Chris Webb's BI Blog

Analysis Services, MDX, PowerPivot, DAX and anything BI-related

Archive for the ‘Off-topic’ Category

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

with 3 comments

After a long, hard day struggling with your cube, what better way to relax than with some multidimensional entertainment? Over the years I’ve had lots of conversations with people in the BI industry about the problems people have with learning to think multidimensionally, and something that has cropped up several times is the book "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions", written over a century ago by Edwin Abbott. It’s a book I’ve been meaning to buy for a while, and a quick browse on Amazon reveals that several other people have written similar books; indeed, as Christian Wade pointed out to me last year, there seems to be a whole internet subculture to do with imagining what life with more or less dimensions would be like, for example:
http://tetraspace.alkaline.org/
 
Anyway, the reason I’m blogging about this now is that Flatland, with a little bit of updating (as is always the way), has been turned into a film:
http://flatlandthefilm.com/index.html
Seems to have some good reviews too… I wonder if it’ll ever get a release in the UK? They should organise a gala showing at the Microsoft BI Conference!
 

Written by Chris Webb

February 19, 2007 at 3:42 pm

Posted in Off-topic

Five Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me

with 3 comments

I thought I’d avoided this meme, but since Darren Gosbell tagged me and since Mosha (who was also tagged) has already joined in, here are my five things:

  • Like a lot of Brits of my generation my first contact with computers was a BBC Model B that my father bought in the early 80s. Once he’d got bored of typing in programs from BEEBUG magazine that did things like play the Star Wars theme tune I got my hands on it, and in between long sessions playing ‘Elite‘ decided it would be cool if I too could write games. Unfortunately my coding skills have not progressed much since those days.
  • I won the Computer Studies prize at school (I had moved onto Turbo Pascal 5.5 by then, on Sanyo machines which had <gasp> a floppy disk drive and <double gasp> 256Kb of RAM) when I was 16 but only because the two other guys in the class who were better than me told the teacher that they were too cool to accept it. I, however, had no such scruples and spent the £20 book token on a French/English dictionary.
  • My first degree was in Modern History, although later on I picked up one of those two-year part-time conversion course Computer Science degrees. After winning the Computer Studies prize I didn’t go near a computer for several years; I was much better at arts subjects and so I concentrated on that side of things. However a year after leaving university, after having spent a few months for a guy who wanted to reform the UK’s National Lottery, I decided to find a proper job. I didn’t fancy law, accountancy or any of the other things that History graduates seemed to end up doing so I thought I’d try to get on an IT graduate training scheme instead. I got a job at IMS Health in London where one of my first projects was evaluating a beta version of the new OLAP server from Microsoft that had been recommended by Nigel Pendse…
  • While in that job I met my wife, Helen. She was headhunted to work for a large pharmaceuticals company in Switzerland and we decided to move out there together. I started looking for jobs out there and after one of my colleagues suggested sending my CV on spec to Microsoft I got a job in Microsoft Consulting in Zurich, where I stayed for three years. After the birth of our first daughter Natasha (joined last summer by Amelia), Helen and I moved back to the UK and I went back to IMS because they were doing some cool stuff with Yukon.
  • After the project I was working on got canned, I decided to leave and set up on my own as a consultant. But you knew that already… so what I shall I write for my fifth point? How about that I’m incredibly absent-minded about everything except (as my wife pointed out when she was telling me off recently because I’d taken out buildings insurance on our house twice) work. My worst experience was at Copenhagen airport when I went through security, sat down and started reading and didn’t notice that everyone else had got on the flight. By the time I did notice the plane was already on the runway about to take off, but had to turn back because my bags were on board. It couldn’t go back to the same gate though and had to go to a different one which was at the wrong height, so I had to climb halfway up the side of it to get on before walking the full length of the plane to my seat while the captain was very rude about me over the intercom.

Written by Chris Webb

January 24, 2007 at 10:58 pm

Posted in Off-topic

Santa Dashboard

with one comment

More Xmas silliness from the people at DSPanel:
“Running a large scale operation where time to market is extremely important makes having the right information at the right time highly valuable. With a very fast implementation, quickly understanding the critical issues and underlying business models, DSP has been instrumental in ensuring a successful Christmas of 2006 and also ensured that the demands put upon the organisation by Sarbanes-Oxely has been met.”

Santa Claus, Director of christmas joy and happiness

Written by Chris Webb

December 19, 2006 at 8:40 am

Posted in Off-topic

The Twelve Days of a BI Project

leave a comment »

Here’s a Yuletide song for you and your colleagues to sing (to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas", if you haven’t guessed already) before you disappear down the pub for an important offsite meeting this Christmas:

On the first day of work my consultants gave to me
A bill for their exorbitant fees.

On the second day of work my consultants gave to me
Two project plans
And a bill for their exorbitant fees.

On the third day of work my consultants gave to me
Three servers,
Two project plans
And a bill for their exorbitant fees.

On the fourth day of work my consultants gave to me
Four Gb of RAM,
Three servers,
Two project plans
And a bill for their exorbitant fees.

On the fifth day of work my consultants gave to me
SQL 2005,
Four Gb of RAM,
Three servers,
Two project plans
And a bill for their exorbitant fees.

