Susan Slaughter

SAS Certification As a Tool for Professional Development

In Everything, SAS, SAS Papers, Western Users of SAS Software on September 1, 2014 at 10:58 am

SAS Certification As a Tool for Professional DevelopmentIf you had told me a year ago that I would write a paper about SAS certification for the Western Users of SAS Software 2014 Educational Forum and Conference, I would have been very surprised!  I became a SAS Certified Professional long ago, and that certification expired–long ago!  However, in the past six months, both my son and a friend have become SAS certified.  In the process, I learned a lot.

Now Andra Northup and I have written a paper titled SAS Certification As a Tool for Professional Development.  Doing the research for this paper, we gathered information and opinions both from SAS users and from experts at SAS Institute.  Here are some interesting things I learned:

  • Over 67,000 SAS certificates have been awarded.
  • The volume of tests taken has doubled in the past three years.
  • The first SAS certification was in Europe and required passing 3 two-hour exams.
  • Since 2006, certifications no longer expire, but are tied to a particular version of SAS.
  • Some people claim that the Advanced exam is easier than the Base exam.
  • The pass rate for the Advanced exam is, in fact, higher than for the Base exam.
  • At only $55, the online practice exam for the Base exam is a bargain, and it’s good for six months.
  • The SAS Programming 1: Essentials online self-paced course is FREE.

If you are going to the conference, I hope you will attend our presentation Thursday, September 4, 2014 2:00-2:50pm. If not, then you can download the paper here.

Using PROC SGPLOT for Quick High-Quality Graphs

In Everything, SAS, SAS Papers, Western Users of SAS Software on September 1, 2014 at 10:51 am

Using PROC SGPLOT for Quick High-Quality GraphsSoon I will travel to San Jose for the Western Users of SAS Software 2014 Educational Forum and Conference.  I’m looking forward to doing a hands-on workshop on one of my favorite topics, ODS Graphics, specifically the PROCs SGPLOT and SGPANEL.  Here is the abstract:

New with SAS 9.2, ODS Graphics introduced a whole new way of generating graphs using SAS.  With just a few lines of code, you can create a wide variety of high-quality graphs.  This workshop shows how to produce several types of graphs using PROC SGPLOT, and how to create paneled graphs by converting PROC SGPLOT to PROC SGPANEL.  This workshop also shows how to send your graphs to different ODS destinations, how to apply ODS styles to your graphs, and how to specify properties of graphs, such as format, name, height, and width.

If you are going to the conference, I hope you will attend my workshop Thursday, September 4, 2014 4:00-6:00pm. If not, then you can download the paper, step-by-step handout, and syntax reference tables.

How I Got Started with Computers

In Detritus, Everything, Writing on July 29, 2014 at 2:33 pm

This is not your typical tech story.

I trace my life as a programmer back to ninth grade, not to a computer class or even a math class, but to English. 

In ninth grade, I was fortunate to have English with Miss Burke who, along with the standard Shakespeare and expository writing, slipped in material which was decidedly not part of the official curriculum.  She taught us substantial, meaty lessons in grammar.  This was not the namby-pamby stuff that usually passes for grammar.  (Does ANYBODY care about the subject and predicate?  I certainly don’t.)  Instead we studied the logic of natural language: dependent and independent clauses, direct and indirect objects, and the sacred eight parts of speech.  Ok, I made up the sacred part, but just because I’m still so excited about this.  She told us, “A sentence is a complete thought”—and it was an epiphany for me.  I loved it!

Little did I know at the time that syntax is syntax is syntax whether you are talking about a spoken language or a computer language.  The rules of some languages are more arbitrary than others (anyone remember JCL?) , but if you don’t follow the rules, then what you write won’t make sense regardless of whether you are talking to people or computers.

That’s why it bugs me when programmers mess up English syntax such as the correct use of subjective and objective pronouns like who and whom.  I think, “It’s all syntax.  You should know this!”  But I digress.

The point I would like to make is this: Women are still grossly underrepresented in the computer field.  Maybe women would be more interested if someone explained to them that talking to a computer is a lot like talking to a person.

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