Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My First Pass Summit - Part 2

Part 1 of this post is available here.

Wednesday - Sessions and Exhibitor Reception

By the time Wednesday came, it was hard for me to comprehend that we were just officially starting the educational content of the core Summit. I'd already had an amazing two days on Monday and Tuesday.


My first session was Erin Welker's BI Best Practices: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. This session ended up being the most valuable to me with respect to my current job. I'm currently a data designer for a major module of new data coming into our data warehouse. My job includes not only designing the data warehouse structures related to this new project but also includes interactions with the business. Erin covered some of both in her session.

 Erin Welker presenting on BI Best Practices: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Packed house for my first ever Summit Session to attend!

Exhibitor Reception

The highlight of this evening event was a 30 minute Hadoop session that Hortonworks presented. They called it a demo, but it really was an excellent 30-minute Hadoop session that gave a great high level explanation of Hadoop. It's the best high level overview of Hadoop that I've personally seen and a few others mentioned that to me, as well. I was impressed enough by the session that I spoke to one of the Hortonworks representatives about possibly giving this presentation to OKCSQL. Bonus: Attendees of the "demo" got a free stuffed Hortonworks elephant. It was my favorite swag from any of the vendors.

Special thanks to Dell, Idera, and FatCloud who gave my husband swag even though his PASS Summit Guest Badge was not scannable. I.e. they weren't getting any contact information from him. Note: none of the guest badges were scannable.

Thursday - Sessions, WIT Panel, and Community Appreciation Party


My favorite session of the day was Power BI: Modern Device and Data Search Experiences by Adam Wilson and Amy Forstrom from Microsoft. This mostly demystified the magic of Power BI Q&A. I talk more about their session in my blog post Power BI - The Latest from Summit.

Women in Technology Panel 

This panel on Beyond Stereotypes: Equality, Gender, Neutrality, and Valuing Diversity was probably the most valuable session I attended during the entire event. There was some amazing discussion during this one hour panel. The entire panel is available here. This panel went beyond gender stereotypes to talk about diversity in general. It included discussions about people being excluded or shunned by being "different" from the social norm of their employer. For example, you're into "geeky" things but work in a "non-geeky" field. Discussion included how to handle certain kinds of scenarios when diversity is not being accepted.

With WIT Panel member Gail Shaw. 
Next year I'm bringing one of my Star Wars shirts!

Community Appreciation Party

We had access to the NASCAR Hall of Fame from 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. for what turned out to be one of my favorite nights.

First, I got an awesome, free caricature done while my husband was in the food line. The caricature finished right before he got to the buffet.

 Look I'm a race car driver!

Second, I met some amazing people and had some great conversations! Once we got our food, we stood around one of the small tables and ate. Various people would come and go from the table. This led to great discussion with a lot of different people. One of the longer conversations was with Yaxing Liu from North Carolina who is interested in possibly starting a PASS Chapter. She's been running a virtual SQL group via Meetup for awhile now with consistent membership. Thus, we spoke for awhile about chapter leadership. We've already been in contact post-Summit, as I got her in contact with Karla Landrum.

Third, I had even more great conversations. One of my favorite conversations was with fellow science fiction fan Matt Slocum. I think his shirt caught my attention, but I really don't remember exactly why we started talking. We talked about a variety of science fiction shows that we both like, and he even recommended The 4400 to my husband and I. My husband and I actually started watching it the day after we got back from Summit. Since then (by end of November), we've watched the entire series, all 45 episodes.

Hanging with my new science fiction buddy Matt Slocum

With my wonderful husband!!!

Friday - Sessions and PASS Board Q&A

I was really tired by Friday morning, and there was still another full day of sessions left. I actually made most of Rob Farley's 8 a.m. session, which meant I was on track to be able to attend several sessions. I did notice that the final two sessions of the day had lower than normal attendance, as many people were already heading home.

PASS Board Q&A

Going into Summit, I didn't even know there would be a PASS Board Q&A, but Andy Warren saw me and encouraged me to attend. The first thing I learned is that there are 14 directors, including two each from founding partners Computer Associates and Microsoft. I knew Microsoft was involved, but I had no idea that CA was a founding partner of PASS. There were some great questions asked by the audience, and I liked seeing the board do their best to answer them.

By the time the final session regular session ended on Friday, I was completely exhausted, so I headed back to the hotel room and stayed there until time to fly out the following morning.

