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st: Re: thoughts on manuals

From   "Clive Nicholas" <>
Subject   st: Re: thoughts on manuals
Date   Mon, 17 Nov 2003 09:41:39 -0000 (GMT)


A 'Clive-support' group: I rather like the idea of that!! *lol* And as for
being a Microsoft plant, please! :-) It's certainly not my intention to
"drive everyone else off the list". How could I? Anyway, it's not out of
the question that I may find a way of getting [R] in the near-future, and
it may be possible to get my library to get it (but I won't hold my
breath!). I should point out that I'm angry about the issue of manuals,
but when you say they're a long-term investment, they are (in part) only
short-term, since they'll get replaced when Stata 9 comes along (which is
already being talked about!).

Somewhere in [U], it's stated that -help- contains only a tenth of the
information contained in [R], so that on its make purchasing [R] a more
attractive proposition. When is a different matter. As for etiquette, you
can be rest assured that I'll be asking less in future as I become more
proficient in Stata (remember that I've only been using it regularly for
about two months), and as I do, I'll use this list less. However, I'm
light years away from, say, knowing how to program ado-files in it. It's
already been extremely useful in passing tips on useful routines (to me)
that I didn't even ask for. My university inbox is crammed full on the
Statalist e-mails I've already saved.

And I am getting better, stealthily, by checking before asking. I'm now
able to -net search-, -net install- and -update-, none of which I was able
to do, for technical reasons, before last Wednesday. That should also help
tremendously in cutting down on the number of questions that I need to ask
this list (hopefully!).


