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Randy Rhodes gives his view of activities in the CIM world.
Congratulations to Dean Hengst
I'm pleased to announce that Dean Hengst will be officially in this chair by the end of this week.
We're off to a good start by taking a hard look at the way CIMug is organized, and how the Processes working group is - well, how it is working. We are getting things done but I think everyone agrees that we could be getting more done better.
I delegated much of the web support stuff that I was handling - in a de facto support of way - to a contractor that Kay was gracious enough to bring on board. You will see Tony Adams' name showing up on the help desk. He will be fielding all site-related requests and working with B&R Solutions, our Sharepoint services team.
Kay has also made arrangements to have Robin Pitts, an EPRI employee, step up to help with meeting planning. Robin did a great job with our Charlotte meeting. This will help us plan further ahead, keeping costs down and reducing wear and tear on CIMug members.
There are other pieces of work that I've not been able to hand off yet, but I'll let you know when changes happen.
Thanks again for all the support and feedback I've received, and I wish Dean all the best as he takes the helm.
Best regards,
Advice for the Next Co-Chair
Here are some bits of advice for the next co-chair.
  • Call members. I'd suggest setting aside an hour every couple weeks to call people on the UCAIug corporate representatives list. Chat about why their company is a member. Find out how they really feel about that. help them recognize the tools at their disposal. Get their input on what they'd like to see changed.
  • Refuse to be a meeting planner. This is a hard saying, but every hour spent on meeting details is an hour not spent on more valuable contributions. The Processes WG has tried to change this, and hasn't succeeded. Yet. I think we all agree that change is needed.
  • Expect board and executive committee direction and help. This year's smart grid uptake has been so severe, many things are left undone. I could have asked for quarterly plan adjustments, which would in turn help others discuss the changes affecting UCA and each group.
  • Keep good boundaries. Every volunteer organization will take as much time as you will give. I had several occasions where I discovered I had somehow volunteered to solve problems outside of CIMug. Teach others to fish, before you start fishing for others.
  • Don't be afraid to rock the boat. Some issues definitely must be handled delicately, but that doesn't mean they should be left alone. You represent the utilities; speak for what they would want.
  • Build on what has been done. If you can come up with something better - go for it. But before you invent something - check to see if it has been attempted already. I've tried to make everything I know searchable on the site.
  • Beware of the Thursday night syndrome - at every CIMug meeting I hit a point of exhaustion on the evening before the last day (usually that is Thursday night). Look out for landmines. Pull back and take a break.
  • Enjoy the ride. These are some of the most seasoned professionals I know, and they are a pleasure to work with.


In Memoriam
Many CIM User Group members will remember Janet Dietz. I regret to report that Janet passed away on October 24, 2009. 
Her obituary states:
Among her colleagues, Janet is known for her work in promoting international standards for the utility industry. Janet will be remembered by her wide circle of friends for her brilliance and generosity, her elegance, irreverence and deeply caring ways.

