I recently star­ted doing soft­ware devel­op­ment on a cas­ual basis for GPlates, at the School of Geosciences, Uni­ver­sity of Sydney. Think back to high-​​school sci­ence class where you learnt about Pangaea and Gond­wana­land and how the Earth’s tec­tonic plates have ever-​​so-​​slowly shif­ted over mil­lions of years. GPlates is soft­ware that allows sci­ent­ists to “wind the clock back” on these plate move­ments and visu­al­ise what the Earth might have looked like all these years ago. It’s open-​​source, so if you’re curi­ous, grab a copy and play with it.

I’m quite glad to have met the GPlates team. It’s dif­fi­cult, I think, to find qual­ity soft­ware engin­eer­ing in Aus­tralia, and GPlates devel­op­ment is led by a bunch of developers who are pas­sion­ate about writ­ing qual­ity, well-​​designed, best-​​practice C++ code. It’s cer­tainly not your aver­age in-​​house or aca­demic research soft­ware. And it sure is more intel­lec­tu­ally safis­fy­ing than work­ing in cor­por­ate IT.

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