Thursday, November 30, 2006

Maple loses three million users

I very much doubt that the headline of this item is true, but I did get the story from MapleSoft press releases!

I made a sarcastic remark at the expense of Parametric a couple of months ago when they couldn't get their story straight on how many users MathCAD had. So I can't help but comment on a similar inconsistency at MapleSoft.

The boiler plate part of their press releases used to contain the claim "Over a million users have adopted Waterloo Maple products". The last time being in Nov 2002.

Around that time, there was some kind of management buyout, the company changed its name to MapleSoft and lots of other changes were made, including the boiler plate which from Jan 2003, read "Over 5 million users benefit from advanced Maple technology." It goes to show the rapid effect of new management on the success of a company!

Nothing changes until Jan 2005, when suddenly the claim drops to "Over two million users at thousands of organizations benefit from advanced Maple technology."

The truth? Who knows. But I doubt that I am going to find it in a MapleSoft press releases.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Derive to be discontinued

According to Bernhard Kutzler writing in the Derive user group newsletter, the Derive computer algebra system will soon be discontinued as Texas Instruments focuses on its future nSpire platform. (Which I have previously written about here, and here.)

This radical change, rather than an upgrade evolution, will likely disturb many existing customers. Kutzler writes "There are many features in Derive 6 which are not (yet) available in TI-Nspire."

The main reason provided is the aim of unifying CAS, graphing, geometry, spreadsheet and text processing in one product. If true then this leads to the natural question of whether TI's existing geometry product, Cabri, is destined for the same fate?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mupad not just available in Engrish

Mupad is now available in a Japanese version. But in a cheap shot that I can't resist, I have to question whether I should trust the quality of a language product when the announcement on their website reads:

"The japaneese version of MuPAD Pro 4 is ready. It is exclusively available from our japaneese reseller LightStone Corp.

(That was a particularly cheap shot considering I can't spell either and the Mupad developers are German). More serious comment next time.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sun open sources Java

It has been discussed for months, but today Sun made it official- Java is to be open source, with all libraries code to be available by March.

On the surface, Java would appear to have made little impact on scientific computing with few applications outside of a cheap way to add GUI layers to existing code.

Partly it comes from older packages having their roots and source code firmly embedded in FORTRAN, and partly from a reputation for Java being slow. The speed issue is not intrinsically true but the combination of JREs needing to be loaded before use and that everyone has experience of using sloppily written Java applets (and sometime sloppily written commercial applications) has left the impression.

But look behind the scenes, and a lot of the glue that links together parts of scientific packages and connects them to data sources etc turns out to be Java.

If Sun is right and this move adds momentum to Java, we might see more use of it.

UK health service IT project run by IT failure

Somewhat off the science topic, but amusing enough to include:

As a lesson in not making enemies when you are in the public eye, especially family ones, and a reminder of the unique power to embarrass that ones mother possesses - here is an interview with the disgruntled mother of the man tasked with upgrading the entire UK health system IT infrastructure. She says:

"I can't believe that my son is running the IT modernisation programme for the whole of the NHS.

"He was disappointed when he failed his computer studies course at Bristol.

"It was pretty serious, so I had to write to Princess Anne, who at that time was "university visitor" there to appeal for him to be allowed to resit the exam, as initially he was refused permission."

I think a cosy family Christmas looks unlikely there!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Modelica gets the Simulink treatment

The Modelica modelling language has got a boost with a new product from MathCore: MathModelica System Designer Professional.

This is a tool built on top of the Modelica language which seems to take the project onto the ground covered by Simulink by adding a graphical programming interface.

I was told once that Modelica's strength is the ability to model engineering systems that combine different fields. eg. A system that has electrical subsystems and hydraulic subsystems that are interconnected. The project seems to have a lot of academic and some serious industry support, with the likes of ABB on board, but seems like a largely European affair at the moment.

As well as the Modelica libraries the product also integrates Mathematica to give it the number crunching it will need to take on Matlab.

Friday, November 03, 2006

COMSOL Multiphysics 3.3

I was a little slow to notice the release of a new version of COMSOL Multiphysics. The simulation software, which was until last year sold under the name of FEMLAB, was updated over a month ago.

The new features are quite numerous and you can read them here.

Broadly speaking, they mostly involve trying to widen the space of applications further away from the original finite element modelling background of the company, eg with optimization and signal processing.

There is also some work on improving core functionality with work on adaptive meshes.

All very sensible.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Yet another $2000 Matlab link

This weeks $2000 link from Matlab connects to Cadence Incisive.

I said pretty much all I can on the subject the last two times (here and here).