Monthly Archives: January 2014
Let’s go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday.
– Steve Jobs
The release of the first Graphical User Interface or GUI for the masses happen on January 24th 1984 when Apple release the Macintosh. It deeply changes the face of the computer industry and how we interact with them.
In 1985, our school dumped its old language lab (with tape players) for a network of Macintosh. That same school year, we did a fully digital school year book of the 1985-1986 graduates. Photos were actually scanned using a manual B&W scanner . All texts and final page preparations were done on the Mac! It took years to replicate any of this on another platform, replicate what was done with such facility by a bunch of teenagers. A few years later at the University, one of the major student journals, using a “specialized” DOS program called Ventura Publishing, was still not able to do true WYSIWYG publications.
At the time, I had gone through the very beginning of the general public personal computing first hand with the TRS-80, Apple IIe, Vic 20 and Commodore 64. But what we did with the school Macs was, for the time, really exceptional. It was obvious to me that this was the future of the PC. I went on to work on mainframes and UNIX-based workstations (SUNOS and Solaris, HP AUX, Linux, …) for most of my early researcher career. But OSX changed everything again, no more secondary Linux box necessary, I could have everything on a single platform: the best of both world. In that, Steve Jobs’ NEXT Computer was really the next step… The NEXT computer was to play a role in the development of the World Wide Web!
Your smartphone is closer to a Star Trek tricorder than you may think!
Smartphones have really become portable, and wearable, computing devices. They can process loads of data, do real-time tracking (through GPS) and various motion tracking via integrated multi-axis sensors. Increasingly, auxiliary devices can also be attached and link to via Bluetooth 4.0. A group of researchers has recently demonstrated that the CMOS at the heart of the integrated camera of smartphones can be used as radiation detection monitors!
A recent paper by Joshua J. Cogliati, Kurt W. Derr, Jayson Wharton entitled “Using CMOS Sensors in a Cellphone for Gamma Detection and Classification”, and freely available on arXive, is demonstrating this of high energy gamma radiation and various Samsung. The idea is that when high energy photons (gamma radiations) hit the sensors, it generate high energy electrons that will leave fire the CMOS (or CCD) pixels that would otherwise have no signals. The produce “tracks” and the numbers of these tracks are representative of the amount of radiation measured by the device. This is shown on the figure above, Fig. 15 of that manuscript.
Beam me up Scotty!
I have long heard and perpetuate to my students that if you are bright enough to successfully complete a PhD in the first place, finding a job which uses your hard learned skills is usually not a problem. In fact the unemployment rate for sciences and engineering PhD holders is usually quite low (low single digits in Canada).
Still, the Chronicle of Higher Education just published a piece entitled The Ph.D.s Guide to a Nonfaculty Job Search – Advice.