Category Archives: Grab Bag

5 Tips For Improving Your Work From Home Video Calls

I’ve seen a lot of posts recently about turning on your video for calls, especially at a time when human connection is so important. I agree!

Below are five zero-expense tips for improving the call quality when you decide to switch on that video button, or the boss mandates it.

Bill Lumbergh Turn On Video

Tip #1: Light Your Face

Having sufficient, diffused light on your face will make you look more natural.

The typical home office available light sources, from best to worst, are:

  1. Face a window during the day. If the sun is shining directly in, draw the blinds or curtain.
  2. Use a desk lamp with a lampshade, or shine a lamp without a shade at the wall in front of you.
  3. Overhead lighting.
  4. Facing a dark wall with a window in the background.

Tip #2: Bathe and Dress

I’m a work from home veteran; my routine has been for the past few years:

  1. Wake up at 6:15
  2. Coffee
  3. Start calls at 6:30

Special times call for special measures, so I’m giving myself more time in the morning to do my hair. Work From Home official video dress code is “Casual But Not Pajamas”.

Tip #3: Raise Your Camera Position

Ideally the camera would be around eye level, but this can be difficult to achieve with most laptops. Some newer laptops put the camera below the screen, making the viewing angle even more harsh. (I’m pretty sure the Dell PC hardware engineers do not attend video calls.)

Some options to improve this are:

  1. The old stack of books under your PC.
  2. If you have an external keyboard and mouse, you have additional flexibility in positioning the PC’s camera.
  3. Sit back a bit further to increase the distance to the screen, which will help the angle of the picture.
  4. Many apps like Microsoft Teams allow you to join calls multiple times. You can join audio and video from a phone or iPad, and screen sharing via the PC. Mute the mic and speakers on the PC, and remember where the right unmute button is.

Tip #4: Give Us the Kid/Dog/Cat Tax

If someone unexpectedly shows up in the shot, they are allowed to join the video.

Tip #5: None of These Tips Matter

No one cares what you look like, they want to see you and have a shared experience. We’re not competing for a videographer or gaffer of the year award.

Try committing to one week of turning video on for most calls, and see what happens!

Choose Your Own Adventure

As a kid I read books from a series called Choose Your Own Adventure. In the books, you’d come to a decision point, and the book would offer you some relevant choices:

To fight the ninja, turn to page 48.

To scream and run away, turn to page 92.

With all the uncertainty, chaos, and change happening right now, I’ve been thinking a lot about which pages I’m going to pick.

“The Worst Day of Your Life”

To live with dark thoughts, turn to page 77.

To get better, turn to page 30.

In 2019, my mental health sucked.

Depression isn’t something I’m sure how to talk about. What I now know is there are a lot of virtual tools to get one-on-one therapy. (I don’t even have to leave the house!) Getting help helps.

“River of No Return”

To buy a house and continue living in Colorado, turn to page 54.

To throw out stable plans and wing it, turn to page 5.

My wife and I moved to Colorado from Indiana seven years ago. As much as we love our friends and family there, it was time for us to move on.

We both have virtual jobs where we can work from anywhere, so we decided to take our band on the road. We put our stuff into storage, and the plan for the next year is traveling across the United States, staying in cities for a week to a month. Right now we’re in Boise, Idaho. Next stop is Missoula, Montana.

It’s kind of a crazy plan that has already changed a hundred times, but we’re going to make it work for us.

“Trouble on Planet Earth”

To let zombies eat your face, turn to page 34.

To let vampires eat your face, turn to page 102.

There are too many times in life where the choices we are presented with are all terrible. Shouldn’t at least one of the choices be good? The Coronavirus pandemic is forcing a lot of “lesser of two evil” type choices, and all of us feel the stress related to those choices.

My goal is to not take out my own stress on others, and do my best to alleviate others’ stress if I can. It’s so easy for me to lose control of my emotions when I’m feeling uncertain; however, I know I can reign in negativity if I put the proper attention and focus on how I’m communicating.

“You Are a Superstar”

To have a good cry, turn to page 8.

To survive another day, turn to page 51.

To solve all the problems, turn to page 99.

Sometimes we need help. Sometimes we only have the capacity to take care of ourselves. Sometimes we are able to help others.

All of these adventures are different, not less.

I used to cheat at the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I would make sure I went through every permutation of storylines; I wanted to choose every adventure.

My hope for the next months is to choose all the adventures in front of me:

  • Have the capacity, energy, and empathy to help others navigate through crisis.
  • Take care of myself so that others don’t have to.
  • Continue to receive help through therapy.
  • And, of course, fight the ninja.

“Return of the Ninja”

To share your adventure, comment below.

To ask for help, email joelleichty@gmail.com.

Grand Theft User Group

My colleague Josh Knox (https://iamjoshknox.com/) and I attended the D365UG Summit event this week. On Friday afternoon, we showed up for a session called “How to Make Training a Success in Your D365FO Implementation.” Unfortunately, there was a scheduling snafu and no presenter.

