I like to change up my setup and process on a regular basis. Android, iPhone, Windows, Mac, Apps & Services, etc. Here is what I am using, January 2019 Edition
Phone – iPhone Xs Max 256 Gb AT&T running iOS 12.1.2. Backup: OnePlus 2 running the latest Android OS it allows.
Work Machine – MacBook Pro 15 in 2015 Edition (no dongles required!) running macOS Mojave (Beta). Bonus: Windows 10 Enterprise Oct 2018 edition VM in Parallels.
Home Machine – Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10 Insider Edition. Have an OLD 2011 iMac that is on it’s deathbed.
Bonus: iPad Air 2 used for reading books to myself and the kids, and just playing with iPad stuff
Nintendo Switch – playing Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Mario Tennis Aces, Mario Kart, Mario Party, as well as NES games on Nintendo Online. Looking forward to new Mario game and Metroid! I am Supernova on Nintendo Online
Playstation 4 – playing God of War, Last of Us. Just finished Red Dead Redemption 2 recently. Have Spider-man on queue for the winter! I am ScaleOvenStove on PS Network.
Xbox One – haven’t been playing much here. Unravel. Was doing the Telltale Walking Dead series, waiting for the last chapter to come out after the layoff drama. I might get Red Dead Redemption on Xbox as there is backward compatibility. I am ScaleOvenStove on Xbox live.
Other – SNES classic – been playing some SNES Zelda as well. on iOS played a little Fire Emblem Heroes but haven’t gotten much into it.
Apple TV 4 – this is my go to entertainment device. We have cable since we moved into our new house but I don’t watch cable, I just hook up all the apps on the Apple TV to stream. Mostly sports there.
YouTube is my main viewing channel though, I do have YouTube Premium as I hate ads!
MoviesAnywhere is also a great service as I have videos on Google Play, Amazon and iTunes, but can watch them anywhere.
Apps & Services
Home: iMessage, Gmail, Google Photos, Google Maps, Dark Sky, Nest, YouTube, Apollo (Reddit), Twitter, Apple Music. Lots more niche or specific apps, these are just the highlights.
Work: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Yammer and Outlook, OneDrive and a few others.
Notables: Deactivated Facebook and Instagram. Deleted the apps, and Snapchat app. WeChat as well. Facebook has too many privacy issues. My phone battery life and my attention span thanks me. Maybe someday I will go back.
Wishlist: Apple Music on Google Home devices. I used Google Home devices around the house, and Google Play music is OK, but their implementation on iOS is bad.
There are a bunch of different devices and services out there, I like to move things around. Going full on Android might be something soon, with a Pixel 3 or something, but iMessage is such a pull back into iOS. A little cross device and platform compatibility would really make things easier for people that aren’t tied to any platform. We can only hope one day things are better for consumers!
Kids are now growing up in a digital age. Screens are part of their lives from day one. As they grow, they want to use devices and play games and do whatever everyone else is doing. I am not going to debate if this is a good or bad thing – but it is a reality.
Major tech companies have taken notice and they have been (and still are in progress) releasing ways for parents to keep tabs on their kids’ device and screen time usage.
Of course, the big three – Apple, Google, Microsoft – have their solutions. Also other players like Facebook, Nintendo, Sony have solutions for their products as well.
Let’s start with Apple. There are few different things Apple has had and now just recently came out with to help parents. Up until iOS 12 they had “Family” groups you could create – not so much for managing screen time, but for creating a group where family members can share purchases, location, etc.
As a parent you can set up an Apple/iCloud account for a minor and then incorporate them into your “Family”. A parent also had to set up “restrictions” in iOS settings for each device for a kid. Kids can ask permission to install apps, and parents devices get an alert to allow or deny.
What NOT to do: I have seen too many parents just sign in as themselves and give their kids a device. Please DON’T do this! Kids can really mess up your accounts. Another thing would be just giving kid unmanaged device with no account. You lose a lot of shared benefits of having an account for your kid under your family.
With the latest release Apple came out with “Screen Time” – for users to manage their own digital wellbeing on their own devices, but this also lets parents manage screen time on kids devices under the family group.
You then get a weekly report of Screen Time for your kid and can change settings etc through Screen Time on what apps are allowed, etc.
So, what’s missing? Well – for one – some devices have TouchId or FaceId – how does a parent set that up and still get into a device physically? Up to you. For now on my family devices, no passcodes or 2 factor auth – it is just too much overhead and messy to manage with kids.
