Personal, Corporate, and In-Between Fraud

I realize that the two (really, 1.5) main topics of this post are already somewhat old news, having happened last week and having not really persisted into the news cycle of this week. That said, I didn't have a good opportunity to write this last week, and the end of the month is coming (and I didn't have any other posts this month), so I figured now is the best time for me to write this. Follow the jump to see more.


A Year Through Graduate School

I realized about a week ago that I hadn't written anything for this month. I wanted to write this at the end of last week, but I didn't get around to it until today; thankfully, September hasn't come around quite yet.

This post is basically a quick update on things going on in my graduate career. I formally joined a group at the end of January, though I was already doing work for it by the middle of that month. The first project I picked up was about comparing existing approximations of the Casimir effect to a relatively new exact (up to numerical discretization error) boundary-element method for computing the Casimir force; this can be done in conjunction with nonlinear optimization methods, both to optimize for the difference in the exact versus approximate forces, as well as to optimize the overall energy (when making the situation more realistic by taking surface tension into account) and seeing how the resulting energies and structures differ. That has been going on for a while now. More recently, I've been looking at some code for volume integral equation methods to simulate electromagnetic phenomena like radiative heat transfer from a classical perspective (where the only quantum effect comes in the correlation function for different bound currents in a dielectric medium). In particular, I've been extending said volume integral equation code to incorporate nonlocal dielectric effects. Both of these projects have been quite enjoyable in how much I've learned and in the bits that I've been able to contribute; I hope to continue learning and contributing even more to these projects and to others in the future. Otherwise, I've gotten into a great group of friends, and my living situation has been pretty good too. Overall, I've had a really enjoyable first year, and I really look forward to my second year at Princeton! (I'm also looking forward to not having to take formal classes after my second year, though I'm not looking forward as much to dealing with general exams [often called qualifying exams for graduate programs in other universities] at the end of my second year.)


Featured Comments: Week of 2015 July 19

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

Review: Manjaro Linux 0.8.13 "Ascella" KDE

Reader Kanthala Raghu said, "I'm currently on xfce edition of Manjaro Linux 0.8.13. Thanks for you review now I will be trying KDE too! Cheers ! :)".

Thanks to that reader for that comment. I don't have any posts planned for this coming week, but I do hope to have at least one review or other post coming out in the next few weeks, though I don't know right now exactly what that might be. Anyway, if you like what I write, please start or continue subscribing and commenting!


Review: Manjaro Linux 0.8.13 "Ascella" KDE

Main Screen + KDE Kickoff Menu
It has been several months since I last checked out Manjaro Linux. That review was of its Xfce edition, whereas this is of its KDE edition. As I mentioned in my recent review of SolydK, I wanted to originally compare the two in a single post. However, Manjaro Linux uses KDE 5 (again, I know this is a deliberate abuse of notation) whereas SolydK still uses KDE 4, so I feel like it wouldn't be fair to compare the two in one post. Instead, I have kept the two posts separate, and will make reference to my review of SolydK as needed.

I tested the 64-bit version of Manjaro Linux on a live USB system made with UnetBootin. Interestingly, unlike my previous review of Manjaro Linux, no extra modifications were needed after UnetBootin finished doing its thing. Anyway, follow the jump to see what it's like. (Regarding the title, some sites say that the codename for this release is also "Ascella", but this doesn't seem to be officially used in an entirely consistent manner.)


Review: SolydK 201506

Main Screen + KDE Kickoff Menu
Originally, I wanted this post to be a comparison test. Specifically, I wanted to compare SolydK to the KDE edition of Manjaro Linux. However, it turns out that Manjaro Linux uses KDE 5 (I know this is a deliberate abuse of notation), while SolydK uses KDE 4. That doesn't sound like a fair comparison, so I'm splitting these into separate reviews.

SolydXK is a pair of distributions that are basically like Linux Mint Debian, except with KDE (SolydK) or Xfce (SolydX) rather than MATE or Cinnamon, given that Linux Mint Debian discontinued its Xfce edition a while ago (and never really had a KDE edition). As far as I can tell, unlike Linux Mint Debian, SolydXK remains a semi-rolling release, as its website says that users never need to reinstall (which wouldn't be true if it had pegged itself to Debian Stable).

