Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Fun At Work…

June 5th, 2017 No comments

After having worked for software companies for over 25 years, I’ve seen it all.  In that time I’ve also come across some hilariously funny videos that allow us to take a few minutes away from the pressures of our day and laugh at ourselves and the situations we often encounter.  Here are my top 5:

1. The Expert

I’ll start with my all time favorite.  As a solution engineer we are often brought in to “be the expert”.  We are the one person who can help the customer see how we can help solve their current challenges and the sales team is relying on us… but every once in a while, the conversation can get a little awkward like it did for this expert:

2. A Conference Call in Real Life

Everyone’s experienced the joys of a conference call.  This parody taps into every annoyance that we all experience, many of us every day.  This sketch was developed by the comedy team Tripp & Tyler and highlights a number of hilarious ways in which traditional conference calls can let us down:

More laughter-inducing sketches from the “in Real Life” series are available here.

3.  My Blackberry Is Not Working

If you are in any type of technology career, you probably have parents or family members who come to you for help in sorting out their computer issues.  Here is a bit by the classic BBC legendsRonnie Corbett and Harry Enfield.  Ronnie visits the local grocer for help with his Blackberry.  This hilarious sketch does a great job of highlighting all the ordinary words that have taken on new meaning in our modern world.  See how many you can count:

4. Stuff Business People Say

Business jargon is everywhere.  Here is another Tripp & Tyler video which contains an entertaining look at common phrases that we hear in the office everyday… so here’s the 30,000 ft view; this value-added video may leave you in stitches and don’t forget to loop in your friends:

5.  It’s Not About The Nail

Okay… so my last video is not strictly a work video, but I wanted to include it because so much of life and work is about relationships and communication and this video hits the nail on the head.  Just watch (and “listen”), and you’ll know what I mean:


Sometimes it’s just good to take a break, sit back and have a good laugh… and we certainly like to do that at SAP.  Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”   I agree.  Don’t keep your favorite funny videos to yourself.  Share them with your friends because laughter releases ‘feel good’ hormones that promote social bonding… and besides…  life’s too short to be stressed.

Bert & John Jacobs, co-founders of Life is Good, have figured that out.  If you’d like a video that provides some real inspiration, listen to what these two had to say at Sapphire this year.

Feel free to submit your suggestions for your favorite videos in the comments below.

Have a great week!

«Good BI»

Categories: Miscellaneous Tags:

How to Get Your Picture to Appear in Google Search Results

March 11th, 2013 2 comments

One of the things I love about the BusinessObjects Analytics community is the camaraderie and fun we enjoy as we help organizations improve through the use of Analytics.  Whenever I need an answer, I can quickly google search and between BOB, SCN, and my tweeps I can often find what I’m looking for.  During a recent search I came across this!

How cool was that?  Not only was this a post from a fellow BOBJ blogger, but there was his picture next to it!  Forget Mick Jagger, I want to be cool like Dallas!

Of course it’s also true that case studies have shown signs that these enhanced results dramatically improving click-through-rates of up to +150%, which in return can result in an influx of both visitors and page views.  You don’t have to be an analytics genius to understand the value of 150% more traffic!

There are four easy steps for setting up your blog so that your picture appears next to the Google results.


Step 1 – Create a Google+ Profile

I really didn’t want to do this.  I already have a Gravatar.  Isn’t that enough?  Nope.  (I tested it.)  You must use Google+.

  1. Add a photo to your Google+ Profile
  2. Modify your profile and add Contributor To and reference your own blog.

Step 2 – Add Authorship Markup Code

The next step is in the header of your page, you need to include the authorship markup code.  NOTE:  I was also able to get this working by placing is in the body of my page.

Insert the following link into the head section of your websites code:

<a rel="author" href=""/>

Replace the red number with your Google+ profile ID.  Google uses this number in combination with the Contributor To information listed in Step 1 to determine a positive match.

Some WordPress bloggers have also used the Yoast SEO plugin to quickly go in and modify their “Titles and Metas”.  It has a section where you can specify the Author metadata.

If you are interested in more details about setting this up I found this post particularly helpful:

Step 3 – Test A Few Blog Pages

Now you will want to test that it’s working and fortunately Google gives us a way to do that.  Use the rich snippet testing tool. After you type in any blog post URL,  Google will tell you if the authorship markup code is working. If it’s working, you’ll see something like this:

Step 4 – Check Your Blog Using Google Search

Patience is a virtue that carries a lot of wait.

From time to time go in and perform a Google search that will return results from your blog.  Your picture should show up within a few weeks.