> Clive,
> (In hopes this will not be read in an angry tone, for it is really a tone
> of concern and helpfulness I mean to strike).
> How do you think I got to a, as you say, "blue-chip" university?
> Certainly not by asking vendors to lower prices on products I needed in
> order to make investments in my human capital.  It's easy to ask others to
> change what they are doing.  It is harder to accept that we all make
> choices in life, and nothing is free.  If you don't get the manuals, you
> should accept what that means--being unaware of syntax, capabilities,
> options, and caveats.  And one other thing I think it means is you should
> try to avoid turning statalist into a Clive-support group where users
> check the manuals (you don't have) and answer your questions (that would
> be answered if you obtained and read the manuals).  Send questions to
> statalist.  But, try not to get angry if the answer is "check the
> manuals".  Often, when that's the answer, no one actually sends a
> response.
> In the same connection, the archive is for everyone, especially new users.
> It is to keep the list from repeatedly dealing with the same issues, to
> keep new people from joining and asking the same questions over and over.
> The archive is one reason statalist remains a high quality list--people
> who have been using the software awhile stay on the list because the list
> is not inundated with problems that have been addressed before, especially
> low-level syntax questions that have been documented.  And, it is the
> presence of these advanced users on the list that makes it work for all of
> us who are not long-time users--I myself have only been using stata for
> about 18 months.
> Finally, you are a new user, but you seem resistant to learning the rules
> of etiquette on statalist, such as what resources to check before you send
> a note to the list, and so on.  Your resistance makes me wonder, are you
> on a one-man crusade to drive everyone else off the list?  Are you some
> kind of Microsoft plant?  ;-)
> Seriously, though, I hope you figure a way to get the manuals.  There
> really is no complete substitute.  But if you are unwilling or unable to
> do so (and, much of the syntax is the same so stata7 manuals can partly
> suffice), that's unfortunate--but it is your problem, not that of the rest
> of the stata community.  This is the way it is with all queries to
> statalist. If I send a question saying I used syntax B to estimate a model
> but can't get it to run, and someone responds and indicates B won't work,
> but A will, I have a choice.  I can use syntax A, and get the model to
> run.  Or I can persist in using syntax B, and the model will never run.
> If I persist in using syntax B, I shouldn't get upset that this approach
> won't work, when people have graciously taken of their time and energy to
> show me how to accomplish the aim I tell them I have (i.e., to estimate
> this model).  Analoguously, answers to your dilemma have been
> provided--get the manuals--and several ways of doing so have been
> suggested.  If you disagree that that is necessary, or feel it is too
> costly to follow that approach, that's fine.  But, persisting in using
> syntax B, or persisting in failing to avail oneself of the principle
> resource, comes to the same thing--your work moves much more slowly than
> it otherwise would, if it moves at all.  And that's a cost that depends on
> the value of your time, a question only you can answer.
> Respectfully,
> Sam
> On Mon, 17 Nov 2003, Clive Nicholas wrote:
>> To answer Remzo's and Sam's comments (but Remzo's in particular), Stata
>> was available in the form of version 7 on all of our university's
>> machines
>> up until (I think) the spring of last year; so they're extremely
>> unlikely
>> to bring it back. And it won't make any difference to me since I've now
>> got SE 8 on my machine!
>> As to the manuals, I agree with you, Sam: they are an investment (I had
>> a
>> thorough flick through the dictionary-style [R] books at Essex earlier
>> this year, and they're very good). But then it's easy to say things like
>> that when you're at a blue-chip university with massive resources such
>> as
>> UC Berkeley. I would suggest to you that not all of us mere mortals are
>> as
>> fortunate! ;-) I'll pass on the archive for now since we've had this
>> interesting little exchange, but I might remind you that I've only been
>> 'here' since last month!
>> C.
>> > You know, Clive, this was discussed less than 6 months ago, and is
>> amply
>> > documented in the archive.  To make a long story short, the manuals
>> are
>> > cheap.  They are investments.  They will pay off over the rest of your
>> > life (even after the software has been superceded by stata18--because
>> you
>> > will learn very useful things to make you survive in the field until
>> > stata18 arrives, as well as for other reasons).  If a person is
>> unwilling
>> > or unable to make a human capital investment early, that person will
>> reap
>> > lower returns later.  That's the way it works.
>> >
>> > Being a student, that's what one is doing--among other things; making
>> > hci's.  It's okay to decide the stata manuals are not a good hci.
>> > Although it is probably especially penny wise and pound foolish for
>> > someone without any other way to access the syntax to regard the
>> manuals
>> > as poor hci's, it is just wrong to assert that the manuals are
>> expensive.
>> > As investments go, they are cheap--very very cheap.  And, as the
>> saying
>> > goes, if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
>> >
>> > Respectfully yours,
>> >
>> > Sam
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > On Sun, 16 Nov 2003, Renzo Comolli wrote:
>> >
>> >> Dear all,
>> >>
>> >> I have already expressed my opinion on the general matter of the
>> manual
>> >> price for graduate students (or students in general). In order to
>> limit
>> >> repetition (the thoughts were leanghy and nounced) let me only update
>> >> what
>> >> changed.
>> >> 1. When I bought Stata, I said to my self, "manuals? I can do
>> without;
>> >> I'll
>> >> use the help"
>> >> 2. When I wrote my email on this topic, I wrote "manuals? I would
>> >> seriously
>> >> consider buying them if they were cheaper"
>> >> 3. Today I write "it would be really expensive, but if I could not
>> >> borrow
>> >> them, I would buy them".
>> >>
>> >> Now some practical advice to Clive on how to (try to) borrow the
>> manuals
>> >> and
>> >> live a happy Stata life:
>> >> 1. Propose to your library to buy them (it works)
>> >> 2. Propose to your department (chair, director of graduate
>> studies...)
>> >> to
>> >> buy them (it works too)
>> >> 3. Propose to your supervisor to buy them
>> >> 4. Some universities have mini-research grants for purposes such as
>> this
>> >> one.
>> >> 5. Be brass and ask to other departments whether they have them (some
>> >> epidemiological, public health, political science depts have them)
>> >>
>> >> Ciao
>> >> Renzo
>> >>
>> >> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> >> ----
>> >> /* From   "Clive Nicholas" <> */
>> >> To
>> >> Subject   st: -margin-, -mfx compute- and -manuals-
>> >> Date   Sat, 15 Nov 2003 11:47:50 -0000 (GMT)
>> >>
>> >> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> >> ----
>> >> [...]
>> >>
>> >> By the way, unlike most Statapeeps on this list, I don't consider
>> myself
>> >> loaded enough to afford all of the Stata manuals. I find it hard to
>> >> understand why people make this assumption. There are no books *at
>> all*
>> >> on
>> >> Stata available at my (rather large) university library, not least
>> >> because, quite wrongly in my view, Stata isn't on our university
>> >> machines
>> >> here. I'll let you all into a dirty secret I have:
>> >>
>> >> **I'm a student!**
>> >>
>> >> I know. Incredible, isn't it?! Yes, I'd *love* to own the whole kit
>> and
>> >> caboodle, but I had to make choices as to which I could purchase,
>> since
>> >> I
>> >> needed to purchase Stata 8 and Stat/Transfer 7. I chose to buy [U].
>> I'm
>> >> thinking of getting [XT] soon. But [R]? No way, not at that price.
>> Love
>> >> to, but you know, finances and all that... ;-)
>> >>
>> >> C.
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> *
>> >> *   For searches and help try:
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>> > *
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>> >
>> Yours,
>> Politics Building,
>> School of Geography, Politics and Sociology,
>> University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne,
>> Newcastle-upon-Tyne,
>> NE1 7RU,
>> United Kingdom.
>> *
>> *   For searches and help try:
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>> *
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> *
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> *
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Politics Building,
School of Geography, Politics and Sociology,
University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne,
NE1 7RU,
United Kingdom.
*   For searches and help try:

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