Invisible voices of #diversity: being ignored, being hepeated, and what you can do to be heard and help others to be heard

One of the issues of diversity is that people can suffer from diversity myopia, which I understand to be the situation where people don’t see diversity clearly. I now think that the issue is that sometimes that people from diverse backgrounds are simply not seen in the first place. Like the protagonist in the Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, you’re simply not seen in the first place.

What if this happens to you? What can you do about it? In thist post, I’m going to discuss why this happens, and what you can do about it.

Not Seeing Clearly, or not Seeing at All?

This is a key challenge in diversity. People can unthinkingly believe that they accept people regardless of backgrounds, but the reality is, they don’t always see them. This forms a confirmation bias, since we don’t measure ourselves on the data that we haven’t seen. To be really diverse, you have to see first. If someone remains ‘invisible’ and ‘unseen’, then their voices aren’t heard of their voices are ignored. This means that unthinking people are unconsciously unaware that they don’t move from ‘seeing’ to ‘understanding’ diversity. And people don’t ‘understand’ diversity if they can’t ‘see’ it, which means that they never come to value diversity.

Therefore, when dealing with people from different backgrounds, there can be instances of ‘not seeing’. For example, if someone ignores my participation in an email thread and forks a new thread that ignores my contribution, it tells me that I’m simply not being ‘seen’ in people’s inboxes. Right away, they just pass over the name, so I get dismissed right away as irrelevant.

But that was my idea…. Being Hepeated

It can also lead to instances of he-peating, where someone takes or copies your contribution and then owns it, and I think it’s probably because the idea has impinged itself upon the hepeater but you haven’t done so. Your idea has made it’s way to someone’s consciousness, but you haven’t made it. If you complain about it, then this can be interpreted as ‘unladylike’ behaviour and people only remember that you complained about something. It’s easy to ignore somoene as a complainer, than it is to really question yourself over your behaviour.

Mastering the Lizard Brain

crocodile-2434838_1920Mastering the lizard brain really developing a harsh lens on yourself to obtain self-awareness and realize your impact on others. It’s my hunch that many adults never reach that stage of development at all, but if you are leader, then you have to be very self-honest to strive to master the lizard brain.

Ask yourself hard questions. What would you think if someone did that to you? Can you see things throug their lens? It becomes very uncomfortable to ask yourself if you are really diverse or not. We like to live in the comfort zone but that’s not where the growth takes place.

Reasons or excuses? You have to ask yourself if you are giving yourself reasons or giving yourself excuses.

Something isn’t true just because you said it. In conversation, I can hear someone give themselves an excuse for behaving in a certain way, and it can seem as if they accept it as truth simply because they said it.  Our brains fool us into being directed down that path, because we said it.

Again, it’s about mastering the lizard brain and being flexible and adaptable to new data and analysis of ourselves, even if we feel uncomfortable.

What can you do to be heard?

timeout-3373329_1920I think that a lot of people struggle with this issue. I know that I do. Why does this happen?

I’m going to propose ways that you can try to overcome these issues.

 

 

Always add value to the meeting or conversation. Don’t use weasel words. Remove phrases from your vocabulary such as ‘I think’, ‘perhaps’, ‘in my opinion, ‘this could just be me but maybe’ and other weasel words.

Practice speaking up more, and with more confidence and power. Ask yourself; do I sound sure or do I invalidate myself with disclaimer type phrases?

Try to learn to interrupt politely. There are some great tips here. Here’s my favourite idea and I do this a lot: in a business meeting with a lot of people with big egos, pauses dont’ come often so you will have to jump in. You’ll seem less rude if you first restate (“If I hear you correctly, you’re saying XYZ’ and then follow on from there.

Learn to hold the floor when you speak. You can do this by adding some colour to what someone else has just said (e.g. ‘following on from Jane’s point) but adding new insights that add depth or breadth.

masks-1242822_1920You can set up allies in the room so you can echo and support each other. I have had to do this, and it doesn’t feel good because it feels like you’ve already lost before you’ve opened your mouth. However, it does work and it will help you to network and get things done under the radar.

Learn to sell your achievements without going overboard e.g. ‘my team and I’ is a nice starter as a way of discussing your achievements.

Sit near the centre of the table or the floor. Sitting at the side or the back can mean it’s harder to grab and retain attention.

Be judicious in allowing yourself to be interrupted. If someone simply repeats what you said, pretty much, then be careful that it isn’t a potential hepeater.

