2014: The return of the podcast

Posted by on Dec 30, 2014

2014 must have been the year of the return of the podcast. I’m listening to way more podcasts now than a year ago, and I haven’t seen such an online buzz on podcasting for ages. Maybe it has something to do with the production quality that has risen over the years to an extremely high level. Even the most basic podcast, just a few guys talking to each other over Skype, is a good listen nowadays.

Also a number of shows have come up in the past months that demonstrate a very high production value. Not just some plain talking, but heavily mixed and edited stories to make it a perfect listen. Some of them even got wide spread attention in the MSM. Serial, StartUp, This American Life and Reply-all are examples of these.

I created a lot more time to listen to podcasts lately. While driving I rarely listen to the radio anymore and I now put on a podcast or an audiobook when running long distances, playing PS4 games (Destiny FTW!) and cooking.

So let’s have a look at my favorite podcasts of the past year, which I listen to on a very regular base (almost every show):

Appels en Peren – My favorite tech show. These guys discuss everything and nothing. Sci-fi books and movies, gadgets, Apple, Android, singularity, and so on. [Dutch]

Solomonster Sounds Off – The podcast I have been listening to during every Monday morning commute for a few years now. The Solomonster reviews the past week in pro-wrestling in this monologue podcast and previews upcoming events. I like his very consistent and logical way of making an argument combined with his historic knowledge on this great ‘sport’.

Kees de Kort BNR – Daily economics update by the most pessimistic (or realistic?) analyst of Holland. With a duration of 5 minutes this is also my shortest podcast. [Dutch]

OMT Café – Monthly or so Apple fanboy podcast by the OneMoreThing.nl guys. [Dutch]

Boars, Gore, and Swords – This is a Game of Thrones recap show, created by a group of comedians. The day after a new episode of GoT they go through it scene by scene, explain, speculate and joke. Can’t wait for the next season to start!

StartUp Podcast – Podcast about a guy who starts his own podcasting company. He shares everything. Very high production quality!

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Posted in: De Nederlandse BI Podcast, Featured

Time tracking with Toggl

Posted by on Nov 25, 2014

iuAt the end of each week I have to fill in my timesheet with a breakdown of all the projects I have been working on that week. This used to be a though exercise. I checked my calendar for meetings, scrolled through the mails I received and sent and tried to retrieve things from my own memory to make some kind of estimation for the division of the hours between all my projects and activities. broken.

Another problem was that it was pretty hard to remember how many hours I had actually worked each day. Estimating and remembering extra hours in the weekend or in the evening made this even more difficult. This method was clearly broken.

So I started to add entries in my Outlook calendar for each activity, but this only lead to a cluttered agenda overview. Also this was not fast and easily forgotten.toggl1

And that’s where Toggl came along. Toggl is an online time tracking tool that I’ve been using since the start of this year. The concept is really simple: Add the activity you are working on and press the Start button. When you start another activity, just add it and press Start again.

After entering an activity once, you can quickly reuse it by clicking it in the tracker log. You can arrange activities to projects, and projects to clients. As I only want to register the time I spend on different projects, and not on the specific activities (creating an impact analysis, meeting etc.), I choose to only use the projects and leave the activities empty.

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Posted in: Featured, Lifehacking

The End of Work

Posted by on Jan 12, 2014

raceMachSo, where did all the jobs go? And where are future jobs coming from? I recently read the 2011 book Race Against The Machine by Brynjolfsson and McAfee and these guys have an interesting view on these questions.

To answer the where did all the jobs go question the authors take another direction than the standard “the economy is not growing fast enough” or “the economy is stagnating and productivity has stopped rising” reactions. They came up with the End of Work argument, which I don’t think I have heard somewhere before as the reason for the current – and constant – high unemployment.

This End of Work idea states that we don’t have too little technological progress, but instead too much! Fewer people are needed to produce the goods and services we require, and all of this is caused by computer automation. But, not only automation of the “dump & easy” repetitive tasks, also more advanced work is evaporating. Think of translating a conversation in real-time or driving a car. 15 years ago this was almost science fiction but today Google is pretty far with these technologies. And once these jobs are gone they just won’t come back anymore.

