My SASGF 2021 paper “How Many Shades of Guide: SAS Enterprise Guide to 8.3 and SAS Studio to 3.81 with SAS 9.4” is now available for download

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My SASGF 2021 paper “How Many Shades of Guide: SAS Enterprise Guide to 8.3 and SAS Studio to 3.81 with SAS 9.4” is now available for download here.

This link allows you to download the paper and slides in a zip file, plus:

  • Link to the SAS Global Forum 2021 Proceedings, where you can also download the paper, slides and link to the video.
  • Direct access to the link to the YouTube video of the presentation.
  • Download evaluation software to script Peedy, with a full software download in the future.

Note that, while SAS Global Forum Americas and Asia Pacific has ended, SAS Global Forum EMEA will be held on 25-26 May 2021.

I’m presenting with Peedy at Virtual SAS Global Forum 2021 on 20May2021

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I’m presenting with Peedy at Virtual SAS Global Forum 2021 on 20May2021 at 1600hr (GMT+1), and I will be chatting in a Live Q&A from 1600-1630hr. My presentation is “How Many Shades of Guide: SAS Enterprise Guide to 8.3 and SAS Studio to 3.81 with SAS 9.4: Part 1 – SAS Enterprise Guide”, but it will only include Enterprise Guide due to time constraints. “Part 2 – SAS Studio” will be published at a later date, although the conference paper does include the history of both applications.

Who is Peedy? I can hear you asking, and I can give you a quick preview below, as he appears in my preview video (1:26, 3.19Mb).

He does more in the conference presentation, so please come and cheer him on, and I’ll explain a little more about why he is there!

STOP PRESS: The #SASGF proceedings are now available, and my paper, slides and video link can now be found here.

SAS training for home-workers: Keeping your mind active and your skills current

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I have been working from home on and off since 1996, so it now feels quite normal to start my work day by walking from my kitchen into my office. I know some of my colleagues have struggled with the many distractions that exist at home, so I suppose I’ve been lucky, but I still do not like doing nothing at all. To stop any boredom setting in I will look for ways to do something useful, and, over the years, I have taught myself many programming languages by reading books, running example code, and trying to write applications that will be useful day-to-day, for example:

  • Database applications for calculating hours left to work and printing invoices in Visual Basic.
  • Web applications to send me emails and SMS messages in Perl.
  • Smartphone apps for webOS (remember HP/Palm phones?) in Javascript and HTML5.
  • Smartphone apps for Android in Java.
  • Crossword puzzle word-finder scripts in LibreOffice Basic.
  • SAS Enterprise Guide custom tasks in VB.Net.
  • SAS Studio custom tasks in XML.

Each language presents a different set of problems and solutions, so each new solution will broaden your knowledge of the computer world. Not all language have been central to my day job, but my views on solving computer problems has been moulded by each new programming language I’ve used. In 1996 there was no significant online help, so you couldn’t easily ask anyone for help, but instead you had to rely on hints and tips in computer magazines. Later the online communities have become vital, but you will now have to ask your questions in the correct way, so that it will be understood by each community, as names are not necessarily consistent, otherwise your question is likely to be ignored. I’ve now found ways to improve the chances of my questions being answered, even if my problems are not always resolved:

  • Write a subject line that asks a question that could be answered, otherwise it probably won’t even be read.
  • Set the scene by describing the environment you are working in, such as operating system, and software language and version.
  • Describe in as much detail as you can what you are trying to do, what you have already tried, and any results/messages that you are getting, even if you don’t understand them.
  • Never assume that you’re problem can be solved, but work with anyone who offers you assistance.
  • Be humble and grateful, because there will be programmers out there who know more about this than you, and you might need to call on their skills again.