Google has something similar for managing kids devices – it is called “Family Link” – but you need to install and configure it. Similarly to Apple screen time you can manage what apps and time spent and other settings on devices. It works on Android devices so if you are running a Google Android device but your kid has an old iPad or iPhone you are out of luck.
Recently they announced you can run Family Link on Chromebooks (ChromeOS) as well – but I have yet to get this working. It is supposed to work similarly to Android where you can manage the apps and see usage, set screen time etc.
I have found that Google support around Family Link is more responsive than other Google support I have tried to reach out to, but I still cannot get it working on my daughters Chromebook.
One thing to note as well, and maybe I can follow up on this one after I get it working – but you need to create a google account for your kid (just like Apple). If you manage it, it should be okay. But – your kid might already have a Google Account through their school district. It starts getting tricky here. You as a parent cannot “manage” that account. I think there is a way to link them. So the kid would login to your Chromebook with their kid google account, and then still be able to get to google classroom or login to chrome (google docs, etc) with the school account. Time will tell. It is messy right now.
YouTube (owned by Google) is another story. YouTube is really a cesspool of crap if you get down the rabbit hole. There have been many articles and cries for help to Google/YouTube to let parents better regulate what their kids see. YouTube STILL doesn’t let you block entire channels. This is a big miss.
Also, if you have shared devices (like an Apple TV, etc) with YouTube and you login as the adult – the kids sees your recommendations. What kids watch screw up your recommendations. Switching between accounts is not easy (Netflix does this pretty well).
YouTube Kids is an app that is made for “kids” – and is supposed to filter out junk – but it isn’t foolproof. Parents are usually going to take the easy route, and YouTube website/main app etc are going to be the go to. In my opinion – the filtering on YouTube and parental control is one of the big problems Google needs to tackle, and soon.
Google also has a bunch of features, not so much parental controls, that they are coming out for around Google Home around reading books with your kids, stories, etc. Try them out sometime if you can, they are pretty cool. With four kids in the house, reading to one of them, while one reads themselves, while the other says “Hey google, tell me a story” is a lifesaver, especially when one parent is away for an evening.
Microsoft has very similar setups to Apple and Google – but of course a little different. With Microsoft, you can setup an account for your child and tie it to your “family” – but you can use an existing email (so if you have a gmail or icloud from Apple or Google you can use that).
The only real devices you can manage from Microsoft are Windows devices and Xbox.
You can allow a child to login to a Windows device and restrict time and apps. One big miss here though is that you can only manage web browsing with Edge, and not other browsers. My kid uses Chrome – because they are used to it with Google Chromebooks at school, but I cannot manage their browser usage, etc. Big bummer
With Xbox you can manage screen time and game limits and ratings, etc. Works pretty well
Nintendo has an app you can download and tie it to your Nintendo switch. You can use it as parental control and set time limits and game limits etc. I don’t use it for that as I manage that pretty close directly with my kids but a nice feature of the app is it tracks play time, and that is good even to see for myself!
Facebook. Not sure on this one as I deactivated my account recently and I am about to jump ship due to their creepiness, scandals, privacy issues, etc.
I did try out Facebook Messenger for Kids this summer. It lets your kid sign up just for Messenger for Kids, not Facebook. They can add their friends, but both kids parents have to allow it. Also, parents can limit usage time and also install the app on their device and see all messages, etc.
This app works well if your kid wants to message their friend from their old iPhone using iMessage – but their friend has their parents old Android device and it won’t work.
Netflix & Hulu
I mentioned it earlier, but Netflix does have a way to create a “profile” that is deemed “kids” and is pre-filtered to kids specific shows. You can set it for “little kids” or “older kids and younger”. This works fairly well in practice.
It is easy enough for kids to just change profiles though. Maybe having non kid profiles pin controlled would be a good addition? Also, we have one for “Family” that has things we might all watch together vs just Paw Patrol episodes 🙂
Hulu has a very similar setup. Profile for kids, can see kids shows.
Sony has a way to set up parental controls on Playstation. You can set up a profile for your kid – but you need an email address. You can restrict games and screen time, etc.
I have a Playstation but haven’t set these up myself as my kids don’t play on it. Yet.
Amazon has a way to set parental controls, I really can’t speak to them as I have no real Amazon devices where you set this up – but here is a link to assist if you’ve read this far.
