Tag Archives: 64-bit

Handling Excel Tables using WPS on Linux

I thought I’d take a moment to make a quick announcement about the Bridge to R as it pertains to Linux. Currently, using WPS on Linux, one cannot read and write Excel files (either .xls or OOXML which is the .xlsx format) using the DBfiles engine. MineQuest has been working on a solution to this and the Bridge to R will support the reading and writing of these two file types and we will be rolling that out in about a week. We need to do a little more testing and write some documentation before we can release it.

So if you require the ability to create Excel Worksheets using WPS on Linux, the Bridge to R for Linux will soon provide support for that functionality.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest, LLC. and has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a reseller of WPS in North America.

Configuring and Monitoring Your Linux Desktop

As most of the regular readers of my blog know, I’ve been dipping my toe into the world of Linux for the last six to eight months now. I have to admit, I had a predisposition against the OS for a number of reasons, but as I’ve become more comfortable with it, I can see why so many Quants and BI specialist have gravitated towards it.

I’ve noticed as I’ve ported the Bridge to R over to Linux that most of the hardcore R specialists are using Linux. They’ve needed the large memory address space that 64-bit Linux has offered for years. The other aspect is that the cost of Linux for many versions is pretty much just the cost of your time and bandwidth to download it.

Linux has been 64-bit for quite a while, well before Windows as far as I can tell. Although Windows XP 64-bit was available, it never really gained much in the way of popularity. Vista 64 really carried the banner forward and now Windows 7’s 64-bit creation is extremely popular.

As I’ve started developing WPS code on Linux, I’ve found some great programs that have made my transition a bit easier. UltraEdit for Linux is what I use as my editor to write WPS code and I’ve blogged about that before. One thing I’ve kind of missed was something similar to the Vista Gadget bar where you can have gadgets that monitor CPU usage, disk space and other system functions.

I found something that is quite useful on the Linux side called Conky. Conky allows you to monitor your system, and allows for notifications of incoming emails, disk space usage, Logical CPU usage, etc… If you’re like me, the eye candy is important on a desktop machine and Conky helps with that. Below is a shot of Conky running on Fedora 12.

conky

As you can see from the screen shot, Conky can be configured to provide information on the amount of uptime, RAM usage, Swap file usage and the utilization on number of cores that are being used. You can also configure to display information on your file systems (i.e. disk usage) and networking utilization. I like to listen to Shoutcast while I work so I almost always have down utilization.

You can also see how your drives are being utilized. On my Linux development machine, I monitor my DISK I/O for my WPS Work drive and the drive that houses my permanent WPS datasets. Finally, I have Conky display the top five apps in terms of CPU utilization.

The nice part about Conky is that you can get the application for free. Conky is available on Sourceforge at: http://conky.sourceforge.net/. There are numerous configuration files as well as examples you can look at to create your own unique Conky sidebar.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest, LLC. and has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and a reseller of WPS in North America.

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Who is Considering a Switch to WPS from SAS?

I saw this tweet come by today and was pretty interested in the poll that it linked to on KdNuggets. The poll ask who may be interested in switching analytics packages from SAS to WPS or to R.

The results, although a small N of cases shows just how much momentum that WPS has garnered since the beginning of the year. As a reseller, I get calls everyday from companies who are wanting to leave the pain of high SAS annual license fees. When I share with consulting colleagues the amount of pent up demand to switch, they usually act like I’m over hyping what is happening.

With the new release of WPS 2.5, WPS is available as a 64-bit product for all the platforms that support 64-bit processing. Rather interesting, WPS is listed in the Microsoft 64-bit compatible catalog, but I don’t see SAS listed in the directory as being compatible.

So, take a look for yourself. You can find the poll at KDNuggets by clicking here. The full url is:

http://www.kdnuggets.com/polls/2010/switching-from-sas-to-wps.html

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest, LLC. and has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and a reseller of WPS in North America.

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Odds and Ends for a Memorial Day Weekend

Here in the states, we have a three day weekend coming up (thankfully). I’ll be off to a small business seminar where only here in the states can you go to a resort for three days, attend a few seminars and write off your expenses on your tax forms. I have some end-of-the-week postings of some thoughts and tidbits of information that I thought might be useful but individually, they don’t deserve a blog post of their own.

Fedora 13

Fedora 13 is out as of 5/25/2010. We run Fedora 11 in house but we’ll be converting over to 13 soon. Version 11 is at its "end-of-life" in one month. WPS runs on Fedora nicely. A quick glance at what is new:

Includes some major features like automatic print driver installation, automatic language pack installation, redesigned user account tool, color management to calibrate monitors and scanners, experimental 3D support for NVIDIA video cards, and more."

You can download the 32 bit or 64-bit version of the Fedora OS from: http://fedoraproject.org/en/get-fedora-options#formats

Visustin Flow Chart Software

If you have a need to create flow charts of your WPS or other SAS language programs, I recently discovered some software that will do just that at: http://www.aivosto.com/visustin.html. There’s a free 30 day trial that is limited in numerous ways, but it does provide you with a sense of what the software can do. Single user licensing starts at $299.

