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Malarame
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icon DROD News for 8/19/03 (0)  
After much thinking and considering, I've come to a pretty big decision. After a very short and uneventuful stint as Webmaster here at DROD.net, I'm stepping down. That's right, I'm no longer going to be Webmaster. Why, you ask? For several reasons, actually.

For one, I just wasn't cut out to be a coder. I came into this not knowing HTML or PHP, and while I've gained an understanding of HTML, I'm still lost when it comes to PHP. I've tried to do several things that I thought would be very cool to add to the site, but every one of them has failed. That's one reason why there's been so much time between updates. The role of Webmaster belongs in the hands of someone who actually knows what they're doing.

Another reason has to do with time. On August 22nd, I'm going to be leaving for college. From what I've heard, my school gives a lot of homework and is very hard. Apparently, there isn't much time for leisure activities either. I simply won't have enough time to work on the site as much as a Webmaster should.

For the moment, Erik is going to take over the duties of Webmaster. In a few days he'll make an announcement about it and update the site. I'm still going to be an active member of the DROD community and I'll still be availible to anyone who has a problem. You can email me any time, day or night, and as always I'll promise to at least read the subject line before deleting it and blocking all further emails from you :D Also, new Smitemasters can still email me and I'll add your name to the list.

Well, that's about it. I had fun as Webmaster, but I think I'll have even more fun watching from the sidelines. As I said, I'll still be availible to anyone who needs help, so feel free to email me.

Take it easy everyone, and happy DRODing!

-Matt O'Leary

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Matt O'Leary
Webb Institute
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"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception."
-Groucho Marx
08-20-2003 at 12:30 AM
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Oneiromancer
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quote:
Malarame wrote:
Apparently, there isn't much time for leisure activities either.


Any college student has time for leisure activities. One of the most important things you will learn in college is how much leisure you can get away with and still achieve decent grades. :D

I am sure everyone understands about the Webmaster thing. Good luck in college! And just remind yourself..."Things could be worse...I could be in Grad School!"

Game on,

[Edited by Oneiromancer on 08-20-2003 at 04:33 PM]

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08-20-2003 at 12:46 AM
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eytanz
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Grad school isnīt that bad in reality either. (or at least thatīs what I tell myself, as I sit at 2 in the morning on a Saturday working on my papers).

I think itīs wise, though, not to start college (or grad school) with pre-existing obligations. First, get used to the new enviornment. Then, see what you have time for.

Good luck in college!

Eytan (from Vienna)

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08-20-2003 at 08:26 AM
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butsam
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I, too, agree with getting used to college. While you will, over time, find time for leisure, it is a HUGE adjustment! And being a webmaster is very different...I am in my senior year of college right now in Physics/Computer Science emphasis and consider myself a decent-to-good C++ coder...but I just started a webmaster position and I am learning a ton myself as well, and just how much I don't know about computers.

Anyway, best wishes! Oh, and for college, most colleges expect you to spend at least as much time outside of class as you do in class to succeed, so just keep that in mind. My college (BYU) expects twice as much time outside of class as in class as a minimum to succeed (in general), as do a lot of others. It's all for a very good reason--it's to prepare you for being able to study material you aren't familiar with and learn it on your own, among a whole big slew of other reasons, so it's good for you! (At the time it may not seem that way though!) What do you want to study? (If you don't know, don't worry! Take a lot of General Eds to find out what interests you.) Don't let anyone freak you out either, you can do it! It's really tough, but it's really good for you! All of the best, and we look forward to hearing from you on the board when things get more settled!

Sam
Who is looking forward to grad school...no more general eds! All classes that I really and truly need to take, in an area I want to study! :)


[Edited by butsam on 08-25-2003 at 05:31 PM]
08-25-2003 at 05:26 PM
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Oneiromancer
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So, butsam, are you going to be a Physics grad student? What school are you going to/have applied to? What area of study? PM me if you don't want to discuss it publicly. Even though I have become jaded by 4 years of grad school, I still can sometimes give good advice...sometimes. ;)

Game on,

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"He who is certain he knows the ending of things when he is only beginning them is either extremely wise or extremely foolish; no matter which is true, he is certainly an unhappy man, for he has put a knife in the heart of wonder." -- Tad Williams
08-25-2003 at 06:18 PM
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butsam
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I really don't want to emphasize anything, that's my problem...LOL! I decided on a nice (and for me, rather fun and clever) field, computational physics, that allows me to do just that--have no particular specialty! :) The numerical methods and the like is just awesome, and it's the way a lot of things are going now with computers so fast and efficient. I am also doing a lot of E&M (for non-physics majors reading the post, that's electricity and magnetism).

