Where I've Been

Posted by Erik M. Bray on Thu 15 January 2015 Updated on Tue 12 July 2016

I don't recall exactly what motivated me, but I was looking up something in my blog the other day and it occurred to me that it has been just over a year since I last updated it.

To be quite honestly one of the main reasons, or at least excuses, has been pure vanity. I'm still not overly fond of the layout and fonts for the site. So every time I thought of writing something I thought my first effort should be in making some of those superficial improvements first; but then I convince myself (rightfully) that I have better things to do with my time than to spend hours fiddling with CSS and fonts.

That said, it's a poor excuse. I have since made a few improvements, and though I'm still not happy with it I don't want to use that excuse any longer. But I have had other better excuses as well.

I spent most of my free time in the spring semester of 2014 working on an independent project for my master's degree that I named PyQC (not to be confused with an ESO project apparently called pyQC—I'm pretty confident I had the name first though). This started as a project for my Quantum Information class, but there were still many possibilities for further development once the class was over, hence the independent project. I worked on this a bit into the summer as well, just on my own time. But since then it had languished, which I feel awful about. Though I did give a (last minute) lightning talk about it at the last SciPy: http://youtu.be/SMyto7WHiNs?t=18m45s (also check out Tracy Teal's announcement of Data Carpentry right before me in the same video). I think my talk was largely incomprehensible, but it did garner some interest. I had a number of people coming up to me later asking things like "Hey, are you the quantum computer guy?" giving me an opportunity to practice explaining quantum algorithms.

Another task that occupied much of my summer was helping a friend in political science get the numbers crunched for his PhD thesis. It started out just manipulating a couple CSV files, but grew far more involved. I love this friend, but computing is not their strong suit, and so much time was spent on hand-holding. I tried to impart some Software Carpentry lessons, but they were too panicked about just getting the thing done to really listen. Things got even crazier when we had to handle the Japanese data, much of which needed to be translated to English before it could be meaningfully compared to the other data. It was a lot of work (still vastly more for my friend than for me) but I thought it was an interesting project and we'll worth the effort. I might have to write something more about it later.

Meanwhile at my day job a significant amount of my effort was spent on the new compound model framework for Astropy.

Update: I actually started a draft of this post over a year ago and never got around to posting a final draft. For my own recollection though I'm leaving this post up as-is.

tags: school, life, projects



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