I enjoyed SESUG 2013 this year and not just because I love hanging out in St. Pete Beach soaking in the sun but also because I was able to “geek out’ with some of my favorite SAS folks. Andrea Zimmerman and Mira Shapiro did an awesome job with the conference. If you want to see some pictures from SESUG 2013 – check out this SESUG in St Pete Beach was Great! post on my BI Notes blog.
I was very pleased to hear that SESUG will convene in Myrtle Beach, SC in October 2014! One conversation I had with many folks was the fact that NESUG had decided they had reached the end of the road. Many of us were discussing that the relationship-building opportunities of a SAS conference are overlooked and their value is not fully considered. I have to agree, just considering the many things I was able to learn outside of the presentations. I was able to chat with a lot of folks that I would have not otherwise met or even known existed.
- Janelle Bailey, SAS BI analyst with Town of Cary, made me aware of a free big data source from the city. We were discussing implementing a Hadoop system, and I said I needed some big data. She said the water usage data was public information, and she could give me access. This has been an issue for me and now I have a solution.
- Chris Hemedinger gave me some ideas on how to review the water usage data over breakfast the next morning. Plus, he told me where to find an interesting place to have a picnic in Raleigh.
- Frank Rosado and Bonnie Prudlow, who all work with Wellcare Health Plan, were discussing how they were using the SAS toolset. I was able to share some dashboard and stored process ideas with them.
- Jason O’Day and Michael Rainer, Concordance Consulting Group, told me some great jokes, and we discussed the tremendous need for SAS administrators in the industry. Their group is experiencing growth so they were recruiting SAS programmers.
- Ron Fehd is working on a macro utility book that he had available as a draft. In addition, he shared some tips for using hash tables. I appreciate the experienced coders available at the conferences who really enjoy discussing SAS coding in-depth.
- Over dinner, Paulo Macedo provided me some details on the Gelmand view of data visualization. It was a great conversation! We agreed about data visualizations that might appear in the newspaper are geared toward starting a conversation than say the data visualizations that you would use in an academic paper.
- Donna Bennett, SAS, provided a quick tutorial on the 9.4 administration console. She gave me some great input for a SAS Global Forum paper I’m planning to write. Then she sent me home with some extra books she had.
- Meera Venkataramani, SAS Technical Architect, was giving SAS Visual Analytics demonstrations. Since I’m writing a book on SAS Visual Analytics, she shared some ideas about how to visualize unstructured data such as Twitter streams. Her presentation was interesting, and we had fun talking.
- Vince DelGobbo, SAS Technical Architect, told me how to customize my STP home page and provided some cool ideas on other ways to approach some STP issues I’ve encountered. Vince also makes me laugh so I enjoy time spent with him.
There were many others who shared other great insights about SAS, programming, and the industry in general. These conversations and opportunities do not arise when you attend an online training session or seminar. It would be sad to see the regional user groups fade away when they provide so much value to the user community.