Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Been A Busy Year Moving into the Next

Balancing the number of things one can accomplish in a given time is getting more difficult for me. I don't think that committing to three different shows in three different theaters one after the other did anything to free me up, that is a certainty. However, I am thoroughly enjoying the rehearsals and look forward to the performances.

I was taken aback by a ABC radio news reporter this morning, who was commenting on the changes that came in 2010. She said that "out of nowhere" Twitter and Youtube became legitimate news reporting systems. I might agree that this year it became mainstream, but those to systems, and Twitter in particular, were impacting journalism dramatically in 2009 as well. Just look back at Journalism 2.0 by Mark Briggs and you will know what I mean.

Some things that did come to completion this year will be more notable next year as well. The South Sound Technology Conference was postponed until March, a database for managing contact information for South Sound Tech companies was completed and I dug in a little deeper into the area of personal digital libraries.

I imagine that will be a focal point in 2011, along with a few more shows.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fall 2010 End of Quarter Colloquium

For the sake of sharing some of the topics presented at the end of each quarter, here are some of the items being shared at the Fall 2010 colloquium.


Institute of Technology Student Colloquium

Fall Quarter 2010

Speaker Session One (CP 105):

09:30am - 10:30am

Anomaly Detection in Power Plant Data Streams

John Patanian (Chair Dr. Ankur Teredesai, Dr. Orlando Baiocchi, Drs. Raj Subbu, Weizhong Yan, Feng Xue)



Anomaly detection answers the question, "Is my complex system

behaving normally?". Anomalies may correspond to damage in industrial equipment. In this scenario, if damage can be detected early then remedial action can be taken before a catastrophic event occurs. We are developing, comparing, and applying several anomaly detection algorithms to detect multiple types of power plant faults. Ensemble methods will be used to develop anomaly detectors with improved robustness and accuracy. We will then compare the performance of our algorithms against anomaly detection using standard statistical process control. The ensemble fault detectors will be incorporated into demonstration system that is built upon a complex event data processing software framework, will consume simulation power plant data and ag equipment faults.


(via skype)


Keyword Bidding in Sponsored Search Using an Estimation of Distribution Algorithm

Aparna Sundara Rajan (Dr. Matthew Alden, Dr. Ankur Teredesai, Dr. Daniel Zimmerman)

Keyword based sponsored search is an important mode of advertisement through the Internet today. It provides an important source of revenue for search engines that allocate advertising space for advertisers. This advertising space is allocated to different advertisers through auction mechanisms since there are very few positions available for the huge number of advertisers wanting to publish their advertisements. For each probable keyword that could be searched by web search users, a keyword auction is conducted in which interested advertisers bid an amount that they are willing to pay each time their ad is clicked. The order in which the advertisements are displayed on the ad space is determined by the ranking of these bids. Deciding how much to bid is a real challenge for an advertiser; if the bid is too low with respect to the bids of other advertisers, the ad might not get displayed in a favorable position; a bid that is too high on the other hand might not be profitable either, since the attracted number of conversions might not be enough to compensate for the high cost per click.


In this project we develop an intelligent bidding strategy using an Estimation of Distribution Algorithm. We assume that the advertisers have a fixed set of keywords for which they are interested to bid for higher positions among the sponsored links. We validate our bidding strategy using instances of Trading Agent Competition Ad Auctions (TAC/AA) \footnote{aa.tradingagents.org} game, where we implement our strategy as competing bidding agents. Winning agents from each tournament of games are used to evolve bidding strategies over several iterations. We expect that through this evolution we will be able to create better bidding strategies in terms of profits made over TAC/AA game instances.



Streambased Keyword Monitoring

Mythreyee Sunil (Dr. Ankur Teredesai)



10:30am – 11:00am

Augmentation of Re-ranking Approaches and their Evaluation in real time web

Garima Tiwari, Hannah Adele Craswell, Arda Shayandeh (Dr. Ankur Teredesai, Dr.Jenny Sheng)


I worked with Arta and Garma to design and implement a Facebook application for the Augmentation of Re-ranking Approaches for Twitter Search project. The application allows users to select a category/topic and then rank 5 tweets in that area by most informative. With user submitted data we then are able to compare it to the project's auto-ranking algorithms in order to support the validity of the way the algorithms rank tweets. My contribution to this project focused on the design of the application and coding it to work with the Facebook API.



11:00am – 11:45



OSPI Internship

Hannah Adele Craswell (Dr. Ankur Teredesai)


I have been working on my internship through the Education department here at UWT. My project was to work on a team to build a web system for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). ­­­­­OSPI has funded many state needs projects over the past decade, though they have no clear idea of what these funds are being used for. This web system has two parts to it. The first part is a way for OSPI to know what the projects are using the funds for. The system also tracks the performance of each project to ensure funds are being used to their full potential. The second part of this web system is an information portal. This part informs the general public (parents, educators… etc) of what projects the state is funding, what trainings they offer, and how to contact the projects for more information or to request a training.



Liberty Mutual – Safeco Information Technology Internship

Derek Atwood (Dr. Ankur Teredesai, Scott Wright)


My main project over the summer was to look at a major process and map the entire process to determine bottlenecks and improve the process. I mapped it by creating an interactive web page that detailed each step of the process.


Desktop Application Support Analyst Intern

Ron Van Co (Andrew Fry)


My Internship was for the City of Seattle as a Desktop Application Support Analyst. The problems we’re faced with at the City were the deployment of 350’s PC to vary site location and remote locations of City of Seattle. We faced varies different challenges such as proper software configurations, understanding the network infrastructure, and knowledge of basic shell scripting. These types of challenges were necessary in order to do our work properly. As a company we want to provide the best customer service to our customers and tend to any problems that arise after deployment. Our goal was to get users to quickly adapt to new changes after they received their PC. We provide on-call support for the vary site locations and remote locations after the next business day of deployment to make sure users can properly do their work. A lot of customers of the City don’t know the technical components of the computer and when talking to them we need to understand their point of view when they can’t understand the complication of a computer. I learned about when I worked for the City of Seattle and goal of IT. The goal as IT was to provide support for all users across the city about their computer and anything technical that they can’t understand. We provide on-call support all day at the City and when users need help with their PC we help. Some the solutions we use to help users are by phone, or in person. We try to do things over phone if necessary but if not we make a trip out to the user’s PC to fix the issues. Having a new PC is new to everyone and we try to make it easy for the user to manage. Overall, the internship was a great opportunity for me to learn the politics of a work environment and how to work alongside a team of interns and come out successful. I was rewarded an extension of my internship up to a year and I continue to work there until this day.



11:45am – 2:00pm (Andrew Fry)


Internship with StreamAudio

Tim Larson


This internship study was based on the examination of the internals and fundamentals of the online audio streaming and hosting company StreamAudio. The focus of this presentation will consist of the basics of audio streaming and hosting, as well as an exploration of the difficulties of interning for a current employer. Specific topics will include the technologies and software behind hosting and streaming audio, network and hardware infrastructure, systems monitoring, market research, advertising, and client support. As well a brief background about the company and their service provider will be discussed to serve as a fundamental foundation.



Internship At Global Scholars

Gurpreet Singh


The goal is to get experience and use the knowledge of internship towards my major as an Information Technology Systems. For my goal to success I started looking for internship, with the help of Professor Andrew Fry who is our Internship faculty sponsor. Professor Fry gave me lot of ideas how to approach towards your internship. I tried and I got the result pretty soon, when I got called for the interview with Global Scholars. A company that strong’s the education community with online tutoring and developing lots of software for teachers and students to their learning or teaching environment.

From Global Scholars I got a computer, my own desk and company email address for communication. I was excited; my first project is to display the output of xml files by using Microsoft Visual studio C#. I had to come with my own idea how to do it and I do had lot of problems while doing it but whenever I got stuck I have developer people to help me out. And I finished the job felt great. After that he asked me to do a web form and put it on IS server. Now I am working on it currently. My working experience was so far developing program and test it and make it work, which is not my prime aspect. But making a website also comes under developing but putting it on web server is the IT part. I love working at Global Scholars and I am slowly finding my way towards the goal.