The big question is who will be effected most by this End of Work. This is actually the interesting part. If we divide the labour market in low, middle and highly skilled workers, surprisingly the workers in the middle category will be effected most, and not the low skilled workers. Why? In an era of more and faster automation it probably is easier to automate the work of a bookkeeper, translator, call-center agent or taxi-driver, than the work of a gardener or hairdresser. For the latter types of jobs you would need very sophisticated and expensive robots, while a translator will be easily substituted by a free Google Translate service. Imagine the impact this will have on our society.

Here in Holland the babyboomers are leaving the workforce since a few years. This would mean more room for younger people on the job market. But I still don’t see any positive effect on the unemployment rate. Two years ago I even did a SAP BI project myself to fully automate the work of two office employees that were about to retire. And they indeed weren’t replaced by new hirees anymore…

Obviously the jobs that require a lot of teamwork and creativity will stay in high demand. I was happy to see that they specifically named jobs in data visualization and analytics as highly valued, so we are probably safe for now. On the other hand, if you are in a traditional type of job where someones tells you exactly what you have to do every day, you will get in real trouble sooner or later…

Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee – ISBN: 978-0984725113

Posted in: Books, Featured, New technology, Other, Review

Design Studio add-ons: Graphomate Charts 2.0

Posted by on Dec 26, 2013

2014 is going to be a big year for SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio, especially since the recent 1.2 version of Design Studio offers an SDK to create custom components. I expect to see a lot of cool new add-ons in the coming year.

One of the first companies that created such an add-on is Graphomate from Germany. For SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards they already created the Visualization Add-on in the past, and now they made the same add-on available for Design Studio, called Graphomate Charts 2.0.


So what does this add-on offer? The Graphomate Charts lets you visualize data quickly according to the SUCCESS concept of Prof. Hichert. This SUCCESS concept is a set of rules for designing reports and presentations. More info can be found here and on Hichert.com.


The charts look very minimalistic and the emphasize is clearly on presenting differences and trends as clearly as possible. In fact, you can edit the looks of each element of a chart (color, filling, shape, width) independently. With the option to activate Deviation Axes you can add extra mini-charts above/besides the chart that display the deviation between two data series (percentage or absolute).


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Posted in: Featured, Knowledge sharing, SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio

Getting Started with Design Studio book now available (coupon code in post!)

Posted by on Nov 14, 2013

Getting Started with SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio is available for order right now! If you haven’t picked it up at the SAP Press book stand at SAP TechEd Las Vegas or Amsterdam you can get your copy now at SAP-Press.com. Make sure you use coupon code QR7N5G when finishing your order, which will give you a nice $10 discount. This offer is valid until December 31st, for any book format you choose (hardcover print or ebook).


So what can you expect from this title?

SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio is one of the youngest and most promising new toolsets in the SAP BusinessObjects product portfolio. It is being positioned by SAP as the primary tool for creating interactive analytical applications for the web and mobile devices. This book will help you to learn not only the technical ins and outs of this new tool, but also provide you with the required contextual knowledge to position Design Studio in your existing SAP BI landscape. By the way, don’t worry about the technical stuff. No pre-existing knowledge is required as we will walk you through every aspect of Design Studio in a step-by-step way, using a lot of screenshots.

The book starts with a broad overview of Design Studio. In the first chapters we introduce you to the product, compare it with other SAP (BI) products and discuss several use case scenarios.

Next we follow this by going through every detail of the application. First we walk you step-by-step through the installation procedure. Then we describe the application environment and the general process of building an application. Next we describe every available component and its properties in detail.

Once you have mastered the basics, we go into more depth about how you can enhance an application. We describe how you add interactivity and give you a set of guidelines for creating applications. We then walk you through the creation of two complex applications. The source files and code for these applications are available as a download.

I put the table of contents in the Read More section below this post so you can check the contents and structure in more detail. So have fun reading our book and let us know what you think. Also don’t forget to use the coupon code QR7N5G when ordering!

Getting Started with SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio – Xavier Hacking and Jeroen van der A – SAP Press – ISBN: 978-1-59229-895-2

Schermafbeelding 2013-11-14 om 15.15.08

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Posted in: Books, Featured, SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio