Dan English's BI Blog

Welcome to my random thoughts in regards to Business Intelligence, databases, and other technologies

Archive for February, 2010

Twitter RSS Feed available

Posted by denglishbi on February 28, 2010

Just wanted to let everyone know that you can subscribe to my Twitter updates by accessing the RSS feed.  I have included a link on the top right on my blog main page that you can use to subscribe to.


Nice feature, so now you don’t have to miss out on any of my Twitter updates if you currently only subscribe to my blog RSS feed.  I have been posting quite a few items on Twitter, so if you don’t utilize a tool to follow people’s tweets you can utilize this option to add my Twitter feed to your RSS subscription tool of choice.  But if you do use a tool to monitor people on Twitter you can simply add me to your list.


Posted in News and politics | Leave a Comment »

PASSMN February 2010 Meeting Follow-up

Posted by denglishbi on February 28, 2010

I wanted to thank everyone that attended the meeting either in-person or virtually.  We had around 60 people all together, so it was another good turn out.  I also wanted to thank both our presenters, they did a wonderful job and I enjoyed the audience participation and interaction with the group this month.  It is really fun to watch when the meetings turn into a collaborative effort and come to life.

Minnesota SQL Server Users Group

Just wanted to let everyone know that all of the presentation materials and the meeting announcements have all been posted and are available to download.  You will need to login to the PASSMN website and then you can access the materials from the Resources—>Documents section.  Kalen Delaney has also made here materials available on her site, http://sqlserverinternals.com and you can access the materials in the Conference and Materials section.

And a special thanks to Microsoft for providing the room for our meetings and Benchmark Learning for sponsoring this month’s meeting and providing the food and beverage.

Microsoft - January Meeting & Annual Sponsor     Benchmark Learning - February Meeting Sponsor

Here are some additional reference links in regards to partitioning that might be of interest:


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Magenic Studios Silverlight/WPF Contest starts 2/22

Posted by denglishbi on February 20, 2010

Do you know or want to learn Silverlight or WPF?  Well, now is your chance.  Put something together on your own or with a group effort and submit it for the contest that Magenic has posted here – Magenic Studios Silverlight/WPF Contest.  Contest is open to anyone and prizes will not only be provided to the Top 3 winners, but donations will also be made to Haiti Red Cross efforts.  Really cool, so not only do you get to use some awesome technologies, you can also help out in the relief efforts.


So what are you waiting for?  Check out the details of the contest and put something together and make your submission.

Here are some links that might be helpful:

  • Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 (the .NET Framework 3.5 includes WPF)
  • Microsoft Silverlight (this is required only if you are creating Silverlight applications)
  • Microsoft Silverlight 3 Tools for Visual Studio 2008 SP1 (this is required only if you are creating Silverlight applications)
  • Composite Application Guidance for WPF and Silverlight – October 2009
  • Official Microsoft Silverlight Learning site

    image                                        image

    Good Luck!

    Posted in News and politics | Leave a Comment »

    Alpha Geek PowerPivot Challenge 3 Entry

    Posted by denglishbi on February 16, 2010

    I just placed an entry in an online Microsoft geek challenge utilizing PowerPivot. You can check it out in the link below and I have added a comment to the entry to provide some background as to what I did for the challenge and why. I tried to get my in this past Saturday, but probably best it didn’t get entered until the new challenge started up.

    You can vote once per day.  If you can remember to vote for me each day I would greatly appreciate it.



    I appreciate your support.



    Posted in PowerPivot | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

    PowerPivot Beta Alpha Geek Challenge 2 Entry

    Posted by denglishbi on February 13, 2010

    I waited too long to get my entry in most likely for Challenge 2 of the Alpha Geek Challenge.  It states that it goes through tonight, but not sure if my submission will get posted in the entry list for voting or not – View All Available Entries.

    Oh well, it was fun.  I started in on it last night and unfortunately as I was 75% done Excel 2010 Beta decided to run into an unexpected error and close.  I was hoping that the file would be recovered when I re-opened Excel, but no such luck.  So I decided that I would possibly try again this morning.FAA Wildlife Strike logo

    For my PowerPivot example I decided to use the FAA Wildlife Strike Database that was made public.  I saw this data being demoed during the BI Power Hour at the PASS 2009 Summit and thought it was interesting.  Especially when you look at the data and start to see species like foxes, opossum, deer, skunks, prairie dogs, squirrels, and moose…  Wow, wouldn’t want to be in the plane when the moose got in the way.

    Once I got the data loaded into PowerPivot I decided that I would look at the data for airports in my region of the United States along with the data where the Microsoft BI 2010 Conference will be this year in Louisiana.  I took a look at the trend of strikes over the past nine years along with information on the cost of the repairs (wanted to see how significant the strike was), the top species that get hit (or is it the other way around?), and lastly at what point in the flight that the strike occurred.


