One thing that always thrilled me is the idea
that physics today is quite similar to software bugs triaging.
You have a currently (or previously) accepted theory,
and you make experiments that will show that the reality
sometimes does not work according to that theory.
That is essentially what happens at CERN and the CMS experiment.
There were suspicions (theories) that the universe contains
more types of particles than we supposed at some time.
In order to show that,
physicists decided to build a large particle collider
and measure monitor for events that don’t fit the
previously accepted theories.
Now, when these ‘bugs’ in the fabric of reality are found,
the scientists do not try to fix them (you can’t change reality),
but rather to make a mathematical model that
describes the real world better than the last one.
Fixing bugs in Plasma
This is where software developers differ.
We also try to make collisions which will expose problems
in our software,
but we are allowed to change the reality and fix the bugs
instead of ‘just’ writing a new specification of our programs
that includes the bugs as its essential parts.
My main task at the Plasma sprint we had in CERN
was to actually perform as many collisions
I can with the activity switcher,
and fix all the bugs that I could find.
Sometimes the collisions exposed issues outside
the switcher – in other parts of Plasma.
I am glad that I can say that I’ve fixed quite a few issues
where most were not previously known.
Plasma 5.6 will have a more streamlined activity switcher
than it used to because its back-end was completely revamped,
and it will be much more stable
thanks to all the bugs that went away.
Plasma is for scientists
We usually tend to cater to ordinary users,
and computer geeks,
and tend to get excited every time
we see a computer screen with KDE software displayed
on some popular TV show or a movie.
But I have to say that all these screenshots
that many of us collected during the years
fade a bit in comparison to seeing Plasma running
on most computers in the control centre of the
Plasma, KWin, Dolphin, and all the shebang. :)