Getting Started With Custom Visuals

I’m going to be presenting a new talk for the Raleigh-Durham Power BI Users Group.  The talk is entitled Getting Started with Custom Visuals and will cover a half-dozen custom visuals as well as where you can go to get more of them.

If you’re interested in seeing this in webinar form, I’m going to give a version of this talk this upcoming Tuesday at 1 PM Eastern.  Registration is free, so sign up today.

Browns down to 53

Cleveland cut their roster to 53 players in preparation for the season opener. Since I’ve watched all four preseason games, here are some thoughts about the final roster, including some of the more surprising (or not surprising) cuts.

Quarterback: RGIII has looked pretty decent this preseason, and I think he’ll be a good starter for Cleveland. McCown as the backup makes sense. Kessler has been somewhat questionable, looking lost at the big stage, but he was a bit of a project anyway. I think he’ll turn out to be serviceable.

Running Back: Carrying four on the roster seems excessive. Crowell will probably get most carriers, followed by Duke Johnson. Watson is there to be a goal-line back. I’m not sure what role Mostert will play.

Fullback: We have a fullback named Malcolm Johnson. Now you know as much I do.

Wide Receiver: Terrell Pryor has natural chemistry with RGIII; I’m impressed with him more than anyone else on the offense so far. Coleman was hurt for part of the preseason, but I’m hoping he’ll be fine. Andrew Hawkins made it, but he’s so similar to Coleman that I think he’s mostly around for “veteran presence” than out of a skill set. All three other rookies made the team, which I did not expect. Cutting Taylor Gabriel strikes some as surprising, but it’s not that a big shock because he and Hawkins were so similar. We were bound to keep one or the other, not both. Marlon Moore was a good special teamer but had little else to offer. Darius Jennings was Marlon Moore with 5% more upside.

Tight End: Barnidge had communication issues with RGIII early on in the preseason, but those seem settled. Randall Telfer is a blocking tight end. Seth DeValve has Antonio Gates-levels of potential, but he didn’t show much in the preseason.

Offensive Line: Austin Pasztor won the right tackle job, which was not surprising, but I hoped for more from Spencer Drago. Drago did make the team, but he’ll be a backup, as will Shon Coleman and Alvin Bailey. Erving looked acceptable at center; we’ll miss Alex Mack, but I think Erving has made some impressive strides and could be a good one. Del Greco will start at RG, Joe Thomas at LT, and Joel Bitonio at LG. No surprises there.

Defensive Line:  Danny Shelton was one of the most invisible players during the preseason. I’m a little concerned that he didn’t make more of an impact, but there were no serious contenders for his job. Carl Nassib, on the other hand, was brilliant and will be a wonderful addition to the team. John Hughes III is okay, I guess. Jamie Meder has a lot of speed and showed some solid work. Xavier Cooper also has upside. We signed a guy named Stephen Paea and I have no idea what he does, but maybe he’s okay?

Inside Linebacker: Demario Davis and Christian Kirksey will start, and that works for me. They’re the best possible pair. Tank Carder is a great special team player, but he’s not too inspiring otherwise. I don’t remember hearing the name Dominique Alexander at all. Scooby Wright has a lot of sleeper potential; I like the cut of his jib, although he’ll mostly be a backup to start.

Outside Linebacker: Emmanuel Ogbah was a beast as a pass rusher (along with Nassib). Nate Orchard is going to get some more reps as an everyday player, which I think is wise; he’s not just a pure rusher, although he’s good at that. I’m not sure who the other two guys are.

Safeties: We’re carrying five safeties, which is just bizarre to me. Ibraheim Campbell and Jordan Poyer are heavy hitters who are underwhelming in coverage. Derrick Kindred had some good hits as well, and he’s a little more of a ballhawk. I’m interested to see if he gets regular playing time. Rahim Moore is there for veteran leadership and not much else. He’s the Andrew Hawkins of the secondary. Don Jones is not the love child of Tom Jones and Don Johnson. Beyond that, I don’t know what he brings to the table. Pierre Desir was a meh corner without much speed, which made him a decent candidate for safety, but he’s not very good at that either. Maybe he needs a better team, since he got cut.

Cornerback: Oooooof. This is not a great unit. If he’s healthy, Joe Haden is top notch, but the rest of the lineup is underwhelming. Tramon Williams plays well if he cares. Jamar Taylor is a reclamation project who got torched a couple of times. Trey Caldwell is a rookie. Tracy Howard is a football player, supposedly. Charles Gaines got cut because he sucks (really, really badly). Trading Justin Gilbert to Pittsburgh I don’t entirely approve of. Gilbert wasn’t outstanding by any stretch of the imagination, but I liked him more than Williams, and a 6th rounder wasn’t great value for a former first rounder. Then again, Dawgs By Nature suspects he was going to get cut, so a sixth rounder is better than nothing. If any team can salvage Gilbert, it’s the Steelers.

