Launch of the new PowerBI Community group in Brisbane

So I thought I’d do up a small blog, as it’s pretty interesting and relevant.  Tonight I am attending the Microsoft BI user group in Brisbane, and we’re meeting at the Microsoft offices in George Street.

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There has been a release overnight of ‘publish to the Web’ for PowerBI.  Recently there was a competition held in the UK, and we have there a visualisation of M25 accidents that won Best Report in the UK.  It’s all  interactive.  

http://community.powerbi.com/t5/Best-Report-Contest/M25-Road-Traffic-Accidents/td-p/17210

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There are open source visualisation templates available as part of the new PowerBI toolset.  

We heard also from Peter Ward, who advised that there’s a PowerBI executive group targeted at business groups and sharing about the strategy meeting on the third Friday of every month.  Welcome to attend either or both groups.  Bring that ‘PowerBI goodness’ back to your own organisation.

Ron Dunn from Wardy’s IT gave the main presentation for the evening, and the overarching theme is practical implications of PowerBI.

One key point is the vision for Microsoft BI reporting.  Here, the vision is on interactive reports – that’s Power BI Desktop.  Then there are spreadsheets – and of course, that’s Excel.  Report builder is good for Paginated reports, whereas mobile reports use Datazen.  

PowerBI is Microsoft’s competitor to Tableau and Qlikview.  Tableau is kind of expensive, and possibly better at Infographics.  Power BI is a maximum of $12 per user per month – though there are free versions available – whereas say Tableau might be $2,000 per seat.  

PowerBI is moving away from ‘cloud only’.  

Power BI Desktop is a free download.  It does geospatial representations a map.  Connects via data source connectors to data sources.  Lets you pick a number of visualisation sources, and drag-and-drop to build an interactive dashboard.  The visualisations are linked to each other.  

In many ways, some of the functions are moving out of Excel into Power BI as a tool. 

Does have visualisations in reporting services, although its integration with Sharepoint is somewhat limited.

Noted that Microsoft is moving its releases of PowerBI to more monthly releases rather than yearly.

Works with both on-premise and Cloud data.  So, you can have some of your data on-premise; proper support for this seems to be coming later.

Need to check out ideas.powerbi.com – this is a forum run by Microsoft where ideas can be voted on.  This is actively managed and communicated on.  

This really creates problems for organisations that run with locked desktops and such like.  

Ron has some thoughts on these matters to close.

  • Power BI is unbeatable value (free is quite good if it’ll do what you want)
  • Power BI is designed for millennial freedom (i.e. locked down desktops?  Pfft)
  • Power BI is not a complete BI solution (need the BI stack for that)
  • Power BI is a rapidly evolving work in progress
  • Power BI is for people, not applications
  • Power BI is amazing
Question and Answer sessions
 
In the wrap up at the end, one point was ‘How does Power BI deal with data governance?’.  And of course the answer here is that it doesn’t.  This means that Power BI does not follow data governance rules in its implementation – you can end up having your data that is subject to rules that Power BI completely stomps over.  So no, it doesn’t do that.
 
What about Excel and Power View?  Answer – it is going to continue to be supported.  As noted in the vision, there’s PowerBI Desktop, Excel, Integrated Reporting, and mobile reporting (Datazen).  Tonight’s discussion focussed on PowerBi Desktop.  

Day 1 of 2016 – Painfully moving home office on a public holiday? Argh!

Well, according to science fiction (fantasy) movies, 2016 is supposed to be a year of all sorts of technological marvels.  Well, it certainly is that, but no technology marvel that anyone made a movie about.  WiFi man, anyone?  

Today I officially started my new role as Lecturer (BIS) at University of Queensland.  I’ve had just over two years as a post-doctoral research fellow, and now I have a lecturer role at UQ.  Mainly, I think, because I’ve managed to teach MBA students pretty well – certainly not because of my research at this stage, though I do have four papers in the pipeline.

