We are honored to present the following distinguished speakers at the 13th annual Reflections | Projections Conference.

A complete set of abstracts and biographies will be posted as the conference approaches.

SpeakersAbstracts & Biographies
Owen Byrne
Sometimes You Just Have to Stay Out of the Way...Creatively

Owen Byrne, senior software engineer at Digg.com, has seen just about everything during the first two years of helping develop Digg into the leading social news site on the Internet. From helping launch Digg's beta version in December of 2004 and seeing a Paris Hilton cell phone hack story break on Digg before traditional media outlets, Byrne will discuss all the memorable and not so memorable moments from the first two years that have made the site into what it is today.

Byrne will also share his insights on the work behind the scenes at Digg—the long nights of developing innovative features and dealing with a community that drives your site.

Byrne's expert insight will allow all aspiring software students and aficionados to dig into the mind of Digg's leading engineer.

About Owen Byrne

Owen Byrne is Senior Software Engineer at Digg. Prior to Digg, he worked as a freelance web developer, contributing to the development of more than 60 websites worldwide. With more than 20 years of IT experience and a brief stint as a university professor, Byrne has worked for startups, manufacturing companies, telemarketers, a Fortune 100 company, several universities, and Canada's largest independent newspaper. Byrne holds an MBA from Dalhousie, and received his BA at Saint Mary’s University.

Cass Everitt
Real Time Rendering - State of the Art

Real-time graphics continues to drive in ever more engaging ways the way that we play, create, and discover. This talk will cover the major innovations that have occurred in real-time 3D graphics over the past few years, and what technologies are on the horizon.

About Cass Everitt

Cass is currently an engineer in the Developer Technology group at NVIDIA. He has also been a 3D Architect for GeForceā„¢ 6, 7, and 8 series GPUs, and a manager in the Cg group in the company. Prior to joining NVIDIA, he worked in the scientific visualization branch of computer graphics, focusing on oceanographic and meteorological model visualization.

Jerry Fiddler

About Jerry Fiddler

Jerry Fiddler is the founder of Wind River Systems (NASDAQ:WIND), a company which he started in 1981 in his Berkeley garage. Since then, Wind River has grown to become the leading provider of device software worldwide with over 1,100 employees in 16 countries. Through the company's dramatic growth, Fiddler's role evolved from that of the sole programmer to CEO and Chairman of the Board until his departure in 2004. While doing so, he gained a reputation as an expert in the design and implementation of real-time systems."

Since beginning his career at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Fiddler has published and presented many technical papers and articles and has been the keynote speaker for numerous conferences worldwide. He is a member of the UC President's Advisory Board on Science and Innovation, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute.

Mr. Fiddler sits on several corporate boards, including Wind River, Tensilica, Crossbow and Nanochip, as well as a number of advisory boards. He served as a UC Berkeley Fellow in Entrepreneurship and as a Wharton Entrepreneur in Residence and has undertaken similar responsibilities at the University of Illinois. Fiddler received a B.A. in music and photography, and an M.S. in computer science, both from the University of Illinois.

As the Chairman of Solazyme his role is to guide the transformation of the company's disruptive technologies from the lab to commercial success.

Phil Foglio
Kaja Foglio
"I can haz money now?" Successfully Reengineering Traditional Comic Publishing For The Web

At the end of the ’90s, Phil and Kaja Foglio were producing Girl Genius, a moderately successful independent comic book series. In 2005 they stopped publishing traditional periodical comic books and began posting their work online for free. They were first comics publisher to move from print to web.

Two years later, their readership has gone from 9,000 readers to over 100,000, and their revenues have multiplied by a factor of five. In their lecture, they will explain the differences between the old and new business models, why they abandoned the traditional paradigm, and why they were able to thrive under the new system, as well as offering insight into how other businesses can do the same.

About Phil and Kaja Foglio

Phil Foglio is the artist and co-writer on the award winning webcomic Girl Genius. His career encompasses the fields of science fiction, gaming and comics. He is the original designer of the Unix Demons, and he is a two time Hugo Award winner.

Kaja Foglio is the co-writer and graphic designer of the Eisner-nominated webcomic Girl Genius. She has done iconographic art for the trading card game Magic; The Gathering, and has illustrated several fantasy novels, including the World Fantasy Award winning Bridge of Birds.

