Where Has Amanda Been?

Well its certainly been a while since I have posted here.  This past year has introduced a wide variety of things that have slowed down my blog posts.

First up, we released our latest book! Beginning SharePoint 2010: Building Business Solutions with SharePoint.  This book was a major effort and consumed the majority of my non-business time related to the world of SharePoint in the past year.  Of course, it was a joint effort between my most awesome co-authors, Shane Perran, Jennifer Mason and Laura Rogers.  So far feedback on this book has been great and I think it is an excellent asset for anyone that is getting started with SharePoint 2010 that is either completely new or has had prior experience with a previous version.

Another reason for the slow down has been a major extension to our little family.  Shane and I now have a daughter, Dylan Perran.  She is an amazing little girl and a total breath of fresh air that was much needed in the past year between professional life and an illness in the household.  She has introduced a whole new role to my life as a mother and its one that I am enjoying tremendously.

So now that things have settled down a bit, I am looking forward to getting back into writing. I am currently on Maternity Leave from work so its nice to spend some time with technology that is more around discovery, research and investigation and less about projects and timelines.

Shane and I are also planning to launch a new site in the near future but we will be cross posting for a while on our existing blogs.

Shane Perran – MVP Insider

Shane was recently profiled by the MVP program as part of their MVP Insider series.  I actually didn’t see his answers till I received an email about it via our MVP lead pointing to his responses.  You can check his responses out here.

Quote from article:

What is the best thing that has happened since you have become an MVP?

I got engaged since becoming an Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), so that outranks all professional accomplishments.  In terms of big accomplishments professionally though, the release of my book with Amanda Murphy, “Beginning SharePoint 2007” is something I am pretty proud of.”

I was impressed to see that he considered our engagement the greatest accomplishment he has had in the past year and then it was the release of our book.  Good to see he has his priorities right.  =-)

Gettin’ Married!!

So on the odd chance there still exists someone in this world who doesn’t know yet, I figured I would announce it here…Shane and I are getting married. He popped the question last night and I have been grinning like a silly fool ever since.  Actually technically he handed me a little white box and I babbled and balled for several minutes but minus that momentary lapse in control, I am pretty excited and definitely thrilled.  He is an awesome guy and I can’t think of anyone else better to spend the rest of my life with.  It’s very cool when you are with someone that continuously encourages you to be stronger and better at what you aspire to do but always still remain 100% yourself at all times.

Friends From Far Away

I missed posting yesterday due to some unfortunate news we received from a trip to the vet with our sick dog.  Didn’t really feel like doing much after that other than coming home, feeling sick and sulking.  As it turns out she has both heart and liver failure (which is even worse than the news from the last visit) and Shane and I are devastated.  Those out there that do not own and love dogs will never understand so you can just stop reading now.  But for us (especially Shane) this is the worst possible news we could have gotten.  Zhiva (our dog) has been Shane’s absolute closest companion for past 10 years and I can honestly say I have never seen anyone love their dog as much as he does.  For me, in the 9 years Shane and I have been togethe,r she has given me such unconditional love.  In the past few years, our family has faced some serious losses that have often left me sitting on a couch crying my eyes out.  Zhiva was always there to come over, let out a big sigh and put her head on my lap just to let me know she was there and she was sad because I was sad.  For the past couple of weeks, I have been trying to return the favour by snuggling with her whenever possible.  As I write this she is lying next to me on our bed.  Wrapped in a blanket with her head on a pillow…her body positioned extremely close to me so she can feel my every moment. 

So in summary, this weekend (and the past few weeks for that matter) have been extremely difficult.  But one ray of light did shine through yesterday as I checked my email and saw an email from a friend from many years ago that found my weblog accidentially.  She is living in Korea now with her husband and small baby (very cute) and blogging about it all along the way.  Very cool.

