Never Type Your Email Address On Your Phone Again

We all use our phones way more than we used to. Always have them with us, in our pockets. We do many tasks we used to do on computers on our phones. We view, share, read, type. One thing I found myself typing way to often was my email address. Well, both my addresses. My home and work address. Every new login, every site, etc. Has to be a better way.

Well, there is! It is called Text Expansion. Text Expansion isn’t anything new. It has been around in modern OS’s for years, and other programs, text editors and IM programs, etc.

Well, with Apple iOS and Google Android (Sorry Windows Phone users!), you can use Text Expansion to stop typing out your loooong email addresses every time you have to enter them.

On iOS, go to Settings->General->Keyboard. At the bottom of the page, there is “Shortcuts”. Now there might be some defaults. “omw” = on my way, etc. But who really uses that? :)

set up a new shortcut, for the phrase, put your email address, and then Shortcut put “eml”. I also set up a shortcut for my work email, with the shortcut as “weml”. Now, when I want to type my email just have to type eml or weml and it expands into my actual email address.

home email expansion

work email expansion

and here it is in action:

expansion use

Now on Android, it works a little different (and in my opinion, iOS handles this better). First off, add your shortcuts.

Go to Settings->Language & Input->Personal Dictionary

Add two entries, for your home and work, like on iOS.

shortcut android

and here it is in action:

usage android

As you can see, the way that Android does it, at least to me, seems wonky. iOS brings up the expanded text inline. Also, I have noticed on Android that some apps and text entry areas don’t find the dictionary (say, for example the to: line in corporate mail). Where in iOS 99% of places handles the expansion. The places in iOS that I have seen not handle it are some apps custom text entry boxes.

Another thing to realize is that with iOS, if you use iCloud sync, these text expansions get syncd for you, to your iPad and other iDevices, even your Mac. Pretty cool.

I see people typing in their email address when logging in and just shake my head. Save yourself some keystrokes. They add up!



iis8

Analyzing ADFS IIS Logs

If you are using Active Directory Federation and you want to see what users are logging in when to what external service, you can analyze the ADFS server IIS logs. It is pretty straightforward since it is just IIS.

First, get to your ADFS box, get to the IIS log directory, usually something like “C:\Windows\System32\LogFiles\W3SVC1″ and grab those logs.

Install LogParser on your machine.

Now, you can write sql type queries against your logs. For ADFS logs, we don’t care so much about many of the columns, but primarily username and date, maybe the URI for filtering, maybe the referrer or the user agent to see what browsers your users are using, but to get say, unique logins per day for a given service, we just need the date, username and URI.

Remember the date is probably UTC so you need to use a function to convert, or leave as is if you want, and everything is pretty much all relative depending on how accurate you want things to be. hint: TO_TIMESTAMP(date, time) AS utc-timestamp, TO_LOCALTIME(utc-timestamp) AS local-timestamp

Now, here is the LogParser query:

logparser "SELECT DISTINCT cs-username, date INTO FROM WHERE cs-username <> NULL and cs-uri-query LIKE '%your service%'"

Note in the statement the output path and your log path, change to what yours are. Also, the LIKE statement. For example, to query for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, I used

LIKE ‘%dynamicscrm%’

Run that query, then open the .csv you exported to. Format the data as a table, pivot it by user, pivot by date. Get the unique number of days using a date diff, analyze logins per day, logins per user. Tie to Active Directory (using Power Query) to add some dimension attributes like title or department and very quickly you can analyze what users, departments etc are using your service.



Welcome Back

It’s been a loooong time since I have posted here. Well, time to change that. The experiment is over. Always been toying with other things. Twitter, Google+, Facebook, svbtle, medium, blogger, whatever. But I guess this is where I belong. Hell, I’m getting requests from this guy.

I focused on some other things.. stevenovoselac.com, which still is an experiment. Orignally it was a lifestream, on a few different services, then Posterous, which Twitter bought, so I moved it to WordPress, then Squarespace (which locks you in HARD btw) – and now decided to take some of the posts and move to svbtle. We will see what I do with it. Like I said, still an experiment.

In all reality I haven’t posted here since 11/2012.

