SQL Saturday – Jacksonville, FL

Last call! Today’s pre-conference for SQL Saturday kicked off, and tomorrow is the big day!

Event details…

So, what is SQl Saturday?


“SQLSaturday is a free training event for Microsoft Data Platform professionals and those wanting to learn about SQL Server, Business Intelligence and Analytics.”

Master data strategies at SQL Saturday… #Checkmate

And where in Jacksonville is it?


“This event will be held on May 04 2019 at The University of North Florida Campus, 1 UNF Drive, Jacksonville, Florida, 32224, United Statees.”

For the full schedule, visit: https://www.sqlsaturday.com/820/Sessions/Schedule.aspx

Topics include: Advanced Analysis Techniques
Analytics and Visualization
Application & Database Development
BI Information Delivery
BI Platform Architecture, Development & Administration
Cloud Application Development & Deployment
Enterprise Database Administration & Deployment
Information Delivery
Professional Development
Strategy and Architecture

To register, visit: https://www.sqlsaturday.com/820/registernow.aspx

Power BI Interview Q’s, Round #1

What do you need to know when you’re heading to a Power BI interview?

We’ve started to see a pattern: Power BI continues to be adopted as an essential self-service business intelligence tool, and more job opportunities are being created.

We thought it would be interesting to tackle this topic from both directions: If you’re an interviewer, what might you want to ask? If you’re an interviewee, then what might you expect to hear?

Our first video is a basic introductory overview, and we cover the following topics:

Why is Power BI a good investment for the company? What are the development stages for the Power BI project? What are the components of Power BI? What are the laptop considerations for Power BI? What needs to be installed for Power BI?

With our help, you could be the Dwight of Power BI…

Power BI Monthly Digest for April 2019

Check out Pragmatic Work’s Power BI monthly digest, where we take a comprehensive looks at Power BI’s latest releases, updates and what that means for you! The video clip is towards the bottom of this post. 🙂

April 2019 brought a lot of new content which can be explored more in-depth. There’s a 400+ page overview of 2019 Dynamics 365 and Power Platform releases, too… https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/business-applications-release-notes/april19/

And if you’re interested in learning more about dataflows, check out last week’s Data-Radiant post! 🙂 https://data-radiant.com/2019/04/12/dataflows-in-power-bi-considerations/

A comparison of how dataflows fits in the ETL process…

In this month’s Power BI Digest, Manuel Quintana [Blog | Twitter] and Devin Knight will again guide you through some of our favorite Power BI updates this month. In our April 2019 edition, they highlight the following features:

  • Filter Pane updates
  • Restrict ability of users to change the Filter Pane filter types
  • Conditional formatting on tiles
  • Conditional formatting on Web URL Visual Actions
  • M Intellisense in formula bar
  • Drillthrough across reports

Dataflows in Power BI: Considerations

Licensing has direct impact on the value of dataflows in Power BI for your organization

Dataflows in Power BI sound great – and they are – but who truly benefits from this new element in the BI process?

Functional illustration of dataflows in the Power BI Service compared to the Power BI Desktop experience

First, as a quick recap:

With dataflows, ETL logic is elevated to a first-class artifact within Power BI and includes dedicated authoring and management experiences.


Business analysts and BI professionals can use dataflows to handle the most complex data preparation challenges and build on each other’s work, thanks to a revolutionary model-driven calculation engine, which takes care of all the transformation and dependency logic—cutting time, cost, and expertise to a fraction of what’s traditionally been required for those tasks.


Better yet, analysts can now easily create dataflows using familiar self-service tools, such as the well known Power Query data preparation experience.


Dataflows are created and easily managed in app workspaces, enjoying all the capabilities that the Power BI service has to offer, such as permission management, scheduled refreshes, and more.


Advanced Analytics and AI with Azure – Power BI dataflows store data in Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 – which means that data ingested through a Power BI dataflow is now available to data engineers and data scientists to leverage the full power of Azure Data Services such as Azure Machine Learning, Azure Databricks, and Azure SQL Datawarehouse for advanced analytics and AI.


This allows business analysts, data engineers, and data scientists to collaborate on the same data within their organization.

“Dataflows in Power BI” White Paper by Amir Netz, Technical Fellow, Nov. 2018

It sounds great. It is great… but wait, a caveat: the true benefits of dataflows in Power BI are unleashed if you have a Power BI Premium license, not as a Pro license holder (not yet, at least.)

