Friday, October the 21st, 2005

I have a ton of unfinished posts, and they’re all crap. Apparently, good posts are what good hair days have now become—few and far between. I’ve been (actually surprisingly) getting a ton of decent work done as well as getting some (sometimes equally crappy) technical writing done as well. I try to be careful about delineating my otherwise social-propaganda filled dirty-hippy lifestyle from what should probably be a passionate, but totally objective and professional quest for knowledge—or however else my job is defined.

But it isn’t as easy as that.

I was going through some stuff I wrote recently toward some proposal, and I’ve picked a few select paragraphs that were initially interspersed between larger blocks of serious technical jargon. (% are LaTeX comments).

% The basic point one needs to make here is “Sharing
% is good”.

Although it has not been stressed upon previously, we recognize the advantages of using readily available, rigorously tested, open source code published by different groups and this has played a significant role in the choices made for our existing and proposed implementations. Most of the software projects mentioned previously (and their dependencies) are distributed under licenses which offer the freedom to be downloaded free of charge, modified to suit our needs, and in some cases even distributed, with little unfair tethering. As a small sampling, SuperLU is distributed under a BSD style license and PetSC (one of the dependencies of Prometheus) is also under a under a BSD style license with portions under the GNU GPL both of which guarantee the aforementioned freedoms. Apart from the obvious pragmatic benefits—obtaining well written software gratis, reliability through the scrutiny of numerous people, reduced development costs and overhead, faster turnaround times—the inherent freedom related to having access to the source code and having the rights to modify and share it provides the opportunity to study and understand its functionality, scope for easy modifications to suit ones needs, eliminates dependencies on “black boxes” and vendor lock-in, facilitates easy and democratic sharing of knowledge and ideas, reduces the need to reinvent the wheel, allowing futher advances to be made on the shoulders of giants before and creates a sense of community where many skilled and interested people learn, use, customize, evolve and crosspollinate the endeavor with their ideas.

% It is a social statement, with very real pragmatic benefits.
% Plus it is an avenue for socially stunted geeks to make
% friends with people of common interest.

In order to better facilitate the open access of our models and code by the research community we are currently evaluating the use of Fenics, a fully open and free collection of finite element software under the GNU GPL to replace FEAP, which is closed and a central component of our current codebase.

This was eventually toned down to just a few sentences, but see, the point I’m trying to make is it’s just hard to abruptly start or stop aspects integral to one’s nature just because the situation calls for it.

This is a printer-friendly version of the journal entry “Blurring the lines” from actuality.log. Visit to read the original entry and follow any responses to it.

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