Andy’s first blog

December 28, 2006

Well hello there world.

Fifty two point seven years after squeezing down the birth canal and out into the world, Andy dips his toe into the waters of the blogosphere, ready to take the plunge. Its not that I am a naive beginner in the online world… as well as all the normal astro-geekery, my scientific interest in very large sky surveys has led me into some frontline stuff over the last few years. I am formally responsible for a huge database (growing at 20TB a year), and run a project taking forward the e-Science agenda, using some cool new technology. But I do this stuff pretty much as a manager .. some very talented people who work for me do all the real work. Nige, Keith, etc, you know who you are when you stumble on this blog.

Since 2001, although I manage people writing Java, set up committee meetings on a wiki, and have been to endless conferences spouting “visionary” stuff about database interoperability, community XML standards, SOAP services, Grid computing, workflow technologies etc, at the end of the day I will sneak home and do a quick accretion disc calculation by knocking up some Fortran 77… Meanwhile my kids of course are all on Bebo and MSN and doing Web 2.0 things like it was drinking coke.

This strange disconnect in my life began to strike me and I planned a course of action. Step-1 was to learn Python. (I tried Java but gad was it tedious). Step-2 was to join FaceBook. But that just made me feel like disco-dancing dad. Step-3 was to start a blog. This might seem ideal, as I am old, senior, and pompous enough to believe I am worth listening to… but on the other hand I do have teenage kids so actually my normal daily experience is of eye-rolling contempt and repeated bubble pricking. So anyhoo.. here goes.

S o I think this blog will be about : what e-science really means (we’re making it up as we go along..) ; what its like being a scientist; and the pleasures and pains of being an academic in the 21st century UK. It will also be about cool astronomy stuff of course. My first instinct was to do an astronomy blog, as that is what I am supposed to be an expert on. But as I surfed, I found that loads of people already do that better than I could imagine achieving. As this blog is slowly clothed, I will point you at some of my favourites.

Well howboutthat. I seem to have started.