Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The world needs a new Lennon

Heh.. today, Cheney was in audible distance of a suicide bombing... I wonder how he lives with himself knowing he had a big part in making the problem.

That's Karma for ya, Cheney... next time you might not luck out so much, and might be in the middle of the blast (this is what Karma tells us is likely to happen). If I were him, I'd stay clear of the whole region, else I'd really would feel I'm "pushing my luck".

I watched "The US VS John Lennon" yesterday; good movie. If Lennon were alive today, he'd probably be boggled out of his mind "Why are the exact same mistakes made in the 60's/70's being made again today?". The Bush administration needs to review their history, I think. To think... Vietnam just ended in the 70's... it's only 30 years later, and here the Western world is, making the exact same mistake (just it's Terrorism now, it was Communism then). I know history repeats itself, but come on, it's only about 30 years!

This shouldn't be a surprise: the average North American only has a 10 minute memory, anyway (damn TV).

Anyway, the Nixon administration had this normal joe put to jail for 9 1/2 years for possession of 2 joints (........ murderers hardly get 9 1/2 years, great justice system there.. :) )

Lennon sang a song, that he wrote for this normal joe, at a peace rally soon thereafter, saying "Nixon/Supreme Court Judge, you're full of shit, release this guy". The next day the jailed guy was released, as the Supreme Court came to their senses.

Of course Lennon was right; Nixon was full of shit, and resigned for the Watergate scandal not too long after. If the Bush administration had any integrity (which they don't), they would have resigned back in 2003 for their massive farce of Iraq.

Then again, the Republicans learned after Nixon was axed. The key here is, do lots of illegal stuff... just don't get caught! :)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Conan and Jim Carrey Talk Quantum Physics

Heh.. it's funny when regular people people talk about quantum physics :)

No matter what field you are in, everything comes down to pi... mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.... pie.

Anyway, I discovered on Saturday night:
drinking super sweet frozen drinks with tons of vodka, followed by chugged beer, followed by numerous chugged Saki (it's good stuff!), equals a bit of praying to the porcelain god

Saturday, February 24, 2007

It's official

Let's see.. Cheney mentioned in a conference today that military action against Iran (due to their refusal to participate with the UN in nuclear programs) is now considered on the table.

So.. let's see.. Bush and Cheney are out of most influence by 2008 elections (assuming the Democrats win); they decided to invade Iraq even though they had no real proof of "weapons of mass destruction".

Here, they have proof, and this Iran president is a fucking loon, is an Invasion of Iran next, and soon?

"It's easier to say your sorry than to ask permission".

Me thinks that is Bush's current rationale.

Hey, his administration is knee deep in a failed Iraq conquest, why not try to take over Iran? They have more oil than Iraq I bet, anyway. Perhaps if, against all odds, he could succeed in Iran, Bush's ratings would go up, and he could get re-elected; or at least, ensure a Republican gets re-elected.

All he needs to win in Iran is a massive increase in soldiers to Iraq/Iran: just send the whole fucking US and Allied Army to the region and declare major martial law; either shoot or chop of the hands, feet, and nose of any terrorists who attempt to get through the protected borders of the region. Stop fucking around over there, either go big or go home, I say ;)

Why not? FDR got re-elected a 3rd time during WW2; all Bush needs to do is start a reasonable sized war in the Middle East (which I'd say he has already).

Soon for Iran? Well, this move would have to be soon... all that's needed is Mr. Crazy President of Iran to make a bit bolder of a move...

Hopefully, of course, with Bush's low approval ratings, his administration might not be able to get away with all this. Cheney wants to get away with it: he's like the big fat guy who feeds on oil (he is an Oil exec too after all). He wants oil, and more of it, damnit, and Bush listens to Cheney.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The "Global Warming" debate - people just don't get it

All this debate over whether Global Warming is indeed "real" or "not".

Really, it SHOULDN'T MATTER.

I live in Windsor.. if I drive 5 hours North, I can "smell" "feel" the air being cleaner. I don't need a global scientific study to tell me that.