For grad schools, I am actually also going on active duty in the Air Force when I graduate, so I need to do a year before going to grad school, but I am looking quite strongly at AFIT (Air Force Institute of Technology). All things being equal (and they aren't, of course) and given an infinite amount of money (DEFINITELY not true!), MIT would be my dream school. BYU has a lot of good computational professors as well, but I want to do the graduate work somewhere else just for the variety, and besides BYU tends to gear toward undergrad degrees (but does a very good job). Oh, and Solid State is another area I really enjoy--best class I took was a Solid-State course for advanced undergrads (technically a graduate-level course). I just like too many areas, so I will study computational...it's very fascinating, and then I get to toy with computers too.

In the Fall & Winter, I get the pleasure of taking quantum the REAL way with bras and kets and all that fun stuff. Then there's E&M with Maxwell's equations, with relativistic modifications where appropriate, not the dumbed-down and unrealistic stuff. Of course, that makes it a lot harder as well, but at least the physics department strongly believes in Maple and MatLab to make your life easier (but of course, you first learn to do it by hand so you can do it that way if you have to, and can verify the results if needs be).

What are you studying right now? I didn't know you were a physicist too! How cool!

Sam
08-26-2003 at 06:31 PM
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Oneiromancer
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Yeah, I mentioned my Physics-ness other places on the forum. I am an experimentalist in Condensed Matter Physics (aka Solid State Physics), making new materials and measuring their physical properties. I specialize in specific heat measurements, and mostly study low temperature properties like superconductivity and magnetism. I have two first-name papers published right now, have another being reviewed for a journal, and am pretty much ready to write two more. So, the end is in sight...but it will probably be at least another year.

As for your other comments--bras and kets are definitely the way to go for QM, forget all those integrals! If I were you I would definitely look into taking a Math Methods class--specifically one that covers complex analysis, if you haven't already. That stuff should definitely be useful for you. I'm not too up on computational stuff--the most I do is use Labview to interface with my experiments, although I did write a Labview program to diagonalize Crystalline Electric Field Hamiltonians in a magnetic field. No C++ or MatLab for me though--which hopefully won't affect my hiring possibilities too badly.

My housemate is also a Physics grad student, and he is working on Quantum Computing...which sounds like it might be a great fit for you, since it combines computation and Solid State. Every day he is either crunching numbers in one of his many simulations or in the machine shop making new parts for his cryostat. I don't know how much experimental stuff appeals to you, but there should be a great deal of research to be done on the theoretical side of Quantum Computing too.

And now that I've scared everyone else away...

Game on,

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"He who is certain he knows the ending of things when he is only beginning them is either extremely wise or extremely foolish; no matter which is true, he is certainly an unhappy man, for he has put a knife in the heart of wonder." -- Tad Williams
08-26-2003 at 07:21 PM
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butsam
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I have strongly thought about Quantum Computing, and I think that may end up being the way I go, actually. I am very familiar with complex analysis now, and it is so useful (but yet strange that waves in QM are actually REALLY complex, not just a tool to make the math easier).

I was wondering how you liked LabView, since it seems you come from a less-programming aspect than I do. I personally think LabView is a wonderful idea, but building a program completely visually is just too good to be true--it ends up being a lot more of a hassle to me than it is worth. However, I did hear there is a slick interface between LabView and C++...I just don't know anyone here who knows how. I like the graphs and ease of constructing the user interface, but the actual programming is a bit silly at times...an "if" makes more sense to me than a visual case block, and variables are a pain to create. Anyway, I was wondering what your feelings were for LabView's actual programming aspect.

