8.8.16

Still around

If there was no yesterday and tomorrow,
I will say goodnight
so when I open my eyes, 
tomorrow is still possible.

If there is no rain,
I'll drink that water from your glass
so when I get thirsty
I know it's just over the table

Opened palm that holds the sky
We lie to ourselves that 
we could do it when we couldn't
but isn't that still trying?

I am not strong,
Nor were you
And the selfish me
is happy that you're sorry you left too

Does that mean...that
you're around still?

30.6.16

SERIOUS STUFFS: IBM SPSS - Serious teensie guide for the dazed, the lost and the suicidal. Part 1

First off...I'm not a trained statistician. BUT! I am a student. So yeah...there are a few things I can tell you about this statistical software other than the fact that it is ridiculously expensive and overrated. But hey....everybody's using it and unless you have better option (like for example R or Excel or SigmaPlot) that you're good at doing, stick to that. This is just a little post I would like to share to people who was in the same position as I was back 6 months ago; clueless and scared to death. It took me almost 3 weeks of seriousness to study up statistics basics before I even dare to press a button in SPSS. Why? Cause I am a freak who has to know what she is doing when she does things she doesn't know about. When people tell me not to make it complicated, I used to agree. But don't do that to yourself cause, if it doesn't feel right doing it, it's not even close to being half-right.

INTRODUCTION

IBM SPSS is a software utilized mainly by social science academicians, business statisticians and students like some of us to analyze collective data. What does it mean by analyzing data? I can simply say that it is to validate the significance of the data. As to whether its pattern fits or syncs with another set of variable or data. Then, you correlate the extent of the relationship and quantify it. And then...you conclude an equation for future probable prediction.

You know all the hype in the science journals about people validating their data with all that confusing p>0.01 or r=3.495? Well, these are all the values that represent the stand your data make in your research.

OK. Statistics is just a tool to objectify your data and explain it with legit validation of your research. The tests I'll be talking about may be foreign but all of them all talking about fitting your data into a bivariate relationship; a linear model.

A linear model is actually a bivariate plot of two continuous variable. So, basically, you're just going to connect 2 datas one-to-one.

General linear model or equation or relationship is the foundation of many statistical tests; t-test, ANOVA, ANCOVA and regression analysis and also multiple factor analysis. This requires alot of reading and processing and reading again, so I'm not going to go there. Science students or social science student have at a certain point in their basic degree years, learned statistics and probabilities. Here, we started learning those when we were 13 (correct me if I'm wrong). So, relax and understand that you got this.

You wanna start analyzing your data but you don't know where to start; how to arrange your data, what test to use, what does 'p' even means, what the hell is regression analysis etc.

WHAT TYPE OF DATA DO YOU HAVE?

Well, start identifying the type of data you have. Just segregate it into these 2 types; categorical or continuous.

Categorical data is just a data that states a setting apart without any scale or number. For example:

You're analyzing the effect of plants on a slope erosion. So, to do that, you decided to show how it is without plants, with one type of plant and with mixed types of plants. This is categorical variable. Each and every one of this different 'treatment' is data.

Continuous data is a data that consist of an interval, ratio or plain numbers that you obtain from equipments; 212.3 mg/L of oxygen.....2.1 psu....18% mercury....

Say you're taking soil samples from differently treated soil; fertilized, burnt and natural soil. And you analyze their pseudo-total nutrients (after digestion...etc), the readings that you get correlates with their origin and the circumstances of their existence before you sample them. So, just how much can this variation in nutrients be connected to their 'setting' or land management?

Well, with this data, you can use analysis of variance (ANOVA). It is used to compare the means of differing variables and establish as to whether they are, in fact, different and statistically significant. In another language, it means that, the means@average of the data is different enough to warrant an 'eureka'; yes, they are connected to each other and the data did not come out like that by pure chances.

ANOVA is a hypothesis test to compare the means of more than two population.  

From the case above, the data you obtained of the total nutrients from each of the place could be understood as total nutrients from 3 different populations. Hence, you're going to be comparing their means to see if they are significantly different from each other!

Is this how your data looks like?

If so, then power up that SPSS, and segregate your data into differing columns.



How you guys holding up? Still here?

So, here I have land-use, depth and the concentration of K. Since I am an environmental geologist, we look at soil analyze their content. LAND USE and DEPTH are my categorical variable. K CONCENTRATION is my continuous variable. Since I am trying to see the effects of land-use on my soil total K, I will be using ONE-WAY ANOVA. Why? Cause it's only one factor; land-use against total K. Land use is the factor that affects total K. Land-use is the independent variable and total K is the dependent variable.

