SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.4 is here!

Microsoft is a busy bee these days… Providing all the updates we actually want and need!
Today there was another great release for the Power BI Service.
And more importantly, a HUGE release called SQL Server 2016 2.4!

This includes a long awaited feature for SSRS and an incredible improvement for analytic workloads.

A quick overview of what you can play with:


  • Some sad news for people with old machines: x86 server support is now deprecated!
  • Smart Maintenance Plans
  • Tempdb now has improved scalability


  • Export reports to PowerPoint!
  • Position report parameters the way you want
  • Print reports from modern browsers
  • Even better support for new browsers
    • Like no requirement for ActiveX to print reports


Read more details about the Reporting Services changes in this post at the official SSRS blog.


  • Excel 2013 finally made the cut as a source and destination
    • Now we wait for Excel 2016 🙂
  • Complex data feeds including Data Streaming destination!
  • oData v4 source support in addition to oData v3
  • Balanced Data Distributor
  • AlwaysOn support

Operational Analytics and In-Memory Data Warehouse

  • Updateable NonClustered Columnstore Indexes, but they no longer need an index rebuild!
  • Parallel building of these NonClustered Columnstore Indexes.
  • Increased speed for insert operations on delta Rowgroups
  • And of course improvede query performance using these NonClustered Columnstore Indexes

Read the official post with more in depth information here

I’m speaking at Data Culture Day London!

One of the sessions I submitted for Data Culture Day London – PowerBI edition has been selected! Which one?

Power BI – From Personal BI to Personal Data Science

  • A look at using Power BI to provide users with self-service capabilities in Data Science projects

You’ll be able to see my colleague Kimberly Hermans and me speak in the first slot (9h45), after the keynote, on 28/11 at Microsoft UK in London.

Take a look at the rest of the schedule for the event.

Places are limited, so if you’re not registered yet, do so now. 🙂

I’ll see you in London!

Motivation and the road to success

Yesterday, I read a conversation between Brent Ozar (blog|twitter) and Jen Stirrup (blog|twitter) on twitter. It gave me a fun but quite insane idea.
To get the ball rolling, I bugged my manager at 10PM. Lucky for him, it was via mail.
Well, today we had a long call about this mail. He thought it would be a good idea but it still needs some work.
This last quarter of 2015 is already fully booked for me. This means that this idea will make 2016 an even crazier year than 2015.

You’re probably curious, so read on for some tips!

Read moreMotivation and the road to success

Data Culture Day London – Power BI Edition

I submitted my sessions for the Data Culture Day London – Power BI Edition.
It’s a free event at Microsoft in London on 28th of November.

The main audience are business professionals who want to learn how to use Power BI and Excel better.

I selected several sessions from my “archive”

  • Power BI – Pushing beyond the built-in limitations
    • Tips, tricks and some hacks to make full use all Power BI capabilities
  • Power BI – Personal BI for the SME
    • A dive into the value PowerBI adds to the average business
  • Power BI – From Personal BI to Personal Data Science
    • A look at using Power BI to provide users with self-service capabilities in Data Science projects
  • Putting data in your culture with Power BI
    • A look at why and how Power BI fits into your BI strategy

Read on for more!

Read moreData Culture Day London – Power BI Edition

SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.3 is here!

What a busy day, first great Power BI news in the form of a contest with huge prizes and of course the new version of the Personal Gateway but we can’t forget that SQL Server still serves most of that data you’re looking at.
And now there’s a new Community Technical Preview available!
Get the SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.3 download here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=48726
The most fun enhancements are found in Reporting Services.
SSRS, finally, has a new HTML5 rendering engineSQLServerCTP2.3_HTML5 Rendering
It also has treemap charts
SQLServerCTP2.3_Treemap chart And who could forget the sunburst charts!SQLServerCTP2.3_Sunburst chart
Highlight of other enhancements include
    – User interface for SSAS Extended Events
    – New DAX functions
    – New behaviors for DAX variables
    – Improved query generation for DirectQuery
Database Engine
    – Row-level Security
– AES Encryption for Endpoints
Master Data Services
    – Excel Add-in to manage business rules
    – M2M relationships in derived hierarchies
    – Merge conflicts

Power BI Custom Visual Contest!

You already know Power BI allows custom data visualizations to be build.
And now Microsoft has created a contest with a $5000 grand prize for those who want to contribute to a better Power BI experience.

