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Prof Avery's weblog
scotch tape for a cardboard utopia

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Wed, Mar 30, 2005

Modeling coordinates
I chose the coordinates specified for Assignment 3 (-2 < {x, y, z} < 2) because they're relatively simple, as modeling coordinates go, but they're pretty much arbitrary -- feel free to replace them with a more convenient modeling coordinate system of your choice.

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gluCylinder
John Kim points out that you can draw Assignment 3's pyramid using gluCylinder by specifying a topRadius of 0 and only drawing 4 slices.

I kinda wish I'd thought of this; it's much better than the Toblerone bar example I used in class.

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SIGINT
For those of you who are interested in spy-stuff, I recommend the new book Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping by Patrick Radden Keefe.

To quote Scott McNealy (CEO of Sun Microsystems): "You already have no privacy. Get over it."

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Tue, Mar 29, 2005

The Secret Service and Distributed Computing
The Washington Post has an article on the Secret Service's internal system for cracking encrypted files. Sort of their own distributed.net.

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Oops
Jason Obermeyer points out that roof of the temple in Assignment 3 has 4 sides, not 3, which is going to make using glutWireTetrahedron() kind of difficult. Try glVertex() instead.

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Mon, Mar 28, 2005

trackball.c Compiler Trouble
You may have trouble compiling trackball.c, depending on the compiler that you're using. The problem is that compilers disagree over the contents of <math.h>.

Unfortunately, there are multiple standards for C libraries. The ANSI/ISO C standard <math.h> specifies only a few math functions. The POSIX standard <math.h> specifies a superset, including several useful constants like M_PI, and several additional functions, including y0() and y1() for computing Bessel functions.

Unfortunately, compilers tend to pick and choose. The "standard" library for the compiler I used includes M_PI but not y0() and y1(). If you're using Visual C++, you'll find that its "standard" library does the opposite: it defines y0() and y1() but not M_PI.

The best defense against all of this is probably to define your own constant for PI and to rename y0 and y1. By the time you read this, I'll have updated trackball.c to do this.

Computers suck. Have I mentioned that?

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Fri, Mar 25, 2005

Spring Break Office Hours
If you need help during Spring Break (say, on the Graphics Assignment or the Security Paper Summaries), I will be on campus 12-5pm Monday and Wednesday of next week.

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Extra Credit
I've posted an Extra Credit Assignment.

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Thu, Mar 24, 2005

Assignment 3
Note that I've updated the course outline to show a due date of Thursday instead of Tuesday for Assignment 3.

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Tue, Mar 22, 2005

Virtual Trackball Jumpstart
Here's some help getting started with the virtual trackball part of Assignment 3: grab trackball.c. Initially the sphere doesn't move. Fill in the parts labeled "TODO" with the equations discussed in class, and you should end up with a running program similar to trackball.exe.

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Quotes from Dijkstra and Knuth
Thought you might like these. Edsger Dijkstra, from How do we tell truths that might hurt?

The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offence.
And Donald Knuth, from an interview in Dr. Dobb's Journal
DDJ: You've mentioned Edsger Dijkstra. What do you think of his work?

DK: His great strength is that he is uncompromising. It would make him physically ill to think of programming in C++.

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Mon, Mar 21, 2005

Today's Lab
Click here for the Cohesion and Coupling Exercise and here for the next project milestone.

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Sat, Mar 19, 2005

E-mail address encryption
Ok, this is kind of neat: a program that takes your e-mail address, encrypts it using 10-bit RSA, then generates a JavaScript program to decrypt it and generate a mailto: link in a web page. Why do such a thing? Because if you post an e-mail address as plaintext on a web page (like, say, that link to spool@kenytt.net over on the left), it'll be a matter of minutes before some lowlife scrapes it and spams you.

So I was setting up an autoresponder for homework assignments, and figured I'd give it a shot.

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Assignment submission auto-responder
I've had a few people who've e-mailed assignments to me ask whether or not I'd received them. (And a few whose e-mail seems to have disappeared into the ether.) I've set up an auto-responder that will reply with an acknowledgement and a list of received files. To submit an assignment, click here. (Note: you'll need JavaScript enabled to use that link.)

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Fri, Mar 18, 2005

Assignment 2
The official version of Assignment 2 is available. Surprise: it's a parser.

There are also some minor semantic checks, preparatory to generating intermediate code in Assignment 3. Note that if we define the relational operators to return type INTEGER instead of a Boolean type (regarding 0 as false and non-zero as true the same way that C and C++ do), we obviate the need for type checking. You can thank me later.

