Survival at C: swallowing the Red Pill

Topic

Many good, experienced high-level language programmers do not learn C or C++ well until they suddenly need to write an FFI extension, make an emergency patch to an existing C or C++ codebase, re-implement the bottleneck component in the application stack in a fast language, take an attractive job with a low-level programming component, or otherwise move from their comfortable language of choice and swallow the Red Pill of coding closer to the machine. If you are already a programmer, you don't need to be taught how to program, and your google-fu is strong for looking up detailed syntax. Instead, this will be a crash course in leveraging skills you learned in a high-level environment and transferring them to these low-level tools, acquiring some new skills you simply never needed before, and a building a mental picture of where the road to expert, idiomatic mastery lies. We will focus on plain C because C++ is too complex to cover well in a single talk, but much of the material will apply directly to C++. Perhaps surprisingly, some of it will even make you a better programmer in your favorite comfortable, higher-level language.

Bio

Some little-known facts about Dustin Laurence:

  • His first exposure to computers was playing Colossal Cave
    Adventure and the bootleg Fortran IV version of Zork on his cousin's work mainframe using a glass teletype and a modem with a cradle for the handset.

  • His first good programming language was C. He lies and pretends that C is where he learned to program because 8-bit BASIC is embarrassing.

  • He once gave up trying to learn the libc low-level I/O functions from the Ultrix man pages because he thought a buffer must be some kind of abstract data type provided by the C library and he couldn't find any documentation.

  • He once confidently predicted that Linux was a temporary fad that would be replaced by BSD for serious work once the Berkeley codebase was completely free. It's probably a good thing he doesn't gamble.

  • He avoids social media for the same reason he doesn't do crack cocaine.

Directions

OpenX is located in the One West Bank building @ 888 E Walnut St. Pasadena CA, 91101. Entrances to the building are eastbound on Walnut, right hand side before the Lake St. intersection or southbound on Lake St. right hand side after the Walnut St. intersection. Once through the driveway, please park in the 888 Lot that has the OpenX logo displayed out front. Pull a ticket and bring it with you to the Meetup, we will validate your parking.

Meetup Event Page


Git/GitHub, CLI Text Processing Tools, OpenSuse

We are doing informal, short presentations this month.

  • Lan will provide a basic introduction to Git and GitHub

  • Joel S. will do a survey of commandline text processing tools.

  • Drew, our resident openSUSE guy, will also get the floor.

Meetup Event Page


Webification (w10n) and NASA data collections

The wonderful folks at OpenX are hosting this meeting, and they are also providing pizza. We need to provide a list of names to building security. RSVPs will be capped at 50.

Topic

In this talk, Zhangfan Xing will present webification (w10n), a data virtualization technology that simplifies use of resources on the web platform.

He will discuss science data challenges and share his experience on developing open source solutions for NASA/JPL. In particular, he will use webification for science (w10n-sci) as an example to demonstrate how one can bring together a diverse set of data and visualize them, using modern web browser, in a rapid and effective fashion.

He will also introduce the audience to the rich data collections available at NASA data centers and elaborate on their potential values to web data innovators.

Bio

Zhangfan Xing is a technical lead at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For over a decade, he has been architecting and developing Information Technology solutions for many NASA funded mission operations and research projects. He is specialized in search technology, data analysis, web services and their application to mission critical information and massive scientific datasets. His recent work on webification has lead to novel web-based applications that have had impact on NASA's mission operations and opened doors for the creation of advanced data access and visualization technologies. He is among the first in realizing the potential of the Web Platform as it applies to science data.

Meetup Event Page


A Cloud-based Architecture for Processing 3D Mars Terrain

The wonderful folks at OpenX are hosting this meeting and providing pizza and drinks. We need to provide a list of names to building security. We require RSVPs by 5pm on Tuesday, March 8th. Please keep RSVPs up-to-date, particularly if we have a waitlist. RSVPs will be capped at 70.

Topic

OnSight is a tool that allows scientists to work on Mars through the power of virtual reality. The Mars terrain displayed in OnSight is produced from real images sent back by the Curiosity rover, and rendered at 1:1 scale, as if the user were actually standing on Mars. Behind this exciting user experience is a powerful backend infrastructure that continually produces 3D terrain reconstructions as new images are sent back by the Curiosity rover.

The terrain build system automatically detects when new images are available, dynamically starts and stops computing instances to handle the workload, and presents dashboards to view the progress of terrain builds. The system runs on Amazon's cloud services platform, using a mix of Linux and Windows virtual computing instances. The system leverages a variety of open source projects including NodeJS, LoopBack, Ansible, Jenkins, AngularJS, and BootStrap. In this talk will focus on the cloud computing aspects of the terrain system, rather than on image processing. I will present a detailed look at the parts of this system, and discuss the team's experience adapting a desktop data processing workflow to a cloud architecture. Please join me for an applied look at how data processing challenges can be addressed in a cloud computing environment.