Okay, so there is a lot going on here. Your mileage may vary. Your family is going to be different than mine. More or less kids, different ages. Also, your tech profile won’t be the same. Different devices, platforms and operating systems.
As you can see, for the big companies, you need to set up an email address for your children and manage their profiles, and connect them to your family. Then they offer you ways to restrict time on devices and also different types of content, etc.
There are also ways some of the smaller or ancillary players let you manage children use time and parental controls. I hope you found this useful, hit me up in the comments with any questions!
Then in 2010 Power Pivot in Excel/SharePoint, then Power View in SharePoint
Then in 2013 Power BI … Power Pivot, Power View, Power Query, Power Map.. In Excel and Office 365.
Now in 2015 Power BI Version 2. Not in Office 365, separate. Power BI Designer, or use the Power BI web site to set up your dashboards, mobile, etc.
All the while, the existing solutions that have been available previously are still there and available, making things… well, confusing to say the least.
Most shops .. It all depends on when they started going heavy BI with the Microsoft tools, on where they land. Also, how well they could move when things change, as well as how much they want to stay up to date with the tools.
If you started 10+ years ago, you probably have a good base of ETLs written in SSIS, as well as many multi-dimensional (MD) OLAP cubes in SSAS, and SSRS reports off your cubes and data warehouse, running in SSRS Native Mode. You started with SQL 2000 if you were lucky, with cubes and dts packages, but then SQL 2005, then 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2 and now are on 2014. You really liked 2005 SP2 and 2008 R2 for the BI features :). This setup is like the VB6 or .NET Winforms of BI. It will probably be around forever in some way shape or form but not a ton of updates and Microsoft has moved on.
If you started a little later you might have SSRS in SharePoint mode, and some Performance Point dashboards. You might have even used Performance Point for planning/budgeting (and loved it?) until Microsoft killed it. Then you had to look for alternatives for that, or use OLAP Cube Writeback. In my opinion, SSRS in SharePoint and Performance Point are dead. Not dead as in they don’t work or won’t be supported, but I see them as the wrong path, life supported direction. If you are still using these heavy I would look for alternatives.
Now it gets interesting. You started with Excel 2010 and PowerPivot (no space!) and had SharePoint 2010 setup and Power View in SharePoint. You created V1 Power Pivot models, they were limited, you could do some things, but still it was limited. You still needed to get data somewhere so SSIS ETL’s or something to get data in tables you can use. If you are using Power View in SharePoint, I would hurry up and look for alternatives, it is dead (my definition of dead like SSRS/PP in SharePoint). Excel 2010 is long past and V1 PowerPivot is dead too. Seems like this era was short lived and just a stepping stone.
Then, in 2013, Power BI. So they added a space to Power Pivot 🙂 .. And made it better, v2. Added missing features, Tabular SSAS cubes even! And Power View could be used in Excel. They both came by default in Excel (depends on version) but turned off. Power Query came out of nowhere and is awesome and Power Map, while buggy, was better than nothing. But what do you do with all these solutions you build? Where to publish? Not SharePoint on prem? But Power BI in SharePoint Online.. So you need Office 365 and Power BI subscription. You set up Data Management Gateway so you can get to your on prem data sources. You can refresh once a day or manually. You can do some pretty cool things, create workbooks with pivots and Power Views.
But you are missing things. Missing things like the ability to schedule a report to run and email someone, like SSRS. You are missing awesome formatting abilities for every pixel like SSRS. You wonder when SSRS is going to come to Power BI or what your options are… you hope you see iterations and features released to Power BI as that is the path, but then..
New Power BI Preview comes out in 2015. It has a standalone Power BI Designer (reminiscent of the Performance Point designer) that lets you create reports, dashboards and save a file to publish to the NEW Power BI portal. So you have two Power BI portals.. New and old. They don’t overlap or talk to each other, the licensing is different, etc. The old Power BI lets you connect to SQL on prem with refresh with the DMG and other data sources, etc. The new one does not. The new one lets you connect to GitHub and SalesForce and Marketo, but not other data sources that the old Power BI did. The new Power BI lets you connect to on-prem TABULAR SSAS cubes with refresh, but not MD ones (yet). The new Power BI lets you connect to excel data in OneDrive/OneDrive for Business. So could one publish a data file out to ODFB to faux refresh? I have yet to try. The new Power BI lets you publish dashboards to the iOS Mobile apps and also embed (up to 10 MB – which needs change to be bigger) on websites. New Power BI has an API that lets you create your own connectors / REST API for things. And the list goes on and on.