We figured what the heck, let’s steal this thing and MC a discussion! Then a room full of smart end users gave us a lot of free great content. And since we’re in the spirit of stealing, we figured let’s take that content and make a blog post too!

Training Around Go-live

Probably the biggest issue raised by the group was how to support users during the go-live. It can be quite overwhelming for users to adopt a new system, and sometimes minor steps or deviations in the process can cause headaches.

Some of the ideas presented by the group for supporting the users included:

  • A dedicated triage room at go-live where users can meet with system experts and SMEs to immediately get help and have questions answered. Also, once they get answers, also provide documentation of the question and answer.
  • Ensure training scenarios include what to do when things go wrong.
  • Give end users visibility and training into how the system works beyond their individual scope by explaining other upstream and downstream processes.
  • Provide business context for the processes being done in Dynamics.
  • One idea was to not do that much training prior to go-live. Teach users some basics about Dynamics, but wait until they have actual business data to process and do the training then.

Avoid Burnout

Implementations are challenging as generally the people involved have extra work. Also, during a go-live users won’t be able to process things as fast as they could in their old system, creating work backlog and additional stress. It’s important to have strategies in place to mitigate this.

The user community came up with these strategies to help:

  • Have healthy lunch catered – eating poorly does not help stress levels.
  • Nominate one person as a captain to train others in their group; this person doesn’t necessarily need to be the group manager. Also, it may be beneficial to nominate this person based on their success learning Dynamics.
  • Prior to go-live, allow users to set aside a certain amount of time each day to learn.

Process Documentation

Everyone feels better about a new system with some reference materials, even if only for the most frequent processes.

Advice in this area was:

Keyboard Shortcuts

Teaching users keyboard shortcuts for high volume processes can greatly improve user efficiency.

Speed up your data entry by:

Validation (The Human Type)

Implementations are challenging! It’s so important to be supportive and understanding when going through this massive change, and to let people know some stress and frustration is a normal part of the process – and that you will all pitch in to get through it.

My first job was doing an implementation on Axapta 2.5 back in 2002. Never in my life have I had weirder dreams than during that six months. I had a dream where my friend and I were at a restaurant and he said, “I’ll have a Fanta with my waffles. Then I want to you kill me!” And then my brother wrote a song about it. And then he made a hiphop mix because my family is weird (https://soundcloud.com/matthewdean/fanta-hiphop-mix).

To reiterate, trust me when I say EVERYTHING you’re feeling is normal and you will make it through that go-live!

 

 

 

Editing Your Professional Selfie

I’m a big fan of having a good professional picture for LinkedIn, Microsoft Teams, and other work-related online presence tools; as I’ve written about before. Many times people have pictures of themselves they like, but perhaps don’t have a professional background (because of the beach scene behind you).

Recently I’ve run across a couple of tools that within a few minutes can edit that vacation picture into a professional selfie.

Background Removal

I’ve tried to do background removal before in Photoshop, and that experience made me hate Photoshop with the fire of a thousand suns. But I found a free online tool called https://www.remove.bg/ that does the background removal automagically, only keeping a person in the shot! The process is simple, just upload your photo and download the result, sans background.

Remove.bg Screenshot

Note: I’ve noticed this website struggles removing the background between open earrings, but handles hair fairly well.

Background Addition

Now that you’ve removed that beach scene, you need to replace it with something, so you need a photo editor. (No, I’m still not using Photoshop. Still hate it and it’s not free.) For this step there’s a free online photo editor called LunaPic https://www.lunapic.com/.

Upload the photo from the Background Removal step, then navigate to Draw menu > Background Tool.

LunaPic Image 1.png

Then click on “use our patterns or colors“.

LunaPic Image 2.png

Now pick a color. Black, white, and grey are all excellent options. Click the Apply button when you’re happy with the color and save the photo.

Original Photo

Joel Leichty with Busy Background

Updated Photo

Here’s the result after removing the background and replacing it with a black one.

Joel Leichty with Black Background

More Colors

One other idea I had for colors is to use your company’s branding colors for the  background. Here’s the same image as above using SAGlobal Blue.

Joel Leichty with Blue Background

Cropping

LunaPic also has a simple cropping tool (Edit > Simple Crop Tool) – you’ll want to do a square crop and your eyes should be approximately 1/3rd the way down from the top.

LunaPic Image 3.png

Additional Examples

Here are some other photos taken with various cameras and settings showing the possible results. I tried to use some more complex background examples to show the results – in same cases it’s not perfect (my hair is losing some “spike”), but in general I feel this works quite nicely for a small profile picture.

I’m a dork.

Now I’m a dork with piercing eyes.

A recent picture going from a grey background to an SAGlobal theme color background.

 

Good luck; hope to see your smiling faces online!

PUG Summit | Understanding Time Intelligence with Power BI

Presenter: Dan Edwards

Auto Date Fields

Power BI can create automatic date hierarchies, for report and drill down by Year/Quarter/Month/Day. It’s important to consider whether your data model has more than one fact table with a date attribute. If there are multiple facts, or you have already created a date table, it’s a better to use your own date dimension.

