In Pursuit Of A Dream

As I’ve grown, my values have changed and evolved.

Things that mattered to me in my twenties and early thirties don’t matter so much now.

As each year passes, what matters to me becomes clearer. A simple life, with a focus around family, regular outdoor exercise, and a good work routine is what I’m looking for.

(Honestly, I think this guy had it figured out 😉 )

For the past few years, my wife and I have nurtured a shared dream of moving our family to a small mountain town.
Continue reading In Pursuit Of A Dream

Google Next 19 Conference – Live Blog

Conference Recap

Check out the best Google Sheets and G Suite videos here: Google Sheets Sessions From Cloud Next ’19 Conference


Friday, April 12th (Post-conference)

The conference may be over but I have a little time left in San Francisco. Today I had the opportunity to visit the Googleplex in Mountain View and record a video with the Data Studio team 🙂

Google logo

In the studio with the Data Studio team
In the studio with the Data Studio team
Android Robot!
Android Robot!

Thursday, April 11th (Day 3)

Day 3 at Next ‘19 recap from Google: A look back at an amazing week

1.35 PM – Growing a spreadsheet into an application

Spreadsheet applications

Really interesting talk about the life cycle of a spreadsheet, and how it grows into an application, and how you can move beyond the spreadsheet to a more robust, scalable solution.

Spreadsheet applications
Use cases when spreadsheets make good applications…
Spreadsheet applications
…and times when they don’t make good applications!

11 AM – Data Studio meetup

A bunch of Data Studio enthusiasts and Googlers got together to discuss the product and the roadmap. Great to get some insight into where it’s going. They’re certainly investing heavily in Data Studio!

9 AM – Simplify Business Processes with G Suite session

Simplify Business with G Suite

Some really interesting use-cases of businesses adopting G Suite, and how it’s simplifying and streamlining their processes.

The BigQuery to Google Sheets connector is getting a lot of love! 👉

Google Sheets BigQuery connector
Google Sheets BigQuery connector

The team also shared some innovative and wide-ranging examples of App Maker apps. For example, here’s an App Maker app that can recognize text in a photo and transfer that into a Google Doc for you!

Google App Maker

It’s the final day of Google Next 19 😥

Video replay of yesterday’s Sheets session!

The video replay of yesterday’s Google Sheets session is now on YouTube. This is highly recommended if you have 45 minutes. In it, the Product Managers from Google share the Google Sheets roadmap:


Wednesday, April 10th (Day 2)

Day 2 recap on the Google Cloud Blog

4.40 PM – Developer Keynote LIVE

Watch live here

3.30 PM – Data Studio

Serverless reporting with GCP and Data Studio
Serverless reporting with GCP and Data Studio

Lots of updates from the Data Studio team and a great demonstration of how quick the tool is to analyze a hundred million rows of data, when using the new BigQuery BI Engine between BigQuery and Data Studio.

The other big updates included a sophisticated chart drill-down and cross-filtering features and more insight into the scheduled distribution of reports.

Scheduled Data Studio report
Scheduled Data Studio report

It’s very clear that Google are investing heavily in this tool!

2.10 PM – BQML and Google Sheets

BigQuery ML and Google Sheets

This was a really interesting session on how AAA utilize BigQuery and the new BigQuery ML (Machine Learning) tool to predict volume at call centers. They use the BigQuery connector to bring the analytical capabilities into Sheets, to open access to the model to many more people across the organization.

BigQuery Connector into Google Sheets

Fascinating stuff!

12.30 PM – Google Sheets Session

Wow! So many big features in the pipeline:

Google Sheets announcements
Google Sheets announcements

How we work with data in Google Sheets is changing. Some of the biggest announcements were (some available in beta today, some coming in future):

  • Connected Sheets for BigQuery (see Product Keynote below)
  • On Prem data connectors – oracle, mysql, postgres databases direct into Sheets
  • Native remove duplicates feature
  • Slicers
  • Reports!Easily create beautiful reports, including Themes feature
  • See and Edit history of a cell
  • Embedding Sheets into Docs/Slides
  • And more…!
Google Sheets Reports feature
Google Sheets Reports feature
Google Next Keynote Day 2
Analyzing millions of rows of BigQuery data directly in Google Sheets formula! 🤯

More to come…

9 AM – Product Keynote

Good to see G Suite get a lot of stage time!

Google Next Keynote Day 2

Google Next Keynote Day 2
BigQuery + Google Sheets! This is exciting!

