I'm going to attend one of two Oleksandr Pavlyk's lectures in Kiev about Mathematica.
Who else is going to be there?
UPDATE. I'll be in Kiev on May 30.
«With physics and math, I could never figure out a way to contribute,» says Stallman, recalling his struggles prior to the knee injury. «I would have been proud to advance either one of those fields, but I could never see a way to do that. I didn't know where to start. With software, I saw right away how to write things that would run and be useful. The pleasure of that knowledge led me to want to do it more.»
Also, there is another argument: nowadays contributing to math means extending some narrow field which maybe a hundred of mathematicians in the world care about. In contrast, software affects a good deal of people and organizations. Even achievements of computer science often have effect in a few years.
For a long time math was essentially more accessible to students than programming. However, that's not an issue anymore, thanks to cheap computers and initiatives like OLPC.
So, I wonder, how an average pure mathematician of XXI century will find his path through the temptation of becoming a hacker?
It has been almost a year since Wolfram's Mathematica 6 was released. All this time I was quite happy with my licensed Mathematica 5.
However, I got tired of sending password requests to Wolfram. You need this every time when you upgrade hardware or reinstall operating system or change your hostname. Every time you need to print some form, fill it, scan and send back (this is the most simple way, if you're outside US). While you just can enter your MathID to a tiny program and it will pleasantly generate password for you.
So, if I lose my license anyway, why not to try new version?
I'm not a heavy Mathematica user, so I'll describe just first impressions. The first thing that Linux user notices — new graphical user interface. Now it's based on Qt toolkit rather than motif, and it certainly makes UI much more usable. Although this is great improvement, it's also the last one I have noticed.
Now problems. Mathematica 6 uses some unreadable font by default. Setting other font in Preferences does not seem to help. But I still believe this problem is solvable.
Now the problem which isn't. Earlier versions had excellent documentation system (help browser). It was very intuitive, easy in use and fast. Just look at screenshot. You choose category (like "Numerical Computation") and see what subcategories or topics it has.
Mathematica 6 made a huge step back. They introduced hyperlink-based index. So, you click on a link for some category and see a page with links to subcategories. It is inconvenient, and it is damn slow!
I used Mathematica 6 for a few days and it's still unclear to me what will I choose — clean user interface or nice documentation system.
From the site of one dev company:
Our specialists have proved their professionalism by developing complex solution for automation of educational, managing and financial processes in the Universities, schools, and colleges
How can they be proud of developing complex solutions?