Afraid you won’t be the best?
2nd place awards $2500 and 3rd awards $1500 !

You’re not the 3rd best?
there will be THREE (!!!) “People Choice Awards” up for grab as well. Each worth $1000.
These will be judged by the number of twitter mentions for each entry.

Sadly winning one of the first 3 prizes won’t be possible by mentions.
But they will use the following criteria

  • 35.00% – Originality and creativity of the Visual
  • 35.00% – Usefulness and applicability
  • 30.00% – Design and code quality

Check out the full post on the official Power BI blog

Free datasets

We all have those default vendor datasets.
But from time to time, we all just want a newer and fresher datasets, small or large, to play with.
Here you can find a list of real and useful opendata data to play with.


I’ll keep this list updated when I see new, incredible or just fun datasets.

Got a dataset that you think needs to be listed as well?
Post it in the comments!

2015/08/16 – Update: Added a realtime dataset section and added UK and EU opengov historical data.
2015/08/02 – First published: Added several useful datasets from my favorites

Real-time Data

City of Philadelphia Bike Share Stations
API info
Data relating to the Indego BikeShare program, including station locations and the number of available bikes.
More information about the program is available at: https://www.rideindego.com/

Live traffic information from the UK Highways Agency
Several API’s depending on the information you want
Live traffic information data showing traffic information on the strategic road network in England, maintained by the Highways Agency.

Historical Data

New York City OpenData
1300+ recent datasets, formatted for ease of use
makes the wealth of public data generated by various New York City agencies and other City organizations available for public use.

Reddit 1.7 Billion Public Comments
Original reddit post
Torrent of complete archive | Torrent of 54M comment subset
This dataset in Google BigQuery (direct link)
A dataset that is 250GB when compressed, over a terabyte uncompressed. Talk about a lot of data for all your text analysis needs…

Airline on-time performance data
zip files per year
The data consists of flight arrival and departure details for all commercial flights within the USA, from October 1987 to April 2008. This is a large dataset: there are nearly 120 million records in total, and takes up 1.6 gigabytes of space compressed and 12 gigabytes when uncompressed.

4000+ FOIA datasets all forms (email, excel, …)
is a collaborative news site that brings together journalists, researchers, activists, and regular citizens to request, analyze & share government documents.
Data is requested through Freedom of Information Acts.

New York State
2500+ charts, maps, calendars and of course regular datasets
Not only the city New York, but also the state has opened up it’s data.
Anything ranging from Citi Bike System Data to Subway Entrances to even Bicycle Routes.

World Country information
Site with API links
Get information about countries via a RESTful API

UK Open Government Project
23000+ datasets in different forms (CSV, XML, API, …)
Everything you ever wanted to know about the UK and more 🙂

European Union Open Data Portal
8600+ datasets available
Ranging from employment to industry to education data

Belgian Open Data Initiative
Approaching 2000 pure Belgian datasets

PASS Performance – SQLPalooza 2015!

Today I noticed I missed some great sessions from the PASS Performance virtual chapter. I’ll list them all below for you.

Do check performance.sqlpass.org for more great sessions!
And don’t forget to follow @SQLPASS_PVC on twitter

#1: Make Your SQL Server Queries Go Faster
#2: Building High Performance SQL Servers Virtual Machines on AWS and Azure
#3: Performing a SQL Server Health Check
#4: Columnstore Indexes – Questions and Answers
#5: Performance Troubleshooting Using DMVs
#6: Maximizing SSIS Package Performance
#7: Troubleshooting Seconday Replica Latency
#8: SQL Server Benchmarking: The Powershell Speedometer

Read morePASS Performance – SQLPalooza 2015!

Windows as a Service and Windows as a panic attack

Over the last week I’ve noticed several articles on Windows 10  passing by. I only linked 2, but some of these articles have very suggestive titles. Other articles are just full of suggestive language. Both suggesting that the free update is a trap and that we’ll all have to pay through the nose for Windows 10 after a free period.
It's a trap!

I understand that these major sites run on hits generated by all the fuzz they can create, but this is just starting to seem crazy.

Am I the only one thinking that Windows will just follow the same great path that Office has paved for it?

To me that would be the only logical path, as the Office 365 model is the way to forward. While people not needing all the fancy stuff can just buy each Office version separately. The same will hold true for Windows 10 or Windows 365.

It also will make licensing and managing the computer park a lot easier for a lot of businesses. And the home users will always be safe with the latest and greatest Windows version.

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