Practice and improvisation. I did a course in improv, and it helped a lot. Here’s a reference if you’d like to follow this up: Leading with Applied Improv with Izzy Gesell. There’s a lot of wisdom there and I recommend that you follow it up on LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/learning/leading-with-applied-improv/reflection-leadership-and-empathy

When you think about this list for yourself, keep others in mind, too. You can be the person that brings others along a journey to new heights and experiences in their career, thereby building your network and being a leader. Think about the lizard brain in yourself and others.

 

 

 

Custom Modules for #AzureML

Have you seen the custom modules for AzureML yet?

One neat custom module that I’ve been using is the Create Scatterplot module, which uses ggplot2 and R in order to create a scatterplot. It’s possible to do this in AzureML already but it takes a few extra steps, and it is good to be able to reduce clicks in doing activities where possible.

It is useful for identifying outliers, which has been one of my areas of investigation in the current Data Science project that I’m currently leading.

How do you use custom modules?

  • Open the sample experiment in AzureML Studio
  • Add the module to a project so it is accessible to all of the experiments in the project
  • When you next open your experiment, you will see a new module group on the left hand side, called Custom. The Custom module will be in it.

And that’s it! You can now use the module in your experiment.

Business Goals for 2019: Looking back over 2018 and forward

December is a great time for setting personal and business goals for next year. I’d hoped for some downtime at this time of year, but I’ve picked up a crucial data science project which needs to be delivered over Christmas so there isn’t much downtime. I’m also starting to write another book, which will be my fourth published book, and that will require focus. So I will be working every day except Christmas Day, and that includes weekends as usual.

As part of my MBA program, I’ve done lots of strategic analysis modelling for businesses, starting with the default SWOT and a PESTLE analysis through to different models: Porter, Business Canvas Model, SOAR, and so on. I am not going to share here. The reality is, with Brexit, it’s more difficult to plan. Markets, and businesses, do not like uncertainty. Businesses, like countries, benefit in the longer term from open trade. Increasingly, global competition will occur on a more level playing field but there has to be open access for that to occur. Brexit is a plan for the right by the right, and it is stopping the open access that we enjoyed previously.

For what it is worth, here is my take on Brexit: I believe that May’s Remainy Brexit plan will never get through Parliament because it pretty much keeps us in the Customs Union. This means that the People’s Vote option will become increasingly likely. We are no longer talking about the big red bus lie and we see the chaos. If there is another vote, I hope that we will stay in the EU as we are now.  So I am going to assume that all other things remain equal.

More than talking a good game

I was contacted me recently, by a former colleague who explained to me that someone had spoken to them about me. This ‘someone’ had told them that I was too small to deliver a project, that I didn’t know what I was talking about but I talked a ‘good game’, and that I would never deliver on time or on budget. The former colleague was so concerned about what they’d heard, that they invited me to lunch to explain the accusations which were stated behind my back. I was so horrified and fairly mystified; I had never worked with this individual and I didn’t really know them. I just asked for specific examples where I had just ‘talked a good game’ and not delivered on time or on budget, because I had no idea where they got their evidence from. It was all fairly alarming but of course the ‘someone’ hadn’t given any basis for their assertions at all.

In any case, the former colleague simply said that they would continue to work with me and they enjoyed working with me in the past; they had their own evidence to go on, and it is a mark of our good relationship that they talked to me about it at all. I was hugely relieved but I do wonder how often these tactics work, so I’ve decided to explain myself here and discuss this in terms of my goals.

So if you’re here because you’ve heard something similar, please let me know and we can have an honest discussion. I’ve got over twenty years as a Consultant, and I have postgraduate degrees plus industry experience in delivering Artificial Intelligence solutions. I’m writing my fourth book in Business Intelligence and I’ve edited another two. I have presented to five thousand people in the past month. So I do talk but I also deliver.

How was 2018 for you?

Data Relish Ltd was originally set up as Copper Blue Consulting, and was rebranded three years ago in order to make the offerings more clear. I have employed people in the past, and I had a business partner for a few years but that relationship is no longer in place. I do work for myself but note the following points:

Contracts and Partnerships

Current Status for 2018: I have partners who help me to deliver effectively. I have contracts in place with large partner organizations which allow me to scale; I have partnerships for 24 by 7 support, for example. Partnerships allow me access to sales, marketing and legal backup when I need it. Some of these partnerships are with Azure resellers and organizations, and I do not directly sell Azure so that my customers can benefit from the support that my partner organizations offer.

I am not releasing partner names here; I have a degree of concern, originating from the conversation with my customer, that there is a strong need for confidentiality on the basis that I’ve had the aforementioned stunt pulled on me. I am not giving any names away so that I inadvertently give detractors the opportunity to repeat their performance.

