Funny you should ask that because I have the 3 rules tagged to my door at my office.
First one is never give up. We’ve invented so many ways to get SAS to do exactly what we wanted it to do. But your probably familiar with the cartoon of the pelican that’s eating the frog and the frog has its hands wrapped around the pelican’s neck and the caption is never give up. We spent a year trying to figure out one little bitty thing which was, when your SAS graph is ready, we want the computer to produce a beep. And I had to promise a pizza to any of my co-workers who could figure that one out and eventually we did, we found the control character that causes a beep. But we didn’t give up, we kept on trying.
The second rule is that SAS is purely illogical in that an error at early in the program for instance an[inaudible11:40] semi-column could have devastating consequences later in the program when you don’t realize it. So you always have to run the problem on paper at least for 1 or 2 examples and see if the results from SAS give you any counter examples because you expect certain results and we have developed extensive systems for testing SAS sample data so that we know what we should be looking at. There was one moment in my career where we were finding extraordinarily high levels of cadmium which is a toxic metal that is also used in paint. And it took several weeks and we have a tracked it down to a multiplication factor that was supposed to be in micrograms but it was listed in milligrams. So our results were a thousand times too high. That third rule is always keep learning. With SAS, there’s always new products out, for instance SAS Fire, and there’s always new ways to interface with SAS and new ways to analyze data. And the guys and girls that I work with, we followed those rules as much as we could and we ended doing some really good path finding work using SAS.

 

Question 1

Can you please tell us a bit about your career path and any publications or professional communications?

Jay Jacob WIND

Well, I started using SAS immeditely upon my arrival to the company that I worked for 11 years. I worked in American Management Systems and I started with a project for U.S. Navy and then a project for the General Accounting Office which is now called Government Accountability Office, and then another project for Navy. And I was really very distressed by how the Navy had many many many different software platforms and none of them hooked above the others, everything was in silos. My first project for MS was the [name missed01:07] Department of Public Aid and I saw there again a multiplicity of software packages and no connections between them. So my first project was for the U.S. Department of Energy and they had roughly 60,000 articles at the time about alternative energy sources and environmental regulations and how they can generate energy and we needed a data retrieval system. So I built one in SAS which was one of the favorite products of one of my customers and believe it or not, that program still operates even today. Well, I don’t know but at least it survived until the Obama administration. I don’t know about Trump administration but we actually predated Google by almost a decade where you could use it to search for articles based on key words and we took a step further this concept called key words in context and we develop a concept of dimensions and values. So for instance AL could mean a variety of things including for instance aluminum, but if it’s preceded by a dimension state followed by a slash, then you know we’re talking about the state of Alabama rather than, it might be chemical/AL, and in that case you know it’s an article about aluminum. That enabled the U.S. Department of Energy to key word tens of thousands of simulations that they had done using a system call SEAS and they continued to use SEAS as the environmental module of the future. So that was a very successful project.

I moved from there to actually working for the U.S. EPA, still as a contractor. And there again, we had a situation where each of the major environmental databases which was written in it’s language and this language were used for database focus, IBMS, Db2, an in-house software that didn’t correspond to anything else. And this is the dawning of the conception that if you are an environmental administrator for a city or a state or a region, you wanted to be able to see the entire picture of what was going on in the environment. You select be it that cut geographic or by industry or I SIC code, by chemical, by health effect. So I built a massive data base that comprised air and water and then we reached out to any other environmental databases and pulled in data on the fly so it’s current data from the focus, the IBMS, the Db2, the ADABAS, and thus my customers could see all of the environmental data on one screen without having to write programs in all of the different languages that the systems were written in.

I would say that was sort of a primitive environmental artificial intelligence, is presuming and taking a guess at what the user wanted and the user could further refine any logic. We also built a kind of fuzzy logic in there where you could see something that was close to the name of the facility, let’s say you wanted something from General Dynamics and you don’t know how to spell general it would give you suggestions and then you could pick from the suggestions. They were very powerful that way.

I worked for APE as a contractor for about 10 years and then when I turned 40, I decided that I would start  my own company and I ended up developing contracts for a dozen of the different environmental subcontractors whom we had, and I worked for SCIC and ICF and Labat-Anderson and a great many other companies, Version was one of my favorites. Each one has their own corporate culture, each one has their own payroll system. So, I had a lot to learn to get into the environmental business with each of the individual organizations having its own environment. And that will lead to a career developing SAS applications for a variety of 9 environmental federal agencies including the Department of Labor and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, I have to I look at my résumé to remind myself of all the companies I work for, Freddy Mark for [Inaudible06:41] separate stance.

And then as I was approaching retirement, I got a contract with a company doing work for the U.S. Bureau of the census and I was responsible for the design, development, implementation, training, roll out of the cost accounting system for [Inaudible07:01] census. And at the end of that I called it a career I’ve been doing SAS work all the way from when all that existed was base SAS on media frame up to current levels where on you have SAS BI and you can pretty much set up whatever you want in SAS with a series of point and click, and that was a lot of fun. Since the end of my census work, I have used a lot of my data processing capability to build a model of the Washington [inaudible07:46] community so that whenever I put on a race, and I direct about 20 races here including 4 full distance 26 marathons, it makes scoring the race very very easy and unless I can produce real time results in present awards as people finish, which is really cool because then people don’t have to stick around until the last person finishes.

It’s been a while since I’ve dealt with SAS but recently I had the motivation to write a book, a novel a techno thriller in which there is a whole lot of data analysis and so I introduced SAS and maybe the first time a book of fiction actually uses SAS. And because I asked around the SAS-L my email list and nobody else have written fiction using SAS so I had to cling that on Number 1.

In the course of my career, I published a bunch of papers and organizations like associations for Computing Machinery and various environmental conferences around the country. But I’m proud of 5 papers that I presented in SAS Users Group International, one of which won the award for best in Show. It was a rundown of all the different ways that you could express SAS data geographically and thereafter, the developer of SAS graph and SAS map, SAS Gmap and Proc Gmap Jack Bulkley would always come to my lectures and sit in the front row taking copious notes. So I knew that I had reached the responsive audience. And it was great fun, it was a great run, I really enjoyed it. That’s me, how about you?

In the course of my SAS work, ASWIS did more than 100 marathons and another 285. The book by the way is on sale via Pay Pal or [atka.com] and it’s called The Man Who Stole the Sun and I’ve created a tallying sheet website so you can order it online; [arlingtonsunrise.com]. So now there, I work for our sponsors.

Question 2

Can you propose 3 valuable tips or strategies that are necessary to become a top SAS programmer?

Jay Jacob WIND

Funny you should ask that because I have the 3 rules tagged to my door at my office.

First one is never give up. We’ve invented so many ways to get SAS to do exactly what we wanted it to do. But your probably familiar with the cartoon of the pelican that’s eating the frog and the frog has its hands wrapped around the pelican’s neck and the caption is never give up. We spent a year trying to figure out one little bitty thing which was, when your SAS graph is ready, we want the computer to produce a beep. And I had to promise a pizza to any of my co-workers who could figure that one out and eventually we did, we found the control character that causes a beep. But we didn’t give up, we kept on trying.

The second rule is that SAS is purely illogical in that an error at early in the program for instance an[inaudible11:40] semi-column could have devastating consequences later in the program when you don’t realize it. So you always have to run the problem on paper at least for 1 or 2 examples and see if the results from SAS give you any counter examples because you expect certain results and we have developed extensive systems for testing SAS sample data so that we know what we should be looking at.

There was one moment in my career where we were finding extraordinarily high levels of cadmium which is a toxic metal that is also used in paint. And it took several weeks and we have a tracked it down to a multiplication factor that was supposed to be in micrograms but it was listed in milligrams. So our results were a thousand times too high.

