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Monday, May 19, 2008

A beautiful quote


I believe in love at first sight. Because I loved my mother ever since I opened my eyes.


- Anonymous


I just read it in yesterdays Newspaper and thought of sharing it with you all. Beautiful.


Rule 49-O: Vote for NO ONE!! (India)

Rule 49 OI am a member of a Tech-oriented discussion forum, whose members have clear and quite often strong opinion about issues. So naturally when the Supreme Court upheld the Indian Government’s decision to introduce 27% reservation for members of the Other Backward Class (OBC) category in Educational Institutions, with riders, it was natural that a heated discussion would ensue on this issue. During the course of the discussion, quite naturally, members started bemoaning about the absence of a deserving, credible candidates who could be voted to the Parliament and how we were being forced to elect the best among the worst who later go on to mess things up at a National level. If only we had a say in the kind of candidates being nominated to contest the election by their respective parties, things would have been so much better. Well believe it or not, you actually can!


I had first read about the Rule 49(O) some months [years??] back while going through an issue of JAM.


Rule 49O of the THE CONDUCT OF ELECTIONS RULES, 1961 states that,



49-O. Elector deciding not to vote.-If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.


Rule 49 O has also been mentioned on the Election Commission of India’s website.


This means that you go to your polling station, sign on the relevant documents that state you had visited your polling station for exercising your right to franchise and then vote for no one. This might appear strange - the act of going to the polling station and then voting for no one. One may argue that if you are not planning to vote anyone to power, why waste a perfectly fine holiday (on the day of polling, a public holiday is declared by the government in the region to enable people to caste their votes) to visit the polling station at all.


Haaaah! here lies the beauty of this Rule. Unlike not turning up to cast your vote, where some candidate will invariably win, even if (s)he gets 1 vote, by exercising your right to invoke Rule 49O, you can actually reject all the contesting candidates. For this to happen, the number of voters invoking Rule 49-O must exceed the number of votes cast. Once rejected, they can not be re-nominated by their parties to contest the by-elections (re-election) that would be held in that region. Thus the political parties will have to nominate new candidates to contest election in that region and for the fear of being rejected again, they might decide to give the party ticket to a genuine, credible candidate this time around.


How does one do it?


In the earlier setup, where votes were cast into ballot boxes, it was extremely simple to do it. All one had to do was take the ballot paper issued to you and drop it in the box without putting the stamp on any candidate. This, when counting the ballot papers, would be taken as an indication of Rule 49-O being invoked by the voter.


However, with the introduction of Electronic Voting Machines [EVM] in all forms of Elections [or at least in the Municipal Corporation, Assembly and General elections that I have voted in], one has to approach the presiding officer from the Election Commission and ask for the relevant form and once filled, the voters choice is noted.


Critics, quite rightly, argue that this is in complete violation of one of our rights as an Indian citizen - secrecy of the ballot. The choice exercised by a voter is to remain a secret and no one has the right to know the choices we make. By approaching the officer and requesting for the form we give up this right as everyone would come to know about the choice you make - that of not choosing anybody. A ’None of the above’ button could easily have been added to the E.V.M for voters to exercise this right, but strangely enough the Election Commission has so far refrained from doing so.


However, Proposed Electoral Reforms [PDF, 164 KB] have recommended the addition of such a button in the E.V.M. Till such time this button is added, we will have to approach the presiding officer in person, thereby waiving our right to secrecy of ballot.


This rule, in my opinion, is a serious weapons in our arsenal to bring about improvements in our society and must not hesitate to invoke it whenever required for the greater good.


Strangely and quite pleasantly surprising enough, the first result that Google throws up when you go looking for information about Rule49O is that of a Belgian National’s blog who, from what I gathered from her blogs, is some sort of an Indophile.


References: -















Sunday, May 11, 2008

To a higher Degree : M.S./M.Tech or M.B.A.?

Many of us who are pursuing a degree in Engineering are often faced with the dilemma of choosing an appropriate Postgraduate degree to pursue. This is especially true for those of us who are on the verge of graduating. One may either choose to pursue a M.Tech/M.S. or acquire a M.B.A. degree. I too was in a similar quandary. The following article that I have reproduced here addresses these very issues and could help us make the correct choice.

The article has been written by Dr. Kevin D. Kuznia (Ph.D), who besides being associated with John Deere (Deere & Company) is also the principal of his career consultation firm drcareeradvisor.com.

The article had originally appeared in the March 2008 edition of the Mechanical Engineering Magazine, a periodical that I read with avid interest. The magazine is brought out by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). On reading the article I found it very relevant and informative. Wanting to share the article with my friends and classmates [terms not really mutually exclusive :)], I sought the permission of Dr. Kuznia, who very graciously gave his consent for me to republish his article on my blog. I hope you find this article just as helpful as I have.

 

 

To a higher Degree

How do you decide which advanced course of study is the best option for your career?

 

The phone rings once again. On the other end is an engineer confused about continuing his formal education. He has been in engineering for a few years. He sees his colleagues pursuing either an M.B.A. or an M.S. in engineering.

While both are noble pursuits, each is a distinct path to follow, with different expectations and outcomes. Theoretically the option exists to pursue both paths. However, such an endeavour is rarely practical, partly because of the expense involved and even more so because of the daunting prospect of spending six years or more juggling graduate study and full-time engineering employment. So how does anyone decide which road to take?

which direction to head

In my endeavours as a career consultant, I work with a steady progression of engineering professionals. These individuals, who thrive on data and analysis, seem to become paralyzed when deciding whether or not to pursue advanced education. To add to the confusion, I often hear, "Well, my boss said…" or, "This guy just got his degree and he got promoted."

But is an advanced education the answer? Frankly, not for everyone. But if it is something you choose to undertake, which degree should you pursue?

Yesterday's engineering careers were a little simpler than today's. Then, you went to college for four years, graduated, and took a job as a junior engineer until you earned the title of advanced or senior engineer. Through organizational tenure, you moved up in the engineering world until perhaps one day you became engineering manager. There was less need to consider advancing your formal education, because nearly everything you needed to know was gained through on-the-job experience, and a few hard knocks. And those M.B.A.'s? They were locked in the business office trying to figure out how to take the company to "the next level."

Today's engineering careers have changed. Not only must you keep up with emerging technologies, but you also have to understand the financial and strategic ramifications of your decisions. When designing parts or systems, you may be peppered with questions from marketing, accounting, and other engineering groups. It would appear that gaining an advanced education may put you on equal footing with these individuals. Having that degree can, and does, level the playing field-as long as you choose the right degree and apply your newly gained knowledge in the correct fashion.

So, let's look at each of these degrees to determine the prerequisites, effort for completion, and potential impact on your career.

What Is an M.B.A.?

The M.B.A., or Master of Business Administration degree, has been around since the beginning of the 20th century. It is a very popular degree program, attracting people from a wide range of academic disciplines outside of business.

Prerequisites for M.B.A. programs vary. Some programs have very liberal admission requirements. Some require no previous business courses. However, nearly all applicants to M.B.A. programs are required to take the Graduate Management Admission Test. The GMAT is designed to assess quantitative reasoning and verbal skills. Depending upon the university, work experience, academic transcripts, essays, references or letters of recommendation, and personal interviews may be considered for admission to a program. In addition, competitive schools also may be interested in extracurricular activities, community service, and how the applicant can improve the program's diversity and contribute to the student body as a whole.