I met so many great people that I haven't had a chance to follow-up with everyone I want to.

Advice I'm glad I took for this year

Attend the first-timers orientation - I considered skipping this event. I'd read tons of Summit advice blog posts and had been to SQL Rally. Other people had given me in-person advice, as well. This event was very much worth it. I received some excellent advice like getting to your sessions early, since they sometimes fill up.

Bring an empty suitcase for swag -  This was definitely worth it!

 This bag was empty when we brought it and full of free swag when we took it home!!! I could have gotten even more swag, but I chose to restrain myself as the bag continued to fill throughout the week. This bag includes 1 Hortonworks Green Elephant, 1 Azure Cat, 3 Idera ducks, multiple t-shirts, and more! Obtaining all 3 different Idera ducks was by far my hardest swag accomplishment of the week. You could only get duck per day, and Idera was quickly running out of certain colors.

What I would do differently next year

I would bring business cards - This was something I didn't get around to this year. I figured most people would be accessible later via Twitter (Twitter handles were on our name badges) or would have their own business cards. This was often the case but often not. Even though I felt like I was a late comer to Twitter, a lot of attendees were not on Twitter. In some cases if someone wasn't on Twitter and didn't have a card, I'd enter their information directly into my phone, but there were some cases where there wasn't time for this.

Fly in on Monday instead of attending a pre-con - I learned a lot of great information about SSRS from Stacia Misner during her From Reporting Services Rookie to Rockstar pre-con. As a data designer, though, it's unlikely that I'll be doing a lot of SSRS development in the near future. If there isn't a pre-con closely related to my current job, I'll probably skip out on a pre-con next year. I am glad I attended one this year, though.

Pick a Night to Turn in Extra Early - In this case, turn in means being back in the hotel room versus actually going to bed. I was out socializing Monday night - Thursday night. Even though I was in bed by around 12:30 a.m. each night, I was absolutely exhausted by Friday evening. Everyone has different limits, and in my case, I needed to take a night off and didn't. If the same schedule were to occur next year, I'd probably take Wednesday night off, once the Exhibitor's event was over. It ended at 8 p.m. this year.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My First PASS Summit - Part 1 (Monday and Tuesday)

A couple of weeks ago, I finally got to attend my first PASS Summit! A lot of great conversations, connecting, and learning occurred. So much so that it took about a week for me to process the experience enough to considering blogging about it as a whole. In the week immediately following Summit my blog posts were Power BI - The Latest from Summit and Region Shading and Custom Coloring in Power Map. Both posts were inspired by content I heard about at Summit.

It's now now been exactly four weeks since Summit officially started, and I've finally had the processing time and blogging time to post about the first 2 days.



SSRS Pre-con

It was my first Summit, so I wanted to tryout a day of jam-packed learning on a single topic. I attended Stacia (pronounced Stay-sha) Misner's From Reporting Services Rookie to Rockstar pre-con. I wasn't very familiar with SSRS, so this was an excellent session for me to get a high level overview of SSRS and its major capabilities.

With OKCSQL VP Matt Brimer (@SQLCenturion)


Hanging with Tim Mitchell, my husband Jeff, and Matt Brimer

It was great to catch up with Julie Koesmarno (@mssqlgirl). We're outside my hotel's bar where about 30 of us converged shortly beforehand. The pub we, previously, tried to go to was already too full from other Summit attendees.

Tuesday Day - SQL Saturday Round Table and Chapter Leader's Meeting

Tuesday started with Rob Farley leading a lot of SQL Saturday organizers in discussions about changes to SQL Saturday rules and what kind of guidance organizers are looking for. Four of us from Oklahoma City that already knew each other ended up sitting together at a table. Although this led to some great internal discussion, it didn't lead to great networking. I did make some great contacts right after the meeting, though.

Tuesday afternoon was the chapter leaders meeting. I made a specific point to sit at a table where I didn't know anyone. That decision alone allowed me to meet Tim Radney (RM for South East - USA), Pinal Dave (RM for India), JK Wood (Chapter Officer from Missouri), and a couple of other chapter representives. Our table and then the overall meeting attendees had some great discussion about the benefits of PASS and where improvements could be made.  Afterwards we broke into our PASS regions and met with our RM's and other chapter leaders from our region.

Follow-up note: Last night JK drove four hours from Springfield, Missouri to provide an in-person presentation to OKCSQL.

