2014-07-30

Review: Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" MATE

Main Screen + Linux Mint Menu
I've been out of the country for 2.5 weeks, explaining the lack of posts in that time. Before that, I was busy trying to finish a rough draft of a paper outlining the work I did at my UROP before graduation. Now that I'm back and tired from jetlag, I have a little more time to do a review like this, which I wanted to do in June itself.

I'm skipping most further introduction because none is needed for Linux Mint here. All I'll say is that there is no "LTS" label on this post because now all Ubuntu-based Linux Mint releases are based on the LTS releases, starting with this one; this is a move that I support because it should give more credence to the idea that Linux Mint is a stable system that newbies can comfortably use. I reviewed this as a live USB system made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

2014-07-07

Featured Comments: Week of 2014 June 29

This post is a day late because I was out of town and didn't return until yesterday. The previous week had one post with one comment that I will repost.

Trying out Julia

An anonymous reader had this funny trollish comment: "The matrix has you, unplug now or you will be forever lost in its grip. An mature mind cannot be freed from the matrix, it has trouble letting go."

Thanks to that reader for that comment. This coming week, I don't have anything planned, and I'll be out of town for a few weeks after that. Following that, I should have a review or two out; I've been procrastinating on reviewing the latest release of Linux Mint so that I can continue wrapping up my UROP work, so that'll have to wait until August. Anyway, if you like what I write, please keep subscribing and commenting!

2014-07-02

Trying out Julia


This is a fairly quick post, though I previously considered making it longer and more trollish. A handful of my friends have told me about Julia, the amazing programming language made for numerical computations and other scientific computing uses. For the 14.15 — Networks final project this past semester, one of my group partners used Julia to simulate large ensembles of 10000-node random networks, and it worked far quicker than MATLAB. I vowed to get a bit more familiar with Julia (the programming language, not a woman [yet]) this summer. It was actually pretty quick to get used to, considering its syntactical similarities to MATLAB, to which I am more accustomed. I was even able to use it to port over the MATLAB code used for data analysis in 8.13/8.14 — Experimental Physics I/II to Julia. The only issue that I have consistently run into has been plotting. For some reason, the plotting packages that interface with Julia do not work in the ways that I want: Winston is too basic, Gadfly doesn't work at all (which is unfortunate because it has all the features I need and more), and Gaston being a frontend for Gnuplot while having to deal with the quirks of Julia's plot execution order means that I might as well use Gnuplot itself. Indeed, that is what I've done: I've been able to write Gnuplot scripts to plot processed data that Julia outputs into a file. Although Gnuplot's syntax is a little arcane, it is so powerful that I'm OK with using it from a script of commands and changing only a few things here and there as needed. Other than that, Julia works like a charm; its speed is fantastic, and I really like how much structure it brings compared to MATLAB (including things like types and indexing). Plus, it combines the great features of both procedural and functional programming. Given that course 18 has largely switched over to Julia, I wonder when course 8 will do the same....

2014-06-10

Review: Pinguy OS 14.04 LTS "Papercut"

Main Screen + GnoMenu
I have now graduated college, so I am back home for 2.5 months this summer. In that time, I have many more opportunities to do reviews that I couldn't do during the same semester. This was originally supposed to be a comparison test against Antergos, which is another distribution that ships GNOME 3/Shell and aims for new users to Linux. Unfortunately, Antergos refused to boot. Therefore, what is left is a typical review of Pinguy OS, albeit with some more critical remarks than usual about how well it really caters to newbies (left over from when this article was a comparison test). Follow the jump to see what it is like.

2014-06-08

Featured Comments: Week of 2014 June 1

There was one post this past week that got a comment, so I'll repost that.

Reflection: My Undergraduate Experiences at MIT

An anonymous reader asked, "please for a mint cinnamon review".

Thanks to that reader for that comment. As of two days ago (from this writing), I have graduated MIT with a degree in physics! I am back home for basically the whole summer, so my posting frequency will increase during that time (with a few exceptions). Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!

2014-06-03

Reflection: My Undergraduate Experiences at MIT

Commencement is a few days away, so I don't have too much more time on campus. I've finished all four years of my undergraduate education. It has been a really wild and amazing ride, and now that things are marginally quieter, I think I could use a little reflection on those 4 years (or, at least, the highlights, learning experiences, and more recent parts that I remember). I am no poet, so a lot of this may sound repetitive, awkward, or stilted; believe me when I say this is really how I feel. Follow the jump to read more.

