John Lees' blog

Pathogens, informatics and modelling at EMBL-EBI

Mercury Prize 2023

The 2023 shortlist for the Mercury Prize is out, there is also a spotify playlist with a couple of headline tracks from each: Here’s my ranking. Or actually because I found it hard to rank them, more of a tier list: Winner: That! Feels Good!, Jessie Ware The one I looked forward to every time it came on the playlist, and I’ve listened to the whole album a few times. First came across her due to some remixes (Free Yourself is crying out for a higher BPM) but count me as a fan now.

Annual conference, Microbiology Society (2023, Birmingham)

This week was time for the Annual Conference of the Microbiology Society. This was my second time at this meeting, and I enjoyed it once again. There’s a committed core of attendees which gives a good community spirit, and the society is openly very keen on supporting PhD students attending. Favourite session – plasmids There was a great block of talks in the Genetics and Genomics session on plasmids that I thought fit together really nicely.

Rust take two -- I guess I'm a rust guy now?

About a year ago I had my first foray into rust, which I used to do advent of code. I wrote up my thoughts at the time, but in summary although there were some immediately nice features such as the build and dependency system, I wasn’t immediately convinced and decided to stick with C++. I also said I’d give it a go for my next WASM project. That time arrived at the end of last year, and what I intended to be a web implementation has turned into a full CLI tool where I used rust over C++.

Favourite video games 2022

I think the last post I made on video games has been one of the most popular I’ve written on this blog, so thought I’d update you with some more recent favourites. I didn’t play as many video games in 2022 as the past couple of years, but there were still a fair few I enjoyed. Though, looking back,, there weren’t any games that really knocked my socks off like the previous list I made, and in general I haven’t felt like there were as many games coming out that I wanted to play.

One hundred days and one hundred lines of code

Last week I attended ‘100 days and 100 lines of code’, which was organised by the Epiverse team at LSHTM. The overall idea was to think about when the next pandemic happens, what the first 100 lines of code written would be (I think more as a cute reference to similar thoughts about vaccine development, rather than a totally serious concept). The format was over three days: Talks from academics, public health and field epidemiologists on their thoughts and experiences with epidemiology software.

mamba saved my CI

We moved from Azure to github actions to run the continuous integration tests in PopPUNK about a year ago. It’s been working pretty well and wasn’t too bad to set up, and integrates nicely into the pull requests. However, in the past month two things happened: joblib v1.2 introduced a breaking security change which meant that hdbscan errored. Solving a conda environment pinning joblib to 1.1 takes about 12 hours (😱) to solve (longer than the 4 hour github limit).