A thought for today: No-one will give you a job. You have to earn it!


I regularly visit LinkedIn and read the discussions, where they exist. What amazes me are the responses to job posts which just have “Interested”, a name, or an email address. Those who post this type of response are only boosting LinkedIn’s count of “engagements”, not their chances of landing that job.

No-one will give you a job. You have to earn it!

It is true that doing well in a job interview it usually critical. However, in order to do well in the interview, you have to be offered one. A good CV/resume will help, but, even before you send that to an employer, there are ways to improve your chances of being offered an interview:

  1. Are you already known to the employer? Do you know anyone that already works there?
  2. Are you actively participating in LinkedIn or other groups? By participating I don’t mean posting “Interested”, but asking insightful questions or offering helpful answers, which demonstrate your subject knowledge.
  3. Have you presented in conferences or webinars? Presenting papers can be difficult at first, but by researching your topics thoroughly in advance, and incorporating your research into your presentations, you will gain confidence and show that you can explain your subject knowledge clearly to others. You will also find the questions asked afterwards to be easier to answer, or could lead you to research a new topic for a future presentation.

Getting a job should never be easy. It requires you to put in that extra little bit of effort, so that you can stand out amongst the candidates, and the employers see the potential in you and also see the benefits you can bring to their company.

No-one will give you a job. You have to earn it!

My SASGF 2021 paper “How Many Shades of Guide: SAS Enterprise Guide to 8.3 and SAS Studio to 3.81 with SAS 9.4” is now available for download


My SASGF 2021 paper “How Many Shades of Guide: SAS Enterprise Guide to 8.3 and SAS Studio to 3.81 with SAS 9.4” is now available for download here.

This link allows you to download the paper and slides in a zip file, plus:

  • Link to the SAS Global Forum 2021 Proceedings, where you can also download the paper, slides and link to the video.
  • Direct access to the link to the YouTube video of the presentation.
  • Download evaluation software to script Peedy, with a full software download in the future.

Note that, while SAS Global Forum Americas and Asia Pacific has ended, SAS Global Forum EMEA will be held on 25-26 May 2021.

I’m presenting with Peedy at Virtual SAS Global Forum 2021 on 20May2021


I’m presenting with Peedy at Virtual SAS Global Forum 2021 on 20May2021 at 1600hr (GMT+1), and I will be chatting in a Live Q&A from 1600-1630hr. My presentation is “How Many Shades of Guide: SAS Enterprise Guide to 8.3 and SAS Studio to 3.81 with SAS 9.4: Part 1 – SAS Enterprise Guide”, but it will only include Enterprise Guide due to time constraints. “Part 2 – SAS Studio” will be published at a later date, although the conference paper does include the history of both applications.

Who is Peedy? I can hear you asking, and I can give you a quick preview below, as he appears in my preview video (1:26, 3.19Mb).

He does more in the conference presentation, so please come and cheer him on, and I’ll explain a little more about why he is there!

STOP PRESS: The #SASGF proceedings are now available, and my paper, slides and video link can now be found here.

PharmaSUG 2019: Books, Trains, Boats and Planes


PharmaSUG US 2019 was held at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown from 15-19 June 2019.

My wife and I flew from London to Boston, where we spent 2 nights visiting the historical sites in and around the city, as well as tasting some excellent local beers.

We then flew to Buffalo and crossed the border into Canada to visit Niagara Falls for 2 nights, walking behind the Horseshoe Falls and braving the mist. This spot had been high on my wife’s “bucket list” for many years. Admittedly the Hornblower catamarans used from the Canadian side do have transparent screens, so we didn’t get as wet as some of the other passengers! In contrast, the Maid of the Mists boats from the American side have no protection at all, but, as single-hull boats, can’t approach as close to the falls either.

We then flew from Buffalo to Philadelphia for the start of PharmaSUG, where I was a First Timer. I proudly wore my First Timer ribbon legitimately, as I’d never been to PharmaSUG before, along with my Presenter and Code Doctor ribbons. However, it was also a bit misleading, as I’ve presented previously at more than 30 international conferences in Europe and the USA, so several conference friends told me off for cheating.

My presentation wasn’t about ODS Graphics this time, but about SAS programming techniques to reduce data surprises. The room was about half full early on Tuesday morning, and, judging by the number of questions afterwards, well received (and I didn’t see anyone leave in the middle!). My room was run with friendship and precision by Frank Canale and Maggie Ying, who both made me very welcome, so I must give them a big thank you.