The world needs to reduce it's dependency on fossil fuels, not just because of the environment, but that's certainly a good reason!

I realize that, unless the theories of fossil fuels being "renewable" are true, that in say 20-30 years time (I'm still living I hope), our supply of oil will start to dwindle, or it will be come uneconomical and inefficient to draw the last remaining spots where oil is in abundant, yet hard to extract locations.

So..

The right move is to move more and more towards renewable energy sources, as fast as possible, to avoid a massive world crisis 20-30 years from now. We shouldn't need "global warming" to force us to do this, but maybe we do.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Some final thoughts on religion / politics and power


If science is the best thing we have to "logic" (although, come on now, some of the new science "branches" I'm not sure are always that logical), what's politics? Religion?

Religion - since for better or for worse, human beings are spiritual in nature. We wonder about an afterlife, we are the only "intelligent" beings on the earth (one could argue Dolphins are smarter, it happened in the Simpsons) , the world around is supernatural (although more is considered "natural" as we discover more.) So the concept of God, someone who ultimately created this world around us, is natural.

Religion is "organized" spirituality. Ideally, people should join a religion for a sense of community, spiritual fulfillment, etc. However, such is not the case in practice. In practice, "those people in power" seemingly more often than not, force their brainwashing upon their "followers" for pursuits of power. Examples: the Crusades, mass Muslim conversion by the sword, Muslim terrorist extremists, Christian extremists, etc etc.

That's why religion bugs me. I'm a spiritual guy, but religion it's just a tool that seemingly goes wrong more often than not, because well, most things are like that (politics, for example.). Humans are humans: some are greedy, some are perverts, pedophiles, assholes, all round nice people (we'd like to hope most fit this category), it doesn't matter if their priests, politicians, lawyers or janitors.

The problems in the world today are in part due to religion, but in the end, it's not really religion: it's religious people getting caught up in a power struggle.

For example,

The US

It's current leader clearly does things for religious regions, ie. stem cell research, that fucking retarded joke of a president. He also does things because him and all of his friends are oil gurus, but I won't get on to that.

Then there's the Muslim terrorist situation: in a largely poverty stricken region, where a group of wealthy rich oil tycoons live in prosperity, which situation the US makes better (and much worse) through it's foreign policies.


This situation is a breeding ground for "rebellion", and the Muslim religion is it's tool. Similarly, politics aren't the problem, it's the people in charge, and also, the systems themselves, and human nature.



It's hard for me to take organized religion serious when their leaders are so in denial of the world around them. Also, the Bible is the biggest "joke" ever when taken seriously, and woe to our world right now for the extremists who do (this also goes for the Koran,etc).

PEOPLE are blowing themselves up and raising people as Bush lovers, ultimately, based on what some people wrote 2000-6000 years ago and has been rewrote a zillion times in the world's biggest game of "phone tag". I've read some of the Bible, it's cool and all, but taking it "word for word" has got to be one of the most absurd things I've ever heard of.

Perhaps I'll become a buddhist -- I've never heard of buddhist name attached to terrorism; I can't say the same for "my" religion, or any of the other "Abraham God" religions: Jewish, Christian ("Catholicism" being a subbranch), Muslim.

Buddhists believe in balance in life, karma, etc etc.

The Bible is ridiculous:

Part 1: The vengeful God who zaps people with lightning and petrifies them for being gay, and then we're supposed to believe the same "God" wished the New Testament, Part 2, to be divinely written by the gospel people.

Part 2: Love is good, Jesus says so (much better message than the Old Testament.) Too bad some people read between the lines too much...

So, let me get this straight, the Divine God, creator of the 10 Billion + year old galaxy, 6 billion year old planet, whose natural laws make the world go round, made a big lapse in judgement in the Old Testament days, and then had a change of heart?


Anyway, I'm reminded of the song lyrics:


Mick Jagger:
"I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
I shouted out,
Who killed the Kennedy's?
When after all
It was you and me
"

The world is as it is because of people I mentioned before. Is Mick Jagger singing about the devil? Or the human result of many leaders conquest of power? Is this really any different than what's going on today? Somehow I don't think so.

