Sun 20 April 2014 | -- (permalink)

I spent a lot of last week documenting an R package. I'm still learning how to write good user-facing features (including documentation) in my software, so I asked Twitter for advice on two things: (1) what are some R packages with stellar documentation?, and (2) is there a documentation ...


Thu 10 April 2014 | -- (permalink)

My post about last week's rOpenSci hackathon came out today over at Simply Statistics. Check it out!


Mon 24 March 2014 | -- (permalink)

I spent most of last week at a big biostatistics conference. Overall it was a great time - there were mixers and free coffee and old friends and new friends and famous keynote speakers and lots of talks. It was also exhausing, due to the huge number of people, the early-morning ...


Sat 15 March 2014 | -- (permalink)

This is the story of a rabbit hole I went down on Thursday night. The unexpected consequence of this long journey was that I got brave enough to submit a pull request to a popular Python project! It was my first attempt at contributing to a large-ish open-source project, and ...


Thu 06 March 2014 | -- (permalink)

Choosing the perfect set of colors for a plot is hard. But people have thought a lot about this problem, and there are solutions! If you're an R user looking for publication-quality color schemes that are backed by lots of scientific research, check out RColorBrewer, or use the color ...


Sun 02 March 2014 | -- (permalink)

I've encountered a few hilariously useless error messages while coding recently. They got me thinking about error messages in general and wondering about the best way to build good error messages into my own software.

Some hilarious messages I've seen:

Error in listClassName("Compressed", class(x)) : Could not ...


Fri 21 February 2014 | -- (permalink)

Here's part 2 in my series on fantastic blog posts written by other people! See part 1 for more favorites.


Sun 16 February 2014 | -- (permalink)

Last fall I wrote a little script that might be useful for graduate students and faculty at my school: it checks to see whether a proposed faculty committee satisfies the university's requirements. You can read more about the project in this post. This script is now a usable web ...


Sun 09 February 2014 | -- (permalink)

what's vectorization?

In R, a "vector" refers to a one-dimensional array. A "vectorized" function f() takes a vector [x1, x2, ... , xn] as input and returns the vector [f(x1), f(x2), f(x3), ... , f(xn)]. If you'd like to read more about this, you should read Chapter 3 ...


Wed 29 January 2014 | -- (permalink)

A few weeks ago, I heard or read something like this: "if you look back at work you did a while ago and you think it was really awful, this is a good thing because it means you're improving."

I remember thinking this was a great attitude to have ...


Tue 21 January 2014 | -- (permalink)

Writing R packages is fun. Some people say you should start making your R code into a package as soon as you have two functions (just two!!). Making a package involves:

  1. Putting your function definitions into separate files and putting those files in a folder called R
  2. Documenting your functions ...

Tue 14 January 2014 | -- (permalink)

I love reading other people's blogs, but I'm terrible at keeping track of all the great stuff that's out there. I'll read something, think to myself, "hey that was super cool!" and promptly forget about it as I go on my merry way. NO MORE! I ...


Fri 10 January 2014 | -- (permalink)

Around this time two years ago, I had just finished my graduate coursework and was transitioning into full-on research mode. All of a sudden, school was a LOT different than it had been for the previous 18-ish years. I was faced with the odd problem of having a big workload ...


Thu 02 January 2014 | -- (permalink)

My sister is a senior undergraduate majoring in sociology. She just landed an awesome analyst job for next semester and was told she'll be using some R in the course of her work. She asked me to show her the ropes during winter vacation, and of course I said ...


Thu 14 November 2013 | -- (permalink)

"How long did that take to run?"

I think I've been asked that question approximately one bazillion times in the past few years. Unsurprising: I'm working in computational biology research. Whether we're developing our own methods or using our computing resources to analyze data for a collaborator ...


Wed 30 October 2013 | -- (permalink)

As I've spent more and more time writing code and analyzing data over the past few years, it's become increasingly obvious that developing a good, comfortable workflow is really important. Having a less-than-ideal step somewhere in your workflow is one of those situations where you don't even ...


Mon 21 October 2013 | -- (permalink)

the problem

In my department, there are basically three gigantic exams you have to pass before they will give you a PhD. The first is a written qualifier, the second is an oral exam based on a research proposal you've put together, and the third is the dissertation defense ...


Tue 13 August 2013 | -- (permalink)

Ever since I bought a Mac two years ago, I've been dreaming of a text editor that compares to the Windows-only Notepad++. What a delight. My favorite thing about Notepad++ was how easy it was to run code in a REPL with a keyboard shortcut (e.g., F8 would ...


Thu 27 June 2013 | tags: hacker school, technical, -- (permalink)

Here are some great pages I've found myself referring to a lot in the past few weeks, or pages I want to remember (without bookmarking, since I never look at my bookmarks).  I'm collecting them here so I can have a somewhat reasonable number of tabs open in ...


Wed 19 June 2013 | tags: hacker school, -- (permalink)

Today is the 11th official day of my summer at Hacker School.  It. is. awesome.  By day, I get to surround myself with great people and work on whatever project I want.  Seriously, no rules.  It's been so easy to get in the zone: I start coding and lose ...


Sun 02 June 2013 | tags: hacker school, -- (permalink)

Hello from New York!

Tomorrow morning, my summer adventure begins: I'm a student in the summer 2013 batch of Hacker School!  Basically, Hacker School is three months of learning about programming, in a bring-your-own-project-ideas-or-enthusiasm, collaborative, friendly, flexible, awesome environment.  I haven't actually been yet, so that's my ...


Mon 18 March 2013 | -- (permalink)

At this time last week, I was experiencing my first ENAR!  Overall I had a great time  - met some cool people, went to some cool sessions, hung out by the pool and went to Epcot, etc.  But as we were hanging out over the course of the conference, I found ...


Thu 08 November 2012 | -- (permalink)

My advisor told me today, in a fit of excitement and enthusiasm, that "the real winners in this election were statisticians."  (He later went on to joyfully declare, "Man, I LOVE being a statistician!"  The guy is living the dream.)  According to him, today is statistician's Christmas.  What a ...


Thu 25 October 2012 | -- (permalink)

In my software/hardware setup post, I talked a little bit about working on a remote machine.  As promised, here are the details about how I make interactive coding easy for me.

Let's start from the very very beginning.  Our department has a pretty sweet set of really powerful ...


Fri 21 September 2012 | -- (permalink)

Our tendency to stick with what's right in front of us is well-documented.  (I know it's Wikipedia, but check out the fat list of references and further reading!).  I was at a lecture on obesity a few weeks ago, and I learned that in 2006, Disney World's ...


Fri 31 August 2012 | -- (permalink)

Last fall, I read an article in the New York Times called "What if the Secret to Success is Failure?"  It's a pretty long read, but I really enjoyed it.  The article centers around Dominic Randall, headmaster of a New York City private K-12 school, and a few other ...


Thu 23 August 2012 | -- (permalink)

Inspired by the awesome Hilary Parker and the dawn of a new academic year, I've put together a rundown of tools I find essential in my day-to-day as a biostatistics graduate student.  None of this was formally taught to me - much has been recommended, learned on the fly, or ...