Tag Archives: Good

Why TIBCO Cloud Live Apps is a Good Fit for Blockchain Integration

blockchain1 Why TIBCO Cloud Live Apps is a Good Fit for Blockchain Integration

Today more than ever, digital businesses need to quickly find and capitalize on new opportunities. TIBCO Cloud Live Apps is a low-code application platform that empowers citizen developers to build fully functional smart applications in mere minutes. These apps seamlessly integrate and extend existing systems, so creating and changing enterprise apps is now easy and fast.

Audit trails that keep track of transaction history with date/time, participant name, and activity processing are one of the built-in capabilities in TIBCO Live Apps. However, this audit trail data stored in relational databases could potentially be exposed to tampering if illegal users gain access.

A blockchain can be used to solve this problem by storing an immutable audit trail of all transactions accessible only to those who need that information. Using a blockchain, every transaction is recorded and the block of transactions is hashed together with the previous block’s hash and stored at the end of the chain. Data that should be secure and audit trail information that should not be changed, are safe from corruption by external parties.

Why I’m excited about TIBCO Live Apps

Both TIBCO BPM and blockchain provide process-based solutions. Live Apps provides a different kind of user experience, one geared towards citizen developers. As of yet, blockchain does not provide much graphical design-time tooling, but as the technology matures that will improve. Until then, Live Apps and blockchain provide a powerful combination for creating immutable process-based solutions.

Live Apps provides a fast and easy iterative approach for creating process-based applications. When the technical team creates new blockchain solutions and exposes the blockchain application services to business users, Live Apps citizen developers can very quickly expose the blockchain process to other users within the organization. This allows for a very quick turnaround time for creating and exposing blockchain applications in a production environment.

Empower your organization with low-code apps to streamline processes.

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The TIBCO Blog

For a good time…

 For a good time…

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About Krisgo

I’m a mom, that has worn many different hats in this life; from scout leader, camp craft teacher, parents group president, colorguard coach, member of the community band, stay-at-home-mom to full time worker, I’ve done it all– almost! I still love learning new things, especially creating and cooking. Most of all I love to laugh! Thanks for visiting – come back soon icon smile For a good time…

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Deep Fried Bits

GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE!!

blank GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE!!

Hopefully we can be a bit safer now:

The US Supreme Court has ruled President Donald Trump’s travel ban on six mainly Muslim countries can go into full effect, pending legal challenges.

The decision is a boost for Mr Trump’s policy against travellers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

The ruling covers the third version of the directive that the president has issued since taking office.

Seven of the nine justices lifted injunctions on Monday imposed by lower courts against the policy.

Only liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor would have allowed the president’s order to remain blocked.

What happens next?

Federal appeals courts in San Francisco, California, and Richmond, Virginia, will hear arguments this week on whether the latest iteration of the policy is lawful.

The Supreme Court noted it expects those courts to reach decisions “with appropriate dispatch”.

The case will eventually end up back in the Supreme Court.

Monday’s decision suggests America’s top judicial body may ultimately rule in favour of the administration, say legal analysts.

David Levine, a University of California Hastings law school professor, told the Associated Press news agency: “It suggests that from their understanding, the government is more likely to prevail on the merits than we might have thought.”

What’s the reaction?

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said the White House was “not surprised” by the Supreme Court’s decision.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the ruling “a substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people”.

But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the president’s retweeting of British far-right videos last week showed his discrimination against Islam.
“President Trump’s anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret – he has repeatedly confirmed it, including just last week on Twitter,” ACLU lawyer Omar Jadwat said.

“It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims.”

How have Trump travel bans fared?

The president’s directives have each been frustrated by the courts to some degree:

In January, he signed an order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and suspending all refugee entry. The measure, which also banned Syrian refugees indefinitely, prompted protests and multiple legal challenges

A revised version in March removed Iraq from the list and lifted the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. By June, the Supreme Court allowed most of it to go into effect, including a 120-day ban on all refugees entering the US. But it granted a wide exemption for those with a “bona fide” connection to the US

President Trump’s third order was announced in late September. It added non-Muslim-majority nations North Korea and Venezuela, provisions which lower courts have allowed to proceed

What have lower courts said?

The US president insisted his ban was necessary for national security and pointed to terrorist attacks in Paris, London, Brussels and Berlin as evidence.

But in striking it down, federal judges have cited Mr Trump’s campaign description of his policy as a “Muslim ban” and his call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”.

Lower courts across the US have said the president’s policy violated the first amendment of the US constitution covering freedom of religion.

In October, a Maryland federal judge said: “The ‘initial’ announcement of the Muslim ban, offered repeatedly and explicitly through President Trump’s own statements, forcefully and persuasively expressed his purpose in unequivocal terms.”

A federal judge in Hawaii said the policy “plainly discriminates based on nationality” in violation of “the founding principles of this nation.”

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ANTZ-IN-PANTZ ……

DEFINITELY NOT THE “GOOD OLD DAYS”

blank DEFINITELY NOT THE “GOOD OLD DAYS”

The middle ages and “waste treatment.”