Well...let's just go straight to the analysis. Go to the following instruction:


ANOVA doesn't tell you to what extent is the mean difference, they just tell you whether it is significant or not. So, that's where Post-Hoc test comes along. Here, I am using Tukey HSD as my post-hoc test. It's commonly used and easier for me to understand although some may prefer LSD. Here, if you notice, the test will be conducted to the significance level of 0.05...which is quite common. You can go for 0.01 too. I take both into consideration.

So far....for the people with basics in ANOVA but a novice at SPSS, is the instructions clear?

Feel free to ask if there are things you're not too sure about :3

Interpretation of the data will be shown in the next post which will be...soon-ish. Below, I have attached the links to some quick review of what ANOVA is in case you can't wait for the next post.

All the best to research students nationwide and I hope this post opened a sort of understanding on...ANOVA.

References & Recommendations:
Prof. Serna
Laerd Statistics


10.6.16

Friday Post: Walk or Jump?

Salam Ramadhan to fellow Muslims and happy fasting to all. Does the fasting wear you down or does it coincidentally increases your productivity? Do tell me! at the poll below.

For me, I had a wonderful head-start into this holy month with my family where we made list of the things we overlooked in doing over the course of the year; Quran reciting, solah sunnah and of course, our own health. Despite the ill-fortunate of beginning to fast with a flu, I'm good. And as to answer my own question, I am more productive. Cause fasting means no escaping to food when my brain hit a dead-end with something. So, it's good and I love it.

To walk or to jump at something you're not familiar with has always been an issue for me. That is mainly caused by my slow move when it comes to starting something. I have to meticulously plan it, set the mood, rate the weight before I even start. And think endlessly as I do this. When I think, it's always a slow-cooking process. So, half of the time, I try jumping into doing things just to get it started. But this never really turned out well for me, although it never stopped me from doing it. I have this idea that when I jump into something and start doing it wherever I want to, it'll turn out OK. But really, it only makes me understand that, you can't do something you have no idea about and blindly pass up your work with discussions, interpretation and conclusions that you know, barely scratch the surface.

I have been hung up with my data analysis for the longest time. I've been going around asking people how to do it, even going as far as bugging my bestfriend in Japan to tell me what to do with a bunch of data I have. Eventhough I know what I want, I don't know how to get it. Statistical analysis isn't really a thing I understand or do on a daily basis. If you talk about music, now that's my language. But not statistics. For the longest time, I tried doing and failing and tried to do things according to my friend's instruction. I got the products of the analysis but I wasn't satisfied. Then, my colleagues started telling me that I'm being complicated. Was I? I didn't know and I still don't. Was my way of thinking too complicated and winded? I didn't think so. I thought it was only natural to ask what I want and to understand something so I am comfortable with discussing it.

After trying to find websites after websites and books after books to make me understand all those t-test, z-scores, simple linear regression, correlation coefficient, hypothesis testing and ANOVA, I realized that...it was close to futile. And I wanted to cry. But yesterday, I got fed up and went to YouTube looking for anybody that does what I did. I found one...although he is not a chemist. In fact, he is a Mathematics/Physics/Statistics former lecturer turned tutor; Prof. Serna. He was God-sent.

For every single thing that I haven't the faintest idea about, I got the free tutoring over the easy to understand step by step videos. And it didn't take long.

OK.

I am not here to promote any YouTubers or tutors and raise free ads at my corner here, but the point here is his teaching methods.

Step-by-step.

My impatience to learn something new has eaten me right from the beginning. The impatience to understand, the impatience in thinking and letting things sink it...it's deteriorating. The constant want to have things fast and right at the second you demand it is wrong and it is awfully shallow of me to demand such thing of my brain. I think this is was I read before in a book and I think it is called confidence bias. And it was born out of the sheer marketing of over-optimism by self-made public figures that said;

" If you want it...you can get it...If you demand it, you'll have it...Getting things done fast is how you move forward....bla bla bla,"

They didn't exactly say that but that is pretty much the idea.

Is that true?

Is there such thing as multi-tasking, really?

I mean, we've read books on why guys like bit*hes....and why man won't ask and woman can't read maps...but I think, being bossy to your own brain is quite pushing it.

I guess, what people forget is that, our brains work differently. Where most of these successful people got it right and with sheer confidence that their success came from their hard work, it is still a method personalized to their brain, body, spiritual, social and economical capacity.

Although I don't believe in always being suspicious and pessimistic about things, it is always wise for us to have constant reality checks before we jump into anything that seemed outrageous impossible but actually happened to someone. Like sheer genius in maths where he did calculus at the age of 3 or music prodigy practically cutting it with Rachmaninoff...they just have the fortune, capacity and time at it that most of us hasn't.

