Data Modeling Webcast Rescheduled

Unfortunately, due to a last minute scheduling conflict on my side, we’ve had to reschedule the data modeling webcast with MSSQLTips. It is now for next Wednesday, January 23rd, at 3 PM Eastern.

Register for webinar (free)

I apologize for the change in schedule. If you’re unable to make the new time, MSSQLTips does put all of the webinars on demand after they are converted.

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Donating Hair Again

There are several organizations which take hair donations, but the one I prefer to donate to is Wigs for Kids, whose focus is children who need wigs due to cancer. Steve Jones asked for before and after pictures, so here they are. Total length was about 14 in use. I’m hoping the gray will stay back enough to get at least one more donation to Wigs for Kids. After that, I’ll have to find a ministry or non-profit that collects hair for adults. Pantene is now using synthetic hair and has discontinued its Beautiful Lengths program.

We did this at the church where I’m the youth director to remind the children and youth that anyone can find a way to help others, even by simply growing out some hair. You don’t have to have a lot of money and you don’t have to have a particular skill. If you want to help others, there are plenty of opportunities out there.

Before the haircut - frontBefore the haircut - BackBefore the haircut - in the ponytailCutting the hairThe ponytail!All done!

Midlands PASS Meeting tonight with Andy Leonard

If tonight you’re in or can get to the Columbia, SC area, we have a treat for you! Former SQL Server MVP and current BIML Hero Andy Leonard will be presenting on Azure Data Factory. Meet and greet will start at 5:30 PM with Andy beginning his talk around 6 PM. If you’ve never heard Andy before, he is a warm, funny, and engaging speaker who delights in helping others. As a result, he’s the perfect expert to ask questions of with regards to Azure Data Factory, SSIS, BIML, and ETL in general!

Registration link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/moving-data-with-azure-data-factory-tickets-53066243563

 

Webcast: Data Modeling Scenarios and Best Practices

On January 17, 2019, I will be giving a webcast with MSSQLTips on data modeling best practices. It’s scheduled for 3 PM EST (8 PM UTC). Here’s the link to register:

Register for Data Modeling Scenarios and Best Practices (free)

Here’s what I’ll be talking about:

In this session we’ll look at typical data models used for relational databases whether for transactional systems or warehousing solutions. We’ll also consider cases where non-relational solutions provide a better option and how we ultimately bring that back into a relational model for reporting and analysis. As a result, we’ll look at the power of the Entity-Relationship model along with best practices for normalization. We’ll also cover when denormalization makes sense, which is often the case in warehousing models like with star and snowflake schema.

If there are specific scenarios you want me to cover, drop me a line at kbriankelley {at} acm {dot} org and I will see what I can fit into the talk. Hope to see you there!

Midlands PASS Meetings for January and February 2019

Midlands PASS won’t be holding a meeting in December. Too much going on! However, we are hosting meetings in January and February.

January 8, 2019 – Moving Data with Azure Data Factory

Andy Leonard (twitter | website) joins us to discuss Azure Data Factory. Learn from one of the best in this field!

RSVP for January 8th Meeting

February 5, 2019 – Becoming a Data Scientist

Shannon Lowder (twitter | website) brings his experience in becoming a data scientist to share with us.

RSVP for February 5th, Meeting

 

Meetings: Have a Point of Focus

Have you ever been in a meeting where the attendees seemed to go down one rabbit trail after another? At the end of that meeting, likely everyone left wondering why they were there. Those meetings are failed meetings. Meetings should move things forward. Otherwise, what’s the point? And that gets to my point: meetings should have a point of focus.

I know I’m writing this on my technical blog, but bear with me, because this is important for IT. The first reason it’s important is we want clear decisions. The second reasons is we want to be as efficient as possible with our time. Those two reasons mean we want meetings to be successful. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves without a decision with a calendar full of meetings.

The likely problem with a meeting get off track is it didn’t have a focus to begin with. If a meeting did have a focal point, then the attendees allowed the meeting to drift away from that reason for the meeting. Either of these situations gets us to an unsuccessful meeting. Therefore, insist on meetings having a focus and try and hold folks accountable to staying on topic.

One doesn’t have to be a jerk about it. There are kind ways of reminding folks that the meeting is drifting away from the point. Something as simple as, “That sounds great for a later discussion. I’m going to note that down. However, let’s focus on the reason for this meeting.” If you do note those diversionary topics down and attempt to initiate later coverage of those topics, you’ll incur trust and that will help folks stay within the bounds of the meeting’s purpose.

This topic came up in a class I recently taught for those preparing for the ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor exam. One of the practice questions asked what should an auditor do to help a meeting be successful. The correct answer was to limit the scope of the meeting and hold attendees to that. It’s great advice. Meetings are more effective if we know why we’re meeting and we hold each other to discuss, and hopefully come to a decision on, the point of the meeting.

Ethics in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence

Microsoft redid its Data Science Track not too long ago and they added several courses and new progress points. One of those progress points is Apply Ethics and Law in Analytics and the course to cover this point is Microsoft DAT249x: Ethics and Law in Data and Analytics, offered through edX.

I’m enjoying this course even though it’s not a hard-core data analysis one. This course is great because it asks the questions about how data should be used, what biases might be present, and how we look at both before moving forward both ethically and legally. Even if you aren’t working on the data science track, if you’re a data professional of any type, I would recommend taking this free course (assuming you are only auditing and not looking for the certificate).

As a segue with respect to the importance of this course, once upon a time I was a college student who became hooked on Sociology. I had a professor teaching his last semester before retirement and I had two courses with him: Introduction to Sociology and Criminology. He had worked with police departments much of his professional life, and I remember how much he talked about bias not only in the data, but also how it was collected. He also talked about bias by proxy, though he didn’t use that phrase. A proxy is where you don’t want to use one statistic, such as race, so you find something that isn’t called race but effectively gives you the same thing because there’s a strong correlation between the two. An example is zip code here in the United States. We tend to live more segregated than we’d like to admit, so if you’re making decisions based on zip code with respect to people, much of the time you’re actually making decisions about race. This course looks at those types of things – topics that are easy to overlook as we got caught up in our analyses.

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