Exclusive SharePoint Saturday D.C. Q&A with C.A. Callahan

C.A. CallahanIn addition to consulting on SharePoint implementations through her company CallhanTech, SharePoint Server MVP C.A. Callahan is the author of Mastering Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and user groups around the U.S. 

Bamboo Nation recently won an hour of Callahan's valuable time in the canned food drive which was held in conjunction with the Washington, D.C. edition of SharePoint Saturday and, so that everyone might win, we've used our time to conduct a short interview with Callahan about her SharePoint Saturday experience.

Was the May 2 SharePoint Saturday in Washington, D.C. (SPS DC) your first time as a presenter at SPS?   

The D.C. SharePoint Saturday was my first time speaking at a one-day SharePoint event.  In general, I present primarlily at larger event such as Windows Connections, user group meetings (my fave), or custom, corporate sessions.  SharePoint Saturday was really fun, I enjoyed it.

How did you learn about and come to be involved with SPS?

A friend of mine that lives in D.C. and is active in the local SharePoint community insisted I become involved.  If it wasn't for her, I would have never known the event existed.

Our good friend Dux Raymond Sy served as the organizer of the D.C. SharePoint Saturday.  Had you met Dux prior to the event?  How did you find working with him? 

I met him for the first time at the event, it was extremely well organized in my experience (kudos to Dux and his sister Reah).  You'd never know it was a community driven, free offering-- it rivaled some of the more expensive conferences I've participated in.  It was a good time.  The audience was great.

SharePoint Saturday DC




Dux introduced a number of initiatives with the D.C. edition of SPS, including the notion of the SharePoint community giving back to the larger community in the form of a canned food drive.  I know Dux couldn't have been more thrilled that all of the participating speakers volunteered an hour of their time as a prize in the food drive.  I bet you never thought you'd end up as a prize when you signed on as a speaker!

You got that right. I never expected to be won, as there were several other presenters that had a larger presence, and were better known in the community than I.  I figured I'd be last picked. Stick out tongue  But it's nice to be able to take part in a good cause, as well as evangelize WSS.

Your session at SPS DC was dedicated to The Frugal Admin: Make your own Custom Site Templates (the PowerPoint presentation of which you've made freely available at the SPS DC page) addressed one of the twin hot topics of customization and site templates, offering tips and best practices advice as well as pointing out "gotchas."  How was the turnout and reception from the SPS DC crowd? 

The turnout for the sessions was unexpectedly high. Pretty much standing room only by the end. Unfortunately, my session experienced several technical difficulties, but I hope I managed to cover the important points of my content, as well as kept the experience entertaining.

And, as I mentioned, the D.C. audience was great. They were forgiving concerning the technical issues that were outside of my control, had a wonderful sense of humor, and seemed to really be interested in the content that I had worked so hard to give them.  It's nice to be in a room full of people as interested in SharePoint as I am.  It makes it all worthwhile.

Was there time for a robust question and answer session after your presentation?  Any particularly incisive questions from the audience you'd care to share?

Well, as I'd mentioned, there were some technical issues that cut into my presentation, so there wasn't what I'd call an extensive amount of time at the end for Q&A. I do encourage interaction during my sessions, to make sure everyone is understanding the concepts I'm offering.  During those moments, I had some really great questions. One of them was a question I just knew would come up concerning using the Issues Tracking list on a site that was to be used for a site template.  I had created this problem explicitly in my demo site for the session (just as a matter of course), and just got lucky that someone flat out asked about it, rather than my bringing it up.  That allowed me to demonstrate what the audience member had gone through (thus giving credence to her question), and prove why her problem happened.  Then I could give her work around information but otherwise at least let her know that her issue was a known problem with no real solution. Several other questions showed that the audience was paying attention (which is always nice for the speaker to hear, lol), but were well outside of the scope of the one hour content.  It let me see that they could have used the other Frugal Admin Series sessions (which I couldn't do for the event due to time constraints).  I hope that, in the future, I might be able to stop by that area and cover those topics so the audience can have all their questions answered.  I have already written the material, it's just a matter of getting it to them.

As evidence of the rewarding SharePoint Saturday experience, I see that you're on board as a speaker at the upcoming SPS Baltimore on July 25.  Will you be continuing the Frugal Admin dialogue in Baltimore?

Why yes, I will be doing another session in the Frugal Admin series, my favorite, How to build your own dashboards. Straight out of the box, no SharePoint Designer, how to use Web Part connections to make the existing lists and other resources on the site more useful, relevant, and dynamic.  I also toss in some design suggestions, teach how to create aspx page libraries (without code), and tips, tricks, suggestions, and demonstration on how to set up the dashboard pages effectively.

You maintain several blogs, including  Adventures of a ServerGrrl; the WSS edition, an interactive extension of your book Mastering Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, the Windows Server and Client focused blog, Adventures of a ServerGrrl;  the Server Edition, and the more wide-ranging Callahan's Blog.  In addition to a steady stream of SharePoint info, I'd guess the WSS blog will be the best place to find out about your involvement in additional SharePoint Saturdays going forward, yes?

Yes, for anyone interested in SharePoint Services, my work, or the book, they definitely should check out the WSS edition blog.  I make a point of keeping all SharePoint-related stuff on that blog (although I do cover other topics of interest occasionally).  All of my confirmed public SharePoint engagements will be listed in the "Happenin' Things" widget in the right border of the page.  I also sometimes post more details in the blog entries themselves as well.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with Bamboo Nation, Callahan!

Posted Jul 07 2009, 02:45 PM by Anonymous | Edit this post

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