That third rule is always keep learning. With SAS, there’s always new products out, for instance SAS Fire, and there’s always new ways to interface with SAS and new ways to analyze data. And the guys and girls that I work with, we followed those rules as much as we could and we ended doing some really good path finding work using SAS.

 

Question 3

What is your favorite SAS procedure? And why?

Jay Jacob WIND

Well, my least favorite is PROC SQL. I’ve never seen a SAS disastrous result as bad as that produced by PROC SQL. In my SAS career, I tended to avoid SQL and instead do the PROC SORT or PROC SUMMARY or PROC FREQ so that I have absolute control over the calculations that we’re involved. One of the projects that I did at Census Bureau, one of the other SAS programmers was coming up with a total population of the U.S. at 450 million which obviously is wrong at the time, we had just crossed the 300 million mark. And I really, really should have pushed and pushed to say we got this PROC summary; Ok? Forget this SQL, you never really know what it’s doing. Let’s do it on a step by step and meticulous basis where we do the calculations in exactly the same way that we think SQL should be doing it and that way, we can find where is the discrepancy. It was a major problem that really…. I really should have stood up and said this is not a problem for SQL, this is probably for PROC SUMMARY. So given the importance of that particular PROC in my…. I’m going to go with PROC SUMMARY, that sounds like a good one. Even though there are all of these wonderful interfaces now that enable you to drag and drop individual procedures and individual data components, I think that even if you’re on a calculator you still have to know how to add, subtract, multiply, divide and take square roots – you need to learn the base SAS. You need to learn data step; you need to learn the various PROCS. You can get by pretty much just knowing 7 PROCS; PROCS SORT, PROC SUMMARY, PROC FREQ, PROC CONTENT, PROC CHART, there is one more PROC FREQ. If you can master those, then you can move on to the graphical user interfaces that may be easier to use, but those fundamental 7 PROCS are going to get you a lot of results.

Well, when I was a kid growing up, I had a little book encyclopedia at my bedside and I actually read a through z, cover to cover. I figured you know I might as well have encyclopedic knowledge. So when you pick up a book, read it from cover to cover. Not everything in it is going to be applicable, and not necessarily even ever. But at least you’ll know where to look in case you need something in the IML or the statistical cross tabulations or modeling. It’s important not to cut short your learning. That’s that third rule, always be willing to learn more. There is always more coming out. SAS is one of the most creative companies on earth. It is funny that you should mention that. My customer Department Energy and I often lamented the fact that we have done full text key word based retrieval system 10-20 years before search became commercial. And if we had rolled out our product to every federal agency you know who knows what the top would have brought? We might be up there where Larry Page and Sir Dave Brenn, I don’t know. You have to observe the things around you that need to be done, start doing them and if you develop a commercially saleable product, you’re in a position to take advantage of it. All through my career I identified needs and helped solutions mostly based using SAS and other people came up with other solutions.

I remember back when I was working for the Navy I was in my office photocopying a presentation for the next day and I called my commander and said here’s what the presentation looks like and mute for a moment would it be nice if it was such a thing where the photocopying machine at my end was linked by a telephone line to the photocopying machine at his end such that he could actually see the briefing? If we had figured out how to do that, we would have invented the fax machine. Hey, who knew? But always the best single opportunity that I can advise anybody is always look for and seize the opportunities. There are always moments in time that are seminal, they’re going to change things and SAS is so powerful, so capable and so reliable that you can use it to engineer change within your organization. That’s my advice, always learn.

 

Question 4

Any closing words?

Jay Jacob WIND

[Incomprehensible Languages00:19:26] So you said thank you in Japanese and French and I returned in Bengali and Russian. That’s pretty funny. So I’ll put in a plug for that. pvct.oranges/thank yous.

And the time, read The Man Who Stole Sun; [www.arlingtonsunrise.com] Let me know what you think of it.

#SAS #BigData #DataScience #MachineLearning #SAScommunities #SASusers #SASGrid #analytics#SASsoftware

 

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