Hope Foley's Blog

Another day in the life of a SQL Server DBA

PASS Summit 2015 Highlights November 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — hopefoley @ 5:46 pm

I’m back home from PASS Summit 2015 and reflecting on the experience.  I think I even still have a little bit of the goofy grin that I couldn’t wipe off my face all week.  I do so love PASS Summit!  This was my 5th consecutive one.  I went back and looked through some of my previous blog posts and I still have all the same giddy, giggling idiot feelings I have had all these years.  Below are my top 10 highlights of this year’s PASS Summit.

***

10.  Calories don’t count at PASS Summit – Ok this isn’t really true but I pretended it did. After I had an egg white omelet at breakfast the first day, it was all downhill from there. It’s difficult to eat well at a conference and I missed eating like a truck driver so I took a healthy eating sabbatical while there. The Morning After burger at Tap House is very good by the way.

My egg white omelet was at one of the "hey pull up a chair" breakfasts at Daily Grill.

My egg white omelet was at one of the “hey pull up a chair” breakfasts at Daily Grill.

9.  Great Sessions – As with every Summit, I didn’t catch as many sessions as I would have liked (highly recommend purchasing DVD/download of sessions for this reason). I did catch my dear friend, Mark Vaillancourt’s (Twitter | Blog) session “A Bigger Boat: Data Visualization Lessons from the Movie Theater”. Mark always cracks me up and I always enjoy his sessions.  Great information on perception with the right balance of humor mixed in to it.

Mark caught a fish this big!

Mark caught a fish this big!

I also caught Kasper de Jonge’s (Twitter | Blog) session “The Analysis Services Evolution”.  Poor Kasper had all the presentation planets align against him.  He couldn’t get the screen to display except setting up like he is in the picture below.  He handled all the issues VERY well and it was a great session.  Folks were excited to hear of the new features in SSAS so that helped too.

Poor Kasper!

Poor Kasper!

8.  Birds of a pitiful feather – On Friday they had the Birds of a Feather lunch. This is where they will setup tables with specified subjects. It’s always nice for good discussions. I went with my friend and former co-worker, Meagan Longoria (Twitter | Blog) . I was thinking I would sit at the Datazen table but turned out there wasn’t one. I did find a table though on geo-spatial. There were only a couple folks sitting there at the time so we sat there. After chatting with them for a couple minutes, they left and Meagan and I manned that table together alone (cue the All By Myself song). We had fun but that was a lonely subject table(reason I said pitiful)! The whole Birds of a Feather lunch seemed to be scaled down a bit more than in years past too.

The masses at the WIT Luncheon

The masses at the WIT Luncheon

I also missed the lunch where they setup tables for regions.  I always met new people at each lunch from my area who weren’t familiar with the local user group.  I’ve connected with several folks over the years at that lunch.  Not sure of others experience but I missed it.

***

7.  SQL Mystery – Doug Lane (Twitter | Blog) is a brave man!  He had a couple of sessions at Summit where he uses other speakers as cast members in his sessions. It’s like incorporating community theater into his technical sessions. I was asked to be a cast member in “SQL Server Mystery: Dead Reports Don’t Talk”. He sent the script several days ahead of time but I was more nervous about this than my technical session. I feel I do well with conversations. I feel I do well in a rehearsed technical setting.  Anything off the cuff, in front of an audience, yeah not so much. That and I hated the thought of me impacting his Summit session if I messed up. I survived but definitely could have done a better job. Sorry Doug!

Doug's super fun SSRS Mystery session

Doug’s super fun SSRS Mystery session

6.  Kasper knowing who I was and said looked through my session slides! – I still get star struck at PASS Summit. I was introduced to Kasper and he had a question about one of MY slides! I am still giddy about that!

***

5.  Tim Chapman is a helluva guy! – Knowing I was new to Microsoft, Tim (Twitter ) reached out and pointed me to great resources to help navigate the oodles of tools and info within Microsoft. Not only that but he introduced me to some great folks at Summit. Thank you much Tim! Very much appreciate it!

