Monday 27 December 2010

NOTE: Christmas Reading

If you have some spare time between Christmas and New Year you could do a lot worse than take a look at the latest issue of Views News. Issue 52 of the newsletter and tips sheet became available last week and includes articles on displaying multiple trend lines in graphs, creating word clouds in SAS, the accuracy of balanced scorecards, and more besides.

Back-issues can be found on

NOTE: What's Happening (On Windows)?

If you care about what SAS is doing on your Windows server, you need to read Chris Hemedinger's posting on Microsoft's Process Explorer V14.01 for Windows. It seems that PE is a free utility that is downloadable from Microsoft. It's not a pretty tool, instead the information it offers could make the difference some day when your SAS service is running slow and you can't figure-out why.

QueryContest - Round 2

My post regarding QueryContest got an unexpected amount of interest. Quite apart from Chris@SAS's comment regarding his use of GoogleFight, Neil emailed me to say:
Just been reading your blog. Similar fun can be had with these…
They're an interesting collection of tools that do similar but distinctly different things to QueryContest. Thanks Neil!

Tuesday 21 December 2010

NOTE: Promoting Portal Content

With serendipitous timing, Paul Homes issued a new blog post last week about Updated SAS Admin documents. He highlights the fact that there is an extra chapter in the SAS 9.2 Intelligence Platform: Web Application Administration Guide, Fourth Edition about the new facilities for Promoting Portal Content (Chapter 24).

This week I am embarking on a new engagement that includes the production of a Configuration Management Plan for a large SAS Grid deployment. My experience of doing a similar thing a couple of years ago with SAS 9.1.3 was mixed. Steve O'Donoghue (SAS UK) and I described it in our 2009 SAS Global Forum paper Configuration Management for SAS Software Projects.

Managing the bread-and-butter items such as DI jobs, stored processes, and SAS macros was fine, but we came to a halt with the Information Delivery Portal. Portal elements such as page layouts and corporate branding could not be migrated from one environment to another, e.g. development to test, or test to production. The only means of doing this was to manually make changes in each environment, i.e. manually regenerating the content and structure.

The portal promotion tools described in the Web Application Admin Guide describe how to promote the following items:

  • Portal Application Tree
  • User or Group Permissions Tree
  • Portal content object
  • Portal page
  • Portal page template
  • Portlet instance

I'm grateful to Paul for drawing my attention to this new information. Aren't blogs wonderful!

The Joy of Stats - Income vs Health

Chris@SAS recently tweeted a link to this: I found it one of the most fascinating video clips I've seen all year, on many levels. It offers a fascinating commentary on the development of the world over the last 200 years, but it is also a wonderful example of data visualisation - something that most of us in the SAS world hold a keen interest in.

Query Contest

Okay, I'm being a bit selfish with this post, but it may also give you some fun (and waste a lot of your time) over Christmas. compares the number of hits returned from a web search for two different terms, e.g. Beatles versus Rolling Stones, or "go boldly" versus "boldly go". QueryContest shows the number of hits for each of the two search terms - from Google, Bing and Yahoo.

In my experience, web sites of this type tend to come and go quite quickly. Either that or I keep losing the web address and cannot find it the next time I want to use it - hence the selfish idea of blogging it so I don't lose the URL!

QueryContest is limited to telling us the number of hits found worldwide for any search term, so it does not necessarily give a definitive answer to any question. Indeed, sometimes the three search engines return contradictory results (as shown for Beatles versus Rolling Stones). Nonetheless, it is useful for measuring popularity of people, things and places, and it can offer an indication of the likely correct spelling or grammar when comparing two words or phrases. For definitive answers I use, but for new and emerging words and terms that are not yet in the dictionary, QueryContest helps a lot.

Have fun!

Monday 13 December 2010

NOTE: Web Report Studio Performance in SAS TALKS

This Thursday (16th December) sees SAS's Angela Hall talk about Web Report Studio Performance Improvements in the latest of the SAS TALKS series of webinars. It's free. Just visit the SAS TALKS home page to register.

Angela is well-known through her excellent SAS-BI Blog. In her webinar, Angela will touch upon many topics for enhancing WRS performance. These will include SQL pass-through, information maps and SAS/ACCESS technologies. Book your "seat" early!

Don't forget to check-out the previous SAS TALKS webinars that are available on-demand. Just click the On-Demand TALKS tab to list them all. Finally, in January SAS's Chris Hemedinger will be talking about Enterprise Guide 4.3's new features for programmers and how you can exploit them to the max.

Browsers and the Web - Explained

I came across a nice, informative and educational web site last week. Google's Chrome team have produced 20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web. Needless to say, it two of its early topics are cloud computing and web apps. Nonetheless, it is very nicely illustrated and presented (using HTML 5) and I have already recommended it to a number of people I know - young and old. Take a look!

Tuesday 7 December 2010

NOTE: Peek At Your Data Details Before Opening (in EG)

I spotted a nice post from Chris on the SAS Dummy blog. Enterprise Guide 4.2 saw the introduction of a feature that allows you to view the details of your data sets (such as the data set labels, how many records the data sets contain, and more) while you browse the contents of a SAS library. You can see the column names and column types right from within the file dialog. But, the feature is not turned on by default.

See Chris's article to find out more of what the feature offers, how to turn it on, and why it's not turned on by default.

Friday 3 December 2010

NOTE: I've won a prize!!

I've just been informed that I am one of the winners from day #1 of the SAS Professionals advent calendar. I've won a copy of the book Scoring Points! The book tells how two of the UK's biggest SAS customers (Tesco supermarkets and Dunnhumby customer insights) got to where they are today. I'm looking forward to reading it.

I'm going to be busy because I'm already reading two other books for review purposes. You'll read about them in NOTE: in the next few weeks:

1) The Design of Information Dashboards Using SAS, by Christopher Simien Ph.D.

2) Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business, Second Edition, by Wayne Eckerson

Have a good weekend...

Wednesday 1 December 2010

NOTE: The SAS Professionals Advent Calendar Starts Today!

If you like a bit of festive fun (and who doesn't) I suggest you hop over to the SAS Professionals web site and open the first door of the advent calendar.

The SAS Professionals web site also contains a broad mix of groups and activities, forums and SAS-related information. It's worth joining the community...

Seasons greetings!