I hate to use the US / middle east as examples: Our PM is not much better- Harper's an idiot who follows dumbass ideologies. Sure, he's going with the environment thing now, but only because he has to "go with the flow": those ice caps are a meltin', and people are taking notice. He didn't even have a plan and just borrowed the Liberals. I hope the Liberals get him kicked out early like he did to them (as it turns out, some people the Conversatives falsely accused of financial scandals.)

What will a PHD take?

So.. this PHD will require:

good supervisor
-
my supervisor is being pushy lately, but that could mean he's just concerned about me finishing my defense by May (as that seems to be the target of one of the other guys in my lab.)

-then again, I know we don't communicate very well. The thing is, I'm not sure if any of the professors at Windsor in EE would be "better" than X Chen. What I mean is, some are either likely more of a "hard ass" then his, retiring this year, not doing research I'm interested in, etc. However, I can think of the new EE prof ( Stephen O'Leary, who I'm TA'ing for) who I'd likely get along with well - I joke around with him a lot ... as a supervisor, who knows?.

- If I choose a different supervisor (and probably subject area) I lose a lot of time. I'm just getting used to literature in my subfield of control systems. Additional background survey work would take 4 months. I have a hardware platform to validate my ideas, which would lose me at least another 4 months time to build another for another subject area entirely. Approx 8 months.

- passing the comprehensive (which basically means you have to know the 8 core subject areas of UofW undergrad program in EE). I have an advantage here is that I have old "comprehensives" from which to study, know the curriculum well, and the professors who make the questions.


problem to focus on, proper motivation

Electric Power steering is interesting.. but not that interesting anymore to me anymore. The advanced motor drive control I've developed could potentially be applied to other types of electromechanical systems.

Like:

"Active Suspension" -- the idea has been around for a while, but no product yet available on a commercial vehicle. Bose is working on one.

"Brake by Wire" "Steer-by-Wire (no mechanical linkage, drive with a joystick!)".. I've did enough Steering stuff. I'd prefer to keep my mechanical linkage, thank you. It's the best "fault tolerance" you can design for a steering system. That is, if the electronics in your car fail, you don't die. ;)

Electronic braking (ABS) and EPS (electric power steering) are pretty much standard on vehicles now a days.

Hyrbid and electric vehicle technology are somewhat readily available, but again, could be improved by better controls I'm sure. Some of these systems get into heavy vehicle based modeling; I know the electric actuator part better.

Problem: these above subjects have been tackled even more then EPS.

So.. what then.....

Return to our Capstone 4th year project!

The fully varied, linear electric motor actuated, intake and exhaust valves to open and close IC engine valves.

Our system used "linear motors" (solenoids); the main limitation here was the size/power ratio of the solenoids could not meet the demands to drive the IC engine fast enough. However, I know hobbyists who have mastered the idea: it works, but doesn't work very well.

Our design used just a one-way solenoid to open the valve, and a spring to return it. Simple, and cheaper, is better here: more mechanical parts mean more wear. On a 6 cylinder 4 valve engine, that's 24 seperate actuators that would be needed. They need to have simple drivers, be heat efficient (being on the engine cylinder heads). However, changing the control design (assuming you don't have to add many sensors, which is the focus of my current research) just means adding some lines of code to your microcontroller.

Besides, there's many control objectives for the actuator:

- it needs to have a smooth motion (preferably "fit" the sinusoidal cam profile);
- it needs to deliver that power fast (as valves open, hold, and then close each time your engine makes a revolution... that goes past 7000 RPM!).
- there must be enough force available initially to ensure the actuator begins to move.
- Once the solenoid is done opening the valve, it needs to apply only the power required to hold the valve open, not more (as this wastes energy, and dissipates tons of heat in the solenoids.)
- Variable Valve timing required (this can be done with a few hall effect sensors mounted on an IC engine, as per our Capstone.)
- Variable valve lift required
- You need to dynamically control the position of valve (variable valve lift) - preferably without more hardware.

