sas global forum

4月 282012

In some weird twist of fate, I have gone from being anti-social media to blogging on SAS Canada and now to blogging on the SAS Users Groups blog. Crazy world!

A little about myself first: I am married, been using SAS for about a year and a half, work for Canada's largest pediatric hospital as a database admin/data analyst, and I am a huge Star Wars fan. Now, to the important stuff.

I would guess there were about 40 people who came out to the SAS Communities Meetup: a lot of the "big" names in the various communities were there, from Matt Malczewski to Art (both Tabachnek and Carpenter), Ron Fehd (loved the getup!), Mike Raithel, Waynette Tubbs, and many, many others. I could literally feel the PROCs and DATA steps oozing from the room!

The moment Mike Rhoads welcomed everyone, I knew that this was not going to be a typical meeting - it was very relaxed, filled with humour and poking fun at one another, and just a wonderful sense of camaraderie.

SAS-L updates and news

From Mike, we moved to Tabachneck's presentation of the 26th edition of the SAS-L stats. Some of the highlights include: 379,763 total posts; 468 distinct email addresses posted 100+ times; and, according to Tabachneck's comprehensive and intense analysis, the rate at which people post to SAS-L is directly correlated to Florida's home prices (his version of statistics gives me a great deal of comfort, and I look forward to a Causal Relationships and Correlations for Dummies by him!).

Other highlights included announcement of June Genis winning the longest running sas-l thread award, namely 25 years-3 days.  Tabachneck sort of assisted on that one by responding to the first ever SAS-L post three days shy of the listserv’s 25th anniversary, namely a survey about how everyone used SAS in 1986.  He also announced the highest average number of lines per post (an astounding 2,759) and the most popular subject as "Out of Office" and, of course, himself as the list’s most frequent poster.

Finally, Tabachneck mentioned that the award winners’ pictures, and the powerpoint (with the analyses), could be found at:

As a very occasional poster to SAS-L, I am impressed at the sheer volume of posts. Being involved in SAS in general, the dedication and willingness to share doesn't surprise me in the least.

Later on in the meeting, Joe Kelley spoke about future enhancements to SAS-L, including RSS Feeds (yah!) and the possibility of moving to,a new platform.  Very exciting indeed!! briefly

Third in the line-up of speakers was Don Henderson presenting on the website. As he described, the site is a Wikipedia for SAS users but not controlled by SAS institute.

There is a Tip of the Day of the section (which is in need of submitters and reviewers. I will be looking at adding this to my list of involvement in the World of SAS). There has been a recent addition to the site, which allows members to watch pages, meaning they will be notified when a change is made to the page. The other change is that the site is now customizable by hiding/showing certain areas and the site will remember it for next time on a per user basis.

The site has 6,000 confirmed users, with almost 8,000 pages overall. There have been more than 43 million views, 8 million of which have been since April 2011. There are a significant number of pages and users, and people are strongly encouraged to post, edit and comment on pages.

The other feature of the site, which I was completely unaware of, is that all papers from every SUGI/SAS Global Forum since 1976 is now available on the site. They are OCR-enabled and therefore searchable, and although I am sure many people were involved, Nat Wooding was mentioned as the main engine behind the whole thing - thanks Nat, I for one will certainly make use of all your hard work! grows by leaps

As we moved on with the agenda, Art Carpenter got up to enlighten us about the SAS discussion forums.  With over 22,000 posts, 4,700 threads, 2.1 million views and 12,000 users, is giving SAS-L a run for the money.  In fact, the plan is to eventually move the original post and the final response from SAS-L to the discussion forum.  This will further enhance the repository of information, ensuring high quality information will be available for many users (volunteers needed, contact Art Carpenter for information).