Ari Gordon-
Human Computer Symbiosis: Building Information Systems From The Human Perspective

As computer scientists, we tend to factor the world into problem silos that seem to be interesting from a computability standpoint (faster algorithms, new data structures, etc.).

The goal of HCS-centered design is to factor the world into questions that are interesting from a human standpoint and then factor the solution into something computable. This factoring will tend to cut across established silos and the solution will tend to incorporate techniques and architectures found in classically separate areas of computer science scholarship and research.

Palantir is actively engaged in building these conceptual information systems. In this talk, Ari Gordon-Schlosberg will explore the historical context of HCS as a system design philosophy, explore how its goals are very different from what AI tried and failed to accomplish, and present some real world examples of how HCS builds better information systems.

About Ari Gordon-Schlosberg

Ari Gordon-Schlosberg is a Senior Engineer and the Technical Evangelist at Palantir Technologies. Palantir Technologies is a thriving startup that is building the next generation of information visualization and exploration systems.

An alumnus of the University of Illinois computer science department, Ari has worked in the software industry for the past ten years, including a stint as lead website and infrastructure maintainer for the SourceForge.net open source software archive.

At Palantir Technologies, Ari splits his time between working as a backend engineer on Palantir's analysis platform and thinking and writing about Palantir's vision for human-driven information data systems.

Ron Isaacson
Putting AFS to Work on Wall Street

For the last ten years, AFS has played a critical role in Morgan Stanley's infrastructure. Today, this technology forms the core of both the Unix and Windows computing platforms at this world-leading financial services firm. Morgan Stanley's custom-designed AFS installation provides access to applications, data, and even the entire Unix operating system, with low latency and near-100% availability, in data centers all over the world.

In this talk, you'll learn about the design of Morgan Stanley's AFS plant, the many ways in which the firm contributes to the open-source AFS community, and the workings of VMS, the internally-built software deployment system that makes it all possible.

About Ron Isaacson

Ron Isaacson has been designing and developing software applications since 1997. After joining Morgan Stanley in 2001, he spent four years as a technical architect and senior developer on several business applications. In 2005 he joined the elite Unix Engineering team, and spent the next two years building the latest generation of the VMS software distribution system, in addition to leading several other initiatives related to Morgan Stanley's enterprise-class Unix infrastructure. Since early 2007, Ron has been leading a team of developers building configuration management systems for both applications and infrastructure.

Before receiving his BS in Systems Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, Ron worked as a Unix system administrator for the University's School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Joel Jordan
Making Everyday Automation Easy and Practical

How many times have you seen a repetitive task performed by hand and thought, "it would be so easy to automate that?" Automation technology has existed for decades and continues to increase in capability even as the price drops. However, many of the people who might benefit from it the most are largely unaware of its capabilities. This talk will examine possible reasons for why this is the case, and how software can be used to better address the needs of this largely untapped market.

About Joel Jordan

Joel Jordan (University of Illinois MSEE 2004, BSEE 2003) is an electrical engineer and entrepreneur in Albuquerque, NM. Until recently, he worked at Sandia National Laboratories writing signal processing applications for a 3D laser radar on the Space Shuttle. Currently, he is starting a company aimed at providing automation technology to nontechnical users.

Gary McGraw
Exploiting Online Games

Please note: Dr. McGraw has informed us that due to circumstances beyond his control, he regretfully will not be able to attend the conference. His talk timeslot will be replaced with Yahoo! Hack Day presentations.

This talk (based on a book of the same title co-authored by Greg Hoglund) frankly describes controversial security issues surrounding MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. This no-holds-barred approach is fully loaded with code examples, debuggers, bots, and hacks. If you are a gamer, a game developer, a software security person or an interested bystander, this book exposes the inner workings of online game security for all to see. In the talk, I will cover:

  • Why online games are a harbinger of software security issues to come
  • How millions of gamers have created billion dollar virtual economies
  • How game companies invade your privacy
  • Why some gamers cheat
  • Techniques for breaking online game security
  • How to build a bot to play a game for you
  • Methods for total conversion and advanced mods

Ultimately, this talk is mostly about security problems associated with advanced massively distributed software. With hundreds of thousands of interacting users, today's online games are a bellwether of modern software yet to come. The kinds of attack and defense techniques I describe are tomorrow's security techniques on display today.

