3月 242009
 

Alan Hoffler files his first report at SAS Global Forum at the Gaylord National Resort in Washington, DC, showing the behind-the-scenes look at the conference.






Web Links:


YouTube.com:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HLtZkUYHm8

SAS.com:
http://www.sas.com/apps/webnet/SGF2009VideoBlog/index.html?videoID=isgf09ep5


3月 242009
 
In hopes of adding to your SAS Global Forum experience, we've kicked off a SAS presenters series. Here, we’ve asked some of the SAS presenters five questions to learn more about what makes them tick, why they chose to present and what they hoped you would take away from the presentation. Take a look at David Shamlin’s answers.

David Shamlin, Senior Director, Research and Development

Tell me a fun fact about you that others might not know … Did you have a ridiculous first car that really tells people who you are? Do you decorate your office in 18th century Chinese artwork? Do you snowboard?
I love travelling to new places to experience architecture and art. Last year I visited Denmark, which is full of both: ranging from medieval to contemporary, sublime to ridiculous. My favorite building was The Royal Library, a 21st century complex attached to an 18th century reading room. I saw the most beautiful Van Gogh I’ve ever come next to a real gold fish preserved in acrylic inside a kitchen blender. It’s always great to see how people around the globe express their views of the world. I experience SAS Global Forum as another opportunity to learn about other people’s perceptions, experiences, and successes with the technology we create!

How many times have you been to SAS Global Forum? What was your most memorable experience so far?
I’ve been attending for so long that I’ve lost count. SAS Global Forum 2008 was pretty exciting for me because we announced some new technology that my team had very recently completed. The announcement generated a lot of excitement and resulted in lots of good user interaction on the demo room floor.

What problem or customer pain were you hoping to solve with when you wrote In‐Database Procedures with Teradata?
I wanted to help customers understand our emerging Teradata In-Database technology. This year we will be showing folks how the new In-Database Procedures we have planned for 9.2 Maintenance 2 will allow our users to do more, faster with data that’s stored inside Teradata.

During your presentation, what were the most important highlights or questions that you hoped to cover?
It was important to cover the basics of how In-Database Procedures work and then show what enhancements have been made available with the 9.2 Maintenance 2.
3月 242009
 
In hopes of adding to your SAS Global Forum experience, we've kicked off a SAS presenters series. Here, we’ve asked some of the SAS presenters five questions to learn more about what makes them tick, why they chose to present and what they hoped you would take away from the presentation. Take a look at Alec S Fernandez’s answers.

Alec S Fernandez, Software Developer, Release Management

Alec, tell me something about yourself that would make your personality come alive for the readers.
I love saltwater fishing. Well, I love comedy and when I go blue water fishing, it's a comedy. I tried kite fishing but ended up running over the kite with the outboard. The kite turned into a teaser, and it took us 30 minutes to cut and free the huge tangle of kite and trolling lines and everything else. I've never seen a bigger tangle outside of our java xref dependency analysis.

I used to work in Bldg R in SAS’ headquarters. My office was decorated with Goya's painting, The Third of May. It was a holdover from my days doing phone duty in SAS Tech Support where customers held us to account for the software written by others. I kept the painting in my office so that I could remember that mindset when I began writing apps. When I’m tempted to say "close enough," then I see that painting, and I do a little more work to add a little more fault tolerance. Now I work out of a home office in a flat in the center of Madrid with my wife and three daughters.

Have you been to SAS Global Forum before?
I’ve been to [SUGI] SAS Global Forum a half dozen or so times. Watching Sir Rick Langston at Futures Forum was a treat. He's always got something funny to say about a customer's hat or something. The funniest moment was when David Shamlin was trying to convince a customer to upgrade to version 8.0, but the customer was concerned and stated that he was against upgrading to any .0 release. After a half hour of trying every attempt at logically reassuring the customer that the software was very thoroughly tested, David finally said "What do you want me to do to make you feel secure. Do you want me to give you a hug?" Oddly, this too was insufficient to convince this most coy of customers.

What problem or customer pain were you hoping to solve with your presentation The SAS® 9.2 Software Deployment: A Deployment Experience Your Mother Would Love?
I wanted to show the user how to deploy EBI software in the typical formations in fewer than 3 hours. We want everyone to feel as comfortable deploying EBI as they have been deploying Foundation SAS. Dr. Goodnight asked us to reduce the complexity of deployment and improve the customer experience, and I'm excited to display what I believe is a radically improved deployment experience.