So what has all this got to do with SAS training? Well, thanks to COVID-19, there are now more home-workers than ever before, and in some cases the work available may not be filling your day, so what can you do to fill your spare time and improve your programming knowledge? I have gathered together some sources of SAS training and information which are either free or inexpensive, which you may find useful, and if you find out about any more, then post a comment and I’ll be happy to check them out:

  • Training courses:
    • My corporate SAS training courses are intended for large groups, but each course has an associated eBook that is much cheaper and available through the Training section on this site.
    • I have a low-cost forum with a monthly subscription called the SAS Programming Forum, which welcomes SAS programming questions, but also includes the SAS course with a growing number of SAS-related topics, such as Data Steps, SAS Macros and PROC SQL, either as individual posts or LMS courses.
    • If you prefer to learn from eBooks or Android apps, then the topics in the SAS course are also available as eBooks and Android apps (on Amazon Appstore and Google Play).
  • Papers and books:
    • The Conferences Paper section on this site is filled with papers covering a wide range of SAS-related topics, which can be downloaded for free.
    • Other SAS-related books can be bought through the Books section on this site.
    • The largest searchable collection of SAS-related conference papers is maintained by Lex Jansen, including papers from SUGI, SeUGI, regional SAS user groups and forums, VIEWS, PhUSE, PharmaSUG and SAS Global Forum.
  • Competitive learning:
    • Sasensei is a SAS-related quiz and learning site where the flashcards, questions and quizzes are contributed by the users, and you earn points and awards from contributions and correct answers, but you will always learn from your incorrect answers too.
  • SAS support:
  • SAS programming platforms for learning:
    • SAS University Edition is free for use as a learning platform, and can either be downloaded and installed on your laptop using VMware or VirtualBox, or accessed through the web on the AWS Cloud.
    • WPS Analytics Community Edition is a free version of WPS Analytics, which can be licensed from World Programming for 6 months at a time and installed on your PC, and can run SAS programs using quite a large subset of SAS programming features, and includes R and Python interfaces.

I think that should at least get you started on your SAS improvement projects!

PharmaSUG 2019: Books, Trains, Boats and Planes

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PharmaSUG US 2019 was held at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown from 15-19 June 2019.

My wife and I flew from London to Boston, where we spent 2 nights visiting the historical sites in and around the city, as well as tasting some excellent local beers.

We then flew to Buffalo and crossed the border into Canada to visit Niagara Falls for 2 nights, walking behind the Horseshoe Falls and braving the mist. This spot had been high on my wife’s “bucket list” for many years. Admittedly the Hornblower catamarans used from the Canadian side do have transparent screens, so we didn’t get as wet as some of the other passengers! In contrast, the Maid of the Mists boats from the American side have no protection at all, but, as single-hull boats, can’t approach as close to the falls either.

We then flew from Buffalo to Philadelphia for the start of PharmaSUG, where I was a First Timer. I proudly wore my First Timer ribbon legitimately, as I’d never been to PharmaSUG before, along with my Presenter and Code Doctor ribbons. However, it was also a bit misleading, as I’ve presented previously at more than 30 international conferences in Europe and the USA, so several conference friends told me off for cheating.

My presentation wasn’t about ODS Graphics this time, but about SAS programming techniques to reduce data surprises. The room was about half full early on Tuesday morning, and, judging by the number of questions afterwards, well received (and I didn’t see anyone leave in the middle!). My room was run with friendship and precision by Frank Canale and Maggie Ying, who both made me very welcome, so I must give them a big thank you.

I had sat on the Code Doctors table in the “Code Clinic” at SAS Global Forum, but my 2 official sessions in Philadelphia, and several unofficial sessions too, were actually more enjoyable. Each session started very quietly, so I got to chat with my fellow Doctors, many of whom I’d met many times before. The last half hour of each session was filled with varied questions about concatenating strings in R, working around annoying “features” in old Microsoft applets, and answering questions about CDISC SDTM and ADaM specifications. Note the lack of “real” SAS questions, but still very entertaining, and I hope the answers proved useful!

