Happy Independence Day America and 10 Years Packt Publishing!

4 07 2014

capitol-fireworks01

 

 

If you are in the USA, I hope you take some time today to enjoy your family and friends and see some fireworks.

 

Packt Publishing Celebrates 10 Years – $10 eBooks and Videos

This month marks 10 years since Packt Publishing embarked on its mission to deliver effective learning and information services to IT professionals. In that time it’s published over 2000 titles and helped projects become household names, awarding over $400,000 through its Open Source Project Royalty Scheme.

To celebrate this huge milestone, from June 26th Packt is offering all of its eBooks and Videos at just $10 each for 10 days – this promotion covers every title and customers can stock up on as many copies as they like until July 5th.

10 days 10 years - Home Banner

Why not grab the book I coauthored?

9809EN%20Cookbook





A Month, Almost Two Months Offline–Was the Silence Deafening?

17 06 2014

The past couple of months has been very busy at home and at work so I have fallen behind a bit on my blogging. The big event was the graduation of my oldest child, Kristyna, from Burnsville High School. It was our first grad party and a lot had to happen to make that go.

Before that party, we had our annual camping trip with friends. During that same period I spoke at SQL Saturday in Orange County where my wife joined me. She helped out at SQL Saturday and we were able to visit my daughter’s college choice – Biola University. I followed up that by organizing an internal technical conference at Magenic, Tech Summit. I was only able to attend a part of that weekend’s events as I wrapped up the weekend at Boy Scout camp.

All in all, my family took precedence followed by increased work responsibilities. Up next is my Sabbatical which will be six weeks off at the end of the summer. I will try to get a few of the updates in my queue loaded up here then more silence.

My advice to everyone, enjoy your family. They will matter more than work and contributions here.

Enjoy some pics from my months off…

Huntington Beach with my wife, Sheila (celebrated 21 years on June 5):

Huntington Beach

Our deck, ready for rain and for the grad party (yes, we are Scouts):

Deck for Grad Party

Here is my daughter Kristy with the family at her graduation:

Kristy and Family at Graduation

Andrew’s Dutch Oven cake at our Memorial Day Campout:

Drew and Cake

Finally, check out my Fun Info page to see my youngest daughter’s new video contribution.

Thanks for indulging me celebrating some extra family time here and at home. Next up, another Excel BI Tip.





Techfuse, a New Laptop, and How Microsoft Azure Helped Save the Day

24 04 2014

On Tuesday, April 22, I had the opportunity to speak at the Techfuse conference in Minneapolis. I was presenting a session on the differences between tabular and multidimensional models with a focus on the developer’s experience. My deck has tenTechFuse_logo  slides including title, references, and bio. The rest of the time is spent in Visual Studio building out equivalent models in using SSAS Tabular and SSAS Multidimensional.

The previous week, I was issued a new laptop from my company, a Dell 7440. This is a very nice machine and I had it all set for the presentation. About 11 AM (I was scheduled to speak at 1:15 PM) it occurred to me that I did not recall seeing a VGA port only HDMI. Next question, did the projectors at the convention center support HDMI? Answer, No. Now I had about an hour and a half to resolve this issue. Simple, I decided to head downtown and get the convertor from Office Depot. This was about 8 blocks away. I could do that and get some exercise in.

I took off at about 11:30. First, I stopped at Target, it was closer. No luck. So on to Office Depot. Keep in mind that Office Depot sells laptops like mine with only HDMI support and it stands to reason that they would have the converter. No such luck. I was able to get the HDMI converted to DVI, but that would not help as I later found out. They directed me to Radio Shack where I promptly picked up a DVI – VGA converter. Now I have three pieces that when strung together should support my needs. I headed back to the convention center and arrived with 30 minutes to spare. Working with the AV guy, we got it all plugged in only to still have it not work. Turns out you need a convertor to convert the digital signal to analog for use in the older projectors. Now what?

The moderator for my room offered me her laptop to use for the presentation. Which was AWESOME! So now I have a way to give the presentation, all ten slides. However, she did not have Visual Studio with SSDT for BI and SQL Server installed. Which was fine, because I didn’t expect her to.

