Nathan Ziehnert

7 minute read


First off, let’s get this out of the way. 2020 Vision.


2019 was an awesome year for me. I was able to take a more active role in the community with a few speaking engagements, more blogging, leading MEMUG, and helping launch SysManSquad with Adam Gross and Jake Shackelford. With more involvement in the community, I’ve also become a bit victim to my tendency to rush through things. I’ll say that with two kiddos and a third on the way, finding time to do community things can be a difficult venture outside of my 9-5 and other responsibilities (like band leading our worship team at Grace Chapel). While I accept that I am human and I make mistakes, I also recognize that I need to slow down and do things a bit more methodically. This post is a way for you all to keep me accountable to that: what I’m planning for 2020 and how I’m going to do better than 2019! So if you see me not fulfilling anything I talk about in the post - I give you full permission to call me out on it.


Past Mistakes and Doing Better

So we’ll kick off this vision post with how things will be different for me in 2020. First off I’m committing to reviewing all my previous blog posts by the end of the year and correcting or removing them as appropriate if issues are found. I would hate for someone to come across a post (or worse yet, for me to link to a post) that has wildly incorrect info. This happened with one post in 2019 and also a post from 2017, not the best track record, but again I’m only human.

As a product of my nature I tend to write posts in a stream of consciousness. Probably years of creative writing being hammered into me to “just get it on paper first then edit,” coupled with my extreme laziness at going back and actually editing anything. If you were to look at my Git repo where my content for this blog is stored, you’ll see numerous “oops, corrected a typo” entries in there. In an effort to combat typos and actual content errors this year I am implementing a new blogging strategy:

  • Outline where I want to go in advance of writing a post. (These will likely also be HTML comments at the top of my posts if you’re interested in reading them, but they’re mostly there for my sake. *2020-01-05 UPDATE: It appears that my static site generator strips comments out of my pages. Boo.)
  • Take copious notes in that outline supporting what I am saying.
  • Check, re-check, and triple check anything I’m writing on. I need to be the master of what I’m presenting, not only the first one to get it out or the one with the most content (both of which might be admirable goals, but not at the expense of accuracy).
  • Actually edit posts before they are published.
  • SLOOOOOOOOOW DOWN. I have to remind myself of this constantly, because I have a tendency to want to get it out quickly. This is sort of a repeat of the check/re-check step, but it bears repeating for my sake.

Finally, I will continue to accept my errors with grace. I find it easy to beat myself up when I make mistakes - honestly it’s probably just human nature to do that. I’m committed to not do that this year and recognize that even when doing the best research that I can, I will still make mistakes. My response to those mistakes, however, has been and will continue to be:

  1. Issuing corrections where necessary (in the post, on Twitter, etc.).
  2. In a worst case scenario, removing a post entirely (but leaving it in archive with notes about the errors, to make sure that links are not broken).

This is how I’m going to do better in 2020. So what does 2020 hold?


Plans for This Blog

I have a few goals with the “Z-Nerd” blog:

  1. Table of Contents for posts over 400 words (basically all of them)
  2. Two to four new posts per month related to Enterprise Mobility
  3. At least one new free tool released this year

Table of Contents

The theme that I use with my static site generator (Hugo) does not have a table of contents generator, but I believe it should be relatively easy to implement. Especially with the length of my posts - I try to keep the read time to 10 minutes or less - I know that a ToC would be beneficial. I should have this done in a reasonably short order this year when I catch a free couple of hours.

NOTE: This was completed on 01-05-2020. Who would have thought?

New Posts

I have been dedicating evenings during the week and on weekends, after the kids and wife are in bed, to working on side projects like this. I am committing myself to at least two of those days for this blog per week, which should hopefully lend itself to two to four new posts each month.

Additionally, out of those two to four posts per month, the plan is to have one be a video podcast covering the new features released in ConfigMgr Tech Preview and a recap of features released in the latest Current Branch (when they are released). This will be a new venture for me and I’m honestly not sure what the time commitment is going to look like, but I am excited to try something new this year! I got some new equipment to help me with this for Christmas too!

New Tool

I have teased about it on Twitter a couple of times, but I am planning on releasing a WYSIWYG editor for UI++ XML files. It still has a long way to go, but I’m hoping this tool will help anyone not comfortable with writing XML have the ability to use UI++ - which I honestly think is absolutely fantastic.

UI++ Editor

I would personally love to see it released before the end of Q2 of 2020 (and ideally sooner).


Plans for Mentoring

In 2020, I had planned on starting to mentor in conference speaking and/or blogging. Adam Gross had mentioned something about a community website dedicated to matching people interested in speaking or blogging with mentors who can help them in their journey. His vision for the site was heavily inspired by the book Be The Master which I am excited to now have a copy to read.

I am extremely excited about this project. There is so much valuable information in the community that unfortunately doesn’t have a place to go sometimes. There are so many valuable people in our community who just need someone to come alongside them as they begin their journey in giving back to the community themselves. So, after providing a couple assists on the WordPress side of things to get the site launched, I joined as a WordPress admin and mentor. I am excited to mentor some wonderful people this year and see them reach their goals with speaking or writing.


Plans for MEMUG

For the past two years I have been one of three leaders of the Denver based Microsoft Enterprise Management User Group (MEMUG). Which by the way was an incredible coincidence when the new branding for Microsoft Endpoint Management was announced. What luck! Back to the group, we have had some amazing speakers but we wanted to reach a broader audience with the content. Time after time when we announced our speaker lineup, people asked us if there was a webcast or dial-in available. For a long time we debated as a leadership team whether this was an optimal direction for us to pursue. Obviously the desire is there, but we also wanted to maintain that sense of community for local attendees.

However, we also noticed that our location (in the Denver Tech Center) and time were not always optimal for our local attendees either. We feared that offering a webcast of the meetups would discourage local attendance, but ultimately what matters to us is that the content gets out to as many people as it will benefit. With that we came to the decision that we will be webcasting (hopefully) all of our meetups this year, opening the doors for everyone, even those outside of Denver. We’ll continue to have physical meetings, and offer incentives for those who do attend in person (like food and possibly prizes).

I’m very excited for the opportunities this will bring for everyone this year.


Final Thoughts

I’m excited for 2020 and I hope you are too! Keep up all the great work you have done and are still doing. Have an excellent 2020. Let’s kick this decade’s butt.

Happy admining!

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