Five Years, A Quiet Quarter, A Look Ahead to 2016

Five Years of Blogging

From DataOnWheels Logo Original to data-on-wheels-1

My blogging story started on December 7, 2010. I have now had a blog for over 5 years. I want to thank all of you who have read my blog and interacted with me through it. You have seen me change the theme once and do a number of series. Here are some highlights from the past five years:

Top 5 Posts All Time

  1. Adding Top 10 Charts to Power View Which Honor Filters
  2. Simple batch script to generate XMLA and deploy SSAS DB
  3. T-SQL Window Functions – Part 1- The OVER() Clause
  4. Exploring Excel 2013 for BI Tip #14- Sparklines and Pivot Tables
  5. O, There’s the Data- Using OData in SSIS

Top Series All Time

The Excel BI Tips series has changed it name a couple of times. However, this tip series still rings true even today even as Microsoft invests in other tools. Look for some more Power BI content this year, but this series will continue to have updates. Also, look to see some Excel 2016 topics added to the list as that release becomes available. Here are the top ten tips from the series:


A tribute is an expression of gratitude or praise. A couple of years ago, I started a series about individuals who have impacted my career. I do this as a tribute to my father-in-law, Ed Jankowski who passed away in December 2009. Check out my original post about him and his impact on me being in software development today.

Some Stats

I want to thank everyone again for taking time to check out my blog. Here are some stats that I thought were cool and decided to brag about here:

  • 2011 daily average: 9 – 2015 daily average: 162
  • 156 posts
  • Best ever views in a day: 584

Thanks again for checking out my “help” library. As I noted in one of my posts, I blog to not forget and to pass along what I have learned. The key for me is that I do it when I can about topics that interest me.

A Quiet Quarter

The last statement holds true here. I have had a very quiet end of the year. I had blogs which followed up sessions, a practice that I intend to continue, and one BI Tip. November and December were quiet as my job and family took precedence as Pragmatic Works closed out the year strong and we had holiday activities at home including getting my two kids in college home. Well, the dust has settled so I am getting a few more posts published now. Look for the Minnesota SQL Server User Group and Minnesota BI User Group follow up posts this week.

Looking ahead to 2016

After a busy year last year, I am looking forward to having some new opportunities to write about Azure, SQL Server 2016, and other technologies I have not even seen yet. Are you excited for what is coming? Let’s have a great year working with data and analytics.

Cultural Anthropology and Business Intelligence–A Tribute to Dr. Thomas C. Correll

A tribute is an expression of gratitude or praise. Last year I started a series about individuals who have impacted my career. I do this as a tribute to my father-in-law, Ed Jankowski who passed away a few years ago. Check out my original post about him and his impact on me being in software development today.

Cultural Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Studies

Prior to working with data and software, my career choice was to be a missionary. Yes, that is correct. I am trained to work cross-culturally with churches and other Christian organizations. Along the way, I learned how to work with software and my career changed. However, as with many things in life, seemingly unrelated items impact real life. In my case, my final degree work was done in Cultural Anthropology. This tribute post calls out one of my professors who greatly impacted me personally and whose training has helped me with my work in BI solutions.

During my stint at Bethany College of Missions in Bloomington, Minnesota, I took a number of courses from Dr. Thomas Correll in the field of cultural anthropology. He was responsible for providing me with the bulk of my investigative and research skills for use in this field. In particular, I remember three techniques that we studiedimage in particular: Life History Study Method, Participant Observation, and Ethnographic Interviews. Two of these, Participant Observation and Ethnographic Interview are based on James Spradley’s work. Through these classes and supporting projects, I learned much in the way of research and analysis.

Dr. Correll, or Tom as he preferred in class, ingrained in me a great desire to research and do it well. Even now, I am proud of the work I did for those classes as they stretched me to learn and delve into areas I was not entirely comfortable with. I really believe that those research techniques have served me well when I work with customers on BI projects. Here is how I see the impact on my daily work from the training I received.

Life History Study Method. The overall goal of this study methodology is to understand the changes that mean something to individuals in their culture. In BI, this has made me understand or pursue those points when companies or departments are ready for their next growth area such as time to move from reports to dashboards. Each of these types of changes reflect a significant shift in how a company sees its data or how to better to use it in day to day situations.  Sounds a bit like the BI Maturity Model developed by TDWI.


Participant Observation. Can you say business analysis? This is the epitome of the initial step for a good BA. What do you see as the needs. Pay attention, observe, understand what is happening in the company. The skills I learned in this class helps me slow down and observe what is happening at a customer. This includes noticing who really impacts technology decisions in a company.  It is not always what it seems at first.

Ethnographic Interview. This is a particular process where I deep dive into what customers are trying to do. I learned how to drive into business needs using these interview techniques.  This research method uses similar techniques you might learn from Kimball.  The key is to ask questions that get answers you need whether you were looking for them or not.

Overall, I can say much of what I am able to accomplish today is a result of what I learned from Tom. He was truly passionate about doing research, doing it right, and understanding the results. Thanks Tom. What I learned from you has been instrumental in my career and in love for information and getting results.