Published Sep 25, 2004

I’m old. Officially old. What is it that makes me old? Why, it’s my ability to reminisce, with a twinkle in my eye and a wistful tone, about the good old days when I wrote batch files to run statistical tests on SPSS, which, by the way, ran on the server, not some dinky desktop. Ahh yes, I miss firing up Kermit, telnetting into the server (, I think) running pico or vi to write a command file instructing SPSS what to do with my data, FTPing the data to the server, running SPSS from the command line (there was no user interface, you’d just type SPSS nomanager inputfile outputfile), hoping there were no errors (and repeating the whole process if there were), and, if the whole megillah worked, waiting 30-45 minutes for the computer center staff to pull the 60-70 green-and-white pages of output for my job off of the large-format dot-matrix printer and drop it in the “names starting with W” cubby.

So yeah it was a little obtuse, as these things go. But I loved SPSS. It could do whatever you needed with as much, or as little, data as you had. It had this user’s manual — oh, that manual! — that was better than any other stats textbook I’d ever seen. You knew, when you used SPSS, you held power in your hands. Or at least you had a non-exclusive connection to power via a 14,400 baud modem line.

We just started Stats. The prof seems great, but I’m not sure about the statistical package we’re using, Palisade StatTools. Graphs seem to have randomly-labeled axes. RECODE? Feh, use a PivotTable. Sadly, with only about 460 rows of 7 fields of data, and 768 MB of RAM, I managed to run out of memory trying to use a PivotTable to automagically make my data useable. Oh, and the descriptive statistics don’t include the mode. What’s up with that?


yeah! what’s up with that?

Don’t mock my pain! My awful, awful, pain.