Category Archives: General

Open Science Coding

Portsmouth ICG alumnus David Parkinson recently wrote:

One of these days I’m going to show my python code to someone who actually programs in python for a living. They’re going to laugh. Laugh and laugh and laugh… and laugh. And then cry.

David’s not the first scientist I know who’s said this, for example, I heard almost the same thing from Cameron Neylon last year when he was presenting to my final-year Web Research group.  Cameron (who’s an advocate of Open Science) was demonstrating how he’d hacked up a bit of python to show the growth of Open Access publishing, but at the same time apologising that he’s originally a Bio-Chemist so the code does a job, but doesn’t necessarily do it as well or as ‘beautifully’ or efficiently as it perhaps might.

These are both examples of sharing code after its development.  There are big advantages to publishing experimental code such as this during its development:

  1. It encourages peer review of the experimental process earlier in the project which may reduce the potential for errors due code not doing what is intended.
  2. It provides third party developers with the opportunity to be involved in research by actively contributing to the code by improving it, even if they are not specialists in the subject being studied, their specialism in software development adds orthogonal value.
  3. It provides subject specialists with opportunity to see how their code has been improved so they can learn from this and write improved code themselves next time, possibly seeing new solutions and experiment-options as a result.

Historically (however) it’s common that experimental code is published either:

  1. after papers are written and results are published, or
  2. never (even if there are good intentions to do so, time and funding dry up and the code dies alone).  There may also be historic reasons why it’s not possible to publish code: often research organisations have little experience with Free Software so IPR fears can inhibit the potential openness of any project, but, the more open projects there are, the more opportunity there is for understanding to grow, fear to wane, and open science to blossom.

So, in the near term, developing non-critical code openly may be the best way forward.  If researchers can get in the habit of developing tools, utilities and other small projects openly then that may be the first step to encouraging all scientists to think and solve problems as part of a global ad-hoc developer collective.

Fun times with the ever awesome SREs on reddit answering your questions:

Andy Walker originally shared this post:

Fun times with the ever awesome SREs on reddit answering your questions:

http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/177267/we_are_the_google_site_reliability_team_we_make/

We are the Google Site Reliability team. We make Google’s websites work. Ask us Anything! : IAmA

Hello, reddit! We are the Google Site Reliability (SRE) team. We’re responsible for the 24×7 operation of Google.com, as well as the technical infras…

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Technology is gloriously disruptive.

Technology is gloriously disruptive.
Processes change slowly.
In the middle, geeks watch, amused.

For example, today I got an MS Word document (and I don't have word on any of my 3 machines).  The document was emailed to 20 researchers, saying "here is your new website" please send any modifications by return.

I suppose it's progress… they could have sent it hard copy.

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So, I have an old iPhone 3GS* that is sitting around unused, and a Bose Sound Dock. Is there an app that…

So, I have an old iPhone 3GS* that is sitting around unused, and a Bose Sound Dock. Is there an app that can turn these two items into "an Apple TV speaker" so I can have the Soma FMs Christmas Lounge tracks on in the kitchen without making two connections to their server?

#apple #bose #appletv

* smashed screen / no backlight – everything else works fine

SomaFM: Christmas Lounge: Chilled holiday grooves and classic winter lounge tracks. (Kid and Parent safe!) Commercial-free, Listener-supported Radio

Christmas Lounge. Chilled holiday grooves and classic winter lounge tracks. (Kid and Parent safe!) Listen: MP3: 128k 56k 32k Firewall/Proxy MP3 Windows Media: 128k 32k Popup Player; Listeners: 2310; N…

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Web browser support for HTML5 Input types, attributes and elements + CSS & JavaScript support:

Robert Nyman originally shared this post:

Web browser support for HTML5 Input types, attributes and elements + CSS & JavaScript support:
http://www.wufoo.com/html5/

Wufoo · The Current State of HTML5 Forms

Many browsers are supporting features of HTML5 including much related to forms. This is research on what browsers are doing what with those new features.

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On motorways, lowering the speed limit at congested times leads to less congestion because cars don't…

On motorways, lowering the speed limit at congested times leads to less congestion because cars don't have to be so erratic in their braking.  Would the same policy work in an urban environment.  i.e. would average journey times be reduced if the speed limit on main roads were reduced from 30 to something lower at various states of congestion?

/me starts a some background reading and checks out the potential of using our SCIAMA supercomputer.

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