Five of us are wearing "First Timer" ribbons
Hanging with fellow SC Chapter Representatives: Jeff Johnston (MSBIC), Ganesh Gopalakrishnan (NTSSUG), Jim Murphy (CACTUSS Central), Matt Brimer (Tulsa SQL), me (OKCSQL), Ryan Adams (RM), Curt Wolfe (Northwest Arkansas SQL Server Users Group) and Sri Sridharan (Board Member)

Tuesday Night - First Timers Orientation, Welcome Reception, Linchpin Party 

First Timers Orientation

Tuesday night was one of my favorite nights, and I almost skipped this first amazing part! I'd read tons of Summit advice blog posts and had been to SQL Rally. Other people had given me in-person advice, as well. I'm SO glad that I attended this event. I received some excellent additional advice related to Summit and got some amazing glow jewelry. My husband, a guest pass participant, felt a bit distracted at this particular event, so he walked around picking up more glowsticks and making me more jewelry. As for Summit proper advice, one key point was to arrive to sessions early, as they can completely fill up. Note: I attended mostly BI sessions and got there early enough to not miss any sessions. I typically arrived 15 minutes early. I always got into my sessions. I know several people who tried arriving at DBA sessions 10 minutes early and got turned away.

Showing off my glow jewelry at the First Timers Orientation!
The jewelry led to some great conversations throughout the evening.

Welcome Reception

We have two amazing Regional Mentors in the South Central Region. They are Ryan Adams and John Sterrett. John spent much of the welcome reception introducing myself and a few others around.

Linch Pin Private Party

I apparently know several people connected to Linch Pin, so I was lucky enough to get invited to their private vendor party that evening at Strike City! There was free bowling, appetizers, and beverages. I met a lot of great people that night and also caught up with existing SQLFamily. One of my favorite conversations was with Rob Farley whom I'd met at SQL Rally the year before.

I had a hard time comprehending that Summit officially started on Tuesday evening, since by the end of the night my Summit experience was 40% over. I'll cover the remaining days in later post(s).

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Region Shading and Custom Coloring in Power Map

Region Shading

At PASS Summit, I was excited to hear that Power Map added a Region Shading feature in the September Release. Out of SSRS, Power View, and Power Map, the only one to previously have region shading was SSRS. Now this feature is available in Power Map by country, province/state, county, and zip code.

I finally had a chance to play around with this new feature today, and thought I'd try it out against some data that I had previously Power Mapped. In a previous blog post, I discussed how you could use a city layer with column bars and a state/province layer with bubble charts to display data by both city and province.

Now you can use the new Region option shown below to implement region shading.

Below are the results with Region Shading

SQL Saturday OKC Registrations for 2012 by City and State

 September Release
Used new Region Shading and Custom Color Features
In the above example, the shading intensity represents the province's registration count relative to the other provinces.

Here's the April release results, without region shading.

April Release
There was no region shading, so the bubbles represented registration by province.

Custom Coloring

Post-Summit I heard about Power Map adding custom coloring in the September release. When initially trying out Power Map this is something I quickly wanted and expected end users would want as well. I was happy to see how quickly this got added. Below is how to use this feature.

In Layer Options, you may use the color option below to select the color to use per category value. The color selection option is available for region shading, column bars, and bubbles.

When trying this option out, I was glad to see so many colors available and that assignments were per category value. In the below example I had event year categories of 2007 - 2013. I was able to select a different color for each value.

SQL Saturdays in North America 
by Province by First Event Year
Used new Region Shading and Custom Color Features

Video: SQL Saturdays in North America 
by Province by First Event Year

Used the new Create Video feature in Power Map

Monday, October 21, 2013

Power BI - The Latest from Summit

One of my goals at PASS Summit 2013 was to learn more about Power BI. When Power BI was announced in July, I already had familiarity with Power Pivot, Power View, Power Query, and Power Map. Since then I've seen and experienced confusion related to what's part of Power BI. The following is some what I learned at Summit and what my new impressions are.

Initial Causes for Power BI Confusion
When Power BI was announced in July, Power Pivot, Power View, Power Query, and Power Map were all announced to be part of Power BI. Q&A was mentioned as a feature, as well.

Power Pivot, though, was already officially available for Office 2010/2013, and Power View was officially available for Office 2013. Both Power Map and Power Query had Excel 2013 add-ins in public preview. Thus, what did it mean for the first four items with the announcement of Power BI?

