Friday, February 21, 2020

Update: My Favorite (Data Platform) Podcasts

A tweet on the #SQLFamily hashtag triggered me last week to update an old blog post I wrote a few years back on My favorite (SQL server) podcasts.




After I switched jobs 2,5 years ago I have been doing a lot less commuting, which is good actually, but that left me also with less time to listen to podcasts. Therefore I chose to not listen to some episodes that are not that interesting to me.

Old podcasts

Here's the list I was already following since my last post:

  • .NET Rocks!
    • This is still a great podcast. I particularly like the Geek-outs.
  • Dear SQL DBA
    • The last episode is from the beginning of 2019, I always liked this very much because of the way Kendra explains things.
  • Developer On Fire
    • This was still a thing in 2019, but kinda dried up at the end of last year. The list of book recommendations is still there and huge, so do have a look there.
  • Hanselminutes
    • Still very much a thing. Good, short and fun episodes.
  • no dogma podcast
    • Still a regular flow of good episodes.
  • Office Hours Podcast: SQL Server Pain Relief
    • This one had its last episode on Jan 2 2019.
  • RunAs Radio
    • Still a constant, weekly flow of information and knowledge!
  • Simple Programmer Podcast
    • The frequency was turned down to weekly in 2019, but still regularly producing content.
  • SQL Down Under
    • The URL changed, and after 9 months of silence there was a new episode in December of last year.
  • SQL Server Radio
    • After a few months of silence there was a (re)new(ed) episode with a great announcement.
  • voiceofthedba’s podcast
    • Steve is actually on a sabbatical right now, but his short bursts of knowledge will certainly continue as he goes back to work next week.

New podcasts

These are the podcasts that are new:


Dutch podcasts

Next to the Data Platform related ones above, I also have a few Dutch podcasts that I like to listen to:


Closing

I still use the app Podcast Addict forAndroid, now the paid version without ads.
And one more pro tip before I finish: I use a podcast app that can set the speed of the podcast. I listen everything at 2 times the speed now :-) You can start at 1.5 and work your way up to what feels comfortable for you.

Are you also listening to podcasts, on your way to work, during work or somewhere else? Let me know in the comments which ones you like and if you have others not in my list!

@NickyvV

Monday, February 10, 2020

My Upcoming Speaking Engagements: Belgium and Iceland!

Before talking about my upcoming speaking engagements I would like to tell you a little story. And it goes like this.

How it all started

Back in 2018 I started my journey of getting more involved in the SQL and Power BI community. It actually all started with a Power BI User Group (the Dutch Data Dude Farewell Tour with Jeroen ter Heerdt (B | @jeroenterheerdt)) organized by PBIG (and me) at the Van Lanschot Kempen office in Den Bosch, on which I wrote about earlier last year. Jeroen Schalken (B | @JeroenSchalken) and me did a little introduction talk (around 15 minutes) about our implementation of Power BI at Van Lanschot Kempen. It was frightening and exciting at the same time. During the break of the evening Edgar Walther (B | @edgarwalther) of PBIG came to say it was a very interesting presentation and if we would like to extend that and come talk at the Power BI User Day in March 2019. It was right there that I (and Jeroen) made the decision to say YES. We still had to make a one hour presentation, but also had plenty of time left.

After that presentation I really got the feel of it and started looking for other opportunities to speak. Eventually this turned out in speaking at Power BI Days Belgium with a session and a workshop, followed by SQL Saturday Prague together with Jeroen, dataMinds Connect in Belgium, and even the Power Platform World Tour in Dublin!
It brought me so much more than I could have imagined.

The first thing is that I get the chance to share my knowledge with like-minded people. Next, it was not only amazing to travel to these venues with great speakers and people I look up to. There were also awesome social events during every trip. And that's where the real magic happens. You make contacts, chat a bit, have a beer (or drink of your choice) and make new friends. And at another event you meet even more people to connect with, but sometimes also catch up with the newly made friends from the previous conference. It's been an amazing experience so far.

Upcoming events

But now back to the title of this blog post: it was time again to update my Speaking page, because I already have a few very nice events in my calendar.

