Questions and Answers


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Why does this project exist?

(This question is perhaps best answered in the first-person perspective of its creator.)

I created this public project, as a hobby, mainly out of four motivations:

  • A desire to explore various interesting pieces of infrastructure that have appeared in the free and open source ecosystem. At work, I often get straight-jacketed into using certain tools and not using other ones, due to extant realities. Breaking free of that grind and exploring what is available out there is a way to remind myself that I can still enjoy software development. It also allows me to learn new things at my leisure, rather than upon demand like I often do at work. And, it provides a functional means of attempting to “stay current” and relevant.
  • A desire to create something new my way. At work, I am almost always working with source codes which have been predominantly written by other people. Although I usually don’t have any trouble adapting to other people’s designs and assorted conventions, it is still quite liberating to sometimes push their impositions aside and make something which bears my own “signature”.
  • A desire to have my various useful pieces of Python code collected in a central location, which would be easy for me to access from anywhere.
  • Ease-of-mind regarding backups for my growing code library. (Yes, I know that version control is no substitute for a good backup, but it does provide an additional level of safety and it does provide an automatic, off-site backup.)

I don’t really care if no one else ever uses any of the tools I am providing, even though I think it would be swell if they did. If nothing else, I will (and already do) use them. That said, there is a lurking hope in the back of my mind for a couple of nice outcomes:

  • I’ll meet and collaborate with interesting, intelligent, polite people. I’m somewhat ill-at-ease with many traditional social networking channels. But, having technical (and philosophical) discussions with others is something with which I’m quite comfortable; this project provides a venue for such discussions to occur.
  • A potential employer from industry will take notice and offer me an option to “escape” academia. I work in academia as a software engineer. I know I’m underpaid and not doing anything on the cutting edge, but I like the fairly-relaxed environment it has to offer. Also, my particular combination of “dev” and “ops” experience, involving scientific computing, can be a hard sell outside of the academic research environment. By doing something more general purpose and, hopefully, demonstrating skill in the process, I hope to increase my options. (Probably posting my solutions to some of the Project Euler problems would help too - I might do that as a separate project.)

So, that’s the long-winded story behind this project.

Names and Nomenclature

What does utilia mean?

The word utilia is Latin for useful things. It can be used as either an adjective or a noun in Latin. The noun is a neuter, nominative or accusative, plural from the third declension. It is shorter to say or type than rebus utilibus, which some might consider to be more proper.