For me, Janet was an amazing hero who displayed a gentle acceptance of the most difficult circumstances. Not long after I met her in the mid-1990s, I learned she had just lost a brother to cancer. She went on to survive two (maybe three) personal bouts with cancer, before finally succumbing on this round. Even in her final days she had a steady stream of visiting friends.
Janet and I shared a personal interest in standards-based integration. We attempted a CORBA implementation in the mid-1990s, a project that was the stepping stone toward adoption of CIM as a cornerstone of EAI at PacifiCorp. She spoke at several CIMug conferences and DistribuTech, actively promoting standards; but always with the pragmatic tone of a seasoned utility veteran.
On her desk Janet had a collection of beautiful stones that had been rounded through countless years under the water. I never asked her why they were there. I knew.
My deepest respects to Janet's memory. She was a gift.
Her obituary can be viewed here.
Toward the Exit Ramp
When I took the utility co-chair job a couple years ago, I was working at PacifiCorp. My management there was very supportive, which I appreciate. I managed to invest a significant amount of effort in the CIM Users Group without impacting our group's performance, or my own.
When the smart grid breeze started to pick up, I started to feel much like I did back in 1997. Netscape's browser was at v1, it seemed like the web's potential was practically unlimited. I felt like I couldn't afford not to get under the hood. I joined a company creating e-commerce sites - just to get inside the slipstream.
Well, a lot of people are saying the smart grid is bigger than the dotcom era - and it is. For the same reasons I was restless back in '97, I got restless earlier this year. I needed to find higher ground. And now I'm no longer at PacifiCorp.
I joined Gartner as an industry analyst on Sept. 8th, and I'm enjoying it - as much as you can enjoy getting pounded by a heavy surf. There is a lot going on, and I'm not always on top of the action.
So since I'm not with a utility any more, I've been heading toward the exit. That involves recruiting a replacement for my co-chair role and wrapping up loose ends, all the while organizing the Charlotte event. We will be electing a new co-chair.
We're only a week away from opening the Charlotte meeting. I hope to post some thoughts between now and then. That might be my observations on where this organization is at, and where it could go in the future. I might need to point to work in progress, so it doesn't get abandoned in place. Or, prepare to slay a few sacred cows on my way out.  ;-) 
[ right turn signal ]
Don't Underestimate Search

There's a small drop-down menu that shows up on the upper right corner of each web page, preloaded with the words "Search CIM."

I'd like to emphasize that there's a whole lotta help there when you're in a pinch.
You'll notice that the search options are contextualized - it will offer to search your current list; the current site (which likely is a subsite to the main CIM site); the entire CIM site; any other site in the UCA family; or even all sites.
You'll notice it's fast - and it will also offer Bing results on the right side of the page.
You should try out a wildcard search - yes the asterisk (*) works. Although, if you type in only a portion of a word, it can work with that too.
Beyond that, there's Advanced Search - which works as you might expect.
If you have a peer CIM Users Group member sitting beside you, you might notice you get different results. That's because the search is permission-trimmed. Search results will reveal all to which you are entitled to see by Sharepoint permissions - which can be applied by site owners at a site, library/list, or even an individual file level. So, if you are in a different project or working group than the person next to you doing a search, you may see different results. Or the person next to you may not have CIMug membership rights. Nothing's wrong - the system is working as designed.
IEC working group members will find this especially useful on their sites, where there is a lot of document churn. I've come up with some pretty amazing results, since I have had quite a bit of authority due to all of our site work.
Try it out! And add a comment if you have an issue or question.
Warning:  Standards Acceleration May Be Stress-Inducing
I've noticed that a lot of the folks I stay connected with in our industry are a bit stressed out lately.
Stress, according to the experts, is what keeps us healthy. At an industry level, that may be true as well. All things considered, an industry is typically better off after undergoing dramatic change. Some in telecom or financial services might argue otherwise, I suppose. But typically renewed processes, systems, and even careers emerge on the other end.
WELL - we're headed there. A colleague recently shared with me a link to a talk on the smart grid by Chris Knudsen of PG&E (Chris is a leader in OpenSG).
And I quote from Chris:

“So why is this so important? Some people that have been in standards and have worked there through their careers really understand it – it’s very intuitive. But there’s a lot of people – and even a lot of people in the utility industry – that haven’t been involved in standards…but from my perspective, as someone who’s been involved my whole career in new technologies and standards, the scale, the priority, and the energy of this far exceeds anything I have seen before. And I’ve been in some pretty moving, large-scale, new technology developments…

It’ll be like the Internet today…twenty years from now, we will look back and it’ll be something similar to that… 

We’re at the very beginning of something that is going to be analogous to the Internet, but around the smart grid and power - requiring the integration of power engineering and communication engineering.”

I couldn't have said it better.
How to improve effectiveness of contributions to CIMug

As I write this, I am attending a meeting of the Open Smart Grid user group in Columbus, OH, where they are reviewing new structure and rules for managing the contributions made within the OpenSG group. Their working groups are producing specifications and other documents that have reached a stage where review and voting for approval is required.