So where does that leave us? Well, of you invested time and money in BI the last 10 years, you might feel like Microsoft is abandoning you. It kind of seems that way. You need to change or get left behind. But what do you change to? Change your MD cubes to Tabular? Rethink your architecture? Sync data to Azure? Power Pivot/Power Query? Abandon SharePoint as a BI tool? Move your reports from SSRS to something else or Power BI (if you can?) I am unsure. Still trying to figure it all out.
One thing for sure is, it will always keep evolving. Me, I would say, tabular first if you are on prem. Try to use Power BI where you can. Minimize SSRS reports. Use SSRS native instead of SharePoint. Stop using PerformancePoint if you are still using it or thinking about it. I bet at some point SSRS comes to the new Power BI – there is an item on the UserVoice forum already asking for it. Try the Power BI Designer and Website and see what you can do. Always be trying to get something going in the newest and latest technology/tools available.
Have Fun with Microsoft BI now and what is yet to come!
Though you can’t sync your Google calendar with the Calendar app, you can see your Google calendar events by moving them to Outlook.com. For more info on how to do that, see How to see your Google events in the Calendar app.
This is a horrible solution. It is a shame that Microsoft can’t make things work, and at least Google/Microsoft get along enough to interop. Annoying.
I try to use multiple services. Google Drive, DropBox, Skydrive (now OneDrive) – the personal version – OneDrive for Business, Evernote, Wunderlist, Exchange Tasks, OneNote, etc etc. Why? Well to compare and contrast. What is good, what is bad, what is missing, what is – ubiquitous.
A few months ago I was use Evernote heavy (again). It is pretty ubiquitous. Every device, platform, web, etc. But, I really do like Microsoft OneNote. There are pros and cons to both apps, and I really do like how Evernote does tags, but that is a different blog post. OneNote was almost everywhere. iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows, Web.. but missing a native Mac OS X app. That changed today. FINALLY a native Mac app for OneNote. There are third party apps that kind of work, but nothing like the real deal. Integrates with OneDrive (personal) via a Microsoft account.
I think even bigger news is the OneNote API – allowing for apps and services to integrate with OneNote, very big news indeed.
But what is missing? One glaring omission to complete the story, in my opinion, is the lack of any kind of client or integration on Mac OS for OneDrive for Business. There are OneDrive for Business apps for Windows and iOS, and Office Mobile apps which let you access your OneDrive for Business content for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. But glaringly omitted is any kind of Mac OS X app. Now, I was secretly hoping with the release of OneNote for Mac, that it would have integration with Office 365 or On-premises SharePoint out of the box, which would solve part of the problem, but I don’t see that integration, or I can’t find it.
Why do we need OneDrive for Business for Mac? Because, most organizations have a mix of client operating systems. These orgs want to use things like SharePoint, or Office 365 – OneDrive for Business – to let users save and share documents – internally and externally – replacing consumer (and faux business) apps like Dropbox and Google Drive, even OneDrive personal edition. But without a Mac client, it is VERY hard to get complete buy in to use the OneDrive tools. Yes, Mac users can use the web, but – they don’t like being treated like 2nd class citizens, and I don’t blame them. I use both Windows and Mac, and it would be awesome to be able to go between and use the same tools and services. Hopefully, someday.
So now, you can hit your OneNote notebooks in your personal Microsoft Account, OneDrive, but you can’t open your corporate notebooks, where I would guess many people would want to use OneNote for Mac. Microsoft – give us OneDrive for Business for Mac! We are waiting!! (take a quick glance at the image on this post, it almost looks like a Mac unless you look hard… they are teasing us!)
I use many different devices. iOS, Android, Windows. iPad, Chromebook, Macbook, Surface, etc. I like to compare and contrast differences between systems and devices.. This post is about how the Microsoft Surface and Windows 8.1 works for parents and kids.
Why? Well, it isn’t so much the Surface and Windows 8.1, but Microsoft Family Safety. This has been around in Windows for a while, through the “Live Essentials” and what have you, but now it is built into the OS. Since previously I didn’t have kids, I had no use for it. Now with younger kids that want to play on my devices, I tried it.