What’s changed since then?

steve and olive

  • Life: Olive is almost a year old, our house is coming along
  • Work: I’ve promoted some awesome people and I have many less direct reports. I am getting into other technologies and projects.
  • Health: I started cycling. I’ve lost 65 lbs since 11/2012.
  • Tech: Chromebook? Macbook? Android? WP8? iOS development? Chromecast? Everything else? check. And more.
  • Music: Still rockin
  • Homebrewing: Yep, still doing that too. Need to do it more. I plan on it.

steve novoselac

I’ve cleaned up the theme a bit. Cleaned up some links etc. Still some categorization to here. Oh yeah, still have ads too. It pays for the hosting, and a beer every few months. :)

brewing

Looking at my Google Analytics, I can tell you exactly when Google Reader shut down…

Not even sure if anyone still reads blogs… do they? I know I do. Feedly is my drug of choice for a reader.

kom

What do people want to read about? Let me know in the comments.. which I guess I might see one or two. Otherwise I will just make up stuff as I go, which is pretty much how I operate anyways.

fam

Oh yeah, I love that Mase song – listen to the YouTube, it’s awesome.



Day 3 and Overall Impressions #sqlpass #summit12

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!



Day 2 Review #sqlpass #summit12

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.



Day 1 Review #sqlpass #summit12

This SQL PASS Summit was my third, and it was good. Kind of crazy timing as we just had a baby 2+ weeks ago, so I am very lucky I got to go.

Day one was Wednesday Nov 7th. There is a kickoff thing the night before which is always good to see everyone again, etc. There are pre-cons two days before (5th, 6th). Myself, as with many I talked to, came out the 5th, thinking the conference started the 6th, which we were mistaken, so it was kind of a free day, but still things going on. The website said 6th-9th so we all assumed without digging into the detail. At least I wasn’t the only one.

The first day keynote was good, Ted Kummert from Microsoft which I have seen a few times now, and the same cast of characters, Amir Netz showing off more Power View and Movie data. The big things announced that made me perk up were SQL Server 2012 SP1 and Power View over OLAP (coming soon?). No big flashy giveaways like BUILD, but good keynote, then the fun starts.

I attended 4 sessions on Wednesday

1. BIA-303: What’s New in Analysis Services 2012? – Chris Webb

This was my first session of the day, and it was in 305-TCC. TCC was across the street, which maybe was like that years past, but I never had to go to any, so everyone seemed lost. We finally got there, but then Chris Webb told us that the abstract was wrong in some places and the talk would mostly be about tabular, not multidimensional. Oh well, good stuff anyways. There was one slide about OLAP stuff. The biggest thing I got out of this was xEvents for SSAS, and how to pull into PowerPivot. This is the first time I have seen Chris Webb present and it was good.

2. BIA-316-M: Enterprise Information Management: Bringing Together SSIS, DQS, and MDS

For the second session, it was two Microsoft employees. I like to try to hit many sessions by Microsoft Employees because well, they usually have worked on the products, and they get into details, and they sometimes let some juicy details slip.

Matt Masson and Matthew Roche are great presenters, funny and play off each other. They showed and telled SQL Server 2012 MDS and DQS and discussed how it could and should be used in orgs. Master Data is a huge issue in many businesses and the Microsoft solution looks really good. Using DQS along with SSIS to clean your data, or as a very smart “spell checker”, and then MDS to track changes, workflow, and send back data to source systems if you’d like. The big thing here I took out was how they see MDS fitting into businesses, and that a BI team should implement MDS/DQS to make sure their dimensional data is clean and the “golden master” they need for great BI reporting, and updating back to source systems is a secondary thing.

3. BID-212-S: Around the World with SharePoint BI Toolbelt

This was a typical Brian Knight session. Not as huge of a production as some of them I have seen. Just him and his employee/bi architect and a helper/demo person.

They showed quickly how to get SharePoint setup for Excel Services and Power View and then did some demos. Overall good stuff but seemed a bit rushed and some things didn’t work. They demo’d PerformancePoint, which who knows what future that has, but seems like the best tool for OLAP scorecards in SharePoint. Performance Point has been an enigma for us to do anything with, not sure we ever will. I always see it demo’d and see the benefits, and see what it can do, but we never get around to doing it. Maybe someday, or maybe it will just get replaced by something..

As I said he brings up a sales person from his team or someone new to show how easy it is for a non-techie to use Power View (or whatever tool they present) and go through a little demo.