***

4.  Speaker Idol – I was asked by Denny Cherry (Twitter | Blog) if I would be a judge in this year’s Speaker Idol. For those unfamiliar, it is a contest for speakers to win a speaking slot at the next year’s Summit. I said yes and was very glad to be a part of it and honored to be in the line up of judges (Mark Simms (Twitter), Andre Kamman (Twitter | Blog), Allan Hirt (Twitter | Blog), Joey D’Antoni(Twitter | Blog), and Karen Lopez (Twitter | Blog)). All of the speakers were great! Due to that, it came down to getting way nit picky on the tiniest of details of the sessions. I felt little uncomfortable doing that since many of the speakers I consider friends.  Still was a great process to be a part of and I picked up some tips for myself as a speaker.  The winner was David Maxwell (Twitter | Blog) . Congrats David!

No Summit trip is complete without a trip to Bush Garden. Many times it's Jason twisting my arm to go :)

No Summit trip is complete without a trip to Bush Garden. Many times it’s Jason twisting my arm to go :)

3.  Marco Russo / Alberto Ferrari in my session – My session was over SSAS Tabular performance. I reference Marco Russo (Twitter | Blog) and Alberto Ferrari (Twitter | Blog) many times during it. During practice run throughs of my session, it dawned on me that this was the only time I would give the session and they could show up.  Guess what?! They came to MY session!! That still cracks me up a bit and was great to meet them in person.

***

2.  Seeing all my #SQLFamily all week – One of the best parts of Summit is that you can’t throw a rock all week and not hit a member of #SQLFamily.  Over the years I have met so many wonderful SQL people from all over the world. Summit is the one time of year when the majority of those folks are together. Makes me feel all SQL warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.

My favorite pic of Summit!

My favorite pic of Summit!

  1.  Stephanie Bruno moment – I help babies in Africa! – I went to dinner with a group on Thursday evening at Tap House. I met Stephanie Bruno (Twitter) a couple years ago when she attended my spatial data session.  We became friends that year and kept up some after that Summit. She works for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (www.pedaids.org). She was at that dinner and began talking about how I helped her with some Datazen work she was doing.  And by this act of me getting information to her, I was also in a way helping babies in Africa!  I get teary eyed again just thinking about it. I mean we speak and hope some bit of info we relay helps folks do their jobs or helps them with an issue they run into but that’s usually the end of the thought. It really hit me in the gut to be able to draw a line to a concrete example of something I did, doing some real good in the world!  One session, one connection did that! It’s really amazing to think about and helps push more passion into my speaking in the community, my push to drive new speakers, and my push to get folks to become part of this amazing community!
 

Goodbye MVP and yoga pants September 28, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — hopefoley @ 1:49 pm

Life is funny you know. So many times you are moving right along and fate throws you new paths you weren’t expecting. I recently had a very surprising phone call. It was from a friend and colleague at Microsoft who was hoping to move to a new role. He said he wanted to give me a heads up as he had recommended me as a good candidate to replace his potentially vacant spot and I would start getting phone calls. I was very glad he did as I was stunned and sounded like a mumbling idiot while the information processed. Microsoft!? Moi?! I was very happy at BlueGranite and wasn’t looking at all. But everyone has that short list of companies where if they call, you at least pick up the phone.

***

Fast forward a few weeks and I have just accepted a TSP position with Microsoft! I’m giddy with excitement for this opportunity! And there the tears well up again, but I’m so sad to be leaving BlueGranite! This company is an amazing group of people who are astounding in the BI/Data Analytics field. I have joked in the past that there may have been some deals with the devil within upper management to have acquired the talent that they have. And they took a chance hiring this DBA with less than stellar track record in BI, but wanted to learn. Part of the reason too that I went to work for BlueGranite was I had many friends who work for them. That is what makes leaving so hard…I’m going to miss working with these folks so much! I am very proud to have been able to call myself a part of this team. Thank you for everything BlueGranite!