So, the controller here probably HAS to be complex. EPS only 3 basic objectives, in comparison, and dynamics are more linear. So, it's a good target for advanced control design. I suppose advanced aircraft engine or actuators would be interesting, too ( a fellow grad student is working on advanced design for a jet aircraft engine.)

All this implies you need to know information about your system to make better "control decisions" to make the actuator work better. You can certainly measure the force of the actuator (by measuring the current with a $0.01 resistor). You might might need speed/position information to do this, or know, or at least estimate, the "gas" force holding down the solenoid.

Indeed, my idea is perhaps more important now. Not having to add a $20 tachometer or $200 torque sensor to your steering assembly is still a big deal; having to add 24 high speed position sensors to the valve actuators would be expensive and a wiring/failure nightmare.

Most current industry research solutions use a dual acting valve -- that is, 2 solenoids, which allows you to use weaker springs and solenoids. No commercialized product, yet, though.

So, if my supervisor wants to get into more demanding, state of the art, vehicle/engine controls, this is the way to go.


Finally, I would have to:
-pass the comprehensive (which basically means you have to know the 8 core subject areas of UofW undergrad program in EE). I have some advantages: I have old "comprehensives" from which to study, know the curriculum well, and the professors who make the questions.


I figured out some things:

1) My supervisor and I were looking at my master's thesis problem much different: I found a solution to a similar problem recently published in literature in order to solve the problem he gave me: "Fault tolerant control for an EPS"; my idea was to combine other methods to improve said performance. That's what he has been saying for over a year now, as to what I need to do to get my master's (which implies a publishable(s) result).

2) I look at the research in what I can do to finish my master's -whereas my supervisor wants papers suitable for good publication.

3) I've learned a few things about "what a suitable paper is".
- it must be published, preferably, in a prestigious journal
- the problem must seem overly complex: trying to simplify a problem to a readable level gets your paper jettisoned quickly.
-this makes a PHD a nightmare, since your main job is to "defend" is to have a published paper(s) in "good" journals.
- in order to do this, your contribution "to the known scientific and technological knowledge" must be "significant".

The requirements of a PHD sound pretty vauge to me, heh. However, my "variable valve" idea has one advantage: there's little to no literature out there on the subject! Most info is a tightly held industry secret, as there are no commercial designs available.

4) Getting a PHD is a game of psychology. The hardest part is keeping yourself motivated enough to finish.

5) "Engineering" does not equal "research". Engineering is to implement/design based around an idea, based on scientific principles. Journal paper publishing research only overlaps engineering sometimes. :)

5) I learned truly "what I'm good at". Quite simply, I'm good at focusing on one thing at a time, and trying my best to finish it. Unfortunately, this makes me bad at most other things besides "nerdism" and "booksmartism" (like multitasking, or cooking a large multi-course meal).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Wow, what a day . . . . . . . . life direction, and more (long)!

I get bitched out by my supervisor for like 4+ hours!

Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration.

There was a 40 minute weekly group seminar and 35 minutes of me waiting in the faculty lounge waiting for "I'll just be a minute" him talking to a fellow faculty member. I didn't mind waiting, as I was talking to a friend / fellow grad student.

He calls me back over to see him, and I get up, and as I walk into his office, and he says, at once,
"What took you so long ?????", and I said "Well... I don't know what you are talking about, I was just saying goodbye to a colleauge about 20 seconds", and he quickly went back to discussing my research. Him and the prof are friends and chummy chummy, so he was he mad at me or what?

Throughout this 4 hour discussion, he thought I was wrong, and he was right. Which is good, which makes me "defend" the idea --- he wants me to ready for my defense in May.

