2019 goals in review

At the beginning of 2019 I did something I have not formally done before which is to set myself a number of formalized goals for the year(I wrote a blog post about it here). Like many I have always told myself next year I would be better but without anything to track it by how can you know. Below is a summary of how I did against each goal and all in all I am pretty happy even though one of the goals was a non starter. I will definitely be setting my self new goals for the year.

Write 25 blog posts (0 or 25)

Writing is one of those things I have lacked confidence in for most of my life so to help get me started I set myself a goal of writing 25 posts. Sadly I did not see this through at all as I can barely count the two posts I did write as legitimate posts towards this goal. I did however contribute a chapter to in book (you can find it here) co-written by several authors, this was an interesting experience and something I hope to do again. I will be setting my self a similar target again this year but making the goal more granular as 2-4 posts per month (Still to be decided).

Read 25 books (26 of 25)

As a kid I used to read a lot but have not done so for many years. 25 book works out to a book every two weeks which at times was a push but I managed to achieve the goal and even managed to sneak in an additional book during the December down time taking me to 26 books read. Many of the books were in the business category but I also read some great fiction books. I did learned that my reading speed is not what it should be or at least what kindle thinks it should be but I feel it had gotten better as we went through the year. The books I read were:

Title Author
Making Work Visible Dominica Degrandis
The DevOps Handbook Gene Kim
Fast Focus Damon Zahariades
Zero to One Pieter theil
Good Omens Terry Pretchet & Niel Gaiman
The Truthful Art Alberto Cairo
American Gods Niel Gaiman
Real world Kanban: Do less accomplish more with lean thinking Matthias skatin
Agile Project Management with Kanban Eric Brechner
Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth John Doerr
80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster By Training Slower Matt Fitzgerald
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike Phil Knight
Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy Cathy O’neil
Exam Ref 70-767 Implementing a SQL Data Warehouse Jose Chinchilla
Exam Ref 70-768 Developing SQL Data Models Stacia Varga
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup John Carreyrou
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It Chris Voss
Beginning DAX with Power BI: The SQL Pro’s Guide to Better Business Intelligence Philip Seamark
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones James Clear
I Am Legend Richard Matheson
Data Strategy: How to Profit from a World of Big Data, Analytics and the Internet of Things Bernard Marr
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t Simon Sinek
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World Cal Newport
The Unicorn Project: A Novel about Developers, Digital Disruption, and Thriving in the Age of Data Gene Kim
The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut Book 1) Mary Robinette Kowal

Run 1000 km (1000 of 1000)

This was the second time that I set myself this target after failing to reach it in 2018, I’m happy to say that I was able to do this although with some difficulty. I picked up and injury in September that kept me off the road for two months resulting in needing to run 170 km in the final month. All was on track with two weeks and 54 km to then I picked shin splints (no doubt from pushing too hard), I tried resting it for a week but this did not help so in the end I ended up “Power walking” this last bit which ironically felt harder an than actual jogging but I was glad to have finished this challenge and look forward to doing something similar in 2020.

Hire two employees (2 of 2)

I set my self a professional goal for 2019 to hire two employees for my company (A big leap when it has only been me for the last few years). I hired my first employee in March and in December hire my second although he will only start in February 2020 (I’m still counting it). In addition to the two employees I also made the decision to merge\create a new company, the company is called Cobalt Analytics and was founder by James McGillivray (L) ,Neville Marle (L) and myself where we will help our clients with their Business Intelligence and Analytics needs. this take us to a total of 5 people all together which I thing is a really good result.

I created a simple power BI report to track these goals, for some reason this does not render in WordPress, if you would like to see the report please follow this link

In the next few days I will be documenting my goals for the year ahead.

I’m speaking at SQL Saturday Victoria

On Saturday, 16 March 2019 I will be speaking at SQL Saturday Victoria. This will be the second time that I am able to attend this great event and I’m looking forward to again being in this beautiful city.

This year, instead of a technical presentation I will be presenting a professional development talk ‘Taking back control of your work using Kanban‘. This talk will look at what Kanban is and how it can help you and your organisation retake control of work delivery.

I hope to see you there.




Planning my PASS Summit 2018 schedule

Summit is just around the corner and its time to start thinking about some of the sessions you will be attending. In the past, I have winged-it but this often resulted in me missing session that I really wanted to attend or attending too many of the same type of session. As I will also be attending  SQL Saturday Portland and some of the speakers will also be speaking I also have the opportunity to see some of the sessions there. Below are some of the sessions that I plan to attend this year.

Day One

Day 1 Keynote

PASS Summit always begins with a keynote, in addition to providing a good roadmap of the features to come over the last few years, we regularly get to hear the first announcements of new and upcoming features in SQL Server. With SQL Server 2019 on the horizon maybe there will be more exciting news (Holding thumbs).

Data types do matter – Angela Henry

I am very excited about this talk as it will be the first PASS Summit presentation for my friend Angela Henry. Not only is Sumit a great time to learn but also to support #SQLFamily and I look forward to seeing her do her thing.

I’ve been working with SQL Server for a long time now and kind of just assume that I know the basics, it will be great to get a bit of a refresher and hopefully fill in some of the missing gaps that I have.