2014-06-01

Featured Comments: Week of 2014 May 25

There was one post that got a few comments this past week, so I'll repost all of those.

Review: KaOS 2014.04

Reader David A. Spicer asked, "Skype? Seriously?"
To that, an anonymous commenter responded as I would have done: "A huge number of people depend on it for work and family communication. More often than not, there's no alternative to Skype, like it or not."
Reader Barnaby left this tip which is unfortunately no longer up to date (though this is certainly not his/her fault): "You need the static package for Skype, it has worked without fail on my Debian machines for about 18 months now, even when upgrading to Sid."

Thanks to all those who commented on that post. This coming week is the week of commencement, so I will have a post reflecting on my time as an undergraduate either this week or next week. After that, I will hopefully be posting the usual reviews and other articles more frequently during the summer. Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!

2014-05-26

Review: KaOS 2014.04

It's been a while since my last review. Now I'm a bit more free because the semester ended over a week ago. At the moment I'd really like to get my hands on the official release of Linux Mint, but that isn't out yet. In the mean time, though, I'm going to check out KaOS.

Main Screen + KDE Homerun Kicker Menu
This distribution caught my eye from a DistroWatch review. That review concludes that it isn't clear exactly what the goal of this distribution is. Looking at the website more, I can't say that it's any clearer to me either. All I can glean is that this distribution aims to please more experienced users with a rolling-release model, maintain a small base of packages so that those will be polished before use, and target newer computers by using KDE and only 64-bit releases. I'll have to try this distribution out to see if there is any more information regarding the target audience of this distribution. I tried KaOS on a live USB made with MultiSystem. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

2014-05-21

Done with 8th Semester!

I'm done with my eighth and final semester of my MIT undergraduate semester! (Actually, I was done on Sunday, May 18 around 3pm upon completion of my last problem set, but I didn't get around to writing this until today.) It was extremely satisfying to see a bit about nanoparticle scattering of infrared light in a new UROP project and write about that in my thesis, along with getting excellent results for my ongoing photonic crystal UROP project and writing about that too. My thesis gave my the most trouble in the two weeks leading up to its submission on May 9, though I started writing during spring break itself. In terms of classes, I had the most trouble in 8.334 — Statistical Mechanics II (Statistical Field Theory), as the problem sets and exams alike were quite challenging, and the final project was an 18-hour marathon on Friday, May 16. Also annoying was 14.15 — Networks; it wasn't taught or organized very well, and the final project gave me and my group partners a fair amount of stress too. More manageable was 8.962 — General Relativity, which only had problem sets, and most of those were quite reasonable and straightforward. Anyway, I don't have any final exams this semester (by design), so I'm really done, and all I need to worry about now is commencement! (I will have a longer post reflecting on my time at MIT in the coming days, so stay tuned for that.) After commencement, I plan to spend most of my summer time relaxing and picking up small projects at home; I may also travel for a bit too.

2014-05-11

Featured Comments: Week of 2014 May 4

This past week, there was one post that got a few comments, so I'll repost all of those.

Review: OpenMandriva Lx 2014.0

An anonymous reader suggested, "Thanks for the review! One thing I question, is why you use unetbootin to make live usb, when dd works fine and gives you the menu OM wants you to see... Even couldn't be simpler to do: https://wiki.openmandriva.org/en/2014.0/Release_Notes#via_dd Just make sure to wait 5-10 minutes for the iso to actually be fully transferred to the usb-key."
Another anonymous commenter had this hope: "Good review, thanks. Of special interest is the memory usage, as I have machines with 2GB of RAM. Rather than the usual mudslinging seen in Libreoffice/Openoffice, I wish for some fraternal cooperation between OpenMandriva and Mageia, if not for advancement then for greater savings, at least."
Reader Mechatotoro said, "First of all, Prashant, good luck with your thesis and exams.
It is good to read another one of your useful reviews again, thank you! I installed OpenMandriva Lx 2014 and found some interesting points related to Home Run, which I will soon write about. Again, good luck!"

Thanks to all those readers for commenting on that post. This coming week is the last week of class for me. I will have at least one post about the end of the semester, but that's all I can guarantee because it's a busy week. After that, though, I'm hoping to start doing more reviews than just one every month. Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!