This year will start with SQL Saturday Belgium (#956) on March 7, where I will deliver (an updated version of) the presentation that started it all.
Next up is SQL Saturday Iceland (#937) on March 28, where I will deliver my new session A Form, a Flow and a Power BI Streaming Dataset Walk Into a Bar. This session is based on the lightning session I gave at the Dublin Power BI UG during the Power Platform World Tour in Dublin.
Next to those two SQL Saturday events there's also a UG meeting planned, but not officially released yet. So more info on that one later.

Teaser

And last but not least: I will have some very exciting news to share in the coming weeks hopefully. I'm currently finalizing everything, so I'll let you know when everything is signed, sealed and delivered :-)

Friday, January 31, 2020

A Form, a Flow and a Power BI Streaming Dataset Walk Into a Bar - Part 2

In this blog series I will set apart all the steps needed to get this demo up and running on your own. I will use the text in this post, as well as screen shots and video's explaining it step by step. So if you're already (somewhat) familiar with Forms, Power Automate and/or Power BI streaming datasets, feel free to go directly to the video's and start building your own demo right away. Otherwise, keep reading and eventually you'll come across all the resources as well.

In Part 1, I already explained what the reason behind this demo is, and what I used it for in my presentations. I made a start with the demo and showed you how to make a Form and set up a streaming dataset in Power BI.
In Part 2 of this blog series I will show you how to glue it all together with Power Automate and create a report out of the data. There are some things you need to know in the streaming dataset, to properly show the output in your Power BI report. And lastly, I will show you a trick to get your data refreshed live while respondents are answering the questions, but without refreshing your browser!

Create an automation flow

In Power Automate you can create flows manually or with the help of a template. I used a template for my first flow, but if I search for this same template in the gallery it actually doesn't show up.


Power Automate template
I do have the URL because you can check that in your current flows. I resubmitted it as a template because I think it's quite useful:
Power Automate flow details
You can use that template here, or create the steps yourself manually. It's actually not that hard if you take a look at the template.



Create a Power BI report

When the previous steps have been completed, we have built ourselves a working solution, we only have to visualize the results from the dataset. OK, I know, I could also use the default reporting of Microsoft Forms, but that uses pie charts… And you know: every time you create a pie chart, God kills a kitten! :-)

Microsoft Forms default report
Before creating a report it's good to have some data to create the visuals from. To do that, in Forms, clicking on Preview lets you enter the form as a user. You can then create a report by connecting to the streaming dataset, live from Power BI Desktop.



As you saw in the video, I created a basic report with the questions I used in the form. You can create any kind of fancy report with this approach of course.
If you use for example a multiple choice question in your form, with multiple possible answers, I use the DAX formula CONTAINSSTRING or CONTAINSSTRINGEXACT to get the values out of the JSON-string. You write 1 measure per choice and then plot them in a chart. I'm not sure if there's an easier way of doing this, also maybe with a dynamic number of values. Let me know in the comments if you figure this out :-)

Share the Form

Last but not least, we also want to share our form with our audience, right? You can do this by creating a shorter URL with any of the URL shortener services like bit.ly, tinyurl.com or Google. You then share this link in the first few slides of your presentation and even have it visible while attendants are walking in prior to the start of your session. That way they have a minute to fill in the form and you don't have to wait on their answers during the presentation.

Create a Live Dashboard

So the trick for creating a live refreshing view of the answers coming in, is to create a dashboard of the visuals in the Power BI service. So pin all the visuals you need from the report to a dashboard, maybe also add the URL to the form and you're done. You could also refresh the browser every few seconds (either manually or with a browser extension in Chrome). But I do think the automatic refresh in a dashboard looks cleaner, otherwise you're also depending on the speed of the WiFi for loading your whole page every time you refresh.

Recap

As you have seen, setting up this Power Platform demo is actually not that difficult, you just have to know the steps and maybe go through them once to remember them. It does however add a lot of value to a presentation in my opinion. After the PowerPlatform World Tour Meetup in Dublin I had some good feedback from people that wanted to use this setup in their next presentation. From Mary Fealty (B | @Br0adtree) and Marc Lelijveld (B | @MarcLelijveld) I already heard they implemented this, so that's nice to hear!
Mary even added a great feature to the report.

Let me know in the comments or on Twitter if you use this or another method or if you have any questions!