Statistical Software – The Secret Documents, Part 1

All right, well maybe they are not that secret, but there are some really great resources out there that you may want to check out.

If you didn’t get to the SPSS Higher Education Road Show at UCLA because rush hour in Los Angeles is from 7-9, 4-6 and any time you are on the 405, go here and check out the PowerPoint slides.

I wish everyone would do this. Often I go to a conference and there are two or three presentations I want to see at the same time. Now I can see what I missed. The SPSS road show had Jon Peck talking about R. Personally, I am not terribly interested in R, just because my curiosity at the moment is more stirred by textual analysis and data mining. However, it is good to be aware of what your colleagues are doing. Someone came to see me during my office hours one day and said,

“You’re just typing into Google to get the answers.”

I told her,

“Yes, but I know what to type in.”

So, SPSS & R or Python, you could certainly do worse than to type in SPSS Inside Out, which is Jon Peck’s blog. He doesn’t only write about programmability. I noticed that his latest post is on output as input. He was talking about using AGGREGATE to create ‘output as input’, which is something we all do from time to time, and there are some nifty little tricks that can be accomplished that way, whether it is SPSS or using the output of FREQ or SUMMARY procedures in SAS. Jon’s blog raises an important point for me. SPSS wouldn’t be my first choice for programming (although, curiously, I am teaching four SPSS classes next week and in the middle of grading an SPSS assignment due today), however, I get a lot of good ideas from Jon’s blog for SAS programming. He talks about the SPSS Output Management System and using the output to that as input. Now, I have used SAS ODS to get output to Excel or html that I later input to SAS or even SPSS. However, I usually don’t think of that as anything but a work around. In fact, it turned out to be the only way I could read in a dataset I received in Korean. Still, I never think of it as something I would do deliberately. (Note to self: The Infile statement is old. Get over it.)

So, learning more about OMS and ODS, especially tagsets, now goes on my to-do list, which is approximately 4,132,789 items long. Oh well, at least I never get bored.

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