Full-time M.B.A. programs are the most common, normally lasting two years. Students may or may not enter the program with real-world work experience. The classes are typically conducted during weekdays, like undergraduate university classes. Most students are in their early 20s with few over 30.

Part-time M.B.A. programs are geared toward older working adults. Universities typically hold classes on weekday evenings, after normal working hours. The students in these programs typically consist of working professionals, who take a lighter course load for a longer period of time. These programs generally last three years or more.

20080511higherdegree02

Executive M.B.A. (or E.M.B.A.) programs were developed to meet the educational needs of managers and executives, allowing students to earn a degree in two years or less while working full-time. E.M.B.A. students generally have a higher level of work experience, often 10 years or more, than other M.B.A. students. Classes are typically a mix of weekend courses combined with electronic correspondence.

Upon starting an M.B.A. program, a student can expect to take classes in a variety of areas. Core subjects typically include economics, organizational behavior, marketing, accounting, finance, strategy, operations management, and information technology management. Some students may then seek to specialize in an area such as international business, supply chain management, or project management.

An engineer who pursued a management degree is someone I'll call Steve. He was a very successful mechanical engineer for a Fortune 500 manufacturing company and had always had ambitions to become an engineering manager like his college intern mentor. He asked his former mentor what skills would be necessary to move into a management position. He learned that, although technical skills were necessary, business skills also play a big part in management, and so he decided to pursue a master's degree in business administration.

Through his M.B.A. program, Steve learned how to effectively manage people, how various aspects of corporate finance worked, and how the contributions of his department supported the overall strategy of the company. According to Steve, these were all important aspects to a successful engineering management career. Steve is now the vice president of engineering for his company, and suggests that the keys to his success were a solid technical background in engineering combined with business acumen gained from earning his M.B.A.

Upon completing an M.B.A. program, you should be well versed in the language of business. You should have a clearer appreciation of how your actions affect the business bottom line. You should also have acquired a skill set that is applicable to many different types of organizations. In addition, you'll have developed a broad-based network of professionals employed in a variety of industries.

On the negative side, many individuals are pursuing an M.B.A. Differentiation among M.B.A.'s in organizations is becoming increasingly difficult. It will be up to you to apply your newly gained knowledge to stand out among the ever-increasing M.B.A. crowd.

The Other Path

By contrast, then, what is an M.S. in Engineering? A Master of Science in Engineering takes your undergraduate engineering education to a more advanced level. In the undergraduate program, you became well versed in the foundation of knowledge necessary to be an engineer. You gained the vocabulary, the analytical reasoning, concepts, and principles that engineers must have to be successful in the field.

Students completing the master's degree in engineering typically acquire a greater depth and breadth of engineering analysis skills, enabling them to better understand and predict the performance of engineered systems and components. They should be able to more effectively understand and utilize research on engineered systems and on phenomena integral to their performance. As a result, graduates should be in a position to better contribute to the body of knowledge available to business and industry, and to more effectively solve complex engineering problems affecting their respective organization.

To apply to a master's program in engineering, applicants typically must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university with a suitable engineering background for the selected area of study, and a minimum 3.0 grade point average in their undergraduate program. Some universities may grant latitude in the requirements if the applicant can demonstrate extenuating circumstances.

In terms of course structure, master's degree in engineering programs usually follow a pattern similar to bachelor's degrees with lectures, laboratory work, course work, and exams. Many universities require the completion of a substantial project in the final year.

Upon completing a master's degree in engineering, you should possess a much deeper knowledge of a specific engineering discipline. You should also have gained new perspectives on emerging trends in engineering, and have developed network contacts who share your passion for engineering.

Consider, for example, someone I'll call Chad. He truly enjoyed his job as an engineer for a large automotive manufacturer. As engineers often are, he was inquisitive, and would often be found reading about the latest advancements in his field of expertise. With encouragement from one of his peers, Chad enrolled in a Master of Science in Engineering program offered by a local university.

Although it took Chad three years to complete the program, he said that it was time well spent. He met several individuals who shared his passion for engineering, and co-authored a technical paper with one of his professors. Chad said that through the pursuit of the master's degree, he is now even more confident in his abilities as an engineer, and finds himself more marketable to other companies.

Unlike the latitude offered M.B.A. students, you will not find the same variety of programs in engineering. There are very few accelerated master level engineering programs, but you typically will have the advantage of not having to take prerequisites in order to start the program. However, unlike an M.B.A., which may require engineers to take prerequisite business classes before they start the actual degree program, in a master's program in engineering you'll typically be allowed to take master's level classes immediately.

Which Way to Go?

Neither degree is inherently better than the other. That would be like comparing business to engineering. Each discipline supports the organization in its own way. Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to you to decide which one supports your career objectives more appropriately.

The M.S.E. is marketable, but in a different way from an M.B.A. However, many individuals outside the engineering discipline will have scant knowledge of just how your degree contributes to the organization. The M.B.A., on the other hand, is a widely recognized degree, and many people within and outside of engineering understand how an M.B.A. contributes to an organization's success. Both degrees can contribute to career advancement. It is important to let others know how your advanced education contributes to the goals of the organization.

Deciding to obtain an advanced degree, whether it is in engineering or business, requires a commitment of time, effort, and expense. But more important, the right degree can make a huge difference in career opportunities. I often counsel individuals by saying that investments in yourself pay the highest dividends. It's up to you to decide where the biggest payoff is.

what about distance learning?

Whether you are considering an M.B.A. or M.S. in Engineering, distance learning has recently received increased attention in education as more universities are holding classes off-campus.

Distance learning programs are available in a number of formats: offline or online computer courses, correspondence courses that utilize e-mail, prerecorded video, and live teleconferences.

Many traditional schools offer these programs, but so do diploma mills. If you're considering this option, be sure to check the school's accreditation before undertaking distance learning coursework.

Kevin Kuznia obtained his doctorate in business administration from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, and is the principal of DrCareerAdvisor.com, a career consultation firm that provides career insights and support to engineering professionals. He is the diagnostic supervisor at Deere & Co. in Waterloo, Iowa, where he also counsels colleagues on career choices. He can be reached at KuzniaKevinD[at]JohnDeere[dot]com.


