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Archive for December 2009

I have several types of resolutions for 2010. The personal ones like losing weight and continuing to use the new “Your Shape for Wii”, are not going to be featured in this list – most of those are for me to know (but now you know two more of them!) Still I want to share some that might inspire you to include some in your list.

  1. Read More Resources for Work – I have known plenty of resources that I’ve been meaning to read. I just opened a box today to find the new SharePoint book that I want to read – SharePoint for Project Management. It’s actually going to go home with me in case I get bored over the long weekend. But there are more resources out there that I want to read for work – most I already own – Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life, Messages: The Communication Book, Wired For Good, and Monday Morning Leadership for Women. I am going to try to make this easy on myself – one book a month. That is feasible.
  2. Try Positivity – I can be one of those “glass isn’t half empty, it IS empty” kind of people. Positivity is not something that comes naturally for me. It is going to be a struggle. I have to find a strategy to make it happen. Maybe it will be humor. Maybe it will be simply writing this blog. I’m sure that it will become easier. I’ll be checking out the Positivity Blog more often. I don’t think the statement “I’m positive that they are going to forget how to do that” is not really positive at all.
  3. Keep up with maintaining my Outlook account – All of the things that I wrote in the earlier post about adventures in cleaning up email, I have to do. It is going to take time to undo the damage that I have done to my account, but I can do it. Slow and steady.
  4. Organize My Documents at the office – If I could have any more information saved in “My Documents” I’d lose my way. I get pretty darn confused how people can’t use folders in their My Documents and just have a running list of documents by names. But my folders have become so complex and deep, I need a map to get from point A to point B. I usually don’t even go to “My Documents” any longer, I just start from “run” and I type in the network path so I can ignore the crazy mess of folders. It’s time to clean, purge and organize.
  5. Enjoy Life Outside of Work – It was this summer that the motto was to “have a social life outside of work” and that worked for a while, but quickly it was just a statement to chuckle at when I was pulling long hours at the office. I think the part that was missing was the fact that I have to enjoy what I’m doing outside of the office in order to have that life. Just being out of the office doesn’t mean that it is enjoyable. Maybe I need to join a class at CCAC to work out or maybe I do need to learn to enjoy a movie by myself. But if it isn’t fun, I’m not going to be willing to do it. So, I gotta find those things.
  6. Delegate – For years I have been a one person show and now that there are more to share with it, I need to share the responsibility. In some ways this is easy – I simply can’t do it all. But there are some things that I don’t want to give up, that I don’t to delegate. I started towards this resolution about six weeks ago when I gave up something that I really wanted to do but I knew that I simply had no time to do it. It helped that the person said “just let me do it”, but it was still hard to say “ok”. If there is an art to this delegation thing, I hope that I learn it soon!

There are other resolutions, but these are the major ones that I’m willing to share. So, I wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope that everyone has a safe an sound New Year’s Eve!

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I have gotten several links and tweets about the decade in review. I’ve seen news stations report that it was the “decade to forget” or the “worst decade”. Yes, in some senses it was a horrible decade – but that counts on what you are specifically looking at in the decade. I read this post by Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer that made me think about things away from the “decade to forget” and more about the trends that have happened with technology since 2000.

I think it is important for reference to know where I was when 2000 started. I was an intern while I student at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work. When I was that intern, I did not plan on going into technology. I wanted to be a fundraiser or a grant writer or something with social work. That younger version of me never expected to be a Technology Director by 2010.  My first day of my internship I was given a Y2K disk and told to learn who the staff were by installing the software. My fate was sealed at that first computer I installed the software on.

Here I am, almost exactly 10 years later and I have seen so many trends come and go. As the post I cited above, in 2000, there was no iPod. That thought alone is difficult to remember because I can’t live without my iPod. Facebook? That wasnt until 2004.  I have also noticed several trends that I want to share with everyone that I have noticed in th past decade, because simply, they are interesting to me!

The Rise of Terminal Server – When I was working in the middle of the decade, or around 2004, we first started to explore using Terminal Server to connect offices together to our network. It was seen as “cutting edge” and some people were completely against not having a full machine (some are STILL against it today). I did not know of many others in our region using Terminal Server. In fact, many technical people commented things like “why are you going back in technology to dumb terminals – isn’t that a step backwards?” The point that it was more cost effective didn’t seem to stand ground. Now, in 2009, I can tell you, the terminal server is here to stay – and I still haven’t need to roll everyone out onto Citrix. I guess it’s kind of like fashion – everything that is old is now new again. If bell bottoms came back, it makes sense that “dumb terminals” made a come back.

