Help for SAS administrators only a click away

CommunitiesIf you install, update, manage or maintain a SAS deployment, you're a SAS administrator, and a very valuable resource for your organization. Every day, SAS users at your company depend on you to do their job. Being a SAS administrator is a critical and rewarding role, but it can sometimes be a lonely one as well. While there might be hundreds or even thousands of SAS users at an organization, there is usually only one administrator. Luckily, SAS provides a number of resources through our support site. And, there's another great resource only a click away: the Administration and Deployment Support Community.

Part of SAS Support Communities, the Administration and Deployment Community provides peer-to-peer support for administrators and a forum for posing questions, sharing best practices and tips, and discussing deployment issues. With hundreds of SAS experts and employees on the community at any given time, you can pretty much rest assured your question will get answered in a timely manner.

In addition to the thousands of posts and hundreds of active discussions, the SAS administrator community also includes a number of additional resources for administrators. These include a Tip of the Week (this week's tip: Extending and Automating Capabilities in SAS Environment Manager’s Service Architecture Framework); a Community Library, which archives helpful discussions and spotlights articles related to administering and deploying SAS; and a blog series featuring administration experts sharing tips and new techniques. The site also highlight events and presentations designed exclusively for SAS administrators. (A good example is the popular Ask the Expert series, which offers regular presentations from SAS experts. This month's live presentation, Introduction to SAS Administration Tasks in 9.4is scheduled for January 15, and every presentation can be viewed on-demand.)

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What is going on with my Visual Analytics audit data collection?

Visual Analytics audit data collectionIn my last blog I discussed purging audit records from the Web Infrastructure Platform SharedServices database. The blog generated a fair bit of discussion around the SAS Visual Analytics auditing data gathering and archive process. So let’s take a step back and in this blog review how data collection for auditing works and where to look for logs to debug issues. I will do the same for the archive process in a follow up blog.

In this blog we will look under the covers rather than show you how to implement auditing. For a great summary of how to set all this up, see this YouTube video by my colleague Bobbie Wagoner.

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. Two tables in the SharedServices database, the SAS_AUDIT, and SAS_AUDIT_ENTRY tables, are used to record activity that occurs in SAS web applications. By default, user logon and logoff events are recorded in these tables for all SAS Web Applications. When middle-tier auditing is enabled for Visual Analytics, additional user-activity is recorded to these tables and fed to Visual Analytics to support the Administrator overview report.

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"What's your major?" Thoughts about networking at SAS Global Forum

SmallGraphic“What’s your major?” All of us recognize the cliché intro line from our years at university. It was the fail-safe, go-to remark to get a conversation started. The most difficult time when meeting someone socially is the first few moments. First impressions are important and the interactions we have during this time can have a lasting effect on our future relationship (or lack thereof!). Of course, the last few moments may be more difficult than the first, and some might argue that final impressions carry at least equal weight as first; but that is a topic beyond the intended scope of this blog.

Networking, or making professional connections, is not unlike meeting people socially. The first few moments can be uncomfortable; you want to make a good first impression, but worry that you will not. But networking can be one of the most rewarding activities in your professional life. It can help advance your career, introduce you to new ideas, and connect you to successful peers in your chosen field.

As a SAS user, there is no better place to network than SAS Global Forum. As you prepare to attend the event in April, here are few things to keep in mind while networking at SAS Global Forum.

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Will indexing my SAS data sets help?

ProblemSolversWill indexing my SAS data sets help? This is one of the most frequent questions I hear in SAS Technical Support.  The response is always the same: “Maybe.  Tell me about your data, and what you are doing with it.”  Here is a primer on effective indexing.

Indexing can improve performance in some situations, and in other situations, indexing harms performance.  Several factors need to be considered:

  • Is your data set large?
  • Is the amount of data that you are extracting a small percentage of the total number of observations?
  • Is the data refreshed frequently or seldom?
  • Is the data frequently subset by the same variable or by more variables?
  • Is the data sorted by those same variables?

The answers to these questions will guide you to your answer.

Size of the data set and extract

The size of the data set, the number of observations, and the percentage of the observations that will be extracted are the first questions to answer. The words large and small from the first two questions in the list above are relative terms. As a general rule, if you are extracting more than 35% of the data in a query, then an index does not provide much benefit, if any. Back to the point about large or small, if you get a 50% improvement in performance of a job that originally took 40 minutes, that’s impressive. If the job originally took 40 seconds, a 50% improvement does not seem compelling.

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Matching Names: How to Avoid a Common Mistake

Sometimes when trying to fuzzy match names you want to fuzzy match just a portion of the name: for example, Family Name and/or Given Name.  A common mistake that people make is to feed in the Family Name and Given Name columns separately into the Match Codes node instead of the Match Codes (Parsed) node.

So why is this a mistake?  The Name Match definition is designed to accept a full name and then parse the information into its tokens – Name Prefix, Given Name, Middle Name, Family Name, Name Suffix, and Title/Additional Info.

Name_Match_Definition

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SAS user group reminders for the New Year

SAS Users Group LinkedIn GroupWhen clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, the year won’t be the only thing that starts anew around here - January is right around the corner and the SAS Users Group support program starts fresh on January 1st 2016 as well.

Auld Lang Syne

Even if you were registered as an official SAS User Group or received support from us last year, you’ll need to make sure that you complete your annual registration to keep your group a member of the Official SAS Users Group network. Like you, we like to start the New Year with a clean slate – and your registration ensures that we have the most current and accurate information for our users around the world. This annual registration process not only benefits your group, but the hundreds of thousands of SAS users who frequent the User Group website , looking to connect with local, regional and online resources.

Make Some New Resolutions

All SAS Users Groups must register each calendar year to receive support from SAS.

Support includes:

  • 2016 Official SAS Users Group badge for web and print
  • Listing as SAS Users Group on support.sas.com and event dates with website
  • Meeting logistics and marketing support, as well as discounts and giveaways for promotional use (subject to availability)
  • Toolkit and personalized support from the event and marketing experts on your SAS Users Groups Programs team

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Problem Solved: Highlights from your SAS Communities

Communities"Where do you go to get help with SAS?" It's a question I've asked users more times than I can remember. Some will tell me they take a SAS class or call SAS Technical Support, but the most common answer is "colleagues."  There's no doubt fellow users are a great resource, but if you're only relying on colleagues at your company, you're missing out.

The SAS Support Communities apply the collective knowledge of more than 65,000 (and growing) SAS peers to help you solve coding problems, assist with data analysis, address deployment questions and so much more. It's a great resource that I'd encourage you to check out, if you're not already participating!

To whet your appetite, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of some recently accepted solutions from our various communities. "Accepted as Solution" posts are marked with a green check. This indicates that the original poster thought it successfully answered their question. Every month we get about 160,000 views of solutions so our users are certainly finding them useful.

Take a look at some of the answered posts below and then poke around at the thousands of other solutions offered by our talented SAS user base. (Our Recent Solutions page is updated in real time with the latest answered posts.) Then, if you're up for the challenge, pick a few unanswered posts and write a response. It's a great way to give back to the SAS community by sharing your knowledge with less experienced users.

Enjoy.

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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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