Demystification of Power BI
My current impression is that Power Pivot, Power View, Power Query, and Power Map may all stay available for on-premise self-service BI. Power BI for Office 365 is coming across as an upcoming subscription for Office 365 in the cloud that would eventually include Power Pivot, Power View, Power Query, Power Map, and Q&A. Q&A seems like a cloud only feature, and it seems like some non-Q&A functionality may come in the cloud first and then possibly go on-premise. Note: Last I heard Power Map was not scheduled to be in the GA for Power BI in the cloud.

The following are additional Power BI notes from Summit 2013:

Power BI Q&A Feature
When I first saw the Q&A feature of Power BI in the Power BI Office 365 July demo video, the Q&A feature mostly seemed like magic. After attending a full Summit session dedicated just to Power BI Q&A, I became much more excited about the feature. Here's some of what I learned.
  • Power BI Q&A is not magic
  • Power BI Q&A relies on Power Pivot models in the cloud
  • In the current Power BI Preview, you can try using the Q&A feature against some sample workbooks
  • If you want to run the Q&A feature against your own workbooks, you'll need to wait until the next Power BI Preview
  • You'll be able to "train" Q&A to tie search words to your Power Pivot models by changing the primary synonym and/or adding phrases. The primary synonym defaults based upon the column names in your Power Pivot model. I got the impression that it could automatically turn underscores into spaces.
  • When the user is typing in their search words, beneath the search the user sees the exact search that would be run.
  • If Q&A cannot understand a word typed into the search, the word is grayed out.
Like I mentioned earlier, after seeing Adam Wilson and Amy Forstrom's Power BI: Modern Device and Data Search Experience session, I'm much more excited about Power BI Q&A. If you have access to the Summit 2013 recordings, I highly recommend this session.

In addition, the Day 1 Keynote, had a Power BI Q&A demo at the 1 hour 15 minutes and 15 seconds mark. It is available for public viewing.

Power Query
  • There is a decent chance that the Power Query add-in for Excel on the desktop will remain free.
  • In order to publish a Power Query workbook for sharing, a Power BI subscription for Office 365 would be required. 
Day 1 Keynote (one hour and 5 minutes mark) shows using Power Query to import data from Windows Azure HDInsight

Power Map
Major additions from the September release:
  • Create Video (big yay!)
  • Region Shading - For countries, states/provinces, and counties
  • Flat Map
  • Update: Ari Schorr let me know about even more additional features from the September release. He  has a blogpost about them here. I can't wait to try them out!
Other Power Map notes:
  • Not expected to be in the GA of Power BI. This gives me hope that the Excel add-in for Power Map might remain free for Excel on the desktop while publishing to Office 365 might require a Power BI Subscription.
  • Requires DirectX10
  • It's not recommended to use Power Map on a VM. The visualization may not work properly or may not work at all. Update: This recommendation was apparently pre-September release, although, it was provided to me at Summit. It can happen. With the September release, Power Map supports the main VM's.
Power View
  • Microsoft is working on the capability for Power View in the cloud to work on native iPad. This was mentioned by a Microsoft employee at a Summit session on mobile BI. The employee spoke up after the speaker clearly was dancing around this point, as he did not think he was allowed to disclose it.
Office 2013 Click-to-Run vs. ISO Installation
It matters whether or not your Office 2013 installation was done using Click-to-Run or using an ISO. I believe the Click-to-Run version is available using the Power BI Preview, while the ISO version seems be available via MSDN. The Click-to-Run version updates automatically, thus, it would get the critical Power BI Preview 2 updates automatically like those needed to be able to train your Power Pivot models for Power BI Q&A. Last I heard Microsoft is aware of a possible need to get the Click-to-Run version out onto MSDN.

Thanks to everyone who provided some great Power BI information at Summit. Microsoft provided some great information via keynote and sessions. I had some great discussions with Microsoft employees at the SQL Server Clinic and in other environments. Thanks to Julie Koesmarno and others in the community for some great Power BI discussion, as well.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

SQL Saturday Oklahoma City - Power Map Presentation

Thanks to everyone that attended my 3D Geospatial Visualization Using Power Map session at SQL Saturday Oklahoma City 2013. I actually ended up giving the session on Friday evening and on Saturday. The Power Pivot pre-con ended an hour early on Friday, so I did a full run-through of the session to a few people from the pre-con who weren't going to be able to attend my Saturday session for various reasons. I then gave the official presentation on Saturday.

