Author Archive

Pro bono work: Macintosh StatView file conversion

by on Dec.20, 2022 , under uncategorized

Previously I posted about my pro bono service to rescue data trapped in old StatView files, but at that time I was only able to rescue data from Windows StatView. I wrote a lot more about it there, and I just updated the post today with this good news:

I finally figured out a system for rescuing old Mac StatView data!

I had to create a different type of emulator to run as a virtual Mac OS 9 machine on my current hardware, and this one is working much better than my earlier attempts ever had. I also figured out how to do some things I’d forgotten ages ago about those Mac file type and creator codes that need to be set. It turns out setting those correctly is also helpful. ;-)

So, all of a sudden, I was able today to rescue data for three different people, one who had been waiting over a year, as well as send a more hopeful email to a fourth researcher who had inquired.

I find this kind of work very rewarding. A lot of StatView’s (or more correctly, Abacus Concepts’) customers back in the day were doing medical and veterinary research, and sometimes data that they have long ago stopped caring about becomes relevant again, due to the scientific advances that have been made in the intervening time, so it’s pretty indirect, but I do get to make a tiny little contribution toward people saving the world sometime.

Soon there will be matching donations arriving just in time for the holidays at Doctors Without Borders, Wellbeing of Women in the UK, and more to come. If you don’t feel like reading that longer post about the service, the way it works is you make a donation to a worthy cause that we can agree about, in an amount that reflects the value of your data to you, and after you send me the confirmation for your donation, I send a matching donation from Global Pragmatica® LLC.

It’s a nice Hanukkah present for me to be able to do this little bit of tikkun olam (putting the shattered world back together, one tiny little piece at a time), and if I can help you with your ancient Mac StatView data too, please get in touch!  

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Pro bono work: StatView file conversion

by on Apr.20, 2020 , under uncategorized

I didn’t arrive at running an analytics and management consultancy by a straightforward path. I started out as a musician, getting degrees in horn performance and music history (and, oh yeah, math) and pursuing a career as principal horn of a major symphony orchestra. A Rottweiler bite along the way derailed me from my auditioning and freelancing track, and that’s when I started paying more attention to my Plan B career, where I was about to start my third and fourth roles in statistical software, as a tech writer and localization project manager for Abacus Concepts (makers of StatView, SuperANOVA, and MacSpin) in Berkeley, California, after my first two as a tech writer and then QA manager for SYSTAT (makers of SYSTAT, SYGRAPH, FASTAT, MYSTAT, and a bunch of specialized companion products like EzPATH and Mesosaur) in Evanston, Illinois.

When Abacus Concepts was acquired by SAS (makers of JMP and… duh… SAS) in Cary, North Carolina, a dozen of us were hired on at SAS. Initially I worked as the StatView product manager, which was kind of an odd sidestep for someone who’d always been in R&D, but I had writing and graphic design experience and was a good all-arounder, so it worked. Then I transitioned into yet another tech writing role, this time writing a brand new book about a brand new still-in-development feature in JMP 4 called the “JMP Scripting Language,” now more commonly known as JSL, because we digit-miners like three-letter abbreviations.

That role was really just a stopgap to use my skills while JMP R&D was finishing up its version 4 release, after which I began the role that they actually wanted me for, building up a localization program for a product that had never been translated and adapted for international markets before. I went from there into facilitative leadership and R&D program management, with side dishes of business management and sales/marketing management mostly by accident. And then I detoured yet again into content management/change management consulting, and as a result of that an in-house senior management position at Dolby Labs.

But 35+ years later, I’m still recognized as an expert in JMP Scripting Language, and custom statistical software development for Fortune 100 companies now makes up the bulk of Global Pragmatica® LLC’s revenue. And my goofy background in pretty much every role imaginable within tech companies, combined with early training and experience in leadership and management as a principal horn player, has amounted to this: I’m an all-arounder—and that’s probably why I “get” what my clients really need when they come to me asking at first for something pretty specific that soon turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg for the potential of JMP to drive innovation, quality improvements, and ultimately profits at their companies.

Go figure.

Mine is not a career path any sensible guidance counselor or career development coach would have designed! Maybe while dreaming. Or smoking crack?

But it’s worked out well for me. I’m one of those unusual people who doesn’t fear change. I thrive on change. It’s stasis that I can’t stand. Loving a variety of challenges that keep changing works out well in consulting. (And suddenly moving from a major coastal city to a small town in Montana. And adding a puppy to the office staff.)

