Monday, May 2, 2011

Holes in the head

To continue the last post, I think this happens to everybody. If we don't incorporate an idea into our worldview, either because we don't understand the argument or because we reject it, the explanation just doesn't stick.
The case I meant to blog about, before various other issues came up, was the comedy between my boss and Senior Computing Guy. For almost two years now, the boss has asked why we didn't take advantage of the virtual computing grid at the university to calculate the mountains of data from our superneato new sequencer.
Every time, SCG would answer that to calculate on the grid, the data had to be in a certain form, which was incompatible with the actual data, and it would take so much effort to convert it we'd be better off just calculating here. Slowly. Every time, the boss would accept that we had nothing to gain from the grid. And every time, the explanation would slip away and the question would come back.
Well, knowing that the only way for us to stop getting this question from the boss, whose repetition made SCG roll his eyes and gnash his teeth, was to prove it; I told Newbie Computing Guy to look into it and give us some real hard numbers as to how much time and effort was indeed involved in this data conversion. Let the facts speak for themselves. That kind of information should be memorable.
So NCG gets together with the Grid Guys, and lo & behold, GG has noticed that nobody was using the grid. Their superneato thingy was just sitting there twiddling its virtual thumbs. And the reason for that was HAHA! the difficulty of getting data into the right form. So they've been working on the question. And the difficulty is scheduled to disappear. Everybody will soon be happy.


jabblog said...

Don't blame the hardware - look at the software designers, or perhaps the limited budget with which they had to work, in which case, blame the sales pitch!!

NanU said...

Oh, I'm not blaming anyone. What I find interesting is the one guy continually coming back to a question that the other guy really thought was put to rest. This happens to me all the time - unsatisfactory explanations are quickly forgotten and I (often mistakenly) ask the same thing again as if it had never been dealt with. I suspect this is a universal human thing, and has a lot to do with why it's so hard to get through to people who have some other fixed idea.

Niamh B said...

That's cool - and a good example of why explanations that don't make sense shouldn't stick with us and why we should keep on asking questions...