Monday, February 28, 2011

What Constitutes the Business Intelligence (BI) Stack?

The promise of business intelligence (BI) requires that executives, managers, and systems engineers consider carefully what constitutes a complete and effective enterprise BI stack. Paul Pambudi (2010) describes a full BI stack as shown below:


Note that the data sources for BI include enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, client resource management (CRM) systems, human resource management (HRM) systems, and others. Raw data from these sources is extracted, transformed, and loaded (ETL) into a data warehouse for storage. From the data warehouse, data is translated into usable information via a semantics layer, which serves the information to business analysts seeking to produce actionable descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive BI that adds value to decision-making.

The above illustration provides an instructive starting point for discussing the processes by which enterprise BI is produced. I will be discussing each of the layers depicted above in greater detail in coming posts.

Source: Pambudi, P (2010, October 10), Full BI stack is Not Only for Large Enterprises, Optimeon.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Political Economy of Government Employee Unions

by Thomas J DiLorenzo © 2011 LewRockwell.com

The main reason why so many state and local governments are bankrupt, or on the verge of bankruptcy, is the combination of government-run monopolies and government-employee unions. Government-employee unions have vastly more power than do private-sector unions because the entities they work for are typically monopolies.

Prof Thomas J DiLorenzo (1954- )

When the employees of a grocery store, for example, go on strike and shut down the store, consumers can simply shop elsewhere, and the grocery-store management is perfectly free to hire replacement workers. In contrast, when a city teachers' or garbage-truck drivers' union goes on strike, there is no school and no garbage collection as long as the strike goes on. In addition, teachers' tenure (typically after two or three years in government schools) and civil-service regulations make it extremely costly if not virtually impossible to hire replacement workers.

Thus, when government bureaucrats go on strike they have the ability to completely shut down the entire "industry" they "work" in indefinitely. The taxpayers will complain bitterly about the absence of schools and garbage collection, forcing the mayor, governor, or city councillors to quickly cave in to the union's demands to avoid risking the loss of their own jobs due to voter dissatisfaction. This process is the primary reason why, in general, the expenses of state and local governments have skyrocketed year in and year out, while the "production" of government employees declines.

For decades, researchers have noted that the more money that is spent per pupil in the government schools, the worse is the performance of the students. Similar outcomes are prevalent in all other areas of government "service." As Milton Friedman once wrote, government bureaucracies – especially unionized ones – are like economic black holes where increased "inputs" lead to declining "outputs." The more that is spent on government schools, the less educated are the students. The more that is spent on welfare, the more poverty there is, and so on. This of course is the exact opposite of normal economic life in the private sector, where increased inputs lead to more products and services, not fewer.

Thirty years ago, the economist Sharon Smith was publishing research showing that government employees were paid as much as 40 percent more than comparable private-sector employees. If anything, that wage premium has likely increased.

The enormous power of government-employee unions effectively transfers the power to tax from voters to the unions. Because government-employee unions can so easily force elected officials to raise taxes to meet their "demands," it is they, not the voters, who control the rate of taxation within a political jurisdiction. They are the beneficiaries of a particular form of taxation without representation (not that taxation with representation is much better). This is why some states have laws prohibiting strikes by government-employee unions. (The unions often strike anyway.)

Politicians are caught in a political bind by government-employee unions: if they cave in to their wage demands and raise taxes to finance them, then they increase the chances of being kicked out of office themselves in the next election. The "solution" to this dilemma has been to offer government-employee unions moderate wage increases but spectacular pension promises. This allows politicians to pander to the unions but defer the costs to the future, long after the panderers are retired from politics.

As taxpayers in California, Wisconsin, Indiana, and many other states are realizing, the future has arrived. The Wall Street Journal reports that state and local governments in the United States currently have $3.5 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities. They must either raise taxes dramatically to fund these liabilities, as some have already done, or drastically cut back or eliminate government-employee pensions.

Government-employee unions are primarily interested in maximizing the profits of the union. Consequently, they use civil-service regulations as a tool to protect the job of every last government bureaucrat, no matter how incompetent or irresponsible he or she is. Fewer employed bureaucrats means fewer union dues are being paid. Thus, it is almost guaranteed that government-employee unions will challenge in court the attempted dismissal of all bureaucrats save the occasional ones who are accused of actual criminal behavior. This means that firing an incompetent government school teacher, for example, can take months, or years, of legal wrangling.

