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?

 

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.

A Day in the Life of Jen Stirrup: Wednesday 25th July, 2018 #SQLCareer

As a follow up to my last post, I thought I’d share more details with you.

Midnight

As before, I’ll start my day at midnight. I’m reading about motivation and reward, and it’s role on organizational behaviour. If you’re really interested, I’m reading Karabenick and Urdan’s 2010 book, and specifically, it’s chapter on expectancy theory. If you want the skinny, here is the Wikipedia entry on Expectancy Theory. You can see it relates to a lot of things, including how people solve problems on computers. There’s some research that suggests that the usability and user adoption of a computer solution depends on a few things, including the user’s self-confidence and the expected usefulness of the solution. As an architect who builds BI, data science and data-oriented solutions in general, this is important to me since it helps me to understand what decision processes people go through when they decide whether to use software or not.

1.30am – Sleep

6.30am – I am woken by doggy licks and demands for cuddles by Copy and Paste, who, somehow, have managed to break out of the dining room and break into my bedroom. I am sure that there is some teamwork going on somewhere. I let them outside, and I shower. The three of us eat breakfast in my back garden.

7am – Due to the heatwave, I’m taking Copy and Paste out early in the morning, and then again late at night.

8am – Back home, and it’s time to start my day. Plenty of fluids for Copy and Paste and for me, and then C + P go and hide from the heat.

Dealing with the Hot Spots at work

If you know anything about FlyLady, you will know she’s an online coach who helps you to declutter and clean the house. Why am I talking about this? Because there is a lot of home-spun common sense in her materials, which can apply to different things. Take, for example, a hotspot. According to FlyLady, we have hotspots in our home that just collect clutter and junk, and her advice is to go for progress rather than perfection so that you eventually work through it. FlyLady’s advice is that you should make a daily effort to spend an allotted time, even just minutes a day, working on a hotspot.

A hot spot is an area, when left unattended, that will gradually take over. My favorite analogy is of a hot spot in a forest fire; if left alone, it will eventually get out of hand and burn up the whole forest. – FlyLady

I think we all have hotspots in our work, which we hate doing. For me, it’s my accounts, and, in particular, my expenses. So, today I’m dealing with my expenses so I can give them to Anja, my rather long-suffering personal assistant. We work together remotely and my hated job is getting the expenses in a format she needs so she can upload the expenses and add corresponding details into Receipt Bank so they can be billed back, where appropriate. So, today’s hotspot is to do that job.

9am

I have dealt with my mental hotspot, and it’s a good thing. I feel as if a weight has been lifted and it puts me in a better state for the day.

So, now to actual work, after having grabbed a coffee. Copy and Paste get a wipedown with a cool cloth, and I refresh their water bowls.

This morning, I am working on a remote data visualization project, which I love. It feels like a hobby. I am using Power BI to create the dashboards and templates. I have done a series of wire-frames to show how, and why, the artefacts have been laid out as per my design. The difference here is that everything looks quite different from the original work, so I need to explain the Why as well as the How.

Since I’m doing my MBA, I have access to online libraries so I can dig out the research as I go along. I need to prove myself since data visualization is an art as well as a science, and the science is backing up my rationale.

11am

After grabbing another coffee, I have an online meeting with Peter, a developer who is helping me on a project. We need to work together to swap skills in order to deliver a piece of work. I have the Azure expertise, and he has the development skills that I need. So we use GoToMeeting and we share screens and share the control of the keyboard.

11.45am

I have started to get ‘silent’ phone calls again, with someone breathing down the phone at me. I pick up the phone and I take it to another part of the house, and I leave it there. They are breathing down the phone to my empty hallway upstairs.

I come back downstairs, and I apologize to Peter for the interruption and we keep going, until I knock off to grab a drink before my next meeting.

11.55am I check on the phone, and the caller is still there. He’s quiet now but the call is still open. I don’t say anything and I just hang up. It’s not welcome and it’s a nuisance more than anything else. I need my phone back for my next call.

12pm

I have a meetings with lawyers and representatives from a company who have asked for my expert opinion with a number of things. The actual content is confidential, of course, but I thought I’d share it because I had a meeting during my last post as well.

For various reasons, I have a mistrust of lawyers and the police, which readers of my MeToo blog will no doubt guess at. I was let down. I don’t even bother reporting the calls because all the police do is give you false hope that they will do something. If the mysterious caller reads this, know this: really, you do not bother me. I have been through much worse. Find something better and more fruitful to do with your life, and if you want my attention and respect, you have to earn it by doing good, clever, intelligent things. In the meantime, I am going to continue to ignore you so hard that even you will begin to doubt your own existence.