Although Medieval Britons weren’t exactly the cleanest lot by modern standards (though contrary to popular belief, despite some well-known exceptions, they did, in general, bathe in some form or another relatively regularly), the idea of them just dropping trou and dumping half a pound of fecal matter into the street below isn’t exactly a fair or representative image. In fact, while Medieval Britons weren’t yet aware of how festering feces contributed to disease epidemics, they did know that it smelled really, really bad and, eventually, there was even some thought that said stinky fumes caused the spread of disease; thus, they made efforts to ensure the offending odors were kept as far away from their homes as possible.

Now, to be clear, generalizing about what a large and diverse group of people did over a millennium time span is extremely dodgy business, and we’re not saying that some Medieval Britons didn’t sometimes toss their solid waste out the window. (After-all, laws against doing just that, which we’ll talk about shortly, didn’t come from nowhere; and there certainly are many documented accounts of people doing this in said massive time-span, though you’ll note that many of said documented instances describe liquid, rather than solid waste.) We’re simply saying that the documented evidence at hand seems to indicate it was nowhere near as commonplace in Britain as pop culture would have you believe.

To begin with, particularly in the age when one-story buildings were the norm, tossing your own stink out the window meant you’d have to smell it any time you chose to open said window- not a recipe for a good time in the summer, particularly, but also just a recipe for a crappy time whenever you chose to step out your door… There your poop would be, staring you in the face, perhaps kept company by your neighbors’ latest expulsion. Needless to say, even without laws against such a thing, it’s not surprising that defecating out the window doesn’t seem to have been most people’s go-to location to dump their latest dump.

That said, as multi-storied abodes began to pop up, residents of some of the higher homes occasionally do seem to have not been quite so discerning about keeping things fresh for the residents beneath them. Presumably, this played a role in laws being passed against tossing one’s own excrement out the window.

On that note, in most major cities in England, fines could and would be levied against citizens who created a stink – either metaphorically or literally – that inconvenienced their neighbours. For example, in the early 14th century, tossing anything out your window into the streets of London, whether human waste or just any sort of garbage, could see you fined 40p, which is difficult to translate to modern values accurately, but is (very) roughly equivalent to £108 or $ 142.

And one couldn’t just hope that nobody would notice if you tried tossing your waste out the window. Ultimately muckrakers and surveyors of the pavement were employed to make sure the thoroughfares stayed relatively clean, including disposing of any waste found in the streets (particularly needed owing to the thousands of horses and other animals tromping around major cities). Needless to say, while you could have mostly gotten away with emptying a chamber pot full of urine out your window (so long as neighbors weren’t complaining, there would be little stopping you), doing the same with solid waste would have likely meant you were going to get caught, even if you were a bit clever about the whole thing.

On that latter point, the 14th century London Assize of Nuisance (recording various disputes between individuals and their neighbors) tells of a Londoner called Alice Wade getting into trouble for rigging a pipe to her indoor latrine that washed her bodily expulsions into a nearby gutter that in turn was used to, essentially, flush a nearby latrine. Seems reasonable enough- her solid and liquid waste goes into the gutter which in turn drains into a place people do their necessaries in anyway; no need for her to have to manually carry her waste out of the home like a plebeian.

This woman was a problem solver.

Unfortunately for her, things didn’t quite go as planned on the solid-waste side of things. To wit:

whereas of old in the par. of St. Michael Queenhithe, a gutter running under certain of the houses was provided to receive the rainwater and other water draining from the houses, gutters and street, so that the flow might cleanse the privy on the Hithe, Alice Wade has made a wooden pipe connecting the seat of the privy in her solar with the gutter, which is frequently stopped up by the filth therefrom, and the neighbours under whose houses the gutter runs are greatly inconvenienced by the stench. Judgment that she remove the pipe within 40 days etc.

(And now, let us all pause and reflect on the fact that some seven centuries after the fact, we just had good reason to dig up and discuss the record of a woman’s ingenious defecating habits, with this stinky knowledge very likely being the only thing history will ever remember about the unique individual that was Alice Wade…)

In any event, in cases where a perpetrator could not be found, fines would be levied against all homes immediately surrounding smelly waste lying in the streets. As you can imagine, people didn’t often take kindly to being fined for someone else’s laziness and there’s at least one recorded example of a man being kicked half to death by his neighbours for throwing smoked fish skin out of his window onto the street; we can only imagine what they’d have done if he’d added his own fishy excrement to the tossed out mix.

Thus, with the ever-present threat of mob justice and harsh fines, sticking your butt out of a window and squeezing out a stink-bomb onto the masses below, as freeing as it might have felt, just wasn’t worth it, particularly when Britons had better (at least in terms of the “out of sight, out of mind” factor) means of waste disposal at their, well, disposal.

So where did all the poop from populated regions go in an age before massive sewer systems and ubiquitous indoor plumbing? In short, rivers and fields.