    With the slicers I setup filters to select the states that I wanted to view (MN and surrounding states along with LA), time of day (picked Day and Night since that is typically when I would be flying), and then the month (6 for June since that is when the Microsoft BI 2010 Conference is this year).  I also utilized some of the conditional formatting capabilities in the PivotTable for the heat map effect and I couldn’t resist putting in the pie charts.  Not all of the data was labeled with an identifier so you do get some unknowns or blanks, but it was still an interesting exercise and I hope that my entry will make it into the list.  The image above was one that I used in my third attempt to place an entry today and I tweaked the bottom two PivotCharts a bit.  We will see if it ever shows up today…hopefully.

    I submitted my entry three different times this morning and you don’t get a confirmation message or feedback at all, so not sure if it even accepted it or was successful.  If you have some time later on tonight please check out the list of entries and Vote for me if I make the cutHot


    Posted in PowerPivot | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

    TDWI Minneapolis Chapter Event: Operational BI & Columnar DBMS 101 – March 9

    Posted by denglishbi on February 11, 2010

    The next TDWI Minneapolis Chapter event is scheduled and the agenda has been posted.  The focus of next month’s meeting is on innovations in business intelligence and the topics are Operational BI and Columnar Databases.


    When: Tuesday, March 9, 2010, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

    Where: Target Corporation, City Center, Minneapolis, MN 55402

    Directions please click here

    We are again pleased that Target Corp will host our March 9 meeting. Please note that this meeting is not in the same room as our September meeting. Please proceed to the 1000 Nicollet Mall location.

    Click here to register for the next upcoming event


    • 7:45 – 8:15 a.m. – Networking and Registration
    • 8:15 – 8:30 a.m. – Introduction and Chapter Business
    • 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. – Innovation Part I: Operational BI” by William McKnight
    • 9:30 – 9:45 a.m. – Break and Networking
    • 9:45 – 10:45 a.m. – Innovation Part II: “Columnar DBMS 101by William McKnight
    • 10:45 – 11:45 p.m. – Innovation Roundtable, Q&A and Collaboration
    • 11:45 – 12:00 p.m. – Closing Comments & Wrap-Up

    Click here to register for the next upcoming event

    Posted in Training | Leave a Comment »

    WROX Free SQL Server Community Training – Feb/Mar 2010

    Posted by denglishbi on February 10, 2010

    Interested in getting some free training on SQL Server?  From a DBA and/or BI Developer standpoint?  Well you are in luck, just received an email today from Brian Knight and there is some free, yes FREE training coming up this month and next month.  Make sure you sign up early if you are interested because registration is limited.

    SQL Server Global Webinar Series

    Pragmatic Works, WROX, Red Gate Software and SQL Server Central have teamed up again with the best selling authors in the SQL Server industry.  It’s not often you can get free training from the people that write the books.

    Webinar Series: SQL Server 101 Series
    New to SQL Server or trying to enter the field? This webinar series will walk you through the Microsoft SQL Server stack so that you can become a DBA or Business Intelligence (BI) developer.
    Meet the Authors – Brian Knight, Jorge Segarra, Steve Jones, Brad McGehee, Patrick LeBlanc, Christian Bolton, Adam Jorgensen, Devin Knight

    Webinar Series: Week of Business Intelligence
    In these sessions you will learn how to design a data warehouse, load it using SSIS, place a cube on top of it using SSAS and report against it using SSRS. Finally, you’ll see how to performance tune and scale the data warehouse using common techniques. All speakers have authored many of your favorite books from Wrox.
    Meet the Authors – Joy Mundy, Brian Knight, Devin Knight, Adam Jorgensen, Paul Turley, Mark Stacey, Donald Farmer

    * Registration Opens February 1st, 2010 and is limited to the first 1,000 people. Webinars traditionally fill quickly.

    Posted in Training | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

    North Central District Microsoft BI User Group 2010 Q1 Meeting – March 3

    Posted by denglishbi on February 10, 2010

    The next North Central District Microsoft BI User Group meeting will be on Wednesday, March 3 and the topics will be leveraging SharePoint for Business Process Management (Case Study) and PowerPivot (presented by Rob Collie – http://powerpivotpro.com/).


    North Central District Microsoft BI User Group 2010 Q1 Meeting

    Date: Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    Check In: 2:30 PM Event Time: 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM

    Location: Microsoft Event Center 8300 Norman Center Drive Suite 950 Bloomington, MN 55437

    Please Register Now


    • 2:30-3:00 : Registration
    • 3:00-3:15 : BI SIG Updates & Announcements
    • 3:15-4:00 : Leveraging SharePoint as a strategic platform for Planning, Budgeting and Business Performance Management
    • 4:00-4:15 : Break
    • 4:15-4:30 : Microsoft Update
    • 4:30-5:30 : In depth look at Microsoft PowerPivot to enable self-service BI
    • 5:30-??? : Social and Networking


    Leveraging SharePoint as a strategic platform for Planning, Budgeting and Business Performance Management (presented by Colleen Mlecoch, http://www.wilder.org) In an environment of rapid change and economic uncertainty, The Amherst H. Wilder Sr. Leadership needed access to data and analytical tools to quickly and accurately manage and assess business performance, develop strategic and operational alternatives, and track execution against strategies. In addition, they sought to streamline business processes by replacing a legacy budgeting application; improve document and content management; strengthen communications with internal and external stakeholders; and maximize resources available for service delivery. To satisfy this depth and breadth of needs in a cost effective manner, a unified business information architecture was required. Listen to Colleen Mlecoch, IT Director, discuss the process Wilder undertook to meet the immediate needs of improved accuracy and efficiencies in budgeting and planning while planning for the future needs around true Business Performance Management.

