PowerPivot & The Parable of the Snow Sock

For those of us in North West Europe this winter has been one of the coldest on record; not only cold but early, in this part of the world winter usually only kicks in after Christmas. The beauty of a perfect White Christmas Day did make up for the previous month of extreme cold and inconvenience but only just; and would not have at all if I had not invested in a simple piece of relatively new technology; a pair of snow socks.

For it was this pair of snow socks that enabled our household to continue to get to work and school, to Christmas shop, visit a sick relative and drive on Christmas Day to the winter wonderland that was a frozen Blessington Lake.

As the cold spell continued the main roads (and eventually the motorways) became hazardous to travel on; minor roads and housing estates became close to impassable for many normal cars. As the ability of the county council to keep roads functioning decreased (due to an early winter catching it on the hop with insufficient salt stocks and no Plan B) so my family and our neighbours realised than self-help was our best bet. People started investing in snow shovels, sand and salt, and hiring JCBs; gritting hills, clearing school and community hall carparks, helping dig out neighbours’ and strangers’ cars. And I invested in a pair of Weissenfels WeissSock Snow Socks (from http://www.micksgarage.ie/tyre-snow-socks.aspx).

Snow chains or even winter tyres are not seen as necessary by most drivers in Ireland or the UK; our winters (including this and last year’s nearly as cold one) are not that severe. Most are unaware of the alternative, the snow sock, a relatively new concept; in effect, a fabric snow chain. A fraction of the cost of winter tyres; easier to use (and nearly as effective) as snow chains.

Having a pair meant we had our own self-service road treating device, insuring we could safely get to the local town or nearest motorway and  when the M7 motorway was backed-up being able to use the old un-treated N7 road to bypass it.

PowerPivot is to Excel what a Snow Sock is to a car in a snowy winter. The ideas and a lot of the technology used in both products have been around for some time, but the accessibility, low-cost and “good enough” packaging are game changers.

Like our neighbourhood waiting on an over-stretched, under-funded county council to solve our “last mile” problems, countless small companies, departments and individuals in large organisations are likewise awaiting their IT Godots often in vain and if delivered, often too little and/or too late.

Two technologies that I’ve been introduced to in the last 12 months:

both liberating, both having the ability to make aspects of my life much better and much easier. I expect to see a lot more people adopt both in the year to come.

So if you’re stuck for some New Years’s resolutions this year:

  • Buy some snow socks now; i.e. do NOT wait until the next “snow event”!
  • Learn PowerPivot.

Happy New Year 😉


UPDATE: Looks like Marco & Alberto are doing one of their PowerPivot courses in Dublin this March, so no excuses for not learning PowerPivot http://sqlblog.com/blogs/marco_russo/archive/2011/02/15/new-powerpivot-workshop-dates-copenhagen-dublin-and-zurich.aspx


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