So start with the basics at your pace. Our brains work differently.

And I never said stop dreaming. You may reach the stars with your dreams. And it's not wrong to feel bad and defeated at times. There is no such thing as things being at the worst before it gets better. Constantly balance your optimism with reality-checks. It's not wrong to have certain doubts. It's not wrong to let an idea hang to dry and be probed all the time.

Now...let's fall in love with this beautiful piece composed by Chopin; Spring Waltz.



15.3.16

#Let'sDoMore

Since I was young, I think, I've changed my ambitions around 4 to 5 times, give or take. I have lots of dreams and were (still am) easily excited by new things. My first ambition was to be a fashion designer. Well, we can see how that worked out since I championed getting dressed with my eyes close. Then it was air-stewardess, scientist, astronomer, scientist (again) and doctor. The last career choice I made after I lost the opportunity to jump into medical field was to just get married or sit at home and become the cat-lady.

When I was 22....I might as well just be 77.

There was no dreams to run after. It was a point of mid-life crisis.

But now...I am choking myself with endless reading and writing, and rewriting scientific ideas in hope that people would understand me.

At the same time, I'm learning some of the things I wanted so much to learn but didn't get to;

Master the violin, toggling with computer programming, having fun with algebra  and calculus....the list goes on.

I loved numbers and technical works and I remember how little things hinder me from enjoying them when I was waaaaay younger. Now, I can learn them at my own time with my own schedule and at my expense. Learning new things is way too easy these days that I think it's a waste how people just linger jobless. Isn't this the time we can learn what we've always wanted to learn and be so good at it, no one can say no anymore. The Internet is full of possibilities and I would like to urge young people in Malaysia to explore more into the depths of knowledge and stop settling for things that will undoubtedly distract you from being productive.

Singing is wonderful....but following/auditioning for endless reality shows and just singing in the bathroom isn't enough. If you really love it, practice to widen your vocal range and hit notes with precision.

Playing guitar is great, but strumming isn't enough. How about learning scales and arpeggios and broken chords to up the skills you have? How about trying out guitar-slapping?

Knowing to program is great but can you take on programming to create forecasts of flood or to detect cancerous cells? With so many open source programming language online, we have so many possibilities and chances for this.

Reading Al-Quran is not enough, we should know the meaning....and knowing the meaning isn't enough, we should apply and learn the language of the Holy Quran to understand better and to experience the beauty more.

May we have all the strength take on a new world with competency that rivals global scale. Because in the end, the only enemy we have to go against is our own self. 

#Let'sDoMore

P/S: Some of the resources online for young adults who are eager to go back to learning are as follows
        * http://www.khanacademy.org
        * http://www.p2pu.org

4.3.16

SERIOUS STUFFS: Mendeley

I love it when I found new things or 'understand' how to use something. It makes me all giddy and so eager to tell somebody or someone how to use it. It's a syndrome suffered by slow-brained kids like me who aren't afraid to admit I am, in fact, slow. SO...grad students out there...here's the one thing I find useful and I thank the Higher Power for it. And of course, the developers. It's Mendeley.

MENDELEY: The Reference Manager and PDF Organizer




I haven't had any good luck with using EndNote and I won't blame the software for it. I honestly won't cause I am always the type to not even bother learning anything by reading if the steps go beyond 3. But Mendeley is pretty sleek, cute and user-friendly. I love it and truly recommend it for grad studs (see there?! I just used a pun! Hah!). I find the instructions easier to understand and its online support very helpful.

But of course, I would look at the reviews done by people who've used it before me. There were few critical ones and some are just too happy with the interface to complain. Well, I am one of those who loved the look. It's red and it's soooo preeetty!

Some of the functionalities essential for the 'paper nations' are

* The citation function that are synced by [Alt + M] key. 
      I think this is nothing new to citation management software users. But to me, it is, because it's the first
      I am able to use it and see it work out in my Microsoft Word! It is a little tedious when you want to
      change the color of the font or the style manually, but the point is....it works. beautifully.
      How do you get it to work? Well, each Mendeley Desktop has already had the MS plugin in the  
      software. So:


1)  Make sure you've saved and closed all the Microsoft Word windows.
2)  Go to Tools > Install MS Word Plugin > Click OK 




3)  To use the the plug-in in MS Word is by clicking Referrence > Insert a citation OR Alt + M. It may 
      also be available for other word processor such as Libre Office and Open Office. 
   