Customers

Current Status for 2018: 50% repeat customers with 50% new customers generated by word–of-mouth from previous customers

I am able to provide references on request from organizations of different sizes, verticals and global impact. Some of my customers are multi-billion turnover, right down to startups. I don’t make a huge effort to market myself because all of my work comes from word-of-mouth. Since I am so dependent on word-of-mouth marketing, it can mean I’m susceptible to stunts like the one mentioned above since I don’t have the flashy marketing that might give some people comfort. I have started to look more closely at marketing and I have set up a partnership with a small consulting firm to help me. It works well since they give me help, but I also pass on leads that I receive, and we have jointly delivered projects on occasion.

Business Community

Current Status for 2018: I started more business networking last year but it tailed off in February. Reason: I was not picking the right events well enough and I got disheartened.

I have started to attend Chamber of Commerce events again, and I met with David Gauke MP (Minister for Justice) and Richard Harrington MP (Minister of Business and Industry) this year. I am interested in learning from the local business leaders here in Hertfordshire, and also looking at ways that I can feed back into the business community. Networking is important and it builds trust. Additionally, being part of the local Chamber groups is offering the route of having our voices heard jointly in Government, and I was surprised to learn that our local MPs have regular and frequent meetings with Chamber representatives. Business is crucial to the success of society by keeping cashflow moving, providing jobs and stability and homes. I advise businesses strategically because I believe in putting the business back into business intelligence, and at the front-and-centre of artificial intelligence efforts.

Charity

I was a Data Ambassador for DataKind this year. Wow! What a rewarding, creative experience and it was incredibly satisfying to work with people who love data and want to do good with data science to help charities.

Current Status for 2018: I got involved with DataKind. You know who you are and I love you all; you have brought such knowledge, fun and great company to my life and you shine your light far out. You cancel out the darkness where people behave as in the anecdote above. Thank you for your healing.

 

So what are my Goals?

Here is the list of goals for 2019:

Contracts and Partnerships

Goals for 2019: I have partners who help me to deliver effectively and I will continue to honour the trust that they have put in me.

In 2019, I do not intend to employ people now since it takes me away from doing things that I love. I may do so in 2020 but it is not the right thing for me at this time. I have previously lost sleep over making people redundant and I do not want that burden again. I work on projects, often, that are simply too big for me to run out and hire a whole team of people and it would be madness to try. How could I even support things like 24 hour support? These are big projects and I need help quickly. Customers need help with AI, BI and Data Science leadership. So it works well.

Customers

I have done extremely well this year and I am proud of my customer list. Through partnerships and on my own, I have punched well above my diminuitive size to have a customer list where my customers have billions and billions in turnover and it is a mind-boggling amount when I add up the turnover amount of all these customers combined.

I do help them to be even more successful and I do help them make technology choices as part of the vision and strategy that I help them to formulate and devise.

Goal: More repeat custom and generate new customers. 50%/50% split between regular customers and new customers is a good split, and it worked well for me this year. As I lead customers to success, they drop off my customer list because they don’t need me any more; but that’s what I want! Self-sufficient, satisfied customers who are enabled and empowered to move on, and who recommend me to their colleagues and community.

Business Community

I am going to set myself the target of attending more business events this year. I am currently researching the business events that have value, and the ones that do not offer value to me.

Goal: I intend to re-ignite my business networking in a more targeted way. I have been pleased to meet leaders that I can learn from, and i hope to contribute more.

Charity

I was a Data Ambassador for DataKind this year. Wow! What a rewarding, creative experience and it was incredibly satisfying to work with people who love data and want to do good with data science to help charities.

Goal for 2019: More of the same. I get enormous richness from philanthropic efforts and I want to help people.

I wish you all the best for 2019! And don’t let anyone steal your pixie dust.

pixiedust

 

 

Be Insights Driven! Why we should not just be Data Driven, and definitely not Tool Driven. #PowerBI, #Tableau, #Qlik

I presented at a ‘BI without the BS’ event in London in November 2018. The idea was that there would be three tools and three players; Qlik, Tableau and Power BI, a judging panel, and a live audience of about 100 people. I represented Power BI and it was very clear that only a few people had seen it before.

As a data visualization person, I’m all about making things clear for people and that was why my story was much simpler and the facts were compelling, displayed in Power BI; I told a story which had a call to action.

My interpretation of the rules

My interpretation of the rules was that data storytelling was one of the main judging criteria. I had not seen the event as a product demo, and that’s why I emphasized the insights that Power BI gave me over knobs and levers that each tool can do. Product demos are easy, but not everyone can find insights in data.