Web 2.0/Social Networks (i.e. How can you NOT have a Facebook account?) – When it became a goal of my department to assist and train staff on Facebook, that was a huge sign that this trend isn’t going away. There are pros and cons to any trend and I see them every day (such as Pandora being very bad for terminal server). But until I had heard Holly Ross from NTEN speak at TechNow in 2008, I was 100% against doing any “agency wide” Facebook or something like that. But the reality from Holly that if you don’t do it yourself, someone else would do it for you, brought my reality to me quickly. I’m a control freak and I would have the control than to hand the control over to anyone else. Since then, full speed ahead with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all other things. Makes me wonder what Web 3.0 will be?

It’s in a Cloud – So this is a trend that I haven’t completely bought into. Cloud computing does have a place and situation and it is going to help out so many nonprofits – when the board and management are committed to it. However, some boards and management are going to be scared about giving the documents up to other people. As I have admitted, I’m a control freak – so my investment in the cloud computing trend will be with creating my own cloud that I control. If my cloud has a thunderstorm – it will only be my cloud having the storm. I like the control and that has been driving by management decisions. As long as my cloud doesn’t become a hurricane, I’m in good shape.

Easy, Shmeasy Personal Technology – I think as technology has become more mainstream, it has allowed people who don’t always get technology get more technology tools without knowing anything about them. While this is great – I’m never against technology use growing – it does create a whole set of challenges of helping someone who might not even know what they are using. It also blurs the line of what is the “agency” equipment and what is the “personal” equipment. USB drives are a great example of this. There is one specific generation of USB drives that has software preinstalled on the USB drive that just makes them inoperable with our terminal server. I never buy those USB drives, but someone might bring one in from home and wonder why it doesn’t work. When they don’t understand technology it becomes difficult to explain this situation. It will just keep us hopping in the Tech Department for years to come.

SharePoint = Collaboration at a Centralized Location – I’m waiting for a SharePoint Portal Upgrade. I cannot wait to get it done. I want it right now. I’m looking forward to expanding what we hae already done on SharePoint Services 3.0 and making it even bigger and badder. It is going to be a great new tool and moving away from all these shared network drives that dot the letters in the alphabet (there is a P drive, a G drive, and S drive — and that’s just for us while another agency has the X drive and the K drive). I’ll be happy to have webaddresses to share on the intranet. Thanks to plenty of webinars and blogs (like Dux’s), I’m ready for this trend to continue to grow!

I could probably go on and on about trends – because if one trend ends, another one starts. It’s just the nature of trends. Do you know of other trends? Do you want to share? I look forward to seeing your comments!

So, anyone get any good techie gifts? Anyone tired of answering questions about their cousin’s new computer? How about your aunt’s new iPod? Oh, did anyone get a TV/DVD that they want you to look at? How about your coworkers? Have the gotten a new digital camera but didn’t get any memory cards for it? Or did they get a computer with Vista on it and now they want to upgrade to Windows 7?

Yeah, pretty much, I know to ask these questions about all of these sound like questions I have had since I left the office last Wednesday until right now. Being in this world of ‘nonprofit techie’, I’ve been around enough holidays to predict what was going to happen when I got back today. I have some tips for making it thru this period of time. For the next two weeks, expect the questions to continue to fly.

