Analog to Digital

In a bit of good news / bad news, I have been moving into a new office at work this past week. The good news is that I get more space and a view; the bad news is that a friend and valuable mentor is retiring. Well, I guess that’s good news for him, but I’m going to miss him. In packing my office, I was surprised by a number of trivial things that I never paid much attention to, and the impact they are going to have on my work-day. I was also struck by how easily today’s technology can help me overcome these “challenges.”

As I was packing the contents of my file cabinets and desk, I was making a mental note of the new destination. You see, I’m moving from an office that is equipped with “system furniture” a.k.a. the stuff they build cubicles out of, to an office with real furniture. System furniture is designed to store stuff and support activity. I had drawers, files cabinets, binder bins and shelving built in and within reach of my chair. I had outlets, jacks, cable-guides, wiring grommets and a keyboard tray designed to make working an ergonomic delight. Now I have a free-standing desk with measurable distance between me and my stuff; one might ask if they are expecting me to do any work in this place. Fortunately, much of what I was moving is already available in digital form, so about half of my files went from file drawer to shredder-bin. I have to confess, much of the paper I was about to move was actually documents that I printed from SharePoint. While I am comfortable storing content digitally, I still like to have it printed out sometimes to work with. For example, I am not yet a fan of annotating documents digitally – it’s too neat. I find that my hand-scrawled notes convey my emotion and my meaning much better than a callout box in Acrobat.

One of the stupid little things that I am going to miss is a bulletin board. The space between my back desk and the binder bins above it was filled with a cloth-covered panel that held pushpins really well. I had a bunch of things stuck there that I really liked having “at the ready.” One example was a transaction where I am still waiting for a refund. I had the receipt, the form I faxed for the refund and the fax I received in return. Names, numbers and hand-scrawled notes (implying emotion) were all pinned together. Another item was a list of frequently called numbers and another was some instructions I need during several different kinds of emergencies. My first thought was that I could easily scan these items and add them to a Bulletin Board Library on my My Site. Then I realized that some of these items are already in other libraries on my My Site. So, I added a site column called BBoard, that holds a yes/no value and now I can query those lists for items that should be on my virtual bulletin board and display them in a web part.

In addition to losing my bulletin board, I am losing my whiteboard. The office I am moving to has windows, and while I am loath to complain about natural light, I’m not left with much usable wall space. I’ve also been told by my new neighbors that they don’t want my new office looking like the “IT Guy’s” office. I’ve threatened to buy a new whiteboard that would fit on the back of my door, but I am also going to investigate some digital substitutes. Lync has a shared whiteboard feature, but like the annotations, I don’t draw well with a stylus/mouse or even my finger on a monitor. On the other hand, I just started playing with the free version of Jot, and I like that enough to spring for $4.99 for the real deal and maybe get a copy for each of my team members.

Between SharePoint, my iPad and my phone(s), the transition from analog to digital is going to be easier than when I gave up my slide rule for a TI-50 in 1974. Ironically, even after buying a few copies of Jot, this shift won’t cost me as much – that calculator set me back $135, and that was with a student discount at the university bookstore.h

One thought on “Analog to Digital

  1. Picture referenceFortunately, one of the analog storage devices I don’t have to worry about is a Death Calendar. This one was on display at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Each of the red crosses represents a man who died as the result of injuries sustained on the job in 1906. Not many people die from injuries sustained while working with SharePoint. Being able to work with SharePoint is the result of a lot of work which came before the Information Age. We owe a debt to the men and women who worked long hours, suffered injuries and helped make this country great. On this Labor Day weekend, let’s remember to think about them.

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