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Returning From Hibernation...

Wow, I just looked and I haven't written a thing since January! For those of you who might have been worried, or just wondered what I was up is a quick run down. I am going to start with a little advice, combining starting a new family with moving from academia to industry and moving house it tough ;-) I have been really focused on work, home and one big conference, and kinda shut down otherwise.

I hope to remedy that in the coming months, and have started by doing some development for Avogadro and Open Babel. I also got Kalzium in KDE trunk ported to use the system Avogadro library, with some help from Pino Toscano. So KDE 4.5 will feature a Kalzium using the system installed Avogadro, this prompted a couple of bug fixes in Avogadro. So after that I tagged and released a much delayed Avogadro 1.0.1 with several bug fixes.

Way back in March Kitware was kind enough to send me out to the March ACS meeting, where I presented a talk on VTK, ParaView and its use in chemistry. I also gave a talk on Avogadro, and its use as a framework in chemistry visualization, which Geoff followed up with a talk on some applications of the Avogadro framework in his research.

The ACS conference deserves a full post of its own, but I feel like it has been so long I will just summarize a few of my thoughts. There were some other really interesting talks on visualization, and how it can be applied in chemistry. I got a general feeling that commercial software still has too much of a stranglehold, and hope to see that change as we develop powerful open source platforms that can be shared by all. There is a definite need for this in chemistry, and I am doing everything I can to seek some funding to further that cause, failing that I will continue to do what I can in my spare time.

I was honored to meet members of the Blue Obelisk for the first time. Saw some great talks about open science, open data, open standards and open access. I especially enjoyed meeting and seeing Peter Murray-Rust talk for the first time, I found that I share many of his ideals. I think we differ in some places, but life would be boring if that were not the case!

Our son, William, is nearly one year old already! He might be a big part of the reason why I have been inactive. The kinds of sleep deprivation torture you go through with children are indescribable :-P He is thankfully sleeping quite well now, and even took his first two steps yesterday.

We had our first visitors in our new home - friends from Pittsburgh and Washington DC all came up for a weekend. I fired up our new BBQ, an enormous American style with offset fire box. Made some amazing ribs, and shared some of the home brew I made - a portable porter, and an English brown ale (first two batches). We are just getting ready for a trip to Pittsburgh, and then William's first birthday (planning a small party at our place).

Then there is work, lots of exciting things are happening there. I taught my first course at Kitware, going through ParaView plugins. The new CMake book came out (I am one of the contributors to the new edition), and the new VTK book came out at around the same time. Kitware is hiring, so please let me know if you are interested in applying. We have some really interesting projects to work on, most of my time is spent on something called Titan. Last Friday I also pumped the tyres up on my bike, and rode into work for "Bike to Work Day".

I have skipped loads of stuff, but already wrote more than I intended. I will see if I can be a little more disciplined and write more frequently. My current problem is finding time to fit everything in, but I have a new strategy I am working on in order to do better. Life after the big 30 is certainly different. I feel energized again, and hope to be writing about more fun and interesting stuff I am doing over the coming months.

Sheffield Half Marathon

Yesterday I completed my first half marathon. I took part in the Sheffield Half Marathon. Due to lots of different reasons my training leading up to the half marathon did not go at all to plan. I think I only managed to get in three or four decent runs in the six weeks leading up to the event and had considered pulling out.

Marcus completing the Sheffield half marathon

It was really tough and I ended up coming in at just under 2:30 which was a little disappointing. I am glad I did it, aching quite a bit and can't wait to get back into training and try for a better time at some point in the future. Quite a few friends also competed and it was an amazing atmosphere to run with a course that had somewhere in the region of 5000 competitors.

Dronfield 10 km Race

A week or two ago Stuart (work colleague) and I entered the Dronfield 10K and no Sunday I ran it. For the first 4 km it was going pretty well and I was keeping to a fairly good pace of about 5 minutes to 5.5 minutes a km. Then came a really big hill that took a lot out of me, after that came some gradual hills that seemed to go on forever and by the 5 km mark I was ready to give up and had a massive stitch that I just couldn't shift.

I hadn't seen Stuart since the first kilometre, he was off in front somewhere. I seriously thought about pulling out as I hit 6 km and went past the start line and on to the second lap. Somehow I managed to keep going an convinced myself that I could do it. All the way round I was thinking I really need to train harder and more consistently if I am going to complete the Sheffield Half Marathon this year.

I was pleased I made it round but disappointed in my time which was a little over an hour. Too much time in front of a computer drinking coffee and not enough in the gym or hitting the pavement! I also need to stop letting so much junk food creep back into my diet, which is really easy to do when I am so stressed with completing my thesis...

Anyway I am glad I finished it, but I really want to get leaner and fitter before the half marathon. Stuart got a really good time I think and he was really pleased with himself. My muscles are still aching today but I am sure I will be back out running by Wedesday and am already looking for another race to push me on.

For now it is back to the thesis...