  1. Learn to gracefully say No. There are many different ways to say no but starting out with “No” is not one of the best ways to go about it. I tend to find it easier to say no to my extended family because I’m lucky if I see them six or eight times a year. I really can’t say no to my mother (but I control all of her techie toys so I always know what she is getting and how to handle it before it is even wrapped!) Coworkers are even harder. Some are around a bit more and others aren’t. You have to judge who you are saying no too. You are going to have to find a way to rate who should be answered. Another way to say no is to head the person who is asking the questions to resources for them to find the answers themselves – Google, GeekSquad, or Manufactor websites are great places to send them too so you are not the one answering the questions. Be polite and don’t follow the Anti-Drug slogan of “Just Say No”.
  2. Prepare Information Before the Holiday. Several years ago we started a “technology newsletter” for the staff of my agency. It provided answers and questions to some things that us ‘techies’ take for granted that others know. These newsletters have been a good tool to answer some of those easy questions that we could get swamped under. I also believe that by helping staff learn about their own personal technology items, it helps them become better computer users at the office. Sometimes if a staff person learns how to use iTunes on their own, you may see that they become better at using their mouse or navigating thru a database. These are small returns that really add up. Come up with a catchy way to present the information and some will just happen to read it.
  3. Reminders about employee programs that are available. I have been lucky enough to get Microsoft Home Use Program into place at the office. I also have an Employee Purchase Program with CDW. Reminding staff about these programs can offer them huge discounts on equipment and it gets them newer equipment and programs.
  4. Have resources for additional training ready. One of the nice things about having the same several companies that I use for computer supplies is that I learn of things that their websites offer. CDW has a Resource Center that has articles, webinars and podcasts available. Most of these are free resources that you do not even need a CDW account to access. HP has a large selection of classes that are available. They are broken into several parts, my favorites being labeled “At Work” (for more business based learning) and “At Home” (for items such as digital photography). These are huge resources that takes the training out of your hands. Don’t forget Microsoft. For as much as people complain about Microsoft, they have large amounts of resources available online for free. There are the Office Training resources, Events and Webinars, and eLearning Benefits available when you get the Microsoft Software Assurance.

There are my major tips for you. I’m sure that there are others out there. I’d love to read comments about what other tips you may have for answering all of the post-holiday questions that are bound to stream in!

It is that time of year that I stop and look at what I should get done before New Year’s Day and what things I should have never let get away from me. There is one item that always seems to get the best of me each and every time – and I preach about this to others: Email.

I do everything that I tell others not to do:

  1. Do not use your deleted items to store important email.
  2. Do not keep junk mail, delete it right away.
  3. Do not wait until your mailbox is full to clean it.
  4. Do not keep everything in your inbox without any sort of system of folders to maintain important information.
  5. Do not forget to unsubscribe to email neewsletters that you do not want to receive.
  6. Do not sign up for any more enewsletters until your email is under control.
  7. Do not just delete everything in your inbox without knowing what is in those emails – you may really need them!
  8. Do not forget about cleaning up your archive folders.

I also forget everything that I tell people to do:

  1. Schedule a time once a week or once every two weeks to go through your email and clean it up.
  2. Create folders in your Inbox for specific topics that you can navigate to quickly.
  3. Save documents that have been sent to you via email to a document location outside of Outlook.
  4. Folllow the “Getting Things Done” philosophy and handle an email issue as soon as possible if it is only a couple minute resposne.
  5. Delegate.
  6. Permanently delete junk mail from email – hold the shift key when deleting the email so it bypasses the deleted items folder from the start.
  7. Keep your deleted items folder very small and never have it have a number next to it indicating that there is unread messages inside of it.
  8. If you can archive, archive only emails that are truly email. Never archive junk mail.
  9. Keep up with any spam filtering/junk mail software you use. Clean out the junk mail folder in Outlook and make sure that they are all truly junk mail.

So now it is before the holidays and when I plan to work from home between Christmas and New Year’s – my biggest goal to do is to clean up my email. I do this to myself all the time. I know how wrong it is. I’ve written them down above. It’s just bad.

But it’s so easy being bad!

So, I’m going to take a deep breath and just realize that this will not get me a lump of coal for Christmas. This will not take four days to clean up if I put my mind to it. I am also going to admit right now – it’s going to happen again!  (But just maybe it will take longer to happen!)

I do think that there are presonalities of “email users” and that will be explored. I see it in my mind. Just like part of a staff party yesterday where we selected the sugary dessert that we liked the best and that dessert indicated our personality (I selected chocolate cake with chocolate icy which seemd to indicate that I have a cold exterior but a warm inside…), I think there are clear ways to think about email users – because for some people, they would naturally never be in this situation that I’m in now.

I guess the good thing is – at least it isn’t snail mail!

I’ve been promising this post – and finally I am writing it. Some people think that since I’m a geeka that I would love and appreciate any “tech toy” that is out there as a gift. This is far from true. There are simply some things that I don’t want for Christmas. But there are also different ways that I would rank these items. Some would get returned without any hestitation. Others may just stay with me as I might grow to love them – or just so I can say that I have it.

