“Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?”

Consider this a “Mailbag” Post

Hey, sportswriters do this all the time.  They take emails out of their inbox and turn that into a full article.  That’s not super appropriate for a blog like this, but I *am* getting three questions repeatedly:

  1. When is the Excel User Group starting up in my city?
  2. Is there a “webcast” option for watching the presentations in Cleveland and Atlanta?
  3. When is your new book, Power Pivot Alchemy being released?

1) User Groups – No More Waiting on Microsoft for a Meeting Place!

imageHey, Microsoft Cleveland and Atlanta – much appreciated, we love holding meetings at your offices and will continue to do so.

But it’s very time consuming and difficult for us to make similar contacts at every Microsoft field office, convince them it’s worth their time, etc.  Some places don’t answer our mails and others, we don’t even know who to start with.

It will take forever if we keep going this route.

So I just sent a bunch of emails to local organizer volunteers, looking for alternate venues.  There are MANY other places we can meet.  We’re going to get these groups going.  Apologies that this has taken so long, I am slow to adjust sometimes but this is a pretty obvious “pivot” in the strategy.

UPDATE: As of 12:15 am US Eastern time, Monday night, as I’m writing this, it already looks like we may have secured venues for 2 or 3 more cities.  Confirming that we stuck with the “go through Microsoft” approach for far too long.

2) User Groups – Is There a Webcast?

imageApologies, but no, there isn’t.  Why not?

  1. It’s actually a lot of additional work and stress.  Without exception, every single time I have done something with a simultaneous “webcast,” the technology has failed to “just work” and has consumed a LOT of time just to get it working.  Then half the time, once you have it working, it breaks.
  2. More work and stress won’t end well.  I hate to sound like a “cop out,” but in all honesty, for a purely volunteer effort, it takes a minor miracle to coordinate one of these and then make sure it goes off properly on the night (or day) of the meeting.
  3. A big part of the point is to actually MEET each other.  “Virtual” groups facilitate that to an extent but not nearly as well.  The best answer is to get these running locally for everyone. 

I wouldn’t mind ALSO setting up a dedicated “virtual chapter” for everyone who does not have a local one.  Simultaneously webcasting the in-person groups is not a good cost/benefit tradeoff, but with a virtual group, making sure the webcast is working properly is the ONLY focus.

But I want to get the local versions rolling first, so as to not “cannibalize” them.  Something really cool happens when we meet in person.  For instance, one guy drove from Nashville to Atlanta for last week’s meeting (!), and afterward he and I discovered that we both grew up in Florida, both went to Vanderbilt for college, and both wish we had stayed home and gone to the University of Florida.  Nashville user group, meet your new organizer.

3) When is Power Pivot Alchemy Coming Out?

imageHere’s the “mission statement” of the Alchemy book:

  1. Capture a lot of the magical things you can do when you combine the fundamentals in various ways.  Imagine my first book being a box of awesome legos.  Alchemy is like a bunch of different cool models you can build using those legos.
  2. Serve as a sort of “greatest hits” of techniques from the blog.  I mean, the blog is primarily about “things you can do with the legos” rather than “here are the fundamentals of lego building.”  So this is a natural fit.
  3. Filter those techniques through the MrExcel-a-Tron.  The magic touch of Bill Jelen.  His view on Excel (and techniques therein) is quite unique.  I think we all want to see what happens to these techniques once Bill gets ahold of them and starts taking them in new directions.

Step 3 is critical and worth waiting on.  We are in that phase of the process right now.  Bill tells me there’s a new draft to review in a few days.  Stay tuned.

Short version:  I don’t expect we’ll see Alchemy on shelves until early February.  Students in PowerPivotPro School will see a pre-release version of the book before then however.