Thoughts on the Nintendo Switch

This past weekend marked the first time the public got their hands on the newest console coming from Nintendo, the Nintendo Switch. The Switch’s first look and other imagery has shown what looks like an older target audience than kids and families, a switch (no pun intended) from Nintendo’s other consoles. So will it make a good family console, like the Wii U?

I had a chance to get my hands on it and I’m convinced the Switch will be our next must-have console for the entire family. “Nintendo Switch is for everyone,” Cindy Gordon, Nintendo’s VP of Corporate Affairs told me. Here are a few reasons why you should consider picking it up for family.

The game line-up is as great as you’d expect — and more.

There are some things you can anticipate when a new Nintendo console is announced — a new Legend of Zelda, a new Mario adventure, and memorable party games are just a few of Nintendo’s area of expertise that gamers have come to expect, and the Switch will deliver on all of those. (Super Mario Odyssey is such a big adventure, however, that it won’t be available until later in the year.)

But the Nintendo Switch is also branching out into new games and franchises that have never been on a Nintendo system before. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, FIFA, and NBA 2K are also headed to the Switch, and Nintendo is committed to working with third-party developers for an even more diverse offering of games.

The Switch is incredibly portable.

Easily the most appealing part of the Nintendo Switch is the hassle-free portability. The screen quickly and simply undocks from the console, the Joy-Con controllers attach to the side, and you instantly have a portable game with high-quality graphics that look just as good as they do on the TV.

If you’ve ever dreamed about playing Skyrim during a long flight or the kids having Splatoon battles in the backseat on the way to Grandma’s, the Switch is about to make that a reality–without any cords or mess, said Gordon. Battery life ranges from two-and-a-half to six-and-a-half hours, depending on the game. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will last about three hours before needing to recharge, estimated Gordon.

The controllers are made for hands of all sizes.

The Switch’s controllers, known as Joy-Con, are surprisingly small and can fit hands of all sizes and ages. “Joy-Con are little technological feats of innovation that pack a powerful punch,” Gordon said.

The innovative design allows different ways to play depending on the game you’re playing. Attach it to the sides of the screen for gaming on the go, use it as a traditional controller, or pull the two pieces apart and use them similar to Wiimotes. Kids and adults alike will appreciate the flexibility.

When separated, you can also turn the Joy-Con horizontally and use it in a style similar to the original NES controller. I had the chance to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with it in that manner, however, and even my small hands started to cramp a little due to the tiny controller. Parents may want to pick up the Pro Controller if they’ll be doing just as much gaming as the kids.

Parental controls are built in.

You know.

2017/12/19 posted in  Offtopics

Free Alternatives to Gaussian

'Free software' here not means 'libre software'.

1. GAMESS

Most similar to Gaussian, and code is really clean and easy to read, even have documents for developers.

Opensource License
Yes BSD

2. PSI

An Open-Source electronic structure program emphasizing automation, advanced libraries, and interoperability.

Opensource License
Yes GNUv3

3. LAMMPS

Has potentials for solid-state materials (metals, semiconductors) and soft matter (biomolecules, polymers) and coarse-grained or mesoscopic systems. It can be used to model atoms or, more generically, as a parallel particle simulator at the atomic, meso, or continuum scale.

Opensource License
Yes GPLv3

4. CASTEP

Specializes in periodic systems with plane wave basis sets.

Opensource License
No commercial

5. ACES

Opensource License
Yes GPLv3

Specializes in high level quantum chemistry calculations.

Taken the best features of parallel implementations of quantum chemistry methods for electronic structure.

6.DIRAC

Opensource License
No Unknown

Oriented towards relativistic quantum chemistry problems.

7. NWChem

Opensource License
Yes ECL

Can calculate a smaller set of properties but it can handle mixed QM/MM calculations and periodic systems like solids.

2017/11/11 posted in  Material

Advanced Materials Through AI & Computational Materials Science

A recent Nature article examines how materials researchers are using artificial intelligence to make quantum-mechanical calculations in only a few seconds that once took supercomputers hours to complete.

