I work with QlikView, which provides the leading Business Intelligence solutions QlikView and Qlik Sense. These are terrific products, but they currently only run on Windows. However, it is possible to run them on a Mac using VmWare Fusion or another virtual machine.
I use a MacBook Pro with 16GB of RAM, which makes for a great development system. I also use a 500 GB SSD disk. This combination is very fast and has high performance. It is important for QlikView, which is an in-memory product.
I do not recommend anything less than 8 GB of RAM. QlikView shines with a lot of memory, and you want to spend your time solving problems, not waiting for it to do its work.
We will configure the Mac to be capable of either of:
- Booting into Windows directly. In this mode, you will be using all the RAM and other resources of your Mac. Use this mode when you have very large data sets and need to use every ounce of performance you can get.
- Optional: Running Windows and QlikView using VmWare Fusion. In this mode, you will be running both Mac OS X and Windows at the same time. Performance will be acceptable for 80% – 90% of ordinary QlikView development. You will find that QlikView will start to slow down when working with very large data sets. However, you will be able to use Mac OS X and your Mac software at the same time.
Obtain a copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8. At the time of this post, it is very difficult to find a legitimate licensed copy of Windows 7. If unsuccessful, you can buy and download Windows 8 from the Microsoft Store. I recommend buying the download version of Windows 8.1 Professional.
- Boot your Mac into OS X.
- Partition the Mac’s hard drive with Boot Camp Assistant using Apple’s instructions. Install Windows 8.1 Professional.
- Make sure to activate your copy of Windows.
- Make sure to download and install all Windows updates, making as many reboots as necessary. You should plan that this will take at least a few hours, although you can do other things in the meantime.
- Recommended: Visit ninite.com and download the excellent Ninite installer. This will allow you to download, install, and later update several Windows applications with one click. I have found the following applications relevant and useful for QlikView development:
- Chrome, Firefox, WinDirStat, Classic Start, Notepad++, WinMerge, 7-Zip, Foxit Reader, Everything (a search app)
- Install QlikView Desktop Client and Qlik Sense.
- Install any other Windows-only applications that you desire.
Running Windows and QlikView in a virtual machine
- Reboot into Mac OS X.
- Buy and download VmWare Fusion. A 30-day trial version is available.
- Follow these instructions to have VmWare Fusion recognize and run your Bootcamp partition.
- Tweak the settings for the virtual machine. Everybody’s preferences are different, and you may have to experiment to find out what works optimally for your hardware. These are the settings that I use:
- Sharing > Shared Folders = Off
- Processors and Memory: I use only 1 processor core and 6144 MB of RAM.
- Take a look at the other settings, e.g Printers and change them to match your working environment.
- Start the VmWare Fusion virtual machine and test it.
- It is likely that you will be prompted to activate Windows with Microsoft a second time. This is normal and should be necessary only once.
If you need maximum performance and full usage of RAM, restart Mac OS and reboot into Windows.
To minimize problems, make a practice of shutting down Windows cleanly, especially if you are switching between the virtual machine and booting up Windows directly.
The Washington Post has a simulation and visualization of how fast Ebola spreads and how deadly it is compared to other infectious diseases. I ran the simulation:
A comparison that has been made is to the Flu, which kills over 30,000 people every year in the US. While this figure is certainly true, Ebola is much more deadly, with a death rate of 70% this year. This is visualized very well with this simple comparison:
Flu spreads fairly rapidly, infecting 100 people within 14 days. However, only 2 of those people will die of Flu.
Ebola, by comparison, spreads more slowly, taking 68 days to infect 100 people. But the consequences are much more severe – about 70% of those infected will likely die.
Thanks to Flowing Data for the link.
Marieke McCloskey of the Nielsen Norman Group has an article titled Writing Hyperlinks: Salient, Descriptive, Start with Keyword.
The article’s key findings and recommendations for constructing hyperlinks in a web page or other browser-like application:
- The anchor text (the text visible on the page) should stand out from the body content.
- The text should accurately describe the page that it refers to, preferably within the first two words.
The recommendations are based upon interesting data on how users scan through web pages looking for context and information.
I recently had occasion to conduct a QlikView training class and used QlikView 11 for Developers very effectively as a training tool.
Barry Harmsen and Miguel García are the authors of the well regarded book QlikView 11 for Developers. They have also produced companion PowerPoint training materials.
I had 5 attendees, all new to QlikView. I put together 16 hours of hands-on training, focused mostly on the Designer chapters, with some scripting. The PowerPoint training materials helped me to plan the course and decide how much I could reasonably tackle with the constraint of 16 hours. The authors estimate that it would take about 40 hours to cover all topics in their book and materials, and I think that they are correct.