One of my favorite demos involved analyzing visitor count data of the various D.C. Smithsonian museums. I had audience members announce their favorite Smithsonian museums, and then we analyzed 2010 - 2012 visitor data. On Friday, everyone said Air and Space Museum. On Saturday I heard, Hirshorn Museum then Museum of Natural History and then finally Air and Space. We then went on to create a Power Map tour that showed another museum overtaking Air and Space in 2012.

My slides are available here.

A video of how to do the U.S. Tourist Attraction demo is available here.

A video of the Power Map tour from the Smithsonian demo is available here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Speaking on Power Map at SQL Saturday Oklahoma City

I'm excited to see #SQLFamily and learn a ton while at SQL Saturday Oklahoma City this Saturday, August 24th. I'm also quite looking forward to a full day of Power Pivot immersion on Friday from Bill Pearson's Practical Self-Service BI with PowerPivot for Excel pre-con. You can register for the pre-con here. You can register for SQL Saturday Oklahoma City here.

I'll also be giving an updated version of my 3D Geospatial Visualization Using Power Map presentation. This new version includes a quick overview of datums, plus a high level overview of geospatial reporting in SSRS and Power View. Then we'll deep dive into Power Map. I hope to see you guys there!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Do you know the Datum of your Latitude and Longitude?

Last month I had the opportunity to present GeoFlow, now called Power Map, to the GIS team at my employer. Less than one minute into the live demo, I heard something like "That looks like a Mercator projection expecting a WGS84 Datum." Inside my head I was thinking "a what?"

I was not familiar with either map projections or datums. As datums are important when using latitude and longitude data, I'd like to share some of what I've learned about the topic since that presentation. The concept of datums can be quite large, so I'll just focus on what matters most to those of us using tools like Power Map and Power View. Those tools use Bing Maps for their geocoding. The primary point to make is that Bing Maps expects a WGS84 datum.

If your latitude and longitude coordinates do not correspond to the WGS84 datum, then your geographic points might not display in the proper location in Bing Maps. Let's first cover some basic points about datums.

  • Latitude and longitude always have a corresponding datum, such as WGS84 or NAD27
  • The latitude and longitude coordinates for your current position may vary across datums
  • Sometimes the difference may be less than a few hundred feet, but it may be much more drastic. WGS84 and NAD83 are nearly identical. The difference between NAD83 and NAD27 varies dependent upon your location within North America. If you're on the U.S. West Coast, the difference between NAD83 and NAD27 could be more than 300 feet. Further East the difference might be less than 100 feet
  • Map projections correspond to a datum
  • When gathering latitude / longitude data for geographic reporting, knowing the datum is important, as you may need to convert your coordinates to the proper datum before using them

Let's look at a basic example using lat/long coordinates for the Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge Example

The following latitude and longitude coordinates are both valid for the Golden Gate Bridge:

37.819721, -122.478615 in WGS84
37.8197926, -122.4775316 in NAD27

Of the two, only the WGS84 coordinates will display on the Golden Gate Bridge in either Power Map or Power View.

The NAD27 coordinates do not display on the bridge

 The WGS84 coordinates properly display on the bridge

 Here's a comparison of the same coordinates in Power View

The above example provides a scenario where users are likely to notice the geographic point is not correct. That may cause them to not trust the data.

In some cases the difference may not be enough for users to notice. For example, I tried using NAD27 coordinates for several Smithsonian museums in Power Map. The tool displayed the column chart on the correct museum in most cases. The reason being that the museums are fairly large and the shift between WGS84 and NAD27 on the East Coast isn't as big as it is on the West Coast. There were a few Smithsonian locations, though, where the incorrect placement was noticeable.

Thus, when gathering and eventually using latitude and longitude coordinates for geographic reporting, it's important to make sure we know the corresponding datum.

For those interested in more advanced information on datums, you can find more information from Wikipedia here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Journey in the SQL Community / #SQLFamily

Last week two co-workers and I registered for our first PASS Summit!!! 

I've been heavily involved with the regional #sqlfamily for 3 years, but this is probably the first PASS event for either of my co-workers to attend. In order to prepare them for Summit I've been telling them about a few of my great #sqlfamily experiences. Talking to them got me thinking about my recent journey in becoming part of #sqlfamily and lead to this blog post.

