Jez Higgins

Freelance software generalist
software created
extended or repaired


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Sunday 06 May 2018 The Forest Road Reader, No 2.5 : Travelling at the Speed of Thought

One of the odd little side-effects of having worked in a university lab,even if a slightly wacky university and as a member of the technical rather than academic staff, is that I have academic publications.

  • Brilliant D. R., Morse A. D., Higgins J., Franchi I. A., and Pillinger C. T., 1994. The 15N-rich Low-Temperature Nitrogen Component in Lunar Soils; an Ammonia Related Species? Abstracts of the 25th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, held in Houston, TX, 14-18 March 1994, pp. 173-174.
    • I actually have no idea why my name is on that paper. I have some vague recollection of maybe going over the analysis with Debbie (that's Brilliant D.R), more to comment on the statistics rather that the chemsity, but I'm really not sure. I'm pretty certain she was the one who put my and Morsey's (that's Morse A.D.) names on the list of authors though, so hurrah for her. Franchi's name would go on because he was her supervisor, and Colin's name (Pillinger C.T.) because he was head of department and oversaw everything. Such was the way of universities.
  • Harris, A.J.L., Swabey, S.E.J. and Higgins, J., 1995. Automated thresholding of active lavas using AVHRR data. Int. J. Remote Sensing, 16(18), 3681-3686.
    • I'd completely forgotton about this paper, to which my contribution was a bit of Excel spreadsheeting, but sometimes autoGoogling springs unexpected results. In fact, I'm not sure I've seen an actual print copy of this or the Brilliant paper.
  • Higgins, J. and Harris, A.J.L., 1997. VAST: a program to locate and analyse volcanic thermal anomalies automatically from remotely sensed data. Computers and Geosciences, 23(6), 627-645.
    • I wrote the code included in the paper, but only because Andy asked me to. He also wrote the paper and submitted it, so I ended up lead author because I did him a favour. He did later tell me this program had saved him approximately 9 months of hand calculation, which allowed him to bag a post-doc at this University of Hawaii. He ended up staying there for about 20 years, and is now at Universit√© Clermont Auvergne in France. There's a lesson there about the direct effect our software can have on people's lives. Andy was a brilliant student and would have had a great career regardless of what I'd done, but two decades on an island paradise? Maybe not.

I left the Open University in the summer of 1994, so only one of these papers actually made it out in to the world while I was there. That last one was fully three years after I'd left, and probably a good 18 months after I'd last spoken to Andy. It was a slow old process and that kind of delay wasn't uncommon, which was something of a pain in the arse for the people whose livelihoods depend on getting things out and published.

Things move rather quicker these days, because in an unexpected turn of events I suddenly have a fourth academic publication in press -

As ever, I didn't do any of the actual work of putting the paper together, although I did write the software described therein.

The whole process from we could submit a paper to here it is took about four weeks, which is a remarkable improvement over three+ years. In another startling change, you can get to read it without forking over a massive fee. If you're interested in blockchain applications which aren't massive scams and might even be of some public good, do give it a read. It's a pleasingly short and clear explanation of what we're doing.


Tagged academia


Jez Higgins

Freelance software generalist
software created
extended or repaired

Older posts are available in the archive or through tags.

Feed

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My code on GitHub

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About