Mar 02 2012

BI2012 Wrap Up

Categories: 2012 BI 2012, Conferences Dave Rathbun @ 1:37 pm

This conference has been flying by, primarily because I’ve been so busy. Today is the last day of the conference and since I woke up early I went to Eric Vallo’s session on high availability. Eric is a very entertaining speaker who also happens to know his stuff. After that I visited with a few folks on the way back to my room where I will be packing to head home as soon as I finish this post.

Wednesday morning I went to Alan Mayer’s session on how to perform a self-service system health check. I had not seen him in quite a while and it’s always good to catch up. If you weren’t aware of this, I used to work with Alan back in the Integra days, and Alan has launched a new venture called Solid Ground Technologies. Alan has been a regular at BI events for even longer than I have, and he always delivers great sessions. This year was no different.

I then spent Wednesday afternoon with Michael Welter preparing for our joint training session; we delivered a 3 hour hands-on session on the semantic layer to end the day. If you can imagine in three hours we covered setting up a connection, inserting tables, creating joins, building classes and objects, differences between dimensions and details, derived tables, measures, solving loops with aliases, solving loops with contexts, and even fan and chasm traps. Yes, in three hours. Just like running a marathon. ;) We repeated the session on Thursday morning to start what was my busiest day so far.

Thursday after the repeat of the designer session I got to spend the next hour talking about one of my favorite topics: BOB. They scheduled a room for me and allowed me to talk about the origin of BOB, some best-practices or tips for using BOB (how to search, among other things) but as the conversation went along we also talked about some of the challenges of running a large and active online community. I also talked about some of the new features that I hope we will be able to release within a few months. The crowd was small, but it was still a lot of fun for me to be able to talk about our progress over the last ten years. I would have been willing to do the same talk to an audience of one.

After that I had a quick lunch (food here is decent, by the way, and no problems at all finding water throughout the day unlike at another event I attended earlier this year). I went back up to my room to test and then reset all of the demonstration queries for my afternoon session on tuning universes. I covered index awareness (which I have blogged about before), shortcut joins (also a prior topic from this blog), and finished off with aggregate awareness. I will be posting the presentation slides after I get home, and will be adding a blog post (or two) related to aggregate awareness to eliminate that gap. That session was a lot of fun, as it included a lively discussion with audience members as they peppered me with questions throughout the hour.

One interesting difference between this event and other events where I have presented is the timing: the sessions here are designed to be an hour of lecture followed by a 15 minute question and answer period. As I was preparing my presentations for this event it really helped me to know that I could include extra content; so many times I have had to cut out important or useful information just to fit inside a one hour (or even fifty minute) time window. As a presenter I found that to be a nice change, and in the few sessions that I was able to attend I didn’t mind that they ran a little bit longer.

Overall I enjoyed the event. I was told that there are about 1,800 folks that are attending (although some of those are cross-over registrations, meaning they registered for a different event other than BI2012 but their conference pass allows them to attend all of the sessions.) The hotel was nice, although it was a long walk to the event location, and the walk included a pass through the smoke-filled casino area. That wasn’t always pleasant, but it’s a part of doing business in Las Vegas.

Finally, an amusing (at least to me) story to end the week: while I am here I am also still trying to keep up with work back home. At one point I was getting extremely frustrated with the hotel Internet access. I had established my connection and started up VPN. I was trying to import a universe, make a few small changes, and then export it again. The problem was the import process kept timing out. I finally was able to get the universe imported and make the changes but was a little hesitant to try to export after the time-out failures from earlier. I didn’t want to risk having the export process interrupted (this is a fairly large universe).

Finally I decided to risk it, and I exported the universe.

The export completed successfully.

Which proves that what happens in Vegas does not, apparently, have to stay in Vegas.

:P