Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2008 09:36:34 -0500
Reply-To: Mary <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sender: "SAS(r) Discussion" <SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From: Mary <mlhoward@AVALON.NET>
Subject: Re: SAS's Future
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Yes, absolutely true. Indeed, a lot of what I'm doing in SAS is data validation of data created in Excel, and forming new columns that are aggregates with fully defined categories. Those who don't do statistical analysis tend to enter data as if they were writing documentation rather than data prepared to do analysis, and also without categorical limits on fields, the typing can be different for essentially the same thing.
It turns out that SAS is an excellent tool for this! It has Proc Freq, Proc Tabulate, Proc Print (with Where clauses), Proc Compare, Proc Transpose, all of which are needed to transform data originally entered as documentation into data that can be used for analysis. So maybe SAS will survive, as a tool to transform Excel data into database data.
On the floods a week later:
Now that the waters have nearly totally subsided, President Bush will be visiting Cedar Rapids today (well, I suppose we wouldn't have wanted him to get wet!). Actually, things have gone pretty well without him- the disaster of Katrina caused FEMA to shape up its act and hire a competent director who actually seems to know something about floods and FEMA is doing a magnificent job so far!
With the Interstate now open, the National Guard with its high-clearance Humvees where headed down the road today, no longer needed in Cedar Rapids. Whether it was the presence of the National Guard or the nature of the people of Cedar Rapids (I suspect more the latter), there was only 1 case of looting in the whole city despite over 3000 homes and 1000 businesses being vacant.
The University of Iowa, having had its students fill 6 million sandbags, is being environmental by recycling them- we have loaded them up onto trucks and are speeding them down the road to the Mississippi river! If anybody can think of a recycling use for wet carpeting, let us know!
Problem solving was demonstrated during the flood when the owner of the "elite" Randy's Carpets in Coralville (near Iowa City), cut a hole in his roof and lifted all his expensive carpets out by crane!
An owner returned to his house, which had had 10 feet of water in the first floor, only to find that his model boat, which had been on the living room mantel, had floated the whole time and was safely landed on the kitchen counter. "It's a real boat," he remarked.
The ambassador to the Czech Republic has contacted our director of our Czech museum, which had gotten the contents out but had damage to the building, to offer help in repair.
On Tuesday, a semi-truck pulled up to one of the shelters on the south side of Cedar Rapids. It was unusually well stocked with things people really needed, like pumps and generators. It turns out that during Katrina people in Cedar Rapids, Iowa had loaded up a semi and sent it off to McLaurin, Mississippi. So the people of McLaurin, Mississippi thought they'd return the favor.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
----- Original Message -----
From: Sigurd Hermansen
To: Mary ; SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2008 9:17 PM
Subject: RE: SAS's Future
Amidst all of the talk about the virtues of MS Excel and its audience of
40-50 million, doesn't anyone see a problem with sloppy garbage-in
databases with mixed type attributes, cross-attribute values, strangely
denormalized database designs, and crazy quilt worksheets. Programming
using natural languages hasn't gone anywhere in twenty years. I suspect
that attempts to automate conversions of haphazard collections of
worksheet cells into databases will fail as well.
We spend a lot of time restructuring and reworking data that Excel users
have entered into dumb and smart Excel worksheets. Excel works much
better as a destination than a source. Web data-entry systems work far
better. A small investment in more intelligent data capture pays big
dividends. Simply put, Excel simply gives beginning through expert users
too many opportunities to subvert a database. I don't expect SAS to
solve that problem any more than I would expect the Army Corps of
Engineers to prevent floods.
I do hope that the Iowa floods will abate soon and that the victims of
the floods will recover quickly.