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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Remove Formatting From Variables

What do you do if you have a SAS data set with formatted variables, but you don't have access to the format? You have to remove the format from the variables if you want to work with the data set.

The easiest way to remove formats from variables in a data set is to use proc datasets.

Assuming I have a data set named Responses with some variables that have formats applied to them that no longer exist.

proc datasets library = myLibrary memtype=data;
modify responses;
attrib _all_ format=;

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

I have been following some of the recent talk going on the blogosphere about R and SAS.
R vs SAS/SPSS in Corporations: A view from the other side

She is correct that it is nearly impossible to get large organizations to give up their propietary software. And she does a great job explaining why. So should the SAS Institute be worried about R?

First lets take a moment to point out something that is often overlooked when people compare open-source to propietary software. Open-source projects on their own are usually relatively lame imitations of their propietary cousins (let's be honest here!). However(!!) open-source becomes incredibly powerful when it is combined with other open source projects.

Consider Linux: nice little OS. MySQL: fun hobby data base. Apache: a very patchy server. PHP: Easy to code, a nightmare to maintain. On their own, none of them are world-changing. But combine them into a LAMP stack and Boom! You are a web developer powerhouse:
PHP 77% of web sites!
Apache serving 80% of the internet!

What this tells me is that R on its own is probably not a big deal for the SAS Institute to compete with. But R combined with the right open-source
projects could potentially be explosive.

I've been thinking that a lot of the SAS I do could be replaced with:
Ruby/Ruby On Rails

And then on my (shameless plug!)new job site I saw this job:

What you’ll do:
Help to build out data warehouse.
Identify and analyze trends that are important to the business.
Build tools to surface key metrics and reports for the company.
Write ETL scripts to funnel data from various sources.
Layout, optimize and maintain distributed schemas.

What you’ll need to be familiar with:
Vertica or Other Distributed Databases

Other things we use:
Ruby on Rails
RESTful Services

Apparently others are thinking the same. So should the SAS Institute be worried? I honestly don't know. But as a consultant I do know what I will be doing this weekend: installing Ubuntu on an old laptop and setting up a Git, Ruby, Rails, R (GRRR!) development environment to play around with.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

SAS Research Programmer/Analyst

SAS Research Programmer/Analyst job in Worcester Massachusetts

  • Location: Worcester
  • Telecommute: No
  • Job Type: full time
  • Pay: 50,000-60,000

Research Analysts/Programmers provide meaningful contributions by creating, managing, and analyzing large and complex data files on health care utilization. The Institute’s faculty conducts local and multi-site research studies on important public health problems with funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control, and private foundations such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

To see more and get the contact details for this job please visit:

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

New SAS Job Site

Well, I finally got my new site up and running. It is a job site specifically for SAS programmers looking for SAS jobs in the US.

I switched the URL from this blog to the new site yesterday. Hopefully it won't be too confusing to people while Google updates their index. This blog can always be reached at

If you are a recruiter, please hop on over to and create some job listings. The first three are free!

One of the hardest parts of getting a web site going is bootstrapping the content (job postings in this case). A lot of times what sites do is host content from affiliate sites to make it look like they have online traction. But this is frustrating for the users because when they click on the job it will send them off to jobs-network, or career-network, or jobs-ring, or some other affiliate site. You end up feeling like they're less interested in showing you the job than they are in harvesting your email address.

I thought about using affiliate content, but one of the things that I hope will set apart from the others, is no affiliate listings. Cheap affiliate listings make it too easy for someone, anyone to create a job (that may or may not actually exist) and then pay .02 for every person that gets fooled into providing their email address when they apply. No thanks.

So I decided to launch the site "empty" and rely on time/perseverance/luck to get content. Did I mention the first 3 are free? :)

Please do check out the site, and any feedback is always appreciated. Either in the comments here or stephen at sas coders dot com.