On my Surface, I just created a kids account, and linked it to Family Safety. Now, when the kid plays, it tracks what they do. I can control what apps, what sites, levels of app ratings, time, etc. I get a report every week
If she tries to play a game or install something it won’t let her. It asks for password, it even asks “is your parent here now” so I can just put in the password. Pretty awesome.
Other systems and devices have nothing like this that I have seen, nothing built in anyways. With an iPad (or iOS) you really don’t have this control. Maybe if they have their own device, but if they share your’s you are out of luck since there are no accounts in iOS.
I have no problems now just giving her the Surface to play with – and I can track usage and set limits, pretty awesome. If you are a parent and have a Windows 8 or 8.1 device, check out the children accounts and family safety. You don’t even have to set up an email address for your kids, it just works as a local account if you want. Score one for Microsoft!
Simple: other devices. Not everything syncs via Bluetooth, WIFI or ANT+, etc.
I have devices I need to connect to my computer to sync data from. My Garmin Edge, my Nike+ Watch.
Luckily my Nike Fuelband and Fitbit sync via Bluetooth now. But until I can get away with running an iPad, Chromebook or Surface RT .. I will need a traditional laptop or desktop. Macbook Pro or Air, iMac, Windows Desktop or Laptop, or Surface Pro…
Another reason, but not a complete dealbreaker, is software and services that I can’t use on non-traditional devices.
Excel 2013 with Power BI? Can’t really run that anywhere but on a traditional laptop or desktop. Yea, I know I can remote into a machine or server, but that is cheating. What else? Visual Studio, Management Studio, etc. Same thing, I could set up some IaaS VM and do things, but I would be taking way longer trying to create from an iPad or Surface RT, etc. The Surface at least as a sanctioned keyboard. iPad with a bluetooth keyboard works well. Chromebook works, but when it comes down to hard core work, these devices fall down.
I don’t even feel like typing up a blog post on these devices. I can pound out tons of content on a laptop or desktop. On a tablet/limited device, well, you are limited. Limited by entry speed, limited by having to be always connected, etc.
I am looking forward to a convergence of laptop/tablet along the lines of Surface. Surface Pro 2 is close. Probably the closest device. Unless you want to develop iPhone apps, then you need a Mac too 🙂
Hoping in the not to near future I can limit the number of devices I need to create or do the things I need to. Content creation, app development, syncing external devices, etc. If 2014 isn’t the year, guessing 2015 will be.
I am going to try to outline in some way here the next gen consoles and why I would choose one over the other. If for no other reason than I can get more than 140 characters here and it is easier to point to a response once when I need to… this might get long..
What I am not going to do? Run down the specs on each side down to the details. Other tech sites have done or are doing that already.
Let’s start with some history…
I have played games on computers/consoles for I dunno, almost 30 years. NES, Apple II, SNES, N64, Sega Genesis, Early DOS, PC, Gamecube, PS One, 2, 3, Xbox, Xbox 360. Wii. Some others in there. Basically have owned or played on all major systems (yeah, Dreamcast, Atari, etc).
Currently I have a PS3 and an Xbox 360. I would say I have completed/played/done more on the Xbox 360 than PS3. I own many more games, accessories, etc.
I think the main reason I have a PS3 is that I had some Gamestop credit and it was the best blu ray player around at the time. I do have some PS3 games that I have played/beat. I used to have like 40 games for PS2. I think we played PS2 through college more than anything (well, N64 was up there in the first two years)..
Looking at the current gen Sony vs Microsoft… gripes on both consoles.. every time I turn them on, most of my time is spent “updating” the main system or apps that are downloaded, or before I can play a game, etc.
Xbox 360 UI “interface” has changed 3+ times since I first had one (this is my second console, my first one from 2006 – I wore out). The PS3 hasn’t changed much to me.
Seems that PS3 has removed features that made it unique (running Linux? – I wrote about this 5 years ago).
Both consoles again, things like Hulu Plus, Netflix – are there – but to me, backup. Apple TV or Roku seem better suited for that. Recently I have been using Chromecast more and more – which works well too.
Friends: I have more friends with Xbox 360 than PS3, or at least on the “networks”. This makes things more enjoyable.
Games: For the most part they have the same games. The titles that are specific are ok but nothing that makes me say I would go with one over the other.
Like I mentioned, PS3 has the blu ray. I think if MSFT would have added blu ray to the 360, I wouldn’t have a PS3.
Now, onto the new consoles. PS4 and Xbox One.