Internship with Wizards of the Coast

Brent Douglas

I did my internship at Wizards of the Coast at their Renton corporate headquarters. Wizards of the Coast provided me a diverse learning environment where I have been able to work closely with the most experienced people in their field at the company. My main focus has been working with the Software Systems Engineer as well as the Build Release Engineer in working and maintaining the whole server infrastructure at Wizards of the Coast. What I will be presenting is my main focus in work. This has been in working with a lot of virtualization through the use of VMware Vsphere Client in deploying and maintaining virtual machines across the server farm. I will also be showing a little about how I have scripted a kickstart file to make deploying linux boxes much less tasking which proves to be highly efficient. In addition, I will also add my experience in gathering info using the SNMP protocol in gathering system information and data which I have written a bash script to easily compare and collaborate the various statistics from every box on the server farm.



Summer Internship at Prepared Response in Tacoma

Nucharee Prabkhet


This internship was focused on the research and development of a dynamic maps application for Prepared Response.Inc. The application provided quick access to local and wide range area maps. Allowing users to edit maps in real time.



ITS Internship with Avanade

Timothy David Deas (Avanade Sponsors Chris Dury, Tim Jorgensen, and Adam Carter)


My time at Avanade (IT Consulting company) as an intern in the ITS Support role has been very enlightening. Avanade is in the power of three with Accenture and Microsoft as the parent companies. As an ITS Support intern, I have been able to assist in the ITS Operations department by implementing varies improvement methods such as web services in SharePoint development, daily process improvements, customer satisfaction, system engineering by making a script to automation installations, and business morale. I will present an overview of experience I have gained at Avanade that involve the ITS department, marketing department, and the whole company as a whole and how I interacted with each. Also, there are many other great things that I was involved in at Avanade that brought me to grow beyond my previous professional self-composure. After displaying the various ways in which I was able to provide to the growth of Avanade and myself, I will incorporate the global side to Avanade’s business side. I will expand upon the processes that Avanade is involved with and the goals that we took on to make businesses all over the world successful.



The IT Infrastructure Transformation Of The Rescue Mission

Ed Resleff

Background - The Rescue Mission (a.k.a. Tacoma Rescue Mission) had four servers – two at the Admin location, one at the New Life Square location, and one at the Tyler Street location. All were operating Windows Server 2003. The entire server network was more than three years old with the main server being more than 5 years old, and two of the four main servers were over 90% capacity. In addition, other prior system drawbacks were age, reliability, capability, upgradability, processing capacity, and overburdened storage facility. In response to these issues, a plan was made and implemented to upgrade to new systems using current technology.

Implementation - The goal of the server migration project was to upgrade the Rescue Mission’s aging and outdated server network to better meet the needs of the executives, employees and ultimately those who benefit from the work of the Mission.

The two newly installed systems use the latest technology – New Quad core-dual proc Processors, 64-bit O/S, and the latest 128-bit encryption. This fits the Rescue Mission’s new IT model of providing for future computing needs – specifically, the new Serenity Client Tracking Tool, resolves underlying issues with current O/S & Exchange 2007 (email accounts),and allows for future user-community expansion plans. Leverages purchased O/S licenses that were idle – Win 2008 R2/Exchange 2007 and, sets up for the new MSSQL License for the Serenity upgrade.

Major Benefits include:


1. Scalable – Long-term strategic plans – Live Streaming & video archival

2. Redundancy – long-term – dual hosts

3. Life expectancy – 3-5 years

4. Expansion capabilities – expansion of storage space (3.5 TB+), RAM

5. Matches the new Internet configuration – Integra MPLS

6. Works with Mac equipment – Entourage



02:00pm – 3:00pm (Seth Syberg)


Triple Threat Slots Web Application

Aaron Tran


The motivation to do this project, is early on in college I took a couple of different programming language courses, one of my professors had a lecture one day about programming being fun. I was curious so I inquired further. The professor encouraged me to create something like a slot machine game before I graduate from college. And he had me hooked ever since. The goal behind this was to create a web application or game that would satisfy the entertainment of the user. The approach we took in our course was dividing the project into different steps or iterations. Most importantly we prepared thoroughly before diving into the actual project itself. The ending result will hopefully be a fun product for the user. This web application should be good enough, where if it were to be edited or added onto, the web application could potentially be even better.



South Sound Industry Internship Database

Joshua Miller

The South Sound Industry Internship database is a PHP / MySQL website dedicated to providing the students of the University of Washington’s Institute of Technology with an easy and accessible resource to search for and find internships around the Puget Sound. In order to ensure this goal a MySQL database was created to store the data and a PHP based website is used to search and navigate the information. The website also supports a small number of administrators that can add, remove and update values within the database. They are filtered by their UWNet IDs to ensure that unauthorized users cannot tamper with the database.



Problems, Policies and Solutions Concerning E-Waste

Sean Grady


Provides an in depth discussion regarding the exponentially growing amount of electronic waste production across the globe. The paper provides the definitions of e-waste, along with the monumental impact it has on the environment and society. Present and proposed policies are analyzed with the goal of differentiating the good and bad avenues that are being used to tackle the problem. Areas of interest start on a global scale then move towards a focus on the United States and State-wide solutions. The aim of the research is to identify public apathy towards e-waste, and in turn raise awareness towards a policy paradigm that would highlight a solution based on shared responsibility among consumers, producers, and municipalities.




Speaker Session Two (CP 106):


09:30am - 10:30am)



Access Control for Distributed e-Health Systems

Durga Devi Devaraj (Dr. Yan Bai (Chair), Dr. Lirong Dai

Conventional access control models like role based access control are suitable for regulating access to resources by known users. However, these models have often found to be inadequate for open and decentralized multi-centric systems where the user population is dynamic and the identity of all users are not known in advance. Some existing works address specific pieces of this problem. Here, we have a comprehensive approach to build a trust based access control model for medical record access in such dynamic systems. We are building a distributed authentication model for secure and legitimate communication between different hospitals. There are two phases in this project – discovery phase and communication phase. In discovery phase, we use gossip protocol to exchange list of trusted entities between hospitals. JSON message format is used for communication. In the communication phase, the hospitals handle requests based on the trust information gathered in discovery phase. In this phase, we will investigate partial failure and security scenarios in this distributed system.


Filtering spam images in social networks
Amita Lakkad (Dr. Yan Bai, Dr. Donald Chinn, Dr. Matthew Alden)

Recently, malicious users spread spam messages in image formats instead of text formats in order to avoid being detected by traditional text-based spam filters. To increase the popularity of spam images, spammers start posting messages through social media and social networks. Content-based image retrieval methods are insufficient in detecting the spam images. We, therefore, developed an efficient anti-spam technique to detect and filter spam images in social networks.

10:00am - 11:30am (Yan Bai)


Internship at Mantech
Ashley Jones

ManTech International Corporation delivers innovative technology and technical service solutions to federal government customers. Some of the agencies they support are DHS, FBI, DOD, NSA, and NASA. The internship at ManTech was primarily based on the design and creation of UML models for one of their existing software systems. Reverse engineering was used to create the UML models. This position was supported by the software developers to aid in any assistance necessary to create accurate models. This presentation will cover the details of UML modeling and why they are an important part of software development.


Internship with Avanade
Hai Nguyen

Avanade is a technology services company that specializes in enterprise business solutions leveraging the Microsoft platform. Avanade was founded in 2000 by Accenture and Microsoft Corporation, serves customers in more than 24 countries worldwide with more than 11,000 professionals. My internship placement was in Technical Communications with the Client Services Group, which is part of the Information Technology Services department. My presentation will focus on: my experience of working in a mid-sized technology company, working on a multitude of different projects, challenges and learning opportunities, and my future outlook within Avanade.


Privacy Issues in eHealth 2.0
Dan Su (Amy)

eHealth 2.0 is becoming increasingly popular. Like other Web 2.0 services, privacy is a huge issue. The privacy concerns in eHealth 2.0 are even more critical because of the existence and/or widespread use of sensitive health information. We study the existing privacy control strategies of Web 2.0 and eHealth 2.0 applications, and compare and contrast their similarities and difference. A privacy control framework for eHealth 2.0.is proposed.


