Thursday, May 30, 2013

Even-Steven in Winnipeg

I’ve heard it said that Winnipeg is pretty close to the exact centre of Canada… this supposition has certainly helped inform the title of this particular blog post. I always feel that things end up exactly as they’re supposed to in Winnipeg. A lot of code, a lot of open-mindedness towards other SAS applications, and a really even-keeled group of SAS users.  The meeting of a few weeks ago sure did bear this supposition out in spades as balance was the key to a successful get-together.

I arrived with Tara Holland, our featured guest speaker, after 3 days of amazing camaraderie and great presentations in Saskatoon and Regina. At this point we were certainly seasoned pros in terms of the content we were delivering and the messages we wanted to share. Confident, cool and calm, we joined the meeting clear on what we wanted to share and how we wanted to share it.

Of course, we were not the only folks on the agenda; far from it! Winnipeg user group President Craig Kasper jumped into the breach when a presenter had to pull out at the last minute and delivered a really interesting talk on row-less SET statements. Why would would want to call a row-less table? I’ll let Craig’s talk explain. Suffice it to say, it’s worth a look.

We also has a Saskatoon transplant in Xue Yao who I got to know in Saskatchewan and reconnected with in San Francisco at SAS Global Forum. She had a tremendous introduction to logistic regression which seemed to appeal to many in the room. Given the academic slant of many attendees, it certainly wasn’t out of line.

Not to be outdone, Tara and I offered our talks. As I mentioned we had previously delivered these in Saskatchewan with varying degrees of success…. Darn technology, it lets us down sometimes. Once again Tara offered up her talk around building word clouds in SAS and I did a VisualAnalytics demo. Everything functioned appropriately and the talks were well-received. I was even able to squeeze in a bit of a bonus talk, some information around Enterprise Guide which I thought might be of use to the audience. You know you’re in the zone when you share talks without prompting!  I think the little tips I was able to share may have helped out a lot.

One of the greatest elements of the user groups is the sense of community and I’m very pleased that a transplant from Ottawa has made a strong appearance – and an offer to help – in Winnipeg. Gabriel Toichoa has accepted a role as the Dean of Assiniboine College, and I’m looking forward to future collaboration with him to help improve the group even more.

In the fall we’ll be moving back to our University of Manitoba location and I’m looking forward already to seeing some faces I didn’t get to see this time. Of course, I do hope you’ll join us… and as always you can pick up the talks here if you would like.

It had been a long, long week away from home and really there was only one thing for it: buying excessive amounts of fudge at the airport! Yes, it’s true, they make fantastic fudge in Winnipeg… and although my wallet, my wife and my waistline didn’t thank me, secretly I couldn’t have asked for a better way to close out a great road trip with a great travelling companion.

I had the luxury of a long weekend in Toronto to rest, recuperate and try and catch up on some office work. It had been almost three whole weeks since I had been there, and it wasn’t to be for too long! In fact, in just another four days I’d be flying out to Vancouver and Victoria for their user group meetings. I’m travelling with SAS legend Marje Fecht and I’m sure there will be great stories: there always are.

Until then…

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