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RE: st: I wish I'd known that -

From   "Kieran McCaul" <>
To   <>
Subject   RE: st: I wish I'd known that -
Date   Tue, 31 Aug 2010 06:22:12 +0800


I've been using Stata for about 13 or 14 years now.  Prior to that I was
a SAS-user for about 10 years and an SPSS-user for 5 years before that.

Over the past few years I've taught a few workshops on using Stata and
I've found these difficult in general.  

Like many others of my generation, my first job involved using a
computer that was housed in a building in the middle of the campus.  In
order to do my job, I had to learn how to use SPSS (not that difficult
because I had some Fortran programming experience), but I also had to
learn how to get the computer to do what I wanted it to do.  When PCs
arrived on the scene, I had to learn DOS and later Windows in order to
operate it efficiently. The computer was a tool of the trade and I had
to develop some mastery of it if I was going to be able to work

This has created a major problem for me when I try and teach someone how
to use Stata because the way I use a computer is very different from the
way many (younger) people use a computer.  

I think that the people who have the most difficulty learning Stata are
those who have no programming experience (mainly point-and-click
SPSS-users) and those who use their laptop or PC as it comes; straight
out of the box.

For example, Windows doesn't come with file extensions visible and I
find a lot people who use it like this, so how can you talk to them
about do files, ado files, dta files, etc if they can't see the file
extensions (and don't know how to make them visible)?

Windows Explorer will allow you to view the directory structure on your
PC and list the files within each of the folders, but it has to be set
up to do this.  By default, it shows no directory tree and shows only
the icons of the files in each folder.  For someone who uses it like
this, what does something like "C:\Studies\Breast Cancer\programs" mean
to them?  I run into a lot of people who don't actually understand what
this is.  

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Ronan Conroy
Sent: Monday, 30 August 2010 8:06 PM
Subject: Re: st: I wish I'd known that -

First, may I thank the many people who replied both on the list and  
privately. I will be summarising suggestions.

However, I would still like to hear more from those who have recently  
learned Stata, and who are possibly still struggling with it. Many of  
the suggestions have been made by people who, like me, have been using  
Stata for years and have forgotten what it was like not to know how to  
use it.

Ronan Conroy
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Epidemiology Department,
Beaux Lane House, Dublin 2, Ireland
+353 (0)1 402 2431
+353 (0)87 799 97 95
+353 (0)1 402 2764 (Fax - remember them?)

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