So, roll the drum…

Slide/Film Converter –  I have been in the digital world for a long time. I don’t even really remember EVER having slides in my life and if I had film strips, it’s because I had photos printed out. This would be one of those items that just would never be used. I love my digital camera and I can scan any hard pictures that I have. This is one gift that would be immediately returned. Sorry, Santa… this gift is not wanted.

Demy Touchscreen Recipe Reader –  I’m so conflicted with this one. First, I LOVE the idea of this tech toy. If I was by myself, I would be begging for one of these for use. I can see all the recipes that I have in a binder being used in this item. I could move so many different things with me. However, this toy would cause problems for how I am now – living at home with others. My mother would never embrace this and since it is “whoever gets home first cooks”, there is a chance that it would be my mom cooking. The thought of my mom using this makes me realize that the binder of recipes would still have to remain, ruining the effectiveness of this tech toy. But if I got one, I’d keep it. So Santa…. I wouldn’t ask for it, but I wouldn’t return it either (but a gift certificate to Staples to go along with this would be appreciated for the binder I would have to keep for my mom.)

Outdoor Weather Report Devices – I am not even going to give a link to this one because that is how little I would desire one. I have FIOS TV now and I can just use a widget to get the weather if I wasn’t going to watch the morning news. Hey Santa, remember the receipt with this one!

USB Memory Keys/Sticks/ThumbDrives etc – First, I feel that these get into my purse and reproduce. Each time I look in, the one is then two. Then the next day it’s four. They just keep on appearing in my purse. And let’s not talk about how they sometimes threaten to take over my desk. They are all sizes in memory, all shapes (some round, some straight, some flip styles, some lids), and all have some sort of label on them. It would have to be really unique for me to be overjoyed with this. Santa, if it’s unique (like somehow it has a picture of Wizard of Oz or Penguin logo on it) I would keep it – without uniqueness, it will probably be regifted and/or donated to a good cause.

Blu-Ray – Nope. Not wanted. I’m still in DVD world and DVR world. No Blu-Ray desired. However, Santa, if it was received, I’d keep it and jump to the Blu-World!

I’m sure that there are others. If I think of others, I’ll add them. If you are wondering about a specific item and what I would do about it – please ask me in the comments!

Later this week, I will finally post the “What I don’t want for Christmas” post. It’s been in my head and I hope that it doesn’t include anything that I will get. But there is one item that I have changed my mind on. It is a new iPod. I love my iPod mini. I’ve had it for so many years that I’ve had the pleasure of learning out to change the battery. I swear by this iPod. I have speakers for it from Cisco Live two years ago and I just am used to it.

However, a friend showed me her new iPod Nano. It seems a bit thin, but wow – I think I want one now. It’s WAY TOO late to ask anyone for it, but I see it in my future. I think the part that made me want it more was that I saw iTunes Genius in action on it.  Maybe I should have spent more time in the Apple store looking at one, but it gives me my biggest point here:

Friends are the hugest driver of NEW technology. When I can see how someone else uses things, that’s when I start to want. It doesn’t happen with all of the technology or I would be downright singing the praises of Mac all the way. However, friends go a long way for me to accept new things.

It seems odd because I am a techie/geeka. But I like to see things in action and see how it works for others first. While I like to be an early adopter, I would rather someone deal with the bugs before I jump on board. I think this helped when I finally made the jump to a Vista machine and it is making it even easier to move to Windows 7. Others that I trust are telling me things and I trust their opinions. That is the same with a Windows Mobile Media device. I’ve seen it in action and now I’m willing to demo a device with that software.

So yes, my list of things I don’t want for Christmas will be out – but it will no longer have the iPod nano listed as something I don’t want.

Hopefully the post-Christmas sales will help me out to get one! (In blue hopefully!)

I was inspired yesterday to finally write this blog post. It was because yesterday I got an email from NTEN titled “Best of Nonprofit Technology 2009”. Inside, it highlighted practically everything I love about the Nonprofit Technology Network. I had known of their website for a long time. I used their free resources for just as long. However, in the past year I have been able to enjoy the benefits of getting my organization to pay for a membership, and it has been worth every penny, and so much more. I think every time anyone clicks to the NTEN website, we get so much more than a click anywhere else.

So, I am going to let you know the 10 Reasons Why I Love NTEN – a’la Dancing with the Stars style  (a.k.a. in no particular order).