«Good BI»

Categories: Help!, Miscellaneous Tags:

Dealing with Small Numbers in Explorer

January 2nd, 2013 1 comment

Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time with Explorer and I’ve made a few interesting discoveries that I wanted to pass along.

I’m not sure why some of my BI colleagues haven’t been giving Explorer any love (see the DSLayer Explorer Gets No Love podcast), but I think it’s a phenomenal product… but with any product there are always little quirks to deal with.  Some people call them bugs… I call them quirks.  🙂

Truncation Frustration

I spent a good part of a day experiencing truncation frustration.

I was trying to determine how to display a capacitance value within Explorer.  Capacitance as you may know can be a extremely large or an extremely small number.  It took me multiple attempts to figure out how to get it to work but I finally cracked it!

What Didn’t Work

Capacitance was stored in the database as a float, which worked great when I used it as a measure — but when I displayed it as a facet value, suddenly Explorer began to get it wrong.  Here are both the facet and the measure for capacitance displayed side by side.  It seemed only able to display up to three decimal places.

See truncated values on the left and the correct measure value on the right.

Here is how I initially had the capacitance defined as a float.

Normally the first thing to do with numbers is leverage the format value within the semantic layer and I tried everything but somehow, if the capacitance was stored as a number, Explorer would consistently drop the significant values to the right of the decimal place.  Here is how I defined the custom format for the capacitance.  I tried both # and 0’s but neither worked.

The IDT appears to show the number correctly when I preview it…

… and yet it still appeared incorrectly within Explorer.  What was going on?  At this point it’s pretty clear that this bug quirk should be fixed, but I needed to get it working asap.  I needed a work around.

I know I was going to have to convert the capacitance to a string.  The added benefit of this was that now capacitance would also be full searchable as a string.

I tried multiple formulas to try and do the conversion to a string.

None of these worked successfully:

  • cast (Capacitors.Capacitance as varchar(18)) returns scientific notation – Yuck.
  • Str (Capacitors.Capacitance,10,8)
  • charindex([^0],reverse(Str (Capacitors.Capacitance,10,8)))

What Did Work

The problem now was that regardless of how many decimals of precision the capacitance had, there were always 8 trailing zeros and I desperately wanted to get rid of these, so finally I found the magic formula:

CASE WHEN PATINDEX(‘%[1-9]%’, REVERSE(Str (Capacitors.Capacitance,10,8))) < PATINDEX(‘%.%’, REVERSE(Str (Capacitors.Capacitance,10,8))) THEN LEFT(Str (Capacitors.Capacitance,10,8), LEN(Str (Capacitors.Capacitance,10,8)) – PATINDEX(‘%[1-9]%’, REVERSE(Str (Capacitors.Capacitance,10,8))) + 1) ELSE LEFT(Str (Capacitors.Capacitance,10,8), LEN(Str (Capacitors.Capacitance,10,8)) – PATINDEX(‘%.%’, REVERSE(Str (Capacitors.Capacitance,10,8)))) END

Special Thanks to SwePeso

After beating my head against a wall, the sense of achievement and satisfaction were extremely rewarding and reminded me of why I love my job so much.  I got what I wanted.

It was great.  The user can search for 0027 capacitance and will get the appropriate match (more on that next week).  Also, you can also observe that all the capacitance values show up in the correct sort order, which means when I display capacitance is order from smallest to largest they are sorted in the correct order.

Capacitance Graph displays properly


As Explorer continues to mature, it’s my hope that more and more of these quirks will be addressed by the product team and more of the product will work as expected — becoming a fully fledged, first-class citizen of the semantic layer.

I’d also would like to see hyperlink support within Explorer.  I think this is long overdue.  Please help me vote YES, thumbs up for this feature >>

«Good BI»


Visual Intelligence Goes Predictive….

December 13th, 2012 5 comments

It was only a few short months ago when Visual Intelligence was released.  We were promised a rapid development and release cycle, but I never expected this many changes is such a sort time.

Here is a quick summary:

  • 1.0.1 – Visual data analysis and data discovery for the Desktop
  • 1.0.2 – Freehand SQL, Publish to Streamwork, Proxy support.
  • 1.0.3 – Universe  4.x
  • 1.0.4 – Basic Predictive, Export to Explorer (with Explorer 14.0.4), Geocoding Lat/Long
  • 1.0.5 & 1.0.6 – Bug fixes
  • 1.0.7 – Universe 3.x, 32-bit release, cell limit increase to 30M

Now both Visual intelligence and SAP’s newest Predictive Analysis are coming together and are available today in a single release.