The original article can be read here


Friday, May 09, 2008

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program: An overview 04

Read the previous parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

A comparison between the F-35B and Harrier w.r.t. STOVL

 

F-35B JSF

Harrier

Role

true multi-role capability

specialised role

Speed

supersonic

subsonic

Afterburner

yes

no

Stealthy

yes

no

Pilot workload

low

high

Cockpit

single seat only

single seat

(twin seat trainer)

Engine

single F135/136

(40000lb thrust class)

single Pegasus

(23000lb thrust class)

Weapons carriage

internal and external carriage

external carriage only

Lethality

all weather precision capability

weather restricts operations

Ability to fly intensive operations

yes, for a sustained period

yes, for short periods

Maintenance

more reliable and ability to predict failures

no ability to predict failures

 

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be:

  • Four times more effective than legacy fighters in air-to-air engagements

  • Eight times more effective than legacy fighters in prosecuting missions against fixed and mobile targets

  • Three times more effective than legacy fighters in non-traditional Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) and Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses and Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD/DEAD) missions

  • About the same in procurement cost as legacy fighters, but requires significantly less tanker/transport and less infrastructure with a smaller basing footprint

Affordability

In spite of being far more technically superior than any legacy fighter aircraft, the production cost of the F-35 JSF would be about the same as that of legacy fighter aircraft, making it highly affordable aircraft and offering great value for money to the purchaser. It is able to achieve this by introducing an unprecedented level of commonality between the three variant of aircrafts. The JSF concept is building these three highly common variants on the same production line using flexible manufacturing technology. Cost benefits result from using a flexible manufacturing approach and common subsystems to gain economies of scale. Cost commonality is projected in the range of 70-90 percent; parts commonality will be lower, but emphasis is on commonality in the higher-priced parts. Early interaction between the end-user and developer ensures cost / performance trades are made early, when they can most influence weapon system cost. By adhering to their objective of “Get it right the first time”, they are able to avoid a lot of wasteful expenditure and thus save a lot of resources.

 

Manufacturing

The JSF team would employ advanced assembly methods and highly accurate manufacturing machines to help the F-35 achieve its goals of affordability, quality and assembly speed. The concept of Lean Manufacturing is a key feature in the whole JSF manufacturing program. In fact their objective is to achieve what they term as Leaner-than-Lean Manufacturing.

The F-35 is the first aircraft to be designed entirely using a Solid Modelling Package – CATIA. Three-dimensional solid models provide an exact representation of each part, thus forming the foundation of any subsequent operations. Everybody involved would use the same digitally generated product data to perform their tasks like assembly, supply, CAM programming, and laser-tracking. This paperless method of functioning is expected to save millions of dollars. The product data obtained from the digital model would be used in simulation, tooling, fabrication, assembly and mating. New milling machines accurate to less than the width of a human hair ensure that the F-35’s outer shape is exact and meets its low-observability (stealth) requirements. Assembly time for an F-35 is planned to be less than half that of current-generation fighters. The F-35 JSF production line would be the state-of-the-art model for high-quality, affordable combat aircraft in the 21st century.

The assembly line of the F-35 would make use of industrial Laser Trackers to obtain proper mating of the different modules. The Laser Tracker is a state-of-the-art precision instrument to precisely align the mate components to an extremely close tolerance. The laser tracking technology is used to set up, measure and inspect assembly-tooling details based on CAD models. The 3-D laser interferometer and angular encoders deliver a high-speed measuring rate of 1,000 points per second, and a measurement volume of 70m diameter.

Advanced production processes, including integration of the digital, paperless factory, are being implemented into F-35 production plans. Lean manufacturing principles, incorporation of shortened flow spans, use of a single, flexible production line for all three variants, use of best-value sourcing within a commercial framework — all these steps would yield measurable results in the production phase.

Commonality

Commonality is the key to affordability – on the assembly line; in common systems that enhance maintenance, field support and service interoperability; and in almost 100 percent commonality of the avionics suite. Component commonality across all three variants reduces unique spares requirements and the logistics footprint. In addition to reduced flyaway costs, the F-35 is designed to affordably integrate new technology during its entire life cycle. While each of the three models looks very similar externally, subtle differences accommodate a relatively wide range of operational needs. All of the three variants fly at supersonic speeds and shoot air-to-air missiles and drop bombs on a target. But they all have vastly different operational suitability requirements. Simply put, the F-35A variant must be affordable, stealthy and match or better the performance characteristics of an F-16. F-35B adds to these characteristics a short-takeoff/vertical landing capability. The F-35C variant must be suitable for carrier operations and must complement the F/A-18E/F.

All models of the Lockheed Martin design look essentially alike, with common outer mold lines across the fuselage and wingbox. They have common structural geometries, share identical wing sweeps and similar tail shapes, and carry weapons in two parallel bays located in front of the main landing gear. Major portions of the fuselage contain common or closely related parts, referred to as cousin parts. The canopy, radar, ejection system, subsystems and most of the avionics are currently common.

The Lockheed Martin design also uses unitized structures to simplify manufacturing and reduce cost. Unitized structures are portions of the aircraft that can be produced as single parts instead of being assembled by hand from a multitude of pieces and hundreds of fasteners. The canopy frame, for example, is fabricated from a single aluminum casting with no fasteners. By comparison, the F-16 canopy frame has 48 parts, 70 shims, and about 500 fasteners.

The JSF's inlet duct is another example. It consists of only three parts fabricated from composite fibers. Each piece of the duct, itself a complex shape, is created by a computer-controlled machine that accurately places composite fibers on a mandrel that then goes into an autoclave for curing. The process, called fiber placement, reduces the time and material associated with laying up complex composite shapes by hand. The company will apply other composite experience gained through its work on the F-22 program and the Japan FS-X program.

The fighter's forward fuselage is another assembly that uses unitized structures. It consists of a unitized aluminium canopy sill, a one-piece cast titanium nose landing gear bay, two resin transfer-molded cockpit side panels, and several large fiberplaced skins and panels. This design approach reduces parts by more than 30 percent and fasteners by about a quarter compared with the F-16 forward fuselage.

Bulkheads provide a good example of manufacturing commonality. Slight variations in thickness or shape, possibly a different material, might be needed to handle different load conditions for each service variant. These variations can be accommodated through common locating points and surfaces, tooling accessories and spacers, and visual work instructions. Moreover, numerically controlled machining can efficiently incorporate these slight variations with very little additional machine programming.

Conclusions

Once the Transfer of Technology [TOT] issues are sorted out, the JSF program would be the finest example of large scale International collaboration undertaken to achieve a common objective.

The F-35 Lightning II, that is being developed as part of the Joint Strike Fighter [JSF] program ushers in a new era in the field of Aircraft design and development and will completely change the face of any future conflict.

Godspeed


Saturday, May 03, 2008

F-35 Joint Strike fighter Program: An Overview 03

Read the earlier parts: Part 1, Part 2

Weapons Integration:

The F-35 is being designed to be able to carry a wide array of weapon to accomplish various types of missions. These weapons can be carried either internally or externally. The internal weapon bays significantly reduce the Aircraft’s radar signature.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter [J.S.F]

When stealth features are not needed, the F-35 is also provided with external hard-points to be able to carry ordnance externally, significantly increasing its payload capacity. The F-35’s weapon bay can accommodate a wide array of ordnance that can be easily loaded by the ground crew. The F-35 can carry up to 6 Tons of payload during each sortie.

 

Autonomic Logistics (AL):

Autonomic Logistics (AL) is a seamless, embedded solution that integrates current performance, operational parameters, current configuration, scheduled upgrades and maintenance, component history, predictive diagnostics (prognostics) and health management, and service support for the F-35. Essentially, AL does invaluable and efficient behind-the-scenes monitoring, maintenance and prognostics to support the aircraft and ensure its continued good health.

The autonomic logistics system, as the F-35 system is called, will monitor the health of the aircraft systems in flight; downlink that information to the ground; and trigger personnel, equipment, and parts to be pre-positioned for quick turnaround of the aircraft. Ultimately, this automated approach will result in higher sortie-generation rates. Through a system called prognostics and health management, computers use accumulated data to keep track of when a part is predicted to fail. With this aid, maintainers can fix or replace a part before it fails and keep the aircraft ready to fly. Like the rest of the program, the autonomic logistics system is on a fast track. It has to be available to support the air vehicle during operational test and evaluation.