Side-by-side: The dataflows in Power BI license comparison

As of right now, the main components that drive the value of dataflows is not available without the Premium license capability.

These benefits are namely:

Computed entities: only for Premium
Incremental refresh: only for Premium
Capacity and parallel executions of transforms: only for Premium
Dataflow linked entities: only for Premium

There’s more to come, I am sure, but as of right now it’s best to contain your excitement, unless you’re a Premium license holder…

Unveiling Dataflows in Power BI

Check it out!

Microsoft announced the public availability of dataflows in Power Bi this week and described dataflows as the key element for transforming ETL in Power BI into a “first class citizen.”

This just in… 🙂

“Data preparation is considered the most difficult, expensive, and time-consuming task, estimated by experts as taking 60%-80% of the time and cost of a typical analytics project,” according to Microsoft’s blog, “Introducing: Power BI data prep with dataflows.”

There are a number of reasons why this is true, including “fragmented and incomplete data, complex system integration, business data without any structural consistency, and of course, a high skillset barrier…[and] such advanced skills are rare and expensive.”

Additionally, the self-service data preparation in Power BI often bypasses normal ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) processes which can limit other key players  – enterprise developers for example – from benefiting from the work. Dataflows in Power BI changes this.

Bringing it all together…

I’m working on a new course on Dataflows in Power BI and thought it may be of value to share some insightful resources around this now-available, much-anticipated service within the ever-growing world of Power BI.  

To get started:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/service-dataflows-create-use

http://blog.pragmaticworks.com/etl-in-power-bi-with-dataflow

https://exceleratorbi.com.au/power-bi-dataflows-and-why-you-should-care/

24 HOURS of PASS

Quick update to all my BI friends. I’m speaking #24HOP!

I’m super excited for the opportunity to present on one of my favorite Power BI topics: Data Storytelling. I love taking Power BI users through some practical techniques that exploit Power BI’s potential as a leading data narrative medium.

I’ll cover some basic in theory about opportunities and barriers related to storytelling, but the main purpose is to deliver practical takeaways and a sense that your own reports contain tremendous potential that can be accessed with just a little know-how.

Features like bookmarks, tooltip report pages – also known as “Cool-tips” in my world –, and interactive popups are just a few examples of how you can turn dull reports into a more dynamic experience.  This session introduces some of those Fundamental design patterns.

You can register for my session on Data Storytelling with Power BI:

Don’t miss out on this FREE learning opportunity April 3-4! #sqlpass

We’ll cover some fun and effective ways to turn your Power BI report into a more compelling digital narrative by leveraging Power BI’s storytelling capabilities. Hope to see you there!

SQL Saturdays

Why does it matter and when you get involved?


“PASS SQLSaturdays are free 1-day training events for SQL Server professionals that focus on local speakers, providing a variety of high-quality technical sessions, and making it all happen through the efforts of volunteers. Whether you’re attending a SQLSaturday or thinking about hosting your own, we think you’ll find it’s a great way to spend a Saturday – or any day.”

https://sqlsaturday.com/

Jacksonville’s SQL Saturday is coming quickly – May 4th – which is, of course, Star Wars Day, too. Fun coincidence? Maybe. But it sounds more like an excuse to dress up while learning, in my opinion!

This is a great opportunity to plug into your local SQL Server community, or at the very least to learn more skills! To check out a full range of dates and locations, visit: https://sqlsaturday.com/

Directly from the source:

“The PASS SQLSaturday program provides the tools and knowledge needed for groups and event leaders to organize and host a free day of training for SQL Server professionals. At the local event level, SQLSaturday events:
  • Encourage increased membership for the local user group
  • Provide local SQL Server professionals with excellent training and networking opportunities
  • Help develop, grow, and encourage new speakers

How It Started

The SQLSaturday concept took shape in May 2007. That’s when planning for the first SQL Server-focused event, held in October 2007, began. From the start, the hope was to leverage the SQLSaturday model, investments, and lessons learned to help other cities and groups host their own events. Tampa held one in February 2008, and SQLSaturday events have grown steadily ever since. PASS continues to collect lessons learned in an effort to continually improve the event model and encourage more events to take place all over the world. PASS also maintains and supports the SQLSaturday website resources that reduce the time and effort required to plan and execute the event.