Special Teams: The new kicker is Patrick Murray. I liked Travis Coons from last year, but while he was decently accurate, his leg wasn’t the best. Murray’s got a lot more power. Andy Lee was already traded for being a shitty tackler (I don’t love the deal, but we did get better pick than we did for Gilbert), so our new punter is Britton Colquitt. Colquitt is good, if not outstanding.

All in all, I’m not surprised with how the roster ended up. One  of the rookie wideouts will get cut when Josh Gordon comes back from his suspension, so they’ll be fighting hard to impress. I think there’s some potential here.

Pluralsight Reviews: Riak Fundamentals

I recently wrapped up watching Riak Fundamentals, a course on Riak that Adron Hall put together in 2013.

I’d like to see more Riak content on Pluralsight, as this course wasn’t quite what I’d hoped.  I went into it hoping for a course which would give an intro to developing a simple Riak solution.  Instead, this course is a step or two removed from that.  It explains the concept of Riak (at least as it was in November of 2013) and some of the basic administrative commands and tools.

This wasn’t a bad course, but I’d really like to see something a bit more up to date, covering development and including concepts like effective use of CRDTs.

Incidentally, I did learn from this course that Riak was developed using Erlang, which is going to be helpful in a presentation I’m giving in a couple of weeks, so that’s cool.

Where’s the Penguatroll?

You may be asking yourself, “Where’s that handsome gentleman who provided great content and has not at all been slacking with the content, not even a little?” I’ve undergone a rebranding in connection with my campaign to, one day, become a YouTube sensation with ALL THE VIEWERS AND SUBSCRIBERS. If you want to help me reach that goal, you can pledge some of your hard earned cash to do just that. What a bargain!*

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Game design and Uplink [A partial review you can use [TM] ]

In the Steam Summer sale, I picked up an upgrade for Prison Architect that also got me the entire back catalog of Introversion. One of those games was Uplink. Uplink is a hacking game; it’s somewhat similar to Hacknet, which is much newer and text based (and in my opinion, the better game), but there’s an odd design flaw in it. At least, I consider it a flaw.

One of the story missions has you hack into somebody’s LAN. Every time you access the main file server, the system admin will sign on and kick you off. The problem is that there’s no way to avoid this, because you need files off the server. What frustrates me is that it’s repetitive and dull; if you know what you’re doing, it isn’t the least bit dangerous, just dull.

I mention Uplink for another, better reason: unobtrusive tutorials. Now, back in the days of yore, I was an aficionado of the printed manual. The SimAnt manual remained in my possession far longer than the game did. Today, that’s replaced by a tutorial. Now, sometimes tutorials can be terrific: for example, the intro to Skyrim is really well done. The idea of being thrust into Big Things Happening feels very dynamic and fresh. Prison Architect’s campaign mode is a fun little tutorial that gives you the basics without holding your hand too much. The same thing is true for Uplink (and Hacknet). There’s plenty to discover, even if you’re not quite sure how things work.

Since this is a review, I should probably tell you whether or not to get Uplink instead of just musing about it. Uplink is a little dated but a quality title. If you’re clever, you can make the game ridiculously easy, but until then you will have plenty of entertaining failures. The story is surprisingly dull, to be honest. In fact, you can miss the story entirely without trying too hard. That doesn’t make it a bad game by any means, and it has enjoyable moments, but the replay value is somewhat minimal.

So long, Barkevious

I am an acknowledged fan of Barkevious Mingo, both in Madden and in real life. However, apart from his ridiculously awesome name, he produced surprisingly little on the field. He is now a New England Patriot for the price of a fifth round pick. The Patriots think he can contribute on special teams and/or act as depth. I myself suggested Mingo was a pure pass rusher and not likely to provide much else of value; it turns out he couldn’t even do that very well.

That was a pretty lousy draft for Cleveland, which is fair given the number of picks we had, but at least Armonty Bryant turned out to have some talent. He’s suspended for four games, but he’s far and away the best player from the class, so… yay?

TIL: Slack + SQL Server

No, I don’t mean the SQL Server community on Slack—although you should definitely join up there.

I have a client whose primary method of communication is Slack.  They have e-mail accounts, but hardly use them.  They also have no real monitoring solution in place, so I wanted to be able to do some quick checks and, in the event of an error, push a message to a Slack channel that they could monitor.

It turns out that there is already a Github repo for a CLR function to push a message out to Slack.  The folks at PowerupCloud have a nice step-by-step walkthrough on how they did it.  I wish they had continued the series on integrating further, particularly around SQL Agent alerts.  If you’re a paying Slack customer, you can integrate e-mail with Slack.  You could also throw Zapier into the mix and possibly get a free integration point.

If you want to avoid the external integration process, you can read the default trace or system health XE (about which I learned a lot from Ed Leighton-Dick’s presentation on the topic) and write calls to Slack based on results there.