During your presentation, what were the most important highlights or questions that you hoped to cover?
One of the most exciting things that I covered was the unattended software delivery via the internet. An unattended installation and configuration experience allows the user to kick off the download the night before, and in the next morning prepare your machine with the preinstall checklist. Launch the install and answer a few questions, and then enjoy your lunch as the SAS Deployment Wizard does all the work. You should be able to log into the Portal from your iPhone by the time they bring out dessert (unless you skimped on lunch).

Were there unexpected user questions that will send you back to the drawing board?
The most interesting question I’ve ever been asked was, “Why does it take 4 days and a team of consultants to deploy a SAS Software offering?”
3月 242009
 
In hopes of adding to your SAS Global Forum experience, we've kicked off a SAS presenters series. Here, we’ve asked some of the SAS presenters five questions to learn more about what makes them tick, why they chose to present and what they hoped you would take away from the presentation. Take a look at Ron Statt’s answers.

Ron Statt, Manager, Product Development

Ron, what do you do to relax?
In the past 11 years, I’ve owned four houses and am now looking for number five. I enjoy the challenge of finding a house, living in it, updating or improving it, and then moving on to the next challenge. That’s probably why I enjoy project management, too.

This is my first SAS Global Forum; have you ever been before?
I’ve been three times; this will be No. 4. My most memorable experience was being able to introduce a brand new offering (SAS® OnDemand for Academics) in Orlando. There was a lot of excitement from potential users.

Why did you and Tom Edds, a software developer at SAS, write Using SAS® OnDemand for Academics to Meet Changing Student Needs, Reduce Software Access Barriers, and Grow SAS Skills?
We wanted academic customers to know that there is an easy, cost-effective way to access and use SAS software for teaching purposes – even if a university does not have a lot of IT staff. We also wanted our academic customers to know that our hosted solution supports distance learners, is available through the Internet, and enables instructors to focus more on teaching than on software installation and support.

During your presentation, what were the most important highlights or questions that you hoped to cover?
There were a few key areas we wanted to cover. First, we wanted to honestly identify both the benefits and limitations of the software so that people could make an informed usage choice. We also wanted to show what it was like to actually use the software and, finally, we wanted to talk about future directions and how users could provide us with feedback so we can enhance our offering.
3月 242009
 
In hopes of adding to your SAS Global Forum experience, we've kicked off a SAS presenters series. Here, we’ve asked some of the SAS presenters five questions to learn more about what makes them tick, why they chose to present and what they hoped you would take away from the presentation. Take a look at Daniel Jahn’s answers.

Daniel Jahn, Technical Architect, SAS Solutions OnDemand

Daniel, tell me something about yourself that our readers might not believe.
I was Bucky Badger, the school mascot at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. That's what helped me become comfortable in front of large crowds; but I still haven't had 80,000 people in one of my SAS Global Forum paper presentations.


Have you been to SAS Global Forum before?
Yes – eight times. My first time, in Chicago, was the most memorable. I was on my way to the Fun Run, and a person came up to me and said, "Are you here for SUGI? I'm a SAS user and I LOVE it!" That was the very first user I talked to at any SUGI.

What problem or customer pain were you and your coauthor Brad Klenz hoping to solve with Tips and Techniques for Analytic Web Services?
There are a few challenges people might run into when using SAS BI Web Services. Brad and I wanted to steer people away from those before they run into them. We also want to make sure service providers consider their callers while they’re developing their services.

During your presentation, what were the most important highlights or questions that you hoped to cover?
One key to creating a good service is to make sure the WSDL you create provides as many details as possible, while still being valid. We'll show people how to create a good WSDL.

Were there unexpected user questions that will send you back to the drawing board?
The main reason that I wanted to go to SGF was to get user feedback, which usually comes in the form of questions. I've talked about our Web services in the past before we released, and we did get some great feedback that made it into the product. I am hoping to get more feedback for future releases that builds upon what we have.
3月 242009
 
In hopes of adding to your SAS Global Forum experience, we've kicked off a SAS presenters series. Here, we’ve asked some of the SAS presenters five questions to learn more about what makes them tick, why they chose to present and what they hoped you would take away from the presentation. Take a look at Bill McNeill’s answers.

Bill McNeill, Software Developer

Bill, tell me something about yourself that will show the SAS Global Forum blog readers, SAS users and your colleagues an insight into Bill McNeill.
In October, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, my life has been turned upside down. I’ve seen her through five months of chemotherapy and then surgery. It has been a very trying time.

Have you been to SAS Global Forum before?
This is my first time.