Where To Find the New Release

The new, combined release is branded as Predictive Analysis 1.0.7.  It uses the same code base as Visual Intelligence, so any of your saved Visual Intelligence documents will open and work just fine with Predictive Analysis 1.0.7.

You can find the release under: Software Downloads > SAP Software Download Center > Support Packages and Patches > A-Z > P > SBOP Predictive Analysis Service > SAP predictive Analysis 1.0 > Entry by Component > Predictive Analysis 64-bit > Windows on x64 64bit.  The file size is 238885 kb and was released on 11/19/2012.

Download PA on Service Marketplace

If you want to install it, there are a couple of tricks to getting it to install correctly, so you’ll want to follow my instructions below.

Installing Predictive Analysis 1.0.7

The download and initial installation is very straightforward – but before long I needed installation help, which was the motivation for this blog post.

First you must uninstall the following old products:

  1. SAP Predictive Analysis
  2. Visual Intelligence
  3. R (any version)

If you don’t you’ll receive a message at installation time that says, “incompatible products installed.’

I also recommend when you install the product to use “Run As Administrator” just to make sure there aren’t initial issues.

It will complete without asking any questions and like Visual Intelligence will allow you to use it for 30 days without a keycode.

Predictive Analysis is ready to go.

Using Predictive Analysis with R

The great news with SAP Predictive Analysis is that the software distribution now includes a menu option which will use web services to connect to the R distribution library and automatically download and install R for you.  The current release supported here is R 2.15.1.

The one challenge is that the installation of R will cause an error because the R distribution has changed since SAP Predictive Analysis was released and there is an error in the install script which will cause the installation script to fail.

The problem is explained in this SAP NOTE:

You can avoid the error and everything will work fine if you fix the R install script prior to attempting to install it.

64-bit Fix

  1. Simply download the updated inputpackages64.txt file here (Right Click – Save As): 
  2. Replace the existing inputpackages64.txt in the $ with this one.  (Default installation directory is:  C:Program Files (x86)SAP Predictive Analysis)
  3. Continue with the R Installation instructions.

 32-bit Fix

  1.  Simply download the updated inputpackages32.txt file here (Right Click – Save As): 
  2. Replace the existing inputpackages32.txt in the $ with this one.  (Default installation directory is:  C:Program FilesSAP Predictive Analysis)
  3. Continue with the R Installation instructions.
NOTE:  Although SAP software is often downloaded as a .EXE, you can always
manually unpack the .EXE file by using a utility like WinRAR.  Here is
a previous post about the topic:

Installation Help – Installing R Step by Step

From the File menu choose Install and Configure R.

Install and Configure R

This will make sure that the correct version of R is downloaded and configured with SAP Predictive Analysis.  It will download R-2.15.1

R Installation Screen

You will see the download process begin.  The R download package is almost 50 MB.

Downloading Progress...

R will begin to install after the download.

Extracting files and installing R

Next it will download individual additional libraries which are needed.

Downloading supplemental libraries

If you updated the installation file, R and all the required packages should install correctly.

The final step to complete the installation is go into the Configure tab and set the configuration to point to your R library.  The default directory should be correct.

Final Step - Tell Predictive Analytics Where R is Located

Fixing Your R Installation Manually

If you were not able to modify the installation file, you can also complete the installation of R manually.  Here is the message you are likely to see if you did not update the installation program.

ERROR:  R installation not successful.  Detail: R-2-15.1 is installed successfully. But failed to install the required R packages.  Ensure that you are connected to the internet and you have Administrator rights to install software on the computer.

Common Error When Installing R

The Good News is that the core R software has installed correctly.  The only part that failed was the downloading of all the add-on libraries that Predictive Analysis needs for all the build-in predictive functions.  We will need to install the following libraries one by one.

  • arules
  • XML
  • caret
  • DBI
  • monmlp
  • PMML
  • rJava
  • reshape
  • Plyr
  • Foreach
  • Iterators

You can manually download them one-by-one from the R website:

Or you can download all the required files from my blog and unzip them:

  1. Open the RGui Console (Start > Programs > R > Rx64 2.15.1)

    Installing Packages Manually

  2. Choose Packages > Install Package(s) from local zip files
  3. Select the zip files one by one and install them, you may ignore any warnings.  After the package installs successfully you will get the following message:  Package packagename successfully unpacked and MD5 sums checked.
  4. If you want to test that a library is installed, go to the R Console command prompt and type:  library(rJava).  Press Enter.  It is successfully installed if you don’t see any errors.
  5. You can also check in your R library folder, which is located here:  [R_INSTALLATION_FOLDER]library.  This is typically C:UsersPublicR-2.15.1library for Windows 7 users.

