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Post by Rob Collie

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Assortment of Quick and Fun Topics

I keep something called Ye Olde OneNote List of Future Blog Topics.  You know, I think of something and go “ooh, that would be a good thing to write about,” so I add it to YOOLOFBT.

Problem is, said list sometimes grows a lot faster than the rate at which I produce finished blog posts.  So…  good topics just get buried sometimes.

Today, let’s make sure a few of those topics get to see the light of day.  Like children who’ve been cooped up in the house all winter, they need to go outside and play in the yard.

#1:  DataZen Post “Wins”

Last week’s post on Datazen positively shocked me with the number of page views it got.  It set the all-time record for single-day views of a given post, AND that traffic also led to the single best day for overall PowerPivotPro.com traffic.  (A rising Datazen topic lifts all posts.  Something like that.)

And it wasn’t close, either.  Both new records eclipsed the former records by healthy margins.

The take-away, I think, is that mobile visuals SELL.  This excerpt from last week sums it up nicely:

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So if you’re trying to increase Power Pivot buy-in at your company, Datazen is worth a look.  It’s a gateway drug.

#2:  Power Update Passes 2000 Downloads

 

power updateAn awesome milestone: over two thousand people have now downloaded Power Update.  (***WEDNESDAY UPDATE:  Closing in on three thousand now actually).

If you haven’t tried it yet, you should download and try it out today. Seriously, I wouldn’t say that unless I 100% believed it.  It changes your whole relationship with Power Pivot:

  1. Automatic, scheduled, hands-free refresh of your models and reports.
  2. Does NOT require a server (no SharePoint, no Tabular, no Power BI subscription)
  3. But makes those servers BETTER if you do have them, because the scheduling is so much easier and flexible.
  4. Pushes the refreshed workbooks to a file folder, network share, SharePoint, Datazen, or PowerBI v2 (latter two via OneDrive).
  5. Will even email out updated PDF versions (!) to audiences of your choosing.
  6. Makes Power Query even better, which is hard to imagine but true.
  7. 100% free, forever, for the first workbook.

I’ve particularly enjoyed all the Microsoft employees who’ve been telling me how much they use Power Update.  (It’s an essential component of every Power Pivot-backed Datazen deployment, for one example).

Download Power Update Here (No Payment Required)

#3:  A “Fix” for the 32-Bit Problem?

Wow, I was STUNNED to hear about this.  A student in my class last week mentioned it:

This utility patches 32-bit Excel.exe (and therefore Power Pivot) so that it can act like 64-bit!

The theory is that you can run this utility and it “fixes” Excel.exe (and therefore Power Pivot) so that 32-bit Excel is no longer limited to 2 GB of RAM, and can now use 4 GB.

4 GB may not sound like a lot, but I used to run 64-bit Excel/Power Pivot on a laptop that ONLY had 4 GB or RAM, and it ran FLAWLESSLY.  Even on 300 million row workbooks.

Turns out that Excel plus the Power Pivot engine and addin tend to gobble nearly a full 1 GB on its own, before you even start loading data.  So 32-bit Power Pivot only has 1 GB of RAM to work with.  If you jump to 4 GB, that means Power Pivot now has three times the useable RAM (1 GB vs 3 GB).

The file size limit for Power Pivot is 1 GB anyway, and that tends to translate to about 2-2.5 GB of RAM – which is less than 3 GB yes?  So in theory, 4 GB of RAM should be all the difference in the world.

So again, in theory, this should fix your out of memory issues, your file corruption issues, basically everything.

***DISCLAIMERS: 

  1. It may also break some things. Microsoft thought about doing the same thing, but shied away because there may be addins that it breaks.
  2. Running ANY utility like this from an unknown 3rd party is risky.  Do so at your own risk.

That said…

  1. The student from my class last week is from a BIG company. And he’s from IT.  And he reports that he has MANY people running this fix, and it’s been working great.  (This mitigates concern #1 to an extent).
  2. The utility DOES make a backup copy of Excel.exe, so you can revert if needed.  (This also helps mitigate concern #1, but does nothing about concern #2).

So, if you’re willing to try this out, give it a whirl and let us know how well it works for you.  This could be a BIG deal.

Download and try out the utility here

Rob Collie

One of the original engineering leaders behind Power BI and Power Pivot during his 14-year career at Microsoft, Rob Collie founded a consulting company in 2013 that is 100% devoted to “the new way forward” made possible by Power BI and its related technologies. Since 2013, PowerPivotPro has rapidly grown to become the leading firm in the industry, pioneering an agile, results-first methodology never before seen in the Business Intelligence space. A sought-after public speaker and author of the #1-selling Power BI book, Rob and his team would like to help you revolutionize your business and your career.

This Post Has 11 Comments
  1. I tried running the patch but when I select EXCEL.EXE as the executable file to open it says couldn’t open executable. Is anyone else having this same issue or perhaps I need to have administrative rights even though it did not prompt for administrative user ID and password?.

    1. Lack of admin rights might be the problem yes. I also forgot to mention that you STILL need to be running 64 bit windows in order for this to help. (So this helps if you are running 32 bit office on 64 bit windows)

      1. Rob, assuming the 4gb patch works as advertised this would solve a major issue with having to run 32 bit Excel and Power Pivot in corporate environments on 64 bit window machines. How would one convince their corporate IT department from a business user perspective that this patch would be safe to install on their laptop since based on your comments Microsoft will not be issuing the patch themselves? I would really benefit from the additional memory, but without a credible source saying that this patch is safe to install from a security standpoint, I believe that I would have a difficult time convincing our IT admin to install the patch on my machine. What are your thoughts on how to handle this situation or do you know a credible source that could vouch for this patch?

    2. Did you resolve this? I have just tried running the utility as Administrator (via right-click on the executable) and am getting the same problem.

      1. Ha! Found the problem! I had Excel open and therefore the executable was locked. Duh! If I had a brain, I’d be dangerous….

  2. Rob,

    Regarding Datazen, there is a free Datazen Publisher App available that your readers can find out more about here:

    http://www.datazen.com/start/

    It runs in two modes, one lets you construct dashboards from local Excel files, the other mode lets you connect to a Datazen server. I was able to install on a 32-bit desktop (but not on a 64-bit laptop) and build a dashboard using local Excel data.

    A great way to get hands with the product

  3. Datazen sounds very interesting, but I think you need windows 8 to run it right? I still have windows 7 in all my machines. ..still waiting for Windows 10 to update 😉

  4. Well I installed the Utility and patched Excel.Exe Succesfully…So far so good, Excel Opens and the Powerpivot Add-In opens 😉 Does anybody knows how can I check how much RAM is Excel consuming?, That way I can push a heavy powerpivot model and see if Excel is able to handle up to 4GB of ram 🙂

  5. Running task manager and checking excel with a heavy powerpivot/ powerview model I am getting up to 404,024 kb of ram = 4GB Of RAM…so, apparently the utility work. ..could someone else check/verify this?

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