What problem or customer pain were you hoping to solve with your SAS Global Forum presentation?
When I wrote Test Driving the Improvements to the INFOMAPS Procedure and LIBNAME Engine, I wanted to show customers how to take advantage of information maps from within Base SAS®.

During your presentation, what are the most important highlights or questions that you hoped to cover?
Highlighted the new features added to the INFOMAPS procedure and LIBNAME engine.
3月 242009
 
In hopes of adding to your SAS Global Forum experience, we've kicked off a SAS presenters series. Here, we’ve asked some of the SAS presenters five questions to learn more about what makes them tick, why they chose to present and what they hoped you would take away from the presentation. Take a look at Eric Gebhart’s answers.

Eric Gebhart, Software Developer

Eric, tell me something about yourself that our readers might not believe.
There is lots of stuff to answer this with. I've been unicycling since I was eleven. Recently, at a WUSS luncheon, I was asked to give a short keynote. (Not exactly a keynote. They wanted someone who would provide something a little different.) I presented while riding my unicycle.

I'm also fairly geeky. I use an Apple PowerBook Pro to do all my work. It's refreshing to be in Unix environment since that is where I started programming in 1981. I enjoy playing video games on my Playstation 3: odd games, not so much the violent or sports games. Most recently, I've played Flower and PixelJunk - Eden.

When you say you are fairly geeky, I’m sort of confused to hear of your artsy side. Tell me more about that.
I'm in to fine art, and I always try to go to the museums when I travel. I've also been known to sculpt and paint. Last November I donated two mobiles for an auction to benefit Black Mountain College Museum. I've been making mobiles in my spare time since then.

And, last year I started dancing the Argentine Tango. I’m most likely a tango addict. Earlier this month, I went to Tucson for the Tucson Tango Festival, and I arrived in DC four days early to take advantage of the DC Tango Marathon. I’ll be going to Atlanta the day after SAS Global Forum to attend the Atlanta Tango Festival.

How many times have you been to SAS Global Forum? What was your most memorable experience so far?
Nine or ten, if you count SUGI. I've been to every SAS Global Forum there's been. My first presentation at SUGI in 2000 was the most memorable. I checked my laptop in the tryout room that mirrored my presentation hall. But when I plugged it in, the video didn't work. We ate up 30 minutes of my presentation by the time we finally exported my PowerPoint slides to a CD, and then put the CD in a different computer.

The slideshow forgot all the hidden slides and the order of the slides. I talked really fast and flipped through the unnecessary slides. I coped with them being out of order.

What problem or customer pain were you hoping to solve with ODS Packages: Putting Some Zip in Your ODS Output?
I am giving new information about new or fairly new features that will explain how the features work and how to use them. I think that an understanding of how things work together gives more power to the customer. ODS packages are a new, integral part of ODS that will enable easier packaging of ODS output, but it goes beyond that. Understanding how packages work and interact within ODS gives a thorough understanding of what is possible and what the future holds.

ODS inline formatting is finally production after several years of experimental status. It has a new syntax and new abilities that can be more thoroughly exploited with a little understanding of how things work.

During your presentation, what are the most important highlights or questions that you hoped to cover?
I wanted everyone to leave with enough understanding that they could try all of these things out for themselves. I wanted them to get enough information that they could visualize and then think about how these things can be used to help streamline their processes or make better reports more easily. If I helped my audience think in new ways to solve old and new problems, then I accomplished my goal.

Were there unexpected user questions that will send you back to the drawing board?
3月 232009
 
Humor writer and Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist Dave Barry inspired SAS Global Forum attendees during his keynote presentation at the Technical Session.

Dave Barry introduced his topic: “High-speed access to DBMS data using SAS 9.1.3 Data Engines”

No, that wasn’t it. He just plucked that from the schedule.

Then he started with an honest statement: he had never heard of the SAS Global Forum. So he went to the Internet to do some research. And do you know what he found? He found “that there is a lot of pornography on the Internet.”

When Dave was sitting backstage listening to the technical demos, he was really intimidated that the audience probably understood all of these technical terms that were being used. He gleaned from the presentations one really good word that, if you are in business today, you should use whenever possible. That word is “algorithm”.

If your boss asks you to do something, and you aren’t sure how to do it, just say something like “well, we’d have to build an algorithm for that.” It works against managers like garlic works against vampires.

Dave admits, “I’m not a computer expert. But I do use a computer. I have a computer that informs me, regularly, that I have unused items on my desktop.” Not quite sure what to do about that.