***

The other painful piece of this is that if I’m renewed for MVP in a few days, it won’t last very long. Being an MVP has been such a surreal experience! It’s still unreal I was able to be a part of this group of crazy smart, crazy passionate, and crazy generous people. Being an MVP is, was, and will always be a great source of pride in my career.

***

And dear yoga pants, I will miss spending most of my time with you. We’ll still be together, just not as often.

 

SQLSaturday Denver 2015 September 25, 2015

Filed under: SQLSaturday — hopefoley @ 1:50 pm
Tags: , , ,

On the flight home now from the SQLSaturday in Denver. I was excited for this one! I had never been to Denver before, through it but never to it. That and there’s some wonderful #SQLFamily out there. I lucked out though, I had this SQLSaturday on my radar but didn’t know for sure when the cutoff for submissions was to end. I just happened to catch it and submit on the final day of submissions. Not sure if there were any tweet reminders for that but I didn’t catch any.  Anyway I got accepted to speak and do the new tabular session (yay more practice for Summit!).

***

I am not a hardcore road warrior like some, but I travel a decent bit. I don’t know if I have ever got a direct flight anywhere. I found one to Denver from Indy and was a good deal but it was with Frontier.  Flight was at 6:00am but for direct I was willing to sacrifice. I have never flown on Frontier before and holy cow! They charge $30 for carry on luggage! Other various odd weird charges too.  Just a little warning if you haven’t flown with them, check the crazy fees first.  So I get to Denver very early and catch up with my co-worker Meagan Longoria (Twitter | blog) who was speaking too. Working for a remote company, it’s a nice treat to be able to work with folks in person for a change.

Speaker dinner! Thanks again Carlos and Quanta Intelligence

Speaker dinner! Thanks again Carlos and Quanta Intelligence

After work we head to the speaker dinner at Citron Bistro. The restaurant was nice and was graciously sponsored by Carlos Bossy (Twitter | blog) from Quanta Intelligence.  The food was PHENOMENAL! It moved in to my top spot of speaker dinners. They had sit down menu with great choices and I went with lamb shanks. Holy moly! So good! Well done there organizers! Thank you Carlos! Very much appreciated that meal! And to top that off we got possibly my favorite speaker jacket ever as well.

Not one to post pics of food much (beer yes - food not as much). After one bite I got out my phone!

Not one to post pics of food much (beer yes – food not as much). After one bite I got out my phone!

My session on Saturday was in the next to last slot so I had intended to sleep in having such an early flight. So of course my eyes pop open at 5:15AM. Not having any excuses I get a workout in and some review on my slides/demos. Then head to the venue. It was an interesting site. I thought we were lost when we pulled into the parking lot. It was in a typical strip mall. After going inside was able to see it was very much a conference space and pretty nice. It was a bit tight in the through ways but worked out well. There wasn’t a speaker room but we found some space to congregate and worked it out.

***

Wish I could have attended more of the morning sessions but I’m always distracted by my own prep. I did sit in on some of Mike Fal’s (Twitter | blog) session as it was in my room prior to mine. He’s got a great speaking style and a definite enthusiasm for PowerShell.

***

So I get setup and start my session. I had a terrible issue with the projector. It would flash from time to time during my session. It also caused my slides to sometimes become about 3 inches wide. I have had issues with projectors in the past but this was a new one for me. Other than that it went well and demos worked for the most part. I only got 3 (of 17 attendees) to turn in feedback sheets which was a bit of a bummer but that’s the breaks.

David Klee scaring the bejeezus out of DBAs on VMs.

David Klee scaring the bejeezus out of DBAs on VMs.