Additional Troubleshooting Help

If you need additional help, check out the following excellent resources:

PA 1.0.7 Troubleshooting Guide

Install Guide for PA 1.0

Let me know if you’ve got any additional installation or configuration issues and solutions in the comments below.

Hopefully I can save your a few hours of troubleshooting.


Visual Intelligence and Predictive Analysis will continue to be licensed separately.  If you only need data visualization, then you will only need to purchase a license for Visual Intelligence.  If you want to add Predictive, then you need to purchase a license to enable that functionality.

License Key Screen in Predictive Analysis

Here in the Help > Enter License Key, you can see that both Visual Intelligence and Predictive Analysis license keys are recognized.

«Good BI»


U-verse and Ooma – What I’ve been waiting for…

June 7th, 2012 2 comments

I know that most of you come to my blog to read about Business Intelligence, but I just had to share the fantastic experience that I just had signing up for new TV, Internet and telephone service.


For the last 12 months I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about my Internet costs.  I was spending way too much but I just couldn’t find the right replacement package.  I kept running the numbers and it seemed seem that I would be able to save all the much more money.

Before the switch I was paying for:

Dish Network:

  • Theater Room:  Dish Network HD DVR (with two tuners)
  • Bedroom:  Dish Network DVR
  • Spare Bedroom:  Standard Receiver
  • Play Room:  Standard Receiver
  • Total:  $143.58 (but I won’t count the extra $15 for Fox Soccer Plus)


  • Standard Phone Line
  • DSL Internet  (3 Mbps)
  • Total:  $89.00

  • Long Distance (we call England regularly)
  • Total:  About $20 month

That means all together I was paying about $252.58 per month!  Crazy right?

My Experience with Dish Network

First I have to say that there was a lot I liked about Dish Network.

I really liked the quality of service, the choice of both Fox Soccer and Fox Soccer Plus and especially the DVR’s ability to quickly jump through the commercials.  The control you have over the TV watching experience is great.  FF jumps 30 seconds forward and REW jumps 10 seconds back.  Instantly!!  I haven’t found anyone else to do that. (U-verse is pretty slow in comparison.)

My favorite feature, which no other provider can match is the ability to do slow motion.  We watch a lot of soccer and in many situations there isn’t time for the broadcaster to provide sufficient replays or slow motion.  No problem.  With Dish Network you can go as slow as a DVD at 1/16 speed or as fast as 300x speed.  It’s great and the remote is super easy to use.

The few things that frustrated me about Dish Network were pretty standard complaints.  I was loosing the signal when it rained really hard or if there was severe bad weather.  About once every 18-24 months, the dish on the roof would come loose and the signal quality would degrade to the point of needing someone to come out and adjust it.

I liked Dish so much I was with them 8 years, but  I had seen my bill grow little by little.  I believe at the start it was about $80/month to $143.  Something had to change.

Discovering Ooma

I did a little research on Consumer Reports and discovered that they recommended Ooma if you were interested in VoIP.  I had always been intrigued by VoIP technology and “free phone calls” but the huge growth in services like Vonage and the subsequent poor call quality, I wanted to make sure it was right.

After a lot of research, I was convinced that Ooma could provide me exactly what I wanted:  Unlimited free long distance and a great international plan.  I also needed to be able to keep my number.  I mean, after having the same home phone number for 20 years, who wants to get a  new one?

I had seen Ooma devices at my local Costco, but I wondered if I could get the unit somewhere cheaper.  The hardware was $199.99 on sale.  (Good news is that the prices keep coming down.)

Selecting a Bundle Provider

For me, this decision was pretty simple.  Since I knew I wanted to use Ooma for phone service. Charter Communications is the only cable operator in my area and they have a very poor reputation.  Consumer Reports recommended U-verse or Fios, but only U-verse serviced my area, so what could I get?

I was pleasantly surprised.

Although I was already using BellSouth for telephone and Internet, AT&T treated me like a new customer, so I was able to get an amazing bundle deal, which – even after the introductory rate will be very reasonable.  I didn’t cancel my phone initially because I needed to make sure that I would be able to port it over to Ooma once I got that sorted out.

Best of all I was able to visit my friendly neighborhood AT&T store which made shopping and selecting my service options that much easier.  Nice job AT&T.