8-10 years ago, I played games. I would get a PS2 game and play it/beat it. I would get a Xbo 360 game and get all the achievements. Time was in abundance. Fast forward to present. Working tons of hours. 2 kids. Family. House. Other engagements. There is no time to play a 150-200 hour game, at least for me. I find myself playing more of the arcade type games quick and out. Fruit Ninja Kinect. Trials HD, etc. Skyrim? I tried, I really did. Time gets in the way. Then coming back to it later is like “a child wandering into a movie”
Back in the mid-2000’s, Apple TV wasn’t really around. Roku/Chromecast, etc – nothing. Xbox 360 or PS3 were the only way (easy way – besides hooking up a computer) to get things on your big screen. Back then they were the only thing hooked up to my composite or HDMI, now, they are fighting for slots.
I think looking at the two options for the next generation leave me at this.. If I do get a console, it will be the Xbox One.
First off, price comes up. To me they are the same. Xbox 360 comes with new Kinect, Sony doesn’t come with camera, that costs $100 extra, so price is pretty much the same.
Second, if history repeats itself, more of my friends will be on Xbox Live. One thing is that people that are already on Xbox Live would be on Live once they got a Xbox One.
Sidebar: Backwards compatibility. Sad story for both consoles. If either of them had backward compatibility it would totally change the game when it comes to people picking up the new consoles. This one issue and how they handle it is putting me off from getting either of them for a while. My current games and system works, why get a new one? Until there is a game or reason outside of a game to get new console, I probably won’t.
To me, the Xbox One is more of a “media center” system that plays games, whereas the PS4 is a gaming system that lets you do some media functions.
Now, being where I am at in life, mid-30’s, little or no time for gaming, etc etc – the Xbox One appeals. Give me direct integration into my TV. Let me play with Kinect. Let me Skype with family. Oh, and you want to play a game? Sure. And you can watch blu-ray or rent/download movies, it will integrate better with your Microsoft desktop and Windows Phone, etc etc.
What does Sony have? (to me): it is a third party device trying to integrate into ecosystems that are pretty much getting cemented already (Apple, Microsoft, upcomer Google). Nintendo and Sony are on the outside looking in. It doesn’t matter to me that it might play games better, or the nitty gritty details on whatever else someone who is choosing a PS4 will use as their “argument” that it is better. In all honesty, my thought is if you consider yourself a hardcore gamer, you should be getting both consoles anyways.
What don’t I like about the Xbox One from what I see? Size. The thing is huge. While everything else is getting smaller in tech, the Xbox One gets bigger.
Now, based on my current (well I guess now “previous”) generation PS3 and Xbox 360 experiences, I don’t really need another device sitting around that the majority of the time spent on it is just running updates. I would hope either of these new consoles handle this better. Also it makes my choice favor a system I would use more than for just gaming. Based on the current (or soon to be realized) functionality, my head leans to Xbox One.
I am sure I am missing this or that in comparisons and there are going to be fanboys on either side saything this or that, but I just haven’t gotten any “feeling” that is telling me I should get or consider a PS4. Microsoft has been good with the Xbox, 360 and Xbox Live, the are just going to get better. I like where they are heading. Sony just seems like an outside system to me. So no matter what your choice, have fun. I am not trying to convince anyone either way. When it all boils down, I will probably just end up playing more games on my phone anyways 🙂
So in the end: Xbox One. But guessing if I do get it, it will be after the price drops for both consoles, as they always do.
To conclude my posts on the PASS Summit this year (see day 1 review and day 2 review), I want to go over the last day and then talk a little about the entire conference and my takeaways.
On Friday I attended three sessions. The last two of the day, the second to last one I was on the phone and missed the beginning and then decided to check out all the other things before they were done, and the last session slot, there wasn’t much appealing, and most everyone already left, so I skipped it.
1. CLD-303-A SQLCAT: What are The Largest Azure Projects in the World?
This was given by Kevin Cox and a another SQLCAT member. The SQLCAT team is crazy smart. If you can talk to any of them, you need to. Any chance you get. This was a good view of customers they have dealt with that are pushing SQL Azure to the limits. Since we are running a project now that we are going to be pushing SQL Azure (and Azure) hard, I thought this was good.