So, I have been nervous all morning about dealing with lawyers. That said, this lawyer is very direct right from the bat, and that helps put me at ease.

1pm

Normally I’d like to take a walk again, particularly after calls which I find stressful. It’s too hot for the dogs, though, and I don’t want to leave them in this heat. So I do a little yoga instead, and I have a light lunch before diving back in to work.

2pm

I’m using PowerPoint and Power BI, and creating the template for my customer. The customer are not using Power BI but they are interested in adopting it, and, if they do, it will go worldwide so it would be great to empower people to use their data in such a great and impactful way. Note: I am not selling Power Bi and I am not a reseller. The customer will have to go and work with Microsoft directly. I’m not financially incentivized to recommend it but I do here, because it is a great fit.

Here are a few things I’m thinking about:

colour-blindness – I find Coblis, the colour-blind simulator, essential to my work. Under some conditions of colour-blindness, some shades of blueish green can become quite grey. If I’ve used grey elsewhere in the dashboard which shows bar charts, for example,, then the viewer will not be able to distinguish between the legend and the bars properly.

Golden Ratio of Design – I am thinking about the design layout.

Using statistics to combat dual axis – You can read more about the problems of dual axis over at Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic’s blog here. I am looking at indexing the data in order to show it better.

5pm 

I have an internal community call with some Microsoft team members. There will be more news on this in the future, but for now, all you need to know is that I am very excited!

6pm

It’s time to eat something, so I make a simple light meal of noodles, veg and I crack an egg in it. While I was at University, I lived with some girls from Malaysia and Hong Kong, and we used to share cooking tips. Miyana I have not forgotten your advice and yes, ginger makes everything taste better! I also make some ginger tea, which I can cool for later.

I eat at my desk, and I clear out some emails. I have been asked by someone to nominate them for an MVP Award and I don’t mind doing that, of course, but I don’t know them at all and I have the barest of details. For some reason, they seem to assume that I have influence over the program. So, I confirm in an email to them that I have no influence over the Program and that I don’t officially work for Microsoft although I do community volunteer (non paid) work. I think that the perception has come from the fact that I’m a Microsoft Regional Director so people make all sorts of assumptions. I figure out that they have some misunderstandings of the MVP Program and I point them to do some reading and to come back to me with more precise details. This takes a lot of my time and I’ve spent about half an hour sorting it out.

7pm

Time to walk the dogs. It’s cooler now, and the dogs have been extra quiet and mopey today because it is so hot outside. I decide to take them out for a couple of hours.

I am passionate about the environment and I care about reducing plastics, wasting water, and maintaining a good environment. So my dogs and I walk in a local park, and I pick up litter as I go. Today, I pick up four plastic bottles, a container which has held stacking crisps, and a plastic wrapper, which are just laying around. I hate people sometimes.  I usually pick up at least one plastic bottle a day, so that adds up to 30 plastic bottles a month which I pick up and recycle as a minimum – today was four bottles that were missed. It makes me angry; it’s such a simple thing and the waste all adds up. It all adds up if we all do our little bit of good, you see.

The park has recycling facilities so I recycle as much as possible except for one bottle of water, which is nearly full. Instead of tipping the water out, I take it home and I put it on my petunias and my geraniums so that the water isn’t wasted, and I recycle the bottle.

I am striving to reduce my purchase of anything plastic in the first place, so I am switching to non-plastic packaging as I go along. Examples are:

lush-solid-shampoo-132

Solid shampoo and conditioner bars rather than bottles – I use Lush shampoo and conditioner bars, wrapped in paper, so it means I am not buying plastic bottles. We are used to foaming up shampoo and getting things in lather, but that is normally just sodium laurel sulphate. So, to lather it up, just rub it in your hands and on your hair. This works great. Instead of bottles everywhere, I declutter and I have a few simple bars of soap, which smell amazing.

Travel tip: Solid shampoo bars are better than bottles for the plane, since they get through airline security just fine.

 

I am switching to purchasing toilet rolls on subscription from Who Gives a Crap? that don’t use plastic wrapping paper. Plus, 50% of the profits go to building high sanitation solutions around the world in the most deprived areas. Examples include: WaterAid AustraliaSanergyShining Hope For Communities and Lwala Community Alliance

 

This chimes with my concern to save water and if it means that I can switch my purchases to help someone else, then, why not?

9pm 

I am back home. I am recording YouTube videos at the moment, and my surroundings are now quiet enough that I can actually record my voice. The videos are in the can, but the audio needs reworked. I do this until midnight, when it is time to read my MBA work again.

