Friday, September 29, 2006

Check Out Pentaho Training

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I recently sat in a meeting with our new Product Manager, Jake Cornelius, listening to some great feedback on a Pentaho training session he recently attended.

I worked with Jake back in my Hyperion days, so I can confidently say that Jake is pretty great guy who isn't one to blow wind up your shorts for heck-all's sake. He's a strong leader and has deep insight into BI, having worked in the industry for umpteen (a great figure when you don't have a precise number, but it's been pretty much forever) years.

I asked Jake to send me his thoughts on the session, so I could share them with my ever growing blog-base :) So here's the review, and I hope this helps anyone on the fence about investing in Pentaho training come on over.

Jake:

We recently rolled out our new training series on Building Analytic Solutions using the Pentaho BI Platform. The 4-day event, held September 18-22 in Orlando, was a huge success and confirmed Pentaho’s position as the global leader in Open Source Business Intelligence. Attendees from Japan, Columbia, Canada and around the US were present to learn how Pentaho’s BI Platform will help their organizations unleash the valuable information currently held hostage in proprietary data stores and transactional systems. The course was facilitated by Dave Reinke and Brian Senseman of OpenBI. In four short days, Dave and Brian lead attendees through an end-to-end BI implementation example from ETL using Pentaho Data Integration Services, to reporting with Pentaho Reporting Services and the BI Platform, to interactive analysis using Pentaho Analysis Services. Unlike conventional product training courses we’ve all sat through that focus on “this feature does x, and that feature does y”, OpenBI leveraged real world examples and best practices from their years in BI consulting to teach the class how to build enterprise-class solutions using Pentaho. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, here are just a few of the comments we received from the attendees:

“Great class!”

“Thanks for the course. There were a lot of interesting ideas talked about.”

“This has been a great class and I have learned quite a bit. Perhaps more importantly, I have gained confidence in both the quality of the software and my ability to use it efficiently.”

If you are currently investigating Pentaho for an upcoming BI project, I strongly recommend you consider attending one of our upcoming training courses. A current list of planned training courses can be found on our website at http://www.pentaho.com/services/training/ .

Jake Cornelius
Product Manager


Hopefully we'll here more from Jake in the near future, as he will be a key player in helping Pentaho deliver project roadmaps out to the community. The entire team (me especially:) is insanely excited about that endeavor, so you can imagine how happy we are to have Jake on board!

Of course, COMMUNITY voices are heard the loudest, so I invite the Pentaho Nation to comment here, email me at communityconnection@pentaho.org, or post in our forums what it is that YOU need on those roadmaps!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

BlogOrlando Un-conference: Just a Fantastic Friday

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You couldn't ask for a better Friday.

I started out early driving in to Winter Park, Florida, about 60 miles from home, to attend the first BlogOrlando Un-conference at Rollins College. I'm not saying starting my day with a 60 mile commute is all that fantastic, but it does give me time to catch the news on the radio, enjoy my favorite cup of coffee (7-11, if you haven't tried it, you don't know what you're missing!!), and we are experiencing unseasonally mild, sunshine filled weather right now, so the drive isn't even a consideration anymore :)

The BlogOrlando event was hosted on Rollins Campus, and drew a mix of PR professionals, marketing gurus, technical entrepreneurs and various other business folk. I was pleasantly surprised and interested to chat with such a diverse group, especially since landing in this role that has me straddling the fence between marketing and the development groups at Pentaho.

The first session I attended was on Corporate Blogging. Dave Coustan, the corporate blogger for Earthlink.net, facilitated the session and had some very interesting lessons learned and success stories to share about his journey building the very popular Earthlink.net corporate blog. While Dave made many points, the advice I liked the best was "Write so that any smart 14 year old can understand it". This helped me in numerous ways - I no longer feel embarrassed that I am incapable of writing pretty prose, and many of my Pentaho co-workers refuse to claim a birthday past their 14th. So you can see how this advice works so well for me:)

Some other interesting and valid bits from Dave on running a successful corporate blog:

  • Find an angle for boring stuff
  • Draw a crowd, figure out the content to draw it
  • Advises to separate blogs for personal and corporate
  • Get the umbrella knowledge of what is happening in the company - be your own "beat cop"
  • Research and fact-check your work!!!
  • Regularly perform outreach and follow ups
  • Capitalize on the ability to handle anything that falls out of traditional channels - edge cases


Some helpful points that were made regarding those who are just trying to convince their companies that corporate blogging is a net plus:

  • Cheaper, more trusted, lasts longer than ads
  • Start a dialogue with your customers
  • Valuable content for search
  • Rapid publishing
  • Gives press something to link to
  • Ear to the ground feedback loop
  • Safety valve for customer service/pr/media
  • Free syndication