It strikes me that in the CIMug, we have not encouraged our working groups to create work plans which include creation of specifications that could be used within the IEC to help in the progressing of needed standards. For instance, capturing business requirements for a specific type of information exchange. Another example could be an evaluation of CIM tools to assist CIMug members in knowint what is available and what each tool is good for.

I hope we can add this topic to our agenda for one of our Process WG meetings with a goal of making a report to the CIMug members at our Charlotte meeting.

The Weather is Right for CIM
Last Saturday I was basking in that almost-mystical Portland June weather - perfect temperature, blue skies, no wind, no bugs, etc.  It's the weather we pay such a high price for the rest of the year.  ;-)
As I was drifting into a perfect summer nap on my deck, it occurred to me it had been a long time since I posted anything to this blog. Well, okay then....but where to start...???
Well, our Genval conference was a noteworthy event. UCTE's recent interoperability test set the stage. My impression there was a tangible sense of optimism about CIM for Europe. There were a number of Transmission System Operators present, and their lively discussion showed they are engaged in this transition. This gave a very practical tone to the conference. We capped off the week with a Friday morning discussion about how to bring Distribution System Operators into the fold as well for Europe.
There is a lot going on with CIM this year, although you wouldn't necessarily know it from this site. I'm still challenged by how to give more visibility to what is going on within TC57 working groups, the interoperability testing area, and other activities.
We redesigned this site last year and while it's a big step forward, there's much more that could be done. I was a bit bemused by a new Microsoft video on why Sharepoint is the answer to your social computing needs (click to view). I think it is probably the answer to our CIMug 2.0 needs. We are probably looking at an upgrade to Sharepoint 2010 next year.
Speaking of collaboration, WG 19 held a meeting last week - without traveling. They used the webinar capability of GotoMeeting, Citrix's product for web conferencing. Feedback has all been positive. UCAIug is positioning to support this across all the member organizations.
Our fall U.S. conference will be in Charlotte - we think. We're confirming that EPRI will be able to host us there. I've declared I will do no more meeting sites, so we're lining up some help with that.
The climate seems good for CIM development. I noticed that at the March IEEE Power Systems Conference and Expo, 25 of the 348 presentations mentioned CIM. A recent IEC press release talked about their direction on global standards for Smart Grid. Three of the five IEC standards they mention are managed by groups on our IECTC57 site.
There's been a lot of buzz lately about accelerating standards for the sake of the smart grid. How do you think we can accelerate CIMug business? Post a comment and let me know your thoughts.
Genval is Progressing
Our Europe meeting is coming along nicely. The UCTE IOP absorbed a lot of energy, but that's being redirected now toward the upcoming meeting. If you do plan to attend, keep an eye on the meeting blog (click here) for the latest developments.
If you are registering and have questions, check first on the registration FAQ page (click here).
Getting Smarter
I'm listening to the hearing on Smart Grid development sponsored by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. FERC, DOE, and NIST heads are giving their viewpoints.
I've also been reading responses to Jesse Berst's post on Why the Smart Grid Industry Can't Talk the Talk (and What to Do About It). Last night I got an update from the Google Energy and Information group about Google's PowerMeter initiative. (Demo here, along with Tendril and AMEE.)
The speaker representing NIST noted with regard to the many suites of standards needed for the smart grid:  "What's desperately needed is an overall roadmap - a coordination effort..." and said this would be available this summer. That would prioritize the development of the standards and DOE's development projects.
So hundreds of millions of dollars are being allocated to smarten up the grid...and it's a curious thing to hear Senator Cantwell (representing my home state, actually) talking about APIs, open systems, and IP architectures.
On Wednesday at the IEEE Power Systems Computing Conference and Expo we're having a session on CIM. My presentation is not ready yet.
I suspect others like myself, those who have been in the industry for decades, might be thinking the same thing...we've been making the grid smarter for a very long time. Now it's important, almost overnight. Doesn't Google know utilities have been helping thousands if not millions of customers view their usage for a least a decade, if not longer? And, where will these federal agencies find the resources to accelerate standards development? I've been trying to hire a senior-level EE for almost a year, with no success.
Enough said. On to my presentation...
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