Ramblings of Today

I have been thinking a lot of what to do with this site and my social media presence. I am very active on social media, last week I decided to take a break from Facebook. With the election and inauguration the negativity that is around is so over flowing it is just sad. I am sure it was that way eight years ago as well. I am also tired of seeing of the negative comments about overdoes. We are in the beginning of a massive health crisis with overdose I believe in my opinion. I am so saddened and worried about the current generation and the amount of lives that will be lost.

People need to have empathy. Stop being so negative and show empathy and love. I don’t believe in removing accountability, but I do believe in compassion.

This post is a rambling, just like my site says in the tag line. Ramblings of a Pittsburgh Dad. I am trying to decide how I want to proceed. I have a lot of activities in my life and I enjoy them. I love being a father and being there for my children. They are now teenagers, which is very stressful and trying. I want to be with them and be there to help them.

I am also very active in my work, I am a technologist and work primary at this time with Dynamics 365. This is challenging and I love challenges. I am very lucky to work for a great company and have some wonderful leaders. I say leaders, because they are more than “bosses”, they are leaders who are there to help and coach. I have seen this personally and am very grateful.

Why do I blog? I enjoy writing, I may not be the best writer and I do not debate them. But I enjoy it. I enjoy putting my thoughts on “paper” (really the screen). It helps me focus and reflect on events and thoughts. I have also been interested in video, ever since I was a teenager myself and it was very difficult at that time. Video has so much to offer and ways of engaging with people and sharing your thoughts.

I am trying to plan my 2017 as far as social media (Blogging, Video) and the platforms that are available to help bring engagement. I would like my children to be involved in some of it. I would like to share what I learn and also learn from them. I know I can learn from them, to thing that I can’t learn is foolish.

My next post will be on my intentions for 2017, a little late since we are now in February, but I want to do that.

Shattered

My daughter wrote this and she said I could share it.

Beautiful on the outside, but shattered within. As things appear to be broken, they build as something new as time goes on. You can bring on new glory, from terrible events of the past. Life is like a puzzle, finding one piece at a time. Building up the courage, admitting this life is mine. I’m not alone, as my mind seems so distant. I have to bring that happy child back.

I dedicate this poem to my sister Amber, I miss her dearly, for these times I need her. I know she is with me, but not in form. Just like the painting, not all is there. The pieces that broke, will repair. With my guardian Angel by my side, my life, my goals, my achievements, can not, will not, become deprived.

Baldwin-Whitehall Addresses Overdose Crisis

Baldwin-Whitehall took a leadership role in the epidemic currently facing our country. I am so proud to see what they have started and excited to see where it goes.

OffScript by Saltworks

A few weeks ago Baldwin High School students attended an assembly presentation of OffScript by Saltworks. OffScript is a live performance about three high school students that are very different but have one thing in common, addiction to prescription drugs. I was not able to see OffScript but my mother, step-father, sister and daughters did and found it very moving. Several parents provided me wonderful feedback on the assembly and also where told the same thing from their students.

My mother shared Amber’s story during the assembly to the students. She talked about Amber’s struggle with depression, addiction and losing her battle to addiction. Sharing Amber’s story was very difficult for my mother but she wanted to help others and from what I was told touched many students. We have the audio from my mother’s talk and will be sharing it shortly.

Chasing The Dragon by the FBI and DEA

Baldwin Whitehall also hosted a screening of Chasing The Dragon this week. Chasing The Dragon is a documentary about the lives of people addicted to opiates and how it takes hold of their lives. The documentary was a joint effort of the FBI and DEA.

A DEA agent was present during this program and spoke prior to the screening. He also stayed after to answer questions and talk with people. The Whitehall chief of police spoke about how close this epidemic is and shared about the administering of Narcan and overdose deaths right here in Whitehall Borough.

Tables where set up outside of the auditorium by the DEA, Gateway Rehab, Mercy Behavioral, Holy Family Institutes SHORES Program, Al-Anon and Alateen. These organizations are working to help in recovery and coping with grief. Having them present was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about how to address this crisis and reach out for help. Baldwin Whitehall also has social workers in the schools that can help anyone

I spoke after the Chasing The Dragon and shared Amber’s story. I was nervous as I usually am when I speak especially when talking about losing Amber. It is a strange and comforting feeling telling Amber’s story, I pray before I speak and have a feeling of being spoken through.

The number of lives that we are losing to this epidemic is mind boggling, addiction is gripping people like never before. Families are being destroyed, lives are being shattered apart.

I hope that this is the beginning of a more comprehensive and regular program by not only Baldwin-Whitehall but other districts and communities. We can’t arrest our way out of this problem, we have to help people suffering.

I will be posting the audio from both talks soon and hope to see a program like this brought to middle school students. We as parents have to keep this conversation going and teach our children what to do when confronted with situations involving substance abuse. They will be in a situation, we need to give them the tools to know how to handle it.

I would like to thank the Baldwin-Whitehall Administration and Social Workers who organized these events and worked to put this together. They took a great step in helping our community learn more about this crisis and hopefully save some lives.