My odd resume has also created perhaps the strangest niche offering of all the offerings at Global Pragmatica® LLC: StatView file conversion.

You see, not too long after SAS acquired StatView acquired JMP, it rolled most of StatView’s better ideas into JMP, converted most of its users to JMP, and then closed down StatView. StatView and JMP just weren’t different enough in mission or design to justify continuing two separate development tracks.

Since you can’t buy StatView anymore, and to my knowledge you can’t find StatView installers anymore even on those software-piracy sites that nobody in their right mind would ever get products from (hint: you’re also installing viruses and spyware if you do), and the now-ancient Mac versions won’t even run on modern Mac hardware, that creates a problem for researchers who are building on the long-ago work of researchers who used StatView and saved all their data and analyses in the now-defunct StatView file formats. It’s been quite a while since even JMP has supported StatView file import.

So every so often, someone in this predicament of trying to excavate ancient buried StatView data treasure will google themselves to me and Global Pragmatica. You don’t have to google StatView for very long before you find a review praising my documentation, or an old copy of a paper I wrote about applying Edward Tufte’s lessons from the Challenger disaster to better data analysis in StatView, or something like that. And somehow of all the people’s names you might run across when googling SYSTAT or StatView, mine is one of the few still in the stats software business.

And it just so happens I still have a handful of legit, properly licensed versions of StatView for Windows that will still run on a Windows 7 virtual machine that I keep around for testing JMP addins when I have a customer who’s still running Windows XP or 7. I also have a virtual machine that emulates an old PowerPC Macintosh running OS 9, with a copy of StatView 5.0 running on that, so I can also often rescue Mac StatView datasets and viewsets.

I’m not absolutely sure that this is a unique offering in the world, but to the best of my knowledge, Global Pragmatica is the only business in the world that offers StatView data conversion services.

But here’s the thing. It doesn’t take any particular talent to open data files in an old program and resave them in a newer file format. It doesn’t even take much time, once I’ve remembered where my StatView executables are. So I don’t feel right charging for this service. (I mean, sure, if someone comes along with gigabytes of StatView files, the complete lack of an automation option means that I will not be having any fun spending the next few days clicking buttons to rescue their data. I’ll feel just fine about charging them for doing that, and I guess I’ll catch up on a few podcasts while I’m at it.)

So here’s the policy I’ve arrived at: I do StatView data conversion as a pro bono service, where you tell me how much it’s worth to you and a charitable cause that you think we can both get behind, and once we reach agreement, you donate that amount to them, and Global Pragmatica® matches that donation to them, too.

StatView data conversion services have benefited the Humane Society in several cities, the Cat Town rescue café of Oakland, the Watson Children’s Shelter in Missoula, Wellbeing of Women in the United Kingdom, Planned Parenthood, Doctors Without Borders (US), Australia’s Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife, Montana Wildlife Federation, and I think I’m forgetting a few others.

Sound fair to you? Got data trapped in StatView? Get in touch.

I might be able to help with SYSTAT data, too, if someone needs that (even though SYSTAT is still a thing).

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Which dog are you? On leadership.

by on Jan.07, 2020 , under facilitative leadership

My once-co-worker E Gilliam shared this flowchart; she got it from this Twitter post by Blair Braverman. I’ve requested permission from Ms Braverman to share it here.

A sketch of a dogteam pulling a sled (no musher), above which a flowchart: 

Who would you be on a dog team? 
The questions are: 
When I see a puddle, I stomp through it. 
I'm OK being the weakest link. 
I have a strong prey drive. 
I can poop and run at the same time. 
I am cautious in new situations. 
Hard work is its own reward. 
I like most of my coworkers. 
I am stronger than I am fast. 
I help others before myself. 
I can keep a cool head in a crisis.
Sled dog flowchart

I have to read the question about pooping and running at the same time as a metaphor; without a pot of coffee and most of the New York Times, I’m doomed. But interpret the metaphor: can you make decisions about one thing while learning about another thing, on the run between meetings, while refilling your coffee mug and using your phone to book a conference room?

I also have to read the one about biting my coworkers as a metaphor. I’m an independent consultant, and sometimes I want to bite my coworkers. Fortunately I also have a dog and two cats on staff in support positions, and they usually find a way to distract me from any violence I have planned. But again, read it as a metaphor: in between bites, can you see what each dog contributes to the team? Can you see how even the dog whose leg you just ate is keeping the team going, if only by being the one whose sacrifice provides you protein?