On the sixth day of work my consultants gave to me
Six star schemas,
SQL 2005,
Four Gb of RAM,
Three servers,
Two project plans
And a bill for their exorbitant fees.

On the seventh day of work my consultants gave to me
Seven ETL jobs,
Six star schemas,
SQL 2005,
Four Gb of RAM,
Three servers,
Two project plans
And a bill for their exorbitant fees.

On the eighth day of work my consultants gave to me
Eight UDMs,
Seven ETL jobs,
Six star schemas,
SQL 2005,
Four Gb of RAM,
Three servers,
Two project plans
And a bill for their exorbitant fees.

On the ninth day of work my consultants gave to me
Nine slow reports,
Eight UDMs,
Seven ETL jobs,
Six star schemas,
SQL 2005,
Four Gb of RAM,
Three servers,
Two project plans
And a bill for their exorbitant fees.

On the tenth day of work my consultants gave to me
Ten lame excuses,
Nine slow reports,
Eight UDMs,
Seven ETL jobs,
Six star schemas,
SQL 2005,
Four Gb of RAM,
Three servers,
Two project plans
And a bill for their exorbitant fees.

On the eleventh day of work my consultants gave to me
Eleven hotfixes,
Ten lame excuses,
Nine slow reports,
Eight UDMs,
Seven ETL jobs,
Six star schemas,
SQL 2005,
Four Gb of RAM,
Three servers,
Two project plans
And a bill for their exorbitant fees.

On the twelfth day of work my consultants gave to me
Twelve angry users,
Eleven hotfixes,
Ten lame excuses,
Nine slow reports,
Eight UDMs,
Seven ETL jobs,
Six star schemas,
SQL 2005,
Four Gb of RAM,
Three servers,
Two project plans
And a bill for their exorbitant fees.

Written by Chris Webb

December 16, 2006 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Off-topic

I’m an MVP!!!

with 9 comments

I found out earlier this week but I thought I’d mention it here. Obviously I am very chuffed indeed. Time for a tearful Oscars-style acceptance speech: I’d like to thank everyone out there who has helped me over the years, whether at work, on the newsgroups or on this blog… (sniff)… I love you all!

Written by Chris Webb

April 5, 2006 at 4:35 pm

Posted in Off-topic

MDX Limericks

with 8 comments

Since last summer’s ‘OLAP Jokes’ entry was the most popular (in terms of links to it) entry I’ve made on this blog so far, I’ve been wracking my brains for a suitable follow-up. During my lunchtime browsing today I came across this posting on a certain Phil Factor’s blog:
…and thought that anything those SQL guys can do, us MDX-ers can do better. So I’d like to announce an MDX limericks competition. No prizes apart from the admiration and respect of the entire Analysis Services community, I’m afraid, but who needs prizes when faced with a noble challenge such as this?
 

Here are the rules:

  • Each entry must be an MDX query executable against any cube/perspective in the Adventure Works database, and must take the form of a limerick (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limerick_(poetry for details)
  • The query must return at least one cell which contains a value other than null
  • Entries should be posted as comments to this blog entry
  • Extra points will be awarded for wit and creativity

It’s actually pretty difficult. Here’s my first attempt:

WITH MEMBER [Date].[Day Name].[TODAY]
AS 1 + [Date].[Day Name].[THURSDAY]
SELECT [Average Rate]
ON 0, [Date].[Date]
ON 1 FROM [Direct Sales] WHERE([MAY])

As an aside, this brings up the vexed question of how you should pronounce MDX. In my limerick I’m not pronouncing the punctuation so it reads:

WITH MEMBER DATE DAY NAME TODAY,
AS ONE PLUS DATE DAY NAME THURSDAY,
SELECT AVERAGE RATE,
ON ZERO, DATE DATE,
ON ONE FROM DIRECT SALES WHERE MAY.

However I’m prepared to be flexible on this point.

So come on all of you (and especially you Jon, as I know you can never resist something like this) and get composing!

 

UPDATE: I’ve decided two rule changes, to make things easier. First I’ll allow queries from Foodmart 2000 for those of you on AS2K; second I’ll allow statements other than SELECT statements (eg CREATE SET, UPDATE CUBE etc) so long as they execute without errors.

 

Written by Chris Webb

January 19, 2006 at 2:29 pm

Posted in Off-topic

Blog Birthday

with 3 comments

It’s my blog’s first birthday today! Seems like I’ve been writing it forever… Anyway, I’m quite pleased with how the first year of blogging has gone – I’ve managed to keep my resolution and posted something just about every week, and hopefully it’s been interesting and useful. I’ve learnt a lot too, made a lot of new friends and even managed to become the top-ranked "Chris Webb" on Google (for the moment)!
 
Next year will see a lot of changes for me professionally and with a bit of luck they will leave me more time for blogging as well as provide me with some new Microsoft-BI-related topics to blog about. As always, I welcome any kind of feedback/suggestions/tip-offs for news, either in public via comments or by email (check my profile for how to contact me).
 
Happy New Year!

Written by Chris Webb

December 30, 2005 at 2:06 pm

Posted in Off-topic

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,189 other followers