PharmaSUG US 2019 had a record attendance of 910 this year, but I’d previously attended SAS Global Forum with 6,500 attendees, so it felt much smaller and more personable. Being relatively small also made it easier to meet up with people there. The conference lunches were excellent too, so a big thank you to MaryAnne DePesquo, although I was initially worried she might be cross with me for missing SAS Global Forum 2019 in Dallas, where she was Conference Chair, but she did forgive me!

I knew I would meet several conference friends I’d met before at SAS Global Forum and PhUSE, but I never expected so many friends would be there. In fact there were, apparently, rumours beforehand that I was coming to PharmaSUG, and some there didn’t believe them! Anyway, everyone was very welcoming, and I made lots of new conference friends at PharmaSUG too.

I have run free prize draws for copies of my latest book at most of the conferences I had attended since it was published in 2015, using the free copies Apress, the publisher, had sent me. My penultimate book prize draw at PharmaSUG was won by Qinxiao (Catherine) Shi, a Statistics student from the University of Connecticut (see photo). I wish I’d been able to take a photo of her reaction when she found out she had won. Let’s just say she was very pleased to win!

After 9 days in North America we had to travel home to the UK again, but not without one last adventure by rail, as I had booked a train from Philadelphia to Penn Station in New York. From there we had to catch 2 more trains, buying tickets before each leg, to get to JFK, our departure airport. While the potential issues were many, including an unexpected power outage at the station in Philadelphia that morning, I can report nothing untoward happened en route to JFK, and we even arrived there earlier than expected.

Now we have been back in the UK a few days, I’ve had time to reflect on our PharmaSUG journey, and all I can think of are 3 words: Welcoming, Enlightening and Worthwhile! Thank you everyone we’ve met in the USA and Canada. We’ll be back!

PS. For those interested in my beer tastings, I tasted 20 new beers during this journey: 4 in Boston, 4 in Niagara, 11 in Philadelphia and finally 1 in New York.

The SAS Forum UK 2018 Book Draw Winner was … Igor Khorlo!

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Subtitle: Never leave prize draw cards out for cleaners to see!

Congratulations to Igor Khorlo from Syneos Health, who won a copy of my latest book, “SAS Programming and Data Visualization Techniques”. Thank you also to all the SAS Forum UK 2018 attendees who entered the book prize draw, but didn’t win this time. I hope you will try again at another conference where I’ll be holding a book prize draw in the future.

Unfortunately, I have a confession to make. I presented “The Art of Defensive Programming: Coping with Unseen Data” on the 1st day at this conference, telling my unexpectedly large audience that I was running a free prize draw for my latest book. After my presentation I actually saw a queue of attendees filling in the prize draw entry cards and putting them in the bag. Regrettably, I left that bag at the SAS Analytics Hub stand overnight, and on the 2nd day it was gone, so everyone’s entry card from the 1st day had been thrown away by the cleaners!! I tried to tell as many attendees as I could on the 2nd day to re-enter the draw, but many of the original entries were lost, so I’m pleased that Igor did re-enter the draw, but sorry that many who entered on the 1st day were not able to win. I will try to learn from this in the future!

As far as the conference as a whole was concerned, it was a success for me:

  • Paul Kent’s keynote presentation “Using SAS in the best possible way, driving intelligence, putting it in to practice and gaining competitive advantage” was a great start to the 1st day.
  • England beating Tunisia in the World Cup, with the England and Tunisia themed food, was a great way to end that day.
  • SAS UK are always very welcoming at their events, and this conference was no exception.
  • My only concern would be that the Vox Conference Centre may be too small for the 2019 event, but only if the attendees continue to grow.

SAS, Book, Rocks and the Passing of Time in Colorado

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SAS Global Forum 2018 was held in the Colorado Convention Center from April 8 to 11 (Sunday to Wednesday) in Downtown Denver.

Attending a large SAS conference like SAS Global Forum, with its 5,500 attendees, you have to be prepared to “think on your feet”, because nothing ever happens quite the way you expect it to, and finding a specific attendees requires luck and/or persistence. That said I found 60+ friends and contacts during the conference, from as far afield as Australia and the UK, and even met a friend in Denver airport on my way home!