Propulsion System:

The propulsion systems to be used on the F-35 are the most powerful turbofans to be used in a fighter aircraft. Two different, but interchangeable systems are being developed – the F135, by Pratt & Whitney [P&W] and the F136, by a team formed by General Electric and Rolls-Royce. Both the F135 and F136 will use common exhaust and Lift systems. Two major variants of the engine are being developed by both the design teams – one variant would power the CTOL [F-35A] and CV [F-35C], whereas the other variant would be equipping the STOVL [F-35B].

The F135 engine consists of a 3-stage fan, a 6-stage compressor, an annular combustor, a single stage high-pressure turbine, and a 2 stage low-pressure turbine. P&W is using cutting-edge technology to provide the F-35 with higher performance than conventional fighter aircraft.

The F136 engine consists of a 3-stage fan, 5-stage compressor, a 3-stage low-pressure turbine section and a single stage high-pressure turbine.

Engine Characteristics

Conventional Take Off and Landing /Carrier Variant

CTOL /CV Engine Design

Maximum Thrust

191.3kN

Intermediate Thrust

128.1kN

Length

5.59 meters

Inlet diameter

1.17 meters

Maximum Diameter

1.30 meters

Bypass ratio

0.57

Overall pressure ratio

28

Short Take Off and Vertical Landing

STOVL Propulsion System Design

Maximum Thrust

191.3kN

Short Takeoff Thrust

165.9kN

Hover Thrust

175.3kN

Main Engine

69.837kN

Lift Fan

89.964kN

Roll Post

16.458kN

Length

9.37 meters

Inlet Diameter

Main Engine

1.17 meters

Lift Fan

1.27 meters

Maximum diameter

1.3 meters

Bypass Ratio

Conventional

0.56

Powered Lift

0.51

Overall Pressure Ratio

Conventional

28

Powered Lift

29

Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing [STOVL]

The propulsion system of the F-35B variant of the aircraft is truly ground-breaking as it is going to be equipped with STOVL capabilities, making it the first operational STOVL-capable aircraft in the world that is also supersonic in cruise. The other existing STOVL-capable aircraft, the Harrier can only fly at sub-sonic cruise speeds, making it extremely vulnerable to attacks from enemy fire.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (J.S.F)

The path that Lockheed Martin has taken to achieve the STOVL capabilities is also quite revolutionary. Unlike the vectored-thrust approach taken by the Harrier, the F-35B would be fitted with a vertically-orientated Lift Fan system developed and patented by Lockheed Martin. The Lift Fan would be powered by a 2-stage low pressure turbine on the engine. The Lift Fan would generate a column of cool air that would generate thrust of nearly 89kN using variable inlet guide vanes to modulate the air flow and therefore the thrust. During STOVL operations, the Lift Fan engages the Engine by means of a shaft and clutch arrangement and a "D"-shaped nozzle provides the thrust deflection. The D nozzle consists of four sections with the final part containing fixed vanes. The Lift Fan is capable of supporting nearly half the weight of the Aircraft. A unique feature of the Engine design is the Auxiliary inlet for the engine provided above the fuselage behind the Lift Fan that provides the extra air required for inducing hover conditions.

A three-bearing swivel nozzle [3BSN] can deflect the thrust from the engine exhaust from the conventional horizontal direction to just forward of vertical, thus providing additional downward thrust to support the Aircraft during its vertical movement. Two Roll nozzles provided by the sides of the engine perform the task of Roll control. Yaw control is achieved by swivel nozzle yaw. Pitch control is affected via Lift Fan/engine thrust split.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (J.S.F)

While operating in short take-off mode, the Lift Fan inlet and the exhaust doors open and inlet guide vanes close down to minimise air flow and the clutch is engaged. As clutch plates synchronise, the Lift Fan gear drive accelerates and is brought to input speed. The inlet guide vanes are then opened to bring the Lift Fan up to speed and the D nozzle is rotated down to vector the Lift Fan thrust aft; with the main engine thrust, this helps accelerate the aircraft forward and upward. After transitioning to wing-borne flight, the inlet guide vanes are again closed down to reduce the air flow through the Lift Fan, the clutch is disengaged, the nozzle is retracted, and the inlet and exhaust doors are closed.

While operating in vertical landing mode, the aircraft decelerates and the Lift Fan inlet and exhaust doors open. The Lift fan is brought up to speed as described above, but the D nozzle is left retracted to its fully vertical position. The clutch is designed to engage in 3-7 seconds. A mechanical lock-up device then ensures that the clutch does not slip once the Lift Fan is fully engaged. The clutch plate absorbs energy during engagement and dissipates it using cooling air before its next engagement.

Simple configuration changes enable the conversion of the F136 from a CTOL/CV to a STOVL engine. Engine controls and software will differ among the various configurations. For the STOVL variant, the fan duct incorporates a bypass offtake system for aircraft roll control. A shaft is attached to the engine's low-pressure rotor. The axisymmetric nozzle is replaced with the 3BSN.

The Lift Fan approach to STOVL has four distinct advantages: -

  • The Lift Fan thrust can be de-coupled from the aircraft engine during horizontal cruise, thereby enabling the availability of full power of the engine to the cruise.

  • The amount of thrust produced by the Lift Fan system greatly exceeded the additional weight of the system.

  • The Lift Fan produced a downward thrust of cool air that mixed with the hot exhaust gases directed by the 3BSN, thereby significantly lowering exhaust temperature and hence creating more benign ground environment during hover.

  • The oxygen-depleted hot exhaust from the Harrier’s exhaust nozzles often entered the main inlet of the aircraft, thereby cutting oxygen supply to the engine and causing great operational difficulties. The downward-acting cool air column created by the Lift Fan greatly mitigates this problem.

When not carrying any onboard ordnance, the downward thrusts produced by the aircraft’s propulsion system is enough to lift off the ground and then switch to cruise mode [horizontal travel].

Read the remaining part: Part 4

Godpseed


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program: An Overview 02

Read the earlier parts: Part 1

Introduction

Optimization of resources is of prime importance while deciding on the expenditure for a certain task. This gains added significance when it comes to Defense spending for acquiring or developing Weapon Systems that would meet a country’s combat requirements. These spending often run in to billions of dollars and face stiff opposition from many quarters.

In face of such a scenario, it is often prudent to pool in resources and expertise of nations together to develop a common Defense systems that can meet the respective Country’s requirements. Such common Defense Systems would enable interoperable co-operative participation in joint combat missions that further bolsters the Defense efforts of a country. The prime example of such a co-operative combat venture being NATO. Instead of re-inventing the wheel all over again, much more progress and cost-effectiveness can be achieved by learning from the gains made by partner countries and pooling it with your own knowledge to achieve your objectives.

An excellent example of such a collaborative effort has been the conceptualizing and execution of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.

 

Background

In one of the largest collaborative efforts of its kind, the JSF program has been the result of the collective endeavor of 11 countries – U.S.A, U.K, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Israel, Singapore and The Netherlands. The aim of this program is to develop the next generation of multi-role strike aircraft for the future, with optimization for ground attack missions.

