27 February 2010

Updates on FAQ (and the need for some motivation)

I've finished updating the FAQ. I incorporated some answers to some questions from readers of the FAQ, particularly about the spectral diagnostics. I also needed to update some answers in regards to Windows Vista and Windows 7, and make sure the information was correct about Census's new interface to X-12.

I need to finish testing all the links and check through the spelling again. With some luck (and hopefully some spelling skills over the past few days), I should have the new pages posted by March 4 or 5.

I need to download TSW again and make sure it hasn't changed too much. I have so many papers started about TSW that aren't finished. I need to treat this project like it's a project for clients and set some firm deadlines. That's an idea I will need to think about . . .

26 February 2010

New web pages

David (at Exit 42 Design) sent me the code for the new web pages today. Very exciting! I have known David since he was born, so it was really fun to work with him and to get to know him better now that he is "all grown up."

Between the time I talked to David and when he sent the code, however, I had changed my mind about the color scheme for the site. It's been gray, green, and blue, with some purple for some links. I decided that to make the site really look like my site, I needed more purple. Purple has been my favorite color for years, though it is also my school color (Go Paladins!), and one of my sorority colors.

To try different colors, I used the site http://colorschemedesigner.com/. I had been there before, and I like it. Besides having great tools to find colors that go together, they have a place where you can test your colors against different kinds of color blindness.

David added some black, and I've replaced the green with purple, though there is still green in my logo. I like the new pages and the new colors. However, the best part is the page for the web courses. I can't wait to finish the audio files so I can show off the pages.

While updating the web pages, I realized that my business plan is also woefully out of date, so it is time to update the plan and reassess my short- and long-term goals.

I also realized that if I was changing the colors for my pages, I should change them on the blog, too. I also finally updated my Blogger template.

Time to get back to work.


19 February 2010

Mentors and anniversaries

Today would have been my grandmother's birthday. I loved being with her because she was so much fun. As I got older, she became more and more of a mentor to me. My grandma didn't know statistics, but she knew people, and she always gave me great advice about how to get along with difficult people. When people would tell me that my children were too close in age, she was the person I would turn to for comfort. (And what are you supposed to do about it anyway after you already have the kids?) Grandma would tell me over and over that having the girls be so close in age would be better for them in the long run. "Just get through the diaper days," she would say. Grandma was right. The kids are such good friends now, and teaching them at home has be easier because they are so close in age. I only wish that Grandma were still alive to see how right she was and how beautiful my girls are. Grandma has been gone for some time now, but I still miss her every day.

My dad's birthday would have been next week. I loved being with Daddy because he was so much fun. Daddy was a great mentor to me, too. He understood about the pressures of grad school and difficult supervisors, and he understood the frustration of not being able to get the data you needed for a big regression project. He was a great person to talk to, and it wasn't until he was gone that I realized how much I depended on him. It's been almost three years since Daddy died, and I still miss him every day.

Next week also marks the five year anniversary of my last day at the Census Bureau. Some days I can't believe that it has been five years because it seems like yesterday when I was there. On other days it seems like an entire lifetime ago that I was there. At Census I had some incredible mentors, some formal and some informal: Bud, Nash, David, Al, John, to name a few. At Census I also had wonderful friends: Kathy, Amy, Joe, Brian, Roxanne, Ayonda, to name a few. These last few years have been a lot of fun in many ways, but they have also been very lonely years.

Along with the obit for Dr. Lehmann, this month's Amstat News also had a letter from Dr. Pantula encouraging us to be a mentor to young statisticians. That is not a problem for me since I happen to live with a high school student who wants to be a statistician and follow in the footsteps of her mother and grandfather. Though I don't feel like a "young statistician" at this point, I don't feel like an old statistician either. I think that maybe this middle-aged statistician needs to find more mentors in her life. I think it would help me be less isolated. At the Census Bureau, you could sign up to be a mentor or to get a mentor. I wish there was a way for isolated statisticians to find other statisticians for mentors.

In the meantime, I thank God for the mentors that I have had in my life.

Just some thoughts for today. Happy birthday, Grandma!

Erich Lehmann (1917-2009)

I just read in the February issue of Amstat News that Erich Lehmann passed away on Sept. 12, 2009, at the age of 91. I was just telling my AP Statistics student about taking a class on point estimation. (She couldn't believe that you could teach nothing but that for an entire semester. Sometimes I have trouble believing it, and I was there.) The textbook: Lehmann's Point Estimation.

The book was difficult, but that wasn't why the class was so hard. I took this class in the fall of 2001. I had gone back to grad school in 1999 after several years of working and kids. The kids were so great about leaving me alone when I had homework, but after the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, I had trouble doing homework. I wanted so much just to play with the kids, or just to sit and hold them. I talked to Dr. Gentle about it, and he was nice about it, but I knew that I didn't have enough of a grasp on the material to continue with the next class. So Lehmann's Point Estimation was my last textbook in my schooling in Statistical Computing at George Mason University.

Lehmann had a very interesting life. He was born in France, raised in Germany, and had to flee from the Nazis in 1933. He went to graduate school at Berkeley in 1940 and never left. The list of honors he had won is incredible.

Modern statistics was founded just before World War II by men like Jerzey Neyman and R.A. Fisher. Lehmann was, for me, the most famous of the second-generation statisticians. Even though I didn't really enjoy my point estimation class, I would see his work in lots of different things that I would read.

May God bless his family.

09 February 2010

DreamHost versus Seanic

As I work on web pages for my courses, I thought that maybe I would need a web hosting company that offers more bandwidth and disk space. I have been with Seanic since I started my web pages, but I went with Seanic without doing any research, so I thought maybe it was time to do some research on web hosting companies.

I signed up for DreamHost with a 97-day money back guarantee. Today was day 89, and I cancelled my account. There were some billing problems, and they didn't seem willing to fix the problem. It seemed kind of crazy to me that they wouldn't work harder to keep my business when they knew I was in the first 97 days.

In the meantime, I had some problems on catherinechhood.net which is hosted by Seanic. The fault was completely mine, and yet when I contacted customer support, they were extremely helpful and polite. He sent me instructions to fix my problem to my email address and told me to contact him again if they were unclear. The instructions were clear, my problem fixed, and I'm staying with Seanic. I may have to buy a more expensive plan with more bandwidth, etc., but it will still be very reasonably priced, and with great customer service.

It's been a bit frustrating, but now in hindsight, I'm glad I tried another hosting company, and I'm happy that I got lucky back in 2006 and found Seanic. It was good that I saw the true customer service at DreamHost, even in my first 97 days.

If you are looking for a new web hosting company, I can say now that I've done some research, and I can recommend Seanic.Net (http://www.seanic.net/).


New Version of X-12 and the Window Interface

The Census Bureau released a new version of the Windows Interface to X-12 and a new version of X-12-ARIMA in December. I've been so swamped with work that I downloaded the new X-12-ARIMA without downloading the new interface. However, I found myself recommending the new interface to someone based only on the word of friends at Census, so I decided I should try it out myself.

Generally, I like the diagnostics output now, and I think it's great that there are Java graphs available. But I'm not crazy about the graphs. Maybe I'm too sensitive about graphs, and maybe I'm jealous that I wasn't the person to program the graphs. I still need to read the documentation. Maybe I can do what I want with the graphs if I read the instructions.

Whatever the case, I still need to redo my web pages to reflect the changes in the programs available from Census. I should download TRAMO/SEATS again, too, just to see if there are changes there. I realized today that I've been so focused on work for my clients that I haven't been keeping up with my reading and research. That will change starting today.