After my session I sit in on David Klee’s (Twitter | blog) session. Man oh man it was a fantastic session! If you ever have a chance to see him speak, DO IT! His knowledge on virtualization is astounding. Coming from the SQL side of things, so much I never knew from the virtualization side. Really glad to see that session and learned so much! And he’s great speaker and just about the most likeable guy ever. Great job David!

Prize raffle at end of day

Prize raffle at end of day

After that wrapped up the day with a lot of great prizes. Then they had a little after party in the same venue which was different but nice. They had drinks and appetizers. After that we went to a place called Tavern Lowry which was good.  We were able to get a large table in an area on the patio on a gorgeous night. The poor waitress that had to deal with all of us!  Restaurant had a nice beer selection. By the way Denver, I think Titan IPA was my favorite that I tried while out there.

There's a whole lot of trouble (the after party).

There’s a whole lot of trouble (the after party).

After that we went to “Family Karaoke”. I was a little nervous when we pulled up as it had all blacked out windows and didn’t look, well like a place that should have “family” in the name. Going in, it was fine. It was a Korean karaoke place that had private rooms. We got one of the larger rooms. It was like few years ago in Indy, they have all these super odd Korean videos that play while you sing. Hilariously bizarre! And I even kinda/sorta sang, well just the chorus while Keith Tate (Twitter | blog) did Tupac on “Changes”.

Poor Tim

Poor Tim

Looking for songs not in Korean

Looking for songs not in Korean

Karaoke and snuggles

Karaoke and snuggles

Thanks so much organizers for having me out and doing a really great job on your event! I had a great time seeing old friends and making new ones. I hope I can work it out to come back some time!

 

Finally Made It To SQLSaturday Louisville! September 8, 2015

Filed under: SQLSaturday — hopefoley @ 12:28 pm
Tags: , , ,

Home now from SQLSaturday Louisville and wanted to get a blog post going while those SQLfamily good vibes are still fresh. It’s kind of a sad fact but this is the first time I have ever been to a SQLSaturday in Louisville. Being that I only live 2 hours away, it’s a bit tragic! It seemed like every year I had a commitment or it was held on my kids birthdays. Poor Mala (Twitter | blog) was probably thinking I would never make it but low and behold, it worked out this year!

They gave us personalized weapons!

They gave us personalized weapons!

So I head down around lunch on Friday to get to the speaker dinner. The ride down was fine except I still swear the Google navigation lady hates me. She took me through the boonies to get to 65 for some reason.  After finally getting there via the scenic route, I hadn’t given this session for a bit so spent some time telling the hotel walls about spatial data. After that I head over to the speaker dinner with David (Twitter|blog) and Wendy (Twitter|blog). The speaker dinner was at Boombozz pizza. The food was excellent! The room was a bit small but it worked out fine. They gave us these too (pic above) for speaker gifts! Love when can incorporate some hometown flair into speaker gifts. Wish Indy had more than race cars to work with on that note.

They really know how to take care of the speakers in Louisville!

They really know how to take care of the speakers in Louisville!

The day of the event I had hoped to sleep in but eyes bolt open at 6:00am (I’m old). Head over early and get situated at the event. The venue was walking distance from the hotels which was very nice (jealous of that). It was held at an Indiana Wesleyan as well (Indy was too). It was a nice facility and the layout was good. I normally can’t concentrate in sessions prior to mine so I just prepped and chatted it up the morning. My session was right after lunch which is nice for the extra setup time. Lunch by the way was excellent! They had barbecue that was really good. I heard there was a bit of a line but I snuck in early with the sponsors so I only heard of the lines.

***

My session went pretty well. I had a good bit of time to chat before the session started so got to yuck it up with some of the folks. I don’t know if anyone could tell but I felt the nerves a bit in the beginning. I realized while down there I hadn’t done a SQLSaturday since Cleveland! In February! Kind of shocking! The nerves worked their way out after I got going so that was good.

