I have a piece of paper that proves it

I am now a Master of Science.


Some people are finished with their finals and semester projects. Gregor is a weird name.

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Without Parallel

By all rights, today should’ve been my last day of class… ever. All my classes (ignoring the CERIAS Security Seminar, which doesn’t count) are Tuesday/Thursday, and this is the last week of class of the last semester of my college career.

Except it isn’t, technically. There’s a bonus session of CS 690C scheduled for Friday morning for those of us who haven’t had a chance to do our final project presentations yet to, well, do our final project presentations.

Which is a shame, because my last regulation time class ever would’ve made a better last class ever.

Today was the last day of project presentations in CS 525 (Parallel Computing) and, as luck would have it, I was scheduled for the final slot. (Lucky indeed, as I changed my project topic about two weeks ago.) I talked about BOINC, and you can find the slides here.

So I’m giving the presentation, and it’s going pretty well. Then someone’s cell phone rings. I keep going. The professor answers his phone. I keep going. He talks into it. While I’m giving the presentation. I can’t make out what he’s saying, since he’s trying to be quiet, but he’s still talking on his cell phone while I’m presenting.

OK, so The Show Must Go On, right? I keep going. A couple minutes later, a pizza delivery girl walks into the room. I’m a bit taken aback by this, and I ask, “Did someone order pizza?” I figure she just walked into the wrong room, and I’m kind of trying to play it off. But no. The professor had ordered pizza. I say, “I guess I’ll keep going,” and continue the presentation.

As it turns out, it’s the professor’s last class as Purdue as well, and he ordered pizza for everyone to celebrate. So hey, free pizza. He also hands out the teacher evaluations for the class, and announces he doesn’t care what we put down on them, since he’s leaving anyway.

So here’s what I write on the comments section on the back (which, let’s be honest, no one actually reads anyway):

I guess it doesn’t matter what I write here, since you’re leaving after this semester, and I am too.

I just lost the game.

I can only hope he takes The Game back to Greece with him.

And after that, the pizza delivery girl comes back in. Apparently, when she had first come into the room, somehow she had whacked her ring on the door, and the diamond in it popped out. So we looked for a while on the floor for it, but I don’t think anyone found it.

So yeah, that would’ve been my last class at Purdue ever and would’ve made at least a moderately amusing story, if not for the overtime session tomorrow morning, which [as of this writing] I still need to finish up the paper for.

Stupid Hyperliteralist Wish Fulfillment

I have three projects that will be due soon:

  • CS 525: Paper and presentation on BOINC. Current status: research done, need to write paper and create presentation. Due: next week.
  • CS 626: Final paper covering 12+ topics of interest for securing an IT enterprise. Current status: 1/12 at first draft, 5/12 at research collected, 6/12 not started. Due: two weeks.
  • CS 690C: Implement physical network mapping protocol. Current status: functionally complete, needs more testing and polish for demo. Due: next week.

On top of that, there’s a show at Hillenbrand Thursday night, and then Friday afternoon we go on a road trip to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio to perform there Saturday night. And that’s not counting miscellaneous and sundry other things (finally putting an image gallery on the Ship of Fools website, documenting how said website works for the webmasters for next year, working on the next Music Applet release, etc.).

So yeah, there’s some pressure here. We’re not at “I’m screwed” pressure, but we’re above “nothing like doing things for getting things done.” My to-do list can’t decide whether or not it needs a vertical scrollbar. (Needing a vertical scrollbar is my metric for deciding, “seriously, start doing some of this stuff.”)

In my situation, one might be prone to thinking, “Man, I wish I weren’t under so much pressure.”

Accordingly, this evening we lost water pressure. Not really what I was going for.

(Yes, it’s back now. No idea yet what happened.)

They say, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” They don’t say what to do when life stops giving you lemons for a while, and then gives you stank water.

Network Discovery Protocols

Who wants to learn about network discovery protocols? You do! I’ve finally uploaded the slides I used for a quick presentation on Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP) and Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) for CS 690C last Tuesday. (And by that, I mean “finally linked to them from here”, since I ended up presenting from that very web-based copy.)

So if you want an overview of what network discovery does and what the differences between CDP and LLDP are, there you go. And if you don’t, here’s the answers anyway: (1) things on a network can find out what they’re connected to, and (2) politics.

