Greater Purpose


I’ve talked repeatedly about planning ahead and the importance of having a perfect data transfer for your data to tell the complete truth. Here is a real life example of this philosophy in action. Several months ago, I stumbled across this video about a new tradition at the University of Iowa’s home football games. Take a moment to…

You Can’t Make Filet Mignon out of Filet-o-Fish


To be clear, this article won’t be an indictment on the popular McDonald’s sandwich. Indeed, that was in itself a brilliant idea to combat flagging Friday sales in the predominantly Catholic neighborhood of a franchise owner. Due to most of his customers choosing to abstain from meat on Fridays, franchise owner Lou Groen famously made…

Lessons From Childhood – The Three Little Pigs


For those not familiar with the children’s story, you can click here for an entertaining rendition, or read further. The story begins with three little pigs, each of whom chooses to build a home – one of straw, one of sticks, and one of bricks. The first little pig build his home out of straw. He…

Who Does the Best Imitation of You?


I was fortunate enough to grow up in an era when the likes of Rich Little and Dana Carvey could be seen on a regular basis doing impressions of famous people on late night TV. It was always amazing to me how spot on these gentlemen could imitate the facial expressions, mannerisms, and speech patterns…

“Our Work Isn’t an Exact Science”


“Our work isn’t an exact science.” I heard this stated by someone in the data science field last week, and I can think of few things in our work that make me angrier than this – so prepare to hear a rant, as I often find myself on the wrong side of Brandolini’s Law. Simply…

What’s in a Name (Calculation)?


One of my favorite lines from Shakespeare is this iconic quote from Romeo and Juliet. Due to the feud between their families, the young couple is forced to debate the merits of the name each of them carries in regards to the rest of the attributes they each bring to the table. Before the reader…

Don’t Know Much About… NULL Values


The Best of Sam Cooke was the first CD I ever bought. One of my favorite songs on that CD, “Wonderful World“, begins with the iconic line “Don’t know much about history.” Through the rest of the song, Cooke sings about a number of the other things he “don’t know much about”. He then ends…

Be the Frank Lloyd Wright of Your Data Warehouse


I studied architecture in middle school (yes, I am that big of a nerd) and fell in love with the patterns of Frank Lloyd Wright designs. Widely regarded as one of the best architects in U.S. history, Wright’s designs are legendary for their attention to the smallest of details. He drew the plans, selected the…

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth…


How you finish that statement tells a great deal about a person. If you finish with “so help me God”, then you’re likely either a Christian, or spend way too much time watching courtroom dramas. I’m kidding – we all know there’s no such thing as too much Matlock or Perry Mason. Alternatively, if you’re…

Regression to the Mean Machine


Old habits die hard. That, in a nutshell, is the concept behind regression to the mean. To understand this concept, let’s first define what mean, means (and forgive me for sounding like Bill Clinton during the Lewinski affair). Mean is the highfalutin way statisticians say “average”. With regression to the mean, the philosophy is that…

Roll Up Your Sleeves, Not Your Counts


Rolling up your shirtsleeves has long been associated with the idea of working hard. I have zero issues with working hard – but you should work smart as well. I was reminded of this recently in a discussion with a colleague regarding a table that stores distinct record counts by day. The idea behind the…