Day 2 of useR

Well, I said I was going to blog at least one thing I learned at the conference each day, today I’ve learned about 50 million things (yesterday was tutorials so I learned two things well; seen 20 presentations today, posters later).

To be honest I think this post is going to be more use to me in remembering everything than it will be to anyone else, but I’ll try to do it properly.

I learned about the StepAIC function, which is evidently some sort of stepwise regression which uses the AIC criterion. Someone mentioned it in passing but it sounds pretty useful. I also learned about Box-Cox plots (this is probably really embarrassing that I don’t know this, my PhD was psychology, I’m afraid I’ve learned a lot about stats after the fact, just getting the research and the thesis done was enough really in four years); they also sound pretty cool and useful.

I learned about Mosaic plots, the structable command, and relative multiple barcharts (which, from memory, are in the extracat package). If you don’t know these are useful for looking at 3-way and higher cross-tabs type tables. Looks pretty cool.

I learned about running R in the cloud all sorts of ways, the most interesting sounded like using RGoogleDocs and Apache and I wonder if I could get this working at work, will investigate further.

And last but not least I learned yet another way of automating the patient survey, this time using the Org mode of EMacs. So far I have encountered quite a bewildering array of different ways of achieving the same task:

1) Sweave
2) odfWeave
3) Sweave and brew (this is what I have used so far)
4) Org mode
5) R2wd

Each has various advantages, disadvantages, OS issues, etc. etc. etc. The code I’ve written is hugely long and complex and just generally awful. I’ll put a link to it here so I can confess my sins. I wrote it in one quarterly reporting cycle in a “make it work quickly” type way and it will definitely be more reliable and easier to develop if I re-write it properly this quarter.

The commenting of the code is also awful, I’m not going to go through and comment loads of dreadful code just for the blog, but I will sort that out in V 2.0 as well. Note also that they wanted an editable document, so I wrote the whole thing in Sweave, then converted the pdf to Word, which looked dreadful, and then rapidly re-wrote the whole thing to play nicely with LaTeX2rtf, which was incredibly useful.

The whole thing was brew-ed, then compiled to LaTeX. The graphics were done separately, as you can see. I think I’ll bring them in next time because that seems simpler somehow.

It’s very ugly but it did work. In future posts I’ll show how I’ve improved it and perhaps redeem myself a little bit.

For my sins

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