Author Spotlight: Mike Molter and The ODS Tagset Experience

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Contributed by Mike Molter, Principal Statistical Programmer, INC Research

I’m writing this from an altitude of 35,000 feet. As I try to squeeze my 6’1” frame into a space clearly designed for passengers no taller than 5 feet while trying to find a place to put my left elbow because I always seem to lose the battle of the armrest, several thoughts stream through my head. Among them is my personal lifelong mystery of why every airline passenger that ever sits in front of me feels the need to recline their seat all the way back into my lap. But the most prevalent thoughts are of the presentations I saw and the friends with whom I became re-acquainted at SAS Global Forum. I’m also thinking about my first journey as a SAS Press author and the valuable advice that the friendly faces in the SAS Publishing booth in the SGF demo area had to offer me. What better circumstances could there be for my first blog?

I am absolutely thrilled to be a SAS author. I’ve been writing papers for SAS conference proceedings and oral presentations for several years and have always wanted to write a book but never seemed to have enough material in one subject. As a programmer I had spent several years writing DATA step and macro programs, and was ready for something different. Then along came ODS tagsets. I wrote a couple papers and presented them and suddenly found myself in unfamiliar territory: too much material to squeeze into one paper or to present in one time slot. Now I had enough material.

The book is titled The ODS Tagset Experience. It’s my hope that it will provide a unique and fun approach to a subject that SAS users are curious about but haven’t yet dipped their toe into the water. It isn’t intended to be the be-all end-all reference book on tagsets. Rather, it’s written from the user point-of-view, drawing on what you already know as a SAS programmer, relating new concepts to familiar ones like the DATA step, and hopefully illustrating that they are not only easier and more accessible than you think, but can also be a lot of fun.

As for me, I love programming in Base SAS. What I love most about it is playing and experimenting and discovering new things. At the opening session at SAS Global Forum, they kept starting questions with “What if…?” I think people become great at what they do by asking similar questions. It’s exciting to discover something on your own for the first time. Learning SAS for the first time was full of these experiences, but it’s easy after a few years to lose that enthusiasm. For me, new toys that SAS gives us, such as tagsets and the ability to fully customize our ODS markup, are opportunities to renew that sense of adventure, to keep us young in our professional lives. The book is due to be in print next spring - if you’re up for the adventure, I hope you’ll give it a read.

Personally, I live in Cary, NC with my wife, my ten-year old daughter, my eight-year old son, and my crazy dog. They’ll tell you that trying new things all the time isn’t just part of my professional life, but my personal life too. I love to swim, cycle, and run. A few years ago I got into short-distance triathlon events. Every year I try to mix it up a little. Last year it was a longer distance event. This year will be the 150-mile bike ride for MS, and maybe next year a full marathon. Some might call it a mid-life crisis. To me, there’s nothing crisis about it - it just makes getting older a lot more fun.

Time for me to go now. My battery is running low and I’m deathly afraid of the Diet Pepsi that’s sitting on my tray table dangerously close to my laptop. As I struggle to position my knees, elbows and shoulders to avoid the inevitable bruising that the drink cart is sure to deliver as it blazes through the aisle, I’ll continue to contemplate material for future blogs, Facebook posts, and oh yeah, chapters in my book. Please keep in touch. Talk to you soon!

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Shelly Goodin

Social Media Specialist, SAS Publications

Shelly Goodin is SAS Publications' social media marketer and the editor of "SAS Publishing News". She’s worked in the publishing industry for over thirteen years, including seven years at SAS, and enjoys creating opportunities for fans of SAS and JMP software to get to know SAS Publications' many offerings and authors.

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