop!).

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Christchurch- we actually didn’t stay here, we ate here and drove through downtown. Food was good (with good company). Downtown was still rather sad. There is some rebuilding happening, but it was still rather much a ghost town.

Kaikoura- Again a beautiful drive to get here. Very small town. Nice enough, but too small town for me. The goal here was a whale watching tour for Dave and because of our first day with bad weather, that was cancelled. The apartment was nice (the pillows were awful Sad smile).