11:30am - 12:30pm (Dr. Jenny Sheng, Dr. Sam Chung)


An Efficient, Secure JAUS Implementation in C++ and Java
Joel Morrah, Leo Hansel, Ho-Kyeong Ra, Miles Raymond

abstract: JAUS is standard that facilitates interoperability between unmanned vehicles, regardless of manufacturer or programming language. To accomplish this, the JAUS standard has a very strict set of messages that are specified down to the byte level, as well as a hierarchical structure for each UV and the system as a whole. We have implemented a basic communication program to follow the message set and the message passing scheme specified by the JAUS standard.
Several JAUS implementations are currently available, such as OpenJAUS, JAUS++, and Activist, but we decided to create our own. The reason for this is that both JAUS++ and Activist are poorly documented and the code does not execute. OpenJAUS executes, but is poorly documented and has extra features, some of which are not specified in the JAUS Working Group documentation. Our goal is to create a JAUS version that is easy to understand, use, is as close to compliant with the JAUS standard as possible, and is secure.


12:30pm – 01:15 (Guy Johnson)

Internship at Mutual of Enumclaw

(Cory Hankemeier)

Mutual of Enumclaw is an insurance company based in Enumclaw. Information Systems are a key in the operations of the company, as claims are logged into databases, and applications are virtualized. My presentation will address my internship at Mutual, company culture, technology, and projects I worked on.


Working with Lionbridge

Tyler Patnode

Lionbridge is a business that provides localization, development, and software testing services. Among these services is search rating, a service that employs raters to examine the relevance and safety of search results on three major search engines: Google, Bing, and Yahoo. In this presentation, I will discuss my job as a Lionbridge search rater, including the company itself, my job, the quirks of an online work environment, and the experience I've gained.


01:15pm – 2:15pm (Dr. Matthew Alden)


Quality Assurance at Mindbloom

Faiz Quraishi


Mindbloom, Inc. focuses on using social media to assist users in pursuing life goals. The site offers the ability for uses to find other with similar goals and use peer encouragement through social media. The gaming paradigm of Mindbloom is used to motivate its users to actually complete their goals. As a quality assurance intern at the company I was responsible for the automated testing for the functionality of Mindbloom’s web application. Part of my duties involved testing user scenarios, so that the application functioned correctly regardless of what users tried to do. I was also responsible for testing new feature added to the application’s back end. All my tests were automated to allow quick research and results. The internship allowed me to use programming skills acquired from school in creating tests that worked efficiently and reliably. In addition to this I was also able to observe real world software development and assurance during my weeks interning.


02:15pm – 03:00pm


Switch Replacement Project

Jake House

The switch replacement project is one of the latest upgrades for the network infrastructure at the Highline School District, applying the new and updates networking equipment a strong backbone for at least 10 schools became, faster, and more reliable. This project greatly improved the efficiency of work for district staff, teachers and students. Using new hardware for the network, my partner and I configured the new hardware to work with the existing networks. Throughout the project as a group of 4 of us, we were able to install 99 new wireless access points and many large SuperX, and 48 port switches.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Busy and the Holidays

No, Busy and the Holidays is not the name of a 1950's singing group, though I now lay claim to the name if I ever time travel. It just means that we are already past Thanksgiving and the to do list from work and home is piling up.

The plus side is that if the Christmas decor didn't get up this weekend then it wasn't going to happen for a while.

This is likely the earliest the Fry house has ever had a tree up and decorated, not to mention that outside is looking rather festive. Not Griswold festive or Whoville festive but bright and twinkly enough to bring a smile.

The picture, taken from my old phone, does not do it justice, but it is serviceable.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"100 Tacomics" Book Signing

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a book signing for Tacoma political cartoonist, artist and web designer, RR Anderson, who officially released the much-anticipated 100 Tacomics: The Secular & Apolitical Cartoon Life of Tacoma and her Moral People(s). If you have ever been amused, aghast, enlightened or deeply offended by one of this Tacoma's cartoon-legion hero's work, then this book will provide you the necessary fodder to laugh, wince and shake your head once again.

The Tacomics included in the book are drawn from what he has drawn for the last four years or so. Actually there have been some really interesting Tacomics that won't make it in because of their appearance in 2010, but that is OK. Ryan announced that he is working on the next edition, composed of work done through 2010 to 2012 at the signing last night. He promises that he will produce one every Tuesday in order to make that happen. Just because he would be doing that anyway should not diminish the anticipation of the upcoming sequel.

Though in book form, it cannot repeat the appeal of working your way down the comments section that accompanies each new Tacomic as it is posted, it provides a equally valuable experience by including commentary from the man himself. He describes much of the inspiration of what went behind each comic, and when no inspiration existed, he admits to it. Additionally, information on the Frost Park Chalk Off, the secret society of Tacoma, "The CLAW", and other bits and pieces of Tacoma are generously included. That makes this a must have history book as well.

I am pleased to have my signed copy from the event, which I purchased at King Books. I also bought one from www.lulu.com, which I will likely place in the Christmas stocking of someone I know. Anonymously.

The one I have will go on the bookshelf, strategically place high enough that my kids will have to be tall enough so that when they stretch to reach it, they will be old enough to stretch their minds on the topic of Tacoma's political scene.

It will be next to my original drawing of the Tacomic, "Who Control's The Tacoma Media".

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Time To Elf Yourself Again?

Yes, I know it is not even Thanksgiving, and I do not believe in dealing with Christmas stuff in early November. I am a Macy's Thanksgiving end of parade kind of guy. However, I love the elf yourself thing that JibJab does each season.

Once again the JibJab team has combined forces with a kind sponsor (OfficeMax) to provide some free access to some fun online festivities. No doubt I will find the appropriate family photo and each of my kids will once again be dancing around like a wild pack of elves.

The question is do I do it now, or wait until the day after Thanksgiving, which is still two weeks away.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fall 2010 Virtual Scavenger Hunt

It is once again time for the virtual scavenger hunt in Living and Working in a Virtual World. The students will be in teams of three and have laptops with wireless connections to work with.

When I first started doing this, the teams would be lucky to find half the items. With search engines and search techniques being much improved, it is now a race to see which team finishes first.

I have tried to add a couple of tougher queries that require special search engines or specific sites to succeed.

One new item, which is in my opinion a bit spooky is this one.

"What is the maiden name of my youngest sister?"

That is the only information given. Substitute a question similar to this with the name of one of your family members and think about how easy or hard it might be to find online. I will guess that half the teams get this one right, even though there are no official public documents out there which give the answer away.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

UPDATE: CHANGE OF DATE Registration for the South Sound Technology Conference is Up

The 11th Annual SST Conference has been postponed. A new date has been established in the new year, but will be announced when the venue has been confirmed.



As many of you are aware, and if you aren't now is a good time to be, the South Sound Technology Conference is coming up on November 19th, 2010. Presentations and conversations are to include sustainability and peak oil, mobile application development and that every present topic in the South Puget Sound, cybersecurity.

There will be a lunch keynote and therefore, a lunch. We will use the registrations in order to estimate the number of lunches we will need, and this year their is a nominal registration fee for the conference, which will take place from morning until afternoon in the William Philip Hall on the UWT campus.

This fifteen dollar fee will not only cover the lunches, but this year we have added the option to pay twenty dollars for the conference, with five dollars going toward a student registration.

The registration page is up, thanks to the help of the University of Washington, Tacoma advancement group who have created the page for us.

Register here for the conference:

More information on the speakers and events are coming up. Contact me if you have a particular topic or speaker that you are interested in, as there are a few slots still available.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Searching for Some History



In week three of my Living and Working class we discuss search engines. Starting from a historical perspective we touch on how it became necessary to create means to find the vast amount of information that was exploding in number and size across the Internet and then the Web. Archie (and Veronica and Jughead) from McGill University and the University of Nevada respectively, Gopher from the University of Minnesota (go Golden Gophers), are mentioned. Then we discuss the generation of many different search engines which grow to prominence, are merged or replaced up to the present day.

At this point we talk about types of searches, specialty searches, vanity searches and those third party stalker search engines that keep an eye on you.

Some of this is done through my own personal experiences: (I went to see Pulp Fiction as a break from an Internet conference with this great kid, Brian Pinkerton, a grad student at the UW) Who knew that Webcrawler would become so popular that it wasn't allowed to operate during the day and that the engine (and Brian) would get picked up by AOL. My feeble attempt to hire him for Free Range was dwarfed by what AOL could do.

Some is done through going online and some is done through a Powerpoint Presentation.