About Gary McGraw

Gary McGraw is the CTO of Cigital, Inc., a software security and quality consulting firm with headquarters in the Washington, D.C. area. He is a globally recognized authority on software security and the author of six best selling books on this topic. The latest, Software Security: Building Security In was released in 2006, with Exploiting Online Games slated for release this year. His other titles include Java Security, Building Secure Software, and Exploiting Software; and he is editor of the Addison-Wesley Software Security series. Dr. McGraw has also written over 90 peer-reviewed scientific publications, authors a monthly security column for darkreading.com, and is frequently quoted in the press. Besides serving as a strategic counselor for top business and IT executives, Gary is on the Advisory Boards of Fortify Software and Raven White. His dual PhD is in Cognitive Science and Computer Science from Indiana University where he serves on the Dean's Advisory Council for the School of Informatics. Gary is an IEEE Computer Society Board of Governors member and produces the monthly Silver Bullet Security Podcast for IEEE Security & Privacy magazine.

Randall Munroe
Meet the President of the Internet

Randall Munroe will be talking about his experiences drawing xkcd and playing with kites. He will answer questions on the theory of humor, the internet, Web 2.0, evading kite-related FAA regulations, Web 3.0, algorithmic complexity theory, making out, seventies hairstyles, Web 4.1, syllables, romance, dromaeosauridae, simulated annealing, regular expressions in humor, Pocky, and the Federalist Papers. If he is asked about sex, he will blush but do his best to answer anyway.

About Randall Munroe

Randall Munroe is a professional pencil/pen operator from southern Virginia who created the webcomic xkcd. At his previous job at NASA, he was supposed to work on software library compatibility, but instead rode around the hallways in a chariot he created by sitting in a rolling chair and lassoing a robot with cat 5 cable. xkcd has quickly become one of the most popular comics online, receiving over four million visits a month.

Greg Nordstrom
David Larson
An Overview of the Design and Features of the IBM POWER™ Systems Hypervisor

IBM iSeries and pSeries servers utilize the POWER processor family of processors and offer industry leading virtualization features. The POWER Hypervisor is integral to providing these capabilities. In this presentation, IBM POWER Hypervisor designers Greg Nordstrom and David Larson describe the POWER server hardware structure, virtualization capabilities, and Hypervisor structure and design.

About Greg Nordstrom

Mr. Greg M. Nordstrom is a Senior Technical Staff Member at IBM in Rochester, Minnesota, where he presently leads the POWER Hypervisor IO architecture and firmware design team. Mr Nordstrom is a 1981 UIUC graduate with a B.S. Computer Engineering degree. Mr Nordstrom joined the IBM Corporation in Rochester, Minnesota,in 1981, and had formerly worked at Hughes Aircraft Corp. as a UIUC Cooperative Education student. In his time at IBM, Mr Nordstrom has worked in IO adapter hardware and firmware design for the IBM 9370 and AS400 systems, and in the IO architecture and design of i5OS and Hypervisor firmware for i and p Series POWER server systems. Mr Nordstrom has formerly also been a member of the ANSI Fibre Channel Standards committee, participating in the definition of the FC-2 and FC-3 layers of this standard. Mr Nordstrom holds 23 issued US Patents and 12 pending US patents in varying areas of computer IO.

About David Larson

Mr. David Larson is an Advisory Software Engineer with the IBM Systems and Technology Group in Rochester, Minnesota, where he presently works on POWER Hypervisor architecture and development. He began his work on the POWER Hypervisor project in 2002. Prior to working on the POWER Hypervisor project he worked on a variety of projects including i5/OS PASE, an AIX runtime environment for i5/OS. He joined the IBM Corporation in 1999. He received a bachelor's degree in computer science from North Dakota State University.

Thomas Ptacek
The Arms Race Over Virtualization

Five years from now, none of us will be using "real" computers anymore. Every interaction we have with our laptops, web applications, and file shares will be intercepted and emulated through hypervisors: thin layers of software that allow a single silicon CPU core to pretend to multiple virtual machines. And attackers who can negotiate the barriers between physical and virtual machines will seize sweeping powers to steal data, infect computers, and hide their presence.

