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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Get a copy of IBM Lotus Symphony sent to you for FREE

IBM Lotus Symphony

IBM is sending out copies of its Lotus Symphony Office Suite, for free.

This Office Suite contains

    • A Word Processor - IBM Lotus Symphony Documents [M.S. Office equivalent - Word]
    • A Spreadsheet application - IBM Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets [M.S. Office equivalent - Excel]
    • A Presentation application - IBM Lotus Symphony Presentations [M.S. Office equivalent - Powerpoint]

You may place an order for your copy here.

Thanks Manish for the info.

A Suggestion: Since the Office Suite is a Freeware, you can also download it from their website – a quicker and better option IMO.

Order the CD only if you have a very slow Internet connection or no connection at all [just my personal stand].


Friday, September 26, 2008

My encounter with a plagiarizer [aka Fraudster]

Close enough to how I feel

Gentle(wo)men, I have arrived. My blog is on an illustrious path to greatness; a path, aspired by all but tread by  only a miniscule few till now - indulging in an occasional self-delusional reverie is quite pleasant an experience :-).

Net folklore are replete with instance of monsters (leech sites) trying to steal and drink the immortality potion from the honest-to GOD, hardworking farm boy [me, the David-sque Blogger]. Till the farm boy rose up to the tyranny and slayed the monster. Okay, its not all that dramatic, but if I can’t indulge in a bit of hyperbole on my own blog, where can I?

Towards the beginning of this week, I discovered that a website [from now on referred to as a ‘dust-bin’], had been displaying posts from my blog on its site and re-directing it under its own URL (made me feel a little important initially – after all you only copy stuff that you know is good, hence the first few sentences). Anybody clicking on that link would come to my blog, but the address in the address bar would still be shown as that of the dust-bin. To compound to the matter, these re-directed posts made its way into search engine results and many were being displayed even before my own.

my mail to the dustbin owner Even though this blog is not monetized, being at the receiving end of a plagiarism attempt hurts in no small measures. A look at the dust-bin indicated that it had used one of my combined feeds which I had directed through Yahoo! pipes. It included feeds from my Tumblog along with this. Since it was not being used for anything significant, I disabled it so that the dust-bin would get no more fodder from my blog. Being a little pre-occupied with college stuff, only yesterday was I able to send them a mail asking them to remove my blog and all my posts from their dust-bin.

Dust-bin owner replies back, giving excuse Instead of complying with my request, the dust-bin owner tried to justify his fraudulent practice by claiming that it is good for the target blog [my content appears under your URL, no back links for my posts, a Ph.D in Quantum Mechanics needed to figure how to disable the re-directed URL – a lot of good it does to my blog].

My reply to the dust-bin owner So I sent the guy another mail reiterating my stand of getting my blog de-listed from his dust-bin.

Dust-bin owner sends message to his goons Came back home, to receive a BCC of this mail. Felt quite not-so-bad.

Such fraudulent sites exist for one reason only – money. If you have to hit them, hit them where it would hurt them the most – tell them that you are willing to cut off their supply of money. I mentioned contacting his advertisers and informing them, and as a result, got his undivided and immediate attention [a reply from him in just around an hour].

Knowing that his conduct is essentially a criminal offence I mentioned the Information Technology Act 2000 and informed him of my willingness to file a complain. If you are from a different country, then you should explore similar Acts that has been legislated by your country. As an afterthought, I even considered contacting his host and informing them of the kind of site they are hosting. I informed him about this too. Not surprisingly my site was de-listed from the dust-bin.

Since the site is hosted in the United States of America, the option of filing a complain under the DMCA was also available to me, but had no intention of doing so – its the personal blog of your everyday Engineering student after all. But if you have the time, knowledge and resources and have a lot to lose due to plagiarism, then by all means do pursue that course of action.

If you visiting my blog, and reading this, do pay the offending dust-bin a visit and checking if he is stealing backlinks from your site.

Not sure if how helpful I would be, but if you need some help from me regarding this, then feel free to mail me – my email is listed in the About me page [my messed up template is preventing comments from being posted on my blog].


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Engineering power behind NASCAR & Dragster races

Nascar Racing pit babes If you are an Auto fiend and an Engineer(-ing buff), then the articles published in this month’s Manufacturing Engineering magazine should be of interest to you. Published by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, these articles give a glimpse into the Engineering muscles flexed in order to make NASCAR & Dragster racings possible.

Going through the articles, realized that these guys make use some seriously bleeding-edge hardware to fabricate components used in these cars - PM-600 Cosmos five-axis MC, MCV 4020 VMC and the likes. Some of the Machine Tools deployed achieve tolerances measured in microns.

