Auditing data access: who did what and when?

SAS Administrators are frequently asked to log and report on which users are accessing SAS tables. This functionality is often requested by companies who, for regulatory compliance, need to track who is accessing data.  In my next couple of blogs I will show how you can audit data access. In this first blog we will look at logging which users have accessed SAS tables.

The obvious first step in this process is to capture the relevant information. In the simplest case we would want to record the user, the table, and the date and time that the table was accessed. Fortunately, we have at our disposal the SAS Logging Facility. The facility is a flexible, configurable framework that you can use to collect, categorize, and filter events and write them to a variety of output devices.

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Competition gives students a chance to shine at SAS Global Forum 2016

SmallGraphicFor students interested in a career in analytics, there’s no better preparation than solving real-world problems using “big data” sets. At SAS Global Forum 2016, students will have an opportunity to showcase their analytical skills by competing in the SAS Student Symposium. The symposium, a new initiative of the SAS Global Users Group Executive Board (SGUGEB) and SAS, is a competition where teams of students and a faculty mentor will access “big” public data sets to answer a question of their choice using SAS software.

I recently sat down with SGUGEB member Kenneth Koonce to learn more about the symposium and how it benefits students and the analytics community.

Larry LaRusso: The SAS Student Symposium sounds like a really great opportunity for students. Can you tell us a little about the competition?

Koonce_2013Kenneth Koonce: The Student Symposium is a tremendous opportunity for students to demonstrate their skills and expertise in extracting meaningful information from masses of data. Teams of between two and four students, along with a faculty advisor, will define a problem and then, utilizing SAS, execute appropriate analysis to solve that problem. They'll then need to submit a formal paper describing the problem, the methodology, results and conclusion. Submissions will be evaluated and ranked by a panel of analytics professionals. The top eight teams will then compete in the finals with oral presentations at SAS Global Forum in Las Vegas in April.

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Presenting at SAS Global Forum 2016 - Is my idea good enough?

SmallGraphicSo you have an idea for a presentation for SAS Global Forum 2016. The idea isn’t earth shattering, but you did figure out how to do something cool in SAS. Still, you have a moment of pause. Questions abound. “Is it good enough? Should I submit it to the Call for Content? If I do, what is the likelihood of it being approved?” I asked myself these same questions when first thinking about submitting a presentation. When users ask me whether they should submit a topic for consideration, my answer is always the same: “Go for it! Your approach and how you used SAS to answer a question or implement a solution may be just what someone in the audience needs to learn.”

Improving your odds of acceptance

In the past few years, the acceptance rate of submitted papers has been around 55%. (This varies based on the number of submissions in a given topic area.) There are things that content reviewers look for in a submission. Your submission will have a better chance of being approved if it has:

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It's all good at SESUG 2015 - What not to miss

SESUG2015Savannah plays host to the 23rd annual SouthEast SAS Users Group (SESUG) conference from Sept. 27 to Sept. 29. Over 300 attendees are expected to gather in this historic city. If you’re planning to attend, I’ve selected a few special features that I hope will help both new and returning attendees make the most of their conference experience. If you can't make it to this year's event, proceedings will be published online shortly after the conference. And, you can always search the entire archive of SESUG Proceedings (from 1999 to 2014) for the awesome talks presented at past conferences.

So let's jump right in. Not to miss happenings at SESUG this year include:

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Specifying Unicode values and colors easier with PROC SGPLOT and GTL

ProblemSolversMany users of ODS Graphics will be excited to learn that, beginning with SAS® 9.4 TS1M3, SG procedures are able to recognize formatted values that contain Unicode values. One benefit of this is that it allows you to include, without using annotation, special symbols such as greater-than-or-equal-to signs or Greek characters in your axis tick-mark values. You have also asked for syntax which can more easily assign colors to your graphs without having to define a style using PROC TEMPLATE. In this blog, we take a closer look at syntax that you can use to accomplish both of these tasks for PROC SGPLOT. We'll also discuss syntax that produces similar results with the Graph Template Language (GTL).

Recognizing Formatted Values That Contain Unicode

For example purposes, I want to produce a box plot that looks at the levels of cholesterol across patient ages. My program, below, uses a data set called sashelp.heart, which contains values for each patient’s age at the start.

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Monitoring Database Usage with SAS Environment Manager

Many administrators are familiar with the well-known “WIP Data Server” component of a SAS installation–so this blog takes a closer look at it, and shows how easy it is to monitor how large the database is growing.  This data server contains a SAS-critical database known as the SharedServices Database, which is used internally by SAS applications for storage and sharing of information.