***

After my presentation I stayed in the same room to catch Rob Verell’s (Twitter) session on replication. I hadn’t seen him speak yet and knowing how funny he is, had to go see one of his sessions. Very much enjoyed it! I always enjoy sessions that have humor with tech content. You have to be careful to balance it though and he did that.

Replication session full of cowbell from Rob Verell

Replication session full of cowbell from Rob Verell

Next up I went to see Daniel Glenn’s (Twitter|blog) session on SharePoint. He had jokingly pouted that he wouldn’t have much of a crowd because of the topic. SharePoint and DBAs do not exactly have lovey dovey vibes. So I agreed to go to his session, even though I planned to anyway as I hadn’t seen him speak either. He is an excellent speaker and did a great job. Was nice to see some of the stuff that drives DBAs nuts (like GUIDs in db names) can be avoided if the SharePoint person knows what they are doing.

Daniel Glenn trying to bring the DBAs and SharePoints of the world together.

Daniel Glenn trying to bring the DBAs and SharePoints of the world together.

Then it was prize raffle time. Louisville had a tweet wall in the location where the raffle was held. This was a big hit and all the speakers took advantage of being goofy on Twitter and the wall during the raffle.  They also had someone speak who teaches tech to high school students.  I have always thought it would be great to expose high school students to data careers via SQLSaturdays but I haven’t had any luck making any contacts in my area yet.

Energetic tech high school teacher talking to the masses at end of day.

Energetic tech high school teacher talking to the masses at end of day.

After the raffle folks congregate to head out to dinner at the hotel out on the patio.  David Maxwell always has a guitar and plays for us while we relax a bit.

SQL chill session

SQL chill session

After that John Morehouse (Twitter|blog) leads us to potentially my favorite place for an afterparty, Ann Marie’s Bacon Bar.  I mean there may not have ever been a place that contained all the components SQLfamily enjoy: local non-chain place, bacon, great food, nice beer selection AND karaoke!  All these things in ONE PLACE!  We all had a blast!

"Friends in Low Places" going on right here.

“Friends in Low Places” going on right here.

Had a really great time in Louisville!  Thanks volunteers…you all really knocked it out of the park!  Really a top notch event and glad the planets finally aligned for me to come down.  Thanks so much for having me down to speak!  Definitely one I will add to the “must do” list!

Good times!

Good times!

Meagan has some real singing chops!

Meagan has some real singing chops!

Some of the SQL ladies having a good time at karaoke.

Some of the SQL ladies having a good time at karaoke.

 

SQLSaturday Indianapolis 2015 – Another Great Year! August 28, 2015

Filed under: SQLSaturday — hopefoley @ 2:47 pm
Tags: , , ,

Well I have survived another round being the lead organizer of SQLSaturday Indy. And now that I’ve had a bit of time to decompress, wanted to get a post out to detail some of my lessons learned. I always can use some good karma so hopefully will help some brave/crazy organizer soul down the line.

***

So the first lesson I learned this year is that Karla still rocks! And she deserves kudos/prizes/cash for putting up with all us organizers for ALL the SQLSaturdays held round the world. She is the PASS representation/liaison for us to PASS and it’s team of resources. They had an update to the backend system that organizers use back in May. There were some challenges from that but she always is so fast in getting us the help we need. Thank you Karla!

Some intense Jenga going on at the speaker dinner.

Some intense Jenga going on at the speaker dinner.

The second lesson is to test/workout the process to lookup a SpeedPASS to print prior to the morning of your event. I was a good girl and did as I was told to download all the SpeedPASSes the night before to a USB. I copied to 2 USBs just in case. You can never count on wifi and I had trouble with it on the laptop I was using to print SpeedPASSes.  I had to use my hotspot from my phone. Even though I was good and downloaded the SpeedPASSes, the names of the files do not contain the registered person’s name and they are pdfs. So the process I did to look them up was as follows:
1. I had to look up the person on the SQLSat admin site.
2. This then brought up the link to get to the pdf speedpass. I then right clicked and copied the link name.
3. Pasted the copied link into Notepad. This then would give you the guid-ish file name.
4. Copied the filename portion of the link.
5. Then pasted the filename into the search of the files on the USB to find the pdf for that person.