In spite of operating a setup having typically low volume production runs, the fact that the teams chose to make use of these Machine tools, speaks in no small terms about them.

Not only are they using cutting-edge machine tools, but the teams are also deploying ERP solutions to handle their inventory,logistics & production scheduling.

These races showcase the very best of Automotive Technology and team owners and suppliers employ the very best of Manufacturing Engineering to gain that competitive edge in performance.


read the complete articles

NASCAR Is All About Teamwork

Waterjet Cuts Fast in High-Speed Sport

Shops Upgrade Drag-Racer Production

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Redefine English with Wordia – an online video dictionary [victionary]

Bungalow: A small, one-storey home built in a turn of the century style, often with a prominent front verandah.

Says who


Don’t agree with the definition of a word decided by some lingo scholar who hasn’t stepped out of the confines of his classroom in a millennium. No sweats. You now have the power to redefine the meaning of any word you want and announce it to the whole world, courtesy Wordia.

Combining the concept of the Urban Dictionary and Wiktionary and taking it one step ahead, Wordia infuses video into the task of re-defining/inventing words. The results are both quite amusing and, on occasions, more relevant than the more traditional version of dictionary.

If a word has been defined by more than one member, then the other videos are shown on a sidebar for you to select.

After viewing the video definition, you can rate it to indicate its relevancy and accuracy.

It would also be a good idea to impose a restriction on the duration of video, as a dictionary is supposed to provide you with a snappy and concise definition, not a long meandering sermon.

Being a relatively new service, the member count is expectedly low [most of the words defined were from people attending the Edinburgh festival,  probably asked to do so without prior intimation]

It is an interesting and potentially useful service started, provided they enforce strict quality controls on the videos being uploaded. A free online video dictionary, in my opinion, would be a much better way to learn words than the older text-based approach.

So if you have a word that need some re-defining or want to introduce your own concocted word to the world, go ahead and shoot yourself doing so and then share it with everyone on Wordia.


Friday, September 19, 2008 - Sergey Brin’s personal blog

Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, launched his personal blog - yesterday. Coming from one of the co-founders of an entity people have started equating to GOD, it is sure to attract lots of eyeballs and become far more influential than any other blogger can ever hope to be [provided he finds time enough to update it regularly]. As mentioned on his blog, he intends to write about his activities and involvement outside of Google [his involvement with Parkinson's disease research has been posted on the blog].

Surely when it comes to a high-profile celebrity tech bloggers – it doesn’t quite get bigger than this.

Got to know of this through the blog of yet another high-profile tech blogger – Matt Cutts.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Design Engineers, I.T. and Crowdsourcing

The September issue of M.E Magazine carries an interesting article about the future of Design Engineering, the tools used and the nature of their work environment.

It talks of the ability to prepare CAD drawings by simply sketching the design drawing on to the screen, an activity we are more comfortable with, instead of using mouse clicks and command line to do the same.

It also talks about the ability to design a product by holding, touching and moving it while designing even while it exists only virtually. It would be achieved by developing effective Haptic technology [Wii remote and force-feedback devices being the initial iterations of this technology].

But what really got me all excited is the concept of developing a collaborative environment whereby the Design Engineers, separated by vast geographical distances can come together to form a team on an ad-hoc basis, develop the product and once ready for production, disperse to join up on to other such ad-hoc design teams. By leveraging the power of I.T. solutions and connectivity provided by the Internet, such a team can be made possible for even the most complex of Engineering design projects. This concept of forming ad-hoc teams over a virtual environment to develop something and then sharing its profit without ever having to come coming face-to-face with each other is known as Crowdsourcing.

This system of collaboration, if successfully implemented can prove to be a boon for our countries R&D efforts, especially in the Defense sector. DRDO, is presently facing an acute shortage of manpower due to high attrition rate. As a result, quite a few of our country’s developmental programs are running behind schedule. In order to tide over this manpower shortage, DRDO has now decided to recruit people on a program-oriented contractual basis. This, it is expected, would address the manpower issue and help speed up our developmental programs.

I would not be very far off when saying that some of the finest individuals teaching in Universities abroad happen to be from India. As professors, they are entitled to go on Sabbatical for a couple of years [ball park figure]. Having lived abroad for a significant time, they may not be very open to the idea of coming back to work in India even if they wish to give back to the country [different work culture and red-tapism being the major reasons].

By developing an effective system of Crowdsourcing for Engineers, DRDO should be able to tap into this vast pool of brilliant minds who could be employed to be part of our developmental programs. By involving them in the program, not only would we be able to engage the best minds in our programs, but also get back our schedule on track to achieve our targets of excellence.

