Dan English's BI Blog

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

Archive for March, 2010

Q1 2010 downloads, training, and informational material

Posted by denglishbi on March 28, 2010

Just wanted to do a quarterly update on some of the items that I have downloaded and reviewed over the past few months so far.  Most of these I have tweeted about, but I know that everyone isn’t leveraging twitter yet.  I know I was skeptical at first, but since the PASS 2009 Summit I am on board and enjoying it.

So here is the list of some of the items I have checked out so far this year and these are in no particular order:

As you can see there is kind of a reoccurring theme here…SharePoint.

Hope you find some of these informational and helpful.

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Excel Monkey T-Shirt Contest Entry

Posted by denglishbi on March 25, 2010

Earlier this month Rob Collie posted a contest to come up with a design for an Excel Monkey T-Shirt contest.  Rob took a little heat for making an Excel Monkey comment during a webcast, which I might add had just over 500 people – how awesome is that?  PowerPivot still seems to slowly be peaking people’s interest.  Surprising how many people I talk to that still do not know that much about it, especially since I saw its debut at the Microsoft BI 2008 Conference by Donald Farmer.

Getting back to the Excel Monkey comment, I think certain people just didn’t like the reference.  People call me a geek and I think it is great.  If you know me, you would probably agree too.  I tend to get a little worked up about the Microsoft technology and for that matter, just about anything technology related.  If you see me in the winter months here I even promote my geekness (not sure if that is a word or not) by wearing a Geek winter cap and I even have a t-shirt that says ‘Geek Inside’ (kind of like the ‘Intel Inside’ saying).  I have some geek patches too, but haven’t done anything with those yet.  You can get this type of apparel at Think Geek (it is awesome).


So whether you are called an Excel monkey, ninja, guru, wizard, etc. I think you should be happy that you are being recognized for your abilities.  You have taken an application to the next level (maybe even generation) and your peers recognize that.

Back to the contest.  I had three or four different ideas that I was pondering and I wanted to bring them to life.  Unfortunately I am not a graphic designer, so I had to rely on Office Clipart.  I took a couple of my ideas and combined them into a single design, one on the front and the other on the back.  Here is what I came up with:


On the front I had the ‘Excel Monkey Evolution’ where I displayed four different monkeys with bananas going from Excel 4.0 to 2000 to 2007 and now PowerPivot (I know it is add-in within 2010, but it brings the self-service analytics to the users and is very powerful).  Then on the back I had ‘Unleash Your Inner Monkey’ and displayed a monkey in a karate outfit doing a kick with the PowerPivot logo again.

I believe I possibly won the contest and will get the books once they have been published, still waiting on the official word though.  I just wanted to post my entry so everyone could check it out.

UPDATE (4/7/2010): I guess I lost – http://powerpivotpro.com/2010/04/07/david-coe-wins-excel-monkey-contest/.

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TechFuse 2010 – May 6 Bloomington, MN

Posted by denglishbi on March 10, 2010

Are you ready for a full day of learning? Well you are in luck, coming up in a couple of months is the TechFuse 2010 event in Bloomington, MN.  Plus this year my application to speak at the event was accepted, so even better.  I have the only Business Intelligence related topic too, so I am anticipating a good turnout.  If you register before April 10 you get a $50 discount.  Take a look at the site and the information that is currently available online:

TechFuse Home

So getting back to my session now.  I will be talking about all of the components that are part of the Microsoft Business Intelligence toolset.  Have you ever had one of those days and you end up with something like this…imageimage

I know that this is a lot to take in and sometimes you just sit there scratching your head wondering how it all works together.  Well you are in luck.  My session will be focusing on all of these components and showing how you can leverage all of these together and utilize them to monitor your business’s performance.  Improve your organization’s information delivery and empower your end-users.  After all, it is all about bringing BI to the masses and leveraging the tools that you already own.

Here is my session information:

Leveraging the Microsoft BI Toolset to Monitor Performance
Session Level: 200–Intermediate
Audience: Someone that is looking at ways to implement business intelligence within their corporation and wondering how all the pieces can be leveraged

There are many different pieces in the Microsoft BI toolset. In this session, we will take a look at all of the different pieces and utilize each of them to create a unified dashboard, where each component is being leveraged. The tools that will be utilized during this session will include SQL Server 2008, SSRS 2008, SSAS 2008, Excel 2007, Excel Services, PPS 2007, Dashboard Designer, SharePoint Server 2007 and more.

Hope to see you there.