Funding and Ownership of SQLSaturday

The SQLSaturday brand name and website are owned by the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS). PASS licenses the use of both to groups or individuals that want to host a SQL Server training event at no charge. Event hosts take full ownership of their events. They plan, organize, and operate the entire venture from start to finish. PASS provides the tools and coaching to make each SQLSaturday event a resounding success. PASS is determined to stay true to the grassroots nature of SQLSaturday – all sponsorship funds collected by events go to the event. No fee or percentage is paid back to PASS or SQLSaturday.com. Just like the founders of SQLSaturday – Andy WarrenBrian Knight, and Steve Jones  – PASS believes SQLSaturday has a tremendous, positive impact on the future of SQL Server and its user communities.”

PowerApps 101: Building a Basic CRUD Application with SharePoint Online

Fundamentals are FUN… #PowerApps101

CRUD – it’s not just the junk that comes with being sick, but the ability to Create, Read, Update and Delete within an application’s user interface.  Of course, I’m writing in the context of building a PowerApps application, but this concept/operability undoubtedly has extensive use cases across the tech field.

What I am introducing in this blog is a very simple PowerApps app that allows a user to:

  • Create or add new entries
  • Read, retrieve, search, or view existing entries
  • Update or edit existing entries
  • Delete/deactivate/remove existing entries

Without these four basic operations, most applications would not be considered complete nor particularly useful.

We never want this experience or feeling associated with our app.

Fortunately, PowerApps provides a range of app building capabilities that allow user to start from scratch with a completely blank interface, or to start from data and use a wizard to create a basic template based on that data.

Today, we will go over the Start from data option using a simple SharePoint Online List. The scenario is that I am sick of losing track of my spending habits, so I want to create a simple app to track how I’m using my money.  

Hmm, what’s going here?

If you have access already, sign in to SharePoint and PowerApps with your credentials. If not, then you can sign up for a free trial for one or both technologies we’re using, and that should suffice. (Alternately, you can always use Excel and just look for that connector instead of SharePoint Online. This will yield different results long term for building out and app, but will work fine for creating a basic CRUD app.)

 Once you’ve signed into both sites, go to SharePoint and click +New at the top of the page and select List from the drop-down options. Give this List a name and description and hit Create.

Use the +Add column option along the top of blank table to add the following columns and data types. Please note that Title is a default, unique column that can be renamed. Use the following:

Keep Title and do nothing with it.

Add a Single line of text column and call it Merchant.

Add a Currency column and call it Total.

Add a Choice column and call it Category. Under Choices, replace the default values (one per line) with Food, Transportation and Personal. Set the Default value to Personal.

After adding those columns, click on Quick Edit in the top ribbon. Add two entries:

For entry one,

Title = New business dress

Merchant = Macy’s

Total = 95.99

Category = Personal

For entry two,

Title = Fuel

Merchant = BP

Total = 36.52

Category = Transportation

Exit Quick edit. This is enough data to go to PowerApps and Start with data and build our basic CRUD app. Before leaving, copy the SharePoint site URL, but only copy the first part of the URL and do not include anything after the “Lists/…” You need only the main container site, not the List URL itself.

You only need the main component of the URL, not the List-specific URL.

Open the PowerApps site and choose +Create in the side bar. Choose the Start from data canvas app option.  Click Create on the pop-up box and a new web page will launch.

Choose the SharePoint connector, or for those using Excel, click the right-facing arrow to find the Excel connector as an alternate option.

If using SharePoint, you need to add the copied URL from the SharePoint site. Click Go and Choose the list you just created. Hit Connect and the wizard will create an app for you!

You should see a default mobile app containing the data from the SharePoint list, and this satisfies the Read aspect of CRUD.

If you click on the Play icon on the top right of the page, you can test the app’s functionality. This is called Preview mode.

Once you’re in Preview mode, click on the Plus sign on the top right corner, this will allow you to add a new entry and satisfies the Create element of CRUD.

Add your own info and hit the Check mark in the top right corner to add an entry. After you add an entry, you will return to the home screen.

Click on the right-facing arrow next to each entry to view the entry details and to experience the Update element of this CRUD app. If you click on the Pencil icon, you can Edit the entry. This is the Update element and will take you to the Edit screen.