However, I have stumbled across a web site that does an excellent job of summarizing the history of search. It is www.searchenginehistory.com. Search Engine History is published by Aaron Wall and references several academic sources for its compilation of information and links. Another excellent resource found through search.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tacoma Waterway at Sunrise



Exit133 posted an article on the Shoreline Master Program. If interested it can be found here.

However, I was struck be the photo accompanying it that was provided courtesy of the City of Tacoma Community and Economic Development. There are lots of great shots of Tacoma, as there are of any city of its size and water based geographically advantageous location.

But I just liked this one.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Living and Working Virtually Once Again

The school quarter started less than two weeks ago and this quarter I am once more teaching Living and Working in a Virtual World. Once of my favorite things about this particular class is that the students represent many different programs here on campus. Though the other courses I teach are populated by Computer Science and Information Technology students, this class is made up from Business, Urban Studies, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Nursing and others.

One major difference from when I started teaching the course several years ago is how rapidly we adopt and integrate new technologies into our daily lives. Where at one time you might ask how many people are familiar with blogs and blogging, now the question is how many people own their own domain names. Social networking sites have gone from being interesting ideas to commonplace utilities. You can decide to publish your ideas, create e-commerce sites and form sub group support systems and you don't have to know any HTML.

If there is one thing I can count on during the course of the quarter, it is that one of the non-technology driven students will introduce me to a new application of technology that I did not know previously existed. Such is the widespread saturation of technological adoption and change in the present.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hairspray at the TMP

The latest theater production I have been cast in is Hairspray, which is currently playing at the Tacoma Musical Playhouse. The house has been full every night and for a 380 seat theater that is pretty amazing.

Just this week, David Edward Hughes, Seattle writer for the publication Talkin'Broadway wrote his review of the show. It is great to see such a great cast, orchestra and crew get some attention for their efforts. And what a fun show it is to do.

See his review here:

http://www.talkinbroadway.com/regional/seattle/se451.html

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tony Hey to Speak on Campus

One of the great opportunities you get when studying or working at a university is to be able to hear great speakers. Next Tuesday, Oct 5th, is one of those opportunities.

Tony Hey, vice president of the External Research Division of Microsoft Research, will be speaking from 12:30 to 1:45 in the Carwien Auditorium. He is responsible for worldwide external research (ER) collaboration in Microsoft Research. He leads the company's efforts to build long-term public-private partnerships with global scientific and engineering communities, spanning broad reach and in-depth engagements with academic and research institutions, related government agencies, and industry partners.

Dr. Ankur Teredasai, one of the faculty from the Institute of Technology had a chance to hear him speak earlier this year as sent this to me as a recommendation to ask him to campus:


"Tony is very eloquent and passionate about the way computing can transform scientific and engineering research and it's a pleasure to get an opportunity to listen to him discuss these issues. He is internationally recognized for his many contributions to the discipline of computing; in particular his work on development of the MPI standard for parallel computing. His move to the Pacific Northwest adds tremendous value to the computing and technology community."


I am looking forward to the conversation.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Do The Puyallup (the lyrics)



That time of the year again. I will be going to the Puyallup Fair with the family and riding rides (and getting ill), watching shows, checking out the booths for Sham-Wow or a Magic Bullet demonstrations, eating ears of corn and scones and generally having a good time.

So it is also time once more to review the lyrics to the "Do The Puyallup" song of yesteryear.

"Do the Puyallup"
musics and lyrics by Saxon Rawlings, (slogan by Denny Hinton)

Oh you can do it at a trot,
You can do it at a gallop,
You can do it real slow so your heart won't palpitate.
Just don't be late.

Do the Puyallup.


All the people and the animals down at the fair,
They do the Puyallup like they didn’t have a care
And it looks like so much fun to do
I think I’m gonna learn how to do it too.


I saw a duck and a chicken down by the farm,
A kickn' up the hay and a raisn' such a storm,
That I asked the farmer what they were up to
and he said "Puyallup, That's what they do."

You can do it at a trot,
You can do it at a gallop,
You can do it real slow so your heart won't palpitate.
Just don't be late.

Do the Puyallup.


Asked the farmer if he’d show me how to do it
And he said "why son their ain’t nothin to it.
Just move to the music and jump in the air
Like everyone else who comes to the fair"

You can do it at a trot,
You can do it at a gallop,
You can do it real slow so your heart won't palpitate.
Just don't be late.

Do the Puyallup


You can do it in the rain or the sun or the fog
It comes real easy like rolling off a log
Get a partner from Tacoma or Seattle or Fife
Even let you do it with your husband or wife.


It’s a natural thing there isn’t any doubt
Folks do it while they’re sittin’ or walkin’ about
While over on the midway on the merry go round
Kids are doin it in circles going up and down.


Now it don’t matter if it’s rain or shine
When you do the Puyallup you have a good time
So guys grab get gals and gals grab a fellow
If you’re worried ’bout the rain just bring an umbrella.


You can do it with a mouth full of cotton candy
Caramel apples, salt water taffy
Hot dogs, hamburgers, man oh man
Hot buttered scones with strawberry jam


I do the Puyallup cause it feels real neat
Put a smile on my face and a tickle in my feet
Ain’t no way not to do it right
You can do it all day and into the night


you can do it at a trot,
You can do it at a gallop,
You can do it real slow so your heart won't palpitate.
Just don't be late.

Do the Puyallup

Do the Puyallup

Do the Puyallup

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tacoma Science Café at the Famous Harmon Brewery

As I was looking through my email this article came through on the Pacific Science Center newsletter. I though I would pass it on. Note that these meetings will take place at the "famous" Harmon Brewery in downtown Tacoma. When I was enjoying my hummus plate there yesterday I didn't know I was sitting amongst the famous. Neat.

I look forward to joining those meetings when I am able. I certainly know a couple of professors who are likely to be there.


Tacoma Science Café
Science Cafe
Pacific Science Center is pleased to announce our third Science Café, which will be located in Tacoma, Washington.

A partnership with KCTS9 Public Television, the Tacoma Science Café will take place the first Thursday of each month at the famous Harmon Brewery in downtown Tacoma. The pub known as "Tacoma's Downtown Gathering Place" will welcome local scientists and community to discuss current science topics from climate impacts in the Northwest to the science of chocolate.

"We are grateful to the Institute of Museum and Library Services for their generous grant that allows us to expand our Science Café program to the South Sound," said Meena Selvakumar, Acting Vice President for Strategic Programs at Pacific Science Center.

Science Cafés bring scientists face-to-face with the general public in the comfortable, lively atmosphere of a neighborhood café or pub. All Science Cafés are free to the public, open to all ages and no science background is required!

"People attend our science cafés for a variety of reasons," said Wendy Hansen, Ph.D., SCOPE Project Manager for Pacific Science Center. "But most are there to learn something new about current research and to ask questions of the speaker. The appeal of the cafés is that people get to learn about cutting edge research in a fun environment."

The new café will launch Thursday, November 4, at 7 p.m. at the Harmon Brewery in downtown Tacoma. Each Science Café begins with a local scientist presenting a backbone of science related to the night's topic, followed by a short break for table discussion and beverage refills. The highlight of the night is an extended question and answer session with the scientist.

Previous cafés have covered climate science, evolution and religion, robotics, and health care, just to name a few.

The Harmon Brewery is located at 1938 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma WA, 98402

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Summer Reading and Writing

One of the things I enjoy most about vacation time is the opportunity to read and to write. I write during the course of the entire year, but when I have some breathing room, I like to write fiction. As most people who write will tell you, writers read a great deal. I think it is part of the recharging process.

For me, the vacation read is the detective story. I polished off an old Agatha Christie "The Third Girl", and two more of Aaron Elkin's Gideon Oliver mystery series. Many years ago when I was at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference, Aaron Elkins (who lived in the Pacific NW) was speaking there. It was probably the only time I remember geeking out a bit and I circled him like a vulture before I gained enough courage to go over and gush a bit. He ended up signing a couple of his books for me.

I let some of his new additions to the series get away from me, but was able to catch up with a couple of them this week, finishing "Uneasy Relations" and "Skullduggery". I have a couple more to go but figure I will be done by Monday.

As for writing, for some reason outside of non-fiction I tend to write short horror. When I have successfully written longer fiction it has been humor such as a screenplay called "Tree Rings and the Beer Hoops Extraganza" and the TV pilot "Love Jumps" (neither which have seen the light of day, though I did get some good feedback from the screenplay).