Politicians discovered long ago that the most convenient response to this dilemma is to actually reward the incompetent bureaucrat with an administrative job that he or she will gladly accept, along with its higher pay and perks. That solves the problem of parents who complain that their children's math teacher cannot do math, while eliminating the possibility of a lawsuit by the union. This is why government-school administrative offices are bloated bureaucratic monstrosities filled with teachers who can't teach and are given the responsibilities of "administering" the entire school system instead. No private-sector school could survive with such a perverse policy.

Government-employee unions are also champions of "featherbedding" – the union practice of forcing employers to hire more than the number of people necessary to do the job. If this occurs in the private sector, the higher wage costs will make the firm less competitive and less profitable. It may even go bankrupt, as the heavily unionized American steel, automobile, and textile industries learned decades ago.

No such thing happens in government, where there are no profit-and-loss statements, in an accounting sense, and most agencies are monopolies anyway. Featherbedding in the government sector is viewed as a benefit to both politicians and unions – but certainly not to taxpayers. The unions collect more union dues with more government employees, while the politicians get to hand out more patronage jobs. Each patronage job is usually worth two or more votes, since the government employee can always be counted on to get at least one family member or close friend to vote for the politician who gave him the job. This is why, in the vast literature showing the superior efficiency of private versus government enterprises, government almost always has higher labor costs for the same functions.

Every government-employee union is a political machine that lobbies relentlessly for higher taxes, increased government spending, more featherbedding, and more pension promises – while demonizing hesitant taxpayers as uncaring enemies of children, the elderly, and the poor (who are purportedly "served" by the government bureaucrats the unions represent).

It is the old socialist trick that Frédéric Bastiat wrote about in his famous essay, The Law: The unions view advocates of school privatization, not as legitimate critics of a failed system, but as haters of children. And the unions treat critics of the welfare state, not as persons concerned with the destruction of the work ethic and of the family that has been caused by the welfare state, but as enemies of the poor.

This charade is over. American taxpayers finally seem to be aware that they are the servants, not the masters, of government at all levels. Government-employee unions have played a key role in causing bankruptcy in most American states, and their pleas for more bailouts financed by endless tax increases are finally ringing hollow.

Republished with kind permission of LewRockwell.com

Friday, February 25, 2011

Back in the Day...

The first automobile I ever purchased was a brand new 1980 Mazda RX-7 -- here's the television commercial that no doubt caught my eye...



I drove that Mazda all over Europe (where I was assigned in the US Army) and coast-to-coast across the USA - back in the day...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Complex Decisions

Complex Decisions by Ruth Palmer

Ruth Palmer is an internationally acclaimed contemporary artist from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1959 and moved to Canada in 1975. Her gallery features geometric and gestural abstract works along with digital and traditional pieces. Ruth Palmer's artworks are currently in private collections throughout the US, Canada, Australia, England, and Scandinavia.

Follow the link below to learn more about this and other fine artworks available from Ruth Palmer...

"Complex Decisions" by Ruth Palmer

Visit Ruth Palmer's website at:

Ruth Palmer Fine Art

The State of Business Intelligence (BI) Platforms According to Gartner

The chart below depicts the current state of the major business intelligence (BI) platforms according to Gartner (2011):

Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms (Gartner, 2011)

Follow the link below to read the entire Gartner analysis, including details about their proprietary Magic Quadrant research methodology.

Source: Sallam, R L, Richardson, J, & Hostmann, B (2011, January 27), Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms, Gartner.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Art of Willi Kissmer

Willi Kissmer is a German-born musician and contemporary artist best known for his realist depictions of female bodies in paintings and lithographs. Kissmer generally uses combinations of etching, aquatint, drypoint, and mezzotint techniques on his copperplates. Willi Kissmer's works are found in many private and public collections around the world. Follow the link below to visit his website.


I am pleased to have several of Willi Kissmer's works adorning my home.

Learn More

On “Macroprudential Oversight”

Economists must sometimes scrutinize political rhetoric and terms that allude to well-understood economic concepts, albeit with "spin." For example, the terminology of "too big to fail" is widely used by political commentators as justification for an expansion of regulatory controls over the financial services industry (for more about the meaning of "too big to fail," visit my related post entitled, Too Big to Fail, or Just Too Big?).