U-Verse Installation

The U-Verse installation was pretty straight-forward.  I had an amazing engineer, Alex, who come out to my house and surveyed the situation.  Originally he wanted to run a CAT-5 wire around my house, but I was very much against that idea.  After talking about it for about 30-45 minutes Alex agreed to try and use the existing CAT-3 phone wiring I had in my house.  Although it wasn’t “officially” supported, he was willing check the phone outlets and if necessary adjust the wiring so that there was a direct, uninterrupted connect from the U-verse box to the phone jack in my office.

It was amazing.  Fortunately my house was wired such that no “rewiring” had to be done.  It just worked the first time.  Once the Internet was up, Alex installed the three TVs. When I told the engineer I was planning on installing Ooma, a VoIP solution, we also went ahead and preconfigured my phone jack in the office for two plugs one for the inbound Internet from the AT&T U-verse router and the other for the outbound dial-tone that Ooma would send through the phone line to all my phones.  Brilliant!

Because I previously had Dish, it took Alex a little longer than expected to finish wiring all the TVs, but after about 5 hours, the job was done.

It was interesting to see the difference between Dish Network engineers (contractors who don’t work for Dish but do all the local service) and the U-verse engineers.  Although I never had a “bad” Dish engineer, the AT&T engineer provided a consistently superior customer experience.

Ooma Purchase

As I mentioned I was looking for a cheaper alternative to Ooma, so I went to eBay.  It’s getting harder and harder to find good deals on eBay with so many items with high reserves or Buy Now prices.  With that said, I set up a search and monitored Ooma Telo devices that were selling.  I found that many were going for near their retail price, but eventually I found the one I wanted.  I found a used Ooma Telo which was being sold used and would require $60 for reactivation according to the listing.

My final purchase price was $71 + $11.70 shipping.  The activation ended up being $79.99, which means I was able to get the necessary hardware and activation for only:  $162.69 (vs. $214 for a new one with tax).

Ooma Installation

You can’t get much simpler.

I unpackaged my Ooma device, plugged it into the Internet and then followed the online instructions.  At first, the Ooma service didn’t understand my product’s activation code, but that was only because it was a used device.  After paying the $79.99 activation fee, I was good to go.

During the installation I selected a “new” phone number and hooked up a spare telephone.  I was able to make calls.

Now I had two phone numbers — my legacy home phone number from AT&T and my new Ooma number.

Ooma Phone Porting

As I said before I didn’t want to give up my old number, so I paid on additional $39.99 and filled out all the paperwork online.  Ooma even had me include a copy of a past bill to try and expedite the process.  Although they warned me that the process could take up to 4 weeks, I was amazed at how quickly they got it done.  5 days!

I knew my porting was underway because the website provides regular updates as to the process.  I knew it was almost done when for about 2 hours during one afternoon, when I picked up my phone, the line was dead.  I took the opportunity to plug my Ooma telephone signal into the plug the AT&T engineer had provided and presto, we were good to go.

During a brief two hour window I did have a few people try and call and they got the message, This number has been disconnected or is no longer is service, but that was a very minor inconvenience considering I was able to keep my home phone number from the last 15 years!

So How Much Am I $aving?

Great question!  I’m saving a bundle!

Here are my one-time charges (credits)

  • U-verse TV:  Free Installation
  • U-verse Internet: Free Installation
  • U-verse New Customer Credit: ($100.00)
  • Ooma Telo: $162.69
  • Ooma Number porting:  $39.99
  • Shipping back Dish Network Equipment:  $45  (this was Dish’s final insult)

Here is my total monthly charges:

  • U-verse U-300:  $108.00  ($73.00 first 6 months)
  • U-verse Internet Up to 12 Mbps:  $52.00  ($34 for first 6 months)
  • Ooma Basic Service: $3.47 + about $10 for international calls.

Not only am I saving money but a got a HUGE upgrade in services.  My Internet is now blazing, phone service has amazing perks and I haven’t had a single blip in service in the last five months.

That means that after 12 months I will have saved a total of: $1035.46 and in two years I’ll have saved $1804.78!  That’s enough to fly to England and see a football game live!

In case you’d like to know how much you can save feel free to use the $AVE A BUNDLE calculated I created used SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards!

[swf src=”” width=600 height=431]

To access this dashboard and associated source files, download them here:

The bottom line is ROI. What is your return on investment. As we talk with customers about HANA and the new opportunities it brings to the business, we always have to go back to ROI. Every investment needs a payback.

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