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Preparing for 2011-12

I'm preparing for the 2011-12 school year, which this year means learning new software systems, university philosophies, and everything that goes along with any new job in today's connected world. I hadn't really thought about the comparisons until this month, but I am noticing how my issues at work aren't that different from those of my wife at her office.

Group scheduling and management software varies from okay to horrible. I've used several different "groupware" platforms. The new employer uses Novell GroupWise — at least until school starts. Right before school starts the university will be switching to another platform. Not the best of timing, but that's reality in any organization.

The university is also migrating to new learning management software, new Web servers, and a new collaboration platform. What could go wrong?

It's strange how dependent we've become on our networks. My wife and I have struggled with synchronizing calendars between several computers, PDAs, and phones. That's the new normal, apparently.

My wife's employer uses Lotus Notes, an Oracle management system, and a content management system, among other applications that help employees share and plan collaboratively. Of course, there are glitches. Sadly, we accept the problems in every setting because that's the nature of software — at least as we have come to expect it.

I'm not comfortable with shared data; I like my data on my computer. Sharing used to mean sending data on an as-needed basis to people, but now everything seems to be out there on a server somewhere. That means things can go wrong and probably will.

I'm sure the university will transfer data (at least most of it) successfully to new platforms. There will be problems, not the least of which will be training the employees on the new platforms.

It is easy to forget that what we experience on campus is exactly what employees everywhere experience.

I love technology, but it is complex. That's true on campus and everywhere else.

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