Lo and behold, we are now witnessing the arrival of a new political rhetoric that takes the false concept of "too big to fail" to the next level. This new terminology is encapsulated by the notion of "macroprudential oversight," which Dr Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, describes as follows:
Under our current system of safety-and-soundness regulation, supervisors often focus on the financial conditions of individual institutions in isolation. An alternative approach, which has been called system wide or macroprudential oversight [italics added], would broaden the mandate of regulators and supervisors to encompass consideration of potential systemic risks and weaknesses as well.
For the record, the terminology of “macroprudential oversight” is not found in the standard macroeconomics lexicon (and neither is the phrase, “too big to fail”). Moreover, I fear the public is being bamboozled into believing these concepts carry clear economic meanings, which is not the case. From where I sit, the quasi-economic notions of "too big to fail" and "macroprudential oversight" are experimental hypotheses at best. The public should be suspicious of claims that the Federal government has the regulatory know-how to institute "macroprudential oversight" of systemic risks and weaknesses within the US economy. I maintain that the more pragmatic approach for managing systemic risks within the financial services industry is to view firms that are "too big to fail," as also being "too big to keep around."

Source: Bernanke, B (2010, August 2), Bernanke's Speech on Economy at Jackson Hole Conference (Text), Bloomberg.

Related Posts:

Too Big to Fail, or Just Too Big?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fixing Higher Education

Prof Douglas C Bennett, President of Earlham College, has suggested four steps toward "fixing" higher education in America:
  1. Fix the broken financing of higher education.
  2. Strengthen the focus on assessment of learning outcomes.
  3. End intercollegiate athletics as we know it.
  4. Build a national open access digital library system.
Change is coming to higher education, and all of the changes proposed by Prof Bennett make complete sense to me as a professional educator. Follow the link below to learn more...

Prof Douglas C Bennett (1947- )

Source: De Vise, D (2011, February 17), How to Fix Higher Education: Doug Bennett, Earlham College, Washington Post.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Welcome to the Surreal...

Once the unemployed exhaust their 99-weeks of unemployment benefits, their future becomes even bleaker -- consider the options:
  1. Live off charity from family and friends.
  2. Find a lower paying job and live hand-to-mouth.
  3. Steal a grocery cart, push it to a nearby city, and start a new life.
 
Welcome to the surreal -- I weep for those suffering in America…

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Уединенье

Блажен, кто в отдаленной сени,
Вдали взыскательных невежд,
Дни делит меж трудов и лени,
Воспоминаний и надежд;
Кому судьба друзей послала,
Кто скрыт, по милости творца,
От усыпителя глупца,
От пробудителя нахала.

~ Александр Пушкин

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (1799-1837)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Well Said...

"Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood."

~ William Penn

William Penn (1644-1718)

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Only Game Software on My Computer…

For well over a decade, Chessmaster (current version 11) has been the chess software program that has traveled with me on my laptop. However, today marks my transition to Fritz (version 12). While Fritz costs significantly more than Chessmaster, Fritz's extensive playing features make Fritz a better fit for me as a chess hobbiest (who plays to win). I suspect that most veteran chess enthusiasts would agree.

In particular, I like the "friend" mode in Fritz, which tailors the game play to the demonstrated skill level of the human player. Also, the new layout in the current version of Fritz includes ribbon features, which are emerging as the de facto standard for Windows programs since their introduction by Microsoft in Office 2007.


For those wondering, Fritz is the only game software on my computer. I play chess almost daily, so do not be surprised to a chess board on my computer screen from time to time if you are looking over my shoulder...

Learn More

US Education & Training Outlays 1962-2009

One of the key provisions of Pres Obama's recently released budget proposal is increased Federal spending for education and training. The following charts are based on data obtained from the Office of Management and Budget (OMG):




Note that while the total Federal budget for education and training has been trending upwards since 1962, outlays as percent of the total Federal budget and gross domestic product (GDP) have been trending downwards. In other words, Federal spending for education and training has been declining as a percent of the total Federal budget and GDP since 1962.

If innovation and growth are fundamental to reversing the economic fortunes of the US, then I suppose a case can be made for reallocating budget dollars into education and training as a percent of the total budget and GDP. However, exactly how education and training dollars might be used remains a separate issue for public debate.

My intuition tells me that expanded funding for the sciences and engineering may indeed by justified, which is emphatically not the same as pooring dollars into failing schools in the secondary school system. The fact is that our nation has never truly targeted scarce education and training resources based on the specific needs of industry. Moreover, reallocation of education and training dollars between the defense and non-defense sectors may be justified. Indeed, reallocating education and training dollars within the existing budget may be a prerequisite to increased funding in general.