You may read the full article here

design futures


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kolkata IndiBlogger Meet 2008

Kolkata Blogger Meet 2008 IndiBlogger will drop anchor at Kolkata with their extremely popular Blogger meet sessions. The meet is tentatively scheduled to be held of the 21st of September [as of 14th September, venue yet to be announced]. If you are as passionate about blogging as the people organizing it and would like to meet and hang out with other such like-minded people, then make it a point to attend the meet. You do need to confirm your participation online beforehand though.

Indiblogger is an online community of Indian Bloggers [or blogs of Indian interest]. The people behind the site have been organizing such offline meets across the country for some time now. Some of their earlier meets were held at Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune among others.

Though I haven’t quite attended one of these meets myself, going by all reports [and media coverage it receives] it sounds like a real fun meet to attend. If you are in Kolkata on that day and looking forward to do something interesting, then you might want to check it out.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Create a free mobile blog with your own domain name using Mofuse

If you are accessing this blog from a mobile phone, then you might want to access the mobile version of my blog – If you have an existing blog, then you can make it easy to access through a mobile phone using Mofuse.

Mofuse is a free service that will optimize your existing blog to make it suitable for viewing through a mobile phone. Registration is a simple quickie affair. On successful registration you would get an address that looks like, where example is what you choose as your subdomain while registering. So far so good.

If you have your own domain name, then Mofuse allows you to use it along with your mobile blog. Please note that though you will use your own domain name, while registering, you must enter a suitable * name – it will be used later when you are setting up your domain name with the mobile blog.

Once registered when you go to your control panel, look at the bottom left corner and you will find your mobile blog listed.

Mofuse mobile site

Mofuse custom domain name

Clicking on it will open a page that lets you customize your mobile blog. At the top left corner you will find the, Custom Domain link – click on it.

In the page that opens up, enter the domain name along with the desired sub-domain you want to associate with the mobile blog. I used m as the sub-domain and entered it accordingly.

custom domain name with mofuse

Look below and you will find the instruction to add a CNAME value to your domain records. Note it down and you may now log out.

Mofuse CNAME value

Now go to your DNS Nameserver control panel and add the CNAME value for the domain name. Once it has been added, you may have to wait up to 48 hours for your mobile blog to be accessible.

DNS Nameserver CNAME value for Mofuse

Once accessible you could let people know about it so that if they access your blog from their mobiles they can view a mobile-phone optimized version of your blog. Mofuse recently made all the feature of their paid version accessible in the free version too. Using these features you can also create pages for your mobile blog, independent of your existing blog.  Play around with it to pimp up your mobile blog. If you are an iPhone user, the you may want to visit the iPhone optimized version of my blog –

You can also create and customize your mobile blog with the help of WireNode. What is unique about WireNode is that you can create a full standalone mobile blog with it.

However it does not allow you to use your domain name. Your mobile site will get an address like My mobile blog created with Wirenode – Haven’t worked much on it. Just a kludge job.

Hope you found it useful.


Going through gazillions of blogs and sites, I found that I posses no new insight on the GBrowser. So no re-inventing the wheel. But I did come across this site which has themes for the beautifying Chrome. You may get it here – FreeChromeThemes.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Get a free Game CD from

Free Zapak Game CD

Zapak Gaming, owned by the Ambani is giving away free CDs of their newest online game game – some racing game it appears. Go ahead and order your copy. Will reach your place in 10-15 days [so they say]. Offer valid only in India.

Thanks Manish.



P.S.: If you have subscribed to my blog’s feeds and find that it is occasionally re-sending you some old, already received posts, then please do let me know. Though I am not sure what is causing it, I would try to figure it out.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Manufacturing 03 – The Digital Thread

Previous parts – Part 1, Part 2

The Digital Trail

CFD model of the F-35 Joint Strike fighter

The need to be provided with easily comprehended, accurate data in a timely manner is of absolute imperative when on a developmental pursuit of the magnitude of the Joint Strike Fighter [JSF] program. The scale of operation of the Joint Strike Fighter program is such that it is bound to generate a gargantuan amount of data that needs to be accessed by hundreds of concerned individuals situated in disparate geographical locations.

Equally important is the fact that this data must be accessed in a manner that is easily comprehended by the seeker and it must leave no room for misinterpretation that could possibly result in costly losses. Any change in the value or nature of the data must be reflected accurately and instantly all across wherever that data is accessed so that it can be taken into account while taking decisions. Efficient management of the generated data and maintaining its integrity is thus of paramount importance in ensuring the success of the JSF program. Taking this end into consideration, the data management and transfer is handled by what has now come to be known as The Digital Trail.

