How did I get here?
When I started this blog I wanted to share information on a whole range of technology topics under the banner of “getting IT right” – helping people to figure out the best ways to use information technology to get things done. As a self-confessed geek who loves to dig into the detail of things, I also wrote about various neat tools (see, only a geek could call tools “neat”!) and techniques to wrestle software into doing what people really wanted out of it. I tried to get to the “why” as well as the “how” as I firmly believe (to paraphrase) that with great [IT] skill comes great responsibility [to follow best practices].
I made a conscious decision early on not to join those who seem to only produce “echoes in the blogosphere”. Writing a post of less than 20 words, saying “Someone else just wrote a great post over here <link>” is not what blogs are for, in my not so humble opinion; that’s what twitter is great for (up to a point). Worse still, “quoting” the whole of an article written by someone else is not so far different from blatantly stealing content with no attribution so I wanted to stay clear of that too, with the occasional exception of quoting parts of articles written expressly to be widely publicised such as press releases and hotfix release information.
If you don’t have something to add to the conversation to at least give it some context and explain why the linked post/article/information is important, why bother joining in?
I also did not see much point in writing “how to” articles for things which were well documented in books, online sources or simply accepted as common knowledge (sometimes of course it can be hard to judge what is really known by everyone).
So did it work? What do people read most?
Many of my most popular articles are things which are not well documented elsewhere, such as these top three of the most-read posts of the last six and a half years:
How to add national holidays in Outlook 2010 – the basic feature to add holidays for your country is well understood, but this article dug a bit deeper on topics such as removing holidays added by mistake (especially duplicates) and adding custom holiday dates to your outlook.hol file to share with others. The related post Outlook 2010 has incorrect holidays for UK and many other countries has had far fewer total readers, but this makes sense since the issue mainly affected English-speaking countries outside North America, and much of “continental” Europe. Both posts still see big peaks around Christmas / New Year and just before Easter – I guess people in 23 countries look at their calendars and realise Easter Monday is clearly in the wrong place and want to find out how to get it moved to the right date.
Using DSMod to update Active Directory – this was my very first post and a perfect example of the sort of thing I wanted to write when I set out on my blogging ‘journey’, and I am really pleased that it is still enduringly popular now, and the second most read of all time (which I know is to some extent is self-proving, as it had the most time to be read). This was a real geeks’ article about how to use some simple command line tools to update user information stored in Active Directory. Is it still relevant? Possibly even more so since that directory information is even more ‘visible’ now as it surfaces in Outlook through “contact cards” (the summary of a correspondent’s information you see when you hover over their email address or name on the to / from line of an email) and is of course copied to Dynamics CRM user records too. I have some notes on my “blog ideas” list for an article about which AD fields are copied to CRM, and therefore what DSMod commands would be helpful to get those fields populated with correct information.
Excel 2007 calculation bug displays apparently wrong numbers – still getting loads of hits despite being about a bug which was fixed a long time ago, in a six-year-old version of a product. Judging by recent comments on this post and in forums more generally, some people seem to think that every time their numbers don’t add up as expected (due to rounding of displayed numbers in many cases), it must be the multi-million dollar, multi-million user software that is not able to figure out high school maths, although no-one else seems to have noticed.
Moving towards Dynamics CRM
Over time, I have become slowly more focussed on Dynamics CRM rather than being a total IT generalist. I still retain an interest in Office, particularly Outlook and Excel, and often use knowledge gained in my days as a system administrator to deal with network infrastructure questions relating to on-premise CRM deployments. As my work balance has changed, so has the content of my blog, so in the last year some of the most-read posts include an article outlining options for training and certification in MS Dynamics CRM 2011, how to Configure CRM 2011 and ADFS 2.0 on a single server on port 443 and When and How to use Child Workflows in Dynamics CRM.
I thought the time had come to change the name of the site to reflect the sort of information being posted here lately, so people have a better expectation of what they will find here, rather than it looking like another company blog. The new colour scheme and logo seemed appropriate to support this change of theme and direction.
Why CRM “guru”?
There are various definitions of the term”guru” which I hope to aspire towards in the posts that I write here.
The common themes are that a guru should be a teacher, one who imparts wisdom and knowledge to others, in some cases a leader as well. One possible etymology is that a guru “dispels the darkness of ignorance”. Through the articles in this blog I certainly hope to share the experiences I have gained as a Dynamics CRM consultant and trainer to shed some light on features which are not necessarily well understood or clearly documented and showcase some best practices of using the software to get the most out of it, from a technical or operational and business perspective.
I certainly do not use the term “guru” to claim that I am the greatest expert on the subject (that is for others to judge), merely to explain that I intend to use my knowledge to help others avoid common pitfalls and use features in ways they had not thought of, just as I have learned so much from those who have done things before me – too many to mention individually but some of whom are linked through the “blogroll” at the bottom of the screen.
I hope to be able to enlighten you for another few years yet.