Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mobicom 2006

September 25-29, I am attending the ACM SIGMOBILE Mobicomm 2006 conference in Los Angeles. I am excited about this. It will be my first time attending an ACM conference. The Mobicomm conference is one of the leading conferences in the world on wireless networks. Some of the topics that will be presented there are: ad hoc networks, cellular networks, sensor networks, wireless LANs, and mesh networks. It will be a good opportunity for me to learn more about some of the other types of networks that I am not very familiar with. Also, it may give me some good ideas for future research topics.

I am a little nervous, at the same time, about attending. On Friday the 29th, I get to present at the VANET workshop. It will be the first time I get to present to this type of audience. Before this, all of my other presentations have been at school, but I am sure it will go well.

It will also be my first time to Los Angeles. I have been to CA to visit San Francisco, and I enjoyed that. It will be interesting to see what Los Angeles is like.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Michigan's Governor Race

If anyone is undecided on who they want to vote for in this Fall's election for Governor of the State of Michigan, I would recommend voting for Greg Creswell.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Book Chapter

I submitted a chapter to be published in the "Handbook on Mobile Ad Hoc and Pervasive Communications". I was glad to learn that the chapter I submitted on vehicular ad hoc networks was accepted for publication. That was the first time a attempted to submit a book chapter, so I was happy to learn that it was accepted.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Crypto by Steven Levy

I finished reading the book "Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government - Saving Privacy in the Digital Age", by Steven Levy. This was a great book and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I think people would even find it interesting if they aren't interested in cryptography.

The book gives an account of the invention of public key cryptography and the people who were responsible for it. The book starts with the creation of the Diffie-Hellman key exchange algorithm followed by the invention of the RSA algorithm. Towards the end of the book, Phil Zimmerman's effort to create PGP is explained.

A common theme throughout the book is the US governments attempt to restrict the knowledge of the cryptographic research community from being made public. For example, many of the researchers were threatened with jail time for publishing papers on the topic of cryptography. What was truely interesting about this book is the insight into the personalities behind the algorithms and why they believed so strongly that cryptography should be made availiable to the masses.

The book chronicals the over twenty year battle that the crypto researchers had with organizations such as the NSA, FBI and US Congress. I knew before reading this book that the US government was mostly unsupportive of cryptography. I never knew the extent that agancies such as the NSA went through to prevent people from using encryption.

People such as Diffie, Hellman, Rivest, Shamir, Adleman, and Zimmerman went through great lengths to ensure that public's privacy is maintained. I admire what these individuals were able to accomplish by refusing to comprimise with the US government. For anyone interested in cryptography or a person's right to privacy this book is a must read.

AOL Search Results Published

AOL recently published the search results of random users over a three month period. The AOL search results contain approximately 2 gigs of data. Here is the READ ME and one of the search result files released from AOL. In total there are 10 files of search results. The file I posted contains 3,558,412 lines of text, so it gives a good indication of the typical online searches. I found it very interesting to see what other people are searching for online.

I performed a some basic parsing of the file to determine the number of users who searched for certain key words. One thing that I found very surprising is the number of people using AOL who searched for common web sites through the search engine, instead of typing in the URL directly. For example, there were thousands of searches for,,, and I don't understand why a person who knows the domain name for a site would use a search engine. Also, if I was already using AOL why would I need to search for AOL.

Another thing I found interesting is the large number of people who searched for porn through AOL. These are some of the random results I found of people looking for porn: "old lady gives doctor handjob", "pics of my ex", "youngorgy", "sex poetry", "female escorts for couple", and "bathroom sex mpegs". That is only a small sample of the search results for porn. It is hard to believe that so many people search for such obscure subjects. It is probably safe to say that many of the people I come in contact with daily are also looking for such subjects when they use the Internet.

I found it very surprising that very few users search for technical topics with AOL. I found few results of people looking for information on programming languages or operating systems. For example, a very small percentage of AOL users searched for information on Linux. I would have thought that more people would have searched for computer related topics through the search engine. I think much of it may be due to user community of AOL. If on the other hand, Google published their search results I think there would be more searches for technical related material.

A final note is that many of the people who search with AOL have very bad spelling. I noticed many of the searches have the words misspelled.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

VANET 2006 Conference

Over the last few months, I have been working on a Master's project on broadcast reliability for vehicular ad hoc networks. In early June, I submitted my initial work to the VANET 2006 Conference, sponsored by ACM SIGMOBILE. I was happy to hear that my paper was accepted to the conference as a poster paper. This was the first time that I attempted to submit a paper to a conference so I was pleased to learn that paper was accepted.

Although only a poster was accepted of the paper, I understand why the paper was not accepted as a full paper. My research in the area of increasing the reliability of broadcast messages for vehicular ad hoc networks was some what incomplete, but I didn't want to wait until next years conference to submit the paper.