It might be of interest to you that, even though many of the sessions were looking at the newest SAS products and features, including SAS/Viya, attendances generally appeared to be higher in the sessions involving SAS programming. In each session head counts were recorded, so the conference organisers will hopefully be able to see this for themselves. I presented “The Art of Defensive Programming” on the Tuesday afternoon to a full room of 148 seats, and with a queue of hopeful attendees outside. I was told afterwards that the room limit was 144, but 4 seats had been added before I started to present!

However, I would like to apologise to anyone who attended my paper and was disappointed that my 50-minute paper only lasted 20 minutes. I was making use of the new count-down timer on the desk, which told me how long I had to go, and then had amber and red lights to tell me when I had 5 minutes left and when I had to stop. Unfortunately I didn’t notice that the starting time had been set to 20 minutes, instead of 50 minutes, and nor did the room chair. If there are time left cards, or count-down timers, then I do tend to rely on them, rather than using my own watch, or the room clock (which I couldn’t see in that room anyway). Whenever I present I have specific slides which I use to check how fast, or slow, I’m going, and at the first of these slides I saw I only had 10 minutes left, so I upped my pace. However, I can assure everyone that I didn’t remove any of the content, even though I finished on 20 minutes to the second! I just cut back on the explanation I would have added to each slide, which could have extended my presentation to 50 minutes. Had the room chair or I known that there had been a queue outside, then I could have re-run my presentation in the 30 minutes I had left, so that no-one who wanted to attend would have missed out. But hindsight is a wonderful thing!

During the conference I ran a free prize draw at the ODS Graphics booth to win a copy of my latest book “SAS Programming and Data Visualization Techniques“. I set up the draw on the Sunday afternoon with a printout of the book’s cover and contents, a pile of cards for the entrant’s name and email address, and a box to put the completed cards. Unfortunately the cleaning team in the Quad were super-efficient, and on Monday morning the box with the completed cards from Sunday had gone! I had to borrow a plastic bowl from SAS Publishing for the completed cards, and hope that the cleaning team would ignore it. Anyway by 4pm on Tuesday the bowl was still there with 22 entry cards (although I’d had to replace the printout of the book’s cover and contents on Tuesday morning!), and Christine Grice’s card was drawn by Sanjay Matange. I arranged for an announcement to be made over the public address system, and I contacted Christine using email and the SASGF app, but was unable to find her during the conference. Happily though, since the conference, we’ve been in touch, and she now has copies of the 2 self-published ebooks that were included in my latest book.

After the conference my wife Angela and I went on a day tour into the nearby Rockies, visiting the Red Rocks Amphitheater, where the Beatles, John Denver and Widespread Panic had performed. We also visited several mining towns. Thursday was a very warm day in Denver with temperatures reaching 27C (81F), and Angela and I walked to the Denver Botanic Gardens in the afternoon. Friday, however, was not at all warm, with Denver reaching 6C (43F), but Central City in the Rockies reaching -3C (27F)! Idaho Springs was warmer at 0C (32F), but there was still a frozen waterfall there.

Did I enjoy the SAS Global Forum? Yes!

Did I enjoy exploring Denver and the Rockies? Yes, and I tasted 25 local beers while I was there too!

Would I come back? If I had the opportunity to present in Denver again, then Yes!

I’m not planning to attend the SAS Global Forum 2019 in Dallas, unless I’m invited to run a SAS training course alongside the conference, but I will be at PharmaSUG 2019 in Philadelphia, which will be my first time at PharmaSUG! I’m hoping to run a training course before or after the conference, and present at the conference too. Hopefully I’ll be able to meet you there (and I’ll be bringing my own clock!).

Are you going to PhUSE in Edinburgh? I’m presenting there!

