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Freitag, 21. Januar 2011

Disable auto-update from R (Windows)

There are two major threats to complex MCMC estimations:
  • Wrong energy settings (hibernate after 2 hours of inactivity)
  • Automatic Updates (install updates at 3 a.m.)

I thought about the latter threat. At times, you may hand some R code to other co-workers, especially when you need to estimate lots of different models in a short period of time. If they have auto-updates enabled, your results are quickly in jeopardy. While automatically saving the workspace [if(rep==10000) save.image("save.RData")] is definitely a very good idea, deactivating automatic updates on windows is still important for long-term calculations.
Therefore I thought about ways to deactivate automatic updates from within R. A major obstacle is UAC (user account control) which turns your administrator account into something ... with less right. Windows frequently asks for privilege elevation. Sadly, elevation does not work without further administrative tools, which you will not find on every PC around. Therefore I decided to use the "runas" command, which will ask the user for her password once.
Although this is not a perfect solution yet, it is also a very nice example on some interesting functions: paste, sub, system.

"runas" apparently does not work with "net stop" command, therefore a .bat file needs to be created which can be started using runas. The .bat is created from within R.

Random John reminded my that an option to turn auto update back on would be nice. Well, I added that.

Dienstag, 11. Januar 2011

table() in R

The table function in R is very useful, especially when working with survey data. Often you may have Likert scales for levels of agreement or satisfaction. table() quickly gives the distribution of answers, which can then be used for (bar)plots.

However, especially with large scales (10 point scale) some answers may stay unused. Therefore I thought it would be nice to have a table function which returns "0" for unused categories. I tried to implement this in the table2() function. I works just like table(), there is only one additional argument "classs" which is the scale (1:10 for a 10-point Likert scale).

User Account Control (Windows)

When using Windows Vista / 7, Windows' User Account Control can be annoying. When is R going to be Windows 7 ready, asking for elevated priviliges only when needed? I guess the problem lies in the structure of packages.
Running Rgui.exe "as Administrator" by right-clicking is one option to get around these problems. However, when installing Tinn-R and linking it to R, I haven't found a solution without turning off UAC completely during the installation - which is again annoying, because switching UAC needs to reboot Windows.

Montag, 10. Januar 2011

Install R Packages wherever needed

I frequently occupy computers everywhere with extensive MCMC tasks. Installing R doesn't take long, but it can be very annoying if you manually have to install dozens of R packages before your code is able to run. Well, now I use the following command to load my packages:

This way I don't have to worry about installing packages.

General-purpose MCMC draw saver for R

If you do MCMC with R, you probably know how nasty "bookkeeping" of draws can be. So I quickly coded up a small function which does everything for you. Every parameter has to begin with "mcmc_" or another to-be-defined string, then just run mcmcsave( ITERATION , # ITERATIONS).

I also though about using lists. However, since this code actually costs speed I guess it's for quick shots only anyway.