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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Giovanni Vecchi is a Stata Black Belt Mega Awesome Dude

Recall Brad Delon's defence of new computers with new software here

Yes! But all the wonderful spiffy new things your Toshiba can do! Like surf the web! And surf the web! And run STATA!

I was generally unconvinced here.
However, I was willing to concede that STATA is ok and has improved since 1989.

Then the results window vanished. Now I like stata, but, you know, I like to see results. The great icon "bring results window to front" had no effect. click tab window then results had no effect. Closing and re-opening STATA had no effect.

I flipped out. I remain flipped out. Somehow I had managed to change an STATA option in a way which was written to disk and persisted when I closed STATA. Thus running STATA had changed even though I just clicked on the same icon on the same spot on my desk top. The options that can be persistently changed are not a way that STATA helps scientists. It is anti science. One key to science is reproducibility, and modern spiffy features of modern programs mean they change in ways not obvious to the user preventing reproducibility. The tools which are supposed to help us understanda complex world are too complex for anyone, that is anyone, to understand all of their features, which are, therefore, necessarily bugs.

I asked some people for help. Clearly they couldn't get the results window back.

So I asked Giovanni Vecchi my co author and our local maximum Stata expert. He asked me if I kept up with updates. He soon wished he hadn't asked as I began to shout about how updates means the program changes which makes reproducibility impossible. I said anyone who allowed STATA to update was not a scientist. I demanded he show me where in his published articles he reported exactly which update of STATA generated the results out of the raw data.

Giovanni is not only a STATA expert, he is also a saint. Thus he shut me up the only way possible. He made the results window reappear. It was really simple. He clicked on prefs then manage preferences then load preferences then factory settings. Damn why didn't I do that.

Now this shows he is also smart as, obviously, he had never met anyone who had managed somehow to communicate to STATA "don't bother me with the results."

Giovanni Vecchi my hero.

Down in comments

Computer Bruce who seems to be kind patient and extremely knowledgeable answered my questions in a comment. I am now concerned that, with my ability to find msconfig on an xp system, I will mess up my computer. I am also irritated that a new automatic execution link to msnmsg appears when I tell windows not to execute msnmsg, so I would have to run regedit ... no that is to horrible to even contemplate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Giovanni is not only a STATA expert, he is also a saint."

Saint???? You don't believe in God, but do you believe in saints???
take care on your atheism !!!!