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

From   Nick Cox <>
To   "''" <>
Subject   RE: st: I wish I'd known that -
Date   Tue, 31 Aug 2010 12:09:08 +0100

I'd mostly go along with this "generation grumble". 

But set-ups vary, and our students do have to get used very quickly to a mix of using University-level facilities, including their own filespace allocation, and their own laptops and/or desktops. That alone obliges the use of memory sticks etc. and in turn an awareness of files in folders. In addition, group work obliges sharing of files. 

In fact I suspect they learned this in {secondary | high} school, if not earlier, but I'm out of touch on that. 


Kieran McCaul

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.  

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