Towards Personal Data Science with Power BI

I just finished my session at SQLGLA, with a full room there were more people than I could’ve hoped for.
Looking at the other speakers, I’m not even sure if i would’ve attended my own session!
But a small miracle happened and I got a full room aside from 5 badly placed empty seats ūüôā

 

On to the session!

I submitted one of the sessions I started speaking with several years ago.

Towards Personal Data Science with Power BI

After dusting it off and getting some new demos working, I was ready to go!
That is, up until a day before the event when I read this excellent post by Leila Etaati (twitter) on how to easily use the cognitive services in Power BI.

After blatantly stealing her code (and obviously giving credit) my demo went from way too many lines to easy to grasp!
So thank you Leila! ūüôā

Now the session basically contains a short summary of what you need to know about Machine Learning to get started.
Once you have that basic knowledge, it’s time to go into demo’s.

I show how to build a predictive model in Azure Machine Learning using the Titanic dataset, a golden oldie.
The dataset is small enough to use in a presentation and still explain some basic principles.
Added benefit is that you can keep the demo nice and simple.

Having built a predictive model in Azure ML and having deployed it to a predictive web service, I switch to Power BI.
In Power BI

 

We import the dataset and using the AzureML package in R we use the AzureML package to connect to the webservice and score our data.
Next up is visualising that scored data in Power BI.
For this session I built a very simple report, showing the results while also showing that cool Power BI Report Page Tooltip feature.

 

 

You can even take it a notch up and evaluate your models by having the output of your predictive models next to the actual values.

Here are the goods

So you want the presentation slides and the demo materials?
I’ve put them online on dropbox.

Citizen Data Science – A rant on why it is already reality

This rant is a reaction to a LinkedIn post I was tagged in because i promote citizen data science.

There’s a lot of bullshit being sold about data science.
And for every person who thinks they’re the data science unicorn and all the rest aren’t skilled enough, there’s a company proving otherwise.

I’ve talked with a lot of people about this topic and presented on why I believe Microsoft i supporting this with their tooling.

Read on for some ranting and reasoning.

Read moreCitizen Data Science – A rant on why it is already reality

The road to Microsoft MVP

Warning

This is a post about me and my reflection on the Microsoft MVP award.
It basically is a rant.

 

Some history

Back in january of this year, out of the blue, someone in the community I’ve looked up to since entering the data world asked if it was ok if they’d nominate me for the Microsoft MVP award.

For those who don’t know, being awarded the MVP status is considered by many as one of the highest honors you can receive in the Microsoft Community.
Even more so when you know that there are only about 4000 MVPs worldwide in all Microsoft categories and even less (about 300) in the Data Platform / SQL Server category [*].
With only about 150 people outside of the US being awarded MVP for the Data Platform category, you can quickly see what an honor it is to be one of the few people outside of the US to receive this award.

Not so fast

As I said, I got asked if I wanted to be nominated back in january.
While incredibly nice, I didn’t put a lot of value on the award since I was just having fun meeting new people and learning from everyone I met.
On top of that, I didn’t think I was near worthy enough for this honor. However, just the thought of having been nominated by someone known over the entire world and generally considered a community leader was already very cool!

Long story short, I didn’t let this person know it was OK to nominate me until May and didn’t even complete the nomination until the end of July.

Nomination != Award

At the end of July I had spoken internationally at a bunch of events and had met a ton of awesome people in the community. Quite a few of these people turned out to be MVPs and during dinners before or after the events we’d talk about things ranging from beer and food to the community in general.

One person I was talking with dove into his journey towards becoming an MVP. The part of his story that stuck with me the most was how he had been very active and even respected in the community and it still took him over 5 years after his first nomination before receiving the MVP award.

I received a similar warning in January from the person who wanted to nominate me. They warned me that they could nominate me but this didn’t actually mean that much.
It’s still up to Microsoft to select you.
And that apparently is the hard part of becoming an MVP.

What now?

It quickly became apparent that while most of these people weren’t an MVP at all, they were still extremely enthusiastic about what they do and most of them had even been actively sharing their knowledge with the community for a long time already.
For me this blurred the line between what defines a non-MVP and MVP person. They both seem to do the same thing for the entire community, only one gets recognized and the other one doesn’t.
Although I’m probably missing a lot of important details when making this comparison.

So knowing that this nomination would probably not result in instant “MVP-ness” and most likely not even in the long run, I filled in the forms at the end of July. With that, I had officially accepted the nomination itself.
While I still thought that this one person I looked up to considering me worthy enough was more awesome than actually winning some award from Microsoft.
This initial consideration gave me a better feeling than the thought of perhaps, someday, winning some award.

