On Thu, 17 May 2018 20:28:22 -0400, <ed...@openmail.cc> wrote:


_I_ need help. I am in graduate school, and I keep having issues with my advisor for my strong inclination to use free software. I am obviously not in position to refuse, but she dislikes to have discussions about it. She pays a stipend to me every month, and my tuition is waved.

Is anyone here aware of a place where they do computational human biomechanics, mechanics, materials or finite elements where I could interact with free software? (having github, LaTeX, Python, etc.; avoid Micro$oft products, Matlab, Mathematica, etc.). Is there no place where one can simply use free software on a daily basis?

It seems from her comments that I am, otherwise, a good researcher. She is a nice person, but I fear that this may become an issue in the future for me (whether with her or other people).

As a student or junior faculty, how do you go about this? Do you just nod and wave your freedom good bye?

Thank you! (I will post this in other fora as well; don't let that to discourage you from answering, please).

What is your field? In some areas of research the foremost software tools have been developed on a MS platform and there is no escape unless you go and develop your own tools.

Allow me to illustrate from a non-software perspective, in two different directions. I happen to own a substantial number of horses, and thus find myself employing the services of a farrier. That's the person who trims the hooves and fits shoes. My previous farrier, now retired, made some of his own tools and avoided using the top, well-known brand, GE. (It's GE Forge & Tools, NOT General Electric!) "Too expensive," he said. "Not worth all that extra money." My current farrier works three times as fast as the other guy, and uses nothing but GE tools. Clearly, he can fit in perhaps twice the number of customers a day, and the tools pay for themselves. He could make his own, as can anyone who owns a forge, an anvil, and hammers, but why bother? He makes perhaps $300 an hour when working on horses, and nearly nothing when trying to build tools.

I also get questions from young folks between the ages of 8 and 16 who love horses, and want a career working with horses. They hope for a job where they will clean stalls and exercise horses, and maybe help with training. My suggestion to them is to find a profession such as accounting or medicine where they will be able to make enough money to own several horses. After a day cleaning stalls and brushing horses at minimum wage or less, who wants to saddle up Yet Another Horse and go riding? The accountant who can fathom the intricacies of expenses for a Thoroughbred race stable will be well rewarded, and may even get invited to ride.

These words are rather far afield from your actual question, but I think you do need to reflect carefully on where your interests actually lie.

So back to free software itself. Read, if you have not already done so, this article by rms: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.en.html . Then ponder whether you want your career to follow his delightfully weird footsteps, or whether your field requires a totally different approach. I'm sure that rms would disagree with me--he has every time I've spoken with him--but his is not the only philosophy available.

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