Here is where Azure comes in. I had created a VM with SQL Server Tabular installed along with Visual Studio 2012 and the SQL Server Data Tools for BI. So, I firedth9CGBMYN6 up the VM right before I gave the presentation. I warned the crowd about what had happened and decided to push the demos to the end of the presentation so everyone could leave if nothing worked and all the material could be covered.

I was able to get into the VM, fire up Visual Studio. Since the demo was a live build of a tabular model and multidimensional model, I used a database I had created in SQL Azure as the data source and we built it the models live. Granted we were not able to do a complete multidimensional model because the database was not formatted as star schema, but it helped highlight the difference between what needs to be done prior to development. Overall it went very well (I think, surveys are forthcoming…). At the end of the day, without the work I had been doing in Azure I would not have been able to demo and it would have been a very short presentation.

Some lessons learned -

  • Be sure to have what you need to support presenting in a variety of scenarios. I should have made sure to have a converter prior to the conference as most convention centers and other facilities haven’t upgraded their projectors yet.
  • I will likely set up Azure VMs to support more demos. Just in case. It is always good to have a backup plan though a wireless connection would have painful to do that on.
  • Roll with it. Don’t give up, try to make the best of a bad situation. People understand things don’t always go perfectly. At the end of the day, I came to talk about multidimensional and tabular model development. I could have opened the floor up for discussion and did Q&A. Make the most of every situation.




Ten Years and Counting …

14 03 2014

On March 8, 2014, I reached ten years of service at Magenic Technologies. When I started in 1999 (don’t do the math just yet), Magenic had only been around a few years and it was my first consulting job. I stayed at Magenic for about 5 1/2 years. During that time, I went from an application development consultant in Visual Basic to a Business Intelligence Architect specializing in SQL Server Analysis Services and MDX.

Magenic Logo At that point in my career, I was beginning to travel more and take on a much larger leadership role as Magenic was growing beyond that first office in Minneapolis, MN. I went to work for one our customers, XATA Corporation, as their Data Architect. For the next 4 1/2 years I learned a lot about transportation management and how important data was in that area. (My Twitter handle and domain name, DataOnWheels, was established during this time.) I also learned what it meant to live with your code and architecture after the consultant left. While at XATA, I continued to be involved in the SQL Server community which was very helpful for the next step.

There came a time in my stint at XATA, that it was clear that it was time for me to move on. I started the process of looking at what was available in the market. When I went to Magenic’s career site, I found that my job or its nearest equivalent was available. I called Carole Cuthbertson, “V-mom”, and asked about coming back. We had lunch a week later and the transition back to Magenic was set in motion. (So, if you leave a company you like for good reasons, never burn bridges! You might want to go back.)

When I told my wife that I was going back, she was glad I was. This kind of surprised me as I had been doing a lot of traveling before I left. She noted that I was happier working at Magenic which was better for our family. That was the final push I needed and I returned to Magenic. As I come up on this anniversary, I am really at great point in my career. I truly enjoy being a Practice Lead at Magenic and still consider it a a great place to work.

I recently was talking with a customer who pointed out that communicating ideas with 3 points is very effective. Ironically, I probably should have known that from all of the ministry training I went through. So, I thought I would conclude this post with the three reasons why I enjoy working for Magenic.

1. Family

As I noted above, my wife was happy when I went back to Magenic. What I realized is that no matter how hard it got, Magenic would do what they could to help your family while you worked for them. I realize that everyone’s experience is different, but I saw them work with consultants who were going through tough times with their family.

My Kids During my first couple of years there, I lost both of my maternal grandparents over two successive Christmases. I was close to my grandparents so when the news came, I still remember Tim Wold, my project manager and Magenic’s employee #1, telling me to go take care of my family and he would work out the details on his end. That was characteristic of management and leaders throughout my time here. Family matters to the owners, Greg Frankenfield and Paul Fridman, and that is carried through to the company.

My family has always been treated very well and they enjoy participating at the various events that the company has had from the Christmas party to the summer picnics.