Google Chief Economist Hal Varian predicted that data storytellers are the future over a decade ago. With data as the new oil, every company is seeking new ways to monetize their data. So my emphasis had been on data storytelling with a particular tool, but not trying to sell the tool itself as a demo. That’s my boxing ring to play in, and that’s the hard part of working with data.

An Equal Playing Ground for Games?

For my Power BI piece, my insights were all about the complexities in being a woman in gaming. My Power BI analysis showed that women earned just $1.8m in prize money in total, but the top male game winners earned $145m in total. See the tiny pink sliver? That’s the proportion that women earn in gaming competitions. If you’re thinking, that’s not a good dataviz to show, I can barely see the sliver – then you have missed the point. The point is, it is a tiny sliver. For colours, I have used Dark Orchid to represent female players, and Teal to represent male data throughout the visualization.

Female vs Male Prize Money in Games

So there was a huge difference. In case you need the numbers:

card

So there is a huge disparity between male and female earnings. Is this because there are less women players? Apparently not. This chart shows that the gap between male and female players is narrowing:

Male vs Female Game Players by trend
In the data, I noted that the players were ranked from 1 to 100, for each gender. So I pitted the men and women together in terms of rank to show how the first ranked male player earned versus the first ranked female player. Here is the chart, in Power BI:

Prize Money by Gender

You can see that the girls’ earnings are practically flat, whereas the male earnings are vastly higher. The gender gap in pay is real, absolutely real.

I also noted that the lowest ranked player still earned more than double what the highest earning female player did. So the data showed lots of insights; it depended if you were willing to see things that made you uncomfortable.

Then, I wondered if there was a relationship between the number of tournaments played, and the prize money won. So, I used the male data here to see if  a reasonable relationship could be inferred between the number of tournaments played, and the amount of prize money earned. If women are playing less tournaments, then naturally they will earn less. So how did that pan out?

Relationship between No of Tournaments and Game Prize Money

The interesting thing was that the total number of tournaments played (on the X axis) didn’t seem to impact the amount of prize money earned. I’d have to do more analysis but you can see a vague relationship in the hexbin chart, but with a lot of outliers. I might come back and look at that another day, using R and Python or something.

Gaming in Real Life

So my piece was more about exploring the idea that there is no equal playing ground for women in gaming, and that’s certainly borne out by some of women’s experiences in the gaming world. Harassment for women in gaming can involve sexist insults or comments, death or rape threats, demanding sexual favors in exchange for virtual or real money, or even stalking. The GamerGate scandal tells you all you need to know about it, I suppose. Alternatively, you could look at Fat, Ugly or Slutty where women record instances of instances of sexism. Warning; it is not a pretty read. Or women hiding their identity online as a female, which is a safety measure that many women take. The most recent threat against female gamer Anita Sarkeesian was in Logan, Utah on October 15, 2014. She was scheduled to deliver a speech on a Wednesday evening until an anonymous email message arrived a day before, stating that there would be the deadliest school shooting in American history if the event was held. So don’t kid yourself that this isn’t real, and the impact means that many women are excluded from feeling that they can enter competitions in gaming.

Be Insights Driven, not Data Driven, and definitely not Tool Driven

When you analyze data, you bring your own personality and insights to analyzing data. I don’t believe that tools can solve problems; I believe that we have a lot of data, but no insight, information or wisdom unless we do something with the data. I don’t like the phrase data-driven; I prefer insights-driven. Qlik, Tableau or Power BI aren’t going to solve problems for you; they will just display data that hopefully brings about insights. The insights are yours and you can use each tool equally badly if you don’t have a story or a thread, or the data isn’t provoking an insight. We were all given the same data but we got very different results. That wasn’t down to the tool; it was down to the person driving the tool.

What I thought of the Tableau piece

I liked what Chris Love ( LinkedIn ¦ Twitter ) did; he clearly knows his stuff and it was nice to meet him in person. Funnily enough, we used to have the same boss when I had a boss (hello Tom Brown!).