Click on the Garbage can icon next to Delete the entry and experience the final element of our CRUD app. Boom, the entry is gone.

PowerApps at your fingertips! 🙂

This is the most basic beginning to creating a CRUD app with PowerApps. Tune in for another blog to start customizing our app! 😊

Tech Focus: International Women’s Day

Last year (2018), I celebrated La Journée Internationale des Femmes with friends in France. We bought and prepared roses, went to a local grocery plaza and handed out those roses as we told each woman we encountered that they are very valuable. They were shocked at the small, simple, free act of kindness.

It was entirely counter-culture – yet completely honest – to directly tell them: You have tremendous, inherent value.

Last year in France for La Journée Internationale des Femmes 2018

And they didn’t need to do a thing. Their existence alone provided the reason to share this truth about their worthiness in life. Their value wasn’t earned by behaviors good or bad. Quite frankly, that value was bestowed whether we verbalized it or not. It’s a stand-alone fact of existence.

Yet, for many of the ladies that day – perhaps even most of them, from my observations – it was probably the first time they’d heard those words in a long time, if ever. Their eyes lit up when they were recognized and encouraged, despite coming from strangers….but why? And how can we learn from this an apply it in the tech industry, where gender struggles are often even more pronounced and stratified?

Frankly, I do not have the answers. I have questions. And I have conversations.

“There is a voice inside you that will tell you that you are not good enough, prepared enough, or worthy enough to fulfill your dreams. Quiet that voice.” Elisa Jagerson, CEO and owner of Speck Design

I think this dialogue is really important, especially in the tech field. The goal isn’t politicization, but humanization. And democratization. And, you know, CREATION…clearly, in world full of problems, we need people to confidently contribute their ideas, talents, grit and knowledge towards solutions.

My goal for this blog is to showcase and offer practical support for women in technology through resources that have helped me. As is often the case, I stand on the shoulders of giants before me, so they need the credit. And yes, of course, I cited them. 🙂

I’m just here to encourage you and clearly say, “YOU HAVE TREMENDOUS, INHERENT VALUE.”

Value.

You have it. But do you honestly believe that as you try to reach your dreams, personally and professionally?

From the Make School, A collection on technology, startups, and the future of education:

“For Mentorship & Membership…
National Center for Women & Information Technology — NCWIT wants to revolutionize the face of tech. The organization’s overall goal is to get more women participating in computing. Their website explains, “NCWIT equips change leaders with resources for taking action in recruiting, retaining, and advancing women from K–12 and higher education through industry and entrepreneurial careers.” NCWIT puts on an annual summit and has a number of programs for company and individual members.
Other organizations that bring together communities of women in tech include AnitaB.orgWITI, the Society of Women Engineers, and TechWomen.
For Networking…
Tech Ladies — A great online networking option, Tech Ladies members get access to a great jobs page with access to roles at Slack, Adobe, Etsy, BuzzFeed, and more. Members also get access to the Tech Ladies Facebook group that serves as a great forum for discussion and support as a woman in tech.
Other online networking resources include Y Combinator’s Leap. And if you’re interested in meeting women in person — women in tech in the Bay Area regularly get together for dinner, inspiring talks, and networking through Girl Geek X. A similar breakfast group for NYC women in tech is Techfest.
For Competitions…
Women Who Tech — Women Startup Challenges — Supported by such companies as Google, Microsoft, and IBM, the Women Startup Challenges are annual pitch competitions for early-stage women-led tech startups. The goal of each challenge is “to disrupt a culture and economy that has made it exceedingly difficult for women entrepreneurs to access capital.”
Other competitions specifically for women in tech include the Tech Lady Hackathon + Training Day and LadyHacks.
For Training…
The Refinery — This organization is just three years old, but so far it has helped 39 women-led companies raise over $20 million in funding and paired the leaders with over 90 mentors. The Refinery’s mission is stated quite simply: “To fuel the growth and close the funding gap of women-led companies.”
Other organizations focused on helping women launch successful businesses include Aviatra Accelerators.
For Reading…
Women 2.0 — This blog is filled with helpful information and articles written for women in business. While the site addresses workplace issues generally, many of the articles focus on the tech industry. Women 2.0 also has a helpful job board with many tech jobs around the country.
Other blogs worth checking out include HackerChick and The Female Perspective of Computer Science.
For Funding…
Women’s Venture Capital Fund — This venture capital fund specifically invests in companies led by women that focus on digital media products for women. According to their investment focus page, “Given the universal embrace of digital media and the evolution of technologies, platforms, products and services, the WVCF has identified a myriad of women-centric opportunities in Software Solutions, Mobile Products, Social Media, and Digital Content.”
Other venture capital funds focused on women-led startups include Golden Seeds and the Female Founders Fund.”

