[SciPy-user] New scipy release before 8/20?

James Coughlan coughlan@ski....
Wed Aug 8 10:45:05 CDT 2007


Massimo,

I respect what you're saying: engineers and scientists can't expect 
software handed to them on a silver platter. On the other hand, the 
reality is that the more barriers there are to installing and using a 
piece of software, the fewer people will try it out and adopt it. (This 
is one reason why web applications are so popular: no installation 
required.)

I know many capable scientists who have adopted Matlab partly because it 
was so easy for them to get started with it. The beauty of the Scipy 
framework only becomes apparent once you've had the chance to play with 
it! Unfortunately, for every computer-savvy engineer/scientist who can 
navigate the Scipy installation process, there are probably ten others 
who cannot (or will not) take the time to figure it out.

Critical mass is very important, and the Scipy community can't afford to 
turn off prospective users who can't get up and running quickly.
 
Best,

James



massimo sandal wrote:
> Ryan Krauss ha scritto:
>
>> I do think your response was rude and I don't think it fosters the
>> kind of community we have on the SciPy list.
>
> Sorry,really. I didn't want to (albeit I understood it could have been 
> understood as that).
>
>> I am quite convinced of the value of SciPy.  I did my entire Ph.D.
>> thesis work using it and have published at least one paper so far on
>> the power and beauty of Python applied to my area of research
>> (feedback control systems).
>
> Perfect. So why so much doubts? Why cheating about the failed tests? 
> Go ahead. You are the teacher. They will (have to) follow you.
>
>> I am not teaching programming, I am teaching mechanical engineering
>> and specifically mechatronics.  For reasons I don't fully understand,
>> our students don't think they need to learn much about computers and
>> would prefer to do everything in Excel. 
>
> That's exactly the problem I was pointing to.
> I am a graduate in Biotechnology, currently finishing my Ph.D. When I 
> was studying, there was exactly the same approach "oh well, you don't 
> need to learn that much, just throw in some matlab and excel, there's 
> this and that, click and go".
>
> I learned on my own skin that this is BAD, BAD, BAD for *every* 
> meaningful scientific course of study. Luckly I had a good 
> bioinformatics teacher that exposed me to serious programming (and 
> Python, by the way), and out of my curiosity I began to explore what 
> was in. But the situation, at least here, is desolating. I see even 
> Physics Ph.Ds trying to do complex data analysis using (not even 
> VB-scripted!) Excel. I see people that try to draw graphs with 
> Powerpoint (no kidding). In my field (AFM protein force spectroscopy), 
> serious data analysis applications almost do not exist, so everyone is 
> forced to reinvent the wheel. Usually using -guess what?- kludgy 
> matlab (or,even worse, IGOR) scripts. Heck, I just read a *paper* 
> about a data analysis algorithm implemented partially in Excel. How 
> can this be published, is beyond my understanding.
>
> I am trying to put up a modular and clean data analysis app myself to 
> release soon (as a previous thread by me explained). Tough work, and 
> I'm not a good programmer, but someone in my little field has to do it 
> and however it cannot worsen the situation. My collegues, at least, 
> are very happy. But if everyone of us had had a good informatics 
> background, things would be much better. Much,much better.
>
> In 2007, I would expect a decent informatic literacy to be obligatory 
> for every scientific course. All steps of our work, from experimental 
> work to paper writing, are so dependent from the computer environment 
> that it is of paramount importance. That's why I urge you not to 
> repeat the wrongdoings of my teachers. Do not give your students the 
> illusion that good = click-and-go. They won't be good scientists that 
> way. Give your students the truth, and that is better tools can be 
> actually harder -but the reward is worth the hassle.
>
> My bioinformatics teacher told us "Ok, there's this thing called 
> Python. You can download it and the libraries we need here, here, and 
> here. Do it yourself". After a couple of introductory lessons, we were 
> told "Python docs are there. Look there for further help." Painful at 
> first for many, but a learning experience by itself.
>
> More so if these people are *engineers*. Do XXI-century engineers 
> expect, in their work life, to click a big button with written 
> "ENGINEER THIS! LOL!" or do they expect, like it was once, to actually 
> think and do some homework? :)
>
>> So, I am trying to remove as
>> many barriers as possible to getting them to use Python and SciPy.  An
>> installation process made up of many steps and that involves replacing
>> a file manually doesn't inspire the confidence of windows users who
>> are used to things working "out-of-the-box".
>
> Your aim is noble and I understand that, but I think it's not by 
> cheating (hiding tests etc.) that you will win them. I think it's by 
> frankly presenting what the tools are, why have you chosen them, why 
> they are superior. And by teaching them that sometimes not everything 
> worthwile is "out-of-the-box". This holds for computers, science and 
> life.
>
> These are my 0.02 euros. Sorry again if I looked rude, but I'm frankly 
> sad at the students' situation. You are doing a great job and I'm 
> extremly happy you do it. Sorry again for any misunderstanding.
>
> Yours,
> Massimo
>
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