The program was approved for execution in November 1996. This started a 5-year competition between Lockheed-Martin and Boeing to design the most capable and affordable aircraft. Lockheed-Martin teamed up with British Aerospace and Northrop Grumman for this project. Finally on October 26 2001, the Pentagon announced that Lockheed-Martin had won the largest military contract ever to develop and build the next generation of multi-role strike aircraft. The total cost of this program is estimated to be around USD150 - 180 billion. It is estimated that around 3000 such aircraft will have to be manufactured to fulfil the requirements of the Armed Forces of the respective partner countries. These aircraft are expected to remain in service till as long as 2060 or longer. In order to fulfil its obligations Lockheed-Martin has teamed up with companies like BAE, Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, General Electrical, Rolls-Royce and a large number of other contractors from the partner countries. The aircraft that is being developed as part of the JSF program has been christened F-35 Lightning II. It is estimated that the first F-35 would be inducted into Service by 2012 - 2013. It is widely presumed that the F-35 would be the last manned Fighter/ Ground Attack aircraft designed for the USAF.

 

Design Parameters

The F-35 is primarily being designed as a multi-role strike aircraft with optimization for ground attack duties. Ground attack duties essentially involves launching attacks on the enemy’s land assets like refineries, factories, rail lines etc., once dedicated air-superiority aircrafts like the F-22 Raptor [currently the most advanced stealth fighter in the world] have eliminated enemy aircrafts from the skies. Having said this, the air-to-air capabilities of the F-35 will be second only to that of the F-22 and far superior to any other legacy aircrafts or proposed ‘5th Generation’ Combat aircraft from Europe, Russia or China.

Stealth would be one of the most defining features of the F-35. The stealth capabilities of the F-35 would far superior to that of any existing aircraft currently available in the United State Air Force’s [USAF] inventory. This would enable the USAF to have an almost all-stealth aircraft inventory by 2025. This would greatly minimize the threats faced by a pilot during operations in heavily defended areas.

The objectives that the F-35 JSF seeks to achieve are ambitious: to be a single-pilot, survivable, first-day-of-the-war combat fighter with a precision, all-weather strike capability that uses a wide variety of air-to-surface and air-to-air weapons- and that defends itself in a dogfight. The F-35 program emphasizes low unit-flyaway cost and radically reduced life-cycle costs, while meeting a wide range of operational requirements. The stretch in combat radius means that the pilot can operate with reduced dependence on air refueling and can have significantly greater time on station for close air support or combat air patrol missions.

Three variants of the F-35 are being developed.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)

 F-35A

This variant is a normal conventional take-off and landing [CTOL] variant of the aircraft. It is expected to replace legacy aircrafts like the F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Thunderbolt and complement the F-22.

F-35B

This variant of the aircraft is going to be equipped with the ability to take-off over a short distance and land vertically. This concept is known as Short Take-off Vertical Landing [STOVL]. It is expected to replace existing aircrafts like the F/A-18 Hornet and the STOVL aircraft AV-8B Harrier. In fact, it would be the first supersonic aircraft in the world to be capable of STOVL.

F-35C

This aircraft variant is going to be developed keeping in mind that it will have to be able to take-off and land from a Naval Aircraft Carrier. It is expected to complement the F/A-18 E/F currently being operated by the U.S. Navy [USN].

Key design goals that need to be attained by the development of the F-35 JSF are as follows:

Survivability:

To reduce radio frequency/infrared signature and provide on-board countermeasures to survive in the future battlefield-leveraging off F-22 air superiority mission support.

Lethality:

To integrate on- and off-board sensors to enhance delivery of current and future precision weapons.

Supportability:

To reduce logistics footprint and increase the rate of sortie to provide more combat power earlier in the battlefield

Affordability:

To focus on reducing cost of developing, procuring and owning JSF and providing adequate force structure.

 

Features

The F-35 is going to be equipped with a wide array of features and technology that would greatly aid the pilot in his missions and give him the edge over the enemy in the battlefield theatre.

Few of the technologies, being developed as part of the JSF program are going to see the light of the day for the first time in the F-35.

Some of the most defining features and technologies that would be incorporated in the F-35 are as follows:

Low Observability:

In other words, stealth. The stealth capabilities of the F-35 would be far superior to any existing aircraft in the USAF’s present inventory. It could be termed as one of the single most defining feature of the F-35. A look at the aircraft makes it clear that fundamental shaping principles of a stealthy design has been adhered to. An integrated airframe design, advanced materials and an axisymmetric nozzle maximize the F-35's stealth features. The leading and trailing edges of the wing and tail have identical sweep angles (a design technique called planform alignment). The fuselage and canopy have sloping sides. The canopy seam and bay doors are saw-toothed. The vertical tails are canted. The engine face is deeply hidden by a serpentine inlet duct. The inlet itself has no boundary layer diverter channel, the space between the duct and the fuselage, to reflect radar energy. And, of course, weapons can be carried internally. This greatly reduces the F-35’s radar signature. Reports suggest that the radar signature of the F-35 is same as that of a Honeybee. In other words, both the F-35 and the Honeybee would appear to be of the same size on enemy’s radar screen.

Multi-Mission Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar:

The radar being developed for the F-35 will enable the pilot to effectively engage air and ground targets at long range, while also providing outstanding situational awareness for enhanced survivability. It is the most advanced radar system to be developed till now. In fact, so critical is the technology that U.S., who is developing this technology, is refusing to reveal the source codes even to U.K, its closes ally.

Electro-Optical Distributed Aperture System [DAS]:

 F-3 Joint Strike Fighter (J.S.F)

This system will provide pilots with a unique protective sphere around the aircraft for enhanced situational awareness, missile warning, aircraft warning, day/night pilot vision, and fire control capability. Designated the AN/AAQ-37, and comprising six electro-optical sensors, the full Electro-Optical DAS will enhance the F-35's survivability and operational effectiveness by warning the pilot of incoming aircraft and missile threats, providing day/night vision and supporting the navigation function of the F-35's forward-looking infrared sensor.

Electro-Optical Targeting System [EOTS]:

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (J.S.F)

The EOTS is an affordable, high-performance, lightweight, multi-functional system for precision air-to-air and air-to-surface targeting. The low-drag, stealthy EOTS is integrated into the Joint Strike Fighter's fuselage with a durable sapphire window and is linked to the aircraft's integrated central computer through a high-speed fiber-optic interface.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (J.S.F)

The EOTS uses a 3rd generation FLIR that provides superior target detection and identification at greatly increased standoff ranges. EOTS also provides high-resolution imagery, automatic tracking, infrared-search-and-track, laser designation and range-finding, and laser spot tracking. Sharing a Sniper legacy, it provides high reliability and efficient two-level maintenance.

Helmet Mounted Display System:

20081027jointstrikefighter06 Unlike the cockpit design of current-generation fighter aircraft, the F-35’s does not include a head-up display. Rather, the information normally visible on such a display is instead projected on the pilot’s helmet visor. Vision Systems International (VSI) is developing the most advanced and capable Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) for the F-35.