Officially, today is a public holiday in Australia – not sure if it ever wasn’t a holiday and people just gave up pretending to work after New Year’s Eve.  Unfortunately, today was a day my daughter insisted on recalling a conversation we had three years ago.  The one I said that, when she started Grade 5, she could have the bigger room downstairs that I am using as an office for her bedroom – we would do ‘swapsies’ on the room.  Well, after an itinerant tenant (my sister-in-law who has been completing her nursing degree), my daughter insisted on remembering the conversation and it’s time to up stumps and rationalise my office into the smaller room.  It’s working out OK though I’m taking the chance to get a standing desk sorted and, frankly, I miss having a place to sit.  

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Maybe I’ll be able to scam a tub chair in here, or a standing chair.  It’s generally working out OK I think – though as this room is upstairs I think I’ll be organising air conditioning in this room for those hotter days – it faces west and is near a very thin roof.  Pleasant enough tonight though and I can isolate myself and write – hopefully, with a cup of coffee.  Though I’ll have to go up and down my 23 step staircase to do that.  Ah well, that’s what a standing arrangement is all about, right?

Oh yes, the standing part of the desk is clearly an Ikea hack – the longer coffee table and shelf with brackets so I can have two monitors going at once from my Macbook Pro.  I just need to clear up the junk on my desk now and the office is semi-sorted.  

Here’s the stuff for my Ikea Hack standing desk (inspired by posts made online by many others):

  • Lack Coffee table at $A29.99
  • Ekby Tryggve shelf – well, that’s what I bought but that’s no longer available at Ikea.  Essentially, it’s a wide pine shelf 30cm x 120cm.  A fine replacement would be the Ekby Hemnes shelf, same dimensions (119cm x 28cm) for $A29.99.  Though myTryggve shelf was less than that – I paid $9 and only $20 for the coffee table.  Ikea Inflation?    
  • Two Ekby Valter brackets with screws – $5 each.  

Nothing too amazing, it was really easy to put together and cheap enough that if it doesn’t work out I give it all to St Vinnie’s.  Or take the coffee table off and put it in the wardrobe, never to be seen again.  

Anyway I’m really sore from lugging that desk upstairs, and her room downstairs, and still have a metric crapload to do – so I’m just gonna see if I can get Elite Dangerous to work…

P.S. yes that’s a typewriter holding up my second monitor.

Kick-starting the blogging

So it would be fair to say that most of my blogging has been sporadic. So let’s take on a bit of a challenge – can I blog, weekly, for the duration of Semester 2, 2015?

I will aim to refresh this website a bit as well, if I can find the ‘spare time’ to do so. I’ve noticed there are a lot of links etc that are no longer working. One topic of interest will be, what is the topic of interest.

I will be interested to see how that goes – maybe you will be too. Not sure.  It will also be interesting to see whether blogging has the longevity.  I’ve been doing this, off and on, for 10 years now – I don’t know that blogging is quite as important as once it was.  Maybe that is cathartic, maybe that comes with some more freedom to do what works for the individual.  

Anyway – let’s see if some pep can be added to the currency of this blog.

Data analytics and the creation of value

This article popped up on my LinkedIn feed this morning:

http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2015/02/18/how-intels-cio-helped-the-company-make-351-million/

“How Intel’s CIO Helped the Company Make $351 Million”

In essence they used data analytics to provide better guidance to their sales people as to who to call, when to call, and in what order.  The entire thing is built around a data model that guides decision-making in the sales process – obviously, drawing on the large datasets that they have internally.

I just thought this was extremely relevant to the two core aspects of the course:  data analytics and the role of IT in the organisation.

Happy trails.

Thanks:  Micheal Axelsen

On the virtues of buying a 1981 Honda CX400: The case of the Returning Motorcyclist

This question was posed on Netrider by a returning motorcycle rider who’d been offered a CX400 for $3,700 and was worried whether (as a grey import) it’s odometer reading of 9500kms was trustworthy, so I felt compelled to answer it. I’m putting my response on my blog as part of my drive to push the blog further in 2014. The returning rider had spent the past 20 years wearing down a recalcitrant wife. Also it gets me in academic dress off the top of the blog.

