Is Social Media Worth It?

I wrote about social media and blogging a while back, and revisited when some of these things came into existence. As we stand on the final embers of Google+, and look at scandal after scandal on Facebook we are reminded how ephemeral these services are. Last year Ben Cotton wrote a nice post on why we can’t replace Facebook with personal websites as a number of people were saying we should. The obvious question next becomes whether this whole social media thing is worth it.


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Avogadro Plans for 2019

The Avogadro project was founded all the way back in 2006, and I participated as a Google Summer of Code student with KDE in 2007 to bring a molecular editor to Kalzium. The library we were using was libavogadro, this powered Kalzium and the Avogadro application that provided a fuller interface (also using Qt as its base). From the start this was a project founded by a need felt by many of us who got involved in the early days—to have a solid, cross-platform and open source molecular editor. In addition, we wanted to provide a library that exposed these features.


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Looking Forward to 2019

My last post wasn’t the most positive. While it was pretty accurate I think it is worth looking back on the good stuff, and hope for the next year. I had the opportunity to be a part of the opensource.com moderator team in the early years of the program, serving as their “open science expert”, and also received a blue obelisk from Peter Murray-Rust himself for my service to the open chemistry community. These experiences both had enormous influences on me, and in both cases afforded me the opportunity to work with amazing people on things I am passionate about. There are many others who have helped me, inspired me, and encouraged me along the way, but I found these items in a box as I was moving stuff between offices.


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2018 Was Crap

On balance, 2018 has been a crap year for the Hanwell clan (British slang for those interested). For me it was bad on a personal and professional level, although on both levels there were some highs and lows. It ended on a real low in both respects too, and like an iceberg most people only see the tip. It reminds me of the proverb “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, nothing in isolation was huge but the combination adds up to what feels like an absolutely awful year (a few were pretty big too). Very much looking forward to it being over, and trying to start afresh with renewed hope next year! Not quite broken, but definitely worse for wear.


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Eleven Years in America

A little over eleven years ago my wife and I got on a flight from Manchester airport bound for JFK, and then took an internal flight to get to Pittsburgh, PA. A couple of years later we moved to upstate New York where I took a position with a small company called Kitware. I have been with Kitware for nine years today (the earliest date a H-1B visa holder can take up a position in the year their visa is issued). I have now been with Kitware for nine years, first as an R&D Engineer, and as a Technical Leader for over six years now.


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Naturalization and Citizenship

It is hard to believe my wife and I became naturalized US citizens back in February. Today we completed the final step, and went to our local social security administration to get our social security cards updated! We moved to the US back in 2007, and since then held the same card which had an endorsement on it stating “valid for work only with DHS authorization”. Everything else we were able to do on the day we naturalized but this step required a few weeks for everything to get into the system…


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Room Break In Nightmare at Divi Aruba

Last week we went on vacation to Aruba, booked through Delta Vacations, staying at the Divi Dutch Village in Aruba. This was all set to be a great week away with the family, and our first real getaway to an island together in ten years. At around 1:30am local time on Father’s day (just) my wife awoke to see a figure in our room before he realized he had disturbed her and ran! He got away with all our cash, cards, IDs, and some electronics. What I had thought the night before would be my best Father’s day ever quickly turned into the worst at the Divi Dutch Village in Aruba.


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Have the Courage to be Transparent

I was reading a post over on opensource.com recently, “How do you explain your organization’s purpose? 3 lessons from Red Hat”. It is a great story about the right way for an organization to search for its purpose, including as many of the people from their organization as they can. I have written before about the Open Organization book, and how much I like it. I even gave a talk about it at the company I work at. Something I loved about the book, and that resonated with me about the article is the statement “have the courage to be transparent”.


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Microsoft's GitHub Acquisition

By now most people have heard about the acquisition of GitHub by Microsoft. The deal is reportedly worth $7.5 billion, and should be closed by the end of the year. So, how does that make you feel? I certainly have a healthy amount of skepticism, and have witnessed Microsoft’s acquisition and destruction of open source projects. I remember when Ballmer called Linux a cancer, and also when Microsoft became a platinum Linux Foundation member.


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JSON: Camels, Kebabs and Snakes

I do a lot of work using JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), and last week I ran my first ever poll on Twitter posing the question of which naming convention people prefer for keys. A quick survey of its use in the wild reveals common use of camelCase, kebab-case, and snake_case. These are all things I was aware of, but I only knew the name for the first one until a year or so ago. There are Wikipedia articles dedicated to two of the three of them!


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