Utilizing extensive design experience gained on successful production Helmet Mounted Displays (HMD), the F-35 HMDS will replace the traditional Head-Up-Display (HUD) while offering true sensor fusion.

Interoperability:

The F-35 will have the most robust communications suite of any fighter aircraft built to date. The F-35 will be the first fighter to possess a satellite communications capability that integrates beyond line of sight communications throughout the spectrum of missions it is tasked to perform. The F-35 will contain the most modern tactical datalinks which will provide the sharing of data among its flight members as well as other airborne, surface and ground-based platforms required to perform assigned missions.

Diverterless Supersonic Inlet:

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (J.S.F) The Diverterless Supersonic Inlet [DSI] used in the F-35 is the result of an ingenious approach to inlet design that has produced remarkable results in the inlet condition of air to its engine.

A combat aircraft, though may be capable of flying at speeds in the region of Mach 3 [MiG-25], can take in air only at sub-sonic speeds [Jet engines are not designed to sustain the shockwave associated with supersonic airflow]. Hence the supersonic air, at the inlet, must be slowed down to sub-sonic levels before being let in the engine. It must also maintain an accepted quality of airflow over a wide range of speeds, altitudes, and maneuvering conditions while accommodating the full range of engine airflow from idle to afterburning power.

It must also deal with the development of Boundary Layer at the inlet, which could disrupt the airflow to the engine, resulting in stalling. Legacy aircrafts use a complex system of mechanical arrangements, controlled by software, to slow down the speed of inlet air and divert the boundary layer away from the inlet. This leads to the increased weight and cost of the aircraft.

DSI is a remarkably ingenious design concept that makes use of a ‘bump’ surface which along with a forward swept-aft closing Cowl succeeds in diverting most of the boundary layer air away from the engine inlet. DSI contains no moving parts and hence a lot less complex than existing systems, without compromising on performance. Its relative simplicity also makes its more cost-effective to manufacture. The DSI bump functions as a compression surface and creates a pressure distribution that prevents the majority of the boundary layer air from entering the inlet at speeds up to Mach 2. The diverter-less inlet eliminates all moving parts.

Read the remaining part: Part 3, Part 4

Godspeed


Installing and running Windows Live Writer on Windows Server 2003 - use the *.msi file

Having been a Post2Blog user for some time now, and not necessarily unhappy with it, but also hearing a lot about Windows Live Writer, I decided to give it a try. However when I ran the setup file, I got a message which said that my OS is not supported. Sheesh!!!! a divorce even before the honeymoon - naaah!!!. Decided to do something to make it work.

First tried to run the setup file in compatibility mode - no luck, same message. Then turned to Google. No surprises here - Google had the perfect solution to my problem. The first result it produced  - Andrew Tokeley's blog had my answer. What on Earth would I have done had it not been for our dear, (not-so)old Google. Turns out that the program itself is perfectly compatible with my OS, but for some unfathomable reason, the developers have chosen not to make the installation file compatible. Wokay! so you want me to install program using its msi file - no problemo. Windows Live Writer has not officially released its program as a msi file. But the post had a link to the msi version. Using it I was able to install the program. If you have access to a computer that has a compatible OS installed, then just run the installation on that computer and copy the .msi file from its Temp directory. You can then use this file to install WLW on your Windows Server 2003-based terminal

20080429livewriter01 As the msi was of a slightly older build, I was hoping that it would get updated to the latest build in some time as I had Automatic Updates enabled for my computer. However even after almost around 10 hours of Internet usage the arrival of the updates was nowhere on the horizon. So then again began my search for the solution. I first tried to find offline download files for the update though the official links. No such luck (if I had, then I probably wouldn't be writing this anyway). Then again came Google to my rescue - the very first page20080429livewriter02 had my answer. Downloading the relevant cab file, I extracted and ran the msp file from it. Once done, the program was now been updated to the latest build, which is what I am using to post this blog (also one of the reasons why I am making this post - just to see how things will work out with this). Thus this is my first post that I am making here using my newly installed Windows Live Writer program updated to the latest build.

Related Links

Original page containing the link to the MSI file - German
Its translated counterpart - courtesy Google Translate Beta
Page containing link to the updates for Windows Live Writer

&author_id=214E38D6-CC5D-4A28-9115-00591447624F&page=0&top=0.5&bottom=0.5&left=1.5&right=1.0>PDF version


Monday, April 28, 2008

Update : Jaxtr stops free viewing of SMS

This post is expected to appear at 0215 IST - 3 hours after I had uploaded it


Hmmmm!!!!! This evening I messaged a friend using Jaxtr. However, instead of receiving a reply on expected lines, she sent back a message asking ’msg kya hai’ which translated in English means ’What is the message?’. Now this struck me as odd since it was quite evident that she had received an SMS but yet she was asking me what the message was. Sending an SMS on my own phone revealed the answer - SMS messages sent using Jaxtr will no longer arrive directly in your inbox, ie, no more free viewing of SMS sent using Jaxtr.


Instead it will send you a link asking you to log on to the Internet - either through WAP or GPRS (url is m.jaxtr.com) or a normal desktop Internet connection. Once on the page you enter a email id after which you get to read the SMS and reply back if need be. Earlier Jaxtr sent you the SMS directly to your cellphone’s inbox and if you wished to reply back, only then would you have to log on to the Internet and follow the procedure mentioned above. So this spells the end of free SMS sending and, with that, any interest Indians would have in this service, in its current state. This step has been taken by them essentially to generate more revenue, as the page that opens up contains URL to other similar but non-competing services. As they have already admitted to the possibility of introducing premium services in the future, probably a premium user would be allowed to send SMSes directly to the cellphone.


Anyway, in India, making use of this service just to send SMSes doesn’t quite make much sense (neither economic nor practical). Sending an SMS costs me Rs. 0.4 INR (around $0.01 USD) and it would have a much lower chance of not reaching the recipient (31st Dec/1st Jan being the exception). But it is quite interesting to be able to send data across services that essentially use different protocols and technologies for operation - primary reason why people here send it anyway, reliability notwithstanding.


If you still wish to send SMS through the Internet, then here in India two services that appear to work fairly well are - Yahoo! mail and Indyarocks. You need to register though before being able to send ou those messages.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Thinkdigit.com Hacked !!!! (Digit's site hacked, but hacker causes no harm)

Thinkdigit.com


It is a development that is sure to have far reaching ramifications on the credibility of the organisations concerned. It was recently revealed that an unauthorized individual had succeeded in gaining access to the administrator control panel of the Thinkdigit.com site. The site in question is the online face of the Digit magazine, a popular and quite easily the highest selling Technology-oriented magazine in India. The ownership of the magazine had recently taken over by 9dot9 Media, a relatively new media group headed by Dr. Pramath Raj Sinha.


His achievement was helped by shoddy implementation of code on the recently revamped website. According to him, the poor coding skills exhibited by the site’s designers left it vulnerable to such exploits as SQL injection, XSS attack, Full Path Disclosure among others. Using one of these (or some other - he has not revealed his technique) methods he was able to break into the site. Proof of the achievement - screenshots posted on his site showing the various db entries that could have been taken only if you had admin access to it.