Now, I had a 1980 CX500. When I bought it it had 27,000kms, then 75,000kms, then 56,000kms, then 80,000kms. Each time the fix was because of a stuffed speedometer. And I’m not mechanical. I’d put pretty much no faith in the odometer reading. Like, less faith than I have in Geoffrey Edelstein’s search for true love in strip clubs.

A CX400 is a real, real, enthusiast’s bike. It is not the bike you buy to get into motorbiking; it is the second bike you buy to have in the shed to tinker with when something breaks. If you are looking to ‘save money’ this is not the place. A CX400 was the underpowered version of the gulle-pump and I think meant only for Japan and Europe – I don’t think they even came here originally. Also I think $3,700 is a pretty high price for a CX; I sold my quite-good and running CX500 5000kms a year ago for $3,100 – I still miss it.

Even if the kays are original, the bike is still 30 years old and it is highly likely bits will break as soon as you use them with intent. In my view there are two reasons why a bike has low kays: the person got on the bike and scared themselves and then put it in a barn, or it was always breaking and they got sick of it and put it in a barn. For an older bike that you want to ride, you want to buy a bike that is being ridden.

I guarantee that you will spend the $3,700 in the first year again fixing the bike – waterpump and stator are one of the top five ways to suck money from your wallet with a CX unless you can fix that yourself, or have a knowledgeable friend who works for beer (CXs need the engine-out to fix this fairly common age-related problem). More than likely you will need to budget to immediately replace fluids (brake fluid, coolant, forks) and tyres (>7 years old tyres are a great way to develop a love of ice-skating).

Unless you have a real love of the older bike and appreciate its foibles in comparison with modern bikes, I’d spend the money on a nicer, newer bike. $3,700 will get you into a much more reliable, safer, and daily-ridable bike. I loved my CX, and I rode it everywhere (regularly did 500km days on it) but bits broke with monotonous regularity (ever looked for parts for a 30 year old bike?), skinny tyres did not engender cornering confidence, the shaft is located high in the engine and the bike will twist if revved in an entertaining fashion, and so it was more top-heavy than the waitresses at a Hugh Hefner pyjama party.

Your questions:

  1. $3700 is this to good to be true? A: No, but it’s a bit high (probably for their rarity)
  2. How trust worthy are import bikes? A: Fairly OK but it is what it is – an uncommon variant of a 30 year old model and likely of unknown provedence.
  3. Has the odometer been tampered with, how prevalent is odometer tampering? A: Using my super-powers of mass-fraud detection I can’t tell if it’s been tampered with, but are the kays original? Well I changed my speedo 5 times so yes, if not prevalent it’s accepted practice… of far more importance for a bike that old is the documented service history.
  4. Any feed back would be appreciated thanks. A: For a returning rider with rusty skills and a recalcitrant missus an import CX (low-kay or otherwise) is not the answer.

There are 71 road bikes (naked and sports tourers) on Bikesales that are less than 10 years old and 250-750cc capacity for < $4,000. They are all likely better options. You want to get back into riding, not into ringing your mechanic to find out when you can come and pick it up (if you ARE a mechanic the CXes are fantastic to work on, as I understand it, and I was able to do the basics on mine). For mine, as an older gent of some means I’d stretch the budget out to $5,000, spend some money on gear (say, $1000), and I’d be sure to go for a refresher course as a returning rider (say, $400). If there’s one thing Netrider grimly reminds us, it’s that returning riders are over-represented in the accident statistics.

There are a few nice GS500s in that list for < $5000 but also some CB400s and cruisers and Fazers and all the bikes people on this forum love. I loved my CX and still have one as a project bike, and there’s a terrific forum (www.australiancx.asn.au) for the bikes. If you are serious about the CX I’d go and have a look at that website and read some of the stories of people that have bought these bikes. They’re terrific (the people and the bikes), but I really don’t get the feeling a CX400 is what you’re after.