I did find Chris Love’s visualization more interesting because he honed in on the journey of one player from the starting point to his success in winning a lot of money, and the journey was well displayed in Tableau. Chris had a good balance of context and detail, and for me, this was the data story telling piece. Here is the image below, credit to Laura Sandford:

 ChrisLoveTableau.jpg_large

What I thought of the Qlik piece

Nick Blewden ( LinkedIn, not on Twitter) is obviously fantastic at Qlikview and he did a good job of showcasing it. To be honest, I felt out of my depth here since it was a whizz tour of the product but since I’m not familiar with Qlik, I felt a bit bludgeoned with chart after chart and I couldn’t see a clear thread; it was information load as I tried to pick up the Qlik lingo as well as follow the story. I understand that Nick’s segment wasn’t aimed at beginners in Qlik and that’s ok with me; he only had five minutes to showcase what he’d done and he did a great job.

I am not familiar with the Qlik product set but a lot of the audience clearly were, and I could hear lots of mutters about ‘good to see he’s showing that feature’. So my perspective here is that of someone who does not know Qlik but who has expertise in Tableau and Power BI.  I can look at Qlik another time, if I choose.

I felt I’d let Power BI down at that point because I had not gone down that route of doing a product demo and I feel really bad about that. I had gone for the analytics and insights part because I’d understood the rules that way, and the audience can see a Power BI demo anytime they like.

One reason for me to present at the event was that I’d seen it as an opportunity to learn more about Qlik from the session, but all I saw was chart after chart. For me, there were lots of business intelligence dashboard and that’s fine and I think that it was a good product demo.

So my lasting takeaway from the Qlik segment is this dashboard was interesting because it showed that it was quick to produce a lot of charts very quickly, but sometimes ‘less is more’. I’m a fan of Stephen Few and he talks about the importance of finding the signal in the noise, and having a ton of charts can simply mean more noise if they are not meaningful. Here is the image below, credit to Laura Sandford:

NickBlewdenQlik.jpg_large

What I’d like to see next

I think I’d have preferred a larger, more mixed audience. A lot of people seemed to know one another already and I only knew one person in the audience. I’m not part of that community and it was nice to meet new people at the end.

Honestly, I’m not a fan of being shouted at by men I don’t know; it is really unpleasant. I think that the audience members should have the courtesy to refrain from shouting out during the performance. I was really put off with people shouting ‘Come on Qlik!’ and ‘Come on Tableau’ during the event. I didn’t hear a single voice for Power BI, not that it mattered; it really disrupted my thought flows to have people shouting when you’re trying to analyse data and I found it unsettling. Being at a live event isn’t like Gogglebox where the presenters can’t hear you.

So what did I think about the Power BI vs Tableau vs Qlik debate?

So what were my takeaways?

My call to action: be Insights Driven, not Data Driven, and definitely not Tool Driven.

According to the Qlik website ‘Deliver automated insight suggestions that help users see their data in new ways, auto-generating and prioritizing analytics and insights based on the overall data set and a user’s search criteria.’ Demystifying the marketing, it seems as if this means producing a ton of charts really quickly and if that’s what you’re looking for, it certainly did that. My overriding thought was that it can produce lots of charts but I really want to find meaning in charts, and I don’t measure meaning in charts by having as many charts as possible. I just got lost and I actually don’t think that’s good for Qlik.

For Tableau, I’d like to see Tableau become a real enterprise tool and it still feels like a cog in an enterprise wheel to me. I would not do any data prep in Tableau Prep although I do have experience in it; I’d want to use Power BI dataflows to clean data so that the data and the dataflows become part of the enterprise ecosystem.

I build big systems and I need to think big. When I’ve been working for customers, I’ve found it is easier to show ROI with Tableau and Power BI but it has taken longer for people to realize ROI with Qlik.

I am eternally confused by licensing and I find Tableau’s licensing simpler; Power BI and Qlik seem to be way more confusing to me. For Power BI, I always refer the customer back to their Microsoft reseller because they can figure it out for them.

My Power BI dashboard is here, for those of you who want to play with it:

https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiOTNmMzUyODAtZGFjZC00OTUxLWIxMmQtMDYzMTA5OWU1OGRkIiwidCI6ImFmMTA4OTMyLTkxNmQtNGUwNi1hZjVmLTAyMzg0NjZiZWRiMCIsImMiOjh9

Call to Action

I have put links, credits and sources here in case you want to play with the data.

Power BI Functionality

Colour Palette Used

Teal
#066082
#068
teal
hsl(196,91,26)
rgb(6,96,130)
Orchid
#b12acf
#b3d
darkorchid
hsl(289,66,48)
rgb(177,42,207)
Sandybrown
#fed044
#fd4
sandybrown
hsl(45,98,63)
rgb(254,208,68)

References

Distribution of computer and video gamers in the United States from 2006 to 2018, by gender. Source: Statista 
Why aren’t there more women in eSports?