In houses where they had no indoor plumbing to speak of, Britons would usually do their business in a bucket or chamber pot, which would either be dumped directly into a river, or a gutter designed to transport said waste to the river- the hope being that when the rain fell, it would wash the poop away to its new, underwater home; out of sight, out of mind.

In more affluent homes that had rudimentary plumbing, the two p’s would make their way to either a private or communal cesspit, often buried underground to reduce the smell.

These cesspits, or gongs as they were known (from the Old English “gang”, meaning “to go”), were designed such that the liquid waste would be absorbed into the surrounding soil (occasionally conveniently located near public wells…) while the solid waste would accumulate over a period of many months. Ultimately, these then needed to be emptied by hand- a job commonly performed by individuals known as “gong farmers”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given their profession, gong farmers were exceptionally well-paid, sometimes earning in a day what most labourers earned in a week, and in times of plague potentially even more. They also infrequently found valuables amongst the waste that they were free to keep, though it’s noted that they also occasionally found skeletons from murder victims and unwanted babies. So, yeah…

The job wasn’t without its risks. Besides the obvious disease risk-factor that accompanies hopping into a pit of poop and shoveling it out, the fumes could sometimes cause a gong farmer to feint in the muck, or they might otherwise just fall into a gong too deep to stand in. (As an example of how big some of these pits could be, there is record of it taking 13 men five full nights to empty out a privy at Newgate Goal in 1281.)

We also know that because some privies designed with the gongs directly beneath were not emptied frequently enough, the floorboards above could become saturated. As a result, the boards sometimes collapsed, occasionally resulting in deaths via drowning in waste. (While technically one should float quite easily in such a scenario, we can only imagine said individuals struggling to get their heads above the filth after falling in may have had some suctioning effects pulling them under in their panic… or they otherwise were simply overcome by the fumes before help could come.)

Moving outside of Britain, famously Emperor Frederick I once was rescued from such a fate in 1184 by grabbing onto a window as the floor collapsed and hanging on for dear life until help came, though certain members of his court standing nearby were not so lucky. Back in Britain, one Richard the Raker is remembered in history thanks solely to sitting down on his own privy one day and having the rotted boards brake under him, causing him to fall into the muck below and “drown in a dreadful manner”, as recorded in the London Coroners’ Roll of 1326.

Back to the gong farmers, amplifying the risks of their profession was the fact that they worked exclusively at night, so that the smell of harvesting and carting the poop around wouldn’t bother the day walkers of the world. We imagine having fire as the sole source of lighting doing such work probably also created a nice little bonus danger to the profession, though we couldn’t specifically find any documented record of a gong farmer dying as a result of gas pockets exploding (though, for what little it’s worth, there are some references who claim such did happen, but without citing a specific known instance).

As for where the poop went after being harvested, given the volume they were dealing with, gong farmers generally weren’t allowed to just go and dump the barrels of muck directly into the river. Instead, they were supposed to take the waste to designated spots away from the city or town; these spots could be anything from a public land area to sometimes ships which would carry the waste off to a farther away destination. Either way, this concentrated mass of waste often ended up being used as fertiliser.

Lazy gong farmers, however, do seem to have occasionally dumped it directly into a stream or river, though the consequences for being discovered doing this in some regions were decidedly unpleasant. For example, there is record of one gong farmer who improperly disposed of some waste being made to stand immersed in fecal matter up to his neck and then, dripping with said waste, was further forced to stand on public display for a time as punishment.

It should also be noted that public latrine facilities did exist, often either emptying directly into a river, such as the ones on London Bridge, or otherwise collecting in a cesspit that would be routinely emptied as needed. However, as the population swelled to massive numbers in certain cities, like London, the number of these facilities just couldn’t keep up with demand.

As we move beyond the Middle Ages, with sewage infrastructure and technology progressing slightly, the people of British cities still nevertheless continued to commonly dump their chamber pots into rivers. Compounding the problem was that cesspits would occasionally overflow into the streets, with said waste often just ending up in nearby rivers and streams anyway because of it…

In London, specifically, this centuries old habit of making human waste Poseidon’s problem finally in the 19th century bit residents on the behind. The problem started thanks to an unnaturally warm summer which resulted in centuries of fetid waste caking the shores of the Thames being exposed. This then all baked in the Sun, causing a smell so bad the government first simply attempted to re-locate themselves to a new city… but then when that ingenious plan failed, they finally ordered the construction of a proper sewage system to take care of the swelling populaces’ poop- a sewage system that is still in use today, in fact, and pretty much immediately upon its creation began saving literally thousands of lives per month. (For much more detail, in one of our most interesting articles in my opinion, see: The Great Stink of 1858.)

So to conclude, while dumping one’s fecal matter out the window appears to be something that did at least occasionally happen in the Middle Ages in Britain, the evidence at hand seems to indicate that this was a relatively rare occurrence; the majority of human waste that found its way into the streets tended to just be from things like overflowing cesspits, which the more affluent used as a part of their rudimentary indoor plumbing systems. As for the rest of the populace of cities, they generally pooped into containers, the contents of which they would (usually) deposit into a nearby river or stream, or gutter system that led to such.