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The Truth About Computer Science Education

I was planning on doing an April Fools’ Day post, but I don’t think I’ll have time for that after catching up with everything I put on hold while preparing for last night’s big improv show. Nevertheless, there’s been something weighing heavily on my conscience for a while now, and I think the best thing to do is to get it out there for everyone to see, even if it’s going to jeopardize my chances of graduating with a degree.

I’ve been at Purdue studying computer science for six years now, first as an undergrad and now in the masters’ program. And through all the classes I’ve taken, I’ve come to the inescapable realization that the computer science program here is fundamentally flawed. And worse, as I’ve talked with computer scientists elsewhere, I’ve discovered that the problem isn’t specific to Purdue’s program. In fact, it’s endemic throughout all of ivory-tower academia.

The problem can be stated simply, but its impact is far-reaching. Computer science as taught in this country is devastatingly one-sided. It is based entirely on information theory, to the exclusion of Intelligent Development (ID).

Computer science has its roots on information theory. Information theory is a theory, not fact; there is no scientific evidence that information exists. People who believe in information theory, or Shannonists, will tell you that the fossil record, dating back to 1835, proves that information is true. However, the fossil record only shows devices that purportedly process information, but not any actual information! If these machines process information, then where are all the transitional states?

I’m from Missouri, the Show-Me State. If you want me to believe in information, you’re going to need to show me a picture of information. But ask a Shannonist for one, and they’ll start talking about entropy. If information is real, then why do they always try to change the subject to thermodynamics? Talking with them is all noise and no signal.

Furthermore, mathematics proves that information cannot exist. For example, consider my laptop’s hard drive, which by current standards is a modest 55 GB. A gigabyte (GB) is defined to be 1024 megabytes (MB), each of which is 1024 kilobytes (KB), each of which is 1024 bytes, each of which is 8 bits. Therefore, the hard drive contains 55 * 1024 * 1024 * 1024 * 8 bits, or 472,446,402,560 bits. Each bit is defined to have one of two states: on (1) and off (0). Thus, there are 2472,446,402,560 = 10142,226,559,114 possible states — a one followed by over 100 billion zeroes. (For comparison, the universe contains “only” 1080 electrons.) For information to be stored on the disk, each of these bits must be in a particular state. Therefore, the odds of information being stored on the hard disk are 1 in 10142,226,559,114 — a probability so astronomically tiny it is for all practical purposes impossible. Therefore, disks cannot store information, and information does not exist.

Shannonists also claim that software is of human origin, but their very definition of “software” stands as evidence to their lies. As any computer scientist will tell you, software takes in input and returns output. The key question to ask is this: where does that input come from? Why, they claim, it was the output of some previous execution of a software program. Thus, it must surely be the case that modern-day output can be traced back along its inputs, and their inputs, and their inputs before them, all the way back to some First Input.

Before progressing, it is worth observing that the software itself is the output of other programs (called “compilers”). Clearly, then, software is never truly created, but merely modified into incrementally improved, later versions. This successive refinement of software is performed on “microprocessors”, and is commonly accepted. However, this fails to explain how entirely new software comes about. No one has ever seen Pac-Man turn into Excel, for example, as such a transformation could only be performed on a “macroprocessor”, and none of those have been shown to exist. If they did, then we would surely see half-Pac-Man, half-Excel software, which is nonsensical.

So, back to the First Input, the progenitor of all modern so-called “information” (which we already proved doesn’t exist, but for the sake of argument we’ll pretend it does for the rest of this exposé). Where did it come from? Computer scientists will claim that it must have come from some primordial, pre-information material. While they name this hypothetical process “adatagenesis”, it has never been proven, and never can be, for spontaneous generation of information has long since been discredited by Francesco Redi in his famous “one thousand monkeys and a typewriter” experiment in 1668.

So, if computer science is incapable of explaining the origin of information, is there anything that can? Yes! The answer is Intelligent Development (ID), the scientific theory that an intelligent Developer exists who created the First Input. Mountains of irrefutable scientific evidence the size of Mount Rushmore exist in support of ID theory. A growing number of developers support ID theory, although their views are typically suppressed by the Shannonist orthodoxy, who threaten to flagellate anyone who disagrees with their computational dogma. While they believe their academic systems immune to criticism, a critical analysis of their claims proves it to be a sham. It is evident to any individual, be he educated or not, that ID is an important theory that belongs in the classroom.

