Mike Jackson's blog
Posted: 1 Mar 2021 | 14:03
Choosing the right software for use in a research software project can be challenging. How do we know which software is both fit for purpose and provides a sound basis for our project for the foreseeable future? And, how do we make such a choice given that the time and effort to explore what could be myriad alternatives may be limited?
This was a challenge we faced in the RiboViz project, a multi-disciplinary team of biologists, bioinformaticians and research software engineers based at EPCC and The Wallace Lab at University of Edinburgh, The Shah Lab at Rutgers University, and The Lareau Lab at University of California, Berkeley. RiboViz is an open source package to help us develop our understanding of protein synthesis via analysis of ribosome profiling data. At the heart of RiboViz is an analysis workflow, implemented in a Python script. To conform to best practices for scientific computing, which recommend the use of build tools to automate workflows and to reuse code instead of rewriting it, we sought to reimplement this workflow within a bioinformatics workflow management system.
Posted: 30 Apr 2020 | 10:08
A friend recently forwarded me a tweet from Professor Neil Ferguson, director of J-IDEA and the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, concerning their COVID-19 pandemic modeller, used by the UK Government:
"I'm conscious that lots of people would like to see and run the pandemic simulation code we are using to model control measures against COVID-19. To explain the background - I wrote the code (thousands of lines of undocumented C) 13+ years ago to model flu pandemics..." @neil_ferguson - 22 Mar
Posted: 16 Aug 2019 | 16:25
In our October 2018 blog post on Analysing humanities data using Cray Urika-GX, we described how we had been collaborating with Melissa Terras of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) at The University of Edinburgh to explore historical newspapers and books using the Alan Turing Institute's deployment of a Cray Urika-GX system ("Urika"). In this blog post we describe additional work we have done, to look at the origins of the term "stranger danger", find reports on the Krakatoa volcanic eruption of 1883, and explore the concept of "female emigration".
Posted: 8 Aug 2019 | 10:51
A multi-disciplinary team of biologists, bioinformaticians and research software engineers based at EPCC and The Wallace Lab at University of Edinburgh, The Shah Lab at Rutgers University, and The Lareau Lab at University of California, Berkeley, will enhance and extend a software suite called RiboViz to extract biological insight from "ribosome profiling" data and drive forward understanding of protein synthesis.
Posted: 15 Jun 2019 | 15:38
EPCC is providing ongoing technical support to Edinburgh-based property management company DJ Alexander as it expands across the UK in conjunction with the release of its revolutionary software platform, Apropos. It has been very rewarding to work with DJ Alexander, helping them develop a software solution that facilitates rather than constrains their expansion and helps contribute to their continued success.
Posted: 4 Mar 2019 | 09:42
In our role as members of the Research Engineering Group of the Alan Turing Institute, Anna Roubickova and I worked with Efi Tsamoura and Benjamin Spencer (Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford) on PDQ, a proof-driven query planner that has great potential within the realm of data science for medical research.
Posted: 14 Dec 2018 | 17:33
PickCells is image analysis software developed by the Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) at The University of Edinburgh. PickCells allows biologists to explore multidimensional biological images of stem cell niches, organoids, and embryos. In late October, with the assistance of six researchers, we evaluated the usability of PickCells to help guide its future development.
To run our usability evaluation, we followed Steve Krug's highly-recommended and very readable book "Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems". This book describes a practical way to carry out usability evaluations with minimal overhead.
Posted: 11 Sep 2018 | 16:09
Posted: 8 Aug 2018 | 10:55
The Software Sustainability Institute has published a set of guides to depositing research software into digital repositories. The guides, development of which was funded by Jisc, are intended for researchers, principal investigators and research leaders, and research data and digital repository managers.
Research software is an integral part of the modern research ecosystem. Taken together, research software – alongside data, facilities, equipment, and an overarching research question – can be viewed as a research activity or experiment, worthy to be published. Conversely, a publication can be considered as a narrative that describes how the research objects are used together to reply to the research question.
Posted: 24 Jul 2018 | 16:50
On the 11th July, the Software Sustainability Institute and Jisc ran a Software Deposit and Preservation Workshop at St Anne's College, Oxford. This workshop brought together twelve research data managers, digital repository vendors, publishers, policymakers and researchers. We reviewed draft guidance on software deposit and preservation, discussed software deposit and preservation from the perspectives of the foregoing stakeholders, and explored ways in which to drive forward the adoption of best practices in software deposit and preservation.