I spent the first third of my career trying to avoid leadership positions, preferring to excel as an individual contributor than to be bogged down by idiots or expected to make decisions and set direction in the face of incomplete, flawed information. Asked to describe in one word my own leadership style, I offered, “Reluctant.”

Then came the day I left an orchestra concert (where I’d played principal/solo horn, and negotiated some tuning adjustments with my fellow wind principals) and encountered a traffic jam in the parking ramp caused by a violinist’s car’s breakdown. Without thinking about it, I stashed my horn in my car trunk, told the flautist to go wave the cars in line toward the other exit ramp, got a clarinetist and two trombone players to help me move the stalled violinist out of the lane, and then ran the violinist through a series of diagnostic questions to determine that I had no idea what was wrong with the car—but yes, she had called and a tow truck was en route. Her carpoolmate and she were comfortable waiting alone (broad daylight in downtown Oakland), so I got in my car and carried on to my day job.

I think I was halfway across the Bay Bridge before I noticed what had just happened, and realized that I’ve basically always been a natural leader (and a lousy follower).

Still, at work, I had persisted in avoiding increased leadership responsibility. After all, I was in the field of statistical software almost by accident. Why should I be calling any shots?

Because while I should be the last person to set product direction, I knew more about more of the pieces of the business puzzle than many others did, and I could see how they’d fit together better another way, and…

…or, as I explained it years later to direct reports whom I was encouraging toward leadership positions (and for some reason this resonated for them), “Look, you can either report to an idiot, or you can be the idiot.”

Being the idiot is much better.

If you’re a lead dog type, go ahead and lead.

The pack won’t resent you for being arrogant—they’ll appreciate having someone to follow. And just a hint: most people aren’t leaders, they’re followers, and while some of them will struggle with your leadership, that’s not a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean they want your job. They’re the ones who will help you see the flaws in your reasoning, generate alternative ideas, and force you to think more critically about your decisions.

Some followers will just work hard and keep things moving in the direction you set.

Others will be mostly benign, making smaller contributions but at least doing no harm.

Some will be dead weight that drags down the team, and your responsibility as a leader is to recognize and do something about that. Back to the sled dogs, an injured dog is suffering at least as much as the team he’s holding back, and you need to act decisively and humanely to end the suffering, one way or another—and if that sounds cruel, perhaps you didn’t consider the option of letting him ride in the sled in a pile of blankets all the way to a vet. Yes, all the remaining dogs have to work harder until you can return or replace the injured dog, or you’ll all slow down, but either of these options is better than keeping an injured dog at work on the team.

If your teams’ leaders need some help, give me a call.

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Suicide is contagious. Please be part of the solution, because it gets better.

by on Jun.08, 2018 , under random

This post has very little to do with JMP scripting, content strategy, analytics, and the other stuff that Global Pragmatica LLC® can help with. But it’s important, and I’m committed to using every platform available to me to get the word out:

Since suicide is a contagious disease, and it’s in the headlines again, I think it’s urgent for parents, friends, family, teachers, coaches, and vague acquaintances of young gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, and questioning folk to be on the alert in coming weeks.

LGBTQQ youth are statistically at extremely high risk for suicide, because, let’s face it—adolescence, middle school, and high school are awful to begin with. Teenagers are in the most oppressive, least supportive environment that most of us will ever face in our whole lives. For anyone who’s a little different, it’s a whole lot worse. For young folks who are dealing with all the usual adolescent crap AND are beginning to wonder if they’re even bigger misfits than everybody else around them, middle school and high school crap goes way beyond annoying and difficult to potentially fatal.

If you are LGBTQQ:


  • It gets better! Life sucks now, but it won’t always suck. Just get through it somehow. Live into adulthood.

  • Look around for the people who see you—they can help. They might not be able to relate to everything you’re going through, but they will help.

  • If your family is awful, that’s not your fault—get the support you need wherever you can, and maybe someday your family will come around. They probably will. If they don’t, they suck, and they’re not your fault. Move on. Save your own life.

  • Grow into adulthood—because IT GETS BETTER. Life will be really, really good someday, and the stuff that makes it hardest now will be some of the stuff that makes it the most beautiful later on, but you have to keep yourself alive to reach the promised land.

  • If what you’re hearing in a church or shul or mosque or temple or wherever isn’t that you are loved, worthwhile, and meaningful, then it’s those people who are wrong, not you. These places are all made up of people, and people get stuff wrong, but God isn’t taking orders from those people. Any god worth believing in loves you just the way you are. (And for that matter, any people worth believing in love you just the way you are, too.)