This today, after he asked me yesterday: when do you plan to do your 2nd seminar? My answer was April-May area. One of my fellow master students in the lab (who started the same time I did) is doing his 2nd seminar March 6th. I have some results, and just need to get 1 more, before I'm ready, I suppose. Throwing together a presentation isn't quite as long as writing the thesis, which I figure I can write in 2 weeks with solid editing / organization hints from my supervisor. I gave him for the next 8 weeks or so (by the end of April), then. I think I can at least meet that.

Let's just say communication with my current supervisor is difficult, since we think on entirely different wavelengths a vast majority of the time. Lots of times when I've tried to present my ideas or preliminary results, he shrugs them off as insignificant. He tries his best, in his own way, and I try my best, in my own way, but... :)

I can't help to think my supervisor is a bit of eh... I don't want to say asshole, but just a hard ass, so to speak. After chatting with fellow students in the lab (one about to finish his PHD), I realize most everyone else thinks of him the same way: he's tough to get along with, expects a lot, and tries his best to make you a good researcher, even if he has to be a hardass, I guess.

So here I am, at a "CrossRoad" in my life. If I can manage to start a PHD (with a continued scholarship) and teach, I should do it. If I can finish the PHD in a reasonable 2 - 2 1/2 years of study (and I'll have to know by the end of 1 year of study), that would be ideal.

I was speaking with my friend Eric (my friend Joe's brother) while waiting for X Chen in the faculty lounge today. He's looking at the job market to (trying to finish up his Master's in Mechanical Engineering.)
While shooting the shit, he asked me what my plans were, and I told him of teacher's college, possible PHD, job.. blah blah. Then he mentions "Why stay in Windsor?" - family/friends.

Then he tells me of jobs in California, such as at Lockheed -- jobs requiring a PHD in EE, ME, comp science, etc or other technical field - which start at $110K a year. Wow- but I'm sure the cost of living is through the roof.

So, with said PHD plan, the job market is open to anywhere, even in most of Ontario, with good salaries. Post-doc positions at companies pay much better than academia (obviously.) I could also try to find a professorship, but those are hard to come by these days, but not impossible. Teaching high school physics/math would also be cool, as I would also have my teacher's certificate too.

I don't want to get ahead of myself, though... a PHD is serious business. They don't call you doctor for nothing (Ross.. you're not a real Doctor!).

It's like a much more serious, longer, and vigorous master's. Choosing a good supervisor, problem to focus on, proper motivation, and having research skills are a must.

So.. I have to consider said factors. Those "how to survive grad student" guides become more real.

So... I want to finish a PHD fast (2 1/2 years). This means a lot of hard work, but doable, maybe.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mr Harper, tsk tsk.

Hrmm.. I just don't have too much hope in Mr Harper and his conservatives. I hate to pick on him; however, lately, he's as easy to pick on as Bush.

Why? Let's see his new plan:

  • Further tax reductions as part of a comprehensive economic agenda;
    - by flip flopping taxes some more, ie, + income tax for everyone, - GST. Way to go, dumbass.

  • Continued steps to tackle crime;
    - His idea is probably getting harder on drugs and throw more druggies in jail. We pay more money to further the "war on drugs" just like the US wants us to fund the "War on Terror". Way to go, dumbass.

  • Further strengthening Canada‚Äôs global image and rebuilding the Canadian Forces;
    - By keeping in line with "Pro Bush"ism's? He's not going to be in power much longer, dumbass
  • - US and Canada politics seem to be "leading" to a withdrawl from IRAQ, and perhaps, Afghanistan. Like it or not, many people, including the Russian PM and other leaders in the Middle East, think the US needs to get the hell out of there, as the only true lasting solution for peace.
    - Now, whether these leaders are saying it because it's true, or whether they want to further their own agendas in terrorism, remains to be seen.
    - Canada is getting a rosy view of Afghanistan. Some believe the situation is much closer to at least a minor civil war than the media makes us believe.
    - All of the money the US (and probably Canada) is giving to Iraq, and likely Afghanistan gov'ts, is 90% going to corruption.
    - This seems to imply we should get the fuck out of these countries and let these idiots manage themselves.

