Tuesday 18 December 2012

NOTE: Present Thinking

Christmas approaches, I've opened 18 windows in the SAS Professionals advent calendar (without winning anything, yet), written most of my Christmas cards, and my mind is firmly focused on the remaining Christmas shopping. However, I've allowed my mind to wander a little and think about what SAS-related gifts I might like to give or receive.
  • Number one has to be a trip to next year's SAS Global Forum. Not only is it the best opportunity of the year to learn about SAS technology, to meet fellow SAS practitioners, and to meet SAS developers, it's also a great opportunity to visit the great city of San Francisco. I'll be there; will you?
  • Along the same theme, a trip to SAS Professionals Convention in Marlow has to be the best value event of 2013 if the prices of 2012 are retained. Frustratingly, we're still waiting for the dates to be announced.
  • If I'm looking for something a little cheaper than trips to Marlow or San Francisco, there are a few books I'm looking forward to reading. Firstly, The 50 Keys to Learning SAS Stored Processes by Tricia Aanderud and Angela Hall. It was published earlier this year,but I haven't gotten around to getting my own copy yet. Stored processes (as I said yesterday) are an excellent means of packaging your code and making it available anywhere (seemingly). You can never know enough about stored processes
  • Another book I'm looking forward to reading is Chris Hemedinger's Creating Custom Tasks for SAS Enterprise Guide using Microsoft .NET, due to published early next year. I mentioned Chris's book back in October. EG custom tasks are not as widely-accessible as stored processes (limited, as they are, to just EG and Add-In for Microsoft Office) but they nonetheless provide great benefit as a means of packaging your functionality and making it available to you and others in a parameter/wizard-driven fashion.  
  • Books I've already read and would recommend jointly are: Performance Dashboards by Wayne Eckerson, and The Design of Information Dashboards Using SAS by Christopher Simien PH.D. These two publications make an excellent pairing, taking you from the high-level theory of dashboards (as something much more than colourful reports) through to copious SAS examples of dashboarding techniques. Both books rightly highlight the need to design a dashboard as a human interaction mechanism prior to diving into the coding. If you're not familiar with the works of Few and Tufte then you'll struggle for respect as a producer of dashboards. 
  • If £20 is stretching your budget(!), you could do much worse than to look at Phil Holland's App/Books that I mentioned back in September. Available for Android, Chrome, and webOS, the books are delivered as apps to your device and updated with extra pages (and information) for free from time-to-time. Each app/book costs just £1 - £2.
Okay, day-dreaming over, I'd better get my concentration back to my real Christmas shopping list. Will the Bluewater mall be empty of shoppers this evening? Wish me luck!