Older blog entries for RickMuller (starting at number 32)

24 Oct 2003 (updated 24 Oct 2003 at 15:19 UTC) »

Read Terry Pratchett's Night Watch the other weekend. Perhaps the best Pratchett book thus far, which is saying a lot. You would need to read a few of the City Watch books before reading that one (The Fifth Elephant is where I started), but, if you have, I highly recomment it.

We seem to have a glut of Python documentation tools: pydoc, which comes bundled with Python, HappyDoc, and PythonDoc (an implementation of JavaDoc for Python. Anyone care to compare and contrast for me?

braden: Thanks for setting me straight on Cortona! My mistake.

Saddened by news of Elliott Smith's suicide. Smith was everything that is right about music today, and I find it heart-wrenching that a person with so much talent couldn't find anything worth living for.

A follow-up on my earlier post today regarding VRML, since I was interrupted by a meeting and had to end the post early...

"Cortona" is the name of the former cosmoviewer, and can be downloaded from the ParallelGraphics web page.

I received one email pointing out X3D. A good article on X3D is available here. IMHO, there are impressive improvements (XML, nurbs) in X3D, it *deserves* to succeed, and I would love to see it happen, but I also remember the lack of response to VRML, and have a feeling we won't be seeing a web3d revolution anytime soon.

But I hope I'm wrong...

What happened to VRML? When it first came out I thought it was the answer to my prayers: a portable, easy to write, easy to read, non-propriatary format for 3d graphics. I guess that the size of the resulting files was one of the limitations. It is prohibitively expensive to ship non-trivial VRML files across the web. The lack of good viewers was another limitation: after SGI began to flounder, they spun off their Cosmo viewer, but I can't even recall the name of the resulting viewer -- I think it starts with a "C", but there's only so many times I'm willing to load a program that crashes my browser.

I really hate browser plug-ins, and am glad to see them dying. Why are separate applications such a bad thing? Why do we want one application (the web browser) to do everything?

My favorite VRML viewers are stand-alone. I like the VRMLView application from Systems in Motion, as well as the increasingly good and open source FreeWRL.

File format proliferation is probably a feature in every field. What I know is quantum chemistry, and I'm continually frustrated by the myriad file formats that are out there. The reason I bring this up now is that I recently looked at the Chemical Markup Language (CML) and was quite impressed.

I've been lukewarm on CML in the past. The first CML files I saw had constructions like <floatArray builtin="x3"> followed by a long list of x coordinates, and smacked of dusty deck fortran code. I should have dug a little deeper. Even in those days, there were the ability to enter information in terms of <atom> tags.

What has me so excited now is the ability to use <crystal> tags to input unit cell information. That, coupled with the ability of the excellent Jmol program to display them, gives those of us working with both finite and periodic molecular geometries a single file format that can handle many of our needs.

I should also point out the excellent OpenBabel project, which gives a way of converting between many of the molecular file formats. I should no doubt use it more often than I do.

Went to the ACS meeting last week in NYC. First time in NYC in years, and first time there with my ex-New Yorker wife. My son, Alex, had a wonderful time there, and was constantly fascinated by the mobs of people swarming around his carriage.

Heartened by the recent interest in Generalized Valence Bond Wave Functions, which was generated mostly by Martin Head-Gordon's recent forays into the field. Emily Carter also reminded me why GVB-CI calculations were a good idea in the first place, and is getting nice size-extensivity from ACPF calculations.

I intend to code up each one of these into PyQuante as time permits.

Also interested that more people are picking up on wavelets as quantum chemical basis sets. Still don't know how to program the damn things, though.

Really enjoy the workstation version of MPICH that I've been playing with. I can run on my two-processor workstation and MPICH makes it look like I've got an 8-processor cluster by spawning separate threads. Maybe that doesn't excite everyone, but it certainly speeds up my development cycle.

Greetings from ABQ

Well, here I am in Albuquerque, working at Sandia National Laboratories. I love the labs, and am getting to know Albuquerque a bit. Quite a radical change from Pasadena, but it took me a couple years to get comfortable there, so it's reasonable that I should give the Southwest a bit of time.

Latest interests include typical Lab stuff: Fortran90, MPI, plane-wave electronic structure theory, Green's functions, Hugoniots, etc.

In my last post I complained that RMS and the FSF seem a little bit half-hearted. This article does little to make me feel better. Don't get me wrong, I have deep respect for RMS. But I feel that I detect a little smugness when Stallman suggests that the Linux kernel could be replaced by the Hurd.
18 Jun 2003 (updated 18 Jun 2003 at 15:19 UTC) »
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes Lots of things changing. In two weeks I'm moving from my current position at Caltech to a senior staff position in the Computational Materials and Molecular Biology Group at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque.

Managed to find a nice house there, and managed to sell my townhouse in Pasadena.

FSF and SCO Is it just me, or does it appear that FSF has been strangely quiet in response to SCO's suit against IBM, and threats of suits of Linus? Stallman has been very vocal about his frustration with the credit that Linus received for putting Gnu/Linux together. Could there be a little bit of gratification in seeing a kernel that he doesn't like go through hard times? Maybe he hopes that if SCO is successful at bringing Linux down, The Hurd will be the rebound choice for an open OS?

Bought a neat toy lately. I picked up a ADS Pyro firewire enclosure, originally to try and save a laptop disk that had gone south. But when that didn't work out I picked up a cheap 40 GB drive at NewEgg, popped it in, and I have a cute little 40 GB drive for backups. Very neat, very convenient, since the drive gets its power from the USB port. And makes backups (which I should do more of anyway) a snap.

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