I use Techsmith Camtasia which is amazing for producing videos. For me, it has no real competitor and I love it.  It has a lot of settings but it is worthwhile taking the time to learn them. If you are looking for video software, just get it. You won’t regret it. It will save you a lot of time.

I also use Audacity in order to finesse the sound. It is open source, and I export the audio back into Camtasia.

Over to you

I’d be interested in more ways in which I can help the environment in my daily life, so please feel free to leave comments and thoughts. I’m always looking for new things to do.

References

Karabenick, S. & Urdan, T.C., 2010. The decade ahead theoretical perspectives on motivation and achievement 1st ed., Bingley, U.K.: Emerald Group Pub. Ltd

Useful Data Sources for Demos, Learning and Examples

One question that pops up from time to time is the question over sample datasets for use in self-learning, creating training materials or just for playing with data. I love this question: I learn by actively trying things out too. I love the stories in the data, and this is a great way to find the stories that bring the data to life, and offer real impact.

narrative

Since I deliver real projects with customer impact, I can’t demonstrate any real customer data during any of my presentations since my projects are confidential, so I have three approaches:
  • I use sample data and I have a signed NDA
  • I ask the customer for their data, anonymised and have a signed NDA.
  • I use their live data and have a signed NDA
If the customer elects the first option, then I use sample data from below.
To help you get started, I’ve cobbled together some pointers here, and I hope it’s useful. Please feel free to leave more ideas in the comments.

Entrepreneur

The latest edition of Entrepreneur has an insightful article on open source (frameworks vs libraries) and it has some good pointers to datasets at the bottom of the page. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/310965 I’ve also pasted them here for you:
Bernard Marr has an updated list of datasets here, on Forbes. I’m not going to steal Marr’s list so I recommend that you go and head over to his page, where you’ll find sixty-plus options.

Data Source Direct Connectivity to R, Python, Ruby and Stata

R has a number of APIs that connect to public datasets e.g. the World Data Bank, which allows connectivity from R, Python, Ruby and Stata.  I used this for my recent demos at the Power BI event in the Netherlands, and it worked sweetly. SO you’d write your script to call the package, embed it in Power BI and it will go and get the data for you. I then create the chart in R, and put it into the Power BI workbook.

Quandl

Quandl offers financial data, and it has a hook so that R can connect directly to it as well.

Kaggle

Kaggle is owned by Google, presumably so that Google can promote Tensorflow. Since people share code based on Kaggle datasets, it’s very easy to pick code, copy it, change it, and see how it works. However, this can be an issue, since you can’t be sure that the code is correct.

Final Note

If you’re teaching or presenting using this data and/or sample code, you can be pretty sure that your training delegates have got access to the Internet too so you need to be sure that you credit people properly.
I am not mostly doing training, although I do training now and again. I am a consultant first and foremost. I’m meta-tracking my time with Desktime and with Trello since I am measuring exactly how I spend my time, and training does not account for a high percentage; project delivery takes the majority of my time.
Although I’m a guest lecturer for the MBA program at the University of Hertfordshire, and I’m going to be a guest lecturer on their MSc Business Analysis and Consultancy course, I do not consider myself a trainer. I am a consultant who sometimes does training as part of a larger project. I haven’t gone down the MCT route because I regard training as part of a bigger consultancy route. I never stop learning, and I don’t expect anyone else to stop learning, either.

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See you at Techorama?

Techorama

Why should you go to Techorama?

Techorama is a yearly international technology conference which takes place at Metropolis Antwerp. We welcome about 1500 attendees, a healthy mix between developers, IT Professionals, Data Professionals and SharePoint professionals.

I’m delighted to announce I’m speaking, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Techorama team for all of their hard work and effort in putting on a great show.

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First off, there will be a keynote by Scott Guthrie, EVP of Cloud + Enterprise, Microsoft Corporation – now this is BIG NEWS.

Scott Guthrie, EVP of Cloud + Enterprise, Microsoft Corporation will be keynoting at Techorama 2017 (May 23). In his keynote, “Azure, The Intelligent Cloud”, Scott will open the event with a strategic vision on the Microsoft cloud.

Scott Guthrie will also give another breakout session on May 23 which will be a Q & A session. Come with your questions!

 

 

 

The event itself will be top-notch content for Developers, IT Professionals, Data Professionals and SharePoint Professionals: 11 parallel breakout sessions with top speakers from all over the world: experts in their field, offering meaningful networking opportunities with partners and like-minded people

There will also be a unique conference experience in a movie theatre with lots of surprises!

What will I be talking about? You can find out more here at my dedicated Techorama page.

