Re: colvars PMF history problem

From: Axel Kohlmeyer (
Date: Mon Mar 07 2011 - 17:56:05 CST

On Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 4:01 PM, Ajasja Ljubetič
<> wrote:
>> you just volunteered yourself to take care of that. the problem is that
>> it is _so_ much additional work to make a code compatible with windows,
>> particularly if you do not routinely run on or even use windows.
>> unix-like machines are _so_ much more developer friendly.
> Well, you are right of course, I'm dependent on the good will of other NAMD
> developers (at least until someone offers a VIP paid support service:). For

well, are you willing to pay what it need to get stuff done properly?
i've been playing this "game" for many, many years now, and as
soon as i tell people "yes, i can do this for you, but you have to
compensate me for my time", they all vanish. i dare you to show
me somebody that is willing to pay a reasonable amount for getting
a specific problem fixed. the closest i have experienced so far was
an invitation to come and visit (an exotic country that i always wanted
to go to) and free lodging plus subsistence.

> now all I can contribute are bug reports and test cases (which, I hope, is
> still better than nothing).

that certainly is helpful. for each problem reported, there are many
that people have found some kludge or workaround and never tell
anybody about it, so every report is a step in the right direction.

> Perhaps this takes 5 min to fix  for some one well versed in C++ and
> familiar with the NAMD source code, but I would need
> much more time. And my PHD is due in a year and a half and time is almost
> always the limiting factor...

you see, it is _exactly_ this kind of reasoning (i.e., why should i do
it, you can
do it much better and i have much more urgent issues to take care of) that is
the most disappointing when when dealing with software like NAMD (or
VMD and others).
while your statement is not wrong, it is neglecting two factors that are
very important for continued (user) support in such projects:

- new people have to start contributing, and they have to start somewhere.
  the beginning is always difficult. but it is better to learn by
fixing a "small"
  problem, particularly one that affects yourself, than having to work on a
  more complicated problem. at that point the barrier will be even higher
  and then nothing get done.

- the best way to utilize the experience of seasoned developers is to have
  them spend their time on "difficult" problems, i.e. something that
is impossible
  for a less experienced person to work on.

like in many settings there is not only black and white, like i am describing
it here for the sake of argument, but a lot of shades of gray in between.


> (and I realize that almost every body else is under deadlines as well,
> including NAMD developers).
> Best regards,
> Ajasja

Dr. Axel Kohlmeyer
Institute for Computational Molecular Science
Temple University, Philadelphia PA, USA.

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