CRM Summit 2016

CRM Summit 2016

**WOW!

That is a one word description of my experience at CRM Summit last week in Tampa. The Summit is hosted by CRMUG, an international user group for Dynamics CRM.

**CRMUG Vision
To engage every individual and company using Microsoft Dynamics CRM in value-added networking and knowledge sharing and to be the single most important communication channel for Microsoft to seek guidance on future development of Dynamics CRM. Read more about CRMUG

As a first timer to the Summit and any event by CRMUG I wanted to share my experience. I was so impressed with everything that I saw and participated in. Today, I am going to share my experience from my perspective as a new comer. I will then follow up with some additional posts on what I learned.

CRMUG Academy Black Belt Training Series

Before the official start of the Summit, Academy Classes are available. The academy classes are priced very reasonable and I encourage you to take advantage of them or look for them on the CRMUG site. I decided to attend the Administrator Blue and Purple Belt classes from the Black Belt Series. I am looking forward to completing the series with the Brown and Black belt!

Both of the classes where instructed by Chris Weilandt, a Senior Solution Architect from Edgewater Fullscope. The series is designed to take in sequence, moving from Blue to Black Belt.

Blue Belt

Monday, I participated in the Blue Belt Academy, this is the first in the Black Belt Series. Chris provided a foundation of CRM and Office 365 as it relates to CRM. Starting with user maintenance, settings, business units, teams, security, form and view configuration and closing with field level security. This was a great way to begin the journey and start learning the powers of CRM.

Key Takeaway: Hierarchy Security

Purple Belt

Tuesday, I continued the academy with the Purple Belt and learned more. Chris continued with some advanced form configuration, multiple forms, custom entities, advanced find and closed with reports and dashboards.

Key Takeaway: Reporting and Dashboards

Dynamics 365

The keynote was so full of excitement. We walked from the Tampa Convention Center to Amalie Arena. Microsoft had people waving Dynamics 365 flags and some people on hover boards guiding us to the arena. I worked my way through the security gates to enter the arena and the excitement grew.
It was like a rock concert in the arena!

You won’t want to miss the official opening for Summit 2016! Microsoft joins in the celebration with an inspiring presentation of the Microsoft vision, including an exclusive first look at the all-new Microsoft Dynamics 365 by Microsoft EVP Scott Guthrie.

Dynamics 365 brings together the Dynamics products into a seamless suite of applications. Dynamics will have a CDM (Common Data Model) which will provide seamless integrations between the applications. Moving from opportunity to cash will be available with Dynamics 365 out of the box.

You can move between Sales, Marketing, Financial and Operations and the data is shared across systems! This is HUGE!

We have been building an Enterprise Service Bus to accomplish this bringing data from CRM to Oracle Financials. If you use Dynamics 365 Marketing, Sales and Financial you won’t have to build an integration, it is out of the box!

Microsoft also showed demos of Cortana Intelligence Suite and how artificial intelligence is used to help you make decision and relate records in CRM. This is then extended by adding actionable email with intelligence! Corresponding with your contacts has never been so easy and guided.

Key Takeaway: Common Data Model; Cortana Intelligence Suite; Actionable email with Intelligence  

So Much Learning

One thing I found out quickly is there are a lot of very good sessions and I ended up starring them through the CRM Summit app, triple booking myself! I then went back several times trying to single out each time block for a session I will attend. I tried to attend as many session as I could and also moved across skill sets to get the most valuable information to bring back to share with my company.

Below are some of the sessions I attended and my thoughts about each of them. I am not going to go through what I learned just my impression of the sessions. I have added a Key Takeaway after each section for future posts. I added a new section on my blog for Dynamics CRM that will be a place to write what I learn and share information about CRM and Dynamics 365.

I also met with one of the leaders a of the local Pittsburgh Chapter and talked with him about my involvement with the local chapter. Bob, was very friendly and excited about growing the Pittsburgh Chapter. User groups only work if people become involved and I will be working with Bob and the others to help the Pittsburgh Chapter.

Key Takeaway: Webinars; Local Involvement

Introduction to CRM Development

My first session was a good start. A basic introduction to developing plugins for Dynamics CRM. Corrie Rands went over how to register a plugin as well as the tools that are available to get started. This was a great session for anyone that wants to get started with plugins, I worked on plugins but still left the session with some great tips and tricks from Corrie.

Key Takeaway: Tools! Debugging Technique

Power BI + CRM = Better Together

Mike Hammons presented on Power BI and CRM, this session was full of demos and how to use the content pack of PowerBI. Mike showed how to embed PowerBI dashboards within CRM as well as some of the limitations of using the provided content packs. Mike really showed how powerful PowerBI is and how using it with CRM there is so much that we can present to our users.

Key Takeaway: Embedding PowerBI in CRM & Content Pack Limitions

Advanced Techniques to be your Organization’s CRM Guru

Kylie Kiser and Patrick Wright jumped right into some of the great tips and tricks that can be used every day as a CRM administrator. So many wonderful tips provided in this session that I learned about.