 

Mental Health in Consultancy: You do You

I was inspired by Mark Christie’s post here, Mental Health in Consultancy. I would like to thank Mark for his honest and inspirational sharing of his story. I’d also like to thank Kenneth Fisher for writing Missing those we’ve lost. With this in mind, I wanted to chat about these harder topics.

Here’s my thoughts: Let your light shine out. Success is doing what you want to do, and living your life as you want. Plenty will poke your nose in to tell you that you are doing things wrong, if you let them. But if you need someone, reach out.

You do You.

Mark talked eloquently about the pressures of being a consultant. Like him, I have chosen this life for myself. I have travelled the world to the point where I wasn’t sure which language I should be speaking (I learned some Swedish and Italian in my twenties, as well as French as part of my postgrad AI degree, but the Swedish and Italian have disappeared from my skill set).

I have very little support around me and I tend to pay for the support that I do have. So, I am a divorced single parent who happens to have chosen to be in front of a crowd rather than in a crowd. So, in the past few weeks, I have been selected to be one of the top Analytics influencers in 2018, and now I have been selected as one of the Top Data Science influencers. To it seems as if life has been good to me.

In fact, quite the opposite. I have been poor, a single parent, a victim/survivor, and bullied, and I have been spectacularly gaslit. And a successful consultant. So how did I move forward?

So here’s my secrets, randomly stated:

Get rid of people around you who are not good to you, or good for you. You don’t have to be uncivil.

Have faith in other people, but also be accepting. They are not stupid. If people aren’t being good to you, believe that others will see it eventually.

Face Forward. When I look back, I am not sure how I survived but I think that the secret is not to look back. You can do that by living meaningfully.

Live meaningfully. I get a kick out of working as a data science volunteer for charities. I meet likeminded people and I have company for a while. I’ve also learned something technical. I’ve also helped people that I haven’t met. Which brings me to my next point.

The people who like you, and who spend time with you, are not your friends. Some of the people who have been a real friend to me are people whom I do not know. So when I needed people around me, many people stepped back.

Success is like a video game. The closer you get to the goal, or the more successful you seem to be, the more haters (or game ‘baddies’) appear. They might be throwing things at you, but they are still behind you. So you need to accept haters and people who plagiarize your ideas as their own. You can just ignore them and strive to be the better person. Disassociate yourself from them. All you can do is say ‘I don’t know that person, I don’t know where they get their information from’ if they are talking about you. Let them rock on. They won’t change or learn.

Think about the war, not the battles. I have found some solace in the Buddhist journey. It has helped me to see over and above the daily battles.  I also find this quote from the Bhagavad Gita speaks to my soul:

O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.
Bhagavad Gita 2.14,
Srila Prabhupada

Be the person you’d like someone else to be for you. It’s hard, and I’ve had to swallow a lot of bile; it has to go somewhere. But the best revenge is success, and if you are having a hard time, just go for it.

Try to be the better person. Don’t react; people will only continue to throw things, and they will reveal their hate.

Oh, and eat well. I like Udo’s Choice oil for balancing out the need for sugar, which can lead to highs and lows in blood sugar, thereby making the world appear darker than it is. Consulting can lead to bad food choices: eating on the go. So try and think about that, and how you can eat better.

Good luck, and like Mark said, please ping me if you’d like to talk. We have to look after other people; it makes us stronger. And I don’t mean silly things like ‘help with a CV’ or ‘let off steam about something trivial’. I mean proper talk about mental health. Kenneth points out to some good ideas and resources.

Want to learn how to skill up from #BusinessIntelligence to #ArtificialIntelligence? Join me at #Live360 in Florida

I’ll be speaking at Live! 360 Orlando, December 2-7. Surrounded by your fellow industry professionals, Live! 360 provides you with immediately usable training and education that will keep you relevant in the workforce.

SPECIAL OFFER: As a speaker, I can extend $500 savings on the 5-day package. Register here: http://bit.ly/OSPK88Reg

OSPK88

Workshop: Moving from BI to AI: Artificial Intelligence Skills for Business Intelligence Professionals

Are you interested in reusing your existing BI skillset in order to add Artificial Intelligence to your skillset? Is your organisation interested in applying AI at a practical level? If so, this precon is for you.

In this precon, you will leverage your existing BI skillset to learn Microsoft’s latest AI technologies. You will learn AzureML, using your existing SSIS expertise. You will also learn R and Python, using your knowledge of SQL in SQL Server to get a working knowledge of these languages and their use in AI. You will use your conceptual knowledge of Business Intelligence to learn how to choose the right model for your AI work, and how to identify its value and validity.

