Dan Appleman: Kibitzing and Commentary

My personal blog

New course: Leading Virtual Teams

I’m pleased to announce publication my latest Pluralsight course “Leading Virtual Teams” – just in time for Pluralsight’s free April promotion.

Now I guess you’re wondering, why is this course different from the myriad of other articles on the subject?

From what I’ve seen, most treatments of virtual leadership are largely rehashes of standard leadership content with a few references to remote work tossed in. To me this makes little sense – a course on leading virtual teams should only cover those areas where things are different! Where skills need to be adapted or abandoned, and new skills learned.

This course starts by answering a basic question – how do virtual teams differ from non-virtual teams and what are the resulting challenges?

Then it addresses those challenges from two perspectives. First – how do they impact productivity – the work? As in – how do you know if remote team members are even working? How do you find out without becoming an obsessive micro-managing jerk? How do you gain visibility on what is going on, and how do you influence it?

Next, it addresses those challenges from a human perspective. How do you build culture in a distributed team? How do you create a sense of family, of loyalty, of trust? How do you ensure that they become a team, and not just a group of Zoom fatigued individuals chained to their desktops?

By the time you finish this course I think you’ll realize that not only is it possible to lead virtual teams – done properly these teams can have huge advantages over non-virtual teams both for team members and for the organization.

I invite you to check it out – especially now in April, when you can watch for free!

Objectivity in COVID-19 Data Visualization

There are epic numbers of sites sharing charts and data about the COVID-19 pandemic. And there are endless posts offering advice and conclusions based on that data. But how do you get from the data to opinion? How do you decide which advice and conclusions are true and objective?

I’ve put together a.. let’s call it a sequel or supplement to my Pluralsight course “Objectivity in Data Visualization” that I hope will help people understand better how to interpret data, and evaluated interpretations of data and data visualizations relating to COVID-19. Enjoy!

Writing About the Apocalypse (just kidding)

I recently began a series of articles focusing on the issues of the day – primarily the COVID-19 Coronovirus, the economy, and their impacts now and going forward. I decided to publish on LinkedIn – it’s a nice publishing platform, and easy to use. I also have friends who work there 🙂

On one hand it feels a bit conceited to think that I have anything new, uniquely perceptive or meaningful to say on topics that are being covered relentlessly elsewhere in the media. But that’s OK – I think most of us are just looking for something we can do to deal with the uncertainty. Some people stock toilet paper. Some people stay home as much as possible. I write. (OK, I also have a bit extra toilet paper and stay home, but that’s not important). Whether my articles help others or not, I can only hope. But writing them and sharing them gives me a sense of doing something, so I will continue, and invite you to come along for the ride.


A Tale of Just-in-time and IT

A Tale of Just-in-time and IT

I’m a big advocate of just-in-time learning. I talk about it often – it’s one of the key principles in my Pluralsight course “Learning Technology in the Information Age“. And while I usually think of it in terms of software development, it clearly applies to all technology – including Information Technology. And I made good use of that principle over the past week or two.

I host a number of blogs – the main ones being this one, searchtheforce.com, advancedapex.com, and teenleadershipbook.com. I know there are plenty of blog hosting sites, but I do it old school – I run my own server (virtual, of course) and host my own WordPress multi-site installation. I’ve done this all along, partly out of habit, partly out of the desire to have complete control over the sites, and partly because I’ve always wanted to keep at least that level of IT within my skill-set. I think it’s good for developers to know something about the underlying systems their code is running on.

These blogs have been around for a long time. Most were running on a Windows 2012 server on WordPress 4. A couple of weeks ago I received a request to upgrade searchtheforce.com, which was running on Ubunto 14.04 with nginx to SSL, which I did (more on that in a minute). But it occurred to me the other blogs were living on borrowed time. Windows Server 2012 is a few years away from end of extended support. WordPress 5 was out, but the themes I was using weren’t compatible with it. The sites were not responsive for mobile users and they didn’t support SSL encryption. Clearly it was well past time for an update.


Teaching Truth and Objectivity

Whether it is “fake news”, biased media organizations, or manipulated social feeds, it is increasingly difficult to figure out what is true and objective. There are many people working constantly to expose and promote the truth, but it is also essential for everyone to have the ability to look critically at charts and data and figure out if, how and where they might be lying.
I’m pleased to announce my own small contribution to that effort. My new Pluralsight course “Objectivity in Data Visualization” will teach anyone how to become a smarter consumer of charts and data. You’ll learn how charts can lie. You’ll learn how data can be manipulated. And you’ll learn the subtle power of storytelling to distort facts, even if they are 100% true.
Using real world data and examples on some of today’s most controversial topics, after taking this course, you may never look at a chart the same way again.
Remember, anyone can get a free trial on Pluralsight – so there’s no excuse not to check it out 🙂