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ANTZ-IN-PANTZ ……

Regtech: We Help Nonprofits Do Good by Stopping Bad

Regtech GVNG AML FICO Regtech: We Help Nonprofits Do Good by Stopping Bad

The last thing an organization with the tagline “We Power Good” wants to do is inadvertently power bad things — things like money laundering, tax evasion or terrorist financing. That’s why GVNG is now working with FICO.

GVNG has a fascinating value proposition — it provides a technology platform that helps people set up and operate nonprofit organizations. GVNG will use our FICO® TONBELLER® Siron® suite of anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) regtech solutions to perform risk-based checks on people setting up charities, making donations, receiving payments and volunteering services, and to provide immediate alerts when any suspicious transactions take place.

“When it comes to preventing money laundering and knowing our customers, we wanted to go beyond the letter of the law to truly ensure that we weed out organizations or individuals that could have criminal intent,” said Dominic Kalms, president and CEO of GVNG.

“For example, we wanted to put safeguards in place to prevent sexual predators from registering as volunteers, and make sure money launderers or terrorist financers are not using our clients’ services or receiving funds. With our ambitious goal to sign up 2,000 programs in the next year, we needed a scalable solution we could use in the cloud, without increasing our team’s workload. FICO offered the most powerful cloud-based solution, they have a stellar reputation in the marketplace and they could meet our requirement to have it running in just a few months.”

Flexibility, a fast start, cloud deployment — these are critical ingredients for many businesses as they take on compliance solutions. To meet these requirement, we offer the Siron suite of regtech solutions on AWS, and it was recently granted AWS Financial Services Competency status.

We’re proud to help GVNG in its mission to “power good.” We power good in our own way — by stopping bad.

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FICO

Vet throws away perfectly good cat?!

 Vet throws away perfectly good cat?!

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 Vet throws away perfectly good cat?!


About Krisgo

I’m a mom, that has worn many different hats in this life; from scout leader, camp craft teacher, parents group president, colorguard coach, member of the community band, stay-at-home-mom to full time worker, I’ve done it all– almost! I still love learning new things, especially creating and cooking. Most of all I love to laugh! Thanks for visiting – come back soon icon smile Vet throws away perfectly good cat?!

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Deep Fried Bits

3 Insanely Good Reasons Why Marketers Should Publish on Medium

3 Insanely Good Reasons Why Marketers Should Publish on Medium 351x200 3 Insanely Good Reasons Why Marketers Should Publish on Medium

You create a lot of content for your brand, and the sheer volume of that content is increasing significantly each year. But no matter how hard you labor over each piece, you’re still faced with the same challenge. How can you get it in front of more people? And not just any people, but the right people?

Although possible strategies abound, a relatively new and highly promising content sharing platform is winning the attention of marketers: Medium.

Medium has been around for about five years, but recently it’s really taken off. More than 60 million unique visitors arrive at the site each month, which is a 140 percent increase from the prior year.

One writer, Benjamin Hardy, recently detailed his experience with the platform, explaining how one article he published, titled “8 Things Every Person Should Do Before 8 A.M.,” captured 2.4 million views to date and brought in an average of 200,000 daily clicks on Medium. Success like this is likely why major brands such as Starbucks, Tesla, BMW, Marriott, and many others are leveraging this new platform.

But what about you? Does it make sense to incorporate this platform into your marketing strategy? If you aren’t convinced yet, here are three insanely good reasons to use Medium for marketers, and a few powerful tips for a successful start.

1. Build the right audience, faster

Building an audience for your brand is a craft, requiring time, patience, and persistence. Brands spend many years cultivating audiences on social platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, and Medium allows you to leverage these connections to the new platform. But how?

During the sign-up process, you can enter your brand’s Twitter or Facebook account, which allows you to instantly transfer those relationships to Medium. For example, if your brand has 7,000 Twitter followers and 2,000 of those are on Medium, you’re instantly hooked up with them on the network. You’ll have a great following from day one.

Once you connect on Medium, the key is to start building engagement on that platform right away. Share your very best content right out of the gate (more on this in a minute). Readers who click on the heart button, which is similar to a “like,” help get the content in front of more people. So … always ask for the click. For example, you can say: “Did you enjoy the article? If so, we’d be honored if you clicked the heart to share it.”

Key takeaway: A great reason to use Medium is that you don’t need to start from ground zero when building an audience. If you have an active Twitter or Facebook following, you’re plugged into a great baseline from the very beginning.

2. Powerful analytics uncover critical details

Typically, the success of a piece of content is measured by page views or clicks, but Medium takes this a step further. It helps you measure success by understanding how much time a person spends with the content. Did they read for one minute — or seven minutes? Did they read the entire piece of content and then fail to recommend it? (If so, that is not a good sign.) Or, did they read the entire piece of content and recommend it? Medium tracks how many people read your content and for how long, and it keeps tabs on how many make it to the last word.