So I managed to finish another short story over the last month to add to the fix others sitting in my drawer at home. One of my writing buddies suggested I practice what I preach and make it available for download, which I will likely do after a rewrite or two.

I love vacation time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A DNA Map for Blue Pill - Red Pill Tests

Seeing the end results of student projects and research is the best part of the Institute of Technology's end of the quarter colloquium. However, there are other more specific elements that make it a fascinating and enjoyable event.

Such as these to examples:

When discussing his future plans for building out an investigatory tool set to capture and track malware, a student used this phrase...

"I want to create a DNA map for Blue Pill/RedPill tests."

How many opportunities do you get to hear someone make that a serious goal.

Another thing is the informational tidbits that you pick up from a presentation. For instance, Davita has thousands of servers in their data center and thousands of employees in the Tacoma area (and over 30,000 worldwide).

The colloquium is held every quarter and the Summer colloquium is happening now.

Institute of Technology Student Colloquium
Summer Quarter 2010
Speaker Session One (CP 105):

09:00am Internship at DaVita
Kyle Levy (Andrew Fry)

This internship study examines the intricacies of corporate IT from a data center perspective. The primary focus of this presentation will be on the daily job responsibilities of a data center operator, as well as an analysis of the communication necessary between various groups within IT, and our internal customers. Specific topics will include a discussion on some of the enterprise-level software that is utilized at DaVita to monitor and backup critical systems, server hardware, and the complex communication processes present within the organization. Background information on DaVita will also be provided in order to acquaint the audience with the large kidney dialysis provider, their goals, as well as their unique information technology needs.


09:30am Automated malware analysis & the use of rootkits to prevent vm detection.
Adam Brunner (Dr. Yan Bai)

The goal of this research project was to design a automated malware analysis system using virtual machines, while preventing detection of the virtual system by using root kit technology.

10:00am A Unit Test Generator for the Next Generation of JML
Jonathan M. E. Hogins (Dr. Daniel Zimmerman)

The automation of plans is an important part of manned and unmanned space missions. The Plan Execution Interchange Language (PLEXIL) is a software language being developed by NASA to express and execute plans for automation in a format that is expressive and formally verifiable. The PLEXIL language and its execution software, the Universal Executive, were previously limited to extremely basic communication with other executive agents based on the sending and receiving of static character strings. Most space systems consist of distributed network of machines that rely on communication to perform tasks, and these old communication features prevented the creation of automation plans for many NASA systems currently in development. This project introduces more robust and expressive communication abilities for distributed execution into PLEXIL and the Universal Executive. Including the static message passing from the old framework, the new communication system allows sending and receiving of arbitrary data, direct commands between executives, and queries for external state. These new features not only allow for the creation of automation plans on distributed systems but also allow the creation of simulators in PLEXIL that correctly emulate external environments such as robot hardware and power systems.

Expressive Inter-Executive Communication in PLEXIL


OpenJML is the next generation of the Java Modeling Language tools and will support Java 1.7. One important part of the JML toolset is JMLUnit. This tool automatically generates unit tests for JML-enhanced Java code, enabling developers to take full advantage of the JML markup language as well as reducing the amount of tedious, error prone test writing that is required as a part of test-driven development. The goal of this directed research project was to develop an implementation of this tool for the OpenJML project called OpenJMLUnit. Based on the design by Dr. Daniel Zimmerman, this next-generation version of the JMLUnit tool features a new unit testing strategy that enables advanced and extensive unit testing with minimal developer input. It was also specifically designed to be easily adapted to other compilers, allowing the adaption of the tool for older versions of Java as well. This presentation will give an overview of the OpenJML project, the features and usage of OpenJMLUnit, and its possible impact on test-driven development.


11:00am From Point A to Point B – An Internship at Expeditors International
Jesse M Carrigan (Dr. Daniel Zimmerman)

Not all tech jobs are at tech companies. Expeditors International is a premier global logistics and freight forwarding company based in Seattle. Technology is a key part of Expeditors' business and the company has made a significant investment in its people and systems. In this presentation, I will discuss my internship at the company, including the company itself, my work there, coursework that was applicable to my projects, and lessons learned that weren't addressed in the classroom.


11:30am Using Open Source Software to Develop a Testbed for Unmanned Vehicle Systems with Smartphone as Communication Media
Joel Morrah (Dr. Jie Sheng)

For autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UVSs), communication is necessary and essential in accomplishing complex mission tasks; it becomes especially important in cooperative missions where tasks are solved using many vehicles of different sizes and characteristics with different sensor suites. Smartphone technology offers an interesting communication infrastructure for remotely accessing, controlling and interacting with UVSs in an integrated and highly portable manner, and offers the ability to have an interface to the World Wide Web (WWW) for additional information useful in mission achievement. In this research open source software will be applied to develop a testbed for UVSs with smartphone as communication media. Google Android will be used to build applications such as streaming video from UVSs, sending snapshots of targets to the central station, etc. The performance robustness and security issues will also be examined.


12:00pm A Study of Software Engineering Certification
Sean Grady (Dr. Matthew Alden)

A study covering the feasibility of instituting a software engineering exam that would in effect deem practitioners federally legal and qualified to work in the field. Subjects range from academic and employment concerns to whether certification would help or hinder software innovation. This study also examines how the related field of Information Technology has addressed such concerns. Propositions to endow students with vendor-specific and vendor-neutral certifications are discussed and final opinions based on input from industry professionals and academics.

12:30pm Virtualization in Information Technology
Michael Satran (Dr. Matthew Alden)

This paper introduces an educational tool used to facilitate students learning Java programming. InterAcText is a computer-based Java programming textbook. InterAcText includes several different forms of interactive tools that engage readers and encourage them to become part of the learning process. The software for InerAcText is being created using an Iterative Software design approach. This paper discusses the functionality and design of the first release of InterAcText, the results of the first evaluation of the text and accompanying interactive tools, and concludes with a discussion on what features and fixes will be implemented in the next iteration.


01:00pm Summer Internship with Tagmaster North America
Thanousone Vorasane (Dr. Matthew Alden)

TagMaster North America is the leading provider of long-range and high-performance Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems for Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI), serving the marketplace through its wide network of system integrators, partners and distributors. TagMaster system allowed the marketplace able to effectively and efficiently track, monitor, and manage the parking usage. More importantly, it tightened security, as only vehicles with valid TagMaster ID-tags are able to gain access to the parking facility.

I was tasked with a development group to design a web-based interface to allow the clients/users to able to access the system anywhere there is an Internet connection, and without any software installed.



Speaker Session Two (CP 108):

09:30am Internship at Vertafore
Maori Kano (Dr. Sam Chung)

The purpose of this report is to explain what I did and learned during my internship period with Vertafore, Inc. Vertafore, Inc. is an insurance software provider. It is the leading provider of software, services and information to the insurance distribution channel. The report is also a requirement for the partial fulfillment of University of Washington Tacoma internship program. The report focuses primarily on the working environment/process, assignments handled, and successes and shortcomings that I did encounter when handling various tasks in the AMS360 and Sagitta development division.

10:00am PEN Project
Brock Brown, Jon Fang (Dr. Yan Bai)

There is an increasing need for well trained and experienced security professionals. The PEN project intends to supply quality education materials for security education purposes. These materials will include computer and network data captures from realistic scenarios. Scenarios include illegal internet activities and common server/client attacks and exploits. The centerpiece of the project is the Honeywall bridged firewall. This device allows for attack monitoring and network segregation to keep a simulated infection or attack from spilling outside the project and becoming a real one. In this presentation we will detail the many hurdles that were overcome to create high-quality security education materials. We will also present some suggestions for ongoing uses for the PEN and Honeywall in the security research being done here at Tacoma.

10:30am Internship At Prepared Response
Brock Brown (Andrew Fry)

This presentation will describe my experiences as an intern at Prepared Response. My role at the company was to research the feasibility of integrating a distributed computing system. The solution should allow servers at
geographically separate locations act as one logical unit. The solution should allow for heterogeneous systems to be added to expand system capacity and performance. Solutions explored include Cloud Computing, NoSQL databases, and Network File Systems.


