[Interview] Interview with a raptor: Get to know trinker

Lazar

Phineas Packard
#1
We are lucky to have trinker agree to be the next person in our interview series. Trinker is one of the most prolific and important members on talkstats. Indeed he is the second most active member!

Trinker is a PhD student in literature from the US, he is also an active R user and developer. His particular strength is in writing R functions and packages that bridge the gap between qualitative and quantitave research.
 

vinux

Dark Knight
#2
Re: Interview with a raptor: Get to know trinker

You are one good example for quick learner, man without any Ego, helping others. I guess you have started learning R after joined talkstats. Now you are one of the R experts here. I wish I could have been like you for learning new things

Now questions.
1) How many of TS members are in your side( raptors)?. I am an anti raptors and anti bots.
2) How did you end up with PhD literature? Why do you stick with R for your analysis? My understanding is scripting languages ( perl, python) are normally first choice for text mining.
3) What are your hobbies?
4) Favourite food? Which food you don't like to have?
 

Lazar

Phineas Packard
#3
Re: Interview with a raptor: Get to know trinker

Dragan asked in my thread:
There has been (obviously) an increase in the use of qualitative research methods over the past – say – 15 years. In view of this, I would ask you; Is this rise in qualitative research methods attributed to traditional quantitative research methods (e.g. ANOVA , Regression, Factor Analysis, PCA) not being able to answer the questions that social scientists ask, or, is it that students/researchers (in the social sciences) do not understand – and/or cannot correctly perform – the statistical (i.e. quantitative) procedures?
I think you are a better person to answer this.

I would personally ask what your books and who your favorite authors are?
 

trinker

ggplot2orBust
#4
Re: Interview with a raptor: Get to know trinker

Thanks for your kind words Vinux.

1) I don't think I have any Raptor sympathizers. :(
2) I became an elementary teacher (1st and second for 4 years of my career and 6-8 math for the rest of my 9 years of teaching). I went for a degree in school administration but realized after I got the degree I really wanted to teach teachers. I went back and decided on literacy because it's important in my field. Then I took a stats course and loved it and switched to quantitative methods after that.

b) I Like R because I the researcher control my methods. If I can dream up the analysis I can write the code and/or use the many packages available to get a really good interpretation of the data. As far as R over perl and python question this really is a convenience thing. I agree these languages are better at parsing data but learning a computer language is a luxury. I want the people in my field to learn a language and if it's got to be one R should be it. It's fairly easy to pick up. There's tons of packages to do what ever analysis you're after.

3) Hobbies? Bot hunting. I play guitar (blues style mostly), used to play video games until my 2nd 360 died, read biographies, camping, but I love spending time with my wife (Cheryl) and daughter (Norah) though this isn't a hobby strictly speaking I spend a bit of time do it.

4) Buffalo Style chicken pizza. I actually love onions but am intolerant to the side effects stink (literally) so this is a food I avoid.

I know this is my interview but how did you get that shiny community badge and how has Dason not stolen it from you yet?
 

trinker

ggplot2orBust
#5
Re: Interview with a raptor: Get to know trinker

Dragan's question: I think the whole positivist paradigm frustrated some people in the social sciences and the move towards ethnographic studies began to be in vogue. We've seen the pendulum swing so far towards qualitative now in my field I as a quantitative researcher am a rare breed. I don't think it's that these people can't do the stats (they're brilliant) it's more that the field tends to attract people who are more qualitative people (I actually believe we're born numbers people or not as far as our predilections are concerned; though we can come to learn and appreciate the other point of view). Now that true positivism is dead the time of the post positivist is here and I think with the demand of education to produce numeric data analysis in the US we'll see an upsurge in the number of quantitative researchers in the social sciences. It's supply and demand and the market is saturated with qualitative literacy people.

My favorite books are the Narnia series, The Great Divorce, The Bible, Ishmael and My Ishmael, Clapton (his biography), and In Search of God and Guinness. I think C. S. Lewis is brilliant, G.K. Chesterton and also I enjoy J.K. Rowling. My reading tends to be very eclectic and what ever friends give to me. My academic readings tend to be dryer and authors most of you wouldn't be familiar with though I like Tufte's work quite a bit :)
 

Lazar

Phineas Packard
#6
Re: Interview with a raptor: Get to know trinker

G.K. Chesterton hey. What did you think about "The Man That Was Thursday" also what about Lewis do you like? Are we talking Narnia here, the SiFi stuff or mere christianity? Also have you heard The Screwtape Letters read by John Cleese?
 

trinker

ggplot2orBust
#7
Re: Interview with a raptor: Get to know trinker

I love "The Man That Was Thursday" (AMWWT) though at times Chesterton can get wordy as in "Orthodoxy". AMWWT really surprise novel that you never seem to know who's on who's side and what's going to happen next. I like Narnia but also Mere Christianity and the Great Divorce, the PRoblem of Pain, Screwtape Letters etc.. I just think he was brilliant and his points are well argued and very logical.