Data Visualisation Lies and How to Spot them

During the acrimonious US election, both sides used a combination of cherry-picked polls and misleading data visualization to paint different pictures with data. In this session, we will use a range of Microsoft Power BI and SSRS technologies in order to examine how people can mislead with data and how to fix it. We will also look at best practices with data visualisation. We will examine the data with Microsoft SSRS and Power BI so that you can see the differences and similarities in these reporting tools when selecting your own Data Visualisation toolkit.

Whether you are a Trump supporter, a Clinton supporter or you don’t really care, join this session to spot data lies better in order to make up your own mind.

We hope to welcome you at Techorama 2017!

 

PASS Business Analytics Day, Jan 11, Chicago

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PASS’ first Business Analytics Day, which will be held in Chicago on January 11, 2017. You can choose one of two full-day, in-depth sessions for $595: In-Database Analytics with R and SQL Server 2016 and Mastering Power BI Solutions.

These are unique learning opportunities to get more advanced in R or data visualization with Power BI. And as with other PASS events, the goal is to allow you to walk away with real-world analytics knowledge that you can use immediately!

PASS Business Analytics Day

You have two great choices: In-Database Analytics with R and SQL Server 2016 and Mastering Power BI Solutions.

In-Database Analytics with R and SQL Server 2016

With Microsoft SQL Server 2016, data scientists can run in-database analytics using R. This is a “best of both worlds” scenario: delegate database management to SQL Server whilst you create analytics and visualisations in R and Power BI. In this session, we will cover the overall architecture of SQL R Services and go over some best practices. We will look at best practices in analytics and visualisations with a focus on R, and then we delve more in-depth into some practical common use-cases.

Speakers:
David Smith, R Community Lead at Revolution Analytics, a Microsoft Company
Seth Mottaghinejad, Data Scientist, Microsoft

Mastering Power BI Solutions

In this Power BI hands-on Workshop, you will master the “power” of Power BI. Learn to use self-service and enterprise-scale Power BI capabilities; gain valuable skills to integrate, wrangle, shape and visualize data for analysis. Beginning and intermediate level users will learn to address data and reporting challenges with advanced design techniques.

Speaker:
Paul Turley, Mentor with SolidQ, BI Architect, and Microsoft Data Platform MVP

Date: January 11, 2017

Location: Microsoft Technology Center, #200 – 200 East Randolph Drive, Chicago, IL.

We hope you’ll join us!

PASS BA Visual Data Storytelling precon session with Mico Yuk

CEO of BI Brainz | Author | Global Keynote Speaker | BI Influencer | Trainer | Blogger| BI Executive Advisor *@micoyuk*

I am super excited that Mico Yuk is joining us again at PASS BA Conference!

aaeaaqaaaaaaaasjaaaajdfkmzdiywy2lwizmtktnduxyy05zmfilwy1owyzodgyyjzmzaMico Yuk is well known in the Business Intelligence ecosystem as a community leader, BI influencer, controversial blogger, and the founder of the highly rated BI Coaching Series,
the BI Dashboard Formula (aka BIDF). Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, her team of senior coaches and consultants work with Executives to transform their BI teams to meet the challenges in the new era of BI through a series of coaching, training, and consulting services.Mico’s most recent accomplishments include being named one of the Top 50 Analytics Bloggers by SAP and being rated a #1 global keynote speaker at a number of global BI conferences.

A computer engineer by degree, she has been designing and implementing enterprise dashboards for major corporate clients since 2006 and is considered to be one of the top data visualization experts in the world.

First as a consultant and now through her company, she has helped to implement executive dashboard and reporting using the SAP BusinessObjects platform for customers such as Allstate, Pfizer, Aviva Canada, McKesson, Ryder Logistics, Digicel Jamaica, QatarGas, St. Jude Medical, Walgreens, Chiquita, LG, the US Airforce, Medtronics, SAP Global Marketing, Amtrak, Fresh Direct, Bank of America, and Nestle, to name a few.

To find out more about Mico, please visit http://micoyuk.com.

Visual Storytelling – How to Tell a “Compelling” Data Story That Matters to Your Users

This business-oriented, hands-on session will provide the foundation necessary to make your data visualizations more intelligent, actionable, and useful! Whether you are a beginner or a data visualization veteran, this session will guide you on telling more compelling stories with your data, from storyboarding fundamentals to more advanced techniques such as how to add smart context and visual cues. Attendees will learn:

• how to create a simple four-part visual storyboard on paper in minutes, not weeks
why visual storytelling is more effective than traditional reporting
• the one element 98% of data visualizations are missing and how it is negatively affecting user adoption

Format: Half-Day Classroom (Afternoon)

Register here

 

PASS BA Header Mico