Wisdom of the Cloud

Many summers ago when I started out in the Craft, I could log onto the trusty DEC-20 literally anywhere in the world, and use SPSS or BMDP to analyse data. Nowadays, I have to have IBM SPSS or Stata installed on the right laptop or computer, and bring it with me, wherever I may roam, and wonder dreamily  if I could just access my licensed stats packages from anywhere, like a library, a beach, a forest, a coffee shop.

One option would to subscribe to a stats package in the Cloud! Iin terms of main line stats packages, https://www.apponfly.com/en/ has R (free plus 8 euro’s ($A12.08) per month for platform, NCSS 10 at 18/27.19 per month + platform, IBM SPSS 23 Base 99/149.54 ditto and Standard (adds logistic regression, hierarchical linear modelling, survival analysis etc) for 199/300.59 per month + platform.

Another option, particularly if you’re more into six sigma / quality control type analyses, is Engineroom from http://www.moresteam.com at $US275 ($A378.55) per year.

Obviously,  compare the prices against actually buying the software , but to be able to log in from anywhere, on different computers, and analyse data,  sigh, it’s almost like the summer of ’85!

Resulting Consulting: Excel for Stats – 800 pound Gorilla or just Monkeying around?

When hearing of folks running statistical analysis with Excel , statisticians often have panicky images of ‘Home Haircutting , with Electric Shears, in the Wet’!

Mind you, Excel really is great for processing data, but analysing it in a more formal or even exploratory sense, can be a trifle tricky.

On the upside, many work computers have Excel installed, it’s readily available for quite a low price even if one is not a student or an academic, and for the most part is well designed and simple to use. It’s very easy to develop a spreadsheet that shows each individual calculation needed for a particular formula such as the standard deviation, for instance. Such flexibility is wonderful for learning and teaching stats, because everyone can see the steps involved in actually getting an answer, more so than the usual press-button, window click, typing ‘esoteric’ commands.

On the downside, pre-2010 versions of Excel had both practical accuracy issues (with functions & the add-in statistics toolpak) and validity issues (employed non-usual methods for things like handling ties in ranked data). There’s still no nonparametric tests (e.g. Wilcoxon), and Excel is still a bit light on for confidence intervals, regression diagnostics,  and for performing production, shop-floor type statistical analyses. More of an adjustable wrench than a set of spanners?

In sum, if used wisely, Excel is a useful adjunct to third party statistical add-ins or  statistical packages, but please avoid pie charts, especially 3D ones, and watch out for those banana skins….

**Excel 2010 (& Gnumeric & OpenOffice) Accuracy / Validity**

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1198/tas.2011.09076#.UvH4rp24a70

http://homepages.ulb.ac.be/~gmelard/rech/gmelard_csda23.pdf

**Some Excel Statistics Books**

Conrad Carlberg http://www.quepublishing.com/store/statistical-analysis-microsoft-excel-2013-9780789753113

Mark Gardener http://www.pelagicpublishing.com/statistics-for-ecologists-using-r-and-excel-data-collection-exploration-analysis-and-presentation.html

Neil Salkind http://www.sagepub.com/books/Book236672?siteId=sage-us&prodTypes=any&q=salkind&fs=1

**Some Statistical Add-Ins for Excel**

Analyse-It http://analyse-it.com     DataDesk /XL   http://www.datadesk.com

RExcel (interfaces Excel to open source R) http://rcom.univie.ac.at/

XLStat http://www.xlstat.com/en/

**Some Open Source Spreadsheets**

Gnumeric https://projects.gnome.org/gnumeric/  OpenOffice http://www.openoffice.org.au/