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CRA-W Distributed Mentor Program
Summer 2003
Christine Tan | Professor Sonia Fahmy at Purdue University

Journal >
WEEK 1: Settling In 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Sunday, June 15

I arrive at Purdue, after flying from LA to St Louis, and then from St Louis to Purdue University Airport, in the smallest plane I've been in so far. Min Soek, one of Prof. Fahmy's grad students, is there when I arrive holding up a piece of paper with my name on it, and gives me a ride to the house I am subleasing for the summer. When we get there, he helps me find the house, which is almost hidden behind a long front yard.

Monday, June 16
Sonia Fahmy meets me at my house and we walk to campus together. She is very nice, very unassuming. In the lab, I meet another PhD student, Ossama, who is from Egypt. Sonia takes me to lunch at the nearby cafeteria on campus, where we meet the CS departme nt chair and her husband who is also in the department.

Tuesday, June 17
This morning I notice that the CS building has "Memorial Gymnasium" carved into it over the door, but beside the door is a smaller sign that says "Computer Science Department". This misleads me into walking around for a while before I realize it is the CS building. Yesterday Sonia told me that the building was once a gymnasium, hence the wooden steps and gymnasium-like flooring, but it took me a while make the connection.

I spend an incredible amount of time reading the proposal written by the group of faculty members involved in this project. Reading papers is not my favorite thing, mostly because I tend to spend the majority of the time trying to figure out what the comp lex grammatical structures and ambiguous pronouns are referring to. But it has to be done, so I try to finish it as quickly as I can, which still seems to be a long time.

At around 5pm I realize that I am the only person in the lab, and have been for quite some time. I have dinner on campus, and make use of the remaining daylight to walk around campus and take pictures of the fountain. The campus is extremely bike-friendly ; there are bike racks all over the place and bike paths on the campus itself.

I talk to Vesna, who I'm subletting my room from, and I find out that the additional cost of reconnecting the phone line is not worth it. So I guess I won't be using dial-up here for the next 10 weeks. I wonder briefly if I'm going to go into Internet wit hdrawal.

Wednesday, June 18
This morning I finish writing summaries of the 2 papers Sonia found by searching the Web. The first one is called FANG: A Firewall Analysis ENGine, which is actually a tool to help system administrators figure out what the firewall is actually doing based on the arcane, low-level firewall configuration files. The other one is called "Evaluation and Testing of Internet Firewalls", which proposes a testing methodology, but what it proposes seems to be really too simple to be of much use. It consists of usin g an automated attack tool, and manual observations to test firewalls in 3 different test bed setups. Since they don't really go into the broader issues of firewall vulnerabilities, what they propose really doesn't improve on ways to test firewalls. After emailing the summaries to Sonia, she suggests we meet on Friday, so I won't be seeing much of her today and tommorrow.

Thursday, June 19
A slow day in the lab. After around 4pm, I am the only one here. After leaving the lab, I explore West Lafayette some more, and I find the Levee, where there is a Borders and a movie theater.

Friday, June 20
I meet with Sonia at 1:30 to discuss the proposal written by several faculty members, including herself, about the work we are about to undertake. At 3:30, we meet again to go to CERIAS, where a grad student is going to talk about a paper on CROWDS. I don 't have time to read the paper, but Sonia tells me what it's about before we leave. CROWDS is a way of providing privacy, by having a group of users form a "crowd" to redirect requests among each other in such a way that it becomes very difficult to trace back who requested what.

Saturday, June 21
I cross the river for the first time, taking the bus to Target, where I buy rollerblades. I don't know how to use them yet. It's a harder than I thought.

Sunday, June 22
Went to Borders.