If you are family, friend, acquaintance, teacher, coach, or something to LGBTQQ kids:


  • It doesn’t matter if you understand or can relate to the LGBTQQ stuff. You don’t have to. All you have to remember is that these are young people going through difficult stuff on their way to becoming beautiful, loving, fulfilled adults, and they need love and support like everybody else.

  • They’re getting all kinds of messages that something about them makes them not good enough, and all those messages are wrong. Give them the messages they desperately need to hear: that they’re good people, they’re worthwhile, they’re lovable, they matter.

  • And IT GETS BETTER. It just does. They need to know that.

  • If what they’re hearing in a church or shul or mosque or temple or wherever is part of the problem, remind them that this place is made up of people who get stuff wrong sometimes, and God doesn’t take orders from those people. Any god worth believing in loves them just the way they are.

My own adolescence wasn’t too bad. I grew up with parents and other adults who might have been clueless at the time about LGBTQQ stuff, but they had that unconditional love thing figured out. As a result, the crap I heard at school and church didn’t get far enough under my skin to do real damage—but I sure heard a lot of damaging crap! And I know way too many people for whom the crap they heard at school and at church and worst of all at home became overpowering, fatal messages, and they’re no longer with us.

We’ve lost way too many good people to fear, despair, and ignorance. Please do not let yourself or someone you see become yet another one of them. IT GETS BETTER.

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On globalizing your contact information but still managing to confuse somebody

by on Dec.10, 2011 , under facilitative leadership, localization, random

My friend Ruth M Sylte has been doing a great series on how to internationalize your email signature and other contact information basics, and it reminded me of a funny communication breakdown that I once caused.

A tip for those with Asian audiences

First, a quick backgrounder:

Asian family names come first and given names follow. However, many Asians adapt their names for a Western audience, and Western readers who don’t recognize any of the pieces (e.g. don’t know that Park is a common family name) can’t be sure whether the name they’re seeing is in traditional order or has been adapted. And Westerners can confuse their Asian colleagues when they attempt to be helpful by putting their family name first.

Here’s the solution many global-savvy Asians and their observant Western colleagues have adopted: put the family name in upper-case, e.g.

  • PARK WonJin
  • Erin VANG
  • UCHIDA Noriko
  • Ruth Marie SYLTE

A comment about (Mr), (Ms), etc.

Ruth advises including a title in front of your name, modestly enclosed in parentheses, e.g. “(Ms) Ruth M Sylte.” This a common tactic for disambiguating gender.

For years I included (Ms) before my name for exactly the reasons Ruth anticipates: because I was tired of getting email to “Mr Erin” and “Mr Vang” from people who really had no way to know better.

However, this led to some amusing conversations with Americans who had known me so long that it didn’t occur to them that my given name “Erin” is not particularly common and is sometimes mistaken as a male name (and who also didn’t perhaps realize that women in high tech management positions are still enough of a minority to promote doubt among those who do know the name).

For example, this one:

Story time

Grant (gentleman who had been working with me for years, near the end of a meeting in my office): I noticed you put “Ms” in your email signature.

me: Yes.

Grant: What does that mean?

me: You know–Ms as opposed to Mr.

Grant: Oh. (Uncomfortably long pause.) You’re not saying Ms as opposed to Miss or Mrs.?

me: No, I’m just clarifying gender because I’m tired of being addressed as “Mr” by people who haven’t met me. (And people standing right in front of me, for that matter–yes, a woman can have short hair and be taller than you–but I didn’t bring that up.)

Grant: So you’re not clarifying marital status.

me: No.

Grant: Oh. (uncomfortable chuckle)

Grant says a few pleasantries and exits the office. My office-mate watches him leave, waits a safe moment, and then bursts into gales of laughter.

I raise an eyebrow, and John explains. He has realized what I have not: that while I thought I was explaining that my name is gender-ambiguous to colleagues around the world, Grant was trying to determine whether he could ask me out.

As it happens, I was single at the time as well as female. But there was another question that this perfectly lovely gentlemen neglected to consider, that it never occurred to me he might have even wondered about, and right there, we did it. Two American native speakers of English sitting a few feet away from each other in Chicago, Illinois, USA and observing each other’s body language and everything, still managed to have a total communication breakdown.

I don’t think there’s an email signature solution to that problem, though.

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