I really liked the way Brent showed us his feedback received and since mimicry is the best form of flattery, I thought I’d go ahead and do it too!

I didn’t get any accepted abstracts, and I’m actually grateful. The recent stresses to do with the PASS dramas aside, I would have had to use 5 days holiday time, pay for flights and hotel, and then flown out a week later for MVP Summit. Now I can attend some other conferences and/or have a Christmas break! Woo hoo ๐Ÿ˜€

Cut the R learning curve

Not Accepted: Popular topic, higher rated session selected

  • Half-Day Session (3 hours)
  • Track: BI Information Delivery
  • Topic: R
  • Level: 200
  • Prerequisites: Some prior coding experience is helpful

Abstract

R is a powerful language to add to the BI, analytics and data science technologies you may already be using. This session circumvents the painful experience of on-boarding a new technology and will give you the foundation needed to use R effectively. Topics covered will include effective R coding, development best-practices, using R as a reporting tool, and how to build and administer a solid platform for analysis.

Goals

  • Comfortable getting started with R
  • Understand how R impacts the new Data Platform
  • Understand some development best practices

Feedback

  • R is an area of interest for many folks, but the learning curve is a barrier. I like the topic of addressing the learning curve specifically. The goals are well articulated. This is a tool that will empower attendees to learn more on their own after the presentation.
  • Would like to have more detail in the abstract and goals.
  • Well written abstract, but it doesn’t appear appealing with only 25% demo and no real examples
  • This seems like the right length to really kick start learning R.

Thoughts

The lack of detail will be a recurring theme amongst my abstract feedback – I don’t like submitting very heavily detailed abstracts. My thoughts on a topic and my techniques for explaining it continue evolving between submission time and delivery time so I like to leave myself wiggle room. This has been especially helpful when I have been able to talk to attendees before the talk and have discovered a pain point that I’ve been able to incorporate into my materials to help them and others. Of course, with PASS I wouldn’t be able to do that anyway as slides have to be provided in advance. If I want to submit to PASS again, I think I may have to just submit presentations I’ve delivered a lot, so are less subject to change and can have more detailed abstracts.

I am not practiced at writing goals for my talks, and I have some conflicting opinions here on whether they were effective goals or not. More study on these required!

Demos, demos, demos … my talks are usually written entirely in R so I can riff into demos at any point but this session is aimed at addressing the concepts and providing advice. I’m happy with the level of demos in the session, but I’m still waiting on feedback from SQLBits & TUGA.

DataOps – DevOps for analytics

Not Accepted: Less popular topic than others submitted

  • General Session (75 minutes)
  • Track: Professional Development
  • Topic: Agile Development Practices
  • Level: 100
  • Prequisites: Experience working with data

Abstract

DevOps is a movement focused on improving quality and time to deliver value by tackling the thorny issues of infrastructure, testing, integration, and deployment.

These are big issues that have faced the data & analytics world for years, and tools have been slow to be delivered. This is changing though, so now we can start using the concepts from DevOps and applying them to analytics.

Taking you through the principles, the tools, and the journey to DataOps, this session will help you do work with data.

Goals

  • Understand what DevOps is
  • Understand how DevOps can apply to data products
  • Understand where to start with tools and techniques for data products

Feedback

  • Abstract concentrates on DevOps primarily.
  • Sounds like a CI vendor session
  • Yawn. Niche appeal especially because of analytic tie in with Devops. Last sentence is awkward.
  • The abstract is well written but it is tough to tell where the session will go or it there is enough content to get through a 75 minute session. The goal make sense, but are very generic and do not paint a picture of where the session is headed. The topic is an interesting one that I think man data professionals will be interested in.
  • If there is a prerequisite, the session level should be 200 (instead of 100). I’d like to read more details of what content to expect in this session in the abstract.

Thoughts

I think this is an important topic, and I need to better at conveying the value of DataOps from a productivity perspective but also from a regulatory perspective. We’ve gone too long with many data dictionaries and vague promises that our ETL gets it right – we need more robustness. So I need to be better with this abstract, clearly!

I tied the session level into the knowledge of the topic expected, and pre-reqs were mandatory if I recall correctly so I didn’t want to put a “.” in just in case I got penalised. I need to tie these two together better. Again, I rarely write explicit pre-reqs and usually rely on the abstract to pitch the expected knowledge level.

Implementing analytics in your applications

Not Accepted: Less popular topic than others submitted

  • General Session (75 minutes)
  • Track: Application & Database Development
  • Topic: Application Development Best Practices
  • Level: 100
  • Prerequisites: General coding experience

Abstract

Whether you call it analytics, machine learning, statistics, or data mining, it’s all about adding extra intelligence in to your application. It might be pressure from managers to keep up with the competitors or you want to play with cool things and make your applications more awesome, but you’re at the beginning of the road and want to get clued into these crazy buzzwords.