11:00pm Internship at the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
Thuy Ward (Dr. Matthew Alden)

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) oversees the safety, health and security of employees in Washington state. Part of that duty includes accounting for state taxes. L&I uses an Accounts Receivable and Collections (ARC) system to track the work assignments of revenue agents. However, the ARC system does not provide work assignment history information such as previously assigned revenue agents and closure dates. Revenue agents may question why they received a debt on their New Work Assignment Worklist, but there is no convenient history available. During my internship L&I, I developed a new module for the ARC system that gathered and displayed work assignment history information for revenue agents.

11:30am Automated Feature Deployment on MSN
Thomas Dickens (Dr. Matthew Alden)

Features are unique, displayed experiences on an MSN webpage. Examples of features include slideshows, tab groups, and menu bars. Deploying new features, or updates for existing ones, involve two steps: updating the underlying code and then modifying the webpage in a web UI. This process is highly human reliant, and as such, is slow and error prone. The goal of this project was to create an automated process for adding new features to a webpage. A deployment script can now be created to be executed by the deployment tool, saving time and reducing errors that are more likely to occur during the current deployment process.


12:00pm Active Learning in the Computer Science Classroom
Jonathan Ogden (Dr. Donald Chinn)

This paper is a survey of current Computer Science instructional techniques that address theoretical and practical aspects of the college learning environment. This paper will be investigating Active learning styles including Cooperative learning, and their models for student learning. Particular attentions will given to Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Perry Model of intellectual development in College age adult learners. As an experienced Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) I will bring my personal experiences with adult learning and the techniques I personally employ in the classroom.


12:30pm A Study of Software Engineering Certification
Rob Kesterson (Dr. Yan Bai)

A study covering the feasibility of instituting a software engineering exam that would in effect deem practitioners federally legal and qualified to work in the field. Subjects range from academic and employment concerns to whether certification would help or hinder software innovation. This study also examines how the related field of Information Technology has addressed such concerns. Propositions to endow students with vendor-specific and vendor-neutral certifications are discussed and final opinions based on input from industry professionals and academics.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Starting Up Another Startup Weekend



Some of you may recall that back in January of this year, we put together a trial run of a Startup Weekend, hosted at Suite 133.

If you don't remember, here is a reminder.

Now, Jerry Suhrstedt, CEO of Heavy Guerrilla and a dynamo of a guy is organizing a Startup Weekend on a larger scale down in Olympia. Working with the folks who run Startup Weekends, who happen to be headquartered in Seattle, this is much more aligned to the official events.

I had lunch with Jerry today and he provided me with posters, flyers and information about the upcoming event.

Logistically, here it is:

Oct 15, 16 and 17 2010
Harned Hall on the Saint Martin's University campus
5300 Pacific Ave,
Lacey, WA

The doors will open at 5:00pm on the Friday of the weekend.

registration is available at olympia.startupweekend.org

The cost is $75 dollars or $40 dollars for students.

When we conducted our trial run earlier this year, we made it free and I brought in some drinks and munchies.

With this Weekend, the $75 dollars pays for meals during the course of the weekend. It also pays entry and of course the networking is priceless.

The call to action is "Bring Your Ideas" and the steps as outlined in the material are pretty simple and to the point.

  1. Register for the Event
  2. Pitch a Green, Tech or Any Idea Friday Night
  3. Work with a Team to Develop Your Idea
  4. Present your Startup Sunday Night
  5. Potentially Win Startup Funding
I will post more when we get closer, and am hopeful I can attend the event.

The intent is to set up another Startup Weekend event in Tacoma for the end of Winter again. If we could regularly hold two events like this in the South Sound per year, alternating between Thurston and Pierce County, I think it would be a great additional to the calendar of technology events for our region.

This will likely be one of the topics at this years South Sound Technology Conference complete with its own breakout session.

Now if someone wants to throw another Barcamp....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

South Sound Technology Conference 2010: Save the Date



Save the date of Friday November 19th to come and attend the 11th annual South Sound Technology Conference on the University of Washington, Tacoma campus. Last year’s event was a great success with over 165 registrations and over 200 attendees filling the William W. Philip Hall during the course of the all day event.

Like the 2009 event, there will be keynote speakers in the morning and during lunch, technology panels and exhibits in the Kopp gallery. Also, once again there will be dual track breakout sessions, though this year we have reserved larger rooms to accommodate the sessions.

One of the tracks has been identified as Energy, Sustainability and Technology which is a very timely topic. Other parts of the program will be developed as we get closer and will be posted on the South Sound Technology Conference website at www.sstconference.org. Thanks go out to Seamus Holman and Gridworks Design for once again sponsoring the site.

The annual South Sound Technology Conference is the technology showcase for Tacoma and the South Puget Sound. For years it has brought together leaders from industry, education, and government from around the state to discuss and demonstrate technological innovations and their ongoing applications.

Panel and keynote presentations — including networking opportunities — provide a venue to discuss, explore, understand and deploy technology as a solution, an opportunity and an advantage. SST is perhaps this region’s best annual event to learn how technology is transforming our business and community life.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Engineering Students Deliver Improved Rehabilitation Cart

In October of 2009 Craig Deitering, a senior in the Computer Engineering and Systems (CES) program at the Institute of Technology modified a battery powered car for kids so that it could be “driven” by children with limited motor abilities. The project was a success but after the car was used by the kids at Puyallup’s Good Samaritan hospital, several needed improvements were identified.

It was decided that the engineering students in this last academic year’s Devices and Controls class would implement these improvements as a team project.

The project leader for the class team, student Brian Gosch, described the improvements that the team was planning to make to the battery powered car (called the BOSS cart) to Dr. Steve Shores. Dr Shores agreed with the approach. He also went on to list a number of potential senior projects that the students could work on that would help the children's rehabilitation center at the hospital.

Seniors from the Computer Engineering & Systems program at UW Tacoma visited the Children’s Therapy Unit (CTU) at Puyallup’s Good Samaritan hospital to get a first-hand look at how the staff at the unit creates games and tools to help kids with special needs. Steve Shores, who is a CTU therapist there and head of the Assistive Technology Program, demonstrated many of the devices his group has made or modified to help the children.

In the latter part of May, nine students Jessie Fortier, Aakanksha Gaur, Brandon Nadeau, Brian Gosch, Eun Ju Lee, Frank Le, Kris Knabel, Krisnil Gounder and Teddy Doll finished the enhancements and modifications to a BOSS cart for Multicare's Good Samaritan Children's Therapy Unit.

Working with faculty sponsor Robert Gutmann, PhD the student team made the electric vehicle more flexible and targeted for working with children in need of rehabilitation services and treatment. It was Bob Gutmann, the instructor for the class, who made the initial contact with Steve Shores at a CTU fundraising event. Gutmann’s wife, Linda Gutmann, is on the Board of Directors at the hospital and is very familiar with the achievements and needs of the CTU.

With the success of the modifications and the delivery of the new, improved cart, Dr. Gutmann and Dr. Larry Wear, Associate Director of the Institute of Technology at UWT, hope to expand the involvement of CES students with the CTU and get more students to focus their senior capstone design experience on projects that will benefit the CTU.

Friday, June 4, 2010

End of Quarter Colloquium for Spring 2010

The Institute of Technology is holding its end of the quarter colloquium today. Students from the undergraduate and graduate programs in Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Information Technology programs report on their directed readings, directed research and internships. The number of students who have projects and readings to report on are a record number this quarter. Forty students, presenting individually and in teams are filling to large classrooms in the Cherry Parkes building on the campus for the majority of the day.

Here is just a sampling of presentation topics

Improving Accuracy in Image Spam Detection


Last quarter's research into detecting image spammers ended with significantly sub-optimal accuracy rates for image spam detection in online photo-sharing site Flickr. This quarter, the project was centered around developing a more accurate pattern for use in identifying spam. The number and variety of keywords recognized by the system were expanded, and additional information gathered from the image itself. A data set was then constructed such that a bio-informatics team could run scans and develop an accurate pattern, program the pattern into last quarter's spam detector, and thus improve the accuracy of the detector.

A Study of Information Security and the Tor Internet Anonymity Tool


This paper represents a comprehensive review of the knowledge and information gained through a 10-week study and research course into the field of information security. Topics covered include e-health security, honeynets and botnets, access control, web security and IPSec, Firewalls and VPNs, and online anonymity, including data from a project consisting of a performance analysis of the Tor Internet Anonymity tool.

