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How Your Company Should Be Using SharePoint for Data Management

Events Data Management Microsoft

Your organization has a lot of data to manage. Your team members create files and documents, your customers generate data and your technology is likely churning out information as well. There are also several options available for storing that data: free services, paid services and even services you may have already invested in but don’t use. So where should you be storing your data so that it’s organized, searchable and shareable with everyone in your organization?

Healthcare and Data Breaches: How Microsoft Office 365 Can Help with Compliance in the Healthcare Industry

Healthcare Microsoft Events

Being in charge of IT for a healthcare organization isn't easy. You're responsible for vast amounts of some of the most sensitive information that an organization can deal in; medical data. You're also dealing with financial information, insurance, securing your organization's Internet of Things (IoT) and other information that requires you to be up on compliance for laws like HIPAA and GDPR. You have to stay within your budget, keep everything updated and make sure all of your organization's tech works. It's a lot, especially for smaller healthcare providers who don't have the budget to constantly update software, maintain a server, hire a large IT staff or — in some cases — keep a compliance officer.

5 Common Myths About Blockchain and Bitcoin

Blockchain Bitcoin Events

Blockchain and Bitcoin just turned 10 — both were introduced in August of 2008 and both are beginning to mature into mainstream technologies that have the potential to change the way business is done. Because they are so new, however, there are plenty of misconceptions about each. These misunderstandings run the gamut from over-enthused to jaded. Some people may assume that given the hype, blockchain will solve all their business problems. Others may view blockchain and Bitcoin with extreme suspicion.

2017 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium: Omni's Key Takeaways

#WeAreOmni Community Culture Events

If I asked you to rattle off cities that come to mind when you think of startups, I bet you may list: San Francisco, Austin, New York, LA, Boston, Denver, or some of the other major names. All those locations would make wonderful places to get your startup off the ground, but more entrepreneurs are realizing the challenges those markets produce as well: the inflated cost of living & doing business and heavy competition. 

That Conference Journal 2017 - Day 3

#WeAreOmni Culture Events

I read through yesterday’s post and realized I ended up writing a short novel. As a change of pace for this final blog post, I thought I’d list out some lessons learned from this iteration of That Conference.