Enterprise IT is a key theater in the three-front war being fought between information security teams and organized crime. If the enterprise falls, attackers will ignore web application security and harvest identities and bank accounts directly from the source. If the enterprise falls, attackers will ignore DRM and steal high-definition DVD masters or game source code right off of corporate file servers. And every enterprise IT team in the world is migrating to virtualized servers. Is the sky falling?

My team tried to find out. In 2006, we developed a proof-of-concept rootkit programmed directly to the hardware virtualization features of the Intel chipset. In 2007, we spent a year in a high-tech sparring match with ultra-clever security researcher Joanna Rutkowska, author of the "Blue Pill" hypervisor rootkit for AMD, whose research goal is the creation of undetectable stealth malware.

Our talk is a deep dive into virtualization technology and computer security. We'll show how hypervisors work, and how we used those concepts to invent "hyperjacking", which virtualizes a running operating system out from under itself. Then we'll explain how antivirus software can detect a hyperjacker just as easily as a kernel virus. And we'll explain how a Google researcher may have opened the floodgates to vulnerabilities that will plague hypervisor kernels for years to come, and why local crypto timing attacks mean you shouldn't take credit cards on a shared Xen web server. You'll get some perspective on how information security interacts with operating system theory, and, perhaps unexpectedly, come to see virtualization as a win for security.

About Thomas Ptacek

Thomas Ptacek is a veteran security researcher and software developer with over 10 years of industry experience. He is the author of one of the most widely-cited research results in TCP/IP implementation security challenges and former lead developer of a security product now deployed on the backbones of every major Internet Service Provider in the world, inspecting a substantial fraction of all the connections made across the Internet today.

Chung-Chieh Shan
Quoting Side Effects

A programming-language designer makes rules to match what programmers want, whereas a linguist makes rules to match what natural-language speakers do. The same formal tools that relate form to meaning are useful on both sides. To illustrate this link, we discuss how side effects such as mutable state and delimited control interact with quoted expressions. In computer science, this interaction helps us generate faster code more easily. In linguistics, it explains why "somebody loves everybody" is ambiguous but "anybody loves nobody" makes no sense.

About Chung-Chieh Shan

Chung-chieh Shan is an assistant professor of computer science and cognitive science at Rutgers University.

Jon Stokes
Why Most Digital Humanities Computing Projects Are a Waste of Time, and How to Fix the Problem

When historical artifacts make the leap into the digital realm through different forms of capture and transcription, they not only leave behind their corporeality, but they also become separated from the delicate, institutionally realized web of "scholarship" that is anchored in certain aspects of their physical character. This talk will first describe a few of the ways in which the physical attributes of a particular family of historical artifacts--handwritten manuscripts and printed pages--have played a formative and productive role in humanities scholarship at both the individual and institutional levels. It will then briefly and selectively survey the recent history and current state of the discipline at the intersection of computer science and the humanities--"digital humanities" scholarship--with a view to showing how things can go spectacularly wrong when the aforementioned physical attributes are (mis)cast as the unfortunate "constraints" and "limitations" of an outmoded "information medium." The talk will conclude with a set of specific recommendations for recreating in the digital realm the aspects of manuscripts and books that are the most critically productive for humanities scholarship.

About Jon Stokes

Jon Stokes is a co-founder and senior editor at Ars Technica, and the author of Inside the Machine: An Illustrated Introduction to Microprocessors and Computer Architecture (No Starch Press, 2007). Stokes graduated from Louisiana State University with a B.S. in computer engineering, before switching fields and attending Harvard Divinity School to study ancient languages and early Christian history. After completing two masters degrees at Harvard Divinity School, he entered a Ph.D. program in New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Chicago. Stokes' current doctoral research interests lie in the area of humanities computing.

Eric Traut
Machine Virtualization

Although virtual machines have been around since the 1960's, they have only recently become widely used on PC-based servers and clients. Today they are commonly used in the datacenter to reduce capital and operational costs. They are also used on the desktop for software development and application compatibility. Fueled by recent advances in processor virtualization technologies, software developers continue to propose new uses for virtual machines. So what's with all the hype? Are virtual machines really the answer to many of today's computing problems? In his talk, Eric Traut will discuss the basic concepts involved in machine virtualization and provide an architectural overview of Microsoft's soon-to-be-released hypervisor. He will also discuss some of the factors that are driving the interest in virtual machines and talk about where virtualization should (and perhaps more importantly, shouldn't) be applied.

