Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beginne..R 1.0

Opening this blog is a step in a long journey of discovery, learning and frustration. To begin with I would consider myself a beginner R user, I am getting better, but I am not about to write a package any time soon. I started using R about three years ago, when I made the switch to Linux (PCLinux at first then Mint). As part of my professional/personal development I was searching for open source programs to do statistics and calculus with and when i began searching through the package repositories I saw R and RKWard, I began playing around and started getting interested. I got a copy of "The R Book" and I was hooked.

I look around at others who are doing such cool things with R and I am in awe of their skills. I am getting better, but getting the skills I need has been a long and frustrating process. First, I am not a programmer, I have played around with HTML and JavaScript, but that was over ten years ago, so this is the first programming language I have really dived into. The second frustration is the lack of a mentor or a teacher of some kind. While many students are given instruction on how to do use R I was learning on my own with books, websites and other resources available. A few months ago I would have never even thought about posting a blog, but I have turned a corner to where I am able to participate in the R conversation.

What has made this possible are the courses found on and the Finance and R Conference in Chicago. I was getting better and at the same time more frustrated with R when I found the R courses on I tried a course and really enjoyed it, the four week set up and use of Moodle learning management system makes the experience enjoyable. The price is reasonable and the instructors are great, for anybody trying to learn R on their own, I highly recommend taking a few courses from as it fills in the gaps and pushes you into areas, and packages you probably would have not done on your own. The courses in filled in the gap, the motivation came from the Financial R Conference.

The Financial Conference in Chicago was my first experience with so many people using R and interacting with them. I will post a more through review of the conference as soon as they post the presentations so I can reference them. I like to think of my experience at the R conference like a runner at their first race. First there is a buzz of excitement and energy at the conference as like minded individuals meet and share ideas. Then there are the presentations, the race. Like running a race for the first time I did not have any idea what to expect, I did my best to prepare, but I was not ready, or in the case of the runner, I finished dead last, but I finished.

Finishing last is okay, as the saying goes, "You learn most when you loose." I learned where my weaknesses and strengths are. I came back energized and excited. I am now ready to dive into the conversation of R and all the many facets it has. I look forward to the comments ad feedback from others as I post some of the more interesting and fun things that R can do.


  1. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the R/Finance Conference. We just posted the slides at:

    Also look for a local user group - if you are in Chicago, we're meeting next week:

  2. Yeah please do come to that meetup! I'll be there (my first since I joined the RUG....durn classes on thursday) and I'd be delighted to talk to someone like me just getting started using R.

  3. Great post as I am also a new R user, migrating from SPSS and Stata to linux and R.

  4. It would be nice to write about your experience with in more details. What are the courses you had? I was looking into data mining course but the price is more expensive than I thought (~4K USD). Thanks for your post.

  5. Salturki,

    thank you for the question, I have posted a reply. A little longer than what a comment should be so I made it into my latest post.