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Computer Engineer. Physicist. Rocket engineer. Some kind of scientist. Most recently, I have been under the employ of a small Silicon Valley startup company as an image-and video- processing engineer, programming device software at the kernel-level of an esoteric variant of Berkeley Unix on a multicore, vector-processing supercomputer.
|“||nimur: so i'm wondering now..does jackleg have access to our REAL LIFE OMG REAL IDENTITY?||”|
|“||jackleg: only as much as you make available, mr moussa||”|
Wikipedia is inevitable.
- H.G. Wells predicted it in 1937
- Vannevar Bush predicted it in 1945
- Doug Engelbart demonstrated one in 1968
- Wikipedia is part of a larger trend towards free free information
I've been reading encyclopedias recreationally since early grade school. I never liked Britannica while I was growing up (I preferred the World Book Encyclopedia. I suppose it's ironic that my Wikipedia work has been copied over to Britannica). Wikipedia is helping us change the way we produce and consume information.
I try to contribute to the Wikipedia Community.
- I prefer objective, cited facts, and consider myself pretty good at discerning reliable sources - even in subjects I'm unfamiliar with.
- I often edit articles with which I have first-hand experience. Although I avoid independent research for these articles, I occasionally have editorial insights which can improve the articles.
- I have been reading a lot of random articles and learning all about the subject, then making contributions to the relevant Wikipedia articles.
- Recently, I have spent a lot of time on the Science and Computing Reference Desks. As of Spring 2010, I am the #5 and #4 most frequent contributor on these desks.
North Carolina State University
Bachelor of Science (May 2006):
- Electrical Engineering
- Computer Engineering
- Minor in Mathematics
- Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering (May 2008)
As hard as it is for me to believe, I am currently finished with school and working as a professional image-processing software engineer.
There is a difference between an education and a diploma:
- The education builds your knowledge. Wikipedia has a similar process.
- The diploma is the certification that somebody else has checked your knowledge. Wikipedia has a similar feature.
Another reason I have been contributing to Wikipedia lately is that it hones certain skills which I believe are valuable in academia and industry. These skills are practiced during usual Wikipedia activities:
- Wikipedia articles are complete, concise summaries of complex topics.
- Rapid fact-finding is useful while reading and editing articles.
- Debate and conflict handling with a wide spectrum of opponents (some rational, and some not)
- Training under 14 C.F.R. Part 61 was nothing like university education.
- In both cases, I read a lot of textbooks, did a lot of math homework, took written tests, and worked very hard. A significant period of my life was dedicated to the pursuit of education.
- It was only while learning to fly Citabrias that my instructor and I were responsible for each other's safety, and needed to actually trust each other. This rarely happened at university.
I've also been flying a Diamond DA-20 (just to see what a trike feels like). I decided that crabbing the landings is too easy and feels sloppy, so I mostly switched back to conventional gear aircraft. I have, of course, flown a few hours in the Cessna 172 and its cousin the Cessna Cardinal... both are fine aircraft for carrying friends, but they're a little bit too comfortable for myself. I also spent some time in the significantly more comfortable DA-40, including several instrument approaches using the G1000. I have not yet made up my mind on how I feel about relying on a digital computer during critical phases of flight.
To get a little extra power, I transitioned into the 7GCAA Adventure Citabria. This is still a reasonable and safe aircraft, and it feels very familiar to me; but it flies a lot smoother than the Aurora, and it's a lot harder to slow down. Among my many adventures in this aircraft, I have experienced an in-flight equipment failure (altimeter inoperative at night, probably due to dust in the static line); I have had to land on a flat tire; and I have been baked in by fog at KHAF.
More recently, I have flown the 8KCAB Super Decathlon. This aircraft is a little bit sturdier than the average Citabria. Among the inverted flight maneuvers I have conducted are the aileron roll and the loop. It is critical to maintain spatial orientation during these types of maneuvers, and to appreciate that aerodynamic forces do not necessarily align with conventional ideas about "up" and "down." Angle of attack is always measured between the airfoil and the relative wind; meanwhile, lift, drag, and thrust vectors orient themselves according to the attitude of the airframe, while weight (due to gravity) remains constant. Therefore, during a complex aerobatic maneuver, the net force on the aircraft and its occupants does not always point in an obvious direction! To make this all work, the commanding pilot must intuitively understand certain ideas about coordinated flight and be able to react quickly and correctly to non-obvious stimuli, all while under fairly extreme conditions of physiology, not the least of which is significant and variable force loading!
A few key take-aways:
- In aviation, even a small event can carry dramatic consequences. Fortunately, I have never had an actual in-flight emergency; but even a flat tire on somebody else's aircraft can be pretty harrowing.
- Short landing rolls are difficult in fast airplanes, and require excellent precision and control.
- Nose wheels are liabilities.
Recommended Reading Material
Always review all relevant information - including these fantastic texts:
- The Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
- The Aeronautical Information Manual
- Advisory Circular 00-6A: Aviation Weather, and its companion reference Advisory Circular 00-45G: Aviation Weather Services
- The other great textbooks at the FAA's free online textbook repository
I also always carry a copy of the Pilot's Guide to California Airports, an unofficial reference manual. The AF/D is the canonical reference, and I always carry a paper copy of the latest issue, but the Guide is more compact, and easier to use in-flight; it's great supplemental information.
Much of my research work has been proprietary or confidential, so I cannot always link to my own publications. This can be frustrating for an open research enthusiast!
- SRI International (Menlo Park, CA)
- IBM (Austin, TX & Durham, NC)
- Vortex Holding, LLC (Morrisville, NC)
- MIT Lincoln Laboratory (Lexington, MA)
- Lockheed Martin Space Systems, (Contractor) (Santa Cruz, CA)
- Toyota Information Technology Center, Palo Alto, CA
- I was recently listed as inventor on United States Patent 8,775,886 Architecture for a self-healing computer system (US 20100281134 A1) for this effort. This work took place almost six years ago, and the patent was granted in Summer 2014 (it is presently my most recent United States patent that is available for the public to read at no cost). Imagine how many more great things I'll be able to talk about, six years from now!
- My advice to future inventors: Be patient. It's never easy to be many years ahead of the state of the art!
- Stanford Exploration Project, Stanford, California
- Several of my publications are now available at no cost to the general public, including a numerical method I worked on for formal generalization for mathematical optimization techniques: Generalized-norm conjugate direction solver (PDF).
- One of my publications is available, at no cost, hosted by the Pervasive Parallelism Laboratory Seismic imaging using GPGPU accelerated Reverse Time Migration.
- It has been brought to my attention that this exact publication is also available for purchase through several disreputable websites, because spammers will sell anything to people who want to cheat on their homework! Please: if you would like to read that work, or even if you would like to copy it and put it forth as your own work, at least take my advice that you don't need to spend any money to get it. However, I feel confident that anyone that is dumb enough to pay money to a spammer just to take credit for my work will get everything they deserve in life - and they'll probably never read my advice anyway!