That Conference Journal 2017 - Day 2

#WeAreOmni Culture Events

This is my fourth year attending That Conference, and despite the improvements that the conference has made, it’s typically the same formula: breakfast, keynote, a session, lunch, and 3 more sessions. It’s a winning recipe so it makes sense that it’s remained largely unchanged. What I want to highlight today are the moments that stood out. The first session I attended was a family session that my son and I went to. This was the second session him and I had attended together, and he was very excited to be there. I have to give major credit to Patrick Tsai and family, along with many others of the Omni team for putting together such an interactive and enjoyable session. We walked in to find four different activities set up, all of which my son and I were eager to tackle. The first table we landed on was using a programming language called Scratch. My son had actually done some Scratch at a coding summer class over the summer, so this was right in his wheelhouse. He flew through the activity, during which he told me about a Scratch program that he had written that completely crashed the computer it ran on. Apparently, he's already discovered the power of the infinite loop in computer programming. After completing the Scratch activity (and him registering for the prize!) we went on to three other activities that covered technologies geared towards kids: AppInventor, SonicPi and OzoBots . The instructions that were provided were clear, and easy to use. It was amazing to see a 9-year-old learning and problem solving right in front of me. He walked away with a confidence that computer programming was something he could conquer, a confidence I could never have built in him through words alone. I need to pause here for a minute to thank Omni Resources for not only sponsoring my trip to That Conference, but also covering the family tickets. They’ve also been incredibly supportive of employees attending family sessions, despite that taking away from their employees’ time at more directly applicable technologies. It’s gestures like this that remind me that Omni Resources isn’t a company of technology, but one of people. After our morning session, we grabbed a quick bite to eat off campus and then stopped by the hotel to get ready for the afternoon. Speaking of my family, my wife has been incredible during this conference. She’s made sure both kids are having fun, while also making sure my son gets to his sessions, the kids are fed, and that I’m not forgetting anything as I head out the door. She took my son to a 1pm session around Minecraft which he thoroughly enjoyed. In fact, after his 1pm session my wife asked that I leave my laptop in the hotel room so he could continue programming. Now, if only I could get him working on some of my work projects! For the rest of my afternoon, I attend a session on Continuous Database Deployment and then hit up an Open Space that my coworkers Kevin Brey and Travis Crowe were leading. I’m a big fan of the Open Spaces concept, and this session was a great reflection of it. There were maybe eight of us in the group, chatting about the technology behind our conference app, RockChain. Despite being a Business Intelligence Consultant now, my background is as a full stack developer. As a result, I can typically pick up a new technology with relative ease once it’s explained to me. Blockchain? Not so much. What finally helped put the pieces together for me was this Open Spaces discussion where I could hear from other developers about how it works and was able to ask questions when I was confused (more often than I’d like to admit on this topic!). After the Open Spaces session, it was already close to 5pm. I picked up the family and we headed down to That Pig Roast. The food was very good, but we waited in a fairly long line which seems like it wasn’t terribly necessary; we passed by a buffet with next to no one there. It seems like the queueing system for food for this portion of the conference could be improved, but I can’t say I’d know how to approach it. With full stomachs, the family and I came back to the room to rest and recharge for the waterpark party. If you’ve never been, it’s a very special event as the Kalahari shuts off the park to anyone except That Conference attendees. Surrounded by conference attendees, and after a few drinks, we had a blast at the waterpark. I especially enjoyed the wave pool, as did my son. I probably would’ve been up for a few more water slides, but my son acquired my fear of heights so he was a tough sell. We did end up playing quite a bit of water basketball. (Not sure what to call it… Poolball? Waterketball?) Overall, it was a great ending to a great day. My only complaint? It’s going to make for a very early morning tomorrow…

That Conference Journal 2017: Day 1

#WeAreOmni Culture Events

Question: What animal needs to wear a wig? A Bald Eagle! Let me back up a bit. Monday morning has started off as days at That Conference typically do with breakfast. No complaints from me there, but I do consider myself a dedicated carnivore. I enjoyed a full slate of Kielbasa sausage, bacon wrapped potatoes, and scrambled eggs with any topping a human could reasonably expect to have available. While we were all chowing down on our selected meat products (I imagine there were some vegan options available as well... somewhere) Clark Sell kicked off the conference with a rousing speech lauding our community and challenging us to figure out what we wanted to get from this event. After contemplating my goals for this event, Brian Hogan stepped up as our keynote speaker. He had a clear and concise message, don't let fear control your life. He did a fantastic job highlighting just how, especially as folks employed in the IT industry, it's easy to let fear not only dictate our decisions but prevent us from leading the lives we want to lead. It was an inspiring message and one that started off the conference on the right foot. After leaving the keynote breakfast full and fully motivated, I headed to my first session. I had chosen a session by a speaker with great reviews, Matthew Soucup. His presentation was a good one, highlighting the offerings of Microsoft Cognitive Services. He did have a few technical difficulties, but the crowd at That Conference tends to be very forgiving. (What IT person worth their salt hasn't had a demo give them trouble?) After the morning session came lunch, which seems to come so quickly after only one session. I'm not certain, but I'm pretty sure I've had that same food at previous 'That Conferences' in the past, but it's nothing to complain about. Solid chicken and beef dishes made for good background to kick off 'Open Spaces'. If you haven't attended a 'That Conference' before, look up 'Open Spaces', they are really a star of this conference. In the afternoon, my wife and kids headed off to see some wildlife, which entertained me with some great pictures. Apparently, a camel was present. Who knew that a camel would fit through the door?! After my first afternoon session on ASP.NET Core by Scott Addie, I joined up with my son to learn about how Alexa can tell jokes. It was a unique and rewarding experience being able to attend a technical session with my son. He's got a passion for technology and has had a few programming classes in school. However, seeing his eyes light up as the mysteries of a given technology were explained was definitely special and one I soon won't forget. It was during this session that he was able to add a joke to an Alexa app (see, I told you we'd circle back to the Eagle bit!). The speaker ran into a bit of a 'not-safe-for-kids' situation with his Amazon device, but we quickly laughed it off and went on about our day. There was a bit of confusion on the room location for the last session I had planned to attend, but that worked out just fine and I was able to spend some quality time connecting with some old coworkers. That Conference is at least 50% about the connections you make and the ones you re-kindle, so I was glad to have some time to dedicate to that. My family and I grabbed dinner after the last session, with a brief appearance by me back at the conference for a drink and a few more laughs. I'm excited to not only experience tomorrow as a camper, but also as a campmate to my wife, daughter, and son who have made this trip that much more rewarding. 