Dave spent some time talking about where he lives: Miami. “I moved there in 1986, from the United States,” he said. He found the driving habits of Miami residents difficult to get used to, until he began to understand, “in Miami, everyone is driving according to the law -- of his/her country of origin.”

Dave related the story of a 73-year-old man who drove his Chevy Cobalt onto runway 9 of the Miami-Dade airport. “I can’t even get near that place with shampoo. But this guy got in with a Chevy Cobalt. Maybe he had it in one of those see-through zippy bags that makes everything alright.”

Dave also recounted the story of a 75-lb bale of cocaine that was thrown from an airplane and almost hit the chief of police in Miami. That sort of thing doesn’t happen in Milwaukee. Miami’s department of tourism slogan: “Come back to Miami, we weren’t shooting at you.”

As a humor writer, Dave described his job like so: ”I sit around, in my underwear, and make things up. Sort of like a consultant. [boost of applause from the audience] Except that a consultant would be wearing your underwear.”

He relayed a few embarrassing stories about himself, including one about an impromptu (and perhaps unwelcome) conversation with First Lady Barbara Bush, and his use of the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile to pick up his son from middle school. Experiences like these have informed his scientific opinion of what causes spontaneous human combustion. “Sometimes, that’s your only option.”

On getting older and medical exams: “We need a way for the doctor to get to the prostate gland other than the way they do that now.” Dave recently experienced his first colonoscopy, but it wasn’t as bad as he feared. However, the preparation was less than pleasant. “The doctor prescribes a nuclear laxative. It’s so explosive that your bowels travel into the future, and you expel food that you haven’t even eaten yet.”

Has Dave Barry ever written a column that he later regretted? Yes, there was that one making fun of North Dakota’s (yes, the state) effort to boost tourism, for which they considered many ideas, including perhaps removing the word “North” from the state name so as to appear, oh, less cold. He received many angry letters from North Dakota citizens, which culminated in Dave Barry being invited to North Dakota, during January, to commemorate them naming a public facility after him. The “Dave Barry Lifting Station 6” – a sewage lifting station.

Dave, like everyone else at the conference, had something to say on the economy. Obviously it’s in horrible shape, but Dave says not to worry. Congress has a plan to spend hundreds of billions of dollars with no idea as to who’s getting it. “I don’t see how that can fail, do you?”, he asked.

On to the inspirational story… One of Dave Barry’s favorite columns was about a group of guys who had to overcome an obstacle, and they were very innovative about it. He’s speaking, of course, about the Oregon State Highway Division and their effort to clear an Oregon beach of a large whale carcass -- using dynamite. I won’t relay the story here, but there is a web site dedicated to the event and others like it.

Dave closed with an excerpt from his book Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys. The story illustrates how different the thought processes are between men and women – mainly, that women think a lot, and men, as difficult as it is for women to believe, actually think very little. His advice to women: “Lower your standards.” (Honey, are you reading this?)


[Want more? Go "behind the scenes" with Chris' interview with Dave Barry on The SAS Dummy blog.]
3月 232009
 

As you heard in Sunday’s Opening Session, SAS reinvests more than a fifth of total revenue in R&D. According to Mark Torr, Global Technology Practice Director, that investment goes into enhancements, updates and new products that SAS® users – you – request. Torr and several SAS employees performed live demos on stage to show the ease and speed of the new tools. The demos also highlighted the improved visualization capabilities.

There were several major improvements made to SAS 9.2 to reduce the complexity and improve deployment and migration. One such change, according to Torr, is to take all of the best practices from previous deployments and wrap them into a deployment wizard.

Two enhancements caused a stir in the room and on Twitter:
• SAS is now making the Interactive Dashboard available in Microsoft SharePoint. There will be no need for additional coding – it’s a simple point-and-click interface. (This will be available in about two months.)
• The Schedule Manager plug-in is a new graphical interface that defines dependencies and removes dot-file juggling.

“The thing that we’re really proud of is the fact that we’ve made tasks that you do every day faster and simpler to do,” said Torr.

Other demonstrations highlighted SAS® Enterprise Miner TM 6.1, SAS Model Manager 2.2, SAS Text Miner 4.1, SAS Forecast Server, using JMP® 8 Graph Builder with SAS Simulation Studio, and using SAS Simulation Studio with SAS/OR® in what-if scenarios to study operational performance.

The audience was spellbound by the live demonstrations especially when Keith Collins, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, began the wrap-up. He demonstrated some developments for 2010 that sparked and sizzled, including Flash graphs and SAS iPhone apps. The crowd was impressed.