The evidence for Intelligent Development is all around us. For example, suppose you were browsing a w4r3z site and found a download completely free of viruses or spyware. Knowing that such a zip file does not naturally occur on such sites, it is evident that it must have been Developed, and thus proves the existence of a Developer.

Shannonists often falsely compare Intelligent Development with the earlier Compilerist movement, which claimed that God compiled the First Software and entered into it the First Input, thus creating computer science. Compilerists point to the Gospel of John to support their claim (recall that “word” is computer science shorthand for “four bytes”):

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. [John 1:1-3]

Intelligent Development, despite computer scientists’ claims, is not “Compilerism in a cheap tuxedo.” Compilerism is clearly a religious doctrine and cannot be taught in public schools, but ID theory makes no claims as to the identity of the Developer. The Developer could be the Compilerist God, but it could also be a purely naturalistic entity, such as space programmers. From space. Intelligent Development is a Big Ten[t] theory, capable of accomodating secular ideas about the First Input as well as Little Endian Compilerists (LEC) and Big Endian Compilerists (BEC) alike.

Supporters of ID theory are not claiming that Shannonist computer science should not be taught in public schools, or even that equal time should be given to ID and Shannonism. ID theorists simply want students to be taught the controversy, that they should be presented with the evidence both for and against information. A recent poll indicates that 100% of the public agrees with the statement that “both sides of information should be taught.”

But we must be swift. Decades of domination by the Shannonist orthodoxy have wreaked untold harm on modern society. For example, al Qaeda did not even exist before computer science was first introduced to public schools; surely this is no mere coincidence. Additionally, Alan Turing, one of the leading figures in the development of computer science, was gay, proving that computer science was created to push the homosexual agenda on our children. Furthermore, even now researchers are working on so-called “quantum computers,” in which can be both 0 and 1 at the same time. Clearly, this is just the liberal elite pushing their corrupting brand of moral relativism down to the level of individual entangled particles. Left unchecked, the teaching of computer science will result in the destruction of the moral fabric of America.

I understand well that, now that I have made these revelations to the public, I will surely soon by expelled from the computer science program at Purdue. But fear not for me, for I have already signed a contract to become a fellow at the Disk Recovery Institute, a Seattle-based organization devoted to furthering the cause of Intelligent Development theory. Soon I will be relocating this blog to uncommoncriteria.com, where I will be posting articles on the application of ID theory to computer security.

CERIAS Symposium

Today (Wednesday) was the second last day of the annual CERIAS Symposium at Purdue University. I only remembered it a little before noon on Tuesday. That’s what being on break for a week will do to your brain, I guess.

Anyway, I didn’t miss the poster session early Tuesday afternoon, where I had a poster on my SELinux policy language work. Fortunately there weren’t many periods of standing around waiting to be asked a question. About half of that question-answering time was spent explaining what SELinux is rather than talking about my work in particular, though.

Sometime in the near future there should be copies of the posters available on the symposium website. People who registered for the conference already got copies as part of their information packets. One nifty thing is that instead of distributing them on CD like last year, they gave each registrant a 128 MB USB flash drive with the posters on them. So, now I have a USB flash drive. Not too shabby, especially when the registration fee is waived for Purdue students.

My main disappointment with the symposium was that a lot of the sessions were very Purdue-centric. It makes sense that CERIAS would be showcasing the work going on here, but it means that a large number of the talks are ones I’ve already heard before. The forensics panel Wednesday afternon was pretty good, though; not coincidentally, it consisted mostly of people from government and industry in the field, instead of being dominated by our professors and grad students.

The final talk on comprehensibility of privacy policies was discouraging. In a nutshell, The Privacy Place did some surveys on how people reacted to and understood privacy policies, both in their “natural” language (read: lawyerese) and in altered formats intended to make them more understandable. The results were that, although people better understood the policies when presented in categorized or annotated forms, they believed they understood the current “natural” language style and believed they were more comprehensive than the other forms.