The digital thread is in essence an interlinking arrangement where the suite of software solutions being used for the Joint Strike Fighter program have access to a common, central information database from which it can both retrieve and submit data which can then be accessed by the other softwares as and when needed by them. Data generated at each step of the developmental process in the JSF program is automatically updated into the database, that then makes it available for access by anybody who seeks the data. This digital information database ensures that any change in value of the data is duly and accurately reflected at all points of access. Thus the seeker receives up-to-date and accurate information, that enables him/her to take the appropriate decision involving that data. By linking the various softwares involved, it is possible to transfer the same generated data from one software package to another. Thus the name Digital Trail. Digitized data also ensures data integrity. This data that is generated by the design engineers would be used through the entire life-cycle of the aircraft. The goal is to reuse the original data without having to reproduce it manually that would increase the chances of errors creeping in.

The backbone of this Digital Thread is the Product Lifecycle Management [PLM] software solution deployed to handle the generated data and co-ordinate a collaborating network on a global scale. It has been estimated that the approximately 1.5 million parts aircraft has generated around 20 Terabytes of data till date and is only expected to increase with time, thus requiring a robust scalable platform. This increasing product database will have to be managed through the estimated 50 year lifecycle of the aircraft. To manage this data, the JSF team had acquired the Metaphase Enterprise Software developed by the Structural Dynamics Research Corporation [SDRC]. This has since been upgraded to the latest Teamcenter 2005 Product Lifecycle Management Software developed by the Unigraphics Corporation [which acquired SDRC and renamed the product to Teamcenter Enterprise, which has since itself been acquired by Siemens]. The Joint Strike Fighter program currently uses around 13500 licenses of the Teamcenter solution.

The objectives of the PLM software in the JSF program is even more stringent and challenging considering that it has to handle data requisition of partners from different countries. While providing them with the data round the clock 24/7, the software ensures that the data provided pertains only to that part of the program in which the partner is involved and must be in conformance with US regulatory laws like the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) as also protection of Intellectual Property Rights [IP].

Yet another challenge the PLM software addresses is coordinating the manufacturing of the various sub-assemblies at different locations which would then be brought to the Final Assembly and Checkout [FACO] line at Forth Worth, Texas and in future Italy and UK where FACO lines are proposed to be set up. It results in quicker assembly time as they are being assembled in tandem as opposed to sequential assembly. This is a marked deviation from the earlier practice of assembling the whole aircraft from start to finish in one location. It drastically increases the number of parameters the software has to monitor and keep track of while ensuring the smooth functioning of the process. Efficient and effective interaction with the supply chain to provide the right part at the right time in the right quantity at the right location has to be effectively tackled by the PLM solution. Some of the other tasks the solution performs include managing multiple bills-of-materials, material specifications, parts catalogs, detailed product geometry created by multiple computer-aided design (CAD) systems among others.

Such requirements, when there is a large amount of overlapping of interests, demands a PLM solution that performs at the absolute best. Effective use of the PLM solution through the developmental phase of the aircraft brought about a saving of around $62 million USD. It would not be inappropriate to say that the JSF program is changing the way one would expect PLM to function and lessons learned here would find application in PLM solution deployment in other industries.

The aircraft has been designed completely in solid model using the Catia V4 and V5 packages developed by Dassault Systèmes which were run on Silicon Graphics Octane2 and Silicon Graphics Fuel workstations. Silicon Graphics Visual Workstations along with Onyx2 systems and Origin 2000 servers were used for simulation and analysis. Besides achieving an accurate, detailed representation of the aircraft to be built, this also ensured that each and every point on a designed part has been referenced accurately with respect to the other points on the part in a 3-D space. The relative positions of each and every point of the part is available in a digital format. This helps CNC-controlled machine tools to accurately orient the tool with reference to the component surface. As a result, parts can be accurately machined to extremely close tolerances using the CNC machine tools interfaced with the software. This would not have been easily achieved earlier. The high quality of machining achieved is quite effectively reflected by the fact that almost no 'traveled work' is needed on a part, i.e., a part that is manufactured and brought to the final assembly location does not need a rework at the final assembly plant before mating it with other components. This digital definition of the product will then be used through the entire lifecycle of the product – tooling, manufacturing, assembling as well as support.

Catia Netaphase Interface [CMI] developed by T-Systems

Yet another evidence of the Digital Thread and its associated benefits - the JSF team directly transfers data from its Teamcenter Enterprise product management system into CATIA and vice versa. This enables data generated by Teamcenter to be visually represented with ease in CATIA without resorting to cumbersome, time consuming, manual data transfer. This also aids the accuracy of data transferred. This seamless integration and transfer of data has been made possible using the commercially available Catia Metaphase Interface [CMI] system developed by T-Systems, which has since been customized to cater to this program.

