Eclipse: Open Technology for Everything and Nothing in Particular

Eclipse is so much, much more than an IDE these days. For starters, there are many exciting technologies being developed by the Internet of Things, Science and LocationTech groups. We really need to showcase these to the wider world. This was the excuse to have an event in London bringing together these different technologies and communities for a night of tech and merriment.

The event Eclipse Converge: blending LocationTech, IoT & Science was very generously hosted by Geovation, the Innovation Hub from the Ordnance Survey. We were very grateful for all the team there for help with organising and ensuring this event went off without a hitch. They have a terrific space and laid out quite a spread of food and drink, which set the scene well for our six speakers. Here is the story of the evening, partly-told by the lovely tweets from the community. Continue reading “Eclipse: Open Technology for Everything and Nothing in Particular”

Kichwa Coders Join Eclipse Science Working Group Steering Committee

Kichwa Coders is pleased to announce that we have become a member of the Steering Committee of the Eclipse Science Working Group. Kichwa has been an active member of the Science Working Group from the beginning and its involvement includes:

  • Leading projects related to Python scripting in Eclipse EASE
  • Organizing Eclipse community meetups in London (join us for our next one!)
  • Jonah Graham is project co-lead for the January Project for common data structures.
  • Tracy Miranda is on the Program Committee promoting the Science track for Eclipsecon France

Tracy Miranda will represent Kichwa Coders as the Steering Committee participant. The current Steering Committee is made up of members from IBM, Diamond Light Source, Oakridge National Labs and Itema. Kichwa Coders look forward to working closely with other Steering Committee members to shape the future direction of the group and encourage other organizations to participate in this vibrant ecosystem where advancing open-source software advances science.

3 Reasons I Love Eclipse

I love Eclipse. Not just the IDE, but the whole community and philosophy of it. There are no shortage of folks who will tell you how they hate Eclipse.  For a change I’d like to tell you why I love Eclipse.

  1. Polyglot IDE – Eclipse IDE is really great because you can use the same open environment for multiple languages. Java, Python and C are three of our staple languages and I often end up using them in combinations. Eclipse understands each of these really, really well and allows for some powerful integrations. There’s no place I’d rather run some Python on a target processor while debugging a Linux kernel.
  2. Determined developers – with all its functionality and extensibility maximising the power of Eclipse is pretty hard. The people in the community who do use Eclipse and master its complexity are full of grit; problem-solvers who won’t give up on their end goals easily. As a result, it’s a great community to be part of.
  3. Continuous evolution – early on in my career I worked with hardware, then I switched to software and today work involves keeping up with several different technologies. Likewise, over the years Eclipse has evolved a lot. Early on it was just an IDE, then a rich-client framework and today it features many thriving working groups growing in areas like IoT. Adapting and learning can be quite a journey, so it’s great to have a community along for the ride.

Tremendous Tech in Trondheim

Trondheim is tiny – at least to someone who lives in the shadow of London. So it was eye-opening for me, over four short days, to immerse myself in the fully formed tech scene of a region with a population 2% of that of London’s.

Ocean Space Research at Marintek

Ocean Space – I’d never heard the term before so it took me a moment to understand, that as opposed to outer space, this refers to the vast unexplored regions below the sea-line which we know less about than the surface of the moon. This is the heart of what Marintek do, and they were the hosts for the science working group meeting I was there for, but more about that later. The work done at Marintek is fascinating, but I will limit it to my 3 highlights:

  • Ocean labs and  towing tanks are used for simulating conditions at sea, for example, oil rigs in the ocean. Yes the tanks are bigger than swimming pools. Yes they could generate all sorts of waves. No we couldn’t swim in them (or take selfies for that matter).
  • Floating wind turbines –  I heard about them first here – harnessing wind power in the deep sea, amazing!
  • Cavitation tunnels – first the science lesson: air bubbles under pressure actually boil at low temperatures, causing implosions aka cavitation – how great is that? So great, I’m linking to this video again so you don’t miss it.   Well, actually it’s not so great for badly designed propellers. Luckily this can all be tested for in a cavitation tunnel.

The icing on the cake for the visit was hearing about the plans for a bigger and better ocean space centre,  opening in 2020 (assuming the politics all works out as planned). Who knows what else the great depths have to offer mankind?

Continue reading “Tremendous Tech in Trondheim”

Is Your Open Source Community Still Telling Newbies to RTFM?

Recently, I was shocked to see a newbie being told to RTFM in a forum for an open source community I have been part of for years. It seemed so ludicrous at first I thought it must be a parody.  My disbelief was akin to seeing a roof being built with asbestos “Are we seriously still doing that?”.

Ok, ok, I’ll admit in the very early part of my career, I would have condoned replying to someone in a forum in that way. After all we were busy programmers, under pressure to get things done, why should we waste our time on users who couldn’t even be bothered to try to help themselves? It was a quick way to set them straight.

Knowing this was the culture, it would take me ages crafting a question to an open source community, spelling out the manuals I’d already read and things I’d googled before asking for help. Often I wouldn’t even bother posting at all. I could easily handle being ignored, but not the subconscious fear of an RTFM. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate how really toxic such responses are for open source communities and their growth.

It was oh so arrogant and often too easily done, but I’m glad I now know better. Asking someone to RTFM is never justified and always unprofessional. I was glad to see that in this specific case, another member of the community jumped in to help the newbie and a senior member of the community put out a request to keep things civil.

Like me, the communities are growing up too. One of the best things to happen in the Eclipse community has been establishing a code of conduct, not just for conferences but for daily dealings of the community. Yes, as I found out, it turns out we really do need one after all – laid out in writing for all to share as the common culture. The best bit? Now if you see someone exhibit this behaviour, you can take them quietly aside and ask them to Read The, erm, Manual.