Good Weekend

Shane and I had a great time last night camping.  We went to Fitzgerald’s Pond Park near Dunville, which was my first time there in about 20 years.  That park is actually about 20 minutes from where I grew up.  Good clear night and we had a perfect evening kicked back by the fire.

Today we went fishing with my family in Long Harbour (which actually IS where I grew up) and it was an awesome day.  The water could not have been more beautiful.  The fish were plentiful…well at least plentiful enough for our 2 boats to get our daily quota for the recreational fishery.  However the day wasn’t even so much about the fish as it was the good time with family and amazing experience of being on the water and taking in the beautiful sights around me. 

One of the day’s highlights was that we were joined by my nephew Arnold for his first time in a boat (other than a Ferry) on the water.  As you can see from the picture below he was pretty excited.

Of course fishing is hard work so he had to recharge a bit part ways through the morning by taking a quick nap at the front of the boat. 

But at the end of the day, he acheived every man’s goal which is to catch a cod fish that is almost as tall as him.  A note here is that he actually did catch the fish on the line.  I was holding the pole for the longest while with no action whatsoever…I called to Arnold to give me a hand and as soon as his little hands grabbed the pole…a fish was on.  Pretty impressive!

Anyhow all and all it was a great 24 hours and I feel much better equipped to handle the pile of work that stands in front of me now.

My Very Own Wizard Card

Besides being one of the greatest buddies a gal could ever ask for, my niece Samantha is quite the little Photoshop wiz. I look forward to her works of art ranging from cartoon characters or animated stickmen because they are always so funny and incredibly creative. But today was special….today I got my very own Wizard Card.

I can’t really remember what I was doing when I was 13 but I am pretty sure it was nothing like that.

Congrats Dad

Today after 37.5 years, my dad has reached the wonderful milestone of retirement. I am so proud of him and happy yet I feel sad that I am so far away from him that I can’t even give him the same hug of support and respect that he has given me so many times throughout my life.

Whether playing catch with me as a child, helping me prepare my first public speech competition (which I won RAHHH) , coming to my high school basketball games, teaching me that I could accomplish anything I wanted – no matter what anything else dictated, holding my hand during times of uncertainty or calling me on my 29th birthday when I figured it was physically impossible for him to establish a connection from somewhere out in the Atlantic…my dad has been and always will be my hero.

Congrats dad! Happy Retirement.

SharePoint Customization

For what seems like years I pushed and I pushed. And then finally one day it happened. Shane started blogging. These days, I seem to spend more time reading his posts than I do writing my own and I couldn’t be happier. For years, people we know laughed at the fact we could sit in the same house or office and speak to each other via IM. These days, I can just leave a comment or trackback on his blog if I approve of something he writes. :-)

Today he had a couple of good posts that I wanted to point to:

Earlier this week he wrote a post on how you can create a custom theme for a WSS site. He has done similar posts in the past, including one where he gave a link where you can download a theme for your own site. Today he wrote about a great tip for displaying your company’s logo on a WSS site without using Frontpage. The beauty of this approach is that A) you don’t have to play around with ghosting / unghosting B) your edits will carry on throughout your site because you are using the theme versus a hard coded edit.

Another post was in reference to some quality time he spent this weekend with our nephew Arnold. It cracked me up because it shows no matter what he is doing…he is obsessed with usability. He does raise an interesting point however. Watching a three year old that cannot read navigate very swiftly through 6-7 unique websites to successfully locate a new Sharkboy and Lavagirl wallpaper for his sister’s desktop is very impressive. Even more so when he finishes the process by right clicking and selecting Set as Background.

Something for Everyone

My dad has consolidated a great page full of links that feature a little something for everyone. I have discovered a couple of great Newfoundland related sites from it including a page featuring some pics of the castle / fortress that is being built in Logy Bay. This building is quite remarkable and impressive to see when flying into St. John’s for landing. The view of the ocean available from this building will in itself make it a priceless location. Often a topic of conversation, it’s great to finally have a link to send people when they are looking for pictures of it.