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[edit] Understanding Git

Date: September 29, 2009, at 4:30 PM
Presenters: Nelson Elhage (nelhage)
Location: 4-231
Notes: Understanding Git (slides)
Abstract: Git is a free software distributed version control system originally written by Linus Torvalds for Linux kernel development. It is increasingly commonly used, and learning to use it can be greatly benefited by a little help from those who understand how to use it. This talk will provide a brief tutorial on how to use Git and a technical overview of how it works under the covers.

[edit] Invirt

Date: October 6, 2009, at 4:30 PM
Presenters: Evan Broder (broder)
Location: 4-231
Abstract: Invirt is the software behind XVM, SIPB's community virtualization hosting service. Since we launched less than a year ago, users have created over 400 VMs, of which about 200 are turned on at any given time. At this talk we'll be giving a whirlwind tour of XVM's infrastructure and architecture, including how the moving parts running on 7 different servers fit together. We'll also showcase a few aspects of Invirt that we think are particularly innovative. If you're interested in learning more about virtualization, helping us hack on Invirt/XVM (and we could always use more help), running your own install of Invirt, or just seeing a good case-study on building scalable systems, this should be a good talk for you.

[edit] Statistics and the Non-Conflict between Bayesians and Frequentists

Date: October 13, 2009, at 4:30 PM
Presenters: Keith Winstein (keithw)
Location: 4-231
Notes: Statistics and the Non-Conflict between Bayesians and Frequentists (slides)
Abstract: I'll go over the building blocks of statistics and why you often hear about the conflict between "Bayesians" and "frequentists." Focusing on simple examples, I'll explain each camp and why I think they aren't really in disagreement. Hopefully we can get the audience shouting about this non-conflict. I'll also talk about some of my work on measuring the performance of confidence intervals and p-values, how you can make $800 million because of a lousy approximation, and "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False."
Bio: Keith Winstein '03 is an associate member of SIPB, on leave from his Ph.D. at MIT. He works as a reporter at The Wall Street Journal in Boston, covering science and medicine.

[edit] Beyond Basic SQL

Date: October 20, 2009, at 4:30 PM
Presenters: Matt DeBergalis (deberg)
Location: 4-231
Abstract: Many of us learned SQL in the context of hosted web applications, which often only make use of SQL's most basic capabilities. We'll start with a more mathematical framework for thinking about SQL queries. Then we'll leap into a survey of some of the more interesting capabilities of a modern SQL implementation, including advanced joins, constraints, rules and triggers, views, windowing functions, and performance considerations. I'll leave time for other topics of participants' choosing as well. The less SQL you know coming in, the less there is to unlearn.

[edit] The Modern Linux Desktop

Date: October 27, 2009, at 4:30 PM
Presenters: Geoffrey Thomas (geofft)
Location: 4-231
Notes: The Modern Linux Desktop (slides)
Abstract: The modern Linux desktop has grown significantly since Project Athena decided (in the mid-80's) that it needed a graphical environment and wrote the X Window System. While X is still as important as ever, many other layers of important desktop infrastructure have recently been added. I'll give an overview of a number of these projects, including D-Bus, HAL, udev, PolicyKit, ConsoleKit, DeviceKit, XDG, Avahi, GNOME, and related projects. We'll look at the architecture of these systems as well as ways you might configure them on your own desktop or laptop.

This talk is intended for anyone who's used a modern Linux desktop and is curious how the system works; people who have perhaps heard of a couple of the projects I mentioned, but haven't really used them, will get the most out of this talk.

Bio: Geoffrey Thomas '10 is a SIPB member and developer on the scripts.mit.edu and Debathena projects. The latter has just seen its biggest deployment shift from a single SSH server to several hundred graphical desktops.

[edit] The Law for Engineers

Date: November 10, 2009, at 3:30 PM
Presenters: Keith Winstein (keithw)
Location: 4-237
Abstract: Could MIT listen in on your phone calls and read your e-mail? Does the DMCA really authorize torture? Why did a Republican group have to pay $537 to wdaher one recent year? Do those MIT singing groups need permission to release recordings of other people's songs? How did Aimee Smith beat the rap after getting arrested for calling the MIT Police "fucking pigs"? Could you get in trouble for buying from allofmp3.com?

Keith might not be able to answer all these legal questions, but he will help you learn how to research legal issues for yourself. This talk will discuss American law and legal research, how to use Lexis-Nexis, and touch on topics relevant to technology, copyrights, and MIT.

Bio: Keith Winstein '03 is an associate member of SIPB, on leave from his Ph.D. at MIT.

[edit] Understanding PGP and Using GPG

Date: November 17, 2009, at 3:30 PM
Presenters: Stephen Woodrow (woodrow)
Location: 4-237
Notes: PGP (slides, notes)
Abstract: PGP is an open public-key cryptography system that is used for signing/verifying and encrypting/decrypting messages and data for yourself or others you wish to communicate with securely. PGP is also useful for signing and verifying software distributions and packages (Linux kernel, Ubuntu/Debian packages, etc.), or for signing your own code (i.e. with git-tag) on projects you work on. Unlike other public-key infrastructures (such as MIT's certificate system) that rely on an absolutely trusted root principal, trust in PGP is an individual decision where individuals attest for the authenticity of others, forming a distributed "web of trust."

This cluedump will begin with a overview of PGP (and very brief overview of public-key crypto) and why you should care, before diving into the details of the OpenPGP protocol and how it works. The second part of the cluedump will focus on the ways you can use PGP, with an emphasis on GNU Privacy Guard (GPG), a common, free implementation of OpenPGP. I will present my suggestions on how to set up a well-thought-out GPG installation (based on my frustration at the lack of good tutorials online today).

[edit] Adventures in Quantum Land - Computing on the Quantum Scale

Date: December 8, 2009, at 3:30 PM
Presenters: Nathan Lachenmyer (scottnla)
Location: 4-237
Abstract: As computers get smaller and smaller, quantum-scale effects became increasingly more important. Quantum Computers store and process information at the atomic scale, utilizing quantum mechanics to increase their computational power. This talk will provide some basic framework for quantum mechanics, and then discuss either Quantum Hardware or Quantum Cryptography based on audience request.
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