Giving Back – It’s What We Do

SmallGraphicSAS Global Users Group and SAS have a history of giving back to the community where the conference is held.  We think giving back is important.  Conference attendees have played a big part in contributing to this effort   every year.  Over the years, the opportunities where attendees have been able to contribute have included such activities as a STEM related Book Drive and a Networking Charity Event where bikes and wagons were built.  Last year, a new way to contribute was offered: Giving Tuesday. This year, we are sharing this opportunity with attendees again.

Giving Tuesday will occur on December 1, 2015, a global day dedicated to giving back. I hope that each of you considers participating in some way, shape or form. It can be as simple as giving a donation to a charity you are passionate about or spending time in service to your community.

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How to increase the resolution of your SAS graphics output

ProblemSolversIf your graphics look a little on the fuzzy or blurry side, there are lots of ways to increase the resolution of your SAS graphics output. Let’s go over some of these methods.

Before increasing the resolution of your graphics output, check to see what you are creating your graphics output with: A traditional SAS/GRAPH® procedure, such as GPLOT or GCHART? An SG procedure, such as SGPLOT? Or SAS® ODS Graphics with a SAS/STAT® procedure?

Using Traditional SAS/GRAPH Procedures

Here are some things that you can do to increase the resolution of your graphics output if you are using a SAS/GRAPH procedure such as GPLOT or GCHART.

Older Fonts?
First, check your code to see whether you are using older SAS/GRAPH software fonts; font names such as SWISS, CENTB, and ZAPF fall into the “older font” category. If you are using any of these, remove them from your code. Without these older software fonts in your code, SAS will by default create your graphics output with better-looking hardware fonts. For example, the Albany AMT font is one of the newer hardware fonts supplied by SAS.

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Tips to keep your SAS system humming

From time to time we’ll hear from customers who are encountering performance issues. SAS has a sound methodology for resolving these issues and we are always here to keep your SAS system humming. However, many problems can be resolved with some simple suggestions. This blog will discuss different types of performance issues you might encounter, with some suggestions on how to effectively resolve them.

Situation: You are a new SAS customer or are simply running a new SAS application on new hardware
Suggestion: Be sure you’ve read and applied all the guidelines in the various tuning papers that have been written:

Making sure you understand the performance issues will help us determine what next steps are. It’s worth noting, 90% of performance issues are because your hardware, operating system and/or storage has not been configured based on the tuning guidelines listed above.  In a recent case we were able to get a 20% performance gain from a long running ETL process by adjusting two RHEL kernel parameters that have been documented for many years in our tuning paper.

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“Can you help?” Volunteer opportunities aplenty at SAS Global Forum 2016

SmallGraphicDid you know that SAS Global Forum, like other SAS User events, is run almost exclusively by volunteers? With hundreds of workshops, presentations, demos and networking opportunities, the event gives SAS users the invaluable opportunity to develop their SAS skills, exchange ideas with experts and peers, and explore new ways of using SAS. But none of it would be possible without the army of volunteer SAS users that contribute each and every year. For an event the size of SAS Global Forum, that means literally dozens of volunteer opportunities at SAS Global Forum, a great way to give back to the user community. It’s no small task, and I’m always amazed at how a group of volunteers can pull off an event of this quality and magnitude.

But volunteering doesn’t just help the SAS community, it helps develop you as a SAS professional, expands your network, and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Then there’s the personal satisfaction you get, knowing you were part of something really awesome.

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Four things to consider when opening a track with SAS Technical Support

Opening a track with SAS Technical SupportAt the top of SAS Technical Support’s Policy page you’ll find the department’s mission statement: "help our customers make the best use of our software products through effective and responsive support, active advocacy, and a broad and flexible range of self-help resources."

We deliver on that promise with outstanding support, both through self-help and assisted-help services. Self-help resources can be found on the Technical Support homepage. A valuable resource is our extensive Knowledge Base, where you can find the latest information about SAS software, SAS product documentation, SAS Technical Papers, samples, SAS notes, and more.

Though we are committed to providing you with exceptional resources to help you solve problems on your own, we know there are times where you need to resolve immediate or more in-depth issues by engaging SAS Technical Support in real-time.

Here are four things to remember when opening at track with SAS Technical Support. They will make your assisted-help experience run smoothly, and help us help you as quickly and efficiently as possible. (You can open a track by clicking on the link provided above, sending an email to, or calling 800-727-0025. If you’re outside the U.S., visit our contact page to find your local office contact information.)

Tip #1: Always describe your environment

All inquiries to Technical Support should include basic information to help us understand your environment. Please include the following:

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In-Database Nirvana – The Five Step Process to run business rules without moving data

Run_business_rules_without_moving_data_The phrase “business rules” is often loosely used. It can refer to things like constraints in a query, a data mapping, a data quality constraint, a data transformation, or a model. Business rules also reflect an enforced policy, a regulatory requirement and business constraints on model scores that trigger analytically-driven outcomes.