Goals

  • Have a basic understanding of data science
  • Understand key architectural and technological considerations for embedding analytics
  • Gain some tips and tricks on implementing successfully

Feedback

  • Good topic, but not enough details in abstract or goals
  • Abstract: Not enough detail in abstract.
  • No detail on what is going to be covered in the Abstract at all. Also sounds like a BI session, not App Dev.
  • topic seems interesting on the surface but the abstract is somewhat short and generic and could benefit from more details about session contents. goals are somewhat generic and would benefit from being more tangible. demo % is low.
  • Abstract: Maybe expound on what exactly the presentation will be about.. Topic: Always a current topic. Subjective: Fit for purpose – no issues found.Abstract: Fit for purpose – no issues found. Topic: Fit for purpose – no issues found. Subjective: 25% demo for this topic and level seem a bit skinny.
  • This has the promise to be a really great session, but is let down by the very short abstract. I’d like to know what I’m going to get in this session.
    Basically it leaves me guessing as to what content I will see. This might turn out to be good or an attendee may leave disappointed – it’s hard to tell from the short abstract.

Thoughts

I concur that this abstract needs more detail. Demo’s again are tough because I want to give developers general advice, not show them how to call an API in the myriad languages they may use.

The one with the double entries suggests that there were structured but heavily burdened people review abstracts. Considering the volume of sessions, they all deserve a massive round of thanks!

R for the BI Professional

Not Accepted: Other sessions selected based on building a balanced program for track coverage, speaker coverage, topic coverage, and session rating.

  • Pre-Conference Session (full day)
  • Track: BI Information Delivery
  • Topic: R
  • Level: 200
  • Prerequisites: Comfortable writing SQL and will ideally having coded a bit in other languages previously. Attendees will need a laptop with R, R Tools, & RStudio

Abstract

The SQL Server BI world has been kind of static for a long time, now theyโ€™re bringing out a funky new platform and theyโ€™re putting R everywhere. This hands-on pre-con will take you through the fundamentals of working with R and then show how it can easily be integrated into the Microsoft stack. This is hands-on so youโ€™ll need a laptop.

  • R + Microsoft
  • Getting started with R
  • Data manipulation fundamentals
  • Data visualisation basics
  • Interactive data visualisations
  • Making predictions with R & Azure ML
  • Using R in SQL Server – overcoming SQL limitations and making predictions
  • High end dashboards with PowerBI & R

Goals

  • Knowing enough R to comfortably do basic data analysis
  • Understand how R impacts the new Data Platform
  • Practical experience of working with R in the Data Platform

Feedback

  • The abstract and the goals do not have enough substance and are vague in nature. It needs more details!
  • Abstract appears to lack the meat of the session. It would be nice to have a higher demo percentage and real examples
  • Looks like a good R session and the fact they will have done it prior to the conference is a good thing.

Thoughts

This one I feel pretty peeved about in terms of feedback on abstract content and demo percentage. This pre-con is hands on so I take people through exercises and then work through the answers. I don’t need to a lot of demo because the attendees get to do it. I also itemise every half-hour to hour long chunk of material. I’m not sure how much more detailed I could get without providing an outline covering 15 minute slots of talks.

Rmarkdown for the win!

Not Accepted: Other sessions selected based on building a balanced program for track coverage, speaker coverage, topic coverage, and session rating.

  • General Session (75 minutes)
  • Track: BI Information Delivery
  • Topic: R
  • Level: 100
  • Prerequisites: Must want to reclaim time from things like aligning bullet points in Word documents

Abstract

Meeting minutes, emails, Word documents, reports, business plans, press releases, presentations – all taking so much effort to compile the results and format. Ditch the pain from your life with rmarkdown – Future You will thank you!

Between compiling results from multiple sources, to delivering it in a good looking fashion, there’s so many ways we lose productivity. This session takes you through how you can use R and rmarkdown to spend less time formatting, build easier to maintain pieces of analysis, and deliver content in a variety of formats.

Goals

  • Understand the value of reproducible research techniques
  • Understand how to get and use rmarkdown
  • Gain an appreciation of ways rmarkdown can be used to boost productivity

Feedback

  • Well written abstract and achievable goals. I’m not sure how much interest this will garnish at the level 100
  • This is a unique topic that sounds interesting.
  • “R Markdown for the win”” is how the title should be written as the R version of markdown is what this session is about. The topic is relevant but the angle of the abstract detracts from the overall message of what R markdown will do for the audience. “Future You” didn’t require being in capitals.

Thoughts

The grammar feedback is unhelpful. For one, I’m specifically talking about the package rmarkdown so I did not typo in the title. I feel kinda condescendeed to, in fact, that they are assuming I got it wrong and got it wrong five times.

