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Purdue Graduate School ('10-'11) - Semester VII

While a great deal of effort remains to complete my dissertation and graduate, this semester marks the completion of my last class. What a glorious semester.

CS 626 - Advanced Information Assurance

This course is mostly a progression of CS 526, which I took two semesters ago with Dr. Spafford. Being a 600-level course, this one involved a bit more effort. We had to read quite a few papers, as well as give presentations on four of them. We also had a couple of critical reviews.

The most interesting part of the course was probably the project, for which I designed and implemented something called the "TurkBox," a prototype security teaching tool. TurkBox was basically a small box with an electronically controlled locking mechanism. The interesting aspect was the platform that controlled the lock - which at its core involved the BeagleBoard. The BeagleBoard is an embedded system capable of running Linux. It is powerful enough that it is able to run many common daemons, like Apache. Thus the locking mechanism was ultimately controlled via a web interface. This interface contained intentional security holes that students could exploit to gain access to a prize stored in the box. Because the system runs Linux, many other demonstrations and attack vectors are possible, adding versatility in terms of a teaching tool.

It's worth mentioning that the highlight of this semester, at least for me, was when I found out that the child my wife was carrying was a baby boy. This happened to also be the same day that I was slated to give one of my presentations. So, the first slide was the ultrasound picture showing the child's sex. With a completely straight face, I walked over, pointed at the small "turtle" shape on the projector and asked "Does anyone know what that is?" . .. "It's a penis." I don't remember seeing everyone's faces, but I can say for sure the vast majority were laughing pretty hard.

All in all this wasn't a bad class to end with. The other students were, for the most part, intelligent and we had interesting conversations. The professor was also fairly interesting. That said, I don't see myself missing coursework anytime in the near future.

RCAC - HUBzero

Once again I've avoided the guillotine with my fulltime job here at the university. Which, admittedly, is slightly more surprising this year considering I have pushed pretty hard to refocus on my research. Now that we have a couple of other people working on system management tasks both Rick and I have been able to work more on our little project referred to simply as "mx." Prospects of graduation in the near future are improving. We'll see how things go over the next couple of years.