These analytics are useful because they can help you understand where readers are getting lost so you can create better content in the future. But these powerful tools are also at the heart of the company’s algorithm and affect how much exposure they grant. For example, if a large number of people read a piece of content until the very end and then recommend it, that’s a great sign that the content just might land in “prime real estate” elsewhere and result in viral results and maximum exposure.

Key takeaway: Medium has great analytics tools, but the key for marketers is using these tools correctly. Watch each piece of content that you publish. Are readers getting lost after reading for three minutes? Make tweaks during that part of the content, republish, and test again. Mastering this process will greatly expand your reach.

3. Great content never dies

Quality is at the heart of success on the Medium platform, and, as a result, the date that you published the content is deemed irrelevant. If people still love your content in three years, it will continue to receive a high rank.

For example, if you write a stellar piece about how to write headlines and it increases your conversion rate 10× ― and readers still love it in five years ― it may never settle to the bottom of search results. Content is not ranked in chronological order.

Plus, the more “hearts” you get, the greater visibility to your brand. Top stories get a featured spot on Medium’s website and are included in the app and showcased in the company’s newsletter. Plus, followers are immediately notified when you publish a new piece of content.

Key takeaway: Medium is all about quality over quantity. Maximize your results by publishing only amazing content. This great content will have a long shelf life and continue delivering results for many months ― and perhaps even years.

Getting started with Medium: 4 powerful tips for success

Ready to jump in with Medium? Great, but it helps to have a few potent pointers to help you get the most out of it. Here are four tips that will supercharge your success and results.

  • Use the tagging feature. Each story is allowed three tags, so make the most of them. Your story is published on relevant tag pages, where it and other content with the same tags reside. Think of tags like keywords — select the most relevant to your target audience. What would they be searching?
  • Publish existing superstar content. Getting started doesn’t need to be time-consuming. Use this strategy to kick off your Medium publishing instead. Select existing superstar content, such as that blog post that harnessed record-breaking views last year. Once you’re signed up for Medium, you can easily move your content onto it by clicking on the “Import a story” avatar in the top right corner and then pasting the URL of the page you want to import. Voilà ― it will appear in Medium. The job is done.
  • Get visual. Using visuals amplifies your content marketing efforts, and Medium is no different. Make sure that each piece of content you publish to Medium has an attention-grabbing visual. Tools such as Canva allow you to add texture effects to photos, include speech bubbles, and more.
  • Use a lead magnet. Don’t publish a single Medium article without crafting a strategic call to action for the platform. Offer a piece of content ― such as a cheat sheet, insightful research, or other valued piece ― to capture that reader’s email address and get them in your sales funnel. Remember Benjamin Hardy, who published the wildly popular article on Medium? He made the critical mistake of not including a CTA.

Hardy’s article went viral and captured hundreds of thousands of views each day, yet he initially added only 40 new subscribers to his list. How is this possible? He had no opt-in. After adding a call to action with a lead magnet, his email list quickly jumped by 3,500 subscribers — but that happened after the initial traffic surge. Talk about a huge lost opportunity.

For an example of how to capitalize on interest in your content, check out this Medium article by Marie Poulin. The piece has 1.6 million shares and more than 300 loves. At the end of the article, she includes a carefully crafted call to action. This one highlights her Digital Strategy School. Take a look.

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Act-On Blog

Cybersecurity – Is a Lack of Good Benchmarks Misleading Execs?

A recent survey carried out on our behalf by research company Ovum found that 48% of organizations think that in a year’s time, an assessment of their cybersecurity will show improvement. Only 3% think that their cybersecurity position will have worsened.

Most companies also think they are doing well compared to their competitors; a mere 6% think their cybersecurity is below average and 54% think they’re above average or a top performer. This is statistically unlikely.

It seems that many are taking an optimistic view of their cybersecurity. Could a lack of objective measurement be to blame?

Here’s what our survey participants said:

Cyber survey chart 4 Cybersecurity – Is a Lack of Good Benchmarks Misleading Execs?
It is encouraging to see that 94% carry out some form of assessment. However, consideration must be given as to how objective the methods used are.

38% of respondents say they self-assess based on their own criteria, this is the largest and possibly the most worrying category. When organizations decide for themselves what criteria to use, it is easy to lose objectivity.

28% use a third party service to assess. These external experts can provide valuable insight and advice; they are likely to be more objective than self-assessment.

However, not all third-party assessments are based on the same criteria. There is little standardization in how a result is produced, and so quality may be variable. Assessments by a third party are based on interpretation of what is needed by an assessor — this human factor introduces error and reduces objectivity.

28% use a software solution to assess their cybersecurity status. On the face of it this is the most objective way to measure an organization’s cybersecurity posture.

But all software solutions are the not the same. Some are based on a human interpretation of what good cybersecurity looks like, examining different factors and then adding or subtracting points to derive a score. True objectivity and an accurate reflection of risk can only come from an empirically derived score, such as the FICO Enterprise Security Score.