2. Opportunity

When I joined Magenic, I had no idea what it meant to be a consultant. With mentoring and coaching, I was able to grow from a consultant to a practice lead. I am a technical leader in the company and have been able to expand my career throughout the years with their help. One of the biggest career changes was moving from application development to business intelligence. This has significantly shaped my career today in ways I would have never thought 15 years ago. During my time there, I was also encouraged to give back both internally and externally. This has opened up some great opportunities through the years.

3. Appreciation

Appreciation can take on a couple of different forms. Of course, being paid to do what you love is awesome! Even better when it pays well. However, there is more to appreciation than the paycheck. Magenic has an interesting culture which I had to learn through the years. Because we are hired to go and work at customer sites, it was not always known what or how we were doing. Magenic is a place where you can and should speak up about what your doing. While seeming counterintuitive and self serving at times, letting managers and other leaders know what I was doing, paid dividends for my career. Just as importantly, they were able to understand more about what was going on.

To me and my experience with Magenic, these are 3 key reasons that I returned and stay today. I am now in a place in my career where I need to give recognition to those whom it is due more than receive it. I have the opportunity to impact others in their careers and to help Magenic continue to grow.

I encourage all of you who read this to look at where you work. What is the culture like?Source: http://www.michaelhammack.com/2012/10/05/the-grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side/ Do you like what you do? Can you see yourself there in 5, 10, 15 years? Keep your core values in mind as you seek to change companies or careers. If you have had a job move conversation with me, I have likely told you something like “The grass is always greener on the other side, but a lot times it’s because of the manure.”





2013 – A Year In Review

2 01 2014

It is in our nature as humans to look back in order to understand where we have been.

Warning – some of this blog contains stuff about my family… In case you only want the technical stuff.

Family Fun

This past year has been very interesting for me personally and professionally. In the past year, my youngest, Mikayla, has entered Junior High officially taking our family out of elementary schools. Mikalya joined me at the SQL Saturday event in Omaha. At the same time, my oldest, Kristyna, is now a senior at Burnsville Senior High School. Both of my boys, Alex a junior and Andrew a freshman, are both taller than me and staying active. Alex joined us at the Minnesota SQL Saturday and did a lot of volunteering. Andrew probably had the best event of all as he joined me at SQL Saturday in Fargo. There he got to see Bill Gates in person. I am proud of all of them, they are great kids. This was also the year I celebrated 20 years with the woman I love, Sheila. Without her support, I would not have been able to get this far in my career as well. Yep, it has been a busy year personally. Soon there will be lots of college, marriage, and maybe even grandkids. Wow, I must be getting old.

Magenic and the Server Development Practice

2013 is my first full year as a Practice Lead at Magenic. I started out as the Practice Lead for our Business Intelligence and Data Practice. In August, my role expanded to include SharePoint, Biztalk, and TFS. This allows us to focus server technologies at Magenic. Along  the way, I have had to learn a lot about VMs (still a work in progress). I really enjoy working with the pros across the company that we have. We some very talented BI, SharePoint and BizTalk consultants including a few virtual TSPs in SQL Server, Business Intelligence, and BizTalk.

During this past year, I have traveled around the country to consult, to speak, and to meet customers. I have had the privilege of speaking at multiple SQL Saturdays, Modern Apps Live, SQL Live, and Code Mastery events. It has been fun. I almost made it to all of our offices including the locations we opened this year. I made it to Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, Boston, New York City, and San Francisco. Still need to get out to Los Angelos and Manila.

image

While it has been hard at times, the travel experience has been good overall. I try to keep my speaking engagements up to date, maybe I will see some of you next year.

This year I also authored outside of the blog. Chuck Whittemore (The Insight Analyst)The Changing World of Business Intelligence: Leading with Microsoft Excel - Custom Software Development White Paper and I coauthored a white paper on Leading with Excel: The Changing World of Business Intelligence. This was a fun project where we bring together Microsoft Excel and Microsoft BI in a real world way. We continue to successfully work this strategy with our customers and it was the impetus for my Excel BI Tips blog post series. I SQL Server Analysis Services 2012 Cube Development Cookbookalso had the privilege to coauthor a book that is just being released: SQL Server Analysis Services 2012 Cube Development Cookbook by Packt Publishing. This the third book I have worked on and it has been a while since was last published so this was a good experience for me. I still don’t know if I would take an entire project on, but maybe someday.

