2014-03-25

Review: Linux Mint MATE 201403

Main Screen + Linux Mint Menu
It's been a while since I've done a review. In fact, it's been a while since I've posted in any form, because this semester has turned out to be a lot busier than I anticipated. It likely will remain so until it ends; the only reason why I can post a review right now is because of spring break, and even that has been busy for me. Anyway, I initially wanted to do a review of Frugalware because it looked intriguing, but I couldn't get the live USB to work. I'm reviewing this (which I had planned for later) instead. If you've passed by this blog, you've probably already seen my thoughts on Linux Mint, so I'll skip the introduction. I tried this updated ISO file as a live USB made with MultiSystem. Follow the jump to see what it's like. There isn't too much that has changed since last year, so I will simply link the review from then, point out any changes, and put out any other thoughts that occur to me about this.

2014-02-25

Green's Functions and Correlations

I had the idea of writing this post a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't feel like I had enough stuff to write here at that time. Now I do, so here goes. (Also, here's hoping that inputting LaTeX into this post works once more.)

When I took 18.03 — Differential Equations in 2010 fall, one of the topics covered was linear time-invariant systems. The general system of interest was $Lu(t) = f(t)$ where $L$ is a linear time-invariant operator. The technique of course is to find a weight function $w(t)$ where $Lw(t) = \delta(t)$, and once that is done, the solution is $u(t) = \int_{-\infty}^{\infty} f(t') w(t - t') dt'$ which is a convolution of the input $f$ with the weight $w$. The professor mentioned that it is essentially akin to inverting the operator $L$, but while I could see the general utility in this method, I never quite understood why it might be considered inversion on any deeper level.

Last semester, I took 8.07 — Electromagnetism II, and there we discussed Green's functions a little more in the context of electromagnetism & electrodynamics. In a static situation, the Green's function comes up in solving the Poisson equation $\nabla^2 \phi = -\rho$. In this case, $\nabla^2 G(\vec{x}, \vec{x}') = -\delta(\vec{x} - \vec{x}')$ is solved by the familiar potential of a unit point charge $G(\vec{x}, \vec{x}') = \frac{1}{4\pi |\vec{x} - \vec{x}'|}$. I started to see a little more clearly why this worked, because if a general charge distribution was some superposition of point charges, then a general potential distribution should be the same superposition of point charge potentials. However, it still wasn't entirely clear to me how this was "inversion" per se. Follow the jump to see what changed.

2014-02-09

Back Online After TOS Violation due to Malware Issue

For the last day or two, this blog was taken down again, this time due to a terms of service violation. I could not for the life of me think of what I might have written or done here to account for that. Today, I looked into it, and found that although this blog had been restored after the malware attack, the malware itself had not been removed. After removing a lot of third-party code, I found out that the issue lay in my Archives page, where the third-party code allowing the "Archives" widget to be displayed as a separate page had been infected with malware. I'm starting to be a little more wary of how Google handles things now, and while I do intend to stay with Blogger for the foreseeable future, I'm not counting a move entirely out.

2014-02-03

Eighth Semester at College

I'm at the home stretch! This is my eighth and last semester as an undergraduate at MIT. Classes start tomorrow. I'll be taking 8.334 — Statistical Mechanics II (which is really statistical field theory), 8.962 — General Relativity, 14.15 — Networks, and 8.THU — Undergraduate Physics Thesis. The cool thing is that 8.334 — Statistical Mechanics II and 14.15 — Networks will have a bit of overlap in some places, as both discuss graph theory, collective phenomena, and phase transitions to varying degrees. More importantly, 8.THU — Undergraduate Physics Thesis is basically going to be my UROP, formalized into credits contingent on me producing a thesis at the end of it. That's also how I can start a new UROP project on nanoparticle absorption and scattering of infrared radiation. Even though I'm only taking 3 classes besides my UROP and [as far as I can tell] none of them have final exams, the semester will still keep me quite busy, but this will be the last semester where I can take more random classes that I want to take, as graduate school will likely only let me take classes related to my research interests. Here's hoping that my last semester of my undergraduate career turns out to be the best one yet, and good luck to everyone else for the new semester!

