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SAS Global Forum: Getting my Geek On

I am an unashamed statistical programming geek.

I’m leaving very soon, stopping to visit my mom on the way to SAS Global Forum because 94.7% of all mothers have retired to Florida by age 68. (That is a real statistic. As someone commented about fake boobs – if they exist, they’re real.)

I admit it, I am so excited to go sit in sessions on things like Kappa statistics and Proc GMAP that I actually signed up for the agenda builder and built my personalized agenda.  Here are my first few picks, although, as Waynette Tubbs tweeted, the person who actually keeps to their agenda the entire week is probably a fictional character on the order of the satyrus marinus.

Fish - Goat - Man mythical creature

Sunday is just a couple of receptions and the opening session. Pre-conference workshops are great but just looking at the 8 a.m. start time set me to sneezing due to my allergy to mornings.

The opening session is one event not to miss so thank God it is held in the evening. There are is always at least one announcement that makes the whole session worth attending. For example, a couple of years ago Dr. Goodnight announced in the opening session about SAS On-Demand, the free SAS available to university faculty, students and researchers.

I go to all of the mixers, receptions for a bit, have a glass of wine , say hi to really smart people I don’t get to see nearly often enough then go back to my room early to do work for clients.  If you want to get together, drop me an email or tweet/DM me on twitter at @annmariastat (See the end of this post for my old, boring person advice on the mixer/reception/networking sessions).

I’ll be up by the crack of 10 am to attend morning sessions.

Here is my first problem:

I REALLY want to go to Paul Allison’s presentation on handling missing data by maximum likelihood because I am just interested in the topic and he has written a lot of really good stuff on maximum likelihood. I REALLY want to go to Ron Cody’s presentation on functions because it sounds interesting and I liked his SAS Statistics by Example book. On the other hand, there is a session by Peter Eberhardt on the SAS hash object that I think will be really useful for a project I am working on right now. I really wanted to go to that.  Turns out, I have a meeting at the SAS Executive Conference at the same time, so I am not going to any of these.

To console myself, I think I’ll run over to the publishing booth and pick up Cody’s book on SAS Functions by Example. I’m sure I’ll learn a few tricks, and yes, this IS the type of book I read at the beach. You have a problem with that? I’ll have to hope Allison’s paper gets chosen for the SAS Global Forum take-out and read Eberhardt’s paper in the proceedings.

At 12:30, the SAS Visual Analytics sounds fascinating. I’m not working on any high performance computing projects at the moment and I am trying to be practical here. On the other hand, it’s a 15-minute SAS Super-demo, so count me in!

At 1 pm there is a Super-demo on mapping and this is something I need for a project in May, so that is 15 minutes well-spent and in the same room as the Visual Analytics, so convenient.

2- 3:30 is a session on multi-rater agreement using the Kappa statistic. Even though the title says health care research, I can see that being useful for an educational research project I am involved with. Also, there was not enough statistics in my agenda.

At 4:30 a “Picture is worth a lot of PUTS” on using non-standard data formats, sounds like it might be useful for the same project, so into the agenda it goes.

At 5:00 there is a session on clickstream data analysis, which is something else I need to do in the next month, so I am hitting  that.

Tuesday I am actually getting up and going to a session at 9 a.m. (I can’t believe it either) on text mining with Base SAS. I have a text mining project coming up this summer and I don’t have SAS Enterprise Miner. I was doing it in Ruby but I’m interested to see how SAS can be used.

Tuesday at 1:30 I’m also going to my own presentation, a Hands-on workshop on “SAS On-Demand: Everything you need to know after it’s free”.  There is a lot of other stuff going on at the same time but I hear the organizers get cranky if you don’t show up for your own session.

So, this is less than half of the conference and you can see why I am so excited about it.

Since I am old, I am often asked to act in various mentoring capacities for everything from career advice to helping prepare presentations. Let me give you some free advice that I always give my students:

Bottle of wineYes, the alcohol is free. Yes, there will be many people who don’t drink who will give you their drink tickets. No, you will not get drunk in public because if you do there is a university policy that allows me to drown you in the hot tub – you should have read the small print in the student handbook. I strongly, strongly advise you not to hook up with anyone who may just turn out to be the lead engineer on the project you’ll be hired on next year. But …  if you ignore all of my advice and are having sex with small, tropical lizards while drinking from a beer bong – you BETTER BE DOING IT IN YOUR ROOM WITH THE DOOR LOCKED AND NO CELL PHONE CAMERAS, preferably only observed by nuns who have taken a vow of silence. It’s not just what you know, it’s also who you know and who knows you were skinny-dipping in the hotel pool at 1 a.m. (Oh, yes, I *did* hear about that.)

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  1. Here is how to tell whether I will be at an 8 am session.
    A. Is it Christ announcing his second coming?

    I will be there.

    B. I will not be there.

  2. I don’t know that we officially met, but I did attend a talk you gave once on IML. I was curious because I didn’t see any real need for it. Your paper was very good and you did a really good job explaining potential uses for IML. I haven’t had to use it yet, but I did file that information away for future reference. I don’t remember if it was at WUSS or SAS GF or something else.

    I try to get to a few papers a year that sound interesting even though I have no immediate use for whatever it is. For one thing, if you don’t know what something does, it’s for sure you won’t use it. For another thing, it fits with my general life philosophy of doing things on frequent occasions just for the hell of it.

  3. First –– your blog is super cool.

    But –– WHY DO YOU USE SAS? Stata is *way* faster, cheaper, and has much easier syntax! And whenever you want to do something complicated, you can write it into mata.

  4. Why do I use SAS? Because I run a consulting company and people pay me to use SAS. That’s one reason. It’s also a reason I use SPSS. Sometimes JMP. It is not that often that I get a client who wants a project done using Stata. I have used Stata occasionally, again, it is whatever the client prefers.

    SAS Enterprise Guide is WAY easier to use to teach introductory statistics than Stata. SPSS and JMP are also much easier than Stata. I do tell students if they are interested in a research career that they should invest the time in learning to “code their own stunts” but for the person taking one course on the way to becoming a social worker, it’s probably unnecessary.

    I disagree that the Stata syntax is way easier. It seems about the same to me.

  5. Hi,I just bought the book R for SAS and SPSS Users, Second Edition . And then came here to dwadloons but found them unavailable. How should I get access to the code snippets, data files etc?

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