Back to the real world

As time went by, I slowly kept filling in my community activities in the nomination form.
Near the end of 2017 the pressure started growing as I received more nominations, 6 so far.

And so far I haven’t received an award yet. Some might get discouraged by this, but again, for me getting nominated by more and more by people I look up to means more than receiving an award.
Partly because the award is meant to recognize the work you’ve done for the community and these nominations basically do the same thing in my opinion.
But also because by just being active in the community, you already receive a ton of recognition and you learn so much.

* the amount of MVPs worldwide was borrowed from Kevin Kline’s MVP blog post here.

Microsoft Professional Program – Data Science

Last year, from oktober 2016 up to january 2017, I participated in Microsoft’s Professional Program, specifically the Data Science track.
It was only the 1st public iteration of the program but back then it already felt like a mature course.
This probably had to do with the fact that there had already been a private run of the course in the months before.
David Eldersveld (twitter | blog) was one of the participants in that original run and he gives you a high level overview on his blog.

In this post I’ll be going into a bit more detail and explain how I experienced the program.
In short, there was joy and there were tears.

Read on for the full story!

Read moreMicrosoft Professional Program – Data Science

I’m attending and presenting at… ALL THE EVENTS!

This year I’ve already presented at more events than I dreamt off at the start of the year (5).
And the invites keep coming in! (5 more!)
This is going to be a long read, a punishment from me to me because I slacked off in blogging in the past months.

So apart from being bored, there’s 2 reasons why you would want to read this post.
1) Interest in, but some fear of, attending and presenting at conferences, user group and community events in general.
2) You’re me from the future and you’re wondering about that amazement and the exciting feeling the young Jan had about these first events. You’re wondering about what fears you overcame and you want to look back at how it all started.

Expect to find the following:

  • UK Power BI Summit (2017/02/17)
  • Denver SQL Server User Group (2017/03/17)
  • Battle of the Beards (2017/03/29)
  • SQL Saturday Israel (2017/04/26)
  • Belgian Information Worked User Group (2017/05/09)
  • in short: 5 more events to find me at before the end of june!

So whichever reason you have, come on in and start reading!

Read moreI’m attending and presenting at… ALL THE EVENTS!

Rubbing DevOps on your Database

DLM Lifecycle

I’ve had quite a busy year and one of the things I’ve done¬†was¬†attend a 3 day Database Lifecycle Management (DLM) training.
If you’re into DevOps, Continuous Integration (CI) , Continuous Delivery or Deployment (CD) or you’re just automating as much as possible, then¬†it’s very likely¬†you’ll run into¬†some challenges regarding your databases.

For most people, overcoming these challenges cost a lot of time.
But even before you can spend a lot of time overcoming your challenges, you’ll notice that there are a ton of tools out there that can¬†help you.
So you’ll first have to pick the tools you’re going to use and then you need to learn how to use them.

This brings us back to the training I got to attend thanks to my employer Ordina.
More specifically, they were 3 workshops lead by Alex Yates (blog | twitter) from DLM Consultants (website | twitter).
In total they covered the 3 different main parts of the Database Lifecycle Management process.

  • Database Source Control
  • Database Continuous Integration
  • Database¬†Release Management

Read on for my experience with these full-day online workshops.

Read moreRubbing DevOps on your Database

Back from a break in 2016

What a year!
2016 just flew by and I almost missed it!
Let’s recap what I think are some highlights of the year:

Community

  • SQL Server 2016
    We got a ton of Community Tech Preview (CTP) versions and then launch of the latest SQL Server version
  • Power BI became even more incredible than before
    And everyone is loving it!
  • Azure Data Factory became a lot easier to use
    But it seems to be getting no love yet
  • Azure Machine Learning got some incredible new features
    Opening a lot of possibilities which I’m not seeing covered by anyone yet!
  • I presented my first webinar
    And luckily there’s room for improvement ūüôā
  • The SQL Community Slack channel
    Which is a great resource to get in touch with other community members
  • PASS Summit 2016, Ignite 2016 and ML & DS Summit 2016 all came and went. I still haven’t watched everything I wanted to see from these great events.