There is a growing trend to not move data because it’s getting bigger by the day. And with needs to appropriately secure that data while improving response times, as well as taking advantage of existing infrastructure, there is a compelling argument for running rules in the database rather than extracting data to employ the same and necessary logic.

The current life cycle of building and deploying analytical models needs to be short to ensure objectives are met before the models become stale and obsolete. Couple that with changing and increasingly critical business requirements, and it’s clear that organizations today must be able to quickly adapt to external environment dynamics. These needs are met by the well-orchestrated application of business rules, and therefore, how or where we process business rules does indeed matter.

Using SAS, defined business rules can be pushed down into the database, to execute in situ, and without moving the data. It’s easy really. In fact, it’s one of the easiest “deployments to a different execution environment” I have ever done. You may be thinking, “easy” is relative – so here are the five steps you need to do this – and you be the judge. Of course there is a caveat, I’m assuming that the correct access engines and code accelerators have been installed/configured and tested. Teradata, Greenplum and Hadoop are all currently supported.

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Controlling the Size of the Web Infrastructure Platform Database Audit Tables

SAS Visual Analytics contains an Administrator Overview report which provides for Visual Analytics usage information by application, user, and object.

To provide data for the report you must enable collection of key actions audit data in the Visual Analytics Middle-Tier. Auditing doesn’t just apply to Visual Analytics, it can be enabled for most SAS web applications and other SAS middle-tier services.

For complete details on how to set up auditing see Configuring Auditing for SAS Web Applications in the SAS(R) 9.4 Intelligence Platform: Middle-Tier Administration Guide. When auditing is enabled, audit records are continuously generated when user activity occurs in the environment, and stored in the Web Infrastructure Platform service database.

Audit data is written to the SAS_AUDIT and SAS_AUDIT_ENTRY tables in the public schema of the SharedServices database. Audit data can grow large quickly. For that reason it is recommended that audit records are:

  • Archived regularly
  • Purged when no longer needed

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SAS Environment Manager: Details on Alerting

We all know that alerting is one of the most powerful features of SAS Environment Manager; the flexibility and comprehensiveness of this feature is one of the things that makes SAS EV stand out among monitoring tools.

If we dig a little deeper, we find that we have quite a bit of control over how we get our alert notifications. Assuming that we want the alert notification to occur on the SAS EV interface (there are other methods), we can adjust how we use the various dashboard portlets to optimize the experience for the administrator. However, before doing that, it’s best to get some practice with a test version of the system. This is largely because:

  1. If you are using the Service Architecture Framework (M3 release), you’ll find a large number of pre-built alerts. Many of these may need to be adjusted (or turned off completely) to optimize a given system. The thresholds that determine when an alert will fire can easily be adjusted up or down.
  2. You need to get some sort of idea of how often various alerts are expected to fire, in order to gauge how you want them displayed on the dashboard interface. There may be some alerts that you would expect to fire with some regularity, and thus would not suggest a serious problem. There will be others that mean something severely wrong has happened with your system.

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SAS to the rescue: claiming your location on Google map by address only (without knowing latitude and longitude)

It is easy to claim a spot on Google Map when you know geographical coordinates of that location such as latitude and longitude. In my prior posts on the topic of using Google Maps with SAS, knowing the latitudes and longitudes of location was a requirement.

However, what if your data source does not contain those “pesky” latitude and longitude coordinates, but rather only good old postal addresses? Can you still get on Google map?

The answer is: yes, you can place your location on Google Map using just postal address.

The solution is just one SAS proc away.

Here is an interactive example of several gas stations in the DC area that I placed on a Google map by their address only. Please take a minute to explore this interactive demo before reading further. Make sure to click on Google map markers to display additional information.

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Data for Good: How analytics helped rebuild New Orleans

Data is used to answer many different questions, but one common theme we’ve been seeing in the industry is using data for the common good.

After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Office of Performance and Accountability (OPA) was challenged with rebuilding the city. Joel Mullis, the city’s first data scientist and leader of the NOLAlytics program, knew the approach was simple – analytics. Mullis shared this story during the annual SCSUG conference on the campus of LSU.

“We needed to be smarter than before,” said Mullis. “We didn’t have the luxury of doing it over again.”

The first issue the OPA had to overcome was addressing the 25 percent of city addresses in blighted areas. Mullis said that they had a process for lots and buildings, but nothing was merged, making it complicated to work together.

“Citizens were mad about it,” said Mullis. “They said you’ve got to fix it.”

The OPA set out with a goal to decrease blight 10,000 by 2014. They called the project the BlightSTAT. It involved increasing inspections without raising costs, instead being more transparent.

Making open data available

Next came BlightStatus. It was a website where citizens could put in their addresses and see where they were in code enforcement.

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