Tell The Joke Again – Blogging On Blogging

I just returned from a meeting with some of my peers at SolidQ and we were talking about the value of blogging and publishing articles.  A few days ago, another one of my peers asked me to review his first-ever blog post before it was published.  Douglas McDowell, CEO of SolidQ North America, shared a blog post he wrote earlier this year about his perspective on this, which I found quite insightful.  It’s about sharing information that someone has shared with you.  I now share this with you:

Tell the joke again

by Douglas McDowell

Have you ever retold a joke? Of course you have, we love to hear jokes and retell them. But no one ever tells the joke the same way they heard it, they change it to reflect their personality, make it funnier or fit a situation or audience better. A part of them comes through in how they retell the joke. And retelling the joke is usually as (or more) entertaining to the person retelling the joke as it is to the people hearing it.

The last few weeks I have been spending a lot of time doing one-on-one meetings with folks on the services delivery team, mostly around their quarterly plans for non-billable contributions and professional development. What a blessing that has been! It is tiring to spend your day in back-to-back meetings, but it I don’t remember when I have gotten to spend so much direct time with our people talking about how to make themselves, and in-turn SolidQ, so much better. The reality is that we all try to pack too much into our days, and it is far too easy to only focus on what has to get done and put off what could get done. But the stuff that could get done—but doesn’t necessarily have to get done—is often what is most valuable: investing in ourselves and SolidQ – the company that lets us do what we love to do.

A reoccurring theme in my quarterly planning discussions has been blogging. What a great way to reflect on who you are, where you are going and what you are finding along the way, and then reinforcing or exploring further your discoveries. Everyone I spoke with agreed wholeheartedly — but almost none of them blog, myself included. Interestingly, a common comment that people volunteered was that they do not feel like they have much new or worthwhile to blog about. Each time I heard this I directly challenged it. I challenged the notion that blogging was for the benefit of the reader… I think blogging takes a completely different form when the writer is a little selfish and writes it for their own benefit. After all, it’s their blog, its their own online journalism column about whatever they want to write about and the reader and “public” aspect of a blog is really just about accountability and sharing oneself with others. Wow, I started that concept with selfishness and ended it unselfishness. Guess that makes my point that I have convinced myself and have been trying to convince others that blogging is a win-win proposition for everyone.

I challenge you to tell the joke again.

Perhaps, if you started blogging today, you would not have a single new thing to tell the world. But I think the world would be worse off if we only told jokes we made up (painful). So… Retell a story. Explain how you figured out something obvious. Announce something exciting. Explain your reasoning behind your perspective. Share your epiphany moment, adding accountability to what you know you need to do next.

Go blog.​

Datazen Visual Control Categories

Choosing the right visualization control for a set of data can sometimes be challenging.  I find some aspects of designing dashboard solutions in Datazen on the surface to be very simple but it’s easy to get stuck in the details and fine points.  The purpose of this guide to help simplify and categorize visual control choices in mobile dashboard design.  Datazen supports five categories of visual controls:

  • Navigators
  • Gauges
  • Charts
  • Maps
  • DataGrids

Navigator Controls

These controls are used to filter the data displayed in other controls


  • Time Navigator displays a range of time/date values

Supports years, quarters, months, days, hours
Auto-generates each date/time level value (doesn’t require a date lookup table)
Supports one or multiple metric fields

  • Scorecard Grid combines a selection list with multi-field value KPI scorecard
  • Selection List supports single-select, multi-select and All

Gauge Visuals


This group of controls display a single numeric field value rather than multiple values

  • The Number control displays a single value with no target
  • All other controls display a value compared to a target value, which requires that the dataset has two separate metric fields for this purpose.

Chart Visuals


  • Time Chart & Comparison Time Chart:
  • Similar to Time Navigator but also supports auto, decade levels
  • These controls segment aggregated metrics by a category field:

Category Chart, Comparison Category Chart, Waterfall Chart, Funnel Chart, Tree Map

These controls use multiple metric fields (doesn’t segment)

Totals Chart, Pie Chart

Map Visuals


  • Geographic region names map to embedded shape names in the map definition
  • Shapes use well-known region names but not well documented.  All the shape names are exposed in a JSON structure within the dashboard definition file (to view the definition, rename a copy of the .datazen file with a .zip extension.)
  • Single metric field values:

Map, Bubble Map

Metric & comparison (KPI target) values:

Range Stop Heat Map

DataGrid Visuals


  • Simple DataGrid:

Based on one table, displays selected fields

  • Indicator DataGrid:

Based on one table, displays selected fields as either columns or indicators/gauges.

Indicators require 2 fields for metric & target/comparison

  • Chart DataGrid:

Supports features of Indicator DataGrid

Based on two tables with matching key fields

Second table is used for the category chart