There may be a better way to do this…kind of hope so! Please let me know if there’s a better way.

***

Another thing I learned was that I need to have a plan for leftover food. I’m not sure what others do but I always feel I need to order the amount that folks paid for knowing it will be too much from dropoff.  I didn’t have a plan for it and was just forcing it on volunteers to take home but maybe we can find a group that can put some good use to it.

Team Foley at SQLSaturday Indy - LOVE YOU GUYS!

Team Foley at SQLSaturday Indy – LOVE YOU GUYS!

Next year I need to make sure to have some folks on the ready to clear/sweep the rooms after the final session is over. If you can imagine, speakers can get chatty at the end of the day *shock gasp*. I want to make sure everyone has chance at end of the day for the prizes so we try to wait till they’re all done. Also along those lines I also need to make sure to have someone ready to assist with prizes. Time REALLY stands still when you are trying to open raffle boxes with 200 people staring at you.

***

Another regret from this year is that we forgot to grab the camera when heading out very early in the morning to get to the venue.  I had it on a checklist but those only help when you look at them.  DOH! If anyone has any pictures would love to get them from you.

Wendy Pastrick doing some karaoke at the after after party.

Wendy Pastrick doing some karaoke at the after after party.

I want to thank again all my speakers who came to Indy! I hope we took good care of my sql peeps. They take away my Hoosier card if I don’t display that “Hoosier hospitality”. I want to thank my volunteers! You know who you are and you rock big time! I want to thank from the bottom of my heart, my family! You all got roped into this craziness that is SQLSaturday/SQLfamily and it’s all my fault! I am eternally grateful to you for all your help, support, and love! I get teary eyed thinking about how this event has become a family one. I hope the view you get into this event shows some of the goodness that drives my passion that takes me away from time to time.

 

Datazen – Connecting Drill Through to Navigation Apps July 27, 2015

Filed under: DataZen — hopefoley @ 12:29 pm
Tags: , , ,

I just accomplished something very cool in Datazen and I couldn’t wait to share with everyone! I was working on a POC for a client with Datazen. We were doing some review and the client had an interesting request. We were going to add a drill through to information that would contain an address. The client said “If this could be a link that a phone’s navigation would recognize that would be slick”. I thought to myself “oh that would be very cool” and got a little nerd giddy at the thought of trying to do that.

 ***

After doing a little searching I found that you can link to a map using the format: http://maps.google.com/?q=term. The “term” portion is where you would update it with your search. So in my case I can put the address. It has flexibility as well so you can do something like this if you would want: http://maps.google.com/?q=statue of liberty.  When you use that link it brings up the map below.

Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty

Back in Datazen I created a Simple DataGrid that contained the fields I wanted to display including address. I then read the documentation on the Datazen website documentation for custom url drill throughs (http://www.datazen.com/docs/?article=server/drill_throughs_to_other_dashboards_or_custom_urls). The example made me think I had to have a selection be passed to the url. I didn’t want to do that, I just wanted it to pass a field I had displayed in my DataGrid.  However when I started playing with it, it showed my fields contained in the DataGrid as well! Sweet!  So I created a drill through for my DataGrid. In the expression window I put “http://maps.google.com/?q=” then selected the field (SimpleDataGrid3.Address).

***

When testing this drill through on my iPhone it didn’t work (insert sad trombone music).  It would kick me out of DataZen app and go to my home screen but nothing more. It was like it was trying to do something but wasn’t working. I did some more research and found this link (https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/ios/urlscheme). It refers to the url scheme to launch navigation from apps. So with information from that article I changed the beginning of my link to comgooglemapsurl://maps.google.com/?q=. I test again and it works!