I had sat on the Code Doctors table in the “Code Clinic” at SAS Global Forum, but my 2 official sessions in Philadelphia, and several unofficial sessions too, were actually more enjoyable. Each session started very quietly, so I got to chat with my fellow Doctors, many of whom I’d met many times before. The last half hour of each session was filled with varied questions about concatenating strings in R, working around annoying “features” in old Microsoft applets, and answering questions about CDISC SDTM and ADaM specifications. Note the lack of “real” SAS questions, but still very entertaining, and I hope the answers proved useful!

PharmaSUG US 2019 had a record attendance of 910 this year, but I’d previously attended SAS Global Forum with 6,500 attendees, so it felt much smaller and more personable. Being relatively small also made it easier to meet up with people there. The conference lunches were excellent too, so a big thank you to MaryAnne DePesquo, although I was initially worried she might be cross with me for missing SAS Global Forum 2019 in Dallas, where she was Conference Chair, but she did forgive me!

I knew I would meet several conference friends I’d met before at SAS Global Forum and PhUSE, but I never expected so many friends would be there. In fact there were, apparently, rumours beforehand that I was coming to PharmaSUG, and some there didn’t believe them! Anyway, everyone was very welcoming, and I made lots of new conference friends at PharmaSUG too.

I have run free prize draws for copies of my latest book at most of the conferences I had attended since it was published in 2015, using the free copies Apress, the publisher, had sent me. My penultimate book prize draw at PharmaSUG was won by Qinxiao (Catherine) Shi, a Statistics student from the University of Connecticut (see photo). I wish I’d been able to take a photo of her reaction when she found out she had won. Let’s just say she was very pleased to win!

After 9 days in North America we had to travel home to the UK again, but not without one last adventure by rail, as I had booked a train from Philadelphia to Penn Station in New York. From there we had to catch 2 more trains, buying tickets before each leg, to get to JFK, our departure airport. While the potential issues were many, including an unexpected power outage at the station in Philadelphia that morning, I can report nothing untoward happened en route to JFK, and we even arrived there earlier than expected.

Now we have been back in the UK a few days, I’ve had time to reflect on our PharmaSUG journey, and all I can think of are 3 words: Welcoming, Enlightening and Worthwhile! Thank you everyone we’ve met in the USA and Canada. We’ll be back!

PS. For those interested in my beer tastings, I tasted 20 new beers during this journey: 4 in Boston, 4 in Niagara, 11 in Philadelphia and finally 1 in New York.

I’m presenting at the Toronto SAS Meetup on 05Mar2019, but I won’t be there!


I’m presenting at the Toronto SAS Meetup on 27Feb2019 05Mar2019, but I won’t be there, because, technology permitting, I’ll be presenting remotely from my nice warm office in the UK. This is intended to take advantage of remote communications and to avoid the need for me to fly over the Atlantic for a 20-minute talk!

More information, including registration details, can be found at the Toronto SAS Meetup site.

Toronto SAS Meetup
I’ll be presenting “Converting Plots from SAS/GRAPH to ODS Graphics”. Please come to the meeting and ask me questions, as I’ll be happy to discuss any of the points in my presentation with you.

If you enjoy this presentation, then talk to Mamadou Dakouo about inviting me to present again at a future meeting, as this is the first of 4 different presentations about ODS Graphics.

Have you registered for SAS Forum UK 2018 yet? I’m presenting there!


Have you registered for SAS Forum UK 2018 in Birmingham yet? It is being held at The Vox Conference Centre, Resorts World, Birmingham B40 1PU (next to the NEC) from June 18-19, and I’m presenting “The Art of Defensive Programming: Coping with Unseen Data” on Monday afternoon.

My highlights of the conference will be:

  • Paul Kent’s keynote on Monday morning, “Using SAS in the best possible way, driving intelligence, putting it in to practice and gaining competitive advantage”.
  • My presentation, of course! ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • I’m hoping to be able to run a free prize draw for a copy of my latest SAS book, as I did last year!
  • The drinks reception followed by the Customer Awards on Monday evening.
  • Live screening of England’s World Cup match against Tunisia on Monday evening, including an England and Tunisian themed dinner and drinks. Note that, if you are not an England football fan, there will still be food and drinks!
  • Charles Senabulya talking on Tuesday morning, “SAS Update: Getting you In The Know on SAS developments”.

