Being a scientist in a highly mathematical field, virtually all of my document preparation is done using LaTeX which makes typesetting mathematical expression quite simple, as well as effortless inclusion of tables and figures (graphs) with captions. These tasks can take herculean efforts in a what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) word processor, e.g. the universally loathed Microsoft Word. Sure, you can insert pictures and tables, but slightly change the wording in one place and suddenly the objects that you had painstakingly placed in particular locations jump to different pages and like Sisyphus, you find yourself at the bottom of the hill having to push that boulder up again. So, why doesn’t everyone use LaTeX?
When I started this blog, to which I make very irregularly scheduled posts, I never really expected to get much if any traffic. In fact, I was surprised when someone read one of my posts and liked it. Since then, I occasionally look at the site stats out of curiosity, and I’ve noticed something. The posts that tend to get views all have a bit of a negative connotation to them, while posts that are meant to be informational or just positive go unread.
As I sit here writing this, I’m waiting on some custom software to finish running on my other computer. That custom software is still in a testing phase and the current run will tell me if I have finally figured out the source of a persistent positive bias that I am getting from the output of the code. While waiting, I began to think about adding a graphic user interface to handle the input of various parameters in the code instead of having a parameter file. This then got me thinking about how the current state of scientific software is likely a barrier to many who may otherwise enter a specific field of research. Continue reading “The Perils and Pitfalls of Scientific Programming”
From time to time, I look back on my years of education and note that many things could have been done to better prepare me for where I am today. I could reflect on things that could have been done better in elementary, middle and high school, but at this point that was so far in the past that things have probably changed substantially. Instead, I would like to comment a bit about my college education, both undergraduate and graduate, particularly the lack luster way I was taught programming. Continue reading “Ways I wish my education had been different: Part 1 – Programming”