During the class, I emphasized the hands-on exercises in the book and used the PowerPoint materials as a supplement to explain key points of the material. I provided each attendee with a copy of the book, and they were very pleased with it, and with the step-by-step approach described in the pages. I also used the PowerPoint materials for a couple of chapters where we didn’t have time to do the hands-on exercises, but wanted to give the attendees some background information.
This combined approach seemed to work well. The class followed along very well through all the hands-on exercises, and I feel confident that they have the foundation to proceed with QlikView design and development.
In my training survey, I posed this question:
The materials provided in this training were useful tools in understanding QlikView design
Subsequent to the class, I have provided the attendees with some help and it has been very useful to refer them to their copy of the book so that they can better understand and try out some capability of QlikView.
Kudos to Barry and Miguel for an excellent book that serves as a great learning tool and reference.
Janelle Estes has an interesting article Seamlessness in the Cross-Channel User Experience describing how to support users as they start, work on and complete a task across multiple “channels”, such as a desktop, mobile app, the digital world and the real world.
She provides helpful examples of companies that support this experience well, including Home Depot, where a user interested in a particular product can:
- Search for it on the Home Depot website.
- After selecting a particular model, find a local store that has it in stock
- Request an email with that information
- Upon arriving at the store, use a mobile phone to read the email, and find the aisle number and quantity in stock.
The article is well worth reading and has implications for the BI space as well. A well designed dashboard might:
- Allow users and analysts to perform discovery about their daily job, e.g. find accounts receivable that are overdue
- Upon drilling down to a particular customer with an overdue account, view an actionable display that includes:
- Customer contact information
- Details about the overdue invoices, sufficient for the customer to track them down
- Invoice age bucket information
- This information could be produced in a form compact enough to be emailed to the customer with a note.
I can imagine any number of such task-oriented dashboards that improve focus, clarity, productivity and effectiveness. A key phrase to use might be actionable dashboard.
A funny infographic about infographics from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Jen Cardello has a excellent post up with ten usability issues found on the HealthCare.gov (Obamacare) web site. Many of these issues are worth reading about for any web site or dashboard that you develop or maintain.
HealthCare.gov’s Account Setup: 10 Broken Usability Guidelines (Nielsen Norman Group)
I have an interest in encryption technology and read this New York Times article with great interest: N.S.A. Foils Much Internet Encryption.
The bottom line: If you keep sensitive data in the cloud or send it over the Internet:
- Choose your encryption technology carefully. Understand its limitations and weak points.
- Create your own keys and keep them close to your chest. You can’t trust your service provider if they have installed a backdoor or if any government or other party leans on your provider hard enough.
Excerpts from the article:
Because strong encryption can be so effective, classified N.S.A. documents make clear, the agency’s success depends on working with Internet companies — by getting their voluntary collaboration, forcing their cooperation with court orders or surreptitiously stealing their encryption keys or altering their software or hardware.
Microsoft asserted that it had merely complied with “lawful demands” of the government, and in some cases, the collaboration was clearly coerced. Some companies have been asked to hand the government the encryption keys to all customer communications, according to people familiar with the government’s requests. Executives who refuse to comply with secret court orders can face fines or jail time.
Since Mr. Snowden’s disclosures ignited criticism of overreach and privacy infringements by the N.S.A., American technology companies have faced scrutiny from customers and the public over what some see as too cozy a relationship with the government. In response, some companies have begun to push back against what they describe as government bullying.
Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook have pressed for permission to reveal more about the government’s secret requests for cooperation. One small e-mail encryption company, Lavabit, shut down rather than comply with the agency’s demands for what it considered confidential customer information; another, Silent Circle, ended its e-mail service rather than face similar demands.
In effect, facing the N.S.A.’s relentless advance, the companies surrendered.
Ladar Levison, the founder of Lavabit, wrote a public letter to his disappointed customers, offering an ominous warning. “Without Congressional action or a strong judicial precedent,” he wrote, “I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.”
I recently upgraded to a new wireless router and was looking for a password that is easy to type into small mobile devices but is also hard to crack.
I came across an excellent online utility written by Bart Busschots, the xkpasswd secure memorable password generator. It comes with presets for many common use cases including WPA2 and is also customizable. You can tweak the parameters until you get a high quality randomly generated password that will work for you. Check out the comic pane at the bottom of the page – it explains the concept.
Update: A further discussion of the concept.