I really enjoyed a course I took in Numerical Math & Computing--it made all those "mystery" algorithms not so mysterious. The foundation of 99.9% of numerical methods algorithms are either Taylor series or Linear Algebra (and hence why MatLab is so useful). I don't think it will hurt you much in getting a job...but you may want to get Maple at least now, if you haven't already, but you probably have...if you wanted to learn MatLab, it's not too hard at all to use, you don't need to know any programming. (Total cost for student editions is ~$130 for Maple and ~$100 for MatLab. Total cost for non-student editions is ~$1,800 for Maple and ~$2,000 for MatLab. Don't let Erik see this, though--he may switch from DROD to math software programming!) I know for both programs, they are the full versions, not simplified versions. The advantage of MatLab is that it excels at numerical stuff (which is exactly what Maple is most frustrating with), so if you have any need for that, then I recommend learning the basics--you won't need scripts more than likely, so it shouldn't be too difficult.

Just as an aside, I also heard the new version of Maple (version 9) allows slick C/C++ interfacing with its routines! Not that you'd need that, but still...guess where part of my Pell Grant is going? ;)

I really SHOULD take another class in Thermo because it's so useful in computing (computers are limited by heat, in general), but I just don't know if I'll have the time before graduation. Well, there's always later though :) Good luck with the Condensed Matter Physics, and congrats on getting published!!!

Sam
08-26-2003 at 08:05 PM
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Oneiromancer
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Actually, we have both Maple and MatLab in our laboratory...although I have only used Maple, mostly to do simple calculations. When I wanted to do some numerical integration I found it easier to go up to the department's computer room and use the Mathematica up there. Some of the other grad students in our lab use MatLab...in fact one of them was able to reproduce my LabView calculations exactly, which was good.

As for LabView...well, it of course isn't really intended for use as an actual calculating machine, but is really for interfacing with electronics. That was how I first learned to use it--I had to modify a LabView program to work with my electronics. There are two main parts to LabView--the Panel, where you interact with the program while it is running, and the Diagram, where you write the program. The Panel is nice, of course, and can be very versatile--I was able to view graphs of my calculations in real time, instantly switch the magnetic field on with one click, change parameters without rewriting anything, etc. I am sure this can be done with MatLab but possibly not as easy as LabView. The behind-the-scenes area, the Diagram, is nice because you can tell what is happening at a glance. Sure, some things are actually more complicated in LabView than in a text-based program, but when you have two functions connected by a line, it's pretty easy to tell what is going on. LabView is also especially nice for experimentalists, because the functions are connected by basically "wiring" everything up. Most functions are also pre-written...for example, there was a diagonalization function there already, just like in a math program. And interfacing with electronics is pretty easy, since once you have the right driver it's pretty easy to send commands or read data.

I know that new versions of LabView can at least interface with MatLab...interfacing with C++ is probably also available, although I never looked into it. And yes, case blocks can be silly at times, but remember the programming is based on the "wiring" of values to functions, and it's not easy to make an "if" statement without having graphically being able to wire something into the true/false indicator and also being able to set up two separate outcomes. A nice, clean, program can look really elegant, and you would be amazed at how much can be done with a few boxes and lines.

I think programming in LabView should really only be of interest to experimentalists, although I was able to use it for more...frivolous activities. For example, I had a bunch of MP3s whose titles were in the format Song Title -- Group Name.mp3. I wanted to change them to Group Name - Song Title.mp3, and so I wrote a LabView program to rename the files. I am sure that it could be easily done some other way, but I used what I knew. When I was in elementary school I was a Logo whiz, and I could get by in BASIC, but that was all until college when I took a quick Computer Interfacing class which taught us C. I didn't use LabView until grad school.

Anyway, I am not sure if I even answered your questions well, but I am rambling now so that will have to do. If you want you can PM me so as to spare the others and not clutter up this topic any more.

Game on,

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"He who is certain he knows the ending of things when he is only beginning them is either extremely wise or extremely foolish; no matter which is true, he is certainly an unhappy man, for he has put a knife in the heart of wonder." -- Tad Williams
08-26-2003 at 08:37 PM
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Malarame
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butsam wrote:
What do you want to study? (If you don't know, don't worry! Take a lot of General Eds to find out what interests you.)

Actually, Webb only has one major, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. There's a set curriculum, so I don't get to choose any of my classes. They tell me what classes I have and when I have them. The school is really really small, too. The freshman class only has 26 people in it. We have one classroom for our grade that all our classes take place in (the profs come to us). It's a lot of work and a lot of homework, but it's going to be worth it.

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Matt O'Leary
Webb Institute
Class of 2007

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception."
-Groucho Marx
08-27-2003 at 12:33 AM
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