Monday, January 06, 2014

Blog purpose and background

My goal is to provide code samples and other tutorials to help others in their analyses. Right now my coding is in three programs/languages: R, SAS, and postgreSQL.  I will also post photos from my field work and other outdoor adventures from time to time.

Where I started for each and what I'd do differently


I opened up a A Beginner's Guide to R (Use R!) on a rainy day in spring 2012 and spent an afternoon following the examples.  Since then, I've used a combination of google searching "what I want to do" + "in R" and a few books.  I'm pretty happy with my approach to this so far.

Details on how I'll present R code on this blog are here.

Relational databases

I grappled with this one a while and still do, so no good beginner book recommendations other than stay away from the pretty graphs in Access.  I started with Microsoft Access and those point-and-click queries in ... 2006?  Anyway, point-and-click got frustrating quickly, as that never did quite what I wanted.  I was told to query properly.  So I used JetSQL in Access.  A few years ago on the advice of a real programmer, I migrated to postgreSQL and pgadmin.

What I'd do differently: start with postgreSQL instead of Access.  It's more complicated, but so much easier to not have to convert your database from the partially automated drop-down menus in Access to an easier-to-query format later.  postgreSQL also is more powerful, which I ran into recently while trying to help a colleague use JetSQL.  Some things I was used to doing in postgreSQL were more complex or impossible in JetSQL.  I'd also have read up a little on database structuring and have thought out my database structure more.  I've had to do several big re-structurings of the architecture since I started.  I think I've finally got it where I can easily integrate new tables if needed.

Long story short: it's easier and more efficient in the long run if you just go ahead and learn to query using SQL (Structured Query Language).


I learned using code snippets from a class in 2008 and, since then, deep ventures into the help files.  I am trying to convert to R mostly, so mainly I will post SAS code to compare with R code.  Using Multivariate Statistics (Tabachnik and Fidell 2007) has lots of good SAS code to use.  So, sometimes it's simplest just to follow their examples if you have that book and a problem that it addresses.


  1. I just came across your examples of analyzing S&R examples using R. That's great. I need to learn how to use R and bone up on long0unused statistical skills. I had the wonderful experience of taking Biometry from Robert Sokal in 1990 at SUNY Stony Brook in 1990. (I think it might have been the last year he taught the class.) I'm looking forward to working through your examples. THANKS for posting the material!

    Pete Feigley

    1. Thanks for the note, Pete! That's so great you took the class and I'm glad you're enjoying the R code.


Comments and suggestions welcome.