Well, now that the year has drawn to a close, it’s a natural time to look forward to what the next year may bring, or perhaps to look back and recollect the accomplishments and challenges of the previous year. There’s certainly a lot from which to choose, but I’ll take a stroll down 2007’s memory lane and try to come up with just one.

What was my biggest challenge of the previous year? Here are some things in the running, not necessarily in order of difficulty.

Upgrading the entire office to Windows Vista: For the first time in over 20 years of working in my industry, I found myself on the bleeding edge rather than the leading edge when it comes to technology upgrades. I’ve never before been among the first to jump onto a new technology bandwagon, but because of a series of circumstances, I found myself in the front of the Vista pack. There’s no need to outline the challenges it presented – something about beating a dead horse comes to mind.
Vista subset – hardware upgrades because of Vista: Regardless of my previous dead horse comment, I must say that this presented quite the challenge after we made the upgrade investment. Over the years, I’ve learned to ignore a software’s published minimum system requirements, instead opting to consider only the recommended system requirements for any upgrade, and I’ve never been disappointed. However, in this case, Microsoft’s recommended system requirements for a Vista upgrade should have been the minimum. Never before have I had to back-peddle and explain and/or justify why I changed my position – after the fact – on the hardware required to adequately support a software upgrade. Thanks for the egg on my face, Microsoft.
Vista subset – training users on using Vista: With any upgrade, I try to make it as seamless and painless as possible. For some reason, however, the seams and the pains just kept piling up. I actually had a workflow interruption with this one – something no one was happy about. (See the egg on my face comment.) There was one particular two-week period that I wouldn’t have wished on my worst enemy. I think I know what the fire-fighters in Southern California felt like last summer – two fires sprung up for every one extinguished.
Server Upgrade: This wasn’t difficult because of the upgrade itself, but rather because I wanted to do it in a way that wouldn’t interrupt our workflow. Too many after-hours and weekends (in addition to all the rest) can be very trying on a person.
Learning BIM (Building Information Modeling), AutoCAD MEP, and Revit: A future blog might be dedicated to this subject. I won’t bore you with the details, but I do often wonder how many of my TR peers use and/or support Autodesk products. When added to the list of all the other things I need to support, this really did give me that feeling of being over-burdened. And it’s only just begun. This will continue well into 2008.
Finding balance between providing user support and not getting too overwhelmed in managing the requests: Where is the fine-line between supporting users and suggesting it’s something he/she should figure out and/or deal with on his/her own? Perhaps that’s a rhetorical question, as the answer seems to be somewhat elusive. This is on my list of topics for future blogs.
Staying sharp, staying motivated, and staying focused: This might be another subject for a future blog. In fact, it just found its way onto my list of things to write about.
Upgrade to Office 2007: No, on second thought, this was easy compared to all the rest.

Okay, upon a bit of reflection, without a doubt, what presented me with my most difficult challenge (and greatest accomplishment) of 2007 was this: Hiking 80 miles in the mountains of New Mexico over a ten day period, at elevations ranging from 6,500 feet to 12,000 feet, carrying a 50+ pound pack with all my gear and provisions, accompanied by about a dozen teenage boys.

Not the hike itself, mind you, but rather the months of required training, preparing this 50-something year old guy for the challenge. After finding the way, the time, and the will power to endure all that necessary training, hiking 80 miles in the mountains was like a walk in the park.

And Vista, don’t flatter yourself. You don’t even come close.