It is no surprise that Art Tabachneck is in the top 3 posters; however, once again I wonder when he has time to eat, sleep or do anything not related to supporting SAS users! The really cool thing is that one of the other top posters is from SAS, which once again proves that SAS is not just about providing high quality software - they want to ensure we are using the software to the best of not just our ability, but to SAS's ability as well.’s video preso

Philip Male, from United Kingdom's, gave a pre-recorded video presentation on his community. Briefly, the site was created in April 2008. In one year, 6,700 users joined; 39% identify themselves as novice; and there are 160 new users a month on average.

Male’s recommendations on forming a successful site include:

  • Know Your Audience
  • Offer Incentives and Competition
  • Identify Key Contributor
  • Have a Memorable Name
  • Engage Others
  • Measure and Report on the Site Activity

SAS Canada Community traveled far

The SAS Canada Community was modeled after The only significant difference is that the UK group sends out a monthly newsletter, updating its user base with news from the site.

The last of the community presentations, the SASCanada community is the one that is nearest to my heart. My good friend (and rival blogger) Matt Malczewski gave the talk, highlighting that after 9 years of User Groups, it was felt that interest waned in the times between meetings.

The website launched in April 2011 with the intent to augment the support that already exists from the SAS community (but with a Canadian slant). This has succeeded in connecting users from the Maritimes to British Columbia. Being highly active on the site, I really enjoy the chance to chat with users in an informal setting, and then meet with many of them face-to-face in the Toronto area meetings.

To highlight this success, there have been 2,462 unique visitors with a total of 540 members (68% returning users). There have been a total of 7,515 visits, resulting in more than 33,000 page views, which is very impressive in my opinion!

Joke of the Day is the most popular group, and the blogs are the most frequented area of the forum. It is my goal that in the coming year to not only increase my regularity of blogging, but also to engage more fellow Canadians to join in and participate on the site.

The meeting was about two hours long, and I hope I have successfully captured the key points and conveyed the informative, but very relaxed nature of the meeting.  The last couple of points I wanted to mention were: Rick Wicklin is the first-ever SAS employee to win the SAS-L Rookie of the Year; Nat Wooding won the Most Valuable SAS-Ler;, Art Tabachneck won the Nomination Commenter of the Year Award, and Ron Fehd, auctioning off his purple top hat, raised $60 for the book drive (with an additional $51 being donated by attendees of the meeting).

Thank you to Waynette Tubbs for the opportunity to blog about this meeting; I had a lot ofof fun and look forward to helping out with blogging about future meetups!

Feel free to email me at, or check out my page at!

~ Chris Battiston

tags: art carpenter, Art Tabachnek,, Mike Raithel, ron fehd, SAS Global Forum, SAS-L, SASCanada,, sasProfessionals
4月 282012

Like many SAS Global Forum attendees, I took the opportunity to attend several speaker presentations, spend time at the poster session, and visit the Demo Hall each day.  The activities I attended did not disappoint, and the hands-on workshop I had been looking forward to was no exception.

I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of hands-on workshops, and SAS Enterprise Guide with SAS OnDemand for Academics: Everything You Need to Know After “It’s free” was one of the first things I put on my list. SAS OnDemand for Academics is an online delivery model for SAS software.  It is free to professors and their students for use in their courses.  Dr. AnnMaria De Mars taught the hands-on workshop to give educators an opportunity to learn about the offering, gain some experience using it, and share her experiences teaching with it.

I’ve attended many hands-on workshops over the years, and I tend to go in with the mind-set that it’s all about playing with the software.  So I have to say, this workshop gave me far more than I had considered. Right up front, the objective stated that this was about making mistakes before your students do.  She encouraged us to have fun and take the “let’s find out” approach to teaching statistics.

It wasn’t just about taking really clean data and selecting the correct options in the proper sequence.   In fact, while we were exploring the Characterize Data task, she discussed the importance of not always using clean data and of having students check their data since many students are not skilled at working with dirty data

The workshop definitely covered all of the basics and was the perfect balance of “how to” and “teaching tips”.   If you were not fortunate enough to attend the hands-on workshop in person, you can find Dr. De Mars paper in the online proceedings for SAS Global Forum 2012.