That Conference Journal 2017 - Day 0

#WeAreOmni Culture Events

Packing began on Saturday night, or at least it was supposed to. This is my fourth time heading to That Conference, but the first time bringing the whole family. I’ll admit, past conferences have served as a bit of a ‘me vacation’, but I’m excited to have the family in tow this time around. We woke up on Sunday morning (affectionately called ‘Day 0’ as all counting should be done as a zero-based array) realizing that most of the packing we had intended to do was left undone. Sunday morning was then filled trying to gather clothes, electronics, and enough diapers for the stay. By early afternoon, the car was loaded and the Prius was sagging quite a bit in the rear.

Empowering Girls to Consider Coding

Events Culture Community #WeAreOmni

I recently attended the Smart Girls Rock event hosted by Miller Electric and the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, as a mentor to 100 high school freshman and sophomore girls from the area. This event was an opportunity for these girls to learn about STEM careers, emphasizing that careers in these fields aren’t just for men. The first half of my day was spent meeting with the girls and answering any questions they had about what I do, how I chose my career and what challenges I’ve encountered. Some of them had an idea what type of work they wanted to do and others were just gathering information to help them make their choices. While I personally didn’t speak to every girl, the careers I heard mentioned the most were medical/nursing or teaching. No one told me they were looking at IT, but I was able to explain to them that computers are likely going to be a part of any career they choose, so any knowledge in the IT area would be beneficial. When asked if they had considered a career in IT, many girls thought coding would be “difficult.” I heard the words “I don’t think I could do that” from multiple girls. My goal was to convince them that coding really is not out of their reach. The second half of my day was spent providing three separate groups of 10-15 girls the opportunity to do a hands-on activity related to IT. I demonstrated how to maneuver a Sphero robotic ball through a maze using just four lines of code from an app on a Bluetooth connected iPad. I also demonstrated how one could similarly write lines of code to direct the actions of an Ozobot. I then challenged them to write their own program to take an Ozobot through a pre-drawn maze that included segments where they could insert their own instructions, formulated from a cheat sheet, using red, blue, green and black markers. It was exciting to watch, as at first they weren’t quite sure what they were doing and then, just like that, it clicked. They started testing their code with the bots and making changes to their original codes. Some even added bowling pins to their completed mazes to see if their code would direct the Ozobot in a way that would take down all of the pins. It was exciting to watch them experiment with the different codes to see what they could get their bots to do. I handed out multiple copies of the maze, but also saw them flipping the paper over and drawing their own paths. I lost track of how many times I heard the phrase “These things are so cool!” As each group was wrapping up their time with the Ozobots, I was asked numerous time “Where can I get one of these things?” I do believe that I was able to prove to them that writing code is not out of their reach and that it can be fun. As I reflect back on what things were like when I was at the same point in my life as these girls are now in theirs, I can honestly say that I never really considered gender when I chose my career nor did I ever think I couldn’t do something just because “I was a girl.” You could say that with my career as an IT professional and my husband’s career as a flight nurse, we both stepped outside of what society considers “the norm.”