Ultra Edit for Linux

As I write this, there’s not a version of UEX available for Fedora 13. However, I have updated my UEX version to the most recent 1.2.x and I notice much improved screen scrolling over previous versions. This was most noticeable (for me) when running in a VM like Virtual Box. If you’ve used Ultra Edit for Windows, you should take a look at the Linux version too. http://www.ultraedit.com/index.html

Virtual Box 3.2

Since Oracle bought SUN, Virtual Box has been branded with the Oracle logo. On May 18th, another release of Virtual Box, version 3.2 made it out the door and this too has many improvements. Two of the most interesting enhancements are: Memory Ballooning – Ballooning provides another method to increase vm density by allowing the memory of one guest to be recouped and made available to others;

Multiple Virtual Monitors – VirtualBox 3.2 now supports multi-headed virtual machines with up to 8 virtual monitors attached to a guest. Each virtual monitor can be a host window, or be mapped to the hosts physical monitors;

I use Virtual Box for testing and development. As a matter of fact, Vbox is where I host Fedora for any Linux development that I do.

Skype Beta 5

Skype Beta 5 came out a week or two ago and it has added one nifty feature. This version supports group video conferencing for up to five members. That means you and four other people. I use Skype and it saves me a lot of money. It works pretty well and I’ve not had any problems with it yet.

I used to use MSN Messenger for IM, etc… but almost everyone I do business with uses Skype today. I really don’t like the flashing advertisements that rotate on Messenger either. I find that distracting. One advantage of Skype is the ability to screen share. It’s amazingly easy to implement… just a couple of clicks and you are off and running. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles using Skype’s screen share but it gets the job done. I’ve done remote presentations from the US while at a client’s site sharing my screen with folks in the UK.

One other advantage of Skype over MSN Messenger is that Skype is available for both Mac OS X and Linux operating systems. It appears that you can screen share and video conference with the Mac version but the Linux version doesn’t support screen sharing (yet). Finally, this version also supports HD Video for select cameras. HD meaning 1280x720p.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest, LLC. and has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and a reseller of WPS in North America.

Bridge to R v2.4.2 Available for a 60 Day Trial

The latest Bridge to R (version 2.4.2) is now available for download on an extended 60 day trial. The Bridge to R allows you to execute R syntax from within your WPS or SAS IDE and return the log and listing files from R into the SAS or WPS log and listing window. The Bridge alleviates the need to license SAS/IML Studio to access R using SAS. Also, this version of the Bridge brings SAS back into the picture in that both platforms, WPS and SAS are supported.

Requirements

The Bridge has minimal requirements. They are:

· WPS 2.4.x or SAS 9.2.x

· Windows Desktop Operating System

· R versions 2.7.x through 2.11.0.

Note that R release 2.11.0 is fairly new and not all the R packages from CRAN have been brought forward yet. Specifically, the package Hmisc still has not been released and there are some example programs that we use that rely on the Hmisc library.

The Bridge to R has also been tested on the x64 R build (i.e. the 64-bit alpha build for Windows) and so far, seems to work fine with that release as well.

Download

You can download the Bridge to R by going to the MineQuest website at:

http://minequest.com/BridgePreview.html

From the above web page, you can download the Bridge for your specific installation (i.e. WPS or SAS) as well as watch a tortuous video of what the Bridge is able to do. At least the video is only six minutes long but it does provide the background you need to decide if this is something you want to add to your software portfolio.

Installation

Place the Bridge2R.zip file on your desktop and unzip the package. The structure and contents of the folder should be:

\Bridge2R

\Bridge2R\SASMACR.WPCCAT

\Bridge2R\Bridge to R v242.pdf

\Bridge2R\samples\

There’s also a short installation and user guide that you can read before downloading the software. The installation guide is also included in the zip file.

If you have questions on installation issues, please visit the support forum that we just setup to help answer these kinds of questions.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest, LLC. and has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and a reseller of WPS in North America.

Bridge to R and 64-bit R on Windows

After writing the last blog post on “Multicores and Software Pricing – the Paradox” and almost on cue, CRAN releases a 64-bit alpha version of R for Windows. I quickly downloaded the 64-bit version and installed it on my Windows 64-bit machine to test it with the Bridge. Guess what? The Bridge to R threw an error. Oops!

The error is a subtle one but we ended up changing a single line of code in one of the macros to properly quote some text and voila! The Bridge to R initialized and ran the test code. It’s pretty exciting to see R running in 64-bit mode on Windows and when issuing the R command ”memory.limit()” it returns 8195 megabytes. So now, we have a large memory address to use with R on Windows to solve even more memory intensive programming problems.

At the end of the month, we’re going to release an extended trial of the Bridge to R for WPS users for those who have not yet had an opportunity to give the Bridge a spin. Normally, we provide a 30 day trial which is usually sufficient time to evaluate the software. By offering an extended trial, you have the time to really shake out the software beyond just playing with the sample programs.

Once you start using the Bridge with WPS, you will be tickled at how much more work and computing power are available to you. With the Bridge, you have access to a rich library of graphics as well as statistical routines to round out and embellish your WPS software investment. So check back to this blog or the MineQuest website on April 30th to see when and where you can download the Bridge to R for WPS Users.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest, LLC. and has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and a reseller of WPS in North America.

Windows 7 Compatibility for WPS

I was out searching the internet today and see that WPS from World Programming has been certified as Windows 64-bit compatible on the Windows 7 Compatibility Center.

That sort of intrigued me so I searched on Windows 64-bit compatibility for SAS and see that the Institute with 10,000 people still are working hard to get to that point. Must be because everyone at SAS is in the pool or hanging at the health club. This as of March 31, 2010.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest, LLC. and has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and a reseller of WPS in North America.