I think that this will be a good experience for me. My project advisor Dr. Guo and I get to present the paper to the conference attendees. I am excited to learn how the conference process works, so I will be better prepared to submit papers to future conferences.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

GNU Indent

When source code is inconsistently spaced it becomes very hard to read. I was using a module for the ns-2 network simulator that implemented 802.11e. The problem with the code was the author either indented 2 space, 4 spaces, or a tab. It would have taken me hours to format the code by hand, so I decided to look for a program that would do the formatting for me. I happen to try the GNU program indent. I was very pleased with how indent worked. One command changed thousands of lines of code for me.

The command I used to change the code was:
indent -i4 -l70 -kr --no-tabs *.cc *.h

-i4 changes the number of spaces the code is indented to 4 spaces.
-l70 makes each line 70 characters long.
-kr changes the formatting of the code to the Kernighan & Ritchie style.
--no-tabs removes all the tabs from the code.

There are a number of different options available for indent.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

IQ Test

Today, I purchased the O'Reilly book "Statistics Hacks", by Bruce Frey. It seems like a decent book, although I have only read the first few chapters so far. In one of the sections the author talks about using statistics to determine if a group of people is below average intellegence or not.

I had no idea what an IQ test is like. I had never taken one before. I was kind of interested to see what I would score one, and what kind of questions are asked. I was hoping I would be above average on an IQ test. I found a test to take on a web site that consists of about 40 or 50 questions. I ended up scoring a 124 on the test. According to another site that I read, a 124 is around the 90th percentile. I could kind of see how some people say that the test is unfair. It seems like a person score would be influenced by their eduaction and the type of classes they have taken. Many of the questions seemed to focus on patterns, permutations, and series of letters or numbers. I'm a computer science student, so it is probably easier for me to determine the answers for that type of question. Also, I think more than 40 or 50 questions should be used to determine a person's IQ.

I think I may try to find a few more of IQ tests to take. I think I could probably score better on one when I am not tired (i.e., if I didn't take the test at 3:00 AM). I should have also read the rules for the test. I'm not sure how much time I had to answer the questions. I tried to answer the questions as fast as I could. If thought some of the questions out better I could have maybe received a higher score. Although, I took a personality test about a week ago and I found two other test to take after that and I always received the same results.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hackers and Painters

A few weeks I ago I read Paul Graham's essay "How to Be Silicon Valley" that describes what it would take to recreate Silicon Valley in another part of the United States. Graham basically concludes that you need a lot of nerds, people with money to invest, a top University and the right type of city (e.g., good weather) to create an area where technological innovation will thrive. One thing I found compelling is Graham mentions that one city he would avoid is Detroit because of the people and the negative direction of the city, if he was going to start a startup company. From living in Detroit area my whole life, I agree with Graham, this area of the country is mainly focused on manufacturing jobs instead of training people for jobs that would help the city and the state in the future.

After reading Graham's essay, I decided to order the book Hackers and Painters from Amazon a few days ago. I wanted to read this book for the past few years, but I never got around to purchasing it. Hackers and Painter is one of the best book I have read recently. Overall the whole book is very good although it focuses on programming, much of the material can be applied to life in general. The only drawback of the book is that Graham talks about ViaWeb a little too much, which is a company he created that was eventually sold to Yahoo.

My favorite chapters of the book are "Why Nerds Are Unpopular", "Hackers and Painters", and "How to Make Wealth". To begin, "Why Nerds Are Unpopular" talks about the problem of the high school system in the United States. I have to agree with Graham, I don't think I learned much of anything useful while I was in high school. I think that most high school teachers do a poor job of teaching or else they focus their energy on selected students. He also explains how the nerds in school were more interested in solving problem that really matter instead of being concerned with their social status in the school and how they dressed. One funny point in the book is Graham's explanation, that many house wives haven't matured passed the high school stage of life and they are wrapped up in an unimportant life that has no real bearing on the outside world except to their small circle of friends. Next, in the chapter "Hackers and Painters" Graham compares programming to art. Last, "How to Make Wealth" talks about how create wealth for society. Graham concludes that almost all wealth comes from technological innovations. These are my favorite essays in the book.

After reading this book, one thing is for certain, I want to learn to program in Lisp. I have always heard from other people that Lisp is a good language to learn, but I have never taken the time to learn it. I am going to attempt learn Lisp over the next month.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Nostalgic Computer Networks Video

This is a computer networks video, I found a while back that I wanted to post. It is kind of interesting to see what the people's thoughts were of networks in those days. Today, networks are so common place, but at the time that this film was made it was an entirely different story. The concepts they talk about in the film are still the same as they are today. If had to guess, I would say that this film was made sometime during the 70's. It is nice to see all of the old computers in it. I just wanted to shared this video to anyone interested. I hope that this video isn't currently under any copyright.

Another set of videos I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the nostalgic aspect of computing is Jason Scotts BBS documentary. The documentary is published under Creative Commons, so if you search around you should able to find them to download. The BBS documentary gives the whole history of the BSS. When I watched the BBS documentary it made me wish that I had a modem during the glory days of bulletin boards. I had a computer back then but no modem. I kind of feel left out, by not experiencing a BBS.