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.

Hopefully you have seen the press release from the EDB about Infoblox renewing its lease in Tacoma for another six years. Growing from sixty...