 *  The availability of the styling format by journals
     I think this is the super-awesome feature for me. I am writing a paper for a certain journal. What actually
     made me want to download Mendeley is the fact that the journal I am eyeing offers to the reference style 
     template setting. It's so fun isn't it?!


   
*  Manual reference editor
    Some people may not like this feature at all. Cause, let's admit, what's the point of the software asking us 
    to edit every single details of the journal, books etc? It should be doing it's job to automatically generate 
    them right? I find this to be a two-edged sword. Not all the automatically-generated details such as 
    author's name are generated properly. So, it's no harm in editing it for a lil bit. But of course, it is a little
    tedious if Mendeley doesn't recognize your reference material. But if you can edit it in, why not? Cuts the
    work in half....sort of.


The only cons that I hate is the impossibly long time it takes for this software to sync over the Internet cloud. That's all. But all in all....it's quite good. And FREE, of course. That's why I'm featuring it here in the first place. Hahaha! If Mendeley improve the syncing time, I am happy to say, I am satisfied with you care: Baymax style.  

Anything you would like to share on citation and reference management software? Any tricks that I don't know? Do share! 

23.2.16

Monday Blues: Where I put my pillow

No.

This has nothing to do with any pillow talks or Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik's endless make-outs sessions.

Scientific research has always been about data, data and....data. Nothing works without data and to make it
even more competitive, how to get it fast. With decreasing job vacancies and people ending up doing things differing from their first degree, most girls are like me; we become dedicated to life-long learning a.k.a get your ass back into university. Strangely, because of my less-than-impressive CGPA, I am more easily accepted to do research mode for my graduate studies. It's not strange since I can talk the ears off anyone. Even from 4 piece of paper they call research proposal. Not cause I'm good. It's cause I'm ridiculous. I'm not in any way an exceptionally good student nor am I a bad one, but this is where I've stayed...in between the cracks of mind-liberation and a baby-walker. I'm not good enough for employment and just good enough to pass for a bulls**t artist on paper. But that doesn't mean that I lie when I do my work.

Research is hard and people being at the top of the food chain are even worse than a pack of wolves. This is in no way to see it as a disadvantageous circumstances. Rather, I think it is good to instill healthy competition for character building. But being too much of a hard-ass when you're looking down on people from your ivory towers of Association Board of 'Highly Influential' Researchers', you tend to give credit to all the wrong people. ALL the wrong people.

Some people are born with the ability  to 'twist' and 'see' the best fit solution to non-existent data. I am quite jealous of this pretty useful skill. To a certain degree, it helps to have so many ideas to make things easier. But does it really get easier?

It's a very touchy subject. The extent of data gathering from analysis of samples is still ultimately utilized by the data handler. However can we twist and turn it to fit our  hypothesis, it is really up to us.

It's alright:
Says the people. Maybe because 'degree of freedom' is of a wider range? Of a larger value? I don't know. That's why experience come in handy. But experience passed down by generations and cycles of specialists may be questionable. Most of the time, due to routine and superior demanding results adamantly, we just go with it. If it stands, you're safe. If it's not, it's abnormality may put you doing handstands as to defend yourself to represent the 'real deal' or plead 'guilty' to falsifying data. Deviation from a norm may indicate so many other interventions from so many factors that sometimes, it's only right to RE-SAMPLE and RE-ANALYZE. 

It's wrong.  To falsify...

But people are doing it like they swig on their late night coffees from their trusty mug. The pressure to produce endless flow of 'competent' publications, to finish their research in a freakin' month....it's hard. It's hard not to lose your sanity along the way. We're Asians....we're not allowed to choose something that don't ensure stability. I, for a fact, Wiki-ed every single thing to get a whole idea of everything. I won't jump till I know I will at least revive from my fall with the assurance that I can get back on my feet pronto.

Thus, it's do or die. It's lie or get left behind. It's faking it or you're dead. Integrity sure is a hard thing to live by these days....it all start with the little things. Like ignoring the forgotten decimal points. And the 20 minutes of stabilization before taking the reading.

Tell me why it's always the student's fault when they can't 'keep up'? Why rush and multi-task so many things just to get almost everything wrong and re-do it all over again? This is craziness. Doing the same thing over and over again in the hope of getting different results all the time.

This is not 'Edge of Tomorrow'. It's not Live...Die...Repeat. It's live, make a mistake, learn, re-think, re-do, re-analyze, re-submit and hopefully...WIN.


Check out this very very 'bored' lady. I can relate. I mean, I'm posting a Monday Blues article on a Tuesday afternoon. Says alot about how I deal with datelines. Maybe. You'll never know. I'm a very disciplined person. :3 And this is tasteful. I wonder if I could make a crown from the centrifuge tubes in the lab?