Join us at the PASS BAC Unconference Pizza Night

29 04 2014

I’ve seen a lot of interesting sessions and gatherings at industry conferences but this is one of the best ideas so far:

Introducing… The Unconference!  …the anti-conference within a conference

Aside from the outstanding value I get from going to hear leading experts share their experience in structured sessions, some of the greatest learning comes from side conversations and informal encounters with people between the sessions.  For me, a lot of those conversations happen when I bump into someone whose blog I’ve followed or book I’ve read with just a few minutes to spare between sessions.  Unless we chat off-hours, we’re always rushed to get to the next scheduled event.  And then to chat with a session speaker after their session to try to get an answer to that one critical question (you know, the main reason you went to the conference)… The way that usually goes is that at the end of a good session, everyone with questions runs up to the front of the room and lines-up to talk to the presenter as he or she packs-up and tries to get out of the way of the next presenter preparing for their session.  You’re lucky to get 2 minutes of time with the expert before the next person in line.

The Unconference gives you two hours with the experts and no rules.  No rules!  This is an outstanding opportunity to spend some quality time with people who have real-world answers and deep insights in their respective fields of interest.  For a lot of us, the most important reason for coming is to get quality face-time with the right people

There is limited space so sign-up to reserve your spot on Thursday, 8 May 2014 from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM

This event is led by Denise McInerney, Data Engineer at Intuit, the agenda is created at the start of the evening. Anyone who wishes to initiate a discussion on a topic can claim a time and a space. Attendees are encouraged to share thoughts in open discussions with community-proposed topics.


Self-Service BI Breakfast Panel at PASS BAC

24 04 2014

If you’re attending the PASS Business Analytics Conference in San Jose, please join us on Friday morning for a special expert panel discussion on self-service BI.  It’s sponsored by SQL Sentry and they’re even footing the bill for breakfast!  According to Kevin Kline who also officiated the event last year, “I have plenty of people tell me that our panel discussions are one of, if not the most favorite and practical of the event”. 

Title: Lessons Learned in Self-Service BI; Friday, May 9, 6:45am – 7:45am, Room 230A

Abstract: For years, when it comes to self-service BI the automatic assumption was the Microsoft Excel was the tool of first and last resort. Now, after many years of enriching the features of the data stack, Microsoft offers many different ways and tools to perform business analytics. Some approaches require heavy involvement from DBAs, SharePoint administrators, and other data and business specialists. Other approaches enable end-users to process their own analytics much more quickly and with less interaction from the IT organization. Which is most effective? Which is the easiest to rollout and maintain? There are pros and cons to each possible approach, as well as hidden and repeating patterns, that are hard to foresee unless you’ve actually been through multiple implementations.

Panel: SQL Sentry’s panel of renowned data analytics and business intelligence experts will discuss a variety of real-world obstacles and accelerators to a strong self-service implementation of business intelligence and analytics that is both useful, effective, maintainable, and inexpensive. This year’s panel includes: Chris Webb (b | t ), Jen Stirrup (b | t ), Paul Turley (b), and Stacia Misner ( b |t ).

From Kevin’s blog:
Come Join Us!

You can see the registration page at or by clicking on the image below. Two quick reminders. One, I know it’s ridiculously early. But the content is always great and you get a high-quality hot breakfast. Two, I strongly encourage you to register since seating is limited and it always fills up.


If you have any questions you’d like to ask a panel like this, feel free to plug them in here. I’ve got plenty of questions queued up already. But I’m always open to more.  I hope to see you there!

GeoFlow Released for Public Preview

11 04 2013

In this morning’s keynote address at the PASS business Analytics Conference, Amir Netz demonstrated using GeoFlow, a geographic data visualization add-in for Excel 2013, with a set of data showing the success of pop starts and their countries of origin.  It was a very interesting display of 3D geographical data.  Amir gets so excited when he does these demonstrations and his passion for these new BI tools is infectious.

The public beta for GeoFlow is released publically today and you can download the installer from here.  I blogged about GeoFlow in a short video presentation titled SQL Server Community World Tour with GeoFlow.  I need to update my very brief set of data but it does show some of the capabilities of an earlier private preview version of the tool.

From the official Microsoft Connect page for GeoFlow, this is what you can expect to see in this release:

The GeoFlow Preview for Excel contains the following new features:

  • A single install for 32-bit and 64-bit versions

  • Geo-disambiguation dialog showing what values were not geocoded

  • Support for Tables which have Relationships

  • Add Data button in the Excel Ribbon, part of the Map split button which allows you to add data from your sheet to the Data Model after selecting it

  • Refresh Data button in the GeoFlow ribbon

  • 2D charts and brushing

  • Touch navigation and gestures

  • Navigation controls

  • New tour model with no need to save or refresh your scene

  • Transitions and Effects

  • Improved performance

  • Many improvements in the UI – ribbon, time controls, navigation controls

You can read more details in the Getting Started document.

GeoFlow can be installed here.

(Apr 14 13 Update) – GeoFlow requires Microsoft Office 2013 Pro Plus.  Make sure you have that edition of Excel installed and then download and install the add-in.  After that,  open a document in Excel, go to File > Options and Add-Ins, select to manage COM Add-ins and hit the Go button.  Check the GeoFlow for Microsoft Excel item and click OK.  That should do it!

You’ll find the GeoFlow option on the Insert ribbon, GeoFlow group and the Map drop-down button.

If you can’t get to the content on the Microsoft Connect site, try this link.  You must log into the Connect site using a Microsoft account like you would to use HotMail.

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