Bio

Parker Abercrombie is a software engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he builds software to support Mars science missions. He has a special interest in geographic information systems, and has worked with teams at NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy on systems for geographic visualization and data management. Parker holds an M.A. in Geography from Boston University, and a B.S. in Creative Studies with emphasis in Computer Science (which he swears is more technical than it sounds) from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In his spare time, Parker enjoys baking bread and playing the Irish wooden flute.

Meetup Event Page


Building a Community

The wonderful folks at OpenX are hosting this meeting and providing pizza and drinks. We need to provide a list of names to building security. We require RSVPs by 5pm on Tuesday, Feb 9th. Please keep RSVPs up-to-date, particularly if we have a waitlist. RSVPs will be capped at 70.

Big thanks to Bobby at OpenX for making the arrangements.

Topic

Liz Krane started the Learn to Code LA meetup group in 2015, and with perseverance and some luck, the community grew to over 2200 members in less than a year. In this talk, she will share what she learned by building a community from scratch in a field she knew nothing about.

How do you build a community? From small open-source projects to international movements, communities amplify our individual motivations and enable us to create meaningful changes in the world. And on a personal level, communities are essential for our well-being as social animals. What makes for a successful community, and how do you persuade other people to get involved?

Bio

Liz Krane is the founder of Learn to Code LA, a community that introduces new people to computer science and programming with classes and fun events.Liz is a professional dabbler who dreams of learning something about everything. Previously a research assistant at USC Annenberg, she currently works as a freelance web developer, writer, photographer and designer, exploring the intersections between technology, education and journalism.

Plan

At about 7:30pm, we'll start the meeting with LUG business and Linux in the News. The talk will start shortly afterwards.

Since we didn't get to raffle off much stuff at our booth at SCALE, we'll be doing some raffles during the next few meetings. We will draw for the raffle before and after the talk. You will get a raffle ticket just for showing up. You may earn extra raffle tickets for audience participation.

Directions

OpenX is located in the One West Bank building @ 888 E Walnut St. Pasadena CA, 91101. Entrances to the building are eastbound on Walnut, right hand side before the Lake St. intersection or southbound on Lake St. right hand side after the Walnut St. intersection. Once through the driveway, please park in the 888 Lot that has the OpenX logo displayed out front. Pull a ticket and bring it with you to the Meet-Up, we will validate your parking.

Meetup Event Page


DNSSEC

This month, SGVLUG member Carlos Meza will preview his SCALE 14x talk on DNSSEC. Why should you care?

"DNSSec is an absolute requirement if we want to ... use the Internet for anything non-trivial." - Cricket Liu, Leading expert on the Domain Name System (DNS)

"The Internet needs this technology and it needs it now" - Vint Cerf, Father of the Internet

"It is arguably one of the most important security improvements to the Internet ever." -Steve Crocker, Internet Pioneer and Chair of the Board of ICANN

Abstract:

DNS (Domain Name System) is used by everyone who is a consumer of the Internet. It is a core component of the Internet, yet it is completely insecure. This puts us all at risk. DNSSEC offers a solution to address the vulnerabilities of DNS . For this reason I hope stir up demand and motivation to deploy DNSSEC.

We will go over the basic of DNS and its vulnerabilities. Then we will go over how DNSSEC works and the solution it provides. As users, we will look at why it is important for our safety to require that our service providers (ISPs, Registrars, Hosted Services (banking, commerce, etc)) provide DNSSEC. And we will also look at some user-end tools available to advantage of DNSSEC today. We will go over reasons why companies would want to make the effort and investment. For sysadmins, we will go over tools to aid with deployment and some considerations to be aware of.

At its essence, DNS translates names, that humans understand, to IP addresses, that computers understand. This is how we are able to find other computers on the Internet (webpages, email servers, etc). But DNS does not provide a way to validate the answer we receive. This exposes all of us to a large vulnerability. Exploits such as DNS hijacking and DNS cache poisoning miss direct us and can lead us to potentially malicious computers. DNSSEC provides a solution to this by allowing authentication of DNS data through a chain-of- trust. Being able to trust DNS goes a long way to creating a safer Internet.

When we can trust DNS other things become possible. We can now leverage DNS to store other information such as cryptographic keys. This means we can store and trust self signed SSL certificates in DNS because it is now a trusted source. This eliminates the need for certificate authorities and the issues with them.

DNSSEC is a great improvement on a fundamental component of the Internet we all us.

Biography:

Carlos has worked many years as a system administrator. His interest include InfoSec, site reliability and automation, and open source development. While volunteering as an Interop Team Member, he was introduced to the significance of DNSSEC.

Links:

Meetup Event Page