1. Things We Like in the Monthly Newsletters – I personally think that to work for NTEN or to even do anything with NTEN, you have to have some sort of sense of humor. It’s always a good chuckle and it is always right on target. I love the section in the Monthly Newsletters that lists the highlights from the blogs for the past month. Sometimes it a resource, sometimes it is a cute video of kittens riding a Roomba – but it’s just a great collection of blog posts that I normally have to read again. If you don’t get the monthly newsletter, you should: NTEN newsletter

2. The Blog Such a mix. I know that I can come here, get something that I will use, and know that it was posted with care and foresight. They are just like the newsletters – filledwith humor but filled with tons of information. Hey, a professional organization posted the best Muppets video on their blog. That alone is to be one of my favorite reasons to love this organization!

3. Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission book – I don’t like to read materials that are work related from home. I’d much rather pick up some easy to read “Brit-Lit” book to pass the time. But this book has broken that trend. I’m not done with it because I like to read a section, think about it, read it again, and then move on. Perfect book. It completely applies to my job!

4. Webinar mania! – There are so many good webinars from NTEN that I could spent most of my time in webinars. Better yet, I feel comfortable having my staff take a webinar and know that I don’t have to worry if they are going to get something out of the time. I don’t remember leaving a webinar without usually 10 ideas to implement. To see some of the webinars, which are also open for non-members for additional cost, you can click here.

5. Research? I don’t need too – Most often, if I have to research anything about technology, my first stop is NTEN. More often than not, NTEN research can get me started, or has it all done for me. Why would I look that kind of treasure at the end of the rainbow and not use it? I used their research on Donor Management Software when we were looking for a new option. I find their research on IT Staffing useful wtih Board Members.  In Pittsburgh, the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management really keeps me on the pulse of Pittsburgh (and the nation too), but I know for that national/global perspective, NTEN all the way.

6. Google Grants – I think secretly, NTEN is running Google Grants. They have the inside track. They have trainings about how to make the Google Grant work for you. If there is something about Google Grants that I, or my web facilitator, doesn’t understand – usually NTEN has an answer there for us.

7. NTEN must have gotten a copy of my job description to write their website – I know plenty of people that hear “Technology Director” and they would not consider Social Media, websites, Twitter, or anything remotely marketing related, to be under the Technology Director job description. But guess what, for me, it is. Well, NTEN has it all. It’s great to know that NTEN has the resources for most of the aspects of my job. Variety is what makes NTEN perfect for me.

8. I learned about Dux – I had been looking for a good SharePoint training for a long time. In fact, for months and months I’ve been asking someone to show me how SharePoint integrates with Office Suite and in a webinar by NTEN, I got to see this all from the speaker Dux Raymond Sy, that has given me such an energy for making my new SharePoint site to be a place where people are empowered to use SharePoint. Without NTEN, I may not have found Dux.

9. Office Hours – I dislike the HP online chat assistance. Don’t even ask me to use Microsoft’s. But want to know a good set of Office Hours – I guess you didn’t have to guess – NTEN Office Hours. I haven’t seen much variety of late, but I’m always checking to be sure that I don’t miss someone that I can pick their brains. Often there aren’t many people in these chats and you can really get some good answers.

10. Holly Ross Ok, so maybe there is some ranking in this list because I left Holly till the end. If you didn’t read all the way down, then shame on you! There is something to be said by keeping the best for the last. I heard Holly Ross speak at a Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management’s TechNow in 2008. Before Holly’s presentation, I was not on the social media bandwagon. I refused to get a Facebook account and don’t even mention Twitter to me. First, I had a session with Holly Ross about leadership, which made me realize that I had to step it up some at the office. Then Holly Ross gave her keynote speech. I just knew at that point, Holly Ross was one of my heroines. In fact, if I could grow up and be a quarter of the woman that Holly is, I’ll be doing great. I didn’t get to meet her that day, but in ways, I feel like I met Holly. I follow her Twitter. I read all of her blogs (especially the She’s Geeky blog post). Big kudos to Holly.

So, those are my ten for NTEN!  If you aren’t a member, check them out and use the free information that you can get your hands on. It’s amazing what NTEN does give nonmembers. If you are a member, remember that there is usually more than what you are currently using. I didn’t even get into how excited I am to be going to my first NTC this upcoming April, online groups that I haven’t been involved enough with, and so many more things.


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