Software Carpentry Boot Camp in Berkeley

On Wednesday and Thursday, I’ll be volunteering at a Software Carpentry boot camp that’s happening in Berkeley/Oakland. I’m looking forward to it.

Previously, I’ve created an episode of the online lectures for secure shell. I also wrote the initial code for the episode using phylogenetic trees, although it got re-written by Greg. So I was more like just the narrator in that episode, but now I know how triangular matrices can be handled by maps. It’s always nice when you can work alongside smart people and can imbibe some of their knowledge and wisdom.

Essence of Productivity

For a while, now, I’ve been trying to explain to people what makes someone effective — productive and efficient to do programming and/or science research. Until very recently, I was working in a genetics research lab, and I was asked by coworkers about what it takes for someone to be productive. Whether it was in terms of programming productivity or ability to intuit scientifically, I had been on both sides of the non-/productive divide. I distilled the differences to being resourceful and resolved.
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DNA Sequencing Moving Too Fast for Computers and Bioinformaticians

Everything in technology seems to increase in exponential fashion.  There’s the ever-quoted Moore’s Law, where CPU speeds seem to double every 1.5 years.  RAM capacities and HD capacities seem to follow this rate, although the correlation might be coincidental more than anything else.  However, network speeds have barely increased in the past decade, it seems. The boon in high-tech, high-throughput technological advancements in modern genetics labs is also a bit of a curse. As the New York Times reports in DNA Sequencing Caught in Deluge of Data:
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What are the alternatives to Ubuntu 11.10?

Ubuntu has rolled out with version 11.10 of its distribution (or should we say that Canonical rolled out with Ubuntu 11.10?). This is the second release that features Unity front and center, but unlike 11.04, there is no backup option to allow users to drop back to GNOME 2. To make matters more complicated, GNOME has pushed GNOME 3, also similar to Unity and a complete break from the GNOME 2.x line of desktops. Just as the options for Linux desktop environments is growing confusing quickly, so, too, are the options for a stable, functional distro itself.
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Doing Things the Berkeley Way

You’ve got to love the “Berkeley way” of doing things. Not that citizens here think that they’ve really cornered some secret of how to live. They’re just very conscientious and considerate of their place in the world. They live well, but they also let live just as well. Here’s how some things go in Berkeley, and some of the local tips I’m learning as I’m getting myself set up.
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Book Review – Version Control by Example

SourceGear is a company that I’ve never heard (until now) that works on version control software.  Eric Sink is the founder of SourceGear, and he has recently written and published the book Version Control by Example.  I came to hear about it perhaps as many others who have seen it already would have — he is giving this book away for free (shipping costs covered), and as his FAQ page says, there are no string attached.

The book covers the history of Version Control Systems (VCS), the terminology and common feature sets, examples of each of those features (in Apache Subversion, Mercurial, Git, and SourceGear’s Veracity), a discussion of how to use a VCS effectively in practice, and details about how VCS’s work internally.  Through following VCS’s throughout history, we are introduced to additional VCS features in a context that easily explains their motivations.
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Could Microsoft make a new Linux X11?

When evaluating Microsoft’s long-term strategic positioning of its core business over the past decade, it is clear to see the cracks that have been forming in a dominating mainstay of the computing world. And it is an instructive story, and one still in the making, about how fast things (businesses, trends, ideas, etc.) can be built and how they can erode just as fast.

And of course, part of the story includes Bill Gates’ decision to bow out, and the ascent of Steve Ballmer’s ascent, notwithstanding the antics, rages, utterances, and more antics. But one utterance I want to pick up on is the one that “Linux is a cancer”. Really?
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