Category Archives: Engineering

Happy “Ada Lovelace Day”

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It is the second Tuesday of October and that means that it is again Ada Lovelace Day. The day has been identified (per The Guardian) to:

. . . celebrate inspirational women in science, technology, maths and engineering, in the hope that by shining a light on such people and increasing their visibility, they can inspire future generations.

Ada Lovelace Day was founded in 2009 by Suw Charman-Anderson, and part of her reason for doing this was a worry that women in tech were invisible. The idea was a positive one – rather than highlighting the problem, highlight the unseen women and shout from the rooftops about all the amazing things they’ve achieved. Ada Lovelace was an obvious choice of mascot for such an endeavour.

Take this opportunity and join in some activity to recognize the contributions of women in technology. This would also be a good time to introduce or encourage a girl you know in STEM careers.

CapMac – In Austin, our local Capital Macintosh User Group is having a special program this evening. The featured speaker will be Rhonda Childress, the only Female IBM Fellow in Austin, the CTO of Security Services, a Sr. Certified I/T Architect, and an IBM Master Inventor.

Documentary – While not available today, there will soon be a documentary series, the Chasing Grace Project, about women in Tech.

The Chasing Grace Project is a documentary series about women in tech. It includes six episodes, each focused on a different topic within the women in tech narrative. From the pay gap, online harassment and female entrepreneurship to access to the best jobs, the decision to leave or stay in tech and the role of male allies, the series illustrate how we pave the way forward. Through story we can call out the adversities women face and illustrate how they’re navigating their own paths. The result? A series of blueprints for other women to find their paths, their way.

This may be something you will want to stay aware of

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An Overview of the New space Race

Space – I came across the article “Private companies are launching a new space race – here’s what to expect” this morning. it gives a very good overview of the companies and governments that are currently pursuing space programs.

If you are interested in space exploration, as I am, you will find this article of interest. The next decade will see many significant events if todays forecasts can be believed.

IEEE Central Texas Section Newsletter Published

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IEEE – I finished putting together the October issue of the IEEE Central Texas Section newsletter, The Analog, and posted it to the Section web site where you can read it now.

Included in the newsletter is items of interest to area engineers and others interested in technology. Technical meetings for the various Chapters are open to the public. Please join us to learn and network.

Attendance at technical meetings qualifies as Continuing Education credit required for the annual renewal of the Professional Engineer License.

In-depth Crytography Book Available for FREE!

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As I have mentioned before, I routinely listen to the Security Now podcast. In episode #600 Steve Gibson talked about the book “A Graduate Course in Applied Cryptography“. This book is being compiled by noted Cyber Security researchers Stanford University Professor Dan Boney and New York University Professor Victor Shoup.

While the book is still in development, you can download the most recent version (December 9, 2016 version 0.3) as  PDF file. The book provides high level overviews of many cryptography subject areas, as well as a deep-dive into the technology. As the authors say in their Preface:

A beginning reader can read though the book to learn how cryptographic systems work and why they are secure. Every security theorem in the book is followed by a proof idea that explains at a high level why the scheme is secure. On a first read one can skip over the detailed proofs without losing continuity. A beginning reader may also skip over the mathematical details sections that explore nuances of certain definitions.

An advanced reader may enjoy reading the detailed proofs to learn how to do proofs in cryptog- raphy. At the end of every chapter you will find many exercises that explore additional aspects of the material covered in the chapter. Some exercises rehearse what was learned, but many exercises expand on the material and discuss topics not covered in the chapter.

If you are interested in computer security, you may want to add this 710 page book to add to your library.


See my other Cyber Security articles


 

September Issue of the IEEE Central Texas Section Newsletter Has Been Posted

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IEEE – I completed the September issue of the IEEE Central Texas Section newsletter, The Analog this morning and posted it to the Section website. You can read it here.

Meetings of interest to the engineer or technologist, both IEEE and other, are listed. IEEE technical meetings are open to the public and visitors are encouraged to attend.

Podcast – Security Now

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Podcasts – I have been listening to the Security Now podcast since it began. It has been published weekly now for over 10 years. The latests episode as of this writing is #626. While they began as short programs of under 30 minutes, they have rapidly grown to around two hours per episode.

The show is presented on the TWiT Network and features Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson. While, as the name implies, the focus is on computer security, they also will talk about Tech in general and Science Fiction from time to time. The more recent episodes cover the security news that has occurred over the past week (almost always something new). They sometimes address questions from their large international audience, with occasional deep-dives into an issue of computer technology or security.

The program is well done and I recommend it to anyone interested in computer security, or who simply uses a computer, tablet or smart phone.


See my other Cyber Security articles


 

Future of Interstellar Travel

Space – I came across the article “Here Is the Future of Interstellar Spacecraft” yesterday and thought it was a good overview of the propulsion technologies that are likely to take future spacecraft beyond the Solar System.

In short the alternatives that are covered are:

  1. Thermonuclear propulsion
  2. Lightsail
  3. Bussard ramjet
  4. Antimatter rockets
  5. NASA’s Eagleworks Lab “Warp bubble” drive

None of these are really going to be ready in the near future, with possibly the exception of the Lightsail. I am glad to see though that the ideas are being kept in front of people, particularly those budding STEM students who will lead the way over the next few decades.

Is a ‘Warp’ Drive Feasible?

We have all heard of Warp or other Faster Than Light (FTL) drives in science fiction, but are they really possible?

This short (11:54) video goes into the details of the Alcubierre Drive. While so far this drive is just theoretical, there is a strong technical basis for the drive. Certainly there are several barriers to building one of these today, but there are new achievements and discoveries every day that may break down some of these.

There has been some experimental results out of NASA that tends to support some of the aspects of the Alcubierre Drive, but at this point the Alcubierre Drive is mostly theory.