I have heard and own the Screwtape Letter read by Cleese. I have most of his books on tape.
 

vinux

Dark Knight
#8
Re: Interview with a raptor: Get to know trinker

I know this is my interview but how did you get that shiny community badge and how has Dason not stolen it from you yet?
No idea actually!! If all the badges are with Dason, then there is no merit in the badge. I think that is why Dason is not stealing my badge.

How did you loose your badge?

Suggestion: Use "Reply with Quote" options. Otherwise it would look very messy after few questions.
 

bugman

Super Moderator
#9
Re: Interview with a raptor: Get to know trinker

Trinker, I am really curious to know: how have you managed to become so rehearsed in R? I mean, have you always been a programmer? How have you managed your learning?
 

trinker

ggplot2orBust
#10
Re: Interview with a raptor: Get to know trinker

Bugman said:
Trinker, I am really curious to know: how have you managed to become so rehearsed in R? I mean, have you always been a programmer? How have you managed your learning?
@Bugman, Thanks for the question. 1 and half years ago a professor told me about R. I downloaded it opened it and promptly closed old thinking this is not a stats program (I had come from SPSS). Curiosity tempted me back 2 months later. I started using it for low level stats assignments. I asked many stupid questions on R help list serve and people hated me I think (though I think not being afraid to ask these questions is how you get better and the community grows). But I saw what Dason and TE were doing with R and I realized the potential. I've definitely become rehearsed because several kind people and one annoying robot here have provided gobs of time explaining stuff to me and giving me pointers. I also look at the R section of staockoverflow every day and keep an eye on R bloggers.

The second secret to learning anything is to teach it, talkstats (if someone doesn't beat me to answering) and stackoverflow, both provide opportunities to continue practicing your skills.

Once I took:
Code:
library(fortunes); fortune("Yoda")
to heart I started asking how instead of if.

I still consider myself an intermediate user of R because there are a lot of people so skilled in programming that see R like Mozart saw 88 keys. And no I'm not a programmer (though maybe I am now) but have really embraced the power and speed of using programming in my work flow.

I also abuse the inter library loan of my university for R and stats books.

Vinux said:
Suggestion: Use "Reply with Quote" options. Otherwise it would look very messy after few questions.
@Vinux good suggestion

Vinux said:
How did you loose your badge?
I had a Spam badge because there was a week when I wasn't busy and Dason was and I posted like crazy but then Dason came back and took the spam from me :(
 

bugman

Super Moderator
#11
Re: Interview with a raptor: Get to know trinker

Let me say wholeheartedly that I am truely impressed. Good on you trinker! A year and a half is not long and it cetainly puts my efforts to shame. I'm going to check in at stackoverflow. My learning slowed a little after changing comapnies as they blocked some of my regular R sites.

Aside from stackoverflow, are there any other favorates? And have you tried any other R gui for linux? What about redR?
 

trinker

ggplot2orBust
#12
Re: Interview with a raptor: Get to know trinker

bugman said:
Aside from stackoverflow, are there any other favorates?
R-bloggers: http://www.r-bloggers.com/
Our own statsblog has a lot of R stuff: http://www.statsblogs.com/

I also subscribe to the R help list serve (though rarely answer questions there) and the ggplot2 list serve

But most of my education happened with dialogue between members here at talkstats. People here are not hard on you if you're a newb and make you feel comfortable but push you to get better (Dason is less quick to answer my R questions now as he let's me fish on my own a bit first).

bugman said:
And have you tried any other R gui for linux? What about redR?
I'm not a regular linux user but when I do Ubuntu I use RStudio as my gui.

My advice for learning R is set semi big goals and push yourself to do them. For instance:
  1. I set the goal of writing all my stats HW and papers using knitr + latex in RStudio this semester. At times it's hard as I have to figure out new ways to approach problems (when I know an old way that I could just do) but when I'm done I'll be way faster and more efficient in my work flow.
  2. Or lat year I undertook the R mapping project that forced me to stretch quite a bit (bryangoodrich held my hand on that journey) but I walked away with a bunch of new skills.
 

vinux

Dark Knight
#13
Next Round

1) Where do you see yourself after 5 years? What do you see as an ideal job?
2) What is your favourite topic in statistics? what else you wanted to explore?
3) This question I wanted to ask in general. Trinker is the most eligible person to this question. "What do you feel when you read UK English. Like Colour for color or centre for center or favourite for favorite ... etc. Is it same for you or you feel irritated?"

4) What is your favourite movie?
5) What is your favourite joke?
 

Dason

Ambassador to the humans
#14
1) How does it feel being a soulless killing machine hell-bent on destroying all that is good in this world? (You **** dirty raptor)

2) If you could live anywhere in the world (all expenses paid) - where would you go?