This year wraps up with me becoming a virtual TSP with Microsoft to further support their efforts with SQL Server and Business Intelligence in the marketplace.

One other thing that has been interesting for me is that with the release of Power Pivot and SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular Model, I am seeing a huge shift in how I work with and sell BI. I have always worked with cubes, but now I see the in-memory space as a more compelling and leading edge solution that will continue to change what my career will look like. While I had a lot of fun being a cube and MDX wizard, the ability to deliver results to business users in a timely fashion with great visualizations is actually more fun. The more things change …

Happy New Year!

I hope you and your family had much to look back and celebrate this year. I thank God for the blessings of a great company to work for and an awesome family to be with.





Logging into Azure and Office365 with Different Accounts

14 03 2013

I have been doing some work on the Modern Apps Live! content that required me to use both an Office365 account and an Azure account.  My Azure work is currently associated with my Microsoft Account (formerly known as my Live ID).  On the other hand, I am working with a Microsoft Office365 account which I have been unable to tie to my current account at this point.

While I was working with Office365, I was trying to open my Azure account to get some storage info that I wanted to use.  It told me I was already signed in with a different user ID and it did not have access to my Azure portal as noted in the image below.

image

Obviously I did not want to sign out, so I started looking for options.  The IT Director at Magenic, Dave Meier, mentioned he was having the same issue with multiple Microsoft accounts. So, we determined this was somehow related to IE so I installed Google Chrome.  By using Chrome I was able to work around the issue.  However, Dave came across the following article regarding this change in behavior starting in IE 8 http://blogs.msdn.com/b/askie/archive/2009/05/08/session-management-within-internet-explorer-8-0.aspx.  Turns out they changed how they manage sessions in that version.

imageThe article brings up a couple of options to work around.  One is using Alt-F-I to change the session.  Kind of annoying as I actually use my mouse (some of you keyboard junkies will like that solution).  So I used the shortcut option and created a shortcut for IE on my Windows 8 desktop which uses the switch –noframemerging.  I added this to my Taskbar, and voila, I have an easy way to open a new session browser which ignores my other session.  Keep in mind that you are essentially running two different sessions in IE which means that you will have two sets of credentials active.  Be sure to keep track of which is which.

Also, as a quick sanity test, Google Chrome works the same way.image  Even when I open a different Chrome instance, it keeps my session state. So, it appears the IE shortcut is a nice way to handle this issue.  Although, it is nice to know I can use a Chrome instance and and IE instance if that is my preferred method.

Add a comment if you try this in FireFox and want to chime in.  I really only want to use one browser, so Chrome is still one more than I want.

UPDATE:  You can also use InPrivate or Incognito modes accomplish the same thing.  Thanks to Rocky Lhotka ( T | B ) for pointing this out.





Using Word 2013 to Create Blog Entries

26 10 2012

Over the past few years, I have used Windows Live Writer to create my blog entries on WordPress. Given the nature of Microsoft’s push to use Office for more including social and other online presence, I thought I would see if Word 2013 would actually work to create and edit blog posts. For the record, I am using Office 2013 RTM (I wouldn’t try this with the Preview. J) .

Creating My First Post with Word

Step one, find out if Word has a blog template. Answer: Yes.

When you select the template you get the following dialog:

When you pick this the first time you get the opportunity to set up your blog account.

Among the default blog providers are Blogger, WordPress, and, yes, even SharePoint. Once you choose your provider, the rest of the process allows you to choose your blog and set up your credentials. You can set up multiple accounts if you have multiple providers or blogs. Once you set up your account, Word opens with the following blog template:

Some Final Thoughts…

You also have the ability to publish as draft, choose categories, and other typical blog type activities. Overall, I really like the editing experience. You also now have the additional capabilities use in Word such as SmartArt and WordArt.








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