If you are already teaching with SAS Enterprise Guide, or will be, and are looking for teaching materials, you will find free course materials available from the SAS Global Academic Program.

tags: annmaria de mars, ondemand for academics, papers & presentations, SAS Global Forum
4月 272012
With a project based on analytics using SAS solutions, Juan Sebastian Lopez Cubides from Colombia was awarded the SAS® Global Forum Student Scholarship. Cubides received the scholarship at SAS Global Forum 2012 in Orlando. Juan Sebastian Lopez Cubides was part of a group of students and professors at the University [...]
4月 272012

As always, SAS Global Forum holds a wealth of inspiration. The conversations that I have with you guys while I'm there almost always start with, "I just heard/saw/read the coolest thing. I can't wait to get home and get started using this!" For those of you who missed this year's big dance, we missed you! So, my colleagues and I have tried to collect as much of the inspiration and spirit as possible. We'll be putting it on the SAS Software YouTube channel, and our social channels. You can also read all of the papers online.

Today's fraudsters always seem to be one step ahead of investigators, so John York, Doris Wong and Dan Zaratsian from SAS wrote Becoming the Smartest Guys in the Room: An Analysis of the Enron Emails Using an Integration of Text Analytics and Case Management. They wrote the paper to show that fraud investigators can gain strong advantage by combining text analytics with case management software.

Here's some additional insight from John York in an interview with Anna Brown from Inside SAS Global Forum.


tags: case management, Enron, Friday's Innovation Inspiration, Inside SAS Global Forum, papers & presentations, SAS Global Forum, text analytics
4月 272012

I had an amazing time at SAS Global Forum this year, from the Tweet Up/Geek Out on Saturday night to the closing session where Chris Hemedinger cloned himself for a high-performance speech.

I had the great fortune of presenting a pre-conference workshop with Greg Nelson of Thotwave.  If you are in any healthcare field using SAS® and you aren’t familiar with Greg or Thotwave you are really missing out. Check out Thotwave on Twitter at @healthcare_bi or at the company website

I’ll end my shameless plug with that. Greg and I presented on SAS Administration: Understanding Architecture and Administration where we covered a huge variety of topics:

  • How SAS Works
  • What Servers are used for
  • Overall Architecture of the SAS System
  • Configuration, and other important files in the SAS System
  • Tuning SAS for your environment
  • Client options
  • SAS Security: both authentication and authorization
  • SAS/ACCESS Engine Configuration
  • Verifying your SAS Installation
  • Your Role as a SAS Administrator
  • Virtualization with SAS
  • Working with SAS Support
  • Managing Hot Fixes
  • Creating a SAS Competency Center
  • And even more…..!

It was quite an adventure to present this material - and even better to a full class!  Seeing so many SAS Administrators in one place was such an awesome sight. This year SAS Global Forum showed just how important that role has become. It’s great to see so much attention to such a critical role in the SAS community, and the continued support we at SAS and the whole SAS community are providing.

Here's my entry to the Instagram Planking contest. We Kentuckians get things wrong sometimes.

That was all done before the conference even officially opened.

The best part of any SAS conference is the people you catch up with or meet for the first time. I had a great time meeting with customers (especially the ones that I get to support as a member of PSD, Professional Services Delivery) and a ton of SAS Rock Stars starting at the Tweet Up/Geek Out and continuing throughout the week at some amazing presentations.

I got to meet so many amazing SAS Users, partners and employees. I look forward to talking and collaborating with all of them over the year until we can meet again at next year’s SAS Global Forum in San Francisco.

If you were not at SAS Global Forum this year, we all missed you and hope to see you next year. Until then, let's connect on Twitter. I'm @gtcox76.

tags: greg nelson, papers & presentations, SAS Administrators, SAS Global Forum
4月 262012

Chris Hemedinger, Principal Technical Architect and veritable SAS celebrity, shared observations from his many years participating in SAS Global Forum as well as his favorite moments from this year’s event in a rousing keynote during a packed Closing Session yesterday.