You may disagree with my highlights, so feel free to investigate the conference yourself. Full details about the venue, agenda and registration can be found atย https://www.sas.com/en_gb/events/2018/sas-uk-forum.html.

SAS, Book, Rocks and the Passing of Time in Colorado


SAS Global Forum 2018 was held in the Colorado Convention Center from April 8 to 11 (Sunday to Wednesday) in Downtown Denver.

Attending a large SAS conference like SAS Global Forum, with its 5,500 attendees, you have to be prepared to “think on your feet”, because nothing ever happens quite the way you expect it to, and finding a specific attendees requires luck and/or persistence. That said I found 60+ friends and contacts during the conference, from as far afield as Australia and the UK, and even met a friend in Denver airport on my way home!

It might be of interest to you that, even though many of the sessions were looking at the newest SAS products and features, including SAS/Viya, attendances generally appeared to be higher in the sessions involving SAS programming. In each session head counts were recorded, so the conference organisers will hopefully be able to see this for themselves. I presented “The Art of Defensive Programming” on the Tuesday afternoon to a full room of 148 seats, and with a queue of hopeful attendees outside. I was told afterwards that the room limit was 144, but 4 seats had been added before I started to present!

However, I would like to apologise to anyone who attended my paper and was disappointed that my 50-minute paper only lasted 20 minutes. I was making use of the new count-down timer on the desk, which told me how long I had to go, and then had amber and red lights to tell me when I had 5 minutes left and when I had to stop. Unfortunately I didn’t notice that the starting time had been set to 20 minutes, instead of 50 minutes, and nor did the room chair. If there are time left cards, or count-down timers, then I do tend to rely on them, rather than using my own watch, or the room clock (which I couldn’t see in that room anyway). Whenever I present I have specific slides which I use to check how fast, or slow, I’m going, and at the first of these slides I saw I only had 10 minutes left, so I upped my pace. However, I can assure everyone that I didn’t remove any of the content, even though I finished on 20 minutes to the second! I just cut back on the explanation I would have added to each slide, which could have extended my presentation to 50 minutes. Had the room chair or I known that there had been a queue outside, then I could have re-run my presentation in the 30 minutes I had left, so that no-one who wanted to attend would have missed out. But hindsight is a wonderful thing!

During the conference I ran a free prize draw at the ODS Graphics booth to win a copy of my latest book “SAS Programming and Data Visualization Techniques“. I set up the draw on the Sunday afternoon with a printout of the book’s cover and contents, a pile of cards for the entrant’s name and email address, and a box to put the completed cards. Unfortunately the cleaning team in the Quad were super-efficient, and on Monday morning the box with the completed cards from Sunday had gone! I had to borrow a plastic bowl from SAS Publishing for the completed cards, and hope that the cleaning team would ignore it. Anyway by 4pm on Tuesday the bowl was still there with 22 entry cards (although I’d had to replace the printout of the book’s cover and contents on Tuesday morning!), and Christine Grice’s card was drawn by Sanjay Matange. I arranged for an announcement to be made over the public address system, and I contacted Christine using email and the SASGF app, but was unable to find her during the conference. Happily though, since the conference, we’ve been in touch, and she now has copies of the 2 self-published ebooks that were included in my latest book.

After the conference my wife Angela and I went on a day tour into the nearby Rockies, visiting the Red Rocks Amphitheater, where the Beatles, John Denver and Widespread Panic had performed. We also visited several mining towns. Thursday was a very warm day in Denver with temperatures reaching 27C (81F), and Angela and I walked to the Denver Botanic Gardens in the afternoon. Friday, however, was not at all warm, with Denver reaching 6C (43F), but Central City in the Rockies reaching -3C (27F)! Idaho Springs was warmer at 0C (32F), but there was still a frozen waterfall there.

Did I enjoy the SAS Global Forum? Yes!

Did I enjoy exploring Denver and the Rockies? Yes, and I tasted 25 local beers while I was there too!

Would I come back? If I had the opportunity to present in Denver again, then Yes!

I’m not planning to attend the SAS Global Forum 2019 in Dallas, unless I’m invited to run a SAS training course alongside the conference, but I will be at PharmaSUG 2019 in Philadelphia, which will be my first time at PharmaSUG! I’m hoping to run a training course before or after the conference, and present at the conference too. Hopefully I’ll be able to meet you there (and I’ll be bringing my own clock!).