SQL Saturday Dallas

In early 2010 I received an e-mail promoting a speakers call for an event I'd never heard of before. It was promoting a SQL Saturday, specifically SQL Saturday #35 in Dallas. Submitting to speak at that event, I believe was one of the best decisions of my professional career. Although speaking was a positive experience, the relationships I started building are what I both remember and value most. At the Speaker's Dinner and other portions of SQL Saturday Dallas, I met for the first time many of the following individuals: Sri Sridharan, Tim Mitchell, Ryan Adams, Sean McCown, Jen McCown, Bryan Smith (MS), Jeremy Marx, and many other great members of the SQL Community. Relationships quickly grew beyond the event. Within a few months Tim Mitchell was giving a remote presentation to OKCSQL speaking on "SSIS Scripting" and Bryan was presenting to OKCSQL in person. Contact with others from the SQL Community was continuing for various reasons, as well, including when Sri was asking for help with promoting Dallas’s bid to host SQL Rally.

My next SQL Saturday to attend was SQL Saturday #63 in Dallas in April 2011. As I was not actively presenting at the time, I chose not to submit to speak. Since I was a chapter leader, though, Sri still decided to invite me to the Speakers Dinner the night before the event. Side note, we had an OKCSQL officer speaking, as Rob Sullivan was a first time SQL Saturday presenter at that event. Multiple times during the Speakers Dinner, Rob and I heard, "When is Oklahoma City going to have their first SQL Saturday?" The answer was among the lines of "we'd need another OKC person to chair it, as Rob and I are the only two OKCSQL officers and don't have the capacity to take on running an event all by ourselves." Fast forward to the next day, someone introduced me to MattBrimer, also from Oklahoma. Matt Brimer was telling people that he wanted to help host a SQL Saturday Oklahoma City. 

SQL Saturday Oklahoma City 2011

Within a few months Matt was the newest OKCSQL officer and Event Chair for SQL Saturday #90 in Oklahoma City, with me as Speaker Chair, and a Rob Sullivan, Jamin Mace, and Amanda Hardeman (now Harlin) also on the Event Committee. Relationships with Texas members of the #sqlfamily were absolutely critical to us being able to host a well-run 200 person event. When asked, Sri provided us his sources for anything from event insurance to event bags. Texas speakers, several MVPs, comprised 11/14 of our first event’s speakers. The night before the event, Ryan Adams and others were giving us advice and double-checking that we’d covered certain things. I remember the advice being great, and at least one item was changed last minute due to the conversations. The event itself took place on August 27th, 2011, less than 5 months after we had met Matt. The event was high energy with a lot of great sessions, and we got some really good feedback.

SQL Rally 

The following year SQL Rally 2012 took place in Dallas in May. My involvement started before the event, as I volunteered to assist with session selection. That was a great opportunity to be involved with some “behind the scenes” for an international event and gave me some great ideas for how to handle session selection for our next SQL Saturday Oklahoma City. I personally paid for all my SQL Rally expenses, and it was definitely worth attending! While at SQL Rally, I got to hear some great presentations by some people I’d never seen in person before like Adam Jorgensen, Devin Knight, Jen Stirrup, Vicky Harp, and Julie Koesmarno (@mssqlgirl). Although, I didn’t meet all of them in person, I remember a great long conversation that a couple of us had with Adam Jorgensen and later with Rob Farley. Lately I've been learning a lot from the the BI blogs of several of the speakers from SQL Rally.

SQL Saturday Oklahoma City 2012

SQL Saturday #125 in Oklahoma City took place in August 2012, with a lot of great speakers returning and some talented new ones coming in. As we were getting close to the event, I remembered thinking "I can't wait to see Sean, Jen, Tim, Ryan, Mike, and the names rolled on." I also met Grant Fritchey, Carlos Bossy and others for the first time. The relationship building continued. On the relationships note, when 2 of the SQL Saturday OKC 2011 speakers didn’t make the 2012 cut due to the 90+ submissions we had for 24 sessions, I made sure that they were each invited to the Influencers’ Dinner. We started using that name, since we include Sponsors, event committee, speakers, former speakers, chapter leaders, and more. Relationships are critical, and we don’t want to exclude someone passionate about SQL because they happened to not have time to commit to prepping a session or didn’t get selected to speak.