https://medium.com/make-school/6-resources-for-women-in-tech-f5f3f6392132

Stuck in the Middle

The Intersection of Struggle and Direction

Late spring of 2018, a few months after returning to the U.S. from a bilingual French/Spanish missionary school, I didn’t know how to relaunch my once-existent corporate career. Nothing seemed to fit.  Returning to my prior life as a business journalist didn’t hold any appeal. Although I’d loved being the research director for the Jacksonville Business Journal, I couldn’t imagine going back into corporate media.

I’d been off the grid in Haiti and the Dominican Republic for too long to feel comfortable committing to a stuffy office with overhead florescent lighting where success is measured and billed in 15-minute increments of productivity. But I didn’t know what to do. Where should I start again? What could I start and develop that would naturally lead to bold opportunities in the future?

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

I struggled through the long, hard journey of finding direction as door after door seemed to shut right in my face. To add fuel to the fire, I’d just learned that my housing was unexpectedly changing, and I needed to find a new place to live. I felt like a total loser who couldn’t seem to leverage my talents, and if not for kind family members who offered temporary lodging, I would’ve been homeless. I was praying and believing something would come through, but my life felt like the pits. It was such a low point.

Amid everything that autumn, Pragmatic Works hosted a free weeklong training through called the Foundation course for people who are underemployed, seeking a career change or are unemployed. In 2018, they scheduled it for November – and the timing was perfect. About five years earlier, I’d met Brian Knight through our local chamber of commerce and taken a SQL course, so I knew that any training they offered would be outstanding. In my heart, I believed this could lead to a breakthrough!

Meanwhile, I was freelance writing and editing regularly  – although multiple part time gigs never seemed to add up to one full-time paycheck – and a shocking turn of events took place. The Friday prior to the Foundations class, one of my clients asked me to become a full-time editor at his publication, and then mid-week in the class, Brian and Devin approached me about onboarding as a trainer for Pragmatic Works.

So, in less than five days, I went from jobless and nearly homeless to having two offers on the table – without applying for either!

The editor role was offered at a salary that was twice as much as the training role, so originally, I thought that was the clear winner. But as the Foundation week continued, I found myself enthralled with the materials and passionately engaged in learning. Something sparked for the first time in a long time. It was like finding an oasis in the desert! Although the initial salary wasn’t as high, there was something deeply compelling about working with big data and business intelligence with cutting edge tools. And I could see so much potential, if I was willing to start my career completely over at the bottom and work up.

Definitely true!

I didn’t make any rash decisions. I prayed and weighed it out carefully. Originally, I basically told Pragmatic Works that it probably wouldn’t be them, and they were very kind and understanding. But when I talked to the recruiter they brought in-house on the last day of the class, he helped me narrow down my focus. He asked me where I wanted to be in a year or three years, and I said technology. He told me I couldn’t make a wrong decision, but the risk now versus the future opportunity needed to be weighed out in light of where I wanted to be someday.

I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I go for anything new that might improve the past.

~Clara Barton

So, I made the plunge. I took a risk and bet on my greater passion. And it was absolutely the right decision! I’m working my way through all my benchmarks and feel so thankful to work with amazing people who are genuine and very intelligent. I believe in what I’m doing and love to encourage others to learn! And none of my media skills go to waste; each day, I exploit my talents and see purpose, often in new and creative ways. 😊

I share this because many other people have gone through or are still walking through their valley. It may sound similar, or it may sound different in the details, but most of us will walk through really low and dark times in our lives.

Don’t give up! Dig deeper. Talk to friends and family. Pray.

And take those off times to learn and explore, because that may be the key to unlocking your direction, vision and deeper purpose!

Winner of the Pragmatic Works Annual Chili Cook-off! This trophy sits at my desk. 🙂