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PhUSE is being held in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) in Edinburgh this year from Sunday 8th to Wednesday 11th October 2017, and I’ll be presenting “Making Graphs Easier to Validate – The Benefits of ODS Graphics” in the Data Visualization stream on the Monday afternoon at 1500hr.

PhUSE is now a global conference for the pharmaceutical software community, and there will be 600+ attendees in the following streams:
– Analytics & Statistics
– Application Development
– Coding Tips & Tricks
– Data Standards & Governance
– Data Handling
– Data Visualisation
– Industry Starters
– Management
– Professional Development & Training
– Posters
– Regulatory
– Real-world Evidence
– Software Demonstrations
– Standards Implementation
– Trends & Technology
– Hands-on Workshops
– University Day

CK Clinical will be running a competition (I think it will be Connect4), and one of the prizes will be a copy of my recent book “SAS Programming and Data Visualization Techniques: A Power User’s Guide”. Visit Stand 37 in the Exhibitors Area to get a chance to win a copy.

I’m also planning my annual beer-tasting evening on the Tuesday during the conference at a local venue. Unfortunately attendance will be limited to the first 20 attendees to confirm interest with me at the conference itself, so talk to me early if you’d like to attend!

Hope to see you there.

Are you going to SAS Forum UK 2017 in Birmingham? I’m presenting there!

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SAS Forum UK 2017 is being held in the Vox Conference Centre near the Birmingham NEC again this year from Tuesday 26th to Wednesday 27th September 2017, and I’ll be presenting “Making Graphs Easier to Validate – The Benefits of ODS Graphics” at 1130hr in the Tech Tips stream on the Tuesday.

It will not a very big conference (although last year there were 650 attendees spread over the 2 days), as not everyone attends both days, but it will lean heavily towards techie topics again. Those looking to take certification exams will be able to do so during Tuesday, Tuesday also includes streams for “Expert services for: Learning & Academia”, “Expert services for: Consulting & Premium Support”, “Tech Tips” and “Super Demos”, and the Wednesday will include streams for “Customer Stories”, “SAS Presents”, “Technical Insights” and more “Super Demos”. See the SAS Forum UK 2017 web site for more details.

I will be running a prize draw again for you to win a copy of my recent book “SAS Programming and Data Visualization Techniques: A Power User’s Guide”. Just drop in a business card or fill out a blank card at the stand to get a chance to win a copy.

Hope to see you there.

See “Making Graphs Easier to Validate – The Benefits of ODS Graphics” at SAS Global Forum in Orlando

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Are you attending SAS Global Forum in April this year? If you are then you have the opportunity to see me present “Making Graphs Easier to Validate – The Benefits of ODS Graphics” on Wednesday 5 April from 1100-1150hr. I’ll be in the Americas Seminar Room on Dolphin Level 5 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida. In this presentation I’ll be talking about how to make your graphs easier to validate by using ODS Graphics and a lot of common sense!

However, maybe you are not going to be in Orlando in April, but you and your colleagues would still like to see me present on this topic. What can you do about that? Well it should still be possible, because I’m currently developing a 1/2 day training session which I’m calling “Defensive SAS Programming”. This will include “Making Graphs Easier to Validate – The Benefits of ODS Graphics”, but also “Writing Reusable Macros” and another new topic “The Art of Defensive Programming: How to Cope with Unseen Data”.

You’ll see from the link above that I don’t have to be in the room with you to present, therefore I could present through your company’s video-conferencing system from my own office at home to your conference room wherever you are instead. The “Available” and “Coming Soon” training sessions can all be booked in advance, but the “Coming Soon” training sessions will be developed specifically for you, if you are the first to request them.

Going back to “Making Graphs Easier to Validate – The Benefits of ODS Graphics”, this presentation and paper will be available for download from the Product Shop shortly after it is presented for the first time, but may also be available from the SAS Global Forum site before the conference too!

I’m looking forward to SAS Global Forum, and hope to see you there, or elsewhere in the near future!