To the extent that increased Federal spending in education and training can be targeted to the sciences and engineering, I vote yea. However, if increased Federal spending in education and training means pooring scarce dollars indiscriminantly into the nation's secondary school system, then my vote is nea.

Source: Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

Well Said...

"You have to have an idea of what you are going to do, but it should be a vague idea."

~ Pablo Picasso

Pablo Ruiz Picasso (1881-1973)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

World's Smallest Political Quiz

Every American should take the short political quiz linked below:

World's Smallest Political Quiz

Passion for Solitude

I'm eating a little supper by the bright window.
The room's already dark, the sky's starting to turn.
Outside my door, the quiet roads lead,
after a short walk, to open fields.
I'm eating, watching the sky—who knows
how many women are eating now. My body is calm:
labor dulls all the senses, and dulls women too.

Outside, after supper, the stars will come out to touch
the wide plain of the earth. The stars are alive,
but not worth these cherries, which I'm eating alone.
I look at the sky, know that lights already are shining
among rust-red roofs, noises of people beneath them.
A gulp of my drink, and my body can taste the life
of plants and of rivers. It feels detached from things.
A small dose of silence suffices, and everything's still,
in its true place, just like my body is still.

All things become islands before my senses,
which accept them as a matter of course: a murmur of silence.
All things in this darkness—I can know all of them,
just as I know that blood flows in my veins.
The plain is a great flowing of water through plants,
a supper of all things. Each plant, and each stone,
lives motionlessly. I hear my food feeding my veins
with each living thing that this plain provides.

The night doesn't matter. The square patch of sky
whispers all the loud noises to me, and a small star
struggles in emptiness, far from all foods,
from all houses, alien. It isn't enough for itself,
it needs too many companions. Here in the dark, alone,
my body is calm, it feels it's in charge.

~ Cesare Pavese

Cesare Pavese (1908-1950)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Bernanke Scolds Congress

Federal Reserve Chairman Dr Ben Bernanke had this to say in his prepared remarks before Congress today:
The CBO's long-term budget projections, by design, do not account for the likely adverse economic effects of such high debt and deficits. But if government debt and deficits were actually to grow at the pace envisioned, the economic and financial effects would be severe. Sustained high rates of government borrowing would both drain funds away from private investment and increase our debt to foreigners, with adverse long-run effects on US output, incomes, and standards of living. Moreover, diminishing investor confidence that deficits will be brought under control would ultimately lead to sharply rising interest rates on government debt and, potentially, to broader financial turmoil. In a vicious circle, high and rising interest rates would cause debt-service payments on the federal debt to grow even faster, resulting in further increases in the debt-to-GDP ratio and making fiscal adjustment all the more difficult.
I guess this means that Dr Bernanke would prefer not to print money, which will be the more likely outcome if fiscal policy continues on its current course. I read Dr Bernanke's comments above as an inflation warning...


Source: Indiviglio, D (2011, February 9), Bernanke Scolds Congress on Deficits, But Provides Little Guidance, Atlantic.

I'm a Snob...

Monday, February 07, 2011

Finding Peace Within...

Main Hall of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum (新加坡佛牙寺龙华院), Singapore

I would like to visit the Buddhist Temple shown above again sometime. My last visit was in 2008...

US Military versus Economic Power in the New Millennium

While the power of the US military-industrial complex remains undisputed around the world, China seems to have usurped America’s position of leadership in global trade and economic policy-making. The irony is that China is viewed by many in the West as a “communist” and therefore economically deprived country. Yet, America is quickly losing stature economically and politically to China, even while US military forces remain deployed overseas in army-scale formations commanded by four-star generals with vast numbers of air, sea, and ground assets engaged in active military operations.

As a matter of history, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has never deployed significant numbers of troops overseas since its founding as a guerrilla force in 1927. Conversely, the US has maintained signficiant numbers of troops overseas in places such as Korea, Germany, Italy, Okinawa, the Phillippines, and elsewhere on a more or less constant basis since World War II.