I tested SolydK as a live USB system made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like.


Ramblings on Depth and Breadth in Introductory Science Teaching

About a week ago, I was having dinner with a friend, and the topic of teaching in various science disciplines came up; he got his degree in biology, while I got mine in physics. One of the things that we both noticed in our undergraduate careers was that introductory physics classes tend to go fairly deep right away, focusing only on a few broad topics, whereas introductory biology classes go much more for breadth, with the depth coming in specific topics in later classes. It took us a little time to think of why this might be. I think we came up with a reasonable explanation, so follow the jump to see what that explanation might be (along with extensions of it).

A few warnings are in order. One is that although I've gone through a full undergraduate course sequence in physics, I have only taken one introductory biology class in my undergraduate studies, so I'm essentially comparing an insider view of one subject to an outsider view of another; worse, my insider view of physics was built over 4 years so it is fairly fresh in my memory, whereas my outsider view of biology came in a single semester 4 years ago, so my memory of it is rather fading (though it is augmented by the problem sets and exams that I saved on my computer). Therefore, some things I say about biology might as well come from my posterior. Given all this, if you see that I say something horribly wrong about biology (or physics, for that matter), tell me in the comments! The other is that this post may seem rambling and incoherent at times; that's because this is more of a brainstorm than anything else.


Featured Comments: Week of 2015 May 24

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

Review: Kubuntu 15.04 "Vivid Vervet"

An anonymous reader said, "I agree with you, kubuntu is still not stable and cannot be recommended for production."
Commenter jongleren countered, "It might not be stable. I like it though on my vivobook. And it looks great! And it is much faster than kde4. So promosing at least."
Another anonymous reader had this suggestion: "I had similar issues on a notebook with nVidia graphics when using the nouveau driver. Installing the proprietary nvidia driver fixed it."

Thanks to all of those people for those comments. This coming week, I do plan to have another post out, given that I may have a little more time to write such a post. Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Review: Kubuntu 15.04 "Vivid Vervet"

This month has been quite busy for me with classes. Now that the semester is finally over, I have a little more time, and that means I have enough time to do a review. It has been a few years since I've reviewed Kubuntu, the officially-supported variant of Ubuntu that uses KDE. Moreover, Kubuntu now features KDE 5 (I know the KDE naming and numbering system has become a lot more complicated, so this is, as a physicist might say, an intentional abuse of notation) as stable for the first time, so I figured I should try this version. I tried it as a live USB made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like. (It should become progressively clearer through this review why there are no pictures.)


Review: Linux Mint Debian 2 "Betsy" MATE

Main Screen + Linux Mint Menu
It has been over a year since I've reviewed Debian-based Linux Mint. Since then, some major changes have occurred. The most notable is that Debian-based Linux Mint is no longer a rolling-release distribution but is largely based on the upcoming stable release of Debian (version 8 "Jessie"), though it should continue to get updates for major applications like Mozilla Firefox. Given its shift to a new stable base, I figured it would be time for another review. I checked out the MATE 64-bit edition (due to certain issues with the 32-bit version not being able to detect multiple processor cores) on a live USB made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like. As with the previous review, I am linking to it and only highlighting changes.


Review: Sabayon 15.02 KDE

This weekend has been a little slower than usual for work, so I have a little more time to do a review. Several weeks ago, I downloaded the latest version of Sabayon and kept it for a time (as now) when I'd be free to do a review. Moreover, looking through the archives of this blog, I realized that it's been almost 3 years since I've looked at Sabayon, so a fresh review is long overdue.

Main Screen + KDE Kickoff Menu
For those who don't remember, Sabayon is a rolling-release distribution based on Gentoo, though unlike its parent, it does not require users to compile packages by hand. It used to have a strong multimedia focus and a bit of a heavy metal-type image, but since then, it has broadened its focus to be a good general-use distribution where things work out-of-the-box. Moreover, its main focus used to be KDE, but now it offers a variety of DEs too.

I don't know exactly when this change happened, but now Sabayon is only usable on 64-bit systems, so take note. I tested the live version of the KDE edition on a live USB made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like. This review is a bit short for two reasons: one is that I am mainly pointing out differences compared to my previous review, and the other is something that will become clear by the end of the review.