Personal

  • I made a bazillion draft posts for this blog.
    And I’m going to start completing and posting them.
  • I started writing a book.
    And that’s way harder then I previously imagined.
  • I taught a couple of SQL Server and BI related classes to 2 groups of starters at¬†Ordina, the company I work at.
  • Teaching others helps me get new insights as well.
    Mainly in how I bring some types of content to particular audiences and how I can help others grow.
  • I’ve started participating in¬†a couple of user groups
    Most notably: satRdays and as readers of my blog already know: Virtual Global Power BI User Group
  • I participated in¬†the new SQL Server beta exams
    They were not at all comparable to the ones for SQL 2012/2014. In my opinion they were much harder but also less related to real world things.¬†I’m sure they will change a lot before going live but a blog post about them will follow soon.
  • I’ve started the MPP courses from academy.microsoft.com after a couple of tweets with David Eldersveld (blog¬†| twitter).
    He’s also made a great post about it, go read it.

What’s next?

This blog and everything else community related are things that always keep going forward.
With so much new things appearing, my first instinct is to play around with those things before posting anything about it.
However, I’ve learnt that sharing while you learn is something most people seem to appreciate. People tend to love following the growing process. I can only guess that¬†it helps them measure their own progress.

I’m also sure that a lot more cool stuff will be happening in the community in the coming months and years.
Until then, let’s try together to keep up with¬†all things data related.
So if you have questions or want me to blog about something in particular, please contact me via the comments or on twitter!

This is my second post to catch up on a year of saving drafts, watch out for more.

Presenting a webinar, not the same as a conference

Last saturday Back in January, I presented my first webinar for the Global Power BI usergroup.
It was a¬†redelivery of the Personal BI to Personal Data Science session I’ve already given twice together with my colleague Kimberly Hermans (twitter).
Although there was no real negative feedback and even some positive feedback in private, I don’t think I did great.

I approached the webinar the same way as I do a regular presentation.
And boy oh boy, was I wrong to do it this way…

There’s all kinds of different and extra things to take into account compared to an in-person conference or usergroup presentation.

  • The software you’re using
    We used Google+ Hangouts and while I tried it out before the webinar, I didn’t prepare how I would be taking questions. That could’ve gone a lot better.
  • The microphone¬†you use
    The microphone I used¬†was the one that came with my phone. The quality wasn’t the best, especially¬†combined with the room I was in.
  • The room you’re in
    Using a cheap microphone tends to be OK. But in the wrong room you’ll get a lot of echo or environment noise.
  • No or very limited interaction with¬†your audience
    This one struck me the worst. I couldn’t interact with or read the audience which made me unusually nervous.

On top of that, because of conflicting schedules I had to present alone this time.
I thought I would be OK as I knew most of the data science stuff on a basic level.
But it also means that all the interaction and the dynamic that previously existed in the presentation was gone. No jokes, no natural tempo changes, no interaction between presenters.
In my opinion this was the main killer of the webinar.

What’s next?

UserGroup

The Virtual Global Power BI User Group is still organising monthly webinars. You can join or present yourself as well.
Or just participate in the usergroup via different channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and our YouTube channel.

Personal

I’m embarking on a new webinar journey as well.
More news will follow soon.

 

Power BI and R – Part 3 (Getting started)

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Power BI and R

In this post we’ll look at some¬†simple examples of how to use R in Power BI.
While going through these examples, we’ll have a look at what is already possible in this preview version and what is not possible.
We’ll do this by slowly¬†examples from scratch so you can follow or rebuild the¬†examples yourself.
I’ll keep the technical explanations to a minimum as there are already a ton of books and courses filled¬†with that.

So if you’re seeking deep knowledge of the inner workings of R, this post is¬†going to disappoint you.
However, if you’re looking to¬†keep it simple and¬†just get started building cool or useful visualizations in R to explore your data, just¬†keep reading!

In case you missed the previous posts:

In part 1 of this series, I gave you a couple of reasons to start using R for visualizations in Power BI.
In part 2 of this series, I gave you remarks on the R integration. You might’ve caugtht a¬†glimpse of¬†what is¬†possible if you stepped outside of the lines that Microsoft drew. And I showed you an ugly error you can¬†receive because of ¬†decimal symbol¬†setting in your OS.

Read morePower BI and R – Part 3 (Getting started)

Power BI and R – Part 2 (Remarks and errors)

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Power BI and R

In part 1 of this series, I gave you a couple of reasons to start using R for visualizations in Power BI.

In this part I’ll¬†tell you about the things I discovered and the¬†problems that I ran into in this preview version.

Please note that the remarks below count for the december 2015 version of Power BI Desktop.
R script visuals is still a preview, things might change in later versions.

Read morePower BI and R – Part 2 (Remarks and errors)

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