Probably the most exciting feature for Sheets users is a new feature in #GoogleSheets, called Connected Sheets, lets you collaborate on up to 10 billion rows of BigQuery data right from within Sheets (without needing SQL!) –> more details and apply for beta access now

Other big announcements included:

  • G Suite integration with Google Assistant (beta)
  • G Suite Add-ons (beta coming soon)
  • Office editing in Docs, Slides and Sheets (generally available)

For a full run-down of all the new features and products coming to G Suite: check it out here on the G Suite blog

Watch it live here –> Next on Air


Tuesday, April 9th (Day 1)

Day 1 Recap

Day 1 was all about enterprise, enterprise, enterprise. Google Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian, announced a new product, Anthos, available for managing multi-cloud solutions.

For me personally, this enterprise stuff is really interesting but not directly relevant. The highlight of the day was meeting a bunch of great folks and sharing ideas, beginning by serendipitously sitting next to a data scientist from MailChimp for the opening keynote.

Some links from day 1:

Google Cloud Next ‘19: Welcome to the future of digital transformation

Day 1 at Next ‘19: Hybrid cloud, full-stack serverless, open-source partnerships, and more (the official recap)

Tomorrow, the focus is more on product and developers!

There are sessions focused on Sheets (new announcements hopefully!), combining BigQuery with Sheets and finally, Data Studio. So I should have a lot more substantive updates to share here on the blog tomorrow 🙂

4PM – Checking out the Vendor Hall

Google Next 19 Vendor hall

The scale of this conference is pretty overwhelming!

Google Next 19 Vendor hall

1 PM – 3.30 PM – G Suite Product Feedback session

One of the benefits of becoming a Google Developer Expert is that I get to meet some of the Google Project Managers and give product feedback directly.

This afternoon we had a big round table with most of the G Suite and Apps Script GDEs and the respective Product Managers and Developer Relations team from Google.

It was a lively discussion and great to see Google listening to all our feedback. There’s lots of exciting stuff in the pipeline, some of which will be announced at Next, some later this year.

Unfortunately I can’t share any specifics now, but I’ll certainly share anything that gets announced at the sessions tomorrow!

11 AM – The Non-Engineer Guide to BigQuery

Google Next 19 BigQuery session

Interesting presentation, although totally different to what I expected.

I was expecting more of an introduction to using BigQuery and how to approach it for product managers, analysts, managers etc. (i.e. non-engineers).

Instead it was an demonstration of a super cool tool Viant have built on top of BigQuery to democratize access to data across their organization. Their tool – potens.io – allows you to build workflows to query data in BigQuery including business logic, API integration and script outputs (like emails if certain results are obtained). Interesting stuff for sure!

Google BigQuery Potens
Example workflow built using Potens.io to review ad assets and run them through Cloud Vision API to flag inappropriate content, all atop BigQuery

I look forward to diving into BigQuery (someday soon!) and start creating content here.

Google Next 19 BigQuery session

9 AM – Keynote

I managed to get into the hall for the keynote this year. The sheer number of people filing in and out of the Moscone center was still overwhelming.

Sundar Pichai (CEO of Google) kicked things off before new Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian, took over and laid out his vision for Google Cloud.

Unsurprisingly, and understandably given Google’s position in the cloud race behind Amazon and Microsoft, the focus was entirely on Enterprise solutions and multi-cloud solutions. Not much mention of G Suite…yet.

Google Next 19 Keynote
It’s a rock concert for geeks! 😎

Monday, April 8th (T – 1 Day)

6.30 PM – Next ’19 Community Dinner

Tonight Google hosted a community dinner for the Google Developer Experts in their offices downtown.

It was great to catch up with fellow Apps Script and G Suite GDEs and hear what everyone’s up to.

Google Next 19 Community Dinner

Everyone is using the CLASP, the Command Line Apps Script interface, with their code editors of choice. This allows for a much improved development environment over the native Apps Script one. And we’re all waiting to see if there’s any vision on the Apps Script roadmap and a timeline when the new runtime engine will come in (which will make scripts run a lot faster).

1 PM

Lunch in Chinatown with David Siegel, CEO and co-founder of Glide Apps. Glide Apps let you turn your Google Sheets into mobile apps, with no coding required.

Lunch in San Francisco

Here’s a quick example app built with Glide. It’s a list of all the developer products that Google have.

Glide app
Click to open the app

The data is all stored in a Google Sheet and is sourced from the Developer product list that Google publish online: https://developers.google.com/products/

It’s imported into Google Sheets using IMPORTHTML functions to ensure that it’s dynamic and is synced with Google’s published list.

=IMPORTHTML("https://developers.google.com/products/","list",14)

(The product list start from 14 onwards…)

The Next conference starts in earnest for me tomorrow (it’s the community summit today).