2014-02-02

Featured Comments: Week of 2014 January 26

There were two posts this past week that got a comment each, so I'll repost both of those.

Revisited: Linux Mint 16 "Petra" KDE + Xfce

An anonymous reader had this vote of support: "welcome back prashanth ji.............." [following the takedown of this blog for a large portion of the month of 2014 January].

Review: Pinguy OS 13.10 Beta 3

Another anonymous commenter suggested, "Elementary OS, with all the stability you need. :)"

Thanks to both of those people for leaving those comments. This coming week, I will have a post about the semester ahead. After that, the semester will start and will certainly become busy, so I likely will drop the frequency of posts after that, as I have done in past semesters. Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!

2014-02-01

Reflection: 2014 IAP

This IAP was quite a bit more hectic near the end of it. I was starting to wrap up my current UROP project on photonic crystal enhancement of spontaneous emission and start learning about a new project on nanoparticle absorption & scattering of infrared radiation. Also, especially in the last week, I was doing a lot for making a video for the MIT-K12 project. Finally, there was organization to be done for the SPS Lightning Lectures on the last day of IAP. Overall, it was quite productive. At the moment, I am still awaiting graduate admission results (except for one positive one so far). And I await and anticipate one last semester of classes and research as an undergraduate at MIT!

2014-01-30

Review: Pinguy OS 13.10 Beta 3

Main Screen + GnoMenu
Several weeks ago, I reviewed a couple of distributions in the span of a week. I initially thought one of those reviews would be of Pinguy OS, but then I saw that I had last reviewed Pinguy OS when it was at version 12.04 LTS, so I figured I would only review LTS releases. Then the lead developer of this distribution asked me in a comment on another post to take a look at Pinguy OS soon, and I thought I would do that much earlier this month. Then of course this blog went down and didn't reappear until a little over a week ago. Now I can finally review Pinguy OS. I've reviewed it enough times (even in GNOME 3/Shell guise) that I can safely skip the introduction. I will say though that this is labeled as a review rather than a preview because there will never be non-beta releases of non-LTS versions. I tried Pinguy OS as a live USB made with MultiSystem (because for some reason using UnetBootin produced a non-bootable live USB system). Follow the jump to see what it's like.

2014-01-27

Revisited: Linux Mint 16 "Petra" KDE + Xfce

KDE: Main Screen + KDE Kickoff Menu
Aaaaaand...we're back! This blog had been taken down for about 2.5 weeks and didn't come back up until late last week. Because of that, I couldn't make use of the extra time I have during IAP to post any of the reviews or other stuff that I wanted to do. Now I have to sort of make up for lost time and do & post those things. That starts with a review of the latest KDE and Xfce editions of Linux Mint. I tested both as live USB systems each made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what each is like.

2014-01-24

FOLLOW-UP: Gibbs Entropy and Two-Level Systems

As a follow-up to this post, I'm going to briefly discuss what two statistical mechanics professors (who shall remain nameless) I talked to about this had to say. For those who don't remember or are too lazy to read through, the issue is that a new paper publicized by the MIT news office claims that by adopting a view of entropy as per Gibbs as opposed to Boltzmann, negative temperature can be removed from statistical mechanics. I pointed out many issues I had with the arguments for that, and I would thereby cast doubt on the paper and premise as their wholes. Follow the jump to see what information I was able to learn after talking to those professors. (It appears that rendering LaTeX on this blog no longer works right after the takedown, so I'm enclosing any useful LaTeX formulas in dollar signs for you to copy and paste into a LaTeX renderer, if you so choose. The rendering of LaTeX in past posts is inconsistent, just as a heads-up.)

2014-01-23

Back Online After Malware Issue

You may have noticed that this blog was inaccessible for the last 2.5 weeks. That's because it, along with a whole bunch of other blogs on Blogger, was apparently hit by malware (though I don't know whether that really happened or if it was a false flag). Anyway, this blog is back online, and I intend to get back to writing in this space as I had originally planned. In the meantime, I'm going to be carefully backing up all the data here.