Given America's capitalist advantage coupled with the continued preponderance of US military power, how is it that China with its emerging economy is gaining in economic influence and prestige at the expense of the US? Prof Nouriel Roubini and Dr Ian Bremmer offer the following explanation for America’s changing fortunes in recent years:
From 1945 until 1990, the global balance of power was defined primarily by relative differences in military capability. It was not market-moving innovation or cultural dynamism that bolstered the Soviet bloc’s prominence within a bipolar international system. It was raw military power. Today, it is the centrality of China and other emerging powers to the future of the global economy, not the numbers of their citizens under arms or the weapons at their disposal, that make their choices crucial for the United States’ future.
Perhaps America could learn a lesson about economic policy from the Chinese experience. With the US now enduring a dramatic economic decline, perhaps our nation should begin a public debate regarding how scarce economic resources can best be allocated between “guns” and “butter” in the coming years...

Source: Bremmer, I and Roubini, N (2011, January 31), The G-Zero World: The New Economic Club Will Produce Conflict, Not Cooperation, Foreign Affairs.

On Mathletics...

I watched the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers this evening in SuperBowl XLV, and regretfully, my favorite team lost with a final score of 31-25. Given that sports was on my mind earlier today, I posted a quick primer about how to setup a football pool at an office or for a game party. As expected, I immediately received a number of emails regarding sports gambling in general, and so this post is a follow-up to my last post intended to addres some of the questions posed by the readers who contacted me.

As for sports gambling, I have to say that it's not my thing. Although I am a risk analyst by profession, I have never taken a deep interest in creating odds in sports. However, for those who want to learn more about how one might apply mathematics to gamble in sports, I would recommend Prof Wayne L Winston's book, Mathletics: How Gamblers, Managers, and Sports Enthusiasts Use Mathematics in Baseball, Basketball, and Football (2009).


I have a copy of Prof Winston's book here in my study (along with several of his other books on the subject of risk analysis), and yes, the book does provide interesting insights into the nature of sports, and especially how probability theory can be applied to better understand the potential of teams, players, and tournaments. Prof Winston's approach to creating odds is disciplined and applies state-of-the-art methods and techniques to forecast sports performance, as well as describe the risks contained in sports data. I am not sure that I am ready to enter the "mathletics" industry, however those so inclined will find Prof Winston's book quite interesting and useful, indeed...

Source: Winston, W L (2009), Mathletics: How Gamblers, Managers, and Sports Enthusiasts Use Mathematics in Baseball, Basketball, and Football, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

How to Setup a Football Pool

Have you ever wondered how to setup a football pool at your office or for a party? In fact, setting up an office or party pool is easier than you might think. Simply follow the steps below:

1. Open the Excel spreadsheet template linked at the bottom of this article, and print the contents of the file using a personal computer printer. Your grid will resemble that shown below.


2. Prepare your numbers by writing the numbers 1 through 10 on individual slips of paper. Place the ten slips of paper into a bowl (or hat). Set the bowl aside until after you complete steps 3 through 5.

3. Determine the buy-in amount preferred by your participants (for example, $1 per square to buy-in, which creates a $100 pool).

4. Upon establishing the buy-in amount, decide how much the payouts will be based on game events and record these amounts and events somewhere in the margin space of the grid sheet you created in step 1. Below is a sampling of potential payouts that may be proffered assuming all squares sell for $1 each creating a $100 total pool:
  • End of Q1: $20
  • End of Q2 (half-time): $20
  • End of Q3: $20
  • End of Q4: $20
  • Final score in the event of overtime: $10; if no overtime, Q4 winner wins this as well.
  • Reverse Score: $10
5. Sell all 100 squares for the buy-in amount determined in step 3 and hold the proceeds in safekeeping. As each buy-in is received, record the name of the participant in one of the boxes in the white ara of the grid.

6. Once you have sold all 100 squares (and before the game kicks-off), write the name of either team in the space at the top of the grid sheet created in step 1, followed by the name of the opposing team along the left side of the grid in the space provided. Begin to draw slips from the bowl you created in step 2 above and record the number from each slip in the shaded area along the top of the grid from left to right. After you have filled in all ten spaces across the top, return the slips to the bowl and repeat this procedure filling in the spaces along the left of the grid from top to bottom. You may discard the slips of paper once you finish.

7. Your 10-by-10 grid should now have a team name at the top and at the side. You should also have a number recorded in each box across the top and down the left side of the grid. Finally, you should have the name of one participant in each of the 100 cells contained in the grid.

8. Record the official score at the end of the 1st quarter, the half, the third quarter and the final score.

9. Cross reference the last digit of each team's score at each event using your grid to determine which of your participants wins each payout determined in step 4.

Good luck and have fun!

Excel 10x10 Football Pool Template

PS: Keep in mind that public gambling is a regulated industry in most states.

