☛ Steve Jobs is dead.

Steve Jobs passed away today. 😔

I’ve only seen him as a public figure, of course, but I was, and will remain, a fan. I’ve admired him greatly, not just for the company he built, but for how he conducted his business—well, for the things he said and did publicly, at any rate.

A straightforward, honest man who played extremely hard when running his company, but who made sure he did the right thing all the same.

For an inkling to his way of thinking, see his Stanford commencement speech, and the interview he gave at the D8 conference.

Rest in Peace, Sir. Your legacy will live on, and will hopefully inspire the next generation of visionaries.

Cross-posted at GLobeTrekker


The Boeing 787

Boeing is in the process of launching (finally, after delays) its latest aircraft, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This is the first new major jet launched since the Airbus A380, and of course, has me interested in many ways.

Of course, on a personal-professional level (if that term makes any sense, which I have a feeling it doesn’t—anyway, I work with composite materials, remember?) the B787 is mostly made out of composites. Mostly out of carbon-fiber laminates; some out of carbon fiber sandwiches—use of metal (titanium and aluminum) is minimal.

Second, I just love the wing design. The sweep and curve upward of the wings is just beautiful. Also, it is a vast improvement over the last generation of wing-tips, which looked as if from a design perspective they were a later ‘add-on’ to a previous, flat shape. Here, finally, is a smooth, elegant, downright beautiful wing shape!

I also found this link to the B787’s design highlights. It’s an informative page, do check it out. (For information about the composites being used, go to Visionary Design→Composites.)

From the link above, I learn (among other things):

  • There is a very futuristic HUD (Head-Up Display) in front of the pilots which combines what the pilot actually sees with other useful information that the pilot needs. I’ve seen things like these in Fighter Aircraft simulations, but is this the first time it’s being used commercially?
  • The B787 is not a very large aircraft! I had inherently assumed that the plane would be B747 or A380 scale (i.e. a pretty big plane), but it’s not—it can carry a maximum of about 300 passengers, compared to the B747’s ~400 and the A380’s 525 in three classes.
  • The internal air pressure of the aircraft will correspond to a lower altitude (6000ft, as compared to 8000ft in earlier aircraft), and will have higher moisture content—meaning a more comfortable flight!

Now, what remains is for the major airlines to buy these and put them into service.


Ph.D. Candidate’?

So, I’ve defended my Ph.D. Preliminary Exam (phew), and what lies ahead are the defense of my thesis proposal, and the final Ph.D. Dissertation Defense, of course.

Does this mean I can now call myself a ‘Ph.D. Candidate’, as opposed to a Ph.D. student? Is there a difference in connotation? I’m not really sure about the protocols involved.

If you happen to know the norms (or lack of them), leave a comment, will you?


☛ When Galaxies collide…

A composite image created by combining data from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the Hubble Space telescope, this is a stunning image of two galaxies colliding. Both of them are spiral galaxies, and they are on the verge of a collision—with their disks oriented at 90 degrees to each other!

Well, “on the verge” is in galactic time scales, which means they’ll collide in a few million years. And considering that this is 450 million lightyears away from us, the event has already occurred—we just haven’t seen it yet.

A detailed description of the image is present as a caption with the photo itself. Go see it!


Choosing passwords

To the modern web user, passwords are usually a nightmare, especially with the modern trend of “your password must contain every possible category of keys”. Well, how effective is that sort of thing?

Here’s a take on that.

(By the way, a measure of a great publication of any sort is when you end up “liking” and “sharing” most of its content. XKCD is one such.)

Of course, the flip side of the argument in the comic is: most users don’t think of random sequences of words, but most often come up with the easiest-to-guess phrases. In this case, some security is better than no security.

(Oh, and don’t forget to mouseover over the comic itself. And do that over every xkcd comic. You’re welcome.)