These computer modeling and machine-learning techniques are generating enormous libraries of materials candidates. Researchers hope that this approach will produce a giant leap in the speed and usefulness of materials discovery. British materials scientist Neil Alford observes, “We are now seeing a real convergence of what experimentalists want and what theorists can deliver.”

The most promising results so far have been achieved with lithium compounds, used in batteries and other applications..

The Nature article also argues that “artificial intelligence will help researchers comb through vast numbers of materials to find just the one they need for the application at hand.” The standard process starts with researchers applying machine learning to lab data and computer modeling in order to extract common patterns and predict new materials. Researchers then look for a material with specific properties and pass along their findings to chemists, who try to produce the theoretical material for testing.

Personally, I think huge opportunities are available from these types of materials databases — the potential is almost limitless. The advances made so far remind me of the robotic discovery efforts at Dow, the advances made by Bristol-Myers Squibb and other pharmaceutical companies, and recent virus discoveries, such as the ones made by Angie Belcher’s group. These discoveries have resulted in everything from catalysts for oxidative coupling of methane to battery electrode materials. These types of efforts are the physical analog to the computational approaches described in these material databases.

Transforming computer predictions to real-world technologies, however, is difficult. Existing databases include a small fraction of all the known materials and only a few possible ones. Researchers have also learned that data-driven discovery works well for some materials, but not for others. And even when researchers successfully isolate a material with potential, it can take years for chemists to synthesize it in a lab.

Despite these challenges, researchers remain confident that they will discover many useful materials that could lead to innovations in electronics, robotics, healthcare, and other fields. In my opinion, the key for researchers is to avoid the scattershot approach. If scientists can try everything, how do we decide where to focus our efforts? To focus the research there must still be brains behind the computational or robotic synthesis efforts. We need to ensure that we aren’t trying to boil the ocean.

I believe that success will require collaboration between different disciplines and groups. For example, people who understand the computational work may not completely understand the physical impact on materials. We must combine those two areas to provide meaningful information that can be used to impact physical materials. Information inside a computer is only useful if we can translate it to the physical world.

2017/5/19 posted in  Material

Inevitable Comparison: TCP vs UDP

We use Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP) to transfer data over the internet.

TCP is the most commonly used protocol because it offers a lot of built-in features such as connection, error-checking and ordering. Also packet delivery is guaranteed.

UDP is also one of the most used protocol. While TCP offers a lot of features, UDP just provides packet throwing. There is no connection, error-checking, ordering etc.

Before talking about use cases, let’s look at their features.
Connection

  • TCP: Connection-oriented (persistent)
  • UDP: Connectionless (fresh air)

Reliability

  • TCP: Reliable (Ordered, Guaranteed)
  • UDP: Unreliable (Drop, Disordering possiblities)

Weight

  • TCP: Heavy (Background mechanisms)
  • UDP: Light (Simply throw packets)
    Transport

  • TCP: Stream (Continous, Ordered)

  • UDP: Datagram (Unrelated delivery)
    Flow Control

  • TCP: Windowing, Congestion Avoidance

  • UDP: Nothing
    Speed

  • TCP: Slow (Resending, Recovering, Error-checking etc.)

  • UDP: Fast (Nothing)

We use TCP for important data because it has reliable and persistent pipeline. For example HTTP (Web), FTP (File), SMTP (Email), SSH (Terminal), SQL (DB Queries) built top of TCP.
We use UDP for unimportant, temporal data because there is no consistent mechanism for reliability or persistance. For example games, VoIP services, media streaming, broadcasting built with UDP.

Choosing the right protocol depends on your needs. Most of developers use TCP because it does pretty much everything built-in also it’s easy as file i/o. My suggestion is use TCP for less frequent, more important data; use UDP for more frequent, less important data.

I tried to tell you basic differences between TCP and UDP protocols but there is one more thing to understand (where the magic begins!): They both developed on Internet Protocol (IP). TCP provides ‘connection’ but connection is an illusion! There is a three-way handshake for connection establishment. Simply, TCP is UDP with advanced features. There were some good developers, they implemented useful solutions for industry needs. Did you ever wanted to go deep into connection establishment, reliability mechanisms? Do you want to implement your own TCP-like protocol?

2017/3/11 posted in  Network