So customers have 20TB dbs, 10k databases, so it for sure can scale. Also some good tips/tricks on what you can do to use SQL Azure to the max like the other customers
2. BIA-203: Real-Time Data Warehouse and Reporting Solutions
I wasn’t sure on this one. Carlos Bossy gave a couple of presentations, and he seemed to know what he was presenting, but a topic like this is so situational it is tough to make it generic. Also, there isn’t a “huge” need for real time and I think I wouldn’t implement it the way he was saying anyways. Run SSIS 24/7 with a for loop that never ends? That is crazy. I’d rather pump data through something like StreamInsight with some code than that SSIS solution. Or run things every couple of minutes or something. “near real time”. Also his solutions was using replication which is fragile.
3. BIA-402-M: Optimizing Your BI Semantic Model for Performance and Scale.
Probably one of the better sessions. Again, Microsoft guys letting it all out here. Akshai Mirchandani and Allan Folting from Microsoft. Basically going *in depth* on how PowerPivot and Tabular does what it does with columnar compression, etc. Where you can look and dig under the hood to find ways to make small changes and optimize processing or querying depending on your need. This is a session I want my entire BI team to watch together.
Overall Takeaways Technically:
Azure, Hadoop, Tabular, Power View, BI, DAX, Excel. You can see a pattern here. I am sure there were good “DBA” and DB Dev sessions but I didn’t go to any. BI is taking shape with Microsoft’s strategy and it is all tabular/excel azure/hadoop stuff. Exciting times.
Overall Thoughts of This Year’s Summit and SQL PASS
Guidebook – was ok. I thought it could have been better. I have used before at conferences. Why no native Windows Phone app?
New Layout – the last two years I was at the summit, things were laid out (as far as where things were) pretty much the same. This year it was changed up. Took a day to get the “lay of the land”
Keynotes – kind of the same as usual. I mentioned in by part 2 blog about how the blogger/twitter table needs to grow up, just want to say that again here. First day there was some drama, second day more drama and badmouthing/infighting. Just needs to stop. Leave the drama at home.
Seattle – Seattle is great. Not going to Seattle next year since the summit is in Charlotte, is going to be tough. I know where to go in Seattle and I like the area. I am worried out Charlotte.
Reg Dates – as I mentioned in my day 1 review, many people came out a day early since the dates said 6th-9th. Same thing next year. Should really say 7th-9th.
Hash Tags – on twitter, usually the hash tag is #sqlpass .. this year they said use #summit12 , some people were using #summit2012 and confused. Also, using #summit12 wasn’t looked at by as many people which stinks as I used that on all my tweets. Next year they need to just keep it as one hash tag.
Karaoke – I have been to the unsanctioned one. It was great. Not sure sanctioning karaoke like this year makes sense. It loses some of what made it cool to begin with. I could get into a lot of detail here but I hope people understand what I mean… taking something “underground” and trying to make it mainstream, usually doesn’t work as well.
#sqlfamily – this is something that I have many thoughts on. I will say things but I don’t think many want to hear it. “sqlfamily” isn’t as big of a family as those in the echo chamber think it is. I would say 99% come to the summit and have no real idea of what it even means. 1% that tweet, present, schmooze think everyone else feels and interacts the same way they do, and it just isn’t true. I met many people at breakfast/lunch and after hours that in fact have no real want/need to be totally ingrained with the clique. Many don’t even use twitter, etc. They are just going to work, doing their job, trying to learn. etc. I think it would make sense fo the sql/sql pass community to step back and think about that for a while.
This year I wrote a blog post for the SQL Server Blog before the summit to drive excitement, which was cool. The first day at the keynote a guy sat next to me and we were talking before it started. He was like “dude, I read your blog on the sql server blog!” – To me that was so cool. He said I was a “rockstar”. No, I am not a rockstar (or an MVP – but the blog says I am, maybe the emails have been going to my spam folder all these years) – I am just a regular tech guy that is passionate about technology, SQL, BI (and a ton more). I was really happy though to see that people are reading that content and it is firing them up, it is what my intention was. And if you read that post, I took back a ton of good stuff from the summit. I am already starting to formalize and get strategy/implementation plans going for things I directly learned.
So to close, my third summit was great. Great content, meeting new people and seeing old faces and having lively discussions and knowledge sharing during the day and over a beer. I am going to miss Seattle next year but I can’t wait for the next summit, and possibly even the new SQL BA (Business Analytics) conference in April 2013. I hope everyone who went to the Summit this year enjoyed it and learned as much as I did!
