SAS User Groups: Inspiring Visit to SAS UK Professional Conference
Each conference I attend, I walk away with a dozen ideas for the blog posts, SAS programs, and future papers and presentations. The SAS UK Professional Forum was no different. Plus I learned how to really speak English from the British – you should be glad they got me “sorted” and now I’m in the right “bit”.
SAS BI Book was Key to BI Content Exam
The first day of the conference is dedicated to taking the SAS Certification exams. It was nice because SAS had created study groups several months earlier and used a team approach for taking the exam. So all the folks interested in the SAS BI exams were placed in a group and encouraged to study together.
On the day of the exam, the SAS team offered some last-minute tips and encouragement. Here’s a picture of the folks who took the SAS BI Content and Admin exams. These three fellows were some of the ones who made sure I knew that the Building Business Intelligence with SAS book was helpful. Thanks Chris Dillion (@CMDillon) for supplying the study group with the book.
Paul Dutton passed the exam in 12 minutes. He said his key was reading the book 5 times (and having a photographic memory I think!) James Taylor, David Moors[not pictured] (@moorsd) and Younes (@younes1971) confirmed it helped! Terry Barham, who manages the SAS Global Certification program was on hand to encourage everyone and discuss ideas about the exam. Well done – brilliant!
Lots of Experts About
There was no shortage of experts roaming around the conference. SAS Authors Phil Holland, Phil Mason, and Chris Hemdinger were mingling with the crowd and answering questions.
- Phil Holland [@hollandnumerics] had some ideas about using the Android apps that he has discussed on this blog before. Plus, did you know that Phil is an avid beer taster and keeps a beer database here.
- Phil Mason gave me some advanced tips for using stored processes and told me that he is planning a book soon. He does many web applications and also said JSON was easy to learn.
- Chris Hemdinger (@cjdinger) did the keynote address and later he talked about how to create your own SAS function.
Experts Outside of the SAS Realm (it’s not just a myth!)
David McCandless (@mccandelish) was brilliant. One of his main points was how much trouble humans have visualizing how much or big something is and it’s meaningless without context. As an example, he created the Billion Pound-O-Gram to help you understand what a billion looks like and its relationship. [Watch his Ted Talk here for the concept.] His other point was hearing the statement “Data is the new oil”. He would amend it to, “Data is the new soil”. I’ll let you watch the Ted Talk to learn more of his thoughts on that topic.
I encourage you to subscribe to his blog and pick up a copy of his book – The Visual Miscellaneum. McCandless also noted that he wasn’t a statistics powerhouse and was using a tutor to become better at statistics. Another interesting fact from him was he spend an average of two months on some graphics – just making sure the data was correct and then working out the drafts. [Sounds like he needs a SAS license!]
Paul Goodwin, professor at Bath University, talked about how we cannot trust our intuition because of how often we are horribly, horribly wrong. Probably you hear from many how they just had a hunch something was this way or that way and it was right. Thus seemingly intuition played a role. The problem is that you never hear from those whose intuition failed them. The answer is to use data and a little intuition.
He had a very entertaining presentation. However, the one fact that I learned was how flawed the MS Excel implementation of the statistical calculations are and yet it’s wildly popular. Professor Goodwin strongly endorsed the SAS products for their accountability for accurate statistical calculations.
Entertaining Down Time – Dancing and Magic
Part of the entertainment was Indian Bhangra Dancers – who allowed us all to join them. However, it was in good fun and as it turns out just a few easy steps, clap your hands, and then shout. I was really good at the shouting bit! This was some great energizing entertainment. Perfect right before a social event to get everyone excited and chatting!
And there was magic! SAS Consultant, Paul Dutton aka Illusionist Mr D was doing amazing card tricks. Albert (@TheHungryTrout) was really trying to challenge Paul but have no fear – Paul still knew which card he picked. Paul tricked us all several times and was simply amazing! He said he practiced constantly when on the train or bus. (Do me a favor and Like him on Facebook to raise his fan base!) It curious to see how the SAS folks spend their free time – like Paul with his magic. Albert works for a children’s charity and spends free time working with the kids!
SAS Organizes this Professional Conference
The SAS Professional Forum is managed by the SAS UK Marketing office. Phil Male (@PhilMale) spends several months organizing the event along with a great support staff. I met many but (smack my hand) did not get everyone’s name and email address. While many might suspect it would be overrun with demos and sales people – it was not. You could comfortably watch the demos and the emphasis was on learning, networking, and great food from the caterers. Well done Phil. (If you have feedback about the conference, just tweet to @sasprofs. Remember to let them know what you liked as well!)
Also many users were chatting with me and I did not get their contact information either. So here’s some pictures. See my Facebook page for all my pictures I took from the event.
And thanks …
Thanks to these folks for sharing ideas. These are some good people to follow: @SASUKAlliances, @ArronDavenport, @Rich_Fog, @DrMailland, @wilmauk, @Maccadonut999, @jaburke, @rebeccarafferty, @TComminsDownes, @littlesian, and @ClarenceWil86. Tweet me (@taanderud) or leave a comment below if I missed you!
All the photos were taken with my iPhone – I really need a proper camera!
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Tags: User Conferences