Monday, October 22, 2012

Winnipeg: of Pregnancies, Graphs & SAS Camaraderie

Last Friday I arrived late at night in a rainy, blustery Winnipeg twilight... a little delayed, but happy to be on the ground.  In no small part this was because I was eagerly anticipating seeing friends and colleagues in the friendly confines of the University of Manitoba for the Winnipeg SAS User Group meeting.  And much like the windy weather I arrived in, my short time in Winnipeg was to be as quick, sudden and tumultuous... if only because I was actually on the ground for a mere 18 hours!

I have to take a moment to remark upon something which I don't believe I've ever encountered before at a SAS user group meeting.  Arriving fairly early in order to set-up and say some hellos, I found my eyes wandering around the room.  It was hard to miss that there were 3 or 4 very visibly pregnant women in attendance including one of our guest speakers!  I wondered aloud in my opening address what they were putting in the water in Winnipeg.... it was really fantastic to see so much positive energy in the room, it's hard not to smile when you see so many glowing faces.

Our agenda was a great one once again.  Josée Ranger-Lacroix once again planted a flag in the ground as a rallying point around SAS macros.  Having seen her talk in Saskatoon the day before, I was ready for the audience to be 'wowed'...and I think they were.  The feedback on the evaluations was certainly very positive and I'll be sharing the overall results shortly in the Winnipeg SAS Users LinkedIn Group. 

Rachel McPherson from Manitoba Health followed up with a talk around Dynamic Data Exchange.  I always find these talks fascinating... it's an effective system for moving and restructuring data between Windows applications. Despite the power and flexibility of SAS, we all still live in a Microsoft-wrapped world, there's no denying that!  Rachel demonstrated how she used DDE to create and modify dynamic charts and graphs on the fly in both Excel and Word, and I think the audience appreciated it. As Rachel said, the objective was to learn how to work smarter, not harder... and I think she certainly succeeded in that respect.

Finally, Winnipeg user group President Craig Kasper delivered a fantastic talk around customizing graphs - in this case, pie charts - to adhere to internal specifications. Through a complex mix of code and macros, Craig was able to successfully automate updates on a consistent basis.  Great stuff, Craig!

All of these talks will be posted shortly on the Winnipeg SAS User Group website so that you can have a better idea of the great ideas shared between SAS users.  It's well worth your time!

A special thanks once again to the Executive Committee in Winnipeg: Kevin, Stella, Humaira and of course Craig have done a fantastic job of keeping the strong spirit of collaboration and community alive and well in Winnipeg. I'm already looking forward to my next trip back.

Next up for me: I'm headed to Montréal for the MONSUG user group meeting and Québec for the club d'utilisateurs SAS.  I'm travelling with last year's SAS Global Forum Chair Andy Kuligowski so you can be sure there will be tales to tell!

Until then...

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