The Virtual Product Development Initiative [VPDI] of Lockheed Martin aimed to create a complete virtual environment for designing and testing the aircraft. Its objective was to create a platform where design testing and analysis of the aircraft could be performed in a virtual environment, based on which subsequent design iterations too could be made and tested in the same environment. This would do away with the need to create a physical model to test the initial iterations and thus push the creation of the physical model right to the end when in the process of final design validation. It aimed to provide everyone involved in the product definition with the relevant information and latest version of sought data and a platform to collaborate their efforts without being hindered by the distance of their physical location.

It has acquired licenses to use Deneb Robotics Inc's simulation software to test and validate its manufacturing and maintenance process in a virtual environment before implementing it on the floor. This virtual environment is being used to simulate the different aspects of JSF design, manufacturing and support which allows the team to detect any flaws and bottlenecks in the process that can be sorted out before being actually physically set up.

By interfacing it with Catia, it achieves a seamless process of both design and process testing as the designed models can now be easily transferred from Catia into Deneb's solution and its result transferred back into Catia for action to be taken if necessary. Lockheed Martin says that this has reduced cost for production, development and support by 70% to 80% in some areas as also the total cycle time.

Some other software solutions deployed by Lockheed Martin as part of the VPDI initiative include Engineering Animation's [since renamed to Demonstratives Inc.] VisFly solution, that let its Engineers situated in geographically separated locations to collaborate with one another using virtual models in real-time. It also used the company's VisMockUp and VP/Sequence solutions to evaluate models and analyze the parts manufacturing and installation.

NGRAIN's 3-D models being used for mantainance tasks This digital thread is being tapped into for preparing an accurate, standardized training and maintenance system for the aircraft. As part of the Joint Strike Fighter's Autonomic Logistics Information Systems (“ALIS”) program, NGRAIN was awarded a contract is to provide them with a customized version of its 3-dimensional performance support solution. Using this software, any fault detection or repair work that needs to be carried out can be conveniently marked on a virtual 3-D model of the aircraft, which can then be sent over to the concerned personnel instantly for corrective action to be taken. It would be of no consequence even if the person to whom the information is being transferred to is located across the continent. Thus one would be able to completely do away with the cumbersome, time consuming and error-prone practice of filling up paper reports that 3-D model developed using NGRAIN's solution needs to be forwarded manually to achieve the same end result. This solution would be customized for installing on to portable devices carried by the aircraft maintenance personals, thus giving them easy access. Similarly, aircraft assemblers would be provided with a 3-dimensional representation of that portion of the aircraft that he would be working on along with all the necessary information neatly represented on it. This would greatly simplify the worker's understanding of the instruction, resulting in improvement of his work performance. The ALIS program is expected to reduce support cost by 20% compared to practices adopted for legacy aircrafts. Implementing the Autonomic Logistics Information Systems would also reduce training time of personnel's by 60%, thanks to the easy to understand 3-dimensional training system developed using NGRAIN's solutions.

The program has additionally deployed Visiprise's process-management and manufacture change management solutions in order to cater to the demands of the Joint Strike Fighter program.

Lockheed Martin recently awarded SAP AG to provide its ERP solution for the JSF program. This task was earlier being handled by its own custom-made Production & Inventory Optimization System (PIOS). SAP's solution would offer better integration of the ERP with the digital thread than its current system.

Even the task of painting the aircraft body would be making use of the digital thread. Using Delmia's simulation software [Delmia has since been acquired by Dassault Systèmes], CTA Inc, the system integrator appointed for the job, intends to program and simulates the paint job process of the aircraft before giving instructions to the machine. Based on aircraft geometry and plant layout, it would check for any potential obstructions in the arm's trajectory and optimize the path followed to apply an even, good quality coat of paint without wastage. The simulation would be able to take into account multiple robotic arms, use of fixtures and material handling devices that would be used in the painting process. Delmia's software suite consists of the IGRIP resource modeling and simulation software with UltraPaint option. The IGRIP is also being used to simulate the clamping and joining of drilled components in the assembly of the aircraft. The latest Catia models are made available to these simulation solutions to generate the most accurate results.

The Joint Strike fighter development program employs a host of software solution performing various tasks. By performing major tasks and operations in a virtual environment and linking the numerous softwares involved to share data among one another, the JSF program develops a truly unique platform for product development and data sharing.


PS: I am in the process of compiling my sources. Will post it as soon as I complete it.