About Eric Traut

Eric Traut is a Microsoft Distinguished Engineer and Director of Development for the Windows Kernel and Virtualization team. He has spent the last 12 years of his career working on virtualization technologies. He is one of the original developers of Microsoft's Virtual PC and Virtual Server products, and he now leads a talented group of engineers who are responsible for many of the core pieces of the Windows operating system. This includes Microsoft's new virtualization platform (code-named "Viridian"), which will be included in Windows Server 2008. Eric holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Systems Engineering from Stanford University. He holds 11 issued US patents and 36 pending patents in the area of virtualization.

Jeffrey Ullman
Computers and the Education Industry

Although there have been many interesting experiments, technology investment in the education industry is the lowest of any major industry group. As a result, people are used very inefficiently; school taxes and tuition are becoming progressively more outlandish. But it is not all that easy to figure out where to apply automation in education. We shall try to sort out where people are needed and where machines can be adequate substitutes. We then turn to college-level education, especially in Computer Science. Are textbooks a thing of the past? Does the ability of schools to pipe lectures into the dorms radically change the economics of education? Finally, we shall look at what has been the speaker's personal "research" project since retirement: an attempt to automate the sort of homeworks that one normally finds in CS courses.

About Jeffrey Ullman

Jeff Ullman is the Stanford W. Ascherman Professor of Engineering (Emeritus) in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford and CEO of Gradiance Corp., a startup trying to produce low-cost, high-quality tools for secondary and college education. He received the B.S. degree from Columbia University in 1963 and the PhD from Princeton in 1966. Prior to his appointment at Stanford in 1979, he was a member of the technical staff of Bell Laboratories from 1966-1969, and on the faculty of Princeton University between 1969 and 1979. From 1990-1994, he was chair of the Stanford Computer Science Department. He has served as chair of the CS-GRE Examination board, Member of the ACM Council, and Chair of the New York State CS Doctoral Evaluation Board. Ullman is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has held Guggenheim and Einstein Fellowships. He is the author of 16 books, including widely read books on database systems, compilers, automata theory, and algorithms.

Peter Valchev
Using OpenBSD Security Features to Find Software Bugs

This talk will discuss how OpenBSD's security features and exploit mitigation techniques find real bugs in the process of porting software. Porting third party applications often results in discovering classes of bugs that cause spurious crashes on other systems, but can be reliably detected and fixed in OpenBSD. All bugs are patched and reported upstream, meaning the process not only improves the security and robustness of OpenBSD, but also that of the individual applications. For example, using ProPolice, a gcc modification that catches stack-smashing problems, we were able to detect many potentially exploitable bugs at runtime. In this talk, I will describe how you can use several such techniques to find similarly pesky software bugs.

About Peter Valchev

Peter Valchev has been an OpenBSD developer since 2001. He has worked on many different areas of the system but has remained one of the core developers responsible for the ports and packages collection. Currently, he is an Information Security Engineer at Google and holds a BSc in Computer Science and Math from the University of Calgary.

Steve Yegge
Compiling JavaScript for the JVM

Mozilla Rhino (JavaScript) is now officially bundled with Java 6 as "javax.script", making it one of the leading choices for alternate languages hosted on the Java Virtual Machine. My dev team at Google has been using Rhino as a server-side web development language for over a year, and it has proven to be a capable, mature, and surprisingly adaptable language platform. Perhaps the biggest surprise has been its excellent performance, the result of a decade of tuning and compiler optimizations by the Rhino open-source dev team. In this talk I'll give a high-level overview of life using JavaScript as a replacement for Java (specifically in the context of our Ruby on Rails port), followed by a deep dive into the Rhino runtime and byte compiler. We'll look at some of the challenges of compiling this high-level dynamic language into efficient Java bytecode.

About Steve Yegge

Steve Yegge is an internationally (in)famous tech blogger with a penchant for writing about programming languages, productivity, and software culture. Steve obtained his B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Washington, and has nearly twenty years of industry experience as a programmer, program manager and software dev manager. Steve's programming career spans such diverse domains as embedded operating systems, large-scale multiplayer game design, massively scalable e-commerce systems (at Amazon.com), web development, handheld device applications and software productivity tools. Today Steve is happily employed at Google as a Senior Software Engineer in the Kirkland/Seattle office.