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PASSMN March 16, 2010 Monthly Meeting

Posted by denglishbi on March 7, 2010

The next Minnesota SQL Server User Group meeting is coming up in a couple of weeks on Tuesday, March 16 from 3 to 5:30 at the local Microsoft office in Bloomington.  This month we will be looking at common table expressions (CTEs) and database design and both sessions will be done by SQL Server MVPs, Jason Strate and Louis Davidson.  The second presentation will be done remotely by Live Meeting.

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 Idera.


PASSMN March 2010 Meeting – ABCs of CTEs & Database Design Fundamentals


2:30 – 3:00 : Networking
3:00 – 3:15 : Announcements
3:15 – 3:25 : Sponsor
3:25 – 4:25 : ABCs of CTEs (Jason Strate)
4:25 – 4:30 : Break
4:30 – 5:30 : Database Design Fundamentals (Louis Davidson)


ABCs of CTEs (presented by Jason Strate) – Common Table Expressions (CTE) aren’t as common as their name implies. CTEs are often seen as a secret part of the dark art of recursion. This session will explore CTEs to show how they can be extremely useful in improving performance and legibility of T-SQL code. And, of course, we will look at their use in returning recursive data.

Database Design Fundamentals (presented by Louis Davidson – session level Intermediate) – In this session I will give an overview of how to design a database, including the common normal forms and why they should matter to you if you are creating or modifying SQL Server databases. Data should be easy to work with in SQL Server if the database has been organized as close as possible to the standards of normalization that have proven for many years. Many common T-SQL programming "difficulties" are the result of struggling against the way data should be structured and can be avoided by applying the basic normalization techniques and are obvious things that you find yourself struggling with time and again (i.e. using the SUBSTRING function in a WHERE clause meaning you can’t use an index efficiently).

We also added a new annual sponsor for our user group, Intertech.  We are very excited to be expanding on our sponsor list for our user group and we will have some additional giveaways for this event.

Intertech .NET and Java Training

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North Central District Microsoft BI User Group Q1 2010 Follow-up

Posted by denglishbi on March 6, 2010

This past week was the first Microsoft BI User Group meeting in Minneapolis for the 2010 year, North Central District Microsoft BI User Group 2010 Q1 Meeting – imageMarch 3.  It is going to be a really exciting year with all of the products that Microsoft will be releasing in the next few months.  The Microsoft 2010 products are going RTM next month, going worldwide in May, and then open to the public in June – Get Office for Today or Tomorrow.  Then you have SQL Server 2008 R2 which is being launched in May (but in April over in Europe – SQL Server 2008 R2 Launch at European PASS 2010 Conference in April), so this is going to be a very exciting year.  I feel like a kid in a candy store…

At the user group this month we had a great turnout with around 80 to 100 people in attendance.  It was exciting to see so many people and familiar faces.  And of course the one and only Rob Collie was in attendance.  I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t recognized for being a finalist in the Alpha Geek Challenge, but I guess it just wasn’t marketed well enough internally at Microsoft or externally.  Granted I didn’t win the Grand Prize, but I did win one of the three challenges.  It was fun and unfortunately you can’t view any of the entries anymore because they have been removed and they are not displaying the winning entries either.  You can check out my entry here if you are interested – PowerPivot Beta Alpha Geek Challenge 2 Entry (and I actually was part of Challenge 3 since my entry didn’t make it into Challenge 2).

I did want to follow-up with some additional information and links in regards to PowerPivot.  Most people might not have the time to download and install Office 2010 and PowerPivot beta releases, so I wanted to let you know that on the PowerPivot website you can get some free online training with videos, demos, and there is a free virtual lab that you can do.

Microsoft Virtual Labs are a great way to test drive the new technologies without having to configure your own environment and also a great free online training option that include lab manuals.  For more virtual labs take a look at the main site here – Microsoft Virtual Labs.  In looking at the site it appears that they have been doing some house cleaning and have removed quite a few of the labs related to Business Intelligences, SQL Server 2008, and PerformancePoint.  If you are interested in these then check out my post here for the links – TechNet BI Virtual Labs.

Additional sites to checkout for more information on PowerPivot:

The next user group meeting will be June 2 and the Microsoft BI Conference is the following week.  Still not sure if I will be in attendance or not for the conference.  The materials from the meeting have not been made available yet on the site, but they should be at some point – North Central Microsoft BI User Group.  This user group has been officially rebranded to be strictly Microsoft now tooHot

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