[R] [OT] (slightly) - OpenOffice Calc and text files

Joshua Wiley jwiley.psych at gmail.com
Wed Oct 13 19:53:46 CEST 2010

On Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 10:13 AM, Schwab,Wilhelm K
<bschwab at anest.ufl.edu> wrote:
> Hello all,
> I had a very strange looking problem that turned out to be due to unexpected (by me at least) format changes to one of my data files.  We have a small lab study in which each run is represented by a row in a tab-delimited file; each row identifies a repetition of the experiment and associates it with some subjective measurements and times from our notes that get used to index another file with lots of automatically collected data.  In short, nothing shocking.
> In a moment of weakness, I opened the file using (I think it's version 3.2) of OpenOffice Calc to edit something that I had mangled when I first entered it, saved it (apparently the mistake), and reran my analysis code.  The results were goofy, and the problem was in my code that runs before R ever sees the data.  That code was confused by things that I would like to ensure don't happen again, and I suspect that some of you might have thoughts on it.
> The problems specifically:
> (1) OO seems to be a little stingy about producing tab-delimited text; there is stuff online about using the csv and editing the filter and folks (presumably like us) saying that it deserves to be a separate option.

It is, but it is doable (you can manually edit the extension to .txt
and edit the field and then choose tab or a _few_ other options that
your heart desires.  Importing should be similar.

> (2) Dates that I had formatted as YYYY got chopped to YY (did we not learn anything last time?<g>) and times that I had formatted in 24 hours ended up AM/PM.

The "general" cell format can be quite convenient, but usually seems
one of the most awful creations in both Excel and Calc.  Rants aside,
try forcing the cell format (I like text because it generally just
treats it asis then).

> Have any of you found a nice (or at least predictable) way to use OO Calc to edit files like this?  If it insists on thinking for me, I wish it would think in 24 hour time and 4 digit years :)  I work on Linux, so Excel is off the table, but another spreadsheet or text editor would be a viable option, as would configuration changes to Calc.
> Bill
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Joshua Wiley
Ph.D. Student, Health Psychology
University of California, Los Angeles

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