The first thing to realize is that there may be several other instances of postgreSQL within a given installation, each containing one or more databases that are specific to a solution; for example, there exists a Job Monitoring Data Server, a Data Remediation Data Server, a Data Management Data Server, and more.  Here we will just discuss the familiar one, called the “Web Infrastructure Platform Data Server”, or WIP Data Server for short.  Anything said here should apply to the others too.

If you have an installation with more than one postgreSQL server, first determine the one that is the WIP Data Server.  After logging in as an administrator (sasadm@saspw usually), go to the Resources->Browse page and select the Servers level in the resource hierarchy. Looking among the servers with names like “…PostgreSQL_9.x<machine>:port” , locate the one listening on port 9432 (the default), and then check the configuration directory to be sure–open the resource by clicking on it and observe the config directory from the Inventory page, as shown here: Read More »

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Accessing VA Reports with Parameterized URLs

The SAS Visual Analytics 7.2 release introduced context sensitive URLs for VA reports which means we can now directly pass parameter values in the URLs! This opens the door and allows for greater flexibility when needing to use a URL to access a VA report.

One use would be if you want to include a direct URL with particular parameter values in a third-party portal or custom application. Another use could be distributing different URLs with varying parameter values depending on the user’s Region interest or Product interest and allowing that person to save the URL as a link in the Hub. That way, no matter what values are used to save the report, the user will always open the report with their region and/or product selected.

Let’s look at what needs to be in place.

Configure Parameters

All parameters require a control object so that the user can select a value for the parameter. For additional information on the supported control objects for parameters please check out my Using parameters in SAS Visual Analytics blog. The optional role is the Category or Measure role. This role determines if the control object will give the user a pre-determined list of available values depending on the type of control object used.

Here are some examples:

Button Bar
On the Roles tab, I assigned Facility Region to the Category role which results in the button bar displaying the available Regions, i.e. East, North, South and West. Then I assigned the Region Parameter to the Parameter role. This means that the choice of the button bar will be stored in the Parameter named Region_Parameter, notice that a character parameter does not require a current (or default) value.

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Users Catch the Wave at WUSS 2015

WUSS2015Over 400 enthusiastic SAS users gathered in San Diego September 9-11, 2015 for the 23rd annual WUSS 2015 conference. In this “digital age,” where so much of our communication is virtual and social, it was a treat to get out and meet SAS users face-to-face. The two and a half-days were packed with excellent presentations and activities.

For our users who were unable to attend, I thought it would be interesting to share some photos and touch on a few of the conference highlights below.

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The Fun and Reward of the SAS Writing Journey

WritingWhen I wrote my first paper, a poster for SUGI 13, yes it was SUGI back then, not SAS Global Forum, I had no idea what a wonderful journey I was embarking on. At the time, I thought that paper was just a way to get to a conference. That was in 1988. Now over a hundred SAS papers and five SAS books later, and with the benefit of hindsight (believe me, foresight and a future as a writer were not in the mix), I can see the many doors that were opened by that initial paper.

Writing and presenting that first paper helped me meet other presenters, SAS users, and conference leaders. Those contacts helped me become involved as a conference organizer, section chair, and eventually the 2003 conference chair for SUGI 28.

Writing also helped me learn to write. Looking back, that first paper was really not all that good. My first book contribution (two articles in the now out of print Reporting from the Field), wasn’t that great either. But, by the time the Books by Users (now SAS Press) acquisition editor, David Baggett, talked me into writing my first book (Quick Results with SAS/GRAPH® Software), I had written 15 invited and contributed papers and posters and my writing had improved.

Now, writing is fun for me. In fact, I wish I had more time to write about SAS and to share what I have learned about this incredibly powerful and complex language. It is most fun when writing about one of the areas or topics that I am most familiar with. That very first paper was about the macro language, and the techniques that it attempts to describe are still useful today over 25 years later.

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Jumpstart your data science career

Data Science

Lyn Fenex, Experis

The data science profession has been called the sexiest job of the 21st century. It’s also landed on the list of the 25 highest-paying jobs with the most openings right now.

There’s a wealth of knowledge on the web describing “what is” a data scientist, but there are far fewer resources to help people learn the steps it takes to practice in this elusive discipline.

“I’m an applied statistician and I’m really trying to figure out what a data scientist is,” said Christine Wells, UCLA. “I’ve heard several people call themselves data scientists, but they don’t have any overlap in their skillsets.” Wells got some of her questions answered during a presentation at the Western Users of SAS Software (WUSS) conference in San Diego.

Presenter Lyn Fenex of Experis explained what you need to know to jumpstart your understanding of the theory and tools of data science.

8 data skills to get you hired

Fenex highlighted these eight skills that will help get your hired as a data scientist:


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