12.30 PM:

Some early G Suite stats being shared at the community events today (I’m not there, so reporting this from Twitter):

  • 1.5B+ App Users
  • 90M+ students with an Edu license
  • 5M+ paying G Suite Businesses (up 1M from last year)

If you’re unable to attend Next, the Keynote sessions are available to watch live online here: https://cloud.withgoogle.com/next/sf/

9 AM:

Registration day! If you’re attending and you have a chance to collect your badge today then I highly recommend. Tomorrow the lines will be pretty long…

I’ve got my badge!

Google Next 19 Badge

Google Next 19 Conference
Digging the conference graphics on the side of the Moscone Center

The billboards all around the SOMA district of San Francisco are plastered with the conference ads. It’s crazy how big this event is. I’ve heard there’ll north of thirty thousand attendees. Wow!


Sunday, April 7th (T – 2 Days)

The Google Next 19 conference is almost here!

I arrived in San Francisco this morning after an early flight. It’s been a beautiful day so I caught up with a buddy and we did a great walk around the city parks. This, the view from near the top of Buena Vista park:

Golden Gate Bridge from Buena Vista park
Golden Gate Bridge from Buena Vista park

I’m really excited to catch up with friends, meet awesome new folks and hear all about the Google product road maps this week!

This is what the Google Sheets team announced last year:

  • 5 million cells ✔️ We got that earlier this year!
  • Slicers 🚫 Not yet! They’re still in the works but I’m sure there’ll be an update this week!
  • Better Charts ✔️ We got some nice upgrades like editing individual data points.
  • Pivot Table Upgrades ✔️
  • Big Query Data Integration ✔️ Available to G Suite Business, Enterprise and Education users
  • There were a bunch of other upgrades and new features announced!

I’ll be sure to share the announcements from this year’s Google Sheets session here in this blog!


Friday, April 5 (T – 4 Days)

Google Next 19

Google Next 19, the big annual conference from Google Cloud and G Suite, is just around the corner. It starts on Tuesday 9th April, although there are things happening on Sunday and Monday beforehand.

I have my ticket and I’m flying to San Francisco on Sunday. I’m really excited!

Last year was my first time at Next, and it was an eye-opening experience. With over 20,000 attendees and hundreds of talks, it was inspiring and overwhelming in equal measure. It was great to hear first-hand from the Google Sheets team on the roadmap, and I’m looking forward to new updates this year.

This year, with experience from last year fresh in my mind, I’ve scheduled meetings ahead of time, been a little less ambitious with my schedule and packed a portable battery charger!

My plan is to update this post daily with news and announcements from Next 19.

I’ll also be posting lots of updates to Twitter, under the #GoogleNext19 hashtag.

Thoughts on productivity

Slow Google Sheets loading bar

I’ve been thinking about productivity a lot in the past year.

I’ve had to.

Life is busier now than it’s ever been.

My wife and I have a young family (two sons under the age of three) so we have our hands full at home. We both work full time and have ambitious career goals.

Balancing these two worlds has undoubtedly been the most challenging puzzle of my life thus far.

In an earlier stage of my career, when time seemed to be an almost unlimited commodity compared to today, I could work until 9, 10 or 11pm (or later) no problem. Work at the weekend if necessary.

Now, with a young family I don’t have that option (and nor do I want to be working at the weekend), so I have to look more critically at how I use my time.

I’m continually trying to be more productive.

Imagine this scenario, and ask yourself if you relate:
Continue reading Thoughts on productivity

2017 in review and a look forward to 2018

Happy New Year to you all!

spacex launch

Max Q‘ is a term used in rocketry to denote the moment during a rocket flight when aerodynamic stress on the rocket’s airframe is at it’s maximum. It’s one of the early milestones of any flight, and one of the most dangerous to boot. Astronauts and engineers both breathe a sigh of relief when the rocket passes this point. Engines, which have been throttled back to 60 – 70% of capacity during this phase, are once again opened up and the great fire-breathing, bone-rattling tin can accelerates rapidly upwards again, on its way to space.

Well, the summer of 2017 felt like ‘max Q’ for our family. We had a second baby boy in late May (he’s brilliant!), relocated from DC to Florida in early July, sold a house and bought a house, prepared for our first hurricane in August (that was stressful!) and had a to-do list longer than our arm, in fact, all our arms combined.

Through this, I did what I could, when I could, to keep the ball rolling with my business. I launched my second course, Data Cleaning and Pivot Tables in Google Sheets, in June, although almost all of the work was completed prior to my son’s arrival in May.

Since October, the throttle has been fully open again on the business and things are moving along nicely. I launched my third course, Advanced Formulas 30 Day Challenge, in mid December, and had over 1k students sign up in the first week.

2017 highlights

Continue reading 2017 in review and a look forward to 2018