My colleague Doug Clare has written a blog looking at the six principles for cyber-risk scores. This is vital reading for any organization that is considering investing in a software solution to measure their risk.

 Cyber Risk Measurement Matters

It is increasingly important to benchmark cybersecurity performance. Accurate and easy-to-understand assessments of cybersecurity posture helps communicate to the business the priorities and importance of making the right decisions on what steps to take; it also helps show when improvement has happened.

It is also vital to demonstrate cybersecurity status to third parties. Many organizations look at the cybersecurity of their supply chain during vendor selection, while insurance underwriters need to accurately assess risk to determine premiums. Using a stable, objective and accepted method to assess cybersecurity posture can provide both a cost saving and a competitive advantage.

To learn more about our cybersecurity research, Ovum have produced a whitepaper: ‘What the C-Suite Needs to Know About Cyber-Readiness’ and there are also four e-books looking at the results for the countries we surveyed. They can all be downloaded from our cybersecurity survey page.

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FICO

My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

Finger Pointing thumb My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

Hello again P3 nation, today I’d like to drop some reporting knowledge. I’m going to share some of my best practices for Power BI Reporting I’ve developed over the years. As many of you are aware, a large part of the BI developer’s / analyst’s job is to not only create the report, but also to make sure it looks good, tells a story, pops, or my personal favorite “is aesthetically pleasing”.

I decided to sit down and come up with a list of techniques that I use in EVERY Power BI report I create. I want to share this list back with you, our community. While obviously subjective, I think…(hell, I KNOW) you’ll find some of these these useful in adding some finishing touches to help bridge the gap between a good report…and a GREAT report.

I’m going to use this opportunity to shamelessly direct you to a previous post of mine (and Rob’s), DAX “Reanimator” Series, Episode 1: Dynamic TopN… I’ll be using the report from that post to showcase the best practices I like to apply to ALL my reports.

That previous post talks about some pretty cool techniques on how to utilize disconnected slicers. Specifically how to create Dynamic Top N slicers for tables, and how to select a value by which to filter with. If you haven’t already I’d recommend checking it out.

I’ve captured the report in two screenshots below, a before and after if you will (if Power BI Makeover could be a reality show, this would be it). Anyone remember those Spot The Difference sections in the back of the Magazines growing up? Well this is like that, except way cooler! I’ll go ahead and say that you’ll be able to spot the first four differences fairly easily. If you can find all FIVE differences however you’ll get…well nothing really. But hey, you can feel accomplished because that last one is hard to spot! wlEmoticon winkingsmile My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

Customer Sales Report BEFORE Applied Changes:

Customer Sales Report Unformatted thumb My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

Customer Sales Report AFTER Applied Changes:

Customer Sales Report Formatted11 thumb My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

Did you get all five? Ok ok review time, I know most of you didn’t come here to play iSpy for adults. The five best practices I implement in every report are as follows:

  1. Company logo
  2. Lines to help divide sections of the report
  3. Data timestamp to show how recent the refresh was
  4. Report formatting
  5. Dedicated DAX measures table (BONUS POINTS if you found this one!)

 

Let’s take a look at the highlighted examples below and see what changes I implemented between the before and after photos:

Customer Sales Report Formatted INDICATED thumb 1 My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

A Little Design Magic Goes A Long Ways

These are all changes that (individually) only add minor improvements to a report, but add them together and it makes a noticeable difference! At the end of the day the customer will notice, and I look for any opportunity to make my reports stand out among the crowd. So let me run you through how I did each in step.

Power BI Design Practice #1) Company Logo

Company Logo FORMATTED thumb My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

This one is a quick addition to your report and also helps you set the color tone for other objects. Under the Home tab in Power BI Desktop you’ll find an image icon that will let you add an image from a file on your computer. My personal preference is to add it to the upper left corner of the screen next to the report title.

Power BI Design Practice #2) Divider Lines

Object Button FORMATTED thumb My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

I’m ashamed to say I found ZERO use for the shape button the first year I was developing Power BI reports… One day however, I came across a report that utilized this line shape to create clear separation markers for various parts of the report.

After I saw the line in use I was sold on the concept, I had seen the light and have been using it ever since! I also go the extra mile and typically color it something that’s complimentary to the colors in the company logo. The button to add this is located right next to the image button (previous example).

Power BI Design Practice 3) Data Timestamp

Data Timestamp FORMATTED thumb My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

I started adding this into all my reports because I noticed a pattern of report users who kept asking me if or when the report was refreshed. So I eventually figured I should have a way of providing some sort of indicator that told the end user how recent the data was. There’s a few variations to this depending on which DATE field they want you to use, but they basically all use the same simple DAX measure, and then I place the measure into the multi-row card visualization.