If you are yet to fathom the enormity of his achievement - after gaining access to the site’s Administrator control panel he could have run absolute riots with the site’s setup. Some examples - he could have re-directed the site to some other unmentionably illegal site, he could have deleted the all the site’s databases including that of its hyper-active forum or gathered the personal informations of all the forum members, among others. Instead, in following the ways of the highest principles of the purest of hacker ethics, he promptly reported the matter to the site’s Webmaster. He received a reply from them thanking him for bringing the vulnerabilities to light. Incidentally, he himself is a regular and respected member of the aforementioned forum. A Biology professor and a polite and well-spoken member, who at no point has ever indulged in flames and fanboyisms - an activity many forum member there participate with absolute glee and enthusiasm.


The task of re-designing the site had been entrusted upon Indus Net Technologies who claim,



"Indus Net Technologies is a premier Internet Consulting company offering diverse tailor made solutions to help organizations around the world gain an edge over competitors. We adhere to highest international standards and deliver visually appealing and technically perfect websites that exceeds your expectation......"


Well in face of this recent egg that has landed on their faces, they might want to re-think their future course of action and take a long hard look their company’s actual expertise (or lack of it).


Well one thing is for sure - the reputations of both companies is bound to take a major hit. Things may be even worse for Digit. There is a deluge of Technology-oriented magazines in India - T3, PC World, PC Quest, IC-Chip etc, all engaged in a cut-throat battle to reign supreme over the tech-fanatic Indian reader. Digit will have to go into some serious damage control mode to ensure that its advertisers aren’t turned off by this latest news and more importantly, its readers continue to remain loyal to it and not switch allegiance to a different publication.


As of now EPL (Arsenal notwithstanding) and the Champions League (semifinals notwithstanding) is all but forgotten for me. This development is faaaaaaar more interesting and gripping and I will be following with eager enthusiasm.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Jaxtr : A VOIP-based social networking community


Jaxtr

The ever-growing list of Social Networking communities sees yet another aspirant - Jaxtr. However, what may help it stand out from the crowd, is the fact that has also employed a VOIP-based form of communication rather than just plain text. It also allows one to send free SMS-es to any cellphones/landlines in over 155 countries, India included. The community, which was in Beta testing, finally came out with a stable release this February 25th.


Signing up is simple - fill up a few info and you can start sending out SMS-es right away, even before your registered email id is verified. However one thing that I found extremely odd was that while registering, you need to enter the password only once.


Send SMSOnce signed up you can immediately start sending out SMS to people’s handsets. Just select the country where you wish to send the SMS - the country code will automatically append to your number once country is selected and then type in the Cellphone number (if the recipient’s landline accepts SMS-es then you need to add the STD code also). Then type in the message (65 character limit) and click send. Here in India the SMS-es service appears to be reaching the recipient. I had sent messages to Cellphones who either have Airtel or Idea as their service provider - the 2 largest Networks in India, and all of them successfully reached their destination across the country. Every message that reaches the recipient on their cellphones will contain a URL in it. The recipient can go online and enter the URL where he/she can reply back to the sender. This reply will be forwarded to the member’s e-mail inbox. The SMS feature appears to be working fine in India. One can also send text messages to a fellow Jaxtr member (100 character limit) from his/her profile page. The message is also routed to the recipient member’s email inbox.


Voice communications in Jaxtr is done in two ways - voicemails or phone calls (needs the recipient member to have a verified phone number). Voicemails can be made even if the member has not entered any verified phone number. A member can also have voicemails forwarded to their cellphone or landline. Before you can start receiving this, you must get the phone verified, which was again a simple process. At a later date you may also choose to remove the phone from the account thus preventing any further forwardings. In order to make voice calls or send a voicemail to a Jaxtr member, one can go either to the member’s profile page or use the user’s Jaxtr widget (explained later). Clicking on the link marked, Call me will open a small window, where you enter your number along with the country of your residence. Once entered it will try to generate a Local number to which you can call and talk to the Jaxtr member. This especially useful if the Jaxtr member you are trying to call is residing abroad. Thus you can call the person and just be charged for local calls instead of the actual International call rates. You need not be a Jaxtr member to make voice calls, but the recipient must. At present the list of countries for which it can generate local numbers is limited and India is not included. An Indian, when tries to call up a Jaxtr member, is allotted a +1 code US number to make the call to.


They have setup a Social Networking community around this service. It is called Cafe Jaxtr. One can 20080424jaxtr06choose to be listed on its member page or opt out of it. You can enter your interests and likings (things that you would like to talk about) in your profile page. Clicking on your listed interest in your profile page will take you to a page showing you the other members who have listed the same interest in their profile. You could select one of them and call them up to have conversation about your common interest (a good conversation starter). Alternatively you could click on the flag of your country (attached automatically when you list your country in the profile page) and find fellow members who have claimed similar Nationality or could click on flags of other countries to view the members. The latter could be useful if you are learning a new language. You could call up a person from that county and practise your language skills with a native. However, there are a few issues that needs to be sorted out. Though a person may be added as a friend it need not always be shown in my profile page.


For example, I had created 2 profiles for this - guyjaxtr and guyjaxtr007.


My guyjaxtr friend’s list.


guyjaxtr friends list


It also lists me in my friend’s list. I am my own friend :D.


However my profile page does not list guyjaxtr007 as a contact


guyjaxtr profile page


I also apear to be a visitor to my own page.


However things appear to be working well in my guyjaxtr007 account


guyjaxtr007 friends list


guyjaxtr007 profile page


Also removing someone from a friend’s list seems to be a little tricky (outright impossible as I am beginning to conclude). However you can filter calls from anybody you wish not to receive them. In my opinion a member must be asked if he or she would like to add another member in her or his list and once accepted, each others profiles must become automatically visible in the other’s profile page.These quirks, though not alarming, need to be dealt with if it wants to emerge as a noteworthy social networking community. However to its credit, the stable version is only in version 1.0 currently.


Jaxtr WidgetOne can also include a flash-based widget on ones site/blog/other social networking community (the one shown here is a dummy). It can be customized according to ones liking. Using this widget, anybody can contact you either through text messages, or voicemail or even call you if you allow. The procedure is same as above. You can also send the person a text message which will be directed to his/her mail inbox. However unlike text messaging him from his profile page where you will have to login to text message him and also have a limit of 100 character, from the widget no logging in is required and one has a character limit of 180. Yet another thing that I found quirky was the fact that even if you do do not verify a phone for your account the Call me free! button will appear nevertheless. Without a verified phone two-way voice communication is impossible. IMO this button should not be present or disabled when there is no verified phone in the member’s account. This discrepancy, especially in text messaging IMO should be done away with as the messages are getting routed to the email inbox in both cases.


Yet another oddity is how you can search for friends if you do not have their profile link. Through your friend searchJaxtr account you log into your corresponding email inbox account (a substantial list present there) and download your contact details for cross checking. Not only are people uncomfortable with the method of logging in, I also think it is ineffective. People (like me) have compartmentalized tasks and identities by setting different accounts for different tasks (though all consolidated into one account with POP3). So it need not be necessary that the email id I give my friends for contact would be the same I had used for signing up here. A more conventional search for the person’s name would be more appropriate and appealing.


