Since I started out in crystallography I’ve always been on the provincial (that is a nice way of saying poor) side of software. At UMIST our MACH3 used CAD42PC or WinGX we used the shelx(s/l) programs and XPMA for our refinements. Then we got our Nonius Kappa and very little changed. Whilst we did all this sat like a piece of indestructible granite was our Rigaku AFC6s. A contemporay to the MACH3 but the software, my god the software ran rings about it. Then I got a proper job and became a station scientist. I was forced to use SMART (an oxymoron if every I saw one) then early APEXII (not happy software back then). Things improved I moved to commercial versions of Shelx now XL and XS and I bought a site licence for X-seed, XD and various other things. But I was still mainly using windows, NOT BY CHOICE until a BCA in some back water city, York I think. When I was introduced to Olex2 and bird flu.
Olex2 was a fresh of breath air, a breath of fresh air, erm, good. It was open source we ported it over to Linux, yes we I did stuff mainly find all the /\ issues which buggered up the path. But I knew that I had my Linux SMX toolbox starting point. That I could leave windows behind, finally, move on from my Win98 OS and remove the dual boot from my home PC - Linux 100%. I felt clean and honest as if all my sins had been removed. No more would I be a Microsoft whore, halloula!
Years have now past and Olex2 is a clean program, still being constantly developed by some crack programmers; Oleg Dolomanov the guy responsible for a scarey amount of the “engine code” and Horst Puschmann (didto the GUI) both of whom I talk to nearly everyday, Richard Gildea, who I seldom talk to as he is all about the Windows and Luc Bourhis who I almost never ever talk to because he is French. Horst and Oleg tolerate my foolishness and indulge my whims whilst Richard normally points out that things work in Windows and I should be happy with that. But all being said they are a great bunch. But I see a grey cloud forming on the horizon. There are but a few months left of funding for this project and then what? Is a big diffractometer company going to gobble them up or will they end up on the street or will team Olex2 split into the four winds and be lost for ever. Only to meet and conferences were they will reflect on how good the good old days were that were good.
So now as with always things blog related I type pondering what the fuck am I going to do in November or December when I want some stupid thing adding to my Olex2 GUI where am I going to turn, who will I call? You get the gist? Who knows?
Olex2 is still an infant in the grand scheme of software but it is like modern child precocious and gobby willing to try all and perhaps have an alcoh-pop whilst it is banging the neighbours daughter or son (I don’t know)? I really want to see that child grow up and get past being a teenage parent and move on with their life but without state support (which is the normal mode of funding for said scenario) I truly do not know what will be the future of Olex2?
A program grown from a grant called “age concern”, if every an apt name for a grant existed? From youth to teenager, to teenage parent to Iceland adverts the age of change is upon us and we the crystallographic community have failed to stop the late night neighbour banging and Jerry Springer only to let the child of our creating end up homeless, penniless and on the streets. Shame on us, shame on all of us. It is our fault we did not try, why o’why did we not try?