Join this session to add AI to your organization’s technical capability, springboarding from skills that you already possess.

Workshop Agenda

Moving from BI to AI: Artificial Intelligence skills for Business Intelligence professionals

9.00am AI for the Enterprise

AI for the Enterprise

What is AI? Terminology that you need to know

Blueprint for AI in the Enterprise

Technology Overview; how do you choose the best tools to provide business value?

 

In this section, we will look at what you need to know to set the scene for AI for the enterprise. There is a very wide range of technologies in the AI space, and this section will introduce the key players and how they compare with one another, along with clear explanations on how they are used best. The session will also propose a blueprint for delivering successful AI projects, from the business perspective.

 

10.00am Get started with AI in Azure

  • Introduction to AzureML
  • Build simple machine learning models with Azure Machine Learning

In this section, you will get hands-on experience in practice building a machine learning model from end-to-end, using AzureML. This is intended to formalize some of the knowledge you have learned so far. In this section, you will ingest data, select a model, train and test a model, and make it production-ready. Then, you can visualize your results in Power BI.

11.30 Selecting your model in AI

An exploration of models in AI

Selecting models in AI

Evaluating models in AI

In this section, we will cover AI models in detail. We will look at the models themselves, their differences and similarities, and how to choose between the models. We will also look at ways of evaluating models.

12.30 – 1.30 Lunch

1.30 Working with Microsoft ML Server and R

  • Fundamentals of R
  • Microsoft ML Server
  • Using R with Microsoft ML Server

In this section, we will cover the fundamentals of R, and how we can use it to create robust, production models using Microsoft ML Server. R is a first class citizen in Microsoft’s Data Platform offerings, and it touches other technologies, such as AzureML, SQL Server and Power BI. We will cover its use in Microsoft Machine Learning Server to help provision a flexible enterprise platform for analyzing data at scale, building intelligent apps, and discovering valuable insights across your business. Machine Learning Server meets the needs of all constituents of the process – from data engineers and data scientists to line-of-business programmers and IT professionals. It offers a choice of languages and features algorithmic innovation that brings the best of open-source and proprietary worlds together.

2.45 Break

3.00 Python Data Science Notebook and Labs

Python is an important skill in analysing data, data science and artificial intelligence. In the final segment, you will learn about Python, how to use it, and how to use Notebooks to work with your code.

5.00 Wrap up and QA

Fracking For the Rest of Us: Exploring with #PowerBI

Having heard of some of the news about fracking in the BBC news, I decided to try and understand it better. I thought I’d analyse some data, and pop it here.

What is Fracking?

Fracking is described as the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique to extract gas and oil from the earth. Liquid is pumped underground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas or oil within. Here is a diagram, courtesy of the BBC:

104057230_shale_gas_extraction_640-nc

Image Credit: BBC

What does Fracking have to do with Earthquakes? A 2011 study showed that it was “highly probable” the test drilling for shale gas caused the tremors at that time. Despite the findings, the UK Government and Cuadrilla decided to proceed.

People are concerned that fracking will cause more earthquakes than expected in their region. The organization responsible for the fracking is called Cuadrilla, and their chief executive Francis Egan commented that he expected more incidents to be recorded because of the sensitivity of the recording equipment used by the company.

This irked me, because it pushed the blame onto the equipment, rather than the fracking itself. So I thought I’d take a look at the data, to see if earthquakes was more prevalent in the Lancashire area.

Let’s look at the earthquake data from the British Geological Survey for the last 100 days. I noted only one error in the data; one of the records records the region as Blackpool.Lancashire with a full stop but the others were reported as Blackpool,Lancashire with a comma. It was trivial to fix the data, so I just did it.

How many earthquakes occurred in the Lancashire area over the last 100 days compared to other areas?

This chart, conducted in Microsoft’s Power BI, is fairly compelling, showing that the top number of earthquakes for the last 100 days took place in the Lancashire region:

1 Fracking Earthquake Count

This chart only shows the top eight regions, so let’s take a look at Lancashire versus the rest of the UK:

2 Fracking Lancashire vs non Lancashire

Ok, so over the last one hundred days, one third have occurred in Lancashire. From the data visualization perspective, yes, it is a pie chart but they are useful and impactful when you have a few slices only, and you want to make an impact.

Over time, what does this really mean?

The chart below shows a huge jump in the number of Earthquakes in Lancashire in October 2018, which is the month when the fracking began. Lancashire earthquakes are denoted in blue:

3 Lancashire vs Non Lancashire last 100 days

So, the chart shows that there were a total of 23 earthquakes in the Lancashire area in October. But when did they actually take place?

