Monthly Archives: December 2014

On Girls, Poverty and Education

I watched two things today that left me both troubled and inspired.

Bill and Melinda Gates

Earlier in the day I watched one of the Top 10 TED Talks for Entrepreneurs in 2014 – Bill and Melinda Gates: Why giving away our wealth has been the most satisfying thing we’ve done.

As of November 2014, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has an endowment of $42B USD towards causes such as:

  • improving health by fighting enteric and diarrheal diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia and HIV
  • reducing extreme poverty by identifying and funding solutions that can help people lift themselves up and out of poverty
  • in the US, an education opportunity for all students

I deeply admire Bill and Melinda Gates for what they are doing and how they’re trying to change the world, on how their foundation is trying to look for cure, eradicate diseases that are still killing so many around the world, especially children. Bill and Melinda Gates could have chosen to keep their money to themselves, for their families, but they did not. They have chosen to give 95% of their wealth away to philanthropy, to causes they believe can make a better world, save more people from death, educate more children around the world. Not only this, even their children believe in, and are involved, in the causes they care about. They are also convincing other successful entrepreneurs and power houses to also pledge resources to help continue these causes.

Girl Rising

Later at night, unable to sleep, I put Netflix on and checked out what’s there. I ended up watching Girl Rising – a movie that tells the stories of several girls from developing countries – doing whatever they can to go to school, to learn to read and write, to help change the world. It is very sad and troubling to see that girls are still seen as properties or slaves in some parts of the world. Some girls as young as six (6) years old sold as slaves, as young as seven (7) years old given away (or sold) as brides. Some girls, despite their social status and extreme poverty, believe in the power of education and believe in their self-worth. They fight back, persevere, and fight for their rights. Some literally put their lives on the line in order to go to school. This activity – “going to school” – sadly is probably an activity that too many kids in developed countries take for granted.

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Teaching Tableau? Learning Tableau? Here are some ideas.

I teach a few courses at BCIT and Tableau is one of them. We have created and, so far, successfully run our Tableau Course for the last 5 terms. We started out by making it a 6-week, 1.5 credit course. However students provided us feedback and many of them suggested it felt rushed and would prefer a longer duration, so in the recent terms we’ve decided to make it a full-blown 12-week, 6 credit course. This course is fast becoming one of our popular courses, catering 15-20 students per section. Next term we are running two sections. We may look at running more in the future, if the demand keeps up.

The students taking this course have also come from a wide range of backgrounds – although many of them are working professionals looking to expand their analytics exposure, or even looking to change careers. We’ve had students with backgrounds in accounting, hotel management, retail, IT, healthcare, banking and finance, insurance, etc.

The two highest points for me in this course are the second and last classes.

Flickr. Photo by Black Zack - Surprise Eggs -   https://www.flickr.com/photos/blackzack00/10205948476

Flickr. Photo by Black Zack – Surprise Eggs –
https://www.flickr.com/photos/blackzack00/10205948476

The second class is when I introduce Tableau to them. The look of amazement in each student when they see and experience Tableau for the first time is priceless. I am sure I can relate; when I first saw Tableau, it was like magic.

In the last class, the students get to do final presentations.

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Getting Grand Total and Subtotals using SQL Server Window Functions

Did you know that you can use SQL Server’s window function in an aggregate, and partition by NULL to get a grand total?

Let me illustrate. In the example below I use my trusty ol’ pubs database. (Hey, it’s still a great database for simple examples. Great for people starting to learn SQL too).

Let’s get some basic numbers first so we know what we are expecting to get.

Using a basic query that gets some grand total, we get 493. This the total for the whole table.

SELECT
SUM(qty)
FROM
sales

sum_sales

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Writing SQL statements is easy ….

I teach a number of courses on databases, including introductory relational databases which includes introductory SQL, as well as Microsoft’s Querying SQL Server courses.

When students first learn how to write SQL, the tendency is to get too focused on getting the syntax right, and making sure the query executes. Don’t get me wrong. That’s really important especially when you’re just beginning your database journey. I have been guilty of this, and still am sometimes guilty of this.

However, blame it on age or experience, my focus has shifted from worrying about the syntax to understanding the problem at hand. I no longer jump to “coding” right away. I still worry about the syntax, but I leave the worrying for later.

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VM on VM: Enable Hyper-V role on Windows Server 2012 inside VMWare

If you ever tried to install Windows Server 2012/R2 on VMWare Workstation, and enable the Hyper-V role, you would have probably encountered the following error:

Hyper-V cannot be installed: A hypervisor is already running

The trick to allowing this Hyper-V on VMware is in two settings:

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