Testing SAS On-Demand

With three children under age six while I was writing my dissertation, I learned never to leave things until the last minute because that is EXACTLY when two of them would come down with the chicken pox. That’s why I’m working on assignments, lectures and videos for fall semester now. I was asked to teach an on-line course and I thought SAS On-demand might be perfect for that. Here’s the scenario –

  • Select a large, public data set and upload it to the server. This way, every student has access and there only needs to be one copy.
  • Students could get some experience working with relatively big data and the issues that come with messy, real data. The example I selected was a longitudinal study with 14,000+ records and over 1,200 variables.
  • This will be great, thought I, with  this number of variables, there is certain to be something to interest everyone in the class.
  • Also, since it is one data set, I can take care of some of the issues that new graduate students might not be familiar with – a format catalog, for example – so that we can concentrate more on the statistics.
  • With only one data set, I only need to go through one codebook.
  • Since it is online, I don’t have to worry about scheduling computer labs, whether it is compatible with students’ operating systems (Mac, Windows XP – yes, people still use that).
  • Plus, it’s free, so students don’t have to buy yet one more thing, and I know how they hate that.

The dataset really isn’t that big – about 70 MB – but it’s been a while and it STILL has not uploaded. By contrast, my .5MB format file uploaded in nothing flat. So, I think I will go to bed and see if it has uploaded by morning. This is not a good sign. If it takes this long to upload, I wonder how long it is going to take to run any analyses.

If this doesn’t work … which is starting to look sadly probable – I’m on to Plan B which is to winnow the data set down to maybe a couple of hundred variables, making the data set one-sixth it’s current size, and start again.

This kind of defeats the purpose of having them work with sort-of big data, so I am sad.

P.S. Now it’s morning and the file never did upload. On to Plan B as soon as I drop The Spoiled One at the beach. Yes, she could walk to Santa Monica Beach but

“We don’t want to go to that beach. We want to go to a beach in Malibu.”

To get the true spirit, you must say that in as whiny as tone as possible – which wouldn’t be so bad except that they don’t want to do go to the closest beach in Malibu, which is a couple of miles from here. No, we need to pass several perfectly good beaches to get to the cool beach. So, I’m off to make a 25-mile round trip to the middle of Malibu and back. Did you know Malibu is 27 miles long? Why did God make so many really rich people? It just seems unnecessary.

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