Thesis Defense

July 18, 2009 · Posted in Engineering, School · Comment 

Wish me luck, on Wednesday morning I will defend my thesis.  If you’d like to read the draft you can download it here. Amos – Thesis.pdf

I’ll put the final up here after I turn it in for binding.

Small Project

February 25, 2009 · Posted in Engineering, Photography, Project, Tools · 3 Comments 

Last August while Laurie and the kids were staying cool at more northerly latitudes I was here. I decided to remodel our office desk. When we moved in it was a door across two cabinets. Not too attractive. I bought the wood to make the new desk. I joined the planks glued them together and planed them to make each panel for the desk and then I waited for Laurie to get home and clean off the desk. She came home and still I waited. Birthday’s, Thanksgiving, Christmas, they all came and still I waited. But finally late last week she cleaned off the desk, so I could measure, alter, fit, glue, sand and finish the desk. Here are a couple photos:




Completed with everything replaced and running.


Next project: Tackle the cords.  Maybe I should invest in that wireless power technology that Tesla invented in the 1800’s that we still have yet to see applied to everyday life.

Free Educational Materials

July 11, 2008 · Posted in Engineering, Tools · 1 Comment 

I don’t usually mention specific websites, at least not here.  I stumbled on an awesome website a few minutes ago.

It is targeted to be an aid for ‘tonights homework.’  I think it is pretty cool, maybe that is just the nerd in me.  Whenever I find a repository of so much information, neat information that is worth learning about, I get very excited.  I think this may become one of my favorite websites.  Check it out.

P.S.  I really enjoy the engineering section.

Open Source

June 4, 2008 · Posted in Complaining, Engineering · 2 Comments 

Okay, I just need to vent.  I’ve spent hours analyzing papers, trying to figure out how the Texas DOT pavement method works.  Specifically how the software works that they use for pavement design.  I have the dissertation that the software was based on, and included in the dissertation is the code to the program in Fortran.  Me not knowing Fortran is beside the point, I’ll be learning it here very soon.  If you are going to put your source code at the back of your dissertation, release it open source, and put it somewhere, like

I am not going to regurgitate the Fortran, the parts I use from these old programs will be re-programmed in a language I am more fluent in.  It would be nice, however to have the code already up somewhere so I could get to it, other than having to read it line by line from a 10 year old dissertation.

On the subject of open source… I don’t understand how government entities and public university faculty can release proprietary  software.  They are funded by the public, therefore their work is owned by the public.  Shouldn’t it be open source?  Oh what a wonderful world it would be if I could just get the source code I need, instead of spending hours and hours just reading through documentation and papers to figure out how to write one tiny routine or function; especially when no information is provided about how to obtain certain variables, and I can’t ‘look under the hood’ and see how they did it.  Maybe they don’t know how to do it either, and that is why they are hiding it.

I think open source is the perfect way to program transparently.  I prefer using open source because:

  1. I can change the software to suit my needs.
  2. I can make sure the software doesn’t do anything I don’t appreciate (stealing passwords, etc).
  3. I can re-use someone else’s code in my project, provided I don’t overstep their licensing terms.  (I love the GPL).

I use quite a bit of open source.  The software that runs this blog is open source.  In fact everything on my server is open source.

I think there are a few (very few) circumstances when closed source should be used.  Right now none come to mind.  Keep in mind that open source doesn’t mean free.  I think that if I am paying $5,000+ for a license (a single license) for software, the source code should be included.  I can understand businesses that make money selling crappy software don’t want the source getting out, but when I pay so much for software I’m not paying for the program, I’m paying for the tech support.  Open source makes tech support work much better (ie less calls) because I can get under the hood and resolve my questions on my own.  Instead of calling and begging for functionality to be added to software, I can add it, or pay someone to add it for me.

I don’t like closed source and proprietary only software.


June 3, 2008 · Posted in Engineering, Updates · 2 Comments 

I decided to post updates every now and then discussing the research I am doing for my masters degree. My topic relates to pavement design in arid regions. The specific topic is the design of highway pavements on expansive subgrade.

Texas department of transportation uses a very different model to account for subgrade expansion than Arizona does. My goal is to compare the two models using soils in Arizona. If I can obtain actual pavement performance data and link it to the properties of the subgrade I will be able to determine which model provides a more accurate prediction of how the roadway will respond, and therefore recommend a design method suitable for the soil in Arizona.

At the moment it seems like a very daunting task. First I have to figure out exactly how the Texas method works, and either obtain the computer code used in Texas, or write some myself to provide pavement designs for specific soil characteristics. Since I am familiar with the design methods used by the Arizona Department of Transportation it won’t be so difficult to write computer code for this.

Once this is done it will be a bit easier. I will feed the programs the same soil data and see what the recommended pavement design is. I will then compare the results and see how the two are related, if there is any relation. If I can get my hands on pavement performance data I will feed the programs the soil information and see which, if any, of the design methods is able to predict the actual pavement performance.

Then comes the time to write.

Hopefully I will be able to have all of this done by mid November. It is still dark, but there is a little light at the end of the tunnel.

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