4. BID-102: Mobile Business Intelligence for Everyone, Now!

Final presentation of the day was with Jen Stirrup, who also won the PASSion award on Thursday. I also chatted with her briefly Wednesday morning, which was good as I haven’t met her before this summit. The presentation was OK. It was a 100 level, but I wanted to see some Mobile BI. I have some high expectations as I saw Jen Underwood present on Mobile BI at TechEd, so was expecting more of the same. Jen Underwood was actually in the audience and answered some audience questions.

The presentation had some technical glitches, and also dug a little to deep into visualization discussion, which is good, but I wasn’t expecting it in this one, maybe a different session. Jen showed some stuff on her iPad, and talked about how she uses Azure and SSRS in Azure, and also HostedPowerPivot, which was good stuff, but nothing new that I didn’t see at TechEd.

I use MobiSSRS for SSRS reports on iOS and that works great, she didn’t mention it, but Mobile BI presentations can get into the “3rd party app here and there” instead of what you can do out of the box. With mobile BI though, the first question is, “do you run SharePoint?” and the second is, “It is Enterprise?” because that makes a big difference in what you might try to do

Wednesday was a good day, I didn’t do much in the evening besides just grab a bite to eat and hit the hay. Bummer this year was that I started getting a cold on the way out on the plane, and it ate at my voice all week. Nothing to serious but enough to not want to talk in a pub about BI much as you have to yell.

More to come about Day 2 and Day 3, and overall thoughts..



ipad

No Laptop for a Week

This past week I went to the PASS Summit 2012 in Seattle (more on that in a later post). But I did something that I haven’t done ever. I went to Seattle without my laptop.

Now, if you have ever been to a tech conference, first off the wifi and network in the hotels are slow because you have thousands of geeks doing the same thing. 3g/4g slow too, so you are already hampered by that fact.

Next, you are up early, to breakfast/conference sessions all day, usually till 6:30 pm, and you then have conference events every night till 9, 10, 11 whatever, so you aren’t in your hotel much, maybe to sleep, shower, drop your bag off.

I found that I could “get by” without my laptop, but there were things that weren’t easy, and things I couldn’t do easily when I wanted to.

First trial was an email sent to me with a PDF that asked “can you sign this and get it back today”. Ok, let’s see. Download a PDF signing app and do it in iOS. Works. Little hokey to get the file back and copied and back in the email, but works.

Then, a couple of days later, “go here and fill this web form out”.. well, let’s cross our fingers it works in mobile safari or chrome without issue. It was clunky but worked.

I would say the biggest gripe though I had was this: lack of keyboard. Now I know with iPad (and things like Surface with the touch cover) you can get a keyboard, but I don’t have one of those cases for my iPad so I was just winging it with the iPad.

With no keyboard, it is *very* hard to sit down and bang out paragraphs at any fast type of rate. Blog post? Not quickly. It is just a slow down without a physical keyboard to type on. Other things like emails, twitter, web, whatever, work fine with just the iPad. And of course consuming/reading content is great. Just that typing something like this post here, I waited till I was at my desktop at home to write it. I think I would pull my hair out just trying to use the soft keyboard on the iPad.

Overall it got me by like I said, but there are still some gaps, at least for me, in what I need to do that can’t be handled without a laptop or physical keyboard. Maybe next year :)



Trek BI Agile Story Board

Business Intelligence – 3 Years of Agile

Last year at the PASS summit, I ran into someone and was discussing project management and Business Intelligence. They were so adamant that agile couldn’t work. And I had to correct them, as I have been doing agile now for three years at Trek in our BI group.

Yes, some things don’t exactly parallel to software development, but many things do. Sprints, Standups, estimations, stories, points, scrum master, releasing/delivering value on your iterations. And now even more with process like unit testing of SQL code and more, things are getting closer to software development in that regard.

I have an entire blog category dedicated to agile – more concepts but also talking about Business Intelligence teams in some of them.

Just remember, you can do BI and Agile, it works, and you can deliver a ton of value to the organization. Someone who might argue with you, well, they don’t know what they are doing in BI or in Agile, or the organization isn’t willing to change, which of course then it wouldn’t work.

Advice. Make sure you hold retrospectives, and make sure you make adjustments from whatever comes out of them.