Scripted infrastructure

Not Accepted: Less popular topic than others submitted

  • General Session (75 minutes)
  • Track: Professional Development
  • Topic: Agile Development Practices
  • Level: 200
  • Prerequisite: A basic level of knowledge around the cloud and virtual machines

Abstract

Waiting around to install programs, build virtual machines, manually testing, and doing deployments all take time. Let’s code these to spend more time on doing the cool stuff! Be warned, you may find that scripted infrastructure is cool stuff.

Looking at technologies like PowerShell, Docker, Chocolatey, MS Build, and Git, this session takes you through ways you can use code to automate infrastructure tasks so that you don’t have to spend time doing it manually.

Goals

  • Understand how you can script using PowerShell and chocolatey to manage your local machine
  • Understand how you can use scripted builds and continuous integration to manage your code base
  • Understand how you can use PowerShell and Docker to deliver code effectively to Azure

Feedback

  • Who is the audience for this session? For example: Is it meant for DBAs or Ops folks or Engineering teams? Is it meant for someone already doing automated infrastructure management or for someone getting into it?
  • Goals could have been summarised as “understand how to script installations”, so what about the other two? Not suggestive of a structured presentation which is a shame. You mention PowerShell as a way to script and then fail to leave off any mention of one of the most exciting new PowerShell features.
    Too many technologies for a general session. Doesn’t work for a PD track session either. Not enough focus.
  • Well written abstract with clear goals and good content. The biggest downside here is that it seems that it could probably fit into the DBA category or potentially App Dev category as opposed to Professional development. Overall it sounds like an interesting topic that a number of attendees could find interesting, but I would be concerned it might get lost being in PD.
  • I like the title & abstract. Would it fit into a DBA track instead of Professional Development?

Thoughts

The biggest point here is who I’m targeting this at. I put this as Prof Dev because everyone could use it and by scripting infrastructure, every one of us can be doing our jobs faster and more effectively. What to put this under deserves some more thought, and how to be clearer that I think everyone can do with it.

The PowerShell new features point is interesting. In the process of this talk I’d probably cover the use of ARM & the AzureRM* modules. I guess these are new features but it’s not a talk about PowerShell so I wouldn’t tout them as new – this is more about how the languages facilitate, not how to do the nitty gritty. I wonder if a focus on “new things” is something that more than just that reviewer feels should be important.


Thank you all for reading this far! You are an impressive and dedicated human being ๐Ÿ™‚

My PASS #Summit2016 submissions feedback
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4 thoughts on “My PASS #Summit2016 submissions feedback

  • 23/06/2016 at 13:10
    Permalink

    Dang, I’m sorry to see that you didn’t get picked. You’re one of the leaders in this field, and it would have been awesome to see you move the community’s analytics knowledge forward.

    I understand where the reviewers were coming from, and I do agree with most of ’em. Jeremiah Peschka taught me so much about writing abstracts – it’s all about editing out words that don’t matter so that you can define your attendee, their pain, and your relief as quickly as possible. You want every word to just pop and resonate so the reader says, “Wow, that’s exactly me! I need to see this!”

    The demo percentage is a trick question. I’ve learned over the years that reviewers think they want 100% demos because they’ve progressed a long way in their careers, but like you noted, most successful 100-200 level sessions aren’t 100% demos (or even 75%). Attendees need visual explanations of concepts first. I don’t have a good answer here other than to fudge it: I’ve seen accepted folks say that a session is 75% demos, when it’s really only 25%.

    I think your sessions are all Summit-worthy, but just need abstract work. Next time you wanna submit, shoot me an email and I’d be glad to help. Good luck next time – you’re gonna get in soon!

    Reply
    • 23/06/2016 at 14:39
      Permalink

      Cheers Brent! ๐Ÿ™‚

      A lot more work on them is definitely required. I’m also thinking that I should focus on talks already delivered a reasonable amount for PASS so that I can put in more detail as the material and contents are less likely to shift over 6 to 9 months.

      Reply
  • 23/06/2016 at 14:03
    Permalink

    If I may share some thoughts… last year was the first time I ever submitted and I was turned down. I was accepted this year for the first time. What I did differently between last year and this, was really flesh out my goal statements & everything else outside of my abstract, to help the review committee members understand where I was going with a particular session. I pretended I was trying to explain it to someone in discussion, rather than be brief and to the point as I was in the prior year. I’d like to think that that helped?

    Maybe I’ll follow suit and write a similar “here’s my feedback” blog post this weekend. It’s good to reflect! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • 23/06/2016 at 14:30
      Permalink

      Yeah – I think nailing those goals and pre-reqs will really help. I’d love to see you sessions and feedback ๐Ÿ˜€

      Reply

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