Post by Rob Collie
mullet with labels


Today’s Post is Like a Mullet Haircut:  Business in the Front, Party in the Back

Let’s Go!

Series of quick updates today, mixture of pure fun and serious biz, sometimes simultaneously.  In this post:


  1. Download the Draft Index for the Online University – whether you are currently enrolled or not, this may be relevant.  Grab it here.
  2. Live Class in Philly – seats still open for Oct 21-22, more details here.
  3. “Secret Summit” Between Microsoft and Power Pivot early adopters last week.
  4. DAX:  The Power of Paper
  5. Yours Truly taken into police custody for Possession of Industrial-Grade Data Tools


1) Download the Draft Index and TOC for the Online University

In response to student requests, we’ve been working hard on creating a book-style index for the Online University.  In addition to proceeding through the course at your own pace, it makes sense to be able to jump directly to relevant topics, perhaps even topics you’ve already covered but don’t precisely remember where they were.  So an index is good.

Naturally, we’ve been using Excel as our development tool for said Index:




Book-Style Index Draft




Detailed Sequential Index Draft

The index contains nearly 500 entries/keywords at the moment, and we’re still in the process of refining it.

Soon we will publish this as a web page integrated into the University site itself, but for now, we’d love you to grab this draft version and tell us what you think:


  1. If you ARE enrolled in the course, tell us whether this is helpful, how we could make it more helpful, etc.
  2. If you are NOT enrolled, we’d still love your feedback on whether the course seems to include the things you’d want it to.


Download Draft Index (XLSX) Here

And please send feedback to [email protected]

1a) Public Table of Contents for the Online University

The course DOES have a Table of Contents (TOC), of course – it’s just that there’s no index, which is what we’re working on above.

But even the TOC is only available AFTER you’ve enrolled, which is silly of us.  It makes much more sense to make the TOC available ahead of time, so you can decide whether it’s a good course for you.

So we’re also extracting the TOC so you can view it before enrolling.  For now, that’s in Word doc format but will soon be HTML:


Download the Table of Contents (DOCX) Here

Again, please send feedback to [email protected]

2) Live Class in Philly – Seats Still Available






Click Here for Details

3) “Secret Summit” Between Microsoft and Power Pivot Adopters

Last week, leaders from the Microsoft engineering teams for Excel, SQL Server, and PowerPoint (yes, PowerPoint) met with P3 Adaptive staff and two of our biggest clients – to see, firsthand, the things we have been seeing:




photo (4)


(Photos From an Undisclosed Location, Somewhere Near Chicago – Monday Sept. 8th)

This is noteworthy for a few reasons:


  1. With the exception of one person, EVERYONE flew in for this. From Seattle, from Israel (!), from Ohio, New York…
  2. Without naming names, I can tell you that the reps from MS truly were leaders from the teams in question, including my former mentor cough cough.
  3. Isn’t that awesome?  No one was making any money on this trip – in fact we were all spending money, and precious time, to do this.
  4. That is testament to how much power this has to change lives – why would our clients want to take time out of their schedules to do this?  Because they, like me, have seen something amazing – a once-in-a-career phenomenon – and believe that for the Greater Good, Microsoft should hear it loud and clear.
  5. This is also a counterexample to the oft-repeated slogan of “Microsoft Never Listens.” While there are plenty of negative examples, we should all remember that there are often excellent human beings on the other side of the equation, who ARE willing to invest valuable time in extraordinary “listening” efforts.  (I say this as a reminder not just to readers, but also, as a reminder for me).

Publicly, I want to thank EVERYONE who participated – Microsoft staff for sure, but even more importantly, our clients.  After all, Microsoft and P3 Adaptive are IN this business.  Our clients are not – they are in the business of…  business.  So this was more of a divergence for you than for MS and P3.  Thank you, again, very much, to Mike, Tom, Donovan, and Greg.  Everything I have heard from MS afterwards has reinforced that this meeting was incredibly valuable and enlightening.

4) DAX:  The Power of Paper















Last Night I Found Myself Leaning on a Low-Tech Crutch:  Pen and Paper

Every now and then, I find myself writing a formula that is difficult to keep in my head.  The fact that this HAPPENS is not an indicator of Power Pivot complexity, but rather, its sheer power.  The simple stuff is pretty simple (once you’re properly oriented), but you truly are NOT limited by that, and can find yourself saying things like “yeah, I bet I COULD reduce that entire manual workbook and multi-day process to a single measure formula.”  And off you go.

If you must know the details, I found myself struggling with an exponential forecasting formula, one that requires the magic of “PRODUCTX” but goes well beyond the requirements of that first post.  (Second time recently I have encountered this need, actually – would be so much easier if DAX offered recursion and/or a real PRODUCTX function).  I found myself expanding terms like I was back in algebra class and then divining a pattern I could execute with nested SUMX’s.  And to my great satisfaction, it worked in the end!

For bonus points, this is the first time I ever used the EARLIER function in a measure.  Muhaha.

Anyway, sometimes there is just something supremely comforting and tangible about holding a good pen.  It’s like a “wooby” or something, but also allows me to think mechanically at times when my brain just can’t hold all of the parts at once.

5) Arrested for Subversive Operation of Heavy Data Machinery




The Charge?  Possession of Industrial-Strength Data Tools with Intent to Distribute.

Apparently our local ordinances limit portable data tools to a capacity of 1M rows, and single table analysis only.  My laptop allegedly possessed the power to crunch many millions of rows, AND multiple tables simultaneously.

I plan to plead No Contest to these charges, and take my case to the Supreme Court.  It’s time to strike down the antiquated notion that tools of such power must only be wielded in the context of large, expensive, and underwhelming BI projects.  We’re 14 years into a new century, and it’s time society starts recognizing that.

(No, I wasn’t actually arrested of course – just couldn’t resist the joke when given the chance to sit in the car).