“Don’t use auto date/time” -Dan

I love these types of tips and tricks – here’s how it works, and don’t do it!

Creating a Date Table with DAX

It’s possible to use a DAX expression to create a date table. The initial DAX expression looks like this:

Date = CALENDAR(“1/1/2016”, “12/31/2019”)

Use the DAX expression to create a New table in Power BI.

2018-10-17_14-50-22.jpg

Then additional columns can be added to the Date dimension table:

Month = MONTH(‘DATE'[Date])

2018-10-17_14-53-35.jpg

It’s also possible to do concepts like MonthDate where you calculate a Date column with the first day of every month, which can provide flexibility.

MonthDate = DATE( YEAR(‘DATE'[Date]) , MONTH(‘DATE'[Date]) , 1 )

2018-10-17_15-04-02.jpg

Using an Effective Date

One of the scenarios is a scenario where the user wants to pick the effective date – for example a cutoff date or the last 12 months.

Dan mentioned he has a fairly extensive blog post on how to implement this concept.

 

Great presentation!

MVPs at User Group Summit

Looking for some fantastic sessions? Check these out – all led by a Microsoft MVP.

D365UG & AXUG Community General Session & Microsoft Town Hall

MVP Kelly Kane! She’s in charge! #womenindynamics

Kelly Kane @kellylappkane | Tuesday, October 16 | 8:15 AM – 9:15 AM | North Building, North Ballroom

BI12 – Moving From Reports to Business Intelligence

Who, me?

Joel Leichty @joelleichty | Tuesday October 16 | 9:45 AM – 10:45 AM | 122A – North

FIN17 – Understanding Production Cost Accounting for the Best Outcome

Don Riggs @donriggs_mvp | Tuesday, October 16 | 9:45 AM – 10:45 AM | 126B – North

HOL1 – Hands-on Lab: Workflow Part 1-Planning the Perfect Workflow

Rachel forced me to write this post. #UnderDuress

Rachel Profitt @rachelprofitt | Tuesday, October 16 | 9:45 AM – 10:45 AM | 127C – North

HOL2 – Hands-on Lab: Workflow Part 2-Making the Perfect Workflow Even More Perfect

Is there a part 3: “Making the Perfectest Workflow Go to 11”?

Rachel Profitt @rachelprofitt | Tuesday, October 16 | 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM | 127C – North

BI14 – Collecting BI Requirements for an Upgrade or Implementation

Joel Leichty @joelleichty | Tuesday, October 16 | 1:15 PM – 2:15 PM | 122A – North

FIN13 – The New Vendor Invoice Automation in Practice

I’m disappointed I can’t make this session! Looks great.

Ludwig Reinhard @dynamicsaxfico | Tuesday, October 16 | 1:15 PM – 2:15 PM | 125A – North

HOL3 – Hands-on Lab: Workflow Part 3-Finalizing and Testing the Perfect Workflow

LOL I swear I didn’t see this before I wrote my snarky comment above.

Rachel Profitt @rachelprofitt | Tuesday, October 16 | 1:15 PM – 2:15 PM | 127C – North

IND13 – Application Lifecycle Management: Operating Multiple Instances of AX 2012 R3 and D365

Thomas Ejby @powerpappi | Tuesday, October 16 | 1:15 PM – 2:15 PM | 126A – North

SYS07 – Leveraging Excel for Reporting and Data Manipulation

Excel!!! Best ERP on the market, in my opinion.

Justin Carter @DAXDude | Wednesday, October 17 | 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM | 121A – North

LPD04 – From Developer to Leader: What I Learned on my Journey Through the ERP Industry

Justin Carter @DAXDude | Wednesday, October 17 | 3:45 PM – 4:45 PM | 128B – North

LPD05 – The Art of Mentoring a Technical Expert

Don Riggs @donriggs_mvp | Thursday, October 18 | 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM | 128B – North

DEV09 – Flowing With the Common Data Services – Part 1

Rachel Profitt @rachelprofitt | Thursday, October 18 | 9:45 AM – 10:45 AM  & 1:15 PM – 2:15 PM | 122C – North

MFG09 – Ask the Experts: Master Planning

Don Riggs @donriggs_mvp | Thursday, October 18 | 9:45 AM – 10:45 AM | 126B – North

FIN18 – Understanding Revenue and Cost: Inventory and Purchasing Cost Accounting

Don Riggs @donriggs_mvp | Thursday, October 18 | 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM | 128A – North

FIN21 – Not to Fear: Audits, AX, and Beer is Back Again for 2018!

Our fearless leader is back!

Kelly Kane @kellylappkane | Thursday, October 18 | 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM  | 227A – North

POWDC08 – Power BI for Accountants

Belinda will teach you about debits and credits. Most accountants only dive into one other the other.

Belinda Allen @belindathegpcsi | Thursday, October 18 | 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM | 228B – North

D365UG/AXUG Closing Feedback Session

 

 

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