Are you going to SAS Forum UK 2017 in Birmingham? I’m presenting there!


SAS Forum UK 2017 is being held in the Vox Conference Centre near the Birmingham NEC again this year from Tuesday 26th to Wednesday 27th September 2017, and I’ll be presenting “Making Graphs Easier to Validate – The Benefits of ODS Graphics” at 1130hr in the Tech Tips stream on the Tuesday.

It will not a very big conference (although last year there were 650 attendees spread over the 2 days), as not everyone attends both days, but it will lean heavily towards techie topics again. Those looking to take certification exams will be able to do so during Tuesday, Tuesday also includes streams for “Expert services for: Learning & Academia”, “Expert services for: Consulting & Premium Support”, “Tech Tips” and “Super Demos”, and the Wednesday will include streams for “Customer Stories”, “SAS Presents”, “Technical Insights” and more “Super Demos”. See the SAS Forum UK 2017 web site for more details.

I will be running a prize draw again for you to win a copy of my recent book “SAS Programming and Data Visualization Techniques: A Power User’s Guide”. Just drop in a business card or fill out a blank card at the stand to get a chance to win a copy.

Hope to see you there.

What happened in Orlando?


As usual I ran a prize draw this year at SAS Global Forum in Orlando for a copy of my latest book, which was won by Matthew Hoolsema from Carnegie Mellon University from 49 draw entries.

Matthew Hoolsema won a copy of my book in Orlando

The sad part was that my well-thumbed sample copy, which allowed everyone to see what was in the book, was taken during the conference, so I will have to replace it with another brand new copy before my next free draw, instead of using that new copy as a prize. I must admit that I find it extremely annoying when a company can pay $100s to $1,000s for the conference registration, travel and accommodation, but nothing for a $40 book!

The conference’s Kick-Back party was held at Disney Hollywood Studios at the end of the 2nd full day of the conference after the public had left. I’d last visited this park in 1999, when it was called MGM Studios. Some of the “exciting” rides, which I have never enjoyed, were open, and my favourite show from 1999, “Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular”, was still there, but disappointingly closed for the evening! Fortunately, unlike previous Kick-Back parties, the noise levels were low enough to permit normal conversations, so my voice was still OK the following morning for my presentation. You may remember that in March I said that I was presenting “Making Validation of Graphs Easier: The Benefits of ODS Graphics” at the conference on 5 April 2017. The video recording of my presentation can now be viewed on the SAS web site, along with several of the other presentations, and my paper, slides and sample code can be downloaded from this blog site.

Next year SAS Global Forum will be in Denver, Colorado. I’ve never been there before, so I’m looking for some suitable topics for new presentations. Any suggestions?

See “Making Graphs Easier to Validate – The Benefits of ODS Graphics” at SAS Global Forum in Orlando


Are you attending SAS Global Forum in April this year? If you are then you have the opportunity to see me present “Making Graphs Easier to Validate – The Benefits of ODS Graphics” on Wednesday 5 April from 1100-1150hr. I’ll be in the Americas Seminar Room on Dolphin Level 5 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida. In this presentation I’ll be talking about how to make your graphs easier to validate by using ODS Graphics and a lot of common sense!

However, maybe you are not going to be in Orlando in April, but you and your colleagues would still like to see me present on this topic. What can you do about that? Well it should still be possible, because I’m currently developing a 1/2 day training session which I’m calling “Defensive SAS Programming”. This will include “Making Graphs Easier to Validate – The Benefits of ODS Graphics”, but also “Writing Reusable Macros” and another new topic “The Art of Defensive Programming: How to Cope with Unseen Data”.

You’ll see from the link above that I don’t have to be in the room with you to present, therefore I could present through your company’s video-conferencing system from my own office at home to your conference room wherever you are instead. The “Available” and “Coming Soon” training sessions can all be booked in advance, but the “Coming Soon” training sessions will be developed specifically for you, if you are the first to request them.

Going back to “Making Graphs Easier to Validate – The Benefits of ODS Graphics”, this presentation and paper will be available for download from the Product Shop shortly after it is presented for the first time, but may also be available from the SAS Global Forum site before the conference too!

I’m looking forward to SAS Global Forum, and hope to see you there, or elsewhere in the near future!