Do you know how DATES work in Tableau? Understanding Continuous vs Discrete Dates

Do you know how dates work in Tableau? It could be tricky, but once you get a handle on it, it can make your Tableau life much simpler.

The first step to understanding dates in Tableau is understanding the concept of discrete and continuous first. These are two very important concepts in Tableau that, if not clearly understood, can definitely cause a lot of confusion (and headaches). It can make you think you’re getting unexpected vizzes or behavior from the application, and that it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do.

A quick Google search lands us the definitions for these two terms:

discrete – individually separate and distinct
continuous – forming an unbroken whole; without interruption

Let’s tie these two terms back to Tableau:

Discrete Continuous
definition: individually separate and distinct definition: forming an unbroken whole; without interruption
blue pill green pill
blue pill green pill
gives you headers gives you axes

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Data Sets for BI/Analytics/Visualization Projects

Just wanted to compile a list of datasets, or sources of datasets, that can be used for BI/Analytics/Visualization projects and explorations (not limited or specific to any tools). These come in different formats, and some may need to be cleaned up. Please do read the restrictions and EULAs that come with each of the links/sources.

This is a work in progress. I  am still updating this post, and will most likely re-arrange or re-categorize the links as I stumble across other data sets.

If you have any that you can share, I would love to add those to this list (and mention you shared it!) – please leave a comment below and I will add them to the list!

Last Updated : February 01, 2015

Canadian Data

US Data

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Microsoft Second Shot through May 31, 2015

Microsoft Second Shot is back for 2015! If you’re planning to upgrade your Microsoft certifications (MCSE, MCSA, MCSD), you might want to take advantage of this insurance. You will be eligible for a free retake (if you don’t pass the first time) if you take your exam between January 5, 2015 and May 31, 2015.

Check all the details here:

By the way, Microsoft has switched to Pearson as a testing provider. You may find that testing centres could be scarce in some locations at first, hopefully that picks up soon!


On Girls, Poverty and Education

I watched two things today that left me both troubled and inspired.

Bill and Melinda Gates

Earlier in the day I watched one of the Top 10 TED Talks for Entrepreneurs in 2014 – Bill and Melinda Gates: Why giving away our wealth has been the most satisfying thing we’ve done.

As of November 2014, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has an endowment of $42B USD towards causes such as:

  • improving health by fighting enteric and diarrheal diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia and HIV
  • reducing extreme poverty by identifying and funding solutions that can help people lift themselves up and out of poverty
  • in the US, an education opportunity for all students

I deeply admire Bill and Melinda Gates for what they are doing and how they’re trying to change the world, on how their foundation is trying to look for cure, eradicate diseases that are still killing so many around the world, especially children. Bill and Melinda Gates could have chosen to keep their money to themselves, for their families, but they did not. They have chosen to give 95% of their wealth away to philanthropy, to causes they believe can make a better world, save more people from death, educate more children around the world. Not only this, even their children believe in, and are involved, in the causes they care about. They are also convincing other successful entrepreneurs and power houses to also pledge resources to help continue these causes.

Girl Rising

Later at night, unable to sleep, I put Netflix on and checked out what’s there. I ended up watching Girl Rising – a movie that tells the stories of several girls from developing countries – doing whatever they can to go to school, to learn to read and write, to help change the world. It is very sad and troubling to see that girls are still seen as properties or slaves in some parts of the world. Some girls as young as six (6) years old sold as slaves, as young as seven (7) years old given away (or sold) as brides. Some girls, despite their social status and extreme poverty, believe in the power of education and believe in their self-worth. They fight back, persevere, and fight for their rights. Some literally put their lives on the line in order to go to school. This activity – “going to school” – sadly is probably an activity that too many kids in developed countries take for granted.

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Teaching Tableau? Learning Tableau? Here are some ideas.

I teach a few courses at BCIT and Tableau is one of them. We have created and, so far, successfully run our Tableau Course for the last 5 terms. We started out by making it a 6-week, 1.5 credit course. However students provided us feedback and many of them suggested it felt rushed and would prefer a longer duration, so in the recent terms we’ve decided to make it a full-blown 12-week, 6 credit course. This course is fast becoming one of our popular courses, catering 15-20 students per section. Next term we are running two sections. We may look at running more in the future, if the demand keeps up.

The students taking this course have also come from a wide range of backgrounds – although many of them are working professionals looking to expand their analytics exposure, or even looking to change careers. We’ve had students with backgrounds in accounting, hotel management, retail, IT, healthcare, banking and finance, insurance, etc.

The two highest points for me in this course are the second and last classes.

Flickr. Photo by Black Zack - Surprise Eggs -
Flickr. Photo by Black Zack – Surprise Eggs –

The second class is when I introduce Tableau to them. The look of amazement in each student when they see and experience Tableau for the first time is priceless. I am sure I can relate; when I first saw Tableau, it was like magic.

In the last class, the students get to do final presentations.

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Writing SQL statements is easy ….

I teach a number of courses on databases, including introductory relational databases which includes introductory SQL, as well as Microsoft’s Querying SQL Server courses.

When students first learn how to write SQL, the tendency is to get too focused on getting the syntax right, and making sure the query executes. Don’t get me wrong. That’s really important especially when you’re just beginning your database journey. I have been guilty of this, and still am sometimes guilty of this.

However, blame it on age or experience, my focus has shifted from worrying about the syntax to understanding the problem at hand. I no longer jump to “coding” right away. I still worry about the syntax, but I leave the worrying for later.

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VM on VM: Enable Hyper-V role on Windows Server 2012 inside VMWare

If you ever tried to install Windows Server 2012/R2 on VMWare Workstation, and enable the Hyper-V role, you would have probably encountered the following error:

Hyper-V cannot be installed: A hypervisor is already running

The trick to allowing this Hyper-V on VMware is in two settings:

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Hour of Code, Girls in I.T., Women In Technology

I was browsing through the site to learn more about the upcoming Hour of Code event that is happening on December 8-14, 2014.

hour of code - Dec 2014

Through the Hour of Code event, attempts to increase students’ awareness of computer science as not just another course, but as a life skill. believes:

Every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. By starting early, students will have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path.

In addition,

is dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.

This resonates very well to the Women in Technology luncheon I attended last week at the PASS Summit 2014. Many companies have partnered with for this event and for many other projects, including Microsoft.

I came across this infographic about Girls in IT from NCWIT (National Center for Women in Technology) which echoes a lot of what Kimberly Bryant mentioned in her talk. (Get the Full Report).

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