To follow up on my first post about day one of this years PASS Summit, here is how day two played out
The “keynote” here was some PASS discussions, then Quentin Clark (MSFT exec) and Julie Strauss (wicked smart) doing an end to end demo on many things.. Hadoop, Azure, Data Explorer, Power View, Excel, etc. The blogger table was pretty annoying with their tweets during the demo calling it out as boring and not what DBA’s want, failing to remember that half the conference is BI people. I think the demo was “dry” but they showed many things and tied it together. I saw Julie at TechEd and she knows what she is doing. Of course every year the blogger table is going to say “zoom” on the presentations, which yes, they should be doing, or changing resolution, but to see the bantering back and forth on twitter is just bad overall for the people attending and watching and looking for info. The blogger/twitter table should be relaying information that people at home are clamoring for, not bad mouthing the presentation/presenters.
I hit up 4 sessions in all on Thursday Nov 8th..
1. BID-307-M: Using Power View with Multidimensional Models
As with day one, I mentioned I try to get to presentations by Microsoft employees, today was no different. The first one being with Bob Meyers and Sivakumar Harinath. This was a deep dive into the newly announced functionality yet to be released or given a date that will let us hit OLAP cubes with Power View. Honestly I wish Microsoft would have released this from the get go. One thing I don’t understand though is why Power View uses DAX to hit OLAP and TABULAR, while Excel uses MDX to hit OLAP and TABULAR. Seems split brained to me. Choose one and go. Many audience questions in this one, and one downfall of Microsoft Employee presentations is that they have a hard time saying “no” and get into discussions with audience members, many times taking too much time on some specific question.
Presentation was good, and we learned some things. New dimension properties for ImageUrl, Geography (for mapping), etc. And what will and won’t work with Power View and OLAP. Good stuff.
2. BIA-400-HD: Enterprise Data Mining with SQL Server
This was a double session, and I just stayed for the first half. Mark Tabladillo (marktab) is a PhD so that tells you something. Data Mining in SSAS/SQL Server has always been an enigma since day one. I don’t know of many using it in real life (besides the AdventureWorks Demo?) – it is kind of SSAS Cube Writeback, awesome, but not widely used. He showed how you can use the SSAS Data Mining cubes and Excel Add in to do forecasting, basket analysis and how to get into some of the options and get data out yourself to make your own visualizations, pretty cool stuff, but like I said, I left half way through…
3. BIA-309-M: Enriching Your BI Semantic Tabular Models with DAX
I left the Data Mining session early to get a good seat for this presentation. Kasper de Jonge from Microsoft is one I always try to get to as he is wicked smart as well, and usually the presentations are awesome, this one was no different. Getting into the details with DAX and just seeing someone like Kasper use PowerPivot, Excel .. it shows how “he” would use it, being a program manager, which is different than most. Great to pick up tips/tricks and just see how he goes about doing even the basics. He even showed off the trick on changing the DAX on an imported table to a DAX query to get whatever you want back from your tabular cube, he has a blog post that I went through a while ago to the same effect, which was cool.
4. BIA-206-M: BI Power Hour
Finally to end the day..Matt Masson and Matthew Roche again, with Patrick LeBlanc, Peter Myers, Sean Boon and Chuck Heinzelman.
This presentation reminded me of a Brian Knight spectacular.. throwing trinkets, books, etc to audience, goofy stuff. Pretty funny, and they go through SharePoint, SSIS, PowerView etc. Very lighthearted and a good way to end a 2nd day on non-stop technical things. Matt Masson is probably a stand up comedian at night, just funny stuff. I have seen Chuck present before and he is good, Sean showed us some PowerPivot with Olympic data and Shark bite data, Patrick with a Windows Phone app and Azure and SQL Data Sync, Matt with SSIS data app, and Peter Myers filled in at the end by capturing data from the audience over mobile and slicing/dicing it. I have seen Peter before as well and he is very methodical, it was his first “power hour” and it showed, but hopefully he does it again and is a bit more prepared.
Thursday night was the appreciation night, and gather at the EMP (music museum) in Seattle. They shuttle you over and back. Two free drinks, food (I think I had mac and cheese 3 nights in a row for some reason last week), and you can tour around the museum. There was #SQLKaraoke, but the sanctioned one, not the one at Busch Gardens. Live band and you get to sing, pretty cool stage and everything. Again, bummer, my voice was out or I would have sang a tune.
So to wrap up my 2nd full day, BI, BI, BI all day. More to come with the last day and overall thoughts for this year.