PASS BA Conference Speaker

PASS BA Conference Speaker
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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Why I refused a session at SQLBits; it's not about your rank, but your legacy

In martial arts it is not your belt rank that matters but the legacy you leave.” – Grandmaster CK Leow, Founder, Moodukkwan Malaysia

I've attended every SQLBits except two: the first one, because I didn't know about it, and SQLBits 6, because I had been made redundant the previous day and I didn't feel up to it.

Overall, I have spoken at every SQLBits since SQLBits 7, where I was fortunate enough to be picked to speak at the event in York. Since then, I have spoken in most of Europe and in the United States. I also held a Diversity in Technology event at the last SQLBits, and I am considering doing another event.

I was also lucky enough - and hard working enough! - to be elected on the PASS Board of Directors last year, winning the election outright with a convincing majority. I continue to work really hard on that role, and I will blog separately about what I've been doing since a lot of it isn't 'visible' and SQLfamily members probably don't see it.

I'm fortunate to be holding a precon this year, which is called the DataAnalysts Toolkit. We will look at R and PowerBI for a whole day. What's best is, I will be giving you hands on labs and notes - if you bring your laptop, that is! I will announce in due course what software you need to install.

I'm holding a Friday session, which is a one-hour version of the precon.
However, I turned down the opportunity to speak on the Saturday. Why?

- I have worked, really, really hard to be a speaker at SQLBits. I am extremely proud to have been chosen, so this was a difficult decision. 
- however, I believe in fairness and the promotion of new speakers. I think that other people should be lucky enough to get a session too. I was concerned that I would be greedy in taking two sessions. There are plenty of people who would like to speak at SQLBits, and I refused, saying that the slot should go to a new speaker who hasn't done it before.

Sometimes you have to do the right thing for the community, even if it is a wrench for yourself. 

I was lucky to get votes and to be picked, but I do worry about the time when the votes stop and I don't get picked any more. This is a perfectly natural response. I also don't go around my friends and family and ask them to vote for me, because that isn't fair. If I get picked, I want it to be picked on a fair community vote and not because I emailed everyone in my department and asked a boatload of people to vote for me. I'd like to thank everyone who did vote for my session.

At the same time, I think it isn't about the rank you hold or the number of sessions you give; it is about the legacy you leave behind. So, when I sit in sessions and see people talking about Excel and trellis charts, for example, I remember that I talked about that at SQLBits a few years ago. I was the first to talk about these topics at SQLBits, and I am happy that I trailblazed and now other people are talking about data visualisation as part of other sessions. 

I'm not criticising others who have two sessions, and I am happy for them. My focus is slightly different, particularly since I hold an elected seat on the Board of Directors. I want to say 'thank you' to everyone who voted for me, and I hope that this is a visible sign that I am working for the SQLFamily and the technical community.

At the same time, I think it is important to leave a legacy, even if people don't see it. I don't know whom they picked instead of me, but by making a sacrifice myself, it does mean that someone new can have the opportunity that I got. 

That said, I look forward to seeing people at my session and you can be assured that I will do my best, as always.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Setting up an online time capsule for your children, using OneDrive

I've set up an online time capsule for my son, which constitutes all my photos of him and us together.

The death of Peaches Geldof prompted me to think about what would happen if/when I die? What memories would my son have of me? I see from the news that Peaches Geldof took a lot of family photos. 
Like most people, I have a lot of CD, DVD drives etc with lots of photos and videos on them. I doubt someone would take the time to go through all of these media drives for photos; certainly, I never bother.

I didn't want those photos and memories to be lost. Since my son and I do a lot together, there are a lot of photos of him but not so many of us together, because I am the one holding the camera. I am going to change that. I've decided that I will ask passers-by to take our photographs together more so we have photos together.

How did I set up my online time capsule? So what I have done is this:

- I've set up a OneDrive account for my son, with an email address and a password which I have given to him. Go to for your free account.
- I'm going through all those hard drives, flashes, old phones etc with photos on them
- I am categorising them roughly by date, and creating a folder for each year.
- I'm then uploading all the photos, by year, onto OneDrive using my son's email address and password.
- I have also done the same for my father. He is my backup.

It's a gift that never stops giving 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Wondering how to train your team for the Analytics you want in your organisation? Look at PASS BA Conference

Whether you're starting up an Analytics team in your organisation, there are more available positions than ever – and not enough people to fill them! Todd Nevins, cofounder and director of marketing and media relations at job site icrunchdata, noted the site's "Big Data Jobs Index" surpassed half a million last week.

How do you get people with the skills to do analytics roles, given the skills shortage? How do you build loyalty whilst keeping up with demand for the Analytics skills?

The skills are wide-ranging. Creativity, curiosity, communication, problem solving, maths, programming, stats, business experience…. How can you hire someone who has all of these?
One route is to ‘grow your own’. Harness the enthusiasm in your team, and be the leader who leads, not the boss who drives.

Attending the PASS BA Conference is one way to give your team members the experience of the diversity and breadth of Analytics, and expose them to a range of business and technical sessions which are geared towards the organic role of the Analytics professional.
Oh, and if you are interested, quote this code above to get $150 off the price!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Microsoft's HDInsightand PowerBI with a focus on data from Denmark!

In this fun session at SQLSaturday Denmark, we will use Microsoft's HDInsight, their Big Data solution, and PowerBI tools to learn about Denmark! 
We will mix and mashup data from a variety of sources such as 'The Spirit Level' by Prof Richard Wilkinson, UNICEF, the World Bank and even the CIA to learn more about Denmark. BI and BA professionals need to tackle ever-increasing sources of data that are increasing in volume, velocity and variety. Let's look at fun example of global data about Denmark to look at common data storytelling by BI and BA professionals: analysing open data with varying degrees of data quality, business puzzles vs business mysteries, and deciding on which chart or graph to use when presenting data. If the 'too much data, too little information' scenario is familiar, then come to this session, which isn't just for the international visitors who come to SQLSaturday Copenhagen every year - like myself! 
Uncover surprising facts as we mashup, slice and dice the data, and look at Big Data and Data Visualisation as we go along.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Watch Microsoft Build 2014 Conference Keynote online

Microsoft’s developer conference, Microsoft build developer conference 2014,  is sold out. But you can still watch it online and immerse yourself in what’s next for the Microsoft platform and tools. Streamed keynotes start at 8:30 A.M. PDT on Wednesday, April 2. Most sessions will also be available on demand within 24 hours.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Shout out for my favourite Power BI MSDN and TechNet blogs this month

childrenyellingI wanted to call out some of our favourite TechNet and MSDN blogs posted about Excel, Power BI, Office365 and Azure over the past month. These links are a great place to get started if you want to know more about how you could use PowerBI.

I've selected some of the most interesting case studies, and we'd like to call out the Data Insights from the Microsoft Vision Center at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014 in particular. Some of our readers will be in the world of Finance, so the article Power BI for Finance will be of most interest here.

·         Power BI for Finance

Wednesday, 26 March 2014