The year was traumatic. Reading provided welcome escape, especially history and biography. It was great to get into the head of an author who has yet to hear the phrase ‘social distancing’.

For your consideration, these are some of the titles I found memorable in my 2020 reading:

The Future Is Faster Than You Think
by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

Thoughtful, entertaining, and frequently correct, Diamandis and Kotler are worth reading on several levels.

The Shallows
By Nicholas Carr

So many screens, so much content, what is this doing to our brains?

Leading Digital By George Westerman, Didier Bonnet…

I help people use technology to work efficiently. I analyze the way people work, find broken processes and/or systems, and help find a solution using the most current technologies.

I am not a strict academic. I am always looking for inspiration in odd places.

Most people wouldn’t think that Northern New Jersey is a great sailing destination. But a few wonderful little lakes in the Garden state perfect for sailing. I was lucky enough to grow up within walking distance of such a lake. …

Microsoft Office has a cool tool called Power Automate that let’s you create incredibly powerful automations for almost anything you can do with your computer. The amazing thing is that there’s no code. Anyone who’s comfortable working in Microsoft Office or on the web in general can use these tools.

The reason I’m excited about this application is that it realizes a vision that’s been around for a while. The citizen developer. …

the home office…

Now is an incredible time to start a new business. There are some fantastic tools online, powerful, cheap, and easy to use. It’s never been easier!

But you need to do one basic thing to make sure that you used these tools safely. You don’t want to store your valuable work in the cloud and have someone steal or deface it easily. The good news is that these cloud services can be more secure than most privately managed computer systems. It’s easy to take advantage of that security. So here it is.


Yes, that’s it…

Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics is a platform for reporting on how your organization is collaborating internally and externally. The system also provides tools to create action plans to help you act on insights gained from the reporting. It’s been around since 2018, but with the current disruptions resulting from the global pandemic, I thought it worth a second look.

The idea and the product look great. It addresses a need that has been around for knowledge organizations for ever. We have implemented a variety of tools for collaboration, but we don’t have data telling us how effectively they are being used…

Nevada in January

Full disclaimer, I climbed seriously for more than ten years.

Photo by Peter Lewicki on Unsplash

“Film is art, TV is furniture, theater is life.”

We used to say this seriously when I was studying acting in NY in my twenties. The experience of performing in front of a live audience is singular. When you are young and commit to becoming an actor, it is easy to become obsessive. The fact is that the employment prospects for an actor are smaller than those for a champion Olympic athlete. But the raw pleasure of being on stage is so powerful that many will pursue the goal for a lifetime without ever supporting themselves professionally.

There is something…

I’ve lived in New York City for more than 30 years. What most visitors do not understand is how much our city is a collection of small neighborhoods with different personalities. I live in one neighborhood and work in another. I probably spend 80% of my life in these two little areas totaling no more than ¼ mile square. Almost everything I need for my life is here and accessible without needing to consider how to get to it. It is incredibly convenient.

Neighborhoods are dynamic, businesses open and close. Buildings are torn down and new ones go up. You…

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Too many enterprise software projects fail. A surprising number of movies bomb as well, but there are important things that a movie producer can teach us about technical project implementation. Nevertheless, there is one significant point where the comparison breaks down…

The producer is the driver behind a film production. The producer selects the movie to make, hires directors, writers and other creative staff. Securing funding, marketing and business support are also the producer’s responsibility. Three key drivers keep the project on track. Each of these points have a direct application for technology projects.

Know your audience

A good producer…

A view from the home office in Tribeca NYC

SharePoint built-in analytics are good for a few things, but there are plenty of times you need to look at the raw data to understand how people are using your platform. We have an on-premises SharePoint 2016 farm. We have yet to invest in a commercial analytics platform, but I want to get a head start on how people are using our intranet.

So, if you want a quick way to get access to this information, I have a guide for you.

A disclaimer: I’m not a python, pandas expert. I’m sure someone will offer a more elegant way of…

Christopher Smith

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