So, what does this mean? My interpretation is, you’re screwed either way. If the company is honest and wants the visitor to understand the policy, in theory they should use a categorized format, but people erroneously perceive it as less useful than “natural” language. Since the intent behind the privacy policy is to make the visitor comfortable with disclosing information, it’s in their best interests to target perceived, rather than actual, comprehensibility. And if the company is dishonest and wants to sneak odious terms in, their best bet is a long-winded monolithic policy that people will think is comprehensive but probably won’t even bother reading. In either case, the status quo is maintained.

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Baltimore: Now with 23% More Balti

Later today I’ll be heading off to the SELinux Symposium in Baltimore to give a talk. I’ll put up the paper and slides (which are 95% done right now) sometime after I get back.

If you’re lucky, there might even be a post about the goings-on during the conference. Except the last session, which I’ll have to duck out on so I can actually catch my flight back, thanks to the last usable flight out leaving in the early evening.

Fun fact: despite its name and the fact that I have a connecting flight back there, Midway is not actually midway between Baltimore and Indianapolis. Heck, it’d be faster to fly to Midway and drive back to Lafayette than it will be to fly from Midway to Indianapolis and drive back to Lafayette. Except for the fact that my car would be at the Indianapolis airport. D’oh!

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Hey, See: DC

Monday morning I’m off to DC for another action-packed SFS Symposium. The main component of the symposium is the job fair, which renders the whole affair rather pointless for me, as only some paperwork currently stands between me and the opening waiting for me after graduation. But since I don’t have a guaranteed, in-writing start date, that’s not good enough, apparently.

So. Last time at one of these in DC, I at least got to duck out on the last day and see some of the sights. But what to do this time?

For those of you who may someday find yourselves in my shoes, I put together the following list of

Things to do to kill time in Washington, DC

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Paper Progresses

The final version of the paper I’m presenting on March 2 at 11:00 in this year’s SELinux Symposium is finally starting to get into decent shape. Pretty much everything in it has been rewritten at least twice from the version originally submitted, which is expected when a month’s worth of additional work intervenes. Right now it’s an order of magnitude better than the original version.

Now the main difficulty is whittling the paper down to the scant five pages that is the maxiumum length, which is very short for this sort of thing. Right now my draft is five pages plus a figure that LaTeX can’t seem to find a place for. It’s now a delicate balancing act between description of how things work and examples of how they look and how they’re used, while leaving room for things like motivation for the project and comparing it to related work in the area.

One nifty thing, looking back now on the reviewers’ comments, is that just about every concern they brought up was either identified by my work on it this past semester or taken care of while rewriting and revising the paper. I’ll chalk that up to “great minds think alike.”

Ten days left to get it done. Good thing I had all that “free time” over break to tear into it.

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Nature Abhors Free Time

Today I finished the report for my Security project, which was an analysis of the work I did last semester in Access Controls, wherein I designed an alternative language for specifying SELinux policies. Very briefly (since I don’t feel like rehashing the 15-page writeup), SENG (my poorly-named language) augments the existing policy language with higher-level features, in order to eliminate the need to use macros when writing a policy, which in turn will make doing analysis of a policy earlier.

So with that out of the way, which largely finishes off the project (modulo a few small odds and ends), I figure I’ll have some free time coming up, right?

Then I get this in the mail:

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Helpful Cold Weather Tip

If the class you have in the morning has a mailing list, and it’s around 30 degrees outside, and it’s a ten-minute talk to campus, I highly recommend checking your e-mail from the list before going to class. It might be the case that an e-mail was sent out a couple hours earlier saying that class was cancelled.

SHA Attack Presentation Slides

For those who are interested, here are the slides I will be using in my presentation on SHA attack techniques:

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Attacking SHA

Monday is my turn to give a presentation at the security reading group, which meets Mondays at 3 pm in the CERIAS conference room (aka REC 217). My topic is attacks on the hash functions SHA-0 and SHA-1; I will be walking through some of the recent work looking for ways to find collisions.

Why that particular topic? I was curious how those attacks worked myself, and this seemed as good a way as any to force myself to read the relevant papers.

Since there’s almost always empty seats available at the reading group’s meetings, if you’re on campus and want to attend the presentation, you’re more than welcome to show up. I’ll post the presentation slides here afterwards.

The announcement sent out to the reading group’s mailing list follows.

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Cyber Corps Symposium Day 4: java.lang.ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException

It’s over!

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