  • Clear, decisive steps to protect our environment.
  • -Like stealing the Liberal's plan for global warming compliance, when everyone started focusing on the problem and you had no plan, because the Conservatives are all about pro-corporation/industry? Dumbass.

    A PHD!? NO! Say it Ain't So!

    Batman.

    Lately, fortunately, my brain has been working in over-drive. I've gotten 10 times further in my project in the past 6 months than I seemingly accomplished in the first year? Why? I changed my attitude about life, and got through a rocky spot in my life. Everything else went from there.

    And now my life takes a different path --- this January, I decided that Dani and I should get married this August; when I told my supervisor today, he was shocked -- then I told him, remember, I've been engaged for 4 years already!

    My idea: move forward, even if you don't have a concrete plan for the future (is there such a thing?). Hell, that's the advice I was given by people much older and wiser than I. If you don't, you'll never move forward.

    Now my dilemma: I want to teach.. means teacher's college next year, of which I've already applied. I have an interest in physics; as really, engineering, especially electrical, is applied physics. Teaching high school physics or electrical engineering technology courses with a completed Master's was my plan.

    However, I have my own place, want to get a bigger place someday, buy one within a few years, have kids within a few more years perhaps -- I need money, sooner rather than later.

    So the problem is funding - I need at least $20K (as I'll have to pay for my schooling + living).

    If I'm not in grad studies, I could still TA (less pay).

    I'm looking for a full-time-ish (with flexible hours) job for next year to fund myself through teacher's college and get some experience at the same time. It's not easy, especially in the Windsor area, though I do have a few prospects.

    Today I came across a fellow PHD was Master's level mechanical engineering student.. who got his scholarship transferred. I asked him why he decided to do umpteen more years of school, and he said "well I have it good, why would I want to leave"?


    So... my supervisor and I both now have confidence in my so called "potential" ability - he would like me to continue to do my PhD if I like.

    I have said no (not to him, only to myself), because it will take me 5 years, and I'm too late to apply for scholarships.
    It seems that's not true if I "transfer" though, as my scholarship would "transfer".

    This really seems the "logical" conclusion right now... it would solve all my money problems for the next 2 years. That would be my maximum amount of funding from NSERC (and I would imagine most other large scholarships).

    2 years to get a PHD in electrical engineering.. no problem.. right? .... right? HAH. I'll have to discuss it with my supervisor.

    Friday, February 09, 2007

    Foo Fighters Acoustic

    I suggest listening to some Foo Fighters acoustic (whether studio acoustic or live acoustic).... wow.

    To think, I didn't think they sounded exceptionally good in concert, but their acoustic versions rock!

    I think it's because I love the guitar and vocals in the songs-- but not the heavy version where they scream a lot. ;)

    Monday, February 05, 2007

    Some thoughts on Windsor

    Windsor... pollution ridden, crazy drivers, in fact very Americanized, the butt end of Canada...

    yet, it's home in many ways. I know that if I move off to somewhere else in Canada (say, in BC, Alberta, or just a different region of Ontario), Windsor will still be my home. Most of my family and friends live here.

    Anyway, I was trying to discover the starting salaries of college (AKA St. Clair) teachers to see how they compared to high school teaching, which is more than I thought. A high school teacher with a master's degree starts at $50K/yr, 85K over 10yrs. Not too shabby.

    I never did find out the St. Clair situation, butI discovered: Canada statistics on Labour. Here's a derived table that didn't surprise me:


    Windsor's the hardest hit in unemployment over the past 6 years because it follows the industry. Why isn't London on here, or most areas around Toronto (note that Toronto is on the list)?

    Diversification in industry.

    London has auto, aero, and medical.

    Windsor has.. auto.

    Whoever's really in charge of Windsor, should look into trying to build-up at least one other industry in Windsor. This would take probably at least a few decades, but Windsor could become as big or bigger than London.

    People ask me all the time now "so can you find a job in your field?"

    Answer "very easily. The job market is very open now in most technical fields. However, there's nothing much in Windsor".