The next session was "PR and Blogging", where there was much discussion around bloggers versus journalists. Is there a difference? Are journalists held to a higher standard than bloggers? And, of course the accountability of bloggers was introduced here and carried over in detail in the Legal session. Most of the conversation was speculative, and it seems that the PR folks who blog know the by-laws of good journalism, and use them whether they are blogging or running a corporate campaign. This of course is not always the case, especially for the casual blogger. I think the most useful point for me that was discussed in this session was the fact that the amount of blogger traffic you generate is only one measure of a blog's success, and will peak and valley. The true strength of your blog is in internet indexing. The indexing of a blog entry is much farther reaching than the direct audience of the blog.

The last session I was able to attend was "Blogging and Legal Issues", facilitated by Andrea Weckerle, a vibrant and very well-presented attorney and PR professional. I was very impressed with Andrea and wish I had a chance to connect with her to talk more about the specifics, but lack of time prevented me from introducing myself. I will have to stop by her blog. The legal issues that we discussed covered things like libel, slander (spoken and slander both start with "s", hence the difference:), copyright law and privacy issues. I was not surprised that the law covers these issues in much the same way for blogging as for written content. Regarding copyrights specifically, it seems the consensus is that in blogging, alot more violations happen, and alot less action is taken (think splogging).

I had to leave Rollins around 2:30, but if you want to read more about the afternoon sessions and wrap up, you can find all sorts of blogs and details at www.blogorlando.com, or google for BlogOrlando.

Thanks to Josh at Hyku for putting on such a nice event, in such a nice place. It made my Friday:)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Analytics For Bugzilla

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If you are a Bugzilla user, you really should check this out. My friend Nick Goodman came up with a Pentaho solution that takes Bugzilla data, ETL's it into palatable OLAP format, and uses the rest of the Pentaho Open BI Suite to provide analytics and reporting - that you could NEVER get out of Bugzilla alone.

For example, how about historical based analysis, such as running total net open bugs by product, year over year, with the capability to drill into details? Or current issues, by status and product? These are the reports that product managers, project managers, development managers and software engineers need to manage the timeline, scope and releases for a software project.

Let Bugzilla do what it does best - track your bugs. Let Software Quality Reporting for Bugzilla unlock the information captured in your bug tracking. To try it out, go to the SourceForge project at http://sourceforge.net/projects/qareports/, and download the solution and the Getting Started Guide. It takes about 15 minutes to set up, and the demo is up and running. Another 30 minutes or so and you can have the solution hooked up to your Bugzilla data!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Get Your Open Source Here...

Talk about a really great resource - a site that provides open source alternatives to the most popular commercial software packages. And very nicely put together I might add, which in my opinion DOES contribute to its net usefulness:)

The site is osalt.com, "Open Source as an Alternative" and can be found at http://www.osalt.com/. The premise behind the site is a listing of the most popular proprietary software matched to their open source alternative offerings. Just type in Cognos in the search engine, and osalt.com brings you Pentaho! Niiiccce:)

Of course, this site is useful in so many ways - I can now get the top listed open source alternatives for my photo editing software, my HTML wysiwyg editor, my mapping software, oh the list goes on.

Working in open source, I forget what it was like, being a newbie in the open source world, and trying to figure out what project does what. But I can bet that osalt.com makes it a bit nicer for open source novices to get a grip... which from all we hear, there are droves of new open source adoptees everyday.

By the way, I can't take all the credit for finding osalt.com - my co-worker Brian forwarded it to me, thanks a bunch Brian!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dynamically Generating a Cross Tab Report, Part 2

So, I thought it would take me a week or two to finish up this article from Nic Guzaldo, a strong supporter of the Pentaho platform. It ended up taking almost a month, which tells me I am long overdue for updating my calendar and planner.

With many apologies for the delay, I present to the Pentaho community the long-awaited second half to "Dynamically Generating a Cross Tab Report". In Part 2, we pick up where we left off and use the query that we derived in the first article to feed into a Pentaho report template. Actually, we will use several mini templates that demonstrate template re-use and assembling with parameters, very cool stuff. Our template will have several replaceable parameters that will accommodate our variable number of columns, a dynamically generated report title, and a nice name for any output files we generate, should the user choose to output their report to a format such as Excel, RTF, PDF, etc.

This exercise is a giant hand up for Pentaho users who really need to see it all come together - JNDI, dynamic queries, parameter passing, report templates, variable output formats, and much more! Great luck and please do send me some feedback! I'd love to know if these articles are helpful, and what topics you would like to see in future articles:)

all the best,
Gretch