Exploring Computer Forensics: Is Data Ever Really Gone?

As technology changes so does the way data is stored. Is data really gone when you delete it? Various reasons exist on why data is deleted or damaged but the most prevalent reason is when someone is hiding or deleting illegal information. A computer forensics specialist uses tools to find data that has been deleted or destroyed. The government uses computer forensics to find information on a system that was tampered with by a criminal or to find information about a criminal. Computer forensic specialists aren’t simply handed the data, they must find the data in the machine using different tools and then deduce what happened. There is also a major problem around company employees that have become irate; when this happens a computer forensics professional comes in to get evidence from the irate employee’s computer to find information about what data the employee tapered with. There will be a presentation given by two students detailing various signs and methods that computer forensic specialists look for. There will also be a Demo shown on how the ProDiscover software will recover data from a thumb drive.

Reinforcement Learning for Sponsored Search Auctions

The use of sponsored search is one of the key mechanisms by which search engines like Yahoo!, Google, Bing, etc. generate profit. Due to increasing demands for advertising space, most search engines are currently using auction mechanisms. Because of the limited budget of each advertiser, strategic bidding behavior plays a crucial role in sponsored search auctions. From an advertiser's perspective, an ideal strategy has to prevent the advertiser from overbidding, while at the same time bidding enough to obtain his favorite position, thereby beating competing advertisers. The goal of our independent study was to devise an optimal bidding strategy, based on reinforcement learning, that automatically decides how much to bid for a given keyword query on a given day in order to maximize profits by keeping costs per click down while achieving high conversion rates from potential customers.

Fuzzy Logic and Web Intelligence

Fuzzy logic is a computing paradigm that allows an object to satisfy a property only to an extent, thereby providing a way to deal with vague, imprecise, and uncertain information. During the last decade, many proposals have been made for the use of fuzzy logic to power intelligent web applications, such as information retrieval, sponsored search, web service selection, recommender systems, semantic web search, etc. The goal of our independent study was to compile a critical state-of-the-art overview of the use of fuzzy logic in this application domain, with a particular emphasis on the information retrieval area. As will become clear in our presentation, we have not only distilled an overview of existing work, but we have also dug deeper to find out what makes fuzzy logic suitable (or perhaps unsuitable) to be of use for the future generation of intelligent web applications.

This quarter’s colloquium also features student demonstrations from the Computer Engineering and Systems program of their Senior Projects. Just a few samples...

Fire Alarm System

The project shall be designing a fire alarm system with a Lego NXT robot and a cellular phone which can run Android Operating System and has a Bluetooth. The Robot will detect fire and send a signal to a cellular phone through a Bluetooth. The cellular phone will ring a bell and show the image from the robot to warn the user about a fire. Because user receives alarm signal with the phone, user can move in a distance that a phone can receive Bluetooth signal from a Lego Nxt.


Intel Car


The project shall be designing a sensing control system and an unlocking system for a vehicle. The sensing control system will receive signals from front and rear end of the vehicle to which the sensor system is installed on and display alert message and distance on the LCD display. The unlocking system will be sensing specific knocks, “secret knocks.” The system will receive and count knocks from the user. If the knocks are in the sequence, the system triggers the motor to turn the lock and unlock the door.

For a full program with student names and times see the Institutes we site.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Making a Contribution to the Community Utilizing Technology

That is the most (and vaguest) direction that I give to the teams of students who are in my Managing Technical Teams class in regards to their group project. Teams form very early in the quarter and are charged with reaching out to the community (as they define it) and making a contribution to that group by using technology to solve a problem or make an enhancement to the sponsor groups processes.

In the past, teams have integrated databases between Pet Ark and the Humane Society of Tacoma, created a data capture mechanism for the Salvation Army to manage volunteers who step forward during the non-holiday season and helped the Save the Bridge group build a web site that could take donations. Those are just a few of the many that have been a result of the efforts of the student teams over the years.

This quarter there are 38 students on 7 different teams. I will highlight a couple of their projects as the quarter comes to a close.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Congrats to the UWT GreyHat Huskies


The University of Washington Tacoma team of students representing the GreyHat Group here on the campus performed admirably at the third Pacific Rim Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition held last weekend. The team, which also helped to prepare others for the event, came in second out of a group of outstanding competitors.

Pictured: The Director for the Center of Excellence in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity, Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, commands attention.

Congratulations and thanks should also be given to Don McLane (who also provided the pictures), Barbara Endicott-Popovsky (CIAC Chair) and faculty member Yan Bai (Assistant Professor who teaches Computer Networks,Network Management,Information Assurance, Computer and Network Security) for their work in preparing the students and participating in the event.

Here is the news from Grey Hat team member Parker Thompson:

Our team this year at PRCCDC worked really hard and came in second place beating every other team except UW seattle engineering! I would to thank all of our team members, those who observed the red team, Dr. Yan Bai, and everyone else who helped use make this a success. Our team members this year included myself on the email server and the router, Jesse Morgan for the first day on the router, Kimberly Harvey on the Website and Database, Teddy Vitro and Hai Nyguyen on client machines and as team mangers, Brain van on the internet machine, Aaron Offerdahl on the backtrack machine, and Robert Kesterson on the domain controller.


This student organization also helped the International Conference on E-Crime that was held late last year in Tacoma a success. Of course, as any hard working Institute of Technology student group would, they are already planning for more activities.

We have many exciting plans for the future of the club such as more collaboration with other teams (particularly the winning uw seattle team and devry), to continue to work to make our lab setup closer to the of the ccdc, and setting up a vpn into our lab setup so students at home and students at other schools can still use the lab network.

Thank you again to everyone,

Parker Thompson


Congratulations again, and good luck with building out an excellent lab space for future competitions.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Huskies Competing in the CCDC



Sure, you know that the Huskies are competing in the NCAA tournament, but once again they are also competing in the Pacific Rim Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition as well.

The Grey Hat group, a collection of Institute of Technology Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Information Technology Systems students interested in cybersecurity, data integrity and information assurance, will be competing this weekend against other student teams of eight from a selection of universities and colleges from the Pacific Northwest. This includes Alaska, Idaho and Victoria University of Wellington.

Coached by Don McLane, the UWT team will not be crashing the boards but keeping others from crashing their servers. Dr. Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, Director Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity, will once again be on hand to cheer on the Purple and Gold (and everyone else competing, no doubt). Last year, the "evil red team" had a few of the alumni of the Grey Hats working for them, making it an especially difficult foe.

Some of the preparations for the event include a group of exercises put together by The UW Tacoma group, the Grey Hats, partially to prepare for the CCDC, and partly as a general Information Assurance introduction.

The winners of this regional competition will compete in the nationals with travel and lodging expenses paid.

Held previously at Fort Lewis and last year at the Microsoft Corporate Campus, this year's event will take place on the campus of Highline Community College.

Taken from the CCDC website:

In this competition, student teams are presented with a pre-configured systems of a fictitious company that they are tasked to operate. The evil red team, which sits next door, however, will attempt to vandalize and break into this network. The student teams need to defend against the attacks of this red team. In particular, the goals for each team are to:

- fulfill assigned business tasks (so-called injects)
- keep services operational
- prevent break-ins by the red team

Students are scored based on the goals above. The team with the most points of the two day event will be the winner of the 3rd Pacific Rim Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition and will proceed to the National competition.


Our objectives for this event are:
- Build a meaningful mechanism by which institutions of higher education may evaluate their programs.
- Provide an educational venue in which students are able to apply the theory and practical skills they have learned in their course work;
- Foster a spirit of teamwork, ethical behavior, and effective communication both within and across teams;
- Create interest and awareness among participating institutions and students.

Mission:

The Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) provides institutions with an information assurance or computer security curriculum a controlled competitive environment to assess their student’s depth of understanding and operational competency in managing the challenges inherent in protecting an enterprise network infrastructure and business information systems.

The Organizing Committee are:

Barbara Endicott-Popovsky – CIAC Chair
Don McLane – UWIT Tacoma
Corrinne Sande — Whatcom Community College
Brian Hay – University of Alaska
Bob Bunge – DeVry University
Christian Seifert – Victoria University of Wellington, NZ
Michelle Moore – Microsoft
Mike Acker - ISSA
Rick Davidson - University of Washington
Brady Bloxham - Idaho State University
Dwayne Williams – National CCDC Advisor


Check out this documentary about the first year of the event.

