Jeff Pries

Business Intelligence, SQL Server, and other assorted IT miscellany

Month: May 2015

A Modern Day Balloon Race (GCInsight Geocaching Analytics – Part 6)

GCInsightA Modern Day Balloon Race (Geocaching GCInsight Analytics – Part 6)

They’re not as popular as they once were, mostly for environmental reasons, but when I was in elementary school, balloon races were annual events which were tons of fun.  For anyone that hasn’t had the experience in participating in a balloon race, each participant gets a regular helium balloon with an attached string and postcard.  They’re all released at once and the balloons spread sometimes hundreds of miles.  If a postcard is found, it’s reported or mailed back and whichever one gets found the furthest away wins.  While balloon races are great fun, there are some environmental concerns with releasing hundreds of balloons (which essentially become trash) regularly into the wild.

Balloons released in a balloon race

Balloons released in a balloon race

So, what is a more modern and environmental way to have the same kind of fun?  Believe it or not, Geocaching has the answer.  Geocaching is a game in which millions of physical containers are hidden throughout the world.  These containers are tracked on a website which, with each listing, contains GPS coordinates of the geocache and an inventory of what is inside it. Trackables, or travel bugs, are physical items, each of which has a unique tracking code, which can be placed inside of a geocache.  Each trackable item maintains a history of the geocaches (and their locations) that it has been placed within — and that becomes a virtual balloon for our balloon race.

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SQL Saturday Roundup: #392 – Atlanta, GA

sqlsatatl392SQL Saturday Roundup: #392 – Atlanta, GA

This past Saturday a time-honored event was held in Alpharetta, GA.  That tradition, straight out of past — or is it future? was SQL Saturday Atlanta.  Called by some the “PASS Summit of the South,” SQL Saturday Atlanta was the 392nd event in the SQL Saturday series and continues the yearly streak in Atlanta since SQL Saturday #13 in 2009.

It seems each year, the stakes are raised higher and higher as far as size, quality, and theme — and this year was no exception.  With this summer marking the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future, it seems appropriate that the event was called Back to SQL Saturday and given a full, over-the-top Back to the Future theme.  But, before we talk about Saturday, we first have to travel back in time — to Friday…

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SQL Saturday Roundup: #391 – Jacksonville, FL

SQLSAT391_webSQL Saturday Roundup: #391 – Jacksonville, FL

Being only about a 5 hour drive away, when I saw the session schedule for SQL Saturday Jacksonville publish this year, I couldn’t resist signing up for a road trip down.  A session list rich with professional development and data visualization topics, both of which I tend to really enjoy.  So, on Friday, I hopped into the car and had a nice drive down to Jacksonville for SQL Saturday 391, and it didn’t disappoint!

As per usual, the event was very smoothly run.  Check-in was quick and painless (thanks, SpeedPass), and the sponsor area was easy to navigate with many familiar faces.  Always good to see repeat sponsors!  With a jam packed day of sessions, it was time to get started.

The first session I attended for the day was Mike Davis’s (B | T) presentation on Handling Interview Puzzles.  Being someone who conducts a fair number of interviews myself, I was interested in hearing some opinions on those strange and sometimes difficult puzzle questions sometimes asked in interviews.  The session did not disappoint with a number of great examples, many of which has been used at some point by Google.


Mike Davis presenting “Interview Puzzles and How to Handle Them”

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