This past Monday evening I was on a Google+ Hangout with TulsaSQL President Jeremy Marx. He’s the Speaker Chair, under my mentorship, this year for SQL Saturday #223 in Oklahoma City to take place on Saturday, August 24th. We were talking about final session selections for the event. I can’t believe it’s almost time for Oklahoma City’s 3rd SQL Saturday.  It was just over two years ago that I met Matt Brimer, and around three years ago that I attended my first SQL Saturday. Several people that I met at Dallas’s first SQL Saturday will be speaking at their 3rd SQL Saturday Oklahoma City. Their continued support has been amazing.

Although, my #sqlfamly involvement started to sky-rocket with my attendance at SQL Saturday Dallas, there are some key relationships I made before then. I met Greg Galloway at the Microsoft BI Conference in 2007. We had some e-mail conversations where he helped me out with some SSAS processing strategies. I was quite the SSAS newbie at the time! We lost contact at some point, but then through his connection to Tim Mitchell, Greg ended up speaking at Oklahoma City’s first SQL Saturday.  I met Mike Hotek in 2009 when he was consulting at my then employer. Mike helped OKCSQL start strong by being our speaker for the first 3 OKCSQL meetings, which were averaging around 25 attendees. That was just our first great experience with Mike and his SQL Community involvement. Of course, I can’t forget Rob Sullivan with whom I co-founded OKCSQL back in April 2009. I met Rob a couple of years earlier in the Oklahoma City .Net Developers Group. In 2008 he was Sr. Vice President during my one year term as President of the OKC.Net group.

As I type this blog post, I keep thinking of so many more people I’ve met just in the past 3 years like BillPearson, Tim Costello, and our newest OKCSQL officer Allen Smith. There are too many to mention in one blog post.

I also keep thinking back to SQL Rally 2012, when Sri was passing out #sqlfamily stickers. This is a great family to be a part of and I can’t wait to build even more relationships and help others join this great #sqlfamily.

Below are some of my favorite #sqlfamily photos.

SQL Saturday Oklahoma City 2011

Most of the TX speakers and crew. Top row: Sri Sridharan, Ryan Adams, Shawn Weisfeld, Russel Loski, and Paul Hunter. Bottom row: Tim Mitchell, Greg Galloway, Jen McCown, and Sean McCown.

Speaker Paul Hunter with Rob Sullivan (event committee)

 Jeff Blankenbiller (my husband) and Sean McCown (Jen's husband)

 Matt Brimer and I on stage together

Event Committee on stage together (Matt's wife, Matt Brimer, Jamin Mace, Rob Sullivan, Amanda Hardeman, and I)

SQL Rally 2012

 With Julie Koesmarno (@mssqlgirl on the right) after her awesome session! I've been reading her blog lately to learn more about GeoFlow. I've been selected to speak on that topic at SQL Saturday Oklahoma City 2013

@VickyHarp rocking it with Karaoke at a SQL Rally 2012 Party
Future OKCSQL Officer Allen Smith on stage as a volunteer with presenters Adam Jorgensen and Devin Knight

SQL Saturday Oklahoma City 2012

Grant Fritchey and Jen McCown

Grant Fritchey, Tim Mitchell, Ryan Adams, Carlos Bossy, and Jeff Blankenbiller hanging out the night before

More photos from SQL Saturday Oklahoma City 2011 available at
http://www.flickr.com/photos/timdmitchell/sets/72157627532203718/ thanks to Tim Mitchell.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Displaying a 2 Level Hierarchy in GeoFlow

While working with GeoFlow, one concern that I quickly saw was that it didn't have the option to display data at a higher level of a geographical hierarchy and then drill down into a lower level. An example would be viewing data for a State/Province and then drilling down into City. While presenting GeoFlow to one of my employer's architects, she came up with a way to display two levels of a geographical hierarchy within GeoFlow, and she gave me permission to blog about it.

The core concept is to display each level of the geographical hierarchy in a different layer. Each layer would use a different chart type. In our example we'll use bubble chart type for State/Province and column bar for City. Our source data is SQL Saturday 2012 Oklahoma City registrations by State and City. The result will be the following:

GeoFlow: SQL Saturday Oklahoma City 2012 Registrations by State and by City

The bubble chart type represents the State data, and the column bars represent data by City.