Having said this, I found their approach to social networking quite refreshing. Their voice and text communication feature is in place. They must now find ways to use this to make their social networking interactions more vibrant and engaging. Otherwise, it will turn into just another a service for sending out free SMS-es and making cheap calls (wherever applicable) - something it is now, in India at least (on the SMS front). As an Indian the only useful feature I found was sending out free, ad-free SMS-es. However other services too offer this feature in India and some with the option to send out bulk SMS-es, something Jaxtr lacks.


Though generation of a local number to make voice calls affects the revenue of the host Telecom company, it shouldn’t be as much of a thorn as Skype is. This is because, unlike Skype that allows free direct pc-to-pc voice chat, any voice-based communication conducted through Jaxtr will have to be performed with an existing landline or cellphone, thereby adding to the telecom company’s revenue earnings. However making international calls at local call rates will hurt them.


Jaxtr is backed by pedigree though. One of its investors is Konstantin Guericke, who had earlier founded the social networking site for professionals - Linkedin.


Jaxtr Inc. is a Californian startup by two individuals - Phillip Mobin and Touraj Parang.


Expecting further versions of this community to have more refined features and services.


Monday, April 21, 2008

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program: An Overview 01

Abstract

Joint Strike Fighter [JSF] program is a joint, multinational acquisition program for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and eight cooperative international partners. Expected to be the largest military aircraft procurement ever, the stealth, supersonic F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) will replace a wide range of aging fighter and strike aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied defense forces worldwide. The program’s hallmark is affordability achieved through a high degree of aircraft commonality among three variants: conventional takeoff/landing (CTOL), carrier variant (CV) and short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. Innovative concepts and advanced technologies will significantly reduce weapon system life-cycle costs while meeting the strike weapon system requirements of military customers.

The paper would attempt to explain some of the key features of the aircraft and innovative technologies and concepts being applied to develop, what is arguably the most advanced combat aircraft ever.

Read the remaining parts: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Godspeed

Sunday, April 20, 2008

DNS Bajaj : Graphical representation of domain records delegation


20080420dnsbajaj00

DNS Bajaj (pronounced DNS by Eye) is an online service that generates a graphical representation of the propagation of Domain records of your site through the Name servers handling your DNS. As the name suggests, it allows you to view the delegation of your domain through the Name servers in a graphical manner and helps pinpoint any errors that may have occurred in setting up your DNS.


Type in the domain name you wish to check. A little while later, the service will produce an automatically generated image for you to analyse or just plain gawk at. The image shows you the servers that handle your query for accessing a particular site - right from the Root Nameserver to the Name servers handling your sites DNS. We will take a better look at the service by analyzing the result of a domain - mechworld.co.cc. (please note that though one need not put the "."to the right of cc, it is in fact assumed present and called the root domain and any query always passes through its servers)


This is the image result generated for the domain.


(click on the picture to view a larger sized image)
www.mechworld.co.cc


The query for mechworld.co.cc will start from the fastest accessible Root-server. In this case it turned out to be d.root-servers.net. The Root-server looks up its record database and finds the Name server handling queries for cc. domains. a5.nstld.com was found to be the fastest and easily accessible name servers handling cc. queries. The process is followed again, where this server looks through its records to locate the Nameserver handling co.cc. queries - ns1.co.cc and ns2.co.cc. Your query is forwarded accordingly. Once it reaches the co.cc. Nameservers, it would look through its records to see which DNS Nameservers you have entered to handle queries for your site - mechworld.co.cc.


In this case 5 Name servers have been used - ns1.us.editdns.net, ns2.us.editdns.net, ns3.us.editdns.net, ns1.eu.editdns.net and ns2.eu.editdns.net. It is shown accordingly in the graph depicted in the first rectangle.


The second rectangle, showing all my 5 Nameservers in it represents the communication of domain records that takes place between the servers. Since there are 5 Name Servers, in normal working condition all the 5 Namservers must communicate the records with the other 4. As a result, it is should be depicted by 4 arrows emerging from the diagram of each Name server and 4 terminating in it. However, as the circled arrow indicates, each of these Nameservers will have an arrow that emerges and terminates in itself. Thus there will be 5 arrows emerging from it and 5 terminating in it. Any Nameserver having this self-emerging and terminating arrow indicates that this Nameserver is authoritative of your domain name. For any Nameserver to be considered Authoritative, it must be entered in the Domain registrar’s control panel (explained later).


How can you put DNS Bajaj to some good use?


Take a look at this result image.


(click on the image to view a larger sized image)

www.online.co.cc


Recently I was trying to create a Primary-slave Nameserver setup for my blog. Before implementing it here I tried it out on a dummy blog that I created for testing. I had made EveryDNS as my primary domain and EditDNS as the secondary/slave domain. However even after a fairly long time after I had setup this thing, I found that the domain records were not being updated in EditDNS. So I ran this service for my domain name and sure enough it confirmed this error in delegation of records. None of the Secondary Nameservers - ns1.us.editdns.net and ns2.us.editdns.net, that I had entered in the co.cc control panel had my domain records. They were appropriately marked in red colored rhombus. But what actually enabled me to pinpoint the problem was the Nameserver ns4.everydns.net also being marked in red. This is of significance as the server in question also handles axfr queries (ns4.everydns.net = axfr.everydns.net = 64.158.219.3). This was confirmed when I tried to ping this server and was unsuccessful in it. I reported the matter and this was later confirmed by EveryDNS. Though I later ran a combination of ping and nslookup commands (dig, if you wish) to confirm this, using DNS Bajaj, IMHO, is a far more convenient and faster option for carrying out your initial diagnosis. You may even download and install the DNS Bajaj script on your own computer.


This is the blog’s setup of Nameservers and delegation of domain records.


(click on the image to view a larger sized image)

www.shubhspace.co.cc


Since the domain registrar - co.cc, allows account holders to enter only 5 Nameservers, the ones listed outside the second rectangle coud not be entered in the control panel and hence are not considered authoritative. At various points, I had entered the Nameservers currently outside in the domain registrar’s control panel and on each occasion they were depicted as Authoritative for the domain. However a Nameserver could be entered in the registrar’s control panel and still not be Authoritative. It all depends upon the way the Nameservers have been set up by its Administrators. The service can also show you all the subdomains associated with the domain name. However, this is a feature you can all but forget. No self-respecting Admin of a Nameserver will ever entertain zonetransfer requests from any Tom, Dick or Harry (ie, you).


The code for this service has been written by Bjorn Isaksson,which he has termed as a proof of concept. DNS Bajaj is a pearl script that uses Net::DNS module to query the domain’s Nameservers for the delegation and then forwards the result to Graphviz, developed by AT&T to generate the image.


The graphical representation of delegation of domain records of some popular sites


(click on the images to view a larger sized image)



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www.google.com


www.google.com


www.microsoft.com


www.af.mil


www.af.mil


www.yahoo.com


www.thinkdigit.com


www.infosys.com


www.sun.com


www.apple.com


www.apple.com


Please note that though this service depicts the delegation of your domain records, any query requesting your site need not always access the Nameservers handling your domain. The Internet is peppered with DNS servers that hold cache of your domain records. One of those may intercept your query and forward it to the requested hosting server, thereby saving time. To follow the actual path followed when you query a site, use tracert.


If you have any queries, suggestions or criticisms about this post, feel free to drop in a comment. I will definitely try to address the issue to the best of my ability.