10 Jul 2008 salmoni   » (Master)

Busy, busy, busy.

But not much to show for it. My wife and I are expecting our first child next Friday. This will be a nervous week indeed.

For my statistics project, I wrote a Python module to import SPSS files and was wondering whether anyone would be interested in it if I released it as open source. It's one piece of code that would greatly benefit from community testing. So far, it seems to work on the SPSS files I have without problem but SPSS have added extra things to the format. Cleverly (or rather obviously, but nice to know that they've done it), older versions of the software can still read the new formats, but they just ignore the extra bits that the new formats have. My software does just that: it ignores all the extra bits, though I suspect that there may be some cases where my software misses completely. For example, the architecture: I believe mine only reads one endian.

But it could be useful for some people. There are already FOSS versions in R and PSPP (I think the R version came from the PSPP code) but they are in C and a Python version might be useful. I wonder if SciPy has it? Currently, it can import via COM, but that is Windows only so of limited application. A pure Python module would have no such restrictions. Scientists using Python might appreciate being able to cut one more string to SPSS so I think I will release it. If anyone here is interested, let me know and it could be the spur that motivates me to release it!

I've started a usability consultancy officially instead of doing work ad hoc. This should be fun as I have to learn marketing very quickly indeed. In the Philippines, I think there is one independent consultant who is serious about the work (ie, has advertising) and a few others who seem to do it as a sideline. However, in nearby Hong Kong, there are two that I can find: Apogee and Customer Input. Looking through Google adwords shows that there is only a small market in HK compared to say the UK. However, we will be operating internationally so the location is of less importance. It does create some difficulties in terms of meeting the clients, but for general applications, I can easily get a good sample of users of varying abilities. It's also about time to put my remote testing experience to, erm, the test.

I'm also toying with the idea of joining the UPA whom I gave a talk for some while ago, but I need to check whether I will get my money's worth. It could be good for being noticed by potential customers.

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