His presentation, “You don’t have to go home … but you can’t stay here,” began with Hemedinger taking the audience through some of his own trepidation in preparing to speak.

He referenced a comment from Annette Harris, Vice President of SAS Technical Support, who mentioned the challenge of speaking after Technology Connection keynoter, legendary NFL quarterback Joe Theismann. Hemedinger argued that the act he had to follow was tougher. “It’s you,” he said gesturing to the audience members, many of whom spoke and presented during the SAS Global Forum festivities. “Hopefully I’ll live up to the challenge.

He found himself asking, “What could I do to make it special and memorable?” Being the technical architect that he is, Hemedinger went so far as to build a diagram of how the standard closing session speech would look.

It was a photo of him, with a bubble above his head and the words “blah blah blah blah” repeating roughly 30 times.

Standard closing session High-performance Hemedinger

Hemedinger also mentioned SAS Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jim Davis’ holographic conversation with himself during Sunday night’s Opening Session. “We saw two Jim Davises,” he said. “Or maybe it’s Dav-i?” He said the presentation was so impressive because two Jim Davises could technically deliver twice the content.

It got Hemedinger thinking, what if he could have not two, but 30 holographic images of himself? “I could have a high-performance closing session!” he joked. “Blow through it all, in like 30 seconds, and we can all move on to the next thing.”

Hemedinger then moved on to talk about his experiences with users over the years and how it has changed. It used to be that many SAS employees’ only interactions with users were during SAS Global Forum and that they would go 11 ½ months without talking to users. “Social media has spoiled us,” Hemedinger said. Now, thanks to his blog, The SAS Dummy, Hemedinger is never far from his base of readers.

Hemedinger lauded the event as a whole and thanked users for their unyielding support of SAS over the years. It’s an event that Hemedinger said he becomes a little more involved in every year.  “The more you see about how SAS Global Forum is run, the more impressive it becomes. It’s nothing short of amazing to me.”

tags: closing session, SAS Global Forum, the sas dummy
4月 252012

Disasters happen every day. Often times they occur at inconvenient hours and in remote locations. So it’s important to have a plan - before the emergency - to get qualified personnel to those locations in the most efficient way. Pilots are an example of qualified personnel who could act as “first responders” in these situations.

At SAS Global Forum 2012, I saw a presentation by Andrew Hummel, General Manager, Crew Resources at Delta Air Lines about his use of SAS to create a US “First Responders Directory” by aligning pilot residences with airport locations. Now that’s preparation for the unknown.

Delta Air Lines operates formal corporate emergency response teams, but those are often set up in centralized locations and may not be as effective when responding to disasters in rural areas or during non-business hours. That’s where the pilots come in. Throughout the US, Delta Air Lines has more than 10,000 pilots who could act as first responders to the more than 250 airports that are sites designated to respond to emergencies. Identifying which pilots live the closest to airports through a directory is critical information during a crisis when those pilots could be called to drive to the airport immediately, at any time of day.

How did Delta Air Lines create the directory? SAS can calculate the distance (in miles) between two points through ZIP codes and longitudinal and latitudinal data. The team first gathered longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates for each airport and ZIP codes of pilot’s homes – all data found within a Teradata data warehouse.

And we're talking about a ton of data here, given the number of pilots across the country. But SAS is able to compute the resulting 3 million calculations in a matter of seconds. The final directory lists how far each pilot lives from each airport, see example report created by PROC REPORT below (click to enlarge).


Delta Air Lines can then quickly match first responders to any emergency location in the US.

Check out the full paper to see exactly how the report was developed. Can SAS be applied to create critical information for a crisis in your industry? Feel free to share those examples in the comments.

tags: papers & presentations, PROC REPORT, PROC SQL, SAS Global Forum, teradata