Go Dawgs!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Business Internet Services (BIS) - Company Profile Number 7



I have blogged about Topia Technologies and Skoot a few times over the years on my blog. What may not be known is that Janine Terrano, CEO of Topia, is also the CEO of Business Internet Services, a web development company which was established in Tacoma in 1996.

BIS has been a fixture in downtown Tacoma throughout the economic up and downs of the technology sector, all the while building websites, custom applications and tools, content management systems, extranets and intranets. They count over six hundred clients over that time, including recent launches of the EDB's (Economic Development Board for Tacoma - Pierce County), the Gig Harbor Cancer Care Center and Feed Commodities, a premier recycler of bakery by-products in the Pacific Northwest.

In January of this year they launched their Software as a Service (SaaS) business service, providing emerging products and applications for the small to medium-sized marketplace.

From their press release:

“Our ability now to offer SaaS products in a downloadable marketplace is just one more step to keeping our customers ahead of the curve on what used to be cost-prohibitive technology and applications,” says Terrano.


Services that their teams provide include, strategic consulting, project management, usability design, graphic design, software development, application testing, hosting and data reporting for their clients.

They also do mobile application development work for business.

Last time I walked around their hallways there were quite a few folks working there, but since some offices no doubt were Topia, I do not have an strong approximation of how many employees make up the company.

However, the web site does have a current listing for an entry level software developer with at least of years experience with .NET an SQL.

To keep up with what is happening there, they have a developer blog at http://biscminds.blogspot.com/

Note that it will not only give you information on the company, but provides some development advice as well.



Janine is also active on Twitter, where you can follow her at J9er. A good interview was done with her by the Tribune late last year.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Following the Job Hunt on Tweetajob



The managing recruiter for a large (to be unnamed) holding company of a technology icon was a guest speaker in my class yesterday. The topic was on effective ways to recruit and retain employees to a growing technology company. Michele has been to the class on several occasions during the last few years and always draws great questions and gives solid, valuable advice.

Because so many of the students come to me for direction on how to go about finding employment after they graduate, not only is the information pertinent to the business plan they are required to develop as part of the course, but it also is great guidance for when the students themselves are searching for employment.

One thing that surprises me on occasion is when a student, often who is getting ready to graduate in a quarter or so, comes into my office and starts with this question: Do I know of any job openings? I am not fond of this introductory question, because it arrives without any background information to go with it. Job openings where? What are you interested in doing? Where have you looked? What companies do you want to work for? What locations are manageable for you? What is your favorite color? (maybe not that).

I also hear on occasion a tone of disappointment that their search has gone of for weeks with no or only a couple of interviews. On digging, I find that they have submitted resumes online to only a handful of companies and that they are still waiting to hear back from them. A successful job hunt generally requires a more deliberate and sustained approach.

I am happy and pleased to be able to help where I can when they come to see me. The first thing I tell them to do is to take that large market of jobs that are available (there is a large market, but in down times they are sometimes harder to find) and narrow them down to a specific prospect pool. This is still several hundred companies to draw from. Then I ask them to make a list of the top ten companies from that prospect pool they are most interest in and do some research on them. Then they can apply if they remain interested. They should always have a number of companies they are interested in on that list, even when they have scheduled interviews with others. It should continually be populated as other choices are dropped from the list.

But that is not the point of this post.

They point is that Michele gave a simple suggestion that made a great deal of sense to me. Once you have established the companies with which you think you would like to work for...

Follow them on Twitter.

In fact, if you are looking now, immediately create a List on Twitter and start following you personal list of companies. You may hear of job openings from the tweets, you will gather intelligence on the companies you are interested in and you will get a feel for how they are regarded by their employees and customers.

There is another site that you should look into. Tweetajob.


What is Tweetajob?

Tweetajob is a web based platform that interacts with Twitter, allowing recruiters to efficiently tweet jobs. Because our site allows jobseekers to specify location and career interest, you only receive those job tweets that interest you. Jobseekers can elect to receive job postings via Twitter feed, through the Tweetajob search engine or via mobile devices, according to personal preferences. Recruiters pay to post their jobs to Tweetajob.


There are a number of sites and services out there, from Craigslist to Monster.com.

With the two suggestions above, there is another online tool to add to your arsenal in the hunt for a job.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Prepared Response - Company Profile Number Six


Mike Brown, the Chief Technology Officer for Prepared Response, came by the Institute and talked to a group of interested students about the company. He discussed their products and services as well as discussed some projects and research that the company would be interested in seeing worked on.

Prepared Response, Inc. is a privately-held corporation that was founded here in Tacoma in 2000 (it has headquarters in Seattle now, but a larger presence in the South Sound).

They are the "leading innovator in crisis management and emergency preparedness solutions and training that enable police, fire, and other emergency responders to save lives and mitigate property damage. Prepared Response's solutions have been repeatedly proven to save lives as well as protect property in schools, hospitals, malls, and other public and private critical infrastructure."

The company launched its first product, "Rapid Responder" in January 10th of 2002. One week later, they announced the state of Washington licensing of the product.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Thursday, Jan. 17, 2002

Washington State adopts statewide emergency planning and disaster response application

State law enforcement, fire associations license PRI's Rapid Responder product

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington state law enforcement and fire officials have licensed an emergency preparedness and disaster response software application from Prepared Response, Inc. that will eventually allow all emergency personnel in the state to access critical location information when responding to a crisis.

The Washington Associations of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) and the Washington State Association of Fire Chiefs (WSAFC) licensed the Rapid Responder(TM) application from Prepared Response through an allocation from the Washington state Legislature. The agreement allows the product's use throughout the entire state.


Before I get to some additional snippets of their products and history, I want to note that they were one of the first companies in the area to bring on interns from the Computing and Software Systems program from the Institute of Technology at the UWT. During the tech sector downturn and particularly after 9/11, when it seemed that more folks were being laid off than hired, the company took a chance on some students who were graduating from a program that did not have a long history. One in particular, F.C., who I always thought was an excellent student, ended up being hired on at the end of that internship. I recommended to another student who had been looking for a position post graduation that she contact an alum working there. She ended up being hired on as well.

They are both still there today, which in itself speaks highly of any work environment but especially of a company that was not that old itself at the time of their hire.
______

The number of solutions that the company provides has grown and now includes:

Rapid Responder (version 5.0 in 2008)
Crisis Management System

Rapid Responder® allows first responders to quickly access key information about thousands of facilities, including tactical pre-plans, satellite and geospatial imagery, interior and exterior photos, floor plans, staging areas, hazardous materials, utility shut-offs, and evacuation routes. The system protects thousands of educational facilities, public buildings, critical infrastructure, and private facilities across the US.


Guide Safe
Occupant/Employee Safety & Alert Notification System

GuideSafe™ is a Web-based tenant management and notification solution that provides you and your tenants with key information for dealing with a wide variety of emergency incidents, and gives you the power to notify them in the event of daily building disruptions or emergencies.


Hazard Tactics
Multi-Hazard Emergency Preparedness Training & Threat Consulting

In the face of a crisis, you must be prepared with a response plan, established channels to first responders, the media and the public, as well as crisis response practice at all staffing levels. PRI has created a set of courses to prepare you for every stage of a crisis.


Their management team consists of:

Jim Finnell who is the President and Chief Executive Officer
Jim Tarte who is the Chief Financial Officer
Michael Brown who is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Technology Officer
Marti Wagner who is the Vice President, Enterprise Sales


and just recently:
Pete Ochinko
Vice President, Security and Risk Prevention Solutions

Thomas J. (T.J.) Miller
Vice President of Federal Sales


Notable on their board are:
John T. Carleton
Chairman of the Board and Senior Vice President of Benaroya Capital Company.
Benaroya Capital was an early investor, providing the company with some significant seed funding when their product hit the market in 2002

Ralph Munro
Former Washington Secretary of State, Chairman of the Washington State Task Force on International Education and Cultural Exchanges; and Co-Chairman of the International Task Force of the Council of State Governments

No social networking sources like blogs, twitter or Facebook to speak of. (correct me if I am wrong)

A pretty extensive web site, though no recent news activity this year unless you go through a Google news search. That is where I found the announcements of new officer positions, as well as this news from Oct of 2009 in the "Disaster Preparedness Daily News".