My Power BI Report is Slow: What Should I Do? – Marco Russo

Performance tuning in DAX is something that I have been doing more recently of so have some experience with the topic but who can turn down the opportunity to learn from the master. What I’m most looking to take away from this talk is the Approach that Marco takes to identifying the biggest bottlenecks and patterns that he uses to address them.

Storytelling for Machine Learning and Advanced Analytics – Jen Underwood

Jen has worked for Microsoft and many other industry leaders. She has a fantastic grasp not only on the Microsofts BI tools but industry trends in general, I look forward to her thoughts on this.

Speaker Idol: Round One

As I am taking part in this competition this year it is only right to spy on support my fellow contestants. I look forward to watching although I’m not sure if watching the others present will make me more or less nervous.

Day Two

Day 2 will be a little different for me, taking part in this year’s Speaker Idol competition and speaking during the last session of day 2 I will not be attending any afternoon sessions as I will need to prepare for my talk.

Inside Columnstore Indexes – Bob Ward & Ryan Stonecipher

This will be my 4th PASS Summit and I have never been to a Bob Ward session, they are legendary for melting your brain. Unlike some of his other talks, columnstores are something that I am familiar with and share some common implementation patterns that underpin vertipaq which is the engine behind Power BI. Hopefully, I will be able to keep up.

Test Driven Development in SQL Server (How to Deploy Code Safer) – Hamish Watson

Devops is something that I am trying to understand more while integrating it more into my daily activities. On top of that, I understand the speaker like to hand out candy so who could say no to that.

Speaker Idol: Round Two

I will be presenting during this session so if you don’t find me here that means that I have messed up somewhere.

Day Three

Day three I’ll be a bit of a mixed bag, If I make it through the first round then I will again be skipping sessions to ensure that I have enough time to prepare.

Using Azure Databricks to Develop Scalable Data Solutions – Ginger Grant

I got to meet Ginger earlier this year and enjoyed talking to her. She will be presenting on a topic that will play a greater role in the data platform ecosystem in years to come so need to pay attention to more and I look forward to learning.

Building Enterprise-Grade BI Models with Microsoft Power BI – Christian Wade

For a long time, I have been an analysis services fan and most of my work revolves around it in some way, it looks like Microsoft plan to make Power BI the centre of the analytics experience so understanding this may be very important

Deep Dive in DAX Evaluation Context – Alberto Ferrari

Although I understand DAX context evaluation reasonably well this is a must attend talk for me, just like Marco Russo’s session, this is a must-attend talk for me.

Speaker Idol: Final Round

This will e the final session of the summit, I hope to be speaking during this session as well but even if I don’t make it through I will make sure I will be the crowd supporting the other contestants.








PASS Summit 2018

I’m excited to be able to go to my 4th PASS Summit having attended in 2012, 2014 and 2016 (a little bit of a trend there). PASS summit is always the highlight of the Microsoft Data Platform community (more than just SQL nowadays), and I look forward to reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. Flying from South Africa to Seattle is always a bit of an effort from both a time and cost perspective, so I like to bring as many people as possible with me especially people who have not had the opportunity before.  This year I joined by two first-timers, James McGillivray (T) and Charl Heinemann (T) along with some repeat attendees like as JP Voogt (T) and Jody Roberts (T). While I have always enjoyed my trips to PASS Summit, this year is going to be a little more interesting.

Microsoft Data platform MVP

This will be the first time I attend PASS Summit as a Microsoft MVP, while there are no extra perc’s to being an MVP at the event it’s always nice to add one more ribbon to my attendee badge and reconnect with some of the many people I met at the MVP Summit.

Speaker Idol

This year I have been selected to take part in the Speaker Idols competition. The Speaker Idols competition consists of several 5-minute lightning talks over four rounds, the first three rounds are made up of four contestants (12 in total) who each present to a panel of judges, a winner is chosen from each group who then go onto the final round held on Friday afternoon. I will be presenting in the second group also made up of Leslie Andrews (T), Janusz Rokicki (T) and Paresh Motiwala(T) all of whom I have never met before so I look forward to getting to know each of them as well as the judges.

Power BI World Tour

I have also been selected to present a session at the Power BI World tour taking place in Bellevue from 29 to 30 October 2018. I will be speaking about Data flows in power BI which at the moment is still in private preview but will likely be made public by then. This is a two-day event dedicated to Power BI and will also take place in the building where most of the Power BI team work out of so it is sure to be a great event.

SQL Saturday Oregon

I will also be attending SQL Saturday Oregon for the second time. I will also be attending with James and JP and we look forward to getting in some hiking while we are there and SQL Saturday Oregon would not be the same without #SQLTrain, without a doubt the best way to travel to PASS Summit that starts the next day.

October and November are going to be great, and I Hope that I will see you all there.



I’m speaking: PASS Business Analytics Marathon


I will be presenting a webinar on 7 June for the PASS Business Analytics marathon sponsored by Quest.

During my talk, I will introduce attendees to streaming data and how it different from how we as data professionals have traditionally dealt with data. We will then look at how Azure Stream Analytics can be used to provide rich real-time reporting.

We will conclude the talk with a practical demonstration of creating a streaming analytics Job in Azure and use PowerBI to visualize the results.

Presentation code:
You can download the code I used to create the events here