Researchers depend on computer software to get their work done. But often, they do not know enough about how their computers work. This makes their lives more difficult. I don’t mean it’s a shame not everyone is a software engineer ready and able to write applications from the ground up. Rather, as researchers working with data of various kinds, we just don’t make the best use of our computers. Nor are we encouraged to reflect on why they work the way they do. Instead we end up fending for ourselves and picking things up informally. Or instead of getting on with the task at hand course instructors are forced to spend time bringing people up to speed about where that document went, or what a file is, or why the stupid thing stopped working just now. In the worst case, we never get a feel for this stuff at all and end up marinating in an admixture of magical thinking and sour resentment towards the machines we sit in front of for hours each day.

All of that is bad. This course is meant to help.

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