Since 15 October, Little Plumpton has been the first UK shale fracking site after the process was halted in 2011. How many of the 23 earthquakes took place from that date onwards? Lancashire earthquakes are given in dark teal blue; other areas are given in lighter blue. Some dates are missing on the X axis because earthquakes did not happen on those dates. You can see that they start in earnest in the second half of the month.

4 Number of Earthquakes in October 2018 from 1 to 27 Oct

We can see from this simple chart that all 23 earthquakes in Lancashire took place from October 18th onwards. Note that the fracking in Lancashire started on 15th October 2018.

Where did these earthquakes occur? Let’s look at the Lancashire earthquakes, with Lancashire highlighted in teal blue:

5 UK Map of Fracking

Let’s zoom in on Lancashire. According to the Cuadrilla site, the fracking takes place at Preston New Road.

According to the data, the earthquakes around Blackpool in October happened at this site here. I have plotted the lat long of the earthquakes, using the British Geological Survey data, and popped it on a map in Power BI and used Bing for the background maps. Note that this is in inexact because the full lat long isn’t provided by the data; it is only rounded data supplied. This is a graphical representation, just to give the reader an idea where the centre is recorded, according to the British Geological Survey data. The data is recorded as ‘Earthquakes around the British Isles in the last 100 days’ and it records seismic activity from the very small to the very large. This map only shows the location, not the severity.

7 Map of Lancashire earthquakes

There are less bubbles than 23 earthquakes total because some of the earthquakes happened repeatedly in the same place, according to the rounded lat and long data. Since it is rounded, it introduces inaccuracies but it’s been given here as an illustration.

Caveat: This map isn’t totally accurate. Future and further work would involve more detailed mapping with something like ArcGIS, and full lat long data, not just rounded. Here is what the data looks like and you can get it here:

The table also shows the magnitude, so some of the movements are recorded as tiny i.e. 0.0 to larger events i.e. 0.8.

8 Data Sample for earthquakes

On Friday 26th October, a Cuadrilla spokesman said: “Micro seismic events such as these result in tiny movements that are way below anything that would be felt at surface, much less cause any harm or damage.”

How does my data compare to the BBC? The BBC have generously provided a map, which matches mine at a high level. Mine is very detailed because I got the lat long data from the British Geological Survey.  Here is the BBC version:

103872955_fracking_640-nc

Power BI made it easy to go through the data, fix an error, and then produce simple graphs, charts and maps to tell a story. I’m not a geological scientist but it seems a simple view of the data should raise serious concerns about the human activity there, and what we are doing to the area.

Lancashire isn’t supposed to have 23 earthquakes in the space of ten days.

I’m not reassured by the Cuadrilla message at all; my argument would be that these ‘tiny movements’ should not be taking place at all and it’s obvious that human activity is doing it.

The data shows that these events wouldn’t be happening if the fracking wasn’t taking place. In Lancashire, 23 earthquakes in the space of less than ten days should be a call to everyone to wake up and stop this activity permanently.

Why Lancashire?

The Lancashire County Council’s decision process on fracking can be found here.  Note that the Council have forecasted and set out a medium term forecast funding gap of £144.084m by the end of the 4 year period (2018/19 –2021/22). Cuadrilla have invested £10m in Lancashire but this is nowhere near the funding gap that the local County Council have projected.

The Government is still looking at ways to replace the money that Lancashire will lose as a result of leaving the EU in terms of the Shared Properity Fund, but, to date, nothing has been sorted for Lancashire. My hunch – and it is a pure guess – that the Lancashire finances need to be sorted somehow and that’s why fracking has been pushed through. Lancashire is running out of options.

In Scotland, there is investment in green energy and you don’t have to look far to see windmills. I don’t see why the good people of Lancashire can’t be afforded the same investment in green energy, with jobs, reskilling and opportunities in the things that we should be great at: community, science, tech and energy. Britain needs jobs and opportunities more than ever, and the North needs to be regarded just as carefully as the South of the UK.

Opinion

My opinion is that between the Brexit debacle and fracking, we are shooting ourselves in the foot in Britain. Any hearkening back to a better age of Britain is just nonsense. We can’t sort ourselves out.

Whether you agree with Brexit or not, we still haven’t managed to get an agreement sorted and we should have done that by now. Hell, we can’t even get our rail and roads sorted. And now we are creating environmental earthquakes because we need the money. That smells of desperation and I’m sure that the stench of it will attract even more of this type of behaviour until something really bad happens.