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Tufte on PowerPoint
Here's a copy of Edward Tufte's Wired article Why PowerPoint is Evil.

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Wed, Mar 16, 2005

The UNIX-HATERS Handbook
For an extended meditation on the usability (or, more properly, the lack of usability) of UNIX, see The UNIX-HATERS Handbook. Don't get too carried away by the rhetoric -- note that the contributors include Simson Garfinkel and Dennis Ritchie, neither of whom is particularly anti-UNIX (Ritchie being one of the co-inventors of both UNIX and C). But it's fun to read.

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Speaking of Donald Knuth...
NPR's Morning Edition ran an interview with him on Monday.

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Tue, Mar 15, 2005

Paper Summary 4
As promised, I've moved the due date for Paper Summary 4 until after Spring Break. Notice, though, that Paper Summary 5 is due at the very next class meeting -- I recommend that you do not put it off until then.

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Assignment 3
Click here for Assignment 3.

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Mon, Mar 14, 2005

Firefox Extensions
For the team considering writing a Firefox extension, take a look at the book Rapid Application Development with Mozilla, available as a PDF download here

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Midterm Review
The review sheet for the midterm is available.

Note that I've revised the course outline slightly, dropping Chapter 15 from the midterm, paring down a few chapters into individual sections, adding a section (6.4), and adding a second reading to the section on Kerberos.

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S5 Presentation Format
The HTML/CSS/JavaScript presentation format I mentioned in class is S5: A Simple Standards-Based Slide Show System. I used it for my last presentation at UUASC.

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Exercise and Project Meeting
Click here for the Data-Flow Diagram Exercise and here for details of the first Project Meeting.

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Fri, Mar 11, 2005

Class Outline Update
I'm making a slight change to the Course Outline. Skip Section 4.2 of the book. Operator-Precedence parsing is a waste of time -- we're not going to use it, and it doesn't make make it any easier to understand LR Parsing. For that matter, skip directly to Section 4.3. Once you feel comfortable with LR Parsing, come back to Section 4.1 -- at that point it should make sense.

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Programming Assignment Submission
When you submit your assignment, I want both electronic and hard copies. To submit an electronic copy, either give me a floppy disk with the source code, or e-mail it to me. I will give you your diskette back. Do not include executable files, especially in e-mail.

The deadline for assignments is the end of class on the due date. By that time, you should have submitted either a printed or electronic copy. I would prefer that you submit both prior to the deadline, but as long as I have one by that time, you'll be ok. If you have not submitted at least one copy of your program to me by the deadline, you will not receive credit for the assignment. I do not accept late assignments.

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Mon, Mar 07, 2005

Availability
If you need to talk to me and you can't make it to my office hours (now conveniently listed on the home page), you are always welcome to schedule an appointment. Convenient appointment times are generally before or after class, e.g.

  • Before 1:00pm on Mondays and Wednesdays
  • After 4:00pm on Monday
  • Before 4:00pm or after 8:15pm on Tuesday and Thursday
  • Before 6:00pm on Friday
If events ever force me to cancel regular office hours, there will be a notice posted on my door. If I need to cancel an appointment with you, I will make sure that you are contacted individually.

If you ever come by during office hours and there isn't a note posted but you can't find me, one of several things has happened:

  1. I'm actually in my office but I've left the door closed.
  2. I've stepped out for a moment.
  3. I'm in the Computer Science Department office.
  4. I've gone somewhere else, in which case I'll have notified the Department office.
So if there's not a note posted, knock on my door, wait five or ten minutes, then check with the department. If none of those steps manages to locate me, feel free to send me e-mail scolding me for slacking off.

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Looking for programming partner
If you aren't currently working with a partner on Assignment 2 and would be willing to do so, please contact me.

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Sun, Mar 06, 2005

New NSA Security Standard
The National Security Agency has released a new, recommended set of cryptographic standards for securing sensitive and unclassified data. The standard, called "Suite B," specifies Elliptic-Curve algorithms for public-key cryptography along with the existing AES and SHA standards for symmetric cryptography and hashing.

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Just in case you were wondering
Why Software Engineering is not B.S.

Click here for Monday's Lab Exercises.

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Paranoia
If you're not at least a little paranoid by the time you finish this class, then I haven't been doing my job: from our friends at CAIDA comes "Remote physical device fingerprinting."

Every computer clock has a bit of skew caused by tiny differences in the hardware. This causes the clock to be slightly different from every other clock, and it could be used to uniquely indentify your computer. It turns out that you can measure this skew from almost anywhere on the Internet, even from behind a firewall. Which means that, potentially, your computer can be tracked even if connects to the Internet through different networks...

Paranoid yet?

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