GP Tech Conference Day 1

Today was day 1 at the Dynamics GP Technical Conference in Fargo.  It was a long day of sessions, lots of interesting information to be had.  It was also bitterly cold outside, and it’s safe to say not too many people ventured outside between sessions today!

These update posts won’t have a TON of detail on the new stuff coming.  I do hope to get a chance to talk more about the details another time…

The Weather

It’s funny, you know?  When I say I’m from Canada, the reaction is mostly the same.  “Oh, you must be used to this weather!”  Yeah, right!  We get temps like this maybe once a year.  The temperature right now is -2F with a windchill of -20F (that’s -19C and -29C respectively).  Brrrrrr.

Just for fun I looked at a map to see where I live in comparison to Fargo.  I had no idea I was so much farther south than this in comparison.  The city where I live is not on this map but Hamilton is our neighbour to the west and the closest thing to compare to.


The Content

Today was a long day with a lot of content to digest.  First was the keynote, which was a combination of GP2010 “R2” release information and some sneak peaks at GP “12”.  It sounded like, in reading the R2 release news, that it was mostly a BI release but in reality there are quite a few gems in it, and BI is only a part.

Some sneak peaks of the GP2010 R2 coming soon:

  • A new BI tool called Business Analyzer, offering a desktop application for light user access to SRS reports as well as a new piece inside the core GP install.  In short, the tool is purely for SRS reports, offering contextual BI (particularly within GP).  Example: in GP, the tool will be visible in the Navigation Lists area.  You simply click on one or more items in your navigation list and the content within the reports in Business Analyzer change to reflect the records you have selected.
  • Additions to the Rapid Migration Tools allowing for migration from anything, via Excel.
  • Another new tool, Microsoft Word Template Generator, which will allow you to make a Word template out of ANY report in GP.  Yes, I said any report!
  • Some improvements to the Email features, such as inserting document information into the email body or subject line.

GP12 previews looked pretty cool but I’ll keep those under wraps for now… :)

The rest of the day was too much content to go over in any “brief” manner.  Suffice to say a lot was covered in the areas of taking advantage of Light User licenses, the new Business Analyzer tool, Word Template changes, and my favourite of the day, the session on the Support Debugging Tool.  That tool is not new of course but the session was super-informative and since it’s out there right now, it’s the only thing today I could put to good use immediately!

The Night Life!

If there is night life in Fargo, someone else can write about it!  What I did after the sessions were over tonight was a little volunteer work.  Every year there is a huge risk of flooding here in the spring, and I’m probably WAY understating that. Currently the Red River is just under 16 feet.  Flood level is 18 feet, and in 2009 it reached a level of over 40 feet!

One of the preparatory emails we got before coming to Fargo talked about opportunities to volunteer at Sandbag Central!  The goal this year is to have 3 million sandbags filled, the effort started two weeks ago and as of yesterday they have filled 1.4 million so far.

Tonight I went down to volunteer and am glad I did.  It was a great experience and good to see the sense of community here.  I did a 1.5 hour shift til closing this evening (8pm).  At closing, they announced today was the best day so far, filling approximately 175,000 bags!  That’s impressive!

Here are a couple of photos of the area I was working in.  First, the “spider” filling machine.  I didn’t get better pics unfortunately but there is a giant pile of sand to the left, that is being run up to the top of this spider machine and then one at a time being sent down the “legs” to the bagging machines with the right quantity of sand per bag.  This pic is the group of folks I was teamed up with, all from the same softball team.

One person gets the bags ready, one holds the bag at the botttom of the spider leg for filling, then passes it to the next two people. The ones at the front of the picture, one spins the bag to get it as tightly closed as possible, then the other person uses a hand gun type of machine to strap the bags shut with a metal wire.  Then there are two people putting the bags on the skids, that was where I spent my evening!


Here is a view of the skids, we had to pile the bags in a certain way, anywhere from 8 to 10 bags high (approx 85-100 bags).  We filled about 7 skids while I was there.


It was a crazy place, you really had to watch where you walked with forklift operators constantly moving skids that are full before the next “leg” finished their skid.  We often were piling on someone else’s skid (and others on ours) as skids filled up quicker than the forklift operators could move them out.

All in all, it was a great first day here and now it’s time to call it a night!

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