Winter quarter is to the school year as Wednesday is to the week; it is right in the middle. Fall quarter has the excitement of the new school year, which is unlike Mondays, and Spring quarter means it is almost summer time, which is exactly like Fridays, or Thursday’s if you are in college. There just isn’t any natural excitement about Winter quarter. In Santa Barbara Winter quarter is when it occasionally rains, and for the most part sandals and shorts aren’t worn, at least by me. Nonetheless I had an excellent Winter quarter.
I was enrolled in three courses last quarter: a networking course taught by my advisor Ben Zhao, a computer security course taught by another awesome Computer Science Professor Giovanni Vigna, and an ethics class required for all engineering students at UCSB. The ethics class increased my awareness to issues in our country however other than that I don’t feel I gained much else as it was mostly common sense, although perhaps I was just raised well (thanks parents). The other two courses were quite excellent, although they heavily overlapped because many computer security problems occur on the internet, hence crossing over into networking.
In networking we had two fairly good sized projects. The first was a swarming ftp client in which the client would download chunks of the file from multiple ftp servers with the goal being to decrease the time to download the complete file. The second project was an anonymous routing service based on onion routing. In this project we had to implement the router application which relays the messages to the next hop and the client application which constructs the hop sequence and the proper encrypted message to send along.
The security course was particularly excellent. We learned about vulnerabilities in programs, and thus what to do to avoid writing programs with vulnerabilities. Additionally we learned about web site vulnerabilities, the current low hanging fruit in security. Giovanni tested our raw hacking abilities by providing us access to vulnerable servers, and applications with vulnerabilities. The goal of these challenges was essentially to gain access to protected information. Because of our success in the class, both Adam and I were invited to be part of the UCSB hacking team. This might mean possibly participating in a future defcon competition, but for now we will attend hacking sessions once a week.
Other than courses this quarter, I started a biweekly event for our UCSB Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) club which I call Interactive Informational Sessions (IIS). The goal of the event is to teach students tools that aren’t typically taught in classes which are of a great benefit. The two sessions I held last quarter were an introduction to the python programming language, and an introduction to Linux. I will be continuing these sessions in the Spring and there is a possibility that they might even turn into a seminar.
On the research front our group conducted a social networking study on Facebook. This is what the majority of my time during winter quarter was spent on. As our paper is awaiting a potential acceptance I will not go into detail, however the research was very exciting and kept me quite busy. Should the paper be published it will be my first published paper. Additionally I was the first author on the paper, so if one is to cite us in another paper the citation might read “Boe et al.” which the thought of is very exciting.
Finally this quarter I secured my summer internship with Google, yes Google! I applied for five intern positions in January and within a week was contacted to interview with Google’s platform team. After filling out some papers I was scheduled for two phone interviews in February. I felt the interviews went quite well, which they must have also because a few weeks later I was called to have a chat with a project leader. A few days following the chat I received my offer letter, which I of course accepted. Thus I’ll be up in the bay area for the summer.
Well I think that about sums up last quarter. I can only hope spring quarter is as excellent, which based on past experience, it will be. Spring quarter at UCSB means the girls start wearing skirts again, and being back on day light savings time means long afternoons. Weekends will entail drinking on the beach and enjoying the sun. I love Santa Barbara.