The custom url drill through

The custom url drill through

When I clicked the drill through it would open Apple Maps with that address displayed. Cool egh?! It also then reminded me that I hadn’t changed my default to Google maps which is now resolved as well.

 

Datazen Custom Map Craziness June 15, 2015

Filed under: DataZen — hopefoley @ 12:09 pm
Tags: ,

I often struggle coming up with ideas for blog posts. Thank you Datazen again for another idea!  After encountering the issue I posted earlier (link to post) when working with maps, I was very anxious to try to create a custom map.  I started working on one with my brewery data.  I ran into several bumps in the process so wanted to share with everyone.

 ***

I had collected several shapefiles through the years playing with spatial data.  I began trying a few of them in Datazen but had a hard time finding any that worked. When I would select them, they would just hang and sit there. Some were very large so I suspected there was a size limit though there wasn’t anything in the documentation. In my testing I couldn’t get anything over 1MB to work. Later Chris Finlan said that the actual limit is 512 KB! Rather limiting but there is a potential workaround by using mapshaper.org to minimize the size. Depending on what type of shapefile you are using it can distort your polygons potentially too much so that workaround only goes so far.

Tweet from Chris Finlan on shapefile size.

Tweet from Chris Finlan on shapefile size.

After getting the size issue nailed down, I continued on with my mission of getting my custom map working. Normally when you use shapefiles they contain a few files. Datazen uses the shp file and dbf file. The shp file contains the polygon information and details to draw the map. The dbf file contains the attributes about those shapes or the data you’ll need to tie to your own data. Below is a screenshot of my dbf file using DBF Viewer 2000 software (free trial then about $50 to purchase after 30 days at http://www.dbf2002.com/).

The original dbf file

The original dbf file

You can see it has a key field (ogr_fid) then zcta5ce10 which is actually field that contains zip code. The zcta5ce10 field is the key I needed to use to tie with my own data containing zip codes. When you use Datazen you can’t select the proper key, and as it turns out it must have the key as the first column in the dbf file! Crazy right?! Using the DBF Viewer 2000 software, I had move the column to be the first in the dbf file.

Updated dbf file to move key column to be first.

Updated dbf file to move key column to be first.

After a bit of head shaking I move on and at this point I was excited to see my custom map working! But wait, why is my data point not where I expect it to be? I was mapping zip codes of breweries in Indiana that have been rated on BeerAdvocate. There is unfortunately only one (though I’d argue that should be more) and it’s Three Floyds which is up near Chicago but the Datazen map wasn’t accurately showing it (see below).

The report displaying the location incorrectly.

The report displaying the location incorrectly.

I opened up the shapefiles in other programs (QGIS/Google Earth) and it was showing correctly both before and after minimization process. After talking with Datazen support it, they sent this info:

 ***

“While I can’t say for certain where things went wrong, I suspect it was due to improper minifying – something got misaligned between the SHP and the DBF and QGIS and Google Earth all read the SHX file to properly map the shapes to the database. Datazen does not do that. We assume a 1-to-1 relation between shape and data: the Nth shape corresponds to the Nth entry in the DBF.”

 ***

I had inadvertently changed the order of the data in the dbf file when I had to edit the order of the columns. Since other programs I use to view shapefiles also use the shx file, there wasn’t an issue with them correctly mapping the shape to the attribute even after accidentally changing the order. A shx file is basically a linking/index file between the shp and dbf files. Be very careful when editing the order of your columns in the dbf file. One accidental click on a column and it can ruin the dbf/shp file from working properly. If they don’t line up, your report can be reporting your data in random polygons! I’m glad I had a very simple dataset and that I knew where Three Floyds was supposed to be located as I may have very easily missed that. Make sure you do some validation on your reports to be safe.

 ***

I’m very interested to see what Microsoft does with Datazen now. I’m intrigued to see what/when any updates to it occur. I’m also interested in others experiences with custom maps in Datazen. Please share in the comments any issues/experiences you encountered.

 

 
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