Linux file navigation aide (MSSwan python3 script)

If you have a lot of places that you routinely visit in your file system, often with ludicrously long path names, then click here to download a tar file that will alleviate the problem (once downloaded, execute `tar -xvf pyfsmem.tar` to obtain the python 3.x script).

Follow instructions in the script’s prolog (especially adding aliases to your bashrc). Then you can “remember” frequently visited directories and return to them with only a couple of keystrokes.

IMO, this is far better than pushd and popd because favorite places are remembered indefinitely (even with power failures).

Thanks to M. Scot Swan for providing this gem!

Public display of affection for Prof. Gib Richards

Dear Prof. Richards:

When I was still a teenager, you were my undergraduate advisor at the University of New Mexico (UNM). While seated in your office surrounded by rubber chickens, whoopee cushions, and other fanciful toys (which you had because of your side hobby of being a clown), I asked: “How can I know if I will ultimately enjoy a career in Mechanical Engineering?” You replied: “If you are willing to graduate one or two semesters late, then you can find the answer to that question by doing a co-op student internship.” To prepare me for this opportunity, your first action was to help me get a local internship at the Air Force Research Laboratory (then named Weapons Laboratory) at Kirtland AFB. You made telephone calls and otherwise worked your magic to get me into a co-op during the next summer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where I quickly came to realize that it was the PhDs who were doing the most interesting and self-directed work. I also learned at Los Alamos that educated people have the self-discipline to NOT SMOKE CIGARETTES and to NOT USE SWEAR WORDS. My supervisor at Los Alamos furthermore advised me to go back to UNM and take as many classes as possible from Buck Schreyer, which likewise delightfully shaped my career. Thus, Prof. Richards, you deserve more credit than anyone else for pointing me in the direction of a healthy PhD track, ultimately leading to 14 years as a researcher at Sandia National Laboratories and (most recently) as a professor of Mechanical Engineering since 2007.

I still fondly recall being the first of your students to use computer-generated graphics and laser printing in my senior research report, but that didn’t distract you from fulfilling your promise to find ten grammar/spelling errors. Did you ever fail in that quest with any other student? You were the person who graded my co-op report upon my return to UNM, where you taught me that “finite elements” is only *sometimes* hyphenated, consequently launching a campaign of my own to explain hyphenation rules to others (see, for example, my blog article

In summary, Prof. Richards, you have profoundly influenced my life! I love you for everything you have done for me and for countless other students.

Sincerely, Rebecca Brannon

Hyphenation in technical (or other) writing.


Should you say “finite element” or “finite-element?” Which is better: a “beautifully-written” manuscript, or “beautifully written” one? Are your equations non-linear or nonlinear? Our one-page list of hyphenation rules summarizes information found in a variety of authoritative sources (Princeton Review, Strunk & White, etc.). Happy technical writing!

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Tip for success: How to write a status memo

You might think that a traditional status memo is a thing of the past, but submitting a memo to your boss (even when not asked to do so) is a great way to get your work noticed and to help you set your own focus for work yet to come. Click here for a sample memo format that Dr. Brannon uses with her own research group.

The following article also seems to have some good tips:
“Business Memo Format.” Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. June 17, 2012 . .

Comparison of Uniaxial Stress and Uniaxial Strain States

When doing verification of material models it is a very good idea to check both uniaxial stress and uniaxial strain states. For a von Mises material, we can analytically determine what displacements and stresses will be present when the material yields. The following table was created to aid those that work with the von Mises (or J2 plasticity) material model.

There are only three parameters that are used for the table; specifically, the yield stress in uniaxial tension and any two elastic modulii. The table was written so that if only Young’s modulus and Poisson’s ratio are known, the reader can derive any other required values by using the equations included at the bottom of the table.

The LaTeX source for the table can be found here.

Comparison of Uniaxial Stress and Strain for a von Mises Material at Yield

Comparison of Uniaxial Stress and Strain for a von Mises Material at Yield

Tip: How to set up videoconferencing with the CSM group

The following tutorial provides instructions for both the host (CSM group) and guest to set up videoconferencing.

METHOD 1 (for impromptu small meetings without graphics sharing)
Remote guest can make the request to Dr. Brannon, whose Skype name is rebecca.brannon

METHOD 2 (for extended multi-participant meetings with graphics sharing)

The Interactive Video Conferencing (IVC) equipment at the University of Utah allows us to connect to other people and places throughout the state and the world.

Host (CSM personnel) instructions:

The following steps are necessary for an IVC meeting:

  • To schedule an IVC meeting, the CSM personnel should contact the IVC through one of the following options:

1. call 435-879-4762

2. e-mail

3. fill the forms here.

  • The IVC staff find an available room on campus and arrange a test call with the guest.
  • If the test connection is successful, the IVC staff schedule a connection for the actual meeting.
  • The CSM personnel should be trained on how to use the equipment. For this purpose, the IVC staff provide a short training session for the CSM personnel.

Guest instructions:

The guest should have the required equipment, and provide its IP number to the CSM personnel. The guest and the CSM personnel should be in contact to schedule a test call and troubleshoot any issue.

Request for Letter of Reference from Dr. Brannon

Seeking a letter of reference from Dr. Brannon? Then please request one using RequestForLetterOfReferenceFromProfBrannon, which lets you know your own role (supplying information and having a chance to say what YOU think is worthy of recommendation) and to release liability.

For a nice philosophical discussion of the fallibility of reference letters, see