Don’t worry, I’ll provide the measure below. I’ll also run though a few formatting tricks I like to apply to this card. My personal preference is to set the bar color to something complimentary to the logo (noticing a theme yet?), center the title (did I just assume it’s alignment?), and change the font color from the default grey (it’s hard to read!) to black. wlEmoticon smile 1 My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

DAX Formula (see I told you it was simple):

MAX Date DAX thumb My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

Applying a little bit of formatting polish:

Data Timestamp MULTI ROW CARD FORMAT1 thumb My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

Power BI Design Practice 4) Report Formatting

Report Formatting thumb My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

This is less of a single applied step as it is multiple formatting practices applied throughout the report. I’ve already hit on this subject a little bit in the two previous Power BI visual design practices in regards to using complimentary colors. The two key takeaways in this section are object formatting and color coordination.

Of all my best practices I’m showcasing here I’d say this one is the most subjective. However I think that maintaining complimentary colors goes a long ways to creating a professional looking report. I also have a strong dislike for the default title design for visualizations in Power BI. By default it is left aligned and a grey color (AGAIN…hard to read!). I center that sucker and color the background. An added benefit to coloring the title background is it actually forces me to make sure my objects are aligned, otherwise it is VERY noticeable now if they aren’t.

Power BI Design Practice 5) Formulas Table

Formulas thumb 4 My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

By far one of my favorite hidden techniques of Power BI (AND EXCEL) is to create a dedicated table(s) to store all of my DAX measures. This could be one (or multiple) tables depending on how many measures you have, and how you want to organize them. The ingenious thing too is if you have an empty table, hide the columns, and only have your DAX measures showing in the report view…then Power BI does something MAGICAL.

It will change the icon from a table to the DAX Calculator symbol and put that it at the TOP of your fields list on the right side (regardless of alphabetical order). HOW COOL IS THAT?? Well I geeked out when I discovered this… In case you’re worried that this is complicated to create, it’s not.

Power BI makes the first step INCREDIBLY easy. Unlike Power Query in Excel, Power BI Desktop has a button that lets you create manual tables in your model with a couple clicks and a few keystrokes.

  1. Simply click the Enter Data button on the home tab, name your column & table, hit load, and boom…it’s in your data model.
  2. When you first add this to your model it’ll have the normal table icon.
  3. Assign all your DAX formulas from other tables to this one. Do this by using the Home Table button found under the modeling tab.
  4. Move all all your DAX measures to your new formulas table.
  5. Once you’ve finished re-assigning all your DAX measures to this table, simply right click on the original formula column from that table, select Hide, then save and close your workbook. This last step is required to see the the table icon change, and for the table to move to the top of the field list. Don’t ask me why closing/re-opening is needed, I wish I knew. wlEmoticon eyerollingsmile My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

Step 1 – Create The Formula Table:

Formulas Table Editor FORMATTED thumb My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

Step 2 – Newly created formula table:

Formula Before Column Hide thumb My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

Step 3 – Assigning DAX formulas to the table:

Modeling Formulas thumb My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

Step 4 – Assign DAX formulas to the table:

Picture1 thumb My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

Step 5 – Hide the table column:

Formulas Table Hide Columns FORMATTED thumb My Top 5 Power BI Visual Design Practices: Transforming Good to GREAT

Before I go though, let me tell you why having a formulas table is so AMAZING.

First off it puts your DAX measures front and center (technically the top?), without needing to dig through all the various tables to find them.

Secondly it forces you to use correct procedure when writing DAX measures. Since keeping measures on this table will require you to reference both the table and columnname whenever providing a column reference in a measure. This should be a practice you’re already in the habit of, but if it isn’t then this will force you into it! There’s more details on why this is an important practice in Rob’s post on Five Common Mistakes Made By Self-Taught DAX Students.

Lastly, if for any reason you end up needing to delete a table from your model, the DAX measures won’t get deleted with it since they aren’t attached to the source tables anymore.

There you have it folks, my best Power BI visual design practices. I hope these add as much value to your reports as they have for mine. As always, until next time readers!

EDIT:

So Marco Russo has eloquently mentioned in the comments that there are two issues (currently as of June 2017) when creating a measures table.

First issue is that Q&A does not recognize relationships between measures and attributes in unrelated tables.

Second issue relates to using Analyze in Excel for Power BI. The drill through feature in Excel produces a blank table, instead of the expected data as a result.

If NEITHER of these features are important in your model, then I still stand by the above benefits of a Measures table. Hopefully the Power BI team will continue to make improvements and eventually these issues will go away with a future update.

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Power Query (M)agic Part 1: Always Have Good References


Data IS Life…and “Life, Uh, Finds A Way.”

P3 friends…for those of you in the know (and for those who aren’t), Power Query (or PQ for short) is one of the cornerstones of the Microsoft BI Suite. It’s a tool built into Excel 2016 and Power BI Desktop that allows us to extract our data (78 data connectors and GROWING), transform our data (it’s more than meets the eye), and finally load our data into a Data Model. Wait…so PQ extracts, transforms, and loads data? Those words spell out ETL as an initialism!