3) What is your favorite R package?
 

trinker

ggplot2orBust
#15
vinux said:
1) Where do you see yourself after 5 years? What do you see as an ideal job?
Professot at a teaching college working consulting jobs and coauthoring heavy duty research on the side (at my pace). I don't want the stress of an R1. I love to teach and love research but don't like stress so I think a teaching college is where I'll wind up. As for the ideal job, one where I get to teach for most of my job but am given the freedom to write at a slower pace.

vinux said:
2) What is your favourite topic in statistics? what else you wanted to explore?
Related though slightly off topic is visualization. That's what people look at first in your research and you use to tell the story. Statistically, right now I'm into repeated measure designs. My field relies heavily on them and so they're pretty important to answering the question, "Above and beyond the starting point has this new reading treatment had a measurable impact? I also really dig psychometrics (though I'm no Spunky). Reading really doesn't have a really decent measure of reading comprehension. Let's face we don't even have a definition of comprehension so measuring it is a moot point.

I want to explore multilevel models more and also learn more about specific statistics related to language use. Path analysis is also a useful technique in my field I'd really like to explore.

vinux said:
3) This question I wanted to ask in general. Trinker is the most eligible person to this question. "What do you feel when you read UK English. Like Colour for color or centre for center or favourite for favorite ... etc. Is it same for you or you feel irritated?"
I don't care if it's grey or gray color or colour I see it as differences. I assumed the US population is who altered the spelling. Though the use of effect and affect and practice vs. practise throws me. A lot of the people writing in leteracy are from Great Briton so I don't really notice it much anymore.

vinux said:
4) What is your favourite movie?
The Book of Eli, Usual Suspects, Crash (You can't have just one favorite movie :))

vinux said:
5) What is your favourite joke?
Why was the robot angry?
Because someone kept pushing his buttons!
 

trinker

ggplot2orBust
#16
Dason said:
1) How does it feel being a soulless killing machine hell-bent on destroying all that is good in this world? (You **** dirty raptor)
I'd have to ask a robot to be able to answer this question.

Dason said:
2) If you could live anywhere in the world (all expenses paid) - where would you go?
I think anywhere in Europe. If it was for a duration though I think England specifically because I can still speak the language and there's still a ton of new culture, sights and such to take in. My aunt went to China and she said it was awesome but not speaking a language is intimidating to me.

Dason said:
3) What is your favorite R package?
Other than qdap (insert narcissistic snicker here) ggplot2 hands down. I love visualization and this has been of great use in my work.
then:
2) psych
3) igraph
4) lme4 (and I think this may become more my friend as I learn more)
5) roxygen and devtools are awesome for developing
6) XML and RCurl (want to become more efficient with them for web activities; may have Dason steal bryangoodrich's brain)
7) gridExtra(I don't know much from it but rely on a few functions a bit)
8) fortunes is just fun
9) [Tex]\sout{musicmakeR}[/Tex] That was just to mess with Dason and use tricks he taught me against him. :p

I guess that's more than 8 but they're in order. Generally though I try to get things done in base unless I think a package is just so unique or efficient at what it does that it's ridiculous to do it with base packages.
 

trinker

ggplot2orBust
#17
jimmy brooks said:
What area would you teach? Statistics or Literacy?
Thanks for the question Jimmy. Both. I'd like to teach intro to stats courses, data visualization and literacy. Not sure if I can find a place that will allow me to do this though. I don't have the theory/background to be an all out stats person but could definitely enjoy lower level stats courses.
 

gianmarco

TS Contributor
#18
Hi Trinker,
what did bring you to play guitar?
Did you take lessons or you did all just by yourself?
Do you like anything else beyong blues?
Do you like to improvise? If you do, do you happen to play with pentatonic scales only or with modal scales as well?
Do you like Joe Satriani?

Gm
 
#19
Re: Interview with a raptor: Get to know trinker

I agree 100 with Vinux and anybody else on kindness and modesty of trinker :) I think this interview thread should be on for two or three weeks to celebrate it :)

Thanks for your kind words Vinux.

1) I don't think I have any Raptor sympathizers. :(
Me Me, or as you told the last time, here here :D :) I'm getting banned this time :p

2) I became an elementary teacher (1st and second for 4 years of my career and 6-8 math for the rest of my 9 years of teaching). I went for a degree in school administration but realized after I got the degree I really wanted to teach teachers. I went back and decided on literacy because it's important in my field. Then I took a stats course and loved it and switched to quantitative methods after that.
Such an interesting background :) do you study only English, or are you interested in other languages as well?

How many languages can you speak? :)

What is your idea about French grammar, where everything is either male or female? (like Arabic) Do you find it useful/useless/stupid/elegant, or whatever else?

3) Hobbies? Bot hunting. I play guitar (blues style mostly), used to play video games until my 2nd 360 died, read biographies, camping, but I love spending time with my wife (Cheryl) and daughter (Norah) though this isn't a hobby strictly speaking I spend a bit of time do it.
Is something you hate? I don't think there are too many thing you hate or don't like. But wonder what could they be (of course apart from bots)? :D

Why biographies are of interest to you? Which persons (I got the answer for this one in further posts)?

Which games did you like to play?