Well Said...

"Liberty is the great parent of science and of virtue; and a nation will be great in both in proportion as it is free."

~ Thomas Jefferson

Hon Thomas Jefferson (1743-1809)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Well Said...

"States have rights that the federal government doesn't have."

~ Mitt Romney

Hon Willard Mitt Romney (1947- )

Leviathan Roaring at Society

According to Ian Murray of the National Review Online, the number of Americans living off of Uncle Sam is larger than most of us might imagine:
When we add up the true size of the federal workforce — civil servants, postal workers, military personnel, contractors, grantees, and bailed-out businesses — and add in state and local government employees — civil servants, teachers, firefighters, and police officers — we reach the astonishing figure of nearly 40 million Americans employed in some way by government. That means that about 17 percent of the American labor pool — one in every six workers — owes its living to the taxpayer.
The frightening sentence is the last: "...about 17 percent of the American labor pool — one in every six workers — owes its living to the taxpayer." Given the extent of these numbers, one would think that an adjustment in the public sector just might be in order. In the meantime, Leviathan is roaring at society...


Source: Murray, I (2011, February 3), Leviathan, National Review Online.

Friday, February 04, 2011

US Employment to Population Ratio Continues Plunge

The latest employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the US employment to population ratio* fell to 57.6% for January 2011, down from 58.3% the previous month, and from 57.8% a year ago. The US employment to population ratio has been trending downwards since 2000.


Many economists believe that reporting the number employed as a percentage of the civilian population provides a more accurate description of the current state of employment than conjecturing the number of "unemployed" in a population. The US employment to population ratio reached a historical peak of 64.4% on an annual basis in 2000.

*The BLS defines employment and population (civilian noninstitutional) as follows:
Employment consists of all persons who, during the reference week (the calendar week including the twelfth day of the month), (a) did any work at all (at least 1 hour) as paid employees, worked in their own business or profession or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family, or (b) were not working but had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs.

The civilian noninstitutional population consists of persons 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities and homes for the aged) and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

From Analog to Digital Photography

For the past 30 years, I have carried an Olympus OM-1 35mm SLR as my personal camera. I purchased my OM-1 back in 1979 while living in Germany. Through the years, I have shot thousands of splendid, even spectacular photographs with my OM-1 during my world travels.

Olympus OM-1 35mm SLR (Analog) Camera

Nevertheless, the obsolescence of the Olympus OM-1 finally became clear given that 35mm film has not been available in retail stores for some time now. Hence, a new camera has been front of mind for me in recent months. Well, I am pleased to report that yesterday, I made the plunge into digital photography and purchased a Nikon D3100 14.2 MP SLR Digital Camera as depicted below.

Nikon D3100 14.2MP SLR Digital Camera

After working with the Nikon D3100 for only a day now, I can honestly say that I should have switched from analog to digital years ago. What a joy...

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Well Said...

"The question is whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized."

~ Rachel Carson

"Dr" Rachel Louise Carson (1904-1964)

Just Another Autocratic Elite

The US and its citizens should not lose sight of the fact that Pres Hosni Mubarak (who has held onto the Egyptian presidency since 1981) is just another autocratic elite...

Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak (1928- )

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Well Said...

"Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the world are never alone."

~ Rachel Carson

Self-Service Business Intelligence in 2011

The following is an excerpt from an interview between Mark Brunelli of Search Business Analytics and James Kobielus of Forrester Research:
How do you see the world of self-service BI progressing in 2011?

Self-service BI in 2011 will become the only BI approach that the new generation of information workers will ever encounter. Fundamentally, the way it’s going for us is that everybody wants to have the prestige clients on their desktop for BI -- an in-memory client like a Tibco or a PowerPivot or ClickView. So, what we’re going to see are these in-memory clients that support essentially [light] data mining with interactive visualization. [This will allow users] to bring millions and eventually billions of rows into memory and do some really sophisticated analyses. IT very much wants to go this route since IT doesn’t want to have to build cubes any longer. They don’t want to have to build all of the integration logic if the user can be given front-end tools that they can use to build their own visualizations and to pull data from the data warehouse.
I agree with James Kobielus that the widespread deployment and acceptance of self-service (i.e., "in-memory") business intelligence technologies have arrived...

Source: Brunelli, M (2011, January 28), The Top BI Trends and Analytics Technology Predictions for 2011, Search Business Analytics.