DNA Data Gene thumb 4 Power Query (M)agic Part 1: Always Have Good References

Anyone familiar with SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) or SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) might have caught that. I carefully chose to describe PQ that way because in many many ways it reproduces what was historically done with these other tools. While PQ is not a complete replacement for these tools, it does allow you to transform or clean your data for nearly 99% of the data scenarios you encounter.

For a more in-depth post about what Power Query is and when to use it I’d recommend reading this week’s post by Rob. It’s called M/Power Query “Sets Up” DAX, so Learn DAX (and Modeling) First and it does a fantastic job of breaking down when and where transformations should be applied, and when to use DAX. Matt Allington also wrote up a great technical post titled Power Query as an SSIS Alternative that gives a great (and DEEP!) dive into some great ways to leverage Power Query in conjunction with Power Update. Between these two posts you’ll get a pretty good grasp of how much of a heavy hitter Power Query can be!

Knowledge is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Now that we have a basic grasp of what Power Query is, I’d like to impart some knowledge to you. Specifically I’d love to introduce you to a new post series called Power Query (M)agic. The goal of this series is to share some of the wonderful best practices that we at P3 have acquired over the years. These practices have been either been self taught, or graciously passed down from other BI Ninjas. These are practices that can be implemented in nearly any Excel or Power BI Report. The best part is MOST of these practices won’t require you to be a Power Query expert, or even an advanced user!

As long as you have a BASIC UNDERSTANDING of Power Query you’ll be able to implement these yourself. With that being said let’s dive in to today’s technique shall we?

Technique #1 – One Data Source To Rule Them All
One Source to Rule Them All thumb 3 Power Query (M)agic Part 1: Always Have Good References

So I LOVED discovering this technique! I’ve seen the Reference button in Power Query for a while…but honestly I never took the time to figure out how to fully utilize it. Avi Singh is owed credit for showing me how to fully use this feature. So the idea behind this Reference technique is to create a BASE QUERY that acts as the singular data source for that connection to all other queries.

Hold on Reid, don’t ALL PQ queries already have a source?? Well YES, technically whenever you create a new PQ query, the first step shown IS called Source, and it does point to your data. However, let’s imagine a scenario where you’ve built out a report that has 20+ PQ queries in it, EACH with their own INDIVIDUAL data source. Now if multiple PQ queries point to a data source that changed location or got updated…you’d have to update every single query that references it. Not ideal in my book!

This is where the Reference feature comes in. Reference let’s you create newquery, referencing the original query as the data source in any number of additional queries. So if the data connection ever needs updated, now you only have to update ONE QUERY! Have I lost any of you yet? Don’t worry, I’ll paint you a picture with words (well…screenshots) to help explain this better.

Traditional list of PQ queries, each with it’s own separate data source:

Queries Without Data Source MARKED UP thumb 1 Power Query (M)agic Part 1: Always Have Good References

New PQ source query, referenced by SEVEN other queries:

Queries With Data Source MARKED UP thumb Power Query (M)agic Part 1: Always Have Good References

Does that first image of queries look familiar? This is a typical setup in most report models…just a long list of queries. The problem (as stated earlier) is that they all have individual sources, many of them pointing to the same connection or location! The solution and output will look something like the second image; a single source query that is referenced by any other query that requires that shared connection. It’s relatively straight forward to implement, so “come with me if you want to learn” and I’ll explain how it’s done. wlEmoticon smile 1 Power Query (M)agic Part 1: Always Have Good References

Step 1 – Create a new PQ query to ANY table in the database you’re wanting to reference:

DB Step 1 thumb Power Query (M)agic Part 1: Always Have Good References

Step 2 – DELETE the navigation step, and rename your query. Now you have a base connection to any table in the database:

DB Step 2 thumb Power Query (M)agic Part 1: Always Have Good References

Step 3 – Right click the query and select Reference to create a new query with this as the data source:

DB Step 3 thumb Power Query (M)agic Part 1: Always Have Good References

Step 4 – Navigate to the DB connection the table you want, and rename the query (DONE!):

DB Step 4 thumb Power Query (M)agic Part 1: Always Have Good References

Simple right, and NOT a single line of code required! This step can be repeated for as many tables or views that you have in that database. But wait…what if there’s a report that’s already been built, and we want to update existing PQ queries? Well there’s a solution for this too! Although for this we will technically we will have to write some M code, it’ll be painless though I promise. All it will require is a single line of code to be written, that will override the Source code of your existing query.

Go to the source step of the existing PQ query you wish to update, and replace the SQL Connection with the connection query name:

DB Step 5 thumb Power Query (M)agic Part 1: Always Have Good References

When typing in the name, just make sure to include a pound symbol and quote (#”) before the PQ query name, and a pound symbol () following it. If you’re ever having trouble figuring out how to write this Source step, you can create a new Reference Query and copy the code from there, then delete that reference query. Honestly one of the great things about this function is how similar the steps for are for doing this with any data source. The majority of the steps I’m outlining here are transferrable! Well that’s it for today P3 Nation, stay tuned for the next part in this series so until then.

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