Key Takeaway: Security, Data Management

How to Maximize Value with Dynamics CRM Presented by Avtex

Below is an affiliate link for Marc’s book.
What to say about this… Well, Marc Wolenik is the author of Dynamics CRM ‘Unleashed’series of books. I just purchased Dynamics CRM 2016 Unleashed before coming to the convention and was honored to hear him speak and talk with him afterwards. He presented 25 tips that are very good for anyone using Dynamics. I started reading his book on the flight to and from Summit and write my thoughts on the book once I finish.

Key Takeaway: Use Business Process instead of Code

Security Best Practices – the Basics (Part 1)

Gustaf Westerlund guided us through best practices on security. The differences between Position and Manager Hierarchy security. He continue with concepts of teams, users, roles and business units. Gustaf provided some very good best practices for designing your security system.

Key Takeaway: Hierarchy Security

Different Strokes – Javascript vs. Business Rules

Donna Edwards shared some very useful information on when to use Business Rules verses Javascript. Business Rules in CRM continue to be more robust and powerful, a lot of functionality that was previously limited to Javascript can now be performed with Business Rules. This helps with upgrading CRM as well as providing more configuration options to CRM.

Key Takeaway: Configuration over Code

CRM Real Time Integrations with Azure Service Bus

I was excited to see this session, we are using Azure Service Bus to integrate CRM and Oracle. Abraham Saldana started with the concepts of Azure Service Bus, explaining the differences between the different patterns:
– Topics
– Publisher / Subscriber
– Queues
Abraham explained a lot in the short time he had for this session. If you have an opportunity to watch this on a webinar I would put this on your list.

Key Takeaway: Enable Custom Workflow Activities

Retrospective

This was one of my longer posts, I wanted to provide my perspective of the Summit and I hope I accomplished that. While I was at the Summit I joined CRMUG as a member for my company. I am also excited to be an active member of our local Pittsburgh Chapter to help build our local community. I am also already excited about next year’s summit in Nashville!

Like I mentioned earlier, I will be added a special section to my blog on CRM to post information, tips, tricks that I learn and also information about the local Pittsburgh Chapter.

Why I do what I do

I have been blogging since 2011! WOW!

Why do I blog?

Technology Geek

Well, I am a technical professional. I work in technology and enjoy technology. I am amazed by the advancements that we are seeing on a rapid pace. I remember in the early nighties setting up internet “newsgroup” for a corporate BBS, before the web was what it is today. Now,people have access to so much information in the palms of their hands.

Writing Wantabe

I enjoy writing, always have, even when I was a child I would write stories. I am not the best writer and also not the best with English grammar… But, I write because I enjoy it. I enjoy sitting and putting my thoughts on paper or now a screen. I write in a journal regularly. Writing a blog is different that journaling though. A blog is public compared to my private journal. Big difference.

Blogging

I maintain a blog for many reasons. I started because I am a technologist and like to learn more about technology. I use my time with a blog to learn more about technology, keep up to date and record my notes. I also write on a blog to share my thoughts and notes on technology and hopefully start a conversation.

I share my perspective about topics that I am concerned with. As a global community we have the capability to share news and perspectives very easily now. Setting a blog is easy and allows you to share your thoughts.

Responsibility

I think that you should think before you share anything though. We have seen that on social media, people sharing everything and also not thinking about what the effects of what you are sharing will have. I try to think before I share, try. We are all human and make mistakes.

Why I Do It?

So, why do I do what I do? This question came up at the school district I belong to and I just love the question and reflecting on this. I think this question is a good regular prompt and have a scheduled reminder on Day One, which I use for journaling. I share what touches me and also things that I enjoy. I also share adventures that I am on. I have “met”, some interesting people that share my same thoughts this way. I have learned from many people that I might not have known otherwise.

Addiction & Overdose

I share a lot of information about overdose and addiction on this blog and everywhere I can. This epidemic affects me personally and we as a society need to do something to address it. We are living in a time when we are loosing a generation of people from addiction. People are being prescribed addictive medicines that can have tragic consequences. People do not have empathy or compassion for people who are suffering or the families that are having their hearts ripped apart. I hope to help raise awareness to this health crisis and help make changes. I firmly believe that we can ALL make a difference. If each of us would do something, the collection of small actions can make a big difference. Little by little, individuals join together and changes can occur.

Ramblings of a Pittsburgh Dad

The purpose of this blog is just like the subtitle says Ramblings of a Pittsburgh Dad. I am a proud father and husband from Pittsburgh. I am a technologist by trade, an activist (never thought of myself that way) and an elected school board member. I enjoy learning about other points of view and reflecting on what I hear. I believe that we have to be open minded and consider the thoughts and feelings of others. We don’t have to agree and I don’t agree with all of my friends. But, I try to listen to what people have to say and discuss politely. I think that is what makes this country great, we can speak out and express our different points of view.

If we as a society would listen more with an open mind we can do anything.

What do you do what you do?

{Image credit BrainyQuote App}