After starting the GeoFlow tour creation, the following are key points to follow:

1) Select City and State for the Geography and click Map It

2) Click the check boxes for Attendee Type, Registration Count and Date Added. Chart Type of Column should default, if not, change the chart type to Column.

3) Rename the first layer to Registration by City

4) Click the Add Layer button in the ribbon. This layer will display data at the State/Province layer, thus, allowing us to see data at that level of the geographical hierarchy, as well.

5) Select State and click Map It

6) Click the check boxes for Registration Count and Date Added

7) Change Chart Type to Bubble

8) Remove the Layer's legend and rename the layer to Registration by State

For those interested, below are screenshots of the same data in PowerView.
PowerView: SQL Saturday Oklahoma City 2012 Registrations by State

PowerView: SQL Saturday Oklahoma City 2012 Registrations by Cities in Oklahoma (drilled down from Oklahoma)

While PowerView provides drill down capability via geographical hierarchy, using multiple layers allows us to display both levels of the hierarchy simultaneously within GeoFlow.

Update (tip from @mssqlgirl): In GeoFlow, if you have selected multiple geography fields, like City and State, within a layer, you can use the below option to switch back and forth between the geographical hierarchy levels, while in "Design" mode. I've yet to find a way to do this within "Play" mode for a tour.

Monday, May 13, 2013

3D Geospatial Visualization Using GeoFlow Slides

Tonight I had the opportunity to give a GeoFlow presentation titled 3D Geospatial Visualization Using GeoFlow to OKCSQL. Thanks to all who attended for some great discussion. The slides are available here.


Learn what GeoFlow is and how to use it for 3D visualization of data that can be time-stamped. You can create static charts or interactive animated tours. GeoFlow is one of Microsoft’s latest releases in the BI spectrum.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Analyzing Against Weather Data using GeoFlow

I had been wondering what would be a good use of multiple layers within GeoFlow. Today I finally realized that they could be used when analyzing a measure against weather temperatures. For example, you might want to analyze sales revenue at stores against the local temperature. In my example below, I used real weather data against fake customer count data for the first week in May.

The following are the key points that I followed:

1) I selected City and State for the Geography and clicked Map It

2) I then clicked the check boxes for Mean Temp and Date. Next I selected HeatMap as the Chart Type. For the Value I selected Mean Temp with No Aggregation. I used Date for the Time.

2) I clicked the Add Layer button in the ribbon. For the second layer, I selected Customer Count and Date. I selected Column as the Chart Type. For Height, I selected Customer Count with No Aggregation. I used Date for the Time.

3) I then performed other standard tasks like adding my title via text box and renaming my layers.

Then end result allowed me to compare customer counts against weather temperatures. Below are screenshots from the resulting GeoFlow tour.

Warmer weather had higher customer counts

 Colder Weather had lower customer counts

The real weather data came from an free on-line source. Below is the overall dataset that I used. I added in the State and Customer Count columns.

I'll be speaking at OKCSQL next week on GeoFlow. Now I have a great answer to "Why would you want to use two layers?"

Thursday, April 25, 2013

North American SQL Saturdays in GeoFlow

I was asked earlier this week to break out my US SQL Saturdays GeoFlow chart by year. While I was at it, I added in the 5 events from Canada and Mexico. The results are below.

North American SQL Saturdays through April 2013

GeoFlow Tour VIDEO here

I thought this GeoFlow tour would be a good chance to show off various GeoFlow themes and chart types.

Zoom In on Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana with a different theme

Contiguous United States and Canada with Bubble Chart

Dataset Excerpt (blue fields were used by the GeoFlow Tour)

I had fun putting together these charts for Karla Landrum. During this process, however, I did run into some issues with GeoFlow.

GeoFlow Issue Encountered

I added the Event Type by Year and Country fields to my Excel table in order to do the breakdown by year and to include Canada and Mexico. Unfortunately, the GeoFlow tour was not acknowledging Country as a possible field to select as a geography field. Closing Excel and re-opening did not solve this problem. Trying to create a new GeoFlow Tour within the Excel spreadsheet did not work either. My solution ended up being to copy/paste the entire table into a brand new spreadsheet and create a new GeoFlow Tour. At that point Country became available as a Geography field.

Minus these kinds of issues, I've been enjoying working with GeoFlow. I would welcome the opportunity to hear your GeoFlow questions or hear about your GeoFlow experiences in the comments section.