    In depth look at Microsoft PowerPivot to enable self-service BI (presented by Rob Collie) PowerPivot is Microsoft’s exciting entry into the field of “self-service” BI. What does it do precisely? What does it NOT do? What impact does it have on today’s BI and DB professionals, and how can you best prepare for it? What are the tenets of a successful PowerPivot adoption? How does it relate to “traditional” SQL Server Analysis Services, as well as other offerings in the MS BI stack? What can we expect from upcoming iterations of the MS BI stack? Listen to Rob Collie, a program manager on the Microsoft PowerPivot (Gemini) team and one of the founding engineers behind the product. He will answer these questions and more, as well as demonstrate any of PowerPivot’s capabilities in his session.

    Please Register Now

    Posted in Training | Leave a Comment »

    PASSMN February 23, 2010 Monthly Meeting

    Posted by denglishbi on February 10, 2010

    The next Minnesota SQL Server User Group meeting is coming up in a couple of weeks on Tuesday, February 23 from 4 to 7 at the local Microsoft office in Bloomington.  This month we will be looking at partitioning and minimal logging.  

    In order to RSVP for the event you will need to login to the national PASS site and click on the RSVP link.  This month our sponsor for the event is Benchmark Learning.

    PASSMN February 2010 Meeting – Partitioning & Minimal Logging


    • 3:30-4:00 : Networking
    • 4:00-4:15 : Announcements
    • 4:15-4:25 : Sponsor introduction
    • 4:25-5:25 : Partitioning (Barb)
    • 5:25-5:30 : Break
    • 5:30-6:30 : What is Minimal Logging? (Kalen)
    • 6:30 : Swag Drawing


    Case Study: A Partitioning Strategy for a VLDB (presented by Barbara Rokke, 3M) – With our database growing rapidly from MB to TB, maintenance tasks locking users out of data access and a 7×24 data access requirement by the clients, the DBA team needed to come up with a better way of managing the large database. Partitioning was discussed however the DBA team didn’t have time to develop a manual partition strategy. With the release of SQL Server 2005, partitioning became a viable option. After discussions with Microsoft experts and reading every bit of information available on the web (only 2 websites offering valuable information at the time), the DBA team took the leap into the Partitioning world. Partitioning was installed and a two year window processing script was developed to maintain a rolling window of data.

    This presentation will provide a review of the thought process and the implementation of the partitioning strategy the DBA team developed. Also a walk-through of the two year window processing to show self-maintenance partitioning will be reviewed.

    What is Minimal Logging? (presented by Kalen Delaney) – There is a common misconception that Simple Recovery Model means no logging, and this is a very dangerous myth to propagate. SQL Server does log database changes in Simple Recovery, but some (not all) operations are minimally logged. In this session, I’ll discuss what exactly minimal logging means and what the benefits and dangers of Simple Recovery model are.

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    Microsoft All-up BI Demo Release 9

    Posted by denglishbi on February 9, 2010

    In case you don’t follow my tweets…j/k, but not really.

    All-up MS BI Demo Release 9 Beta available in catalog to schedule, but not to download yet – http://mssalesdemos.com/ – document available to review also for demos (BI Demo_SPC_Final).  This release includes Silverlight apps, Bing Maps, Virtual Earth, MapPoint, PerformancePoint dashboards, SharePoint 2010, PowerPivot, Report Builder 3.0, etc.


    And it sounds like release 9.2 will be available sometime soon for partners (but only Nov CTP releases, not RC yet) – All-up MS BI VPC 9.2 coming soon for partners – and you will need some serious hardware (just remember these are only Nov CTP releases).

    If you were using Microsoft’s Virtual PC 2007 in the past this will not work since the new MS BI Platform leverages SharePoint 2010 which is only x64.  You will need to find alternate options to run the virtual environment.

    UPDATE (3/3/2010): The Demo Release 9.2 has been made available on the Microsoft Partner site for download.  There are 42 files in the download (around 29 GB in all, once extracted though over 80).  Need some serious RAM and of course Hyper-V for it to work.  Time to upgrade the laptop.  Demo also requires Internet connection so that you can leverage all of the demos that are included (most likely for the mapping demos I am assuming).

    Posted in Business Intelligence | 4 Comments »