Software and research: the Institute's Blog

Fellows selection dayBy Shoaib Sufi, Community Lead, Software Sustainability Institute.

It was a mild 2nd of November in the city of Manchester, UK. 29 candidates and nine reviewers congregated in the Atlas rooms of the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester to present their work, take part in discussions, network and be reviewed to see who would be chosen as an Institute Fellow 2017.

Who, how, what; rapid introductions

Each candidate presented an introduction to their professional persona, what they do and what they would do as a fellow. They each had four minutes to present while the reviewers were speedily writing down notes and scores around the content and style of the presentation and the other candidates listened on attentively.

There was some time for questions after the presentations. The focus on the ensuing discussions was on testing and the lack of recognition for spending time on ‘doing software correctly’ in the race to results and publication. The latter issue is a common theme in the workshops and discussions held at the various events run by the Institute and by the wider research software community. There is not a consistent emphasis on doing the computation properly as the results are what is currently being most valued with not enough importance being placed on…

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Leeds CityBy Shoaib Sufi, Community Lead.

The Collaborations Workshop (CW) is the Institute’s premier event series. It brings together key members of the research software community: researchers, developers, managers, legal, admin, publishers, funders and leaders and more. Attendees present, discuss, build, make, network and explore key and current areas of the research software landscape. The Collaborations Workshop 2017 (CW17—#CollabW17) will take place in the green City of Leeds at the plush Leeds University Business School, on 27th–29th March 2017. Leeds University was awarded University of the Year 2017.

Register for CW17 at Eventbrite.

CW17 is focused on the hot topics of The Internet of Things (IoT) and Open Data, both harbour the promise of deep changes to the way we interact with devices and data in the coming years, both also have a clear impact on research and are software driven. To find out more about these key areas, where they overlap, what impact they will have on research and how you might incorporate them into what you’re doing,…

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GitLabby Raniere Silva, Software Sustainability Institute.

In September, when I got an email from GitLab inviting me to their World Tour I got super excited at the opportunity to meet some of the people behind GitLab and more users as well as discovering features available that I’ve never tried before and new improvements that will be enabled on the next release. In the end, not only did I find new features but also talked with one of the responsible for GitLab University: an online "place to learn about Version Control with Git and GitLab" and have a great time with other users.

GitLab World Tour London happened on October 19th at Lights of SOHO, London. The event was scheduled to start at 6:00pm and 10 minutes before the time there was already a small queue on the door, which created the feeling of a very important world tour. While I was queueing, I talked to two software developers that had come all their way from Brno, Czech Republic. It was a great surprise to me since I was only expecting to meet with users based in the UK, mostly London. They had started using GitLab a few months ago and were attending the meeting for the same reasons I was there!

The show started with Amanda…

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Grassroot mappingBy Karen Anderson, University of Exeter, and David Griffiths, FoAM Kernow

This article is part of our series: A day in the software life, in which researchers from all disciplines discuss the tools that make their research possible.

Smartphones have emerged as powerful research tools for collecting scientific data because they are equipped with a broad suite of sensors (e.g. cameras, microphones, light sensors, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, and GPS) and on-board microcomputers and are widely used globally. Many smartphones are designed to service the information requirements of multinational developers—they are location-aware—, and applications downloaded by users can transmit information back to providers. This capability can be exploited through the programmable nature of smartphones: sensors developed to supply  location-based services to providers can now be hacked using readily available computing resources. One such opportunity that remains untapped is the smartphone as a remote sensing imaging device that can be deployed in conjunction with rapidly developing lightweight drone technology.

We undertook a short project to explore the…

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Big DataBy Anna Leida, eScience Lab, University of Manchester

At the New Scientist Live festival of science and innovation, Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt of the University of Oxford, co-founder of the Open Data Institute gave a talk on the promise and peril of big data and artificial intelligence. Big Data is the popular scientific term to describe the ability of computers to access and successfully analyse large amounts of data from multiple sources. This ability is the foundation for intelligence, and is an activity our human brains do on a daily basis, but where we have so far been in universal solitude - at least as far as we know. So why would we not welcome a little company in the ivory tower of intelligence, even if it is only by artificial means?

During half an hour in a fully packed auditorium, Professor Shadbolt walked the audience through history. Starting with the prosaic description of HAL in "2001: A Space Odyssey" 1970, via the invention of the "World Wide Web" in the 1980s, to machines now outsmarting humans in a series of data processing and analysis tasks, such as Deep Blue (chess), Watson (Q&A) and

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