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Archive for May, 2013

DAC Extracurriculars

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

We’re all getting ready for DAC here at the Carter household. I’m really looking forward to getting to spend a few days in my old stomping grounds, Austin! If you’re not from the area, here are a few things you should check out while you’re there. Keep in mind that these are extracurricular extracurricular activities and prioritize them accordingly with the big vendor bashes which are always a lot of fun.

Trudy’s and the Mexican Martini
There are at least three locations of Trudy’s Mexican Restaurant in Austin.  The food is good, but what you should really try is the Mexican Martini!  It’s so famous that it’s been written up in the New York Times.  Essentially, it’s an extra large margarita served in a cocktail shaker with a martini glass.  It’s so big in fact that the limit at each Trudy’s location is two.  But wait, there are three Trudy’s locations, and that brings us to the Trudy’s Triple!  One of the local challenges is to drink your limit of Mexican Martinis at all three locations in a single night.  You should only try this with a taxi cab, of course, and perhaps a few friends to make sure you get back to your hotel as opposed to having your alcohol soaked organs prematurely harvested.

Poodle Dog Lounge
For a little local color what I call the North side of town, but Austin natives call central Austin, check out the Poodle Dog Lounge.  The last time I was there, it was a beer only joint, (Texas has some truly bizarre liquor laws.  If you don’t believe me go to Dallas sometime).  Not to worry though because the aforementioned Trudy’s is just up the street.  There are plenty of pool tables available at the Poodle Dog and quite often a local band.

Barton Springs Pool
This is a beautiful spring fed pool in the center of downtown Austin.  The water is always chili and clear.  It’s great for  a dip after enduring the sometimes grueling Austin heat.  In the 1970′s, the women of Austin protested for the right to go topless.  They won and were granted a small hill overlooking Barton Springs Pool to do with their shirts as they pleased. Before long everyone began to realize the silliness of occupying a hillside with the pool right there, and over the years they’ve migrated down the hill towards the pool.


Bob Schneider
Bob is Austin’s resident musician extraordinaire.  He burst upon the national scene during the 1990s when he released “Deep Blue Sea” and was dating Sandra Bullock, and has since developed a huge cult following in the Austin area. He plays at several venues downtown and hist style changes depending on the venue.  At Antone’s your almost guaranteed to find the Bob my crowd reveres and loves for riotous, high-energy, hedonistic, misogynistic lyrics accompanied by musical styles ranging from rap to rockabilly, (really whatever style of music Bob happens to be interested in at the time.)  At Saxon’s Pub, where Bob will be playing on June 3rd during DAC, you’ll find a slightly more restrained, and refined version of his music that tends more towards ballads and songs which aren’t always about sweet love are certainly slower in tempo and tamer in content.  If you can hang around until June 14th, (perhaps a few too many Mexican Martinis?), the show at Antone’s should be phenomenal.

Toy Joy
As you’re having fun, don’t forget to go home with presents!  Toy Joy is an awesomely fun, kitschy, low priced toy store located in central Austin.  They have a wide selections of toys including Little Golden Books, gyroscopes, bathtub boats made completely of recycled milk bottles, bouncy balls, and 20 sided die.  Best of all, they’ll gift wrap each toy for free if you so desire!

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Getting Ready for DAC

Monday, May 20th, 2013

DAC is in Austin this year, and I’ll be headed over from College Station to check out the latest and greatest in functional verification technology. I haven’t attended DAC since 2007 and I can’t wait to see how things have evolved.  I’ve kept track of the various technologies as a consultant, but it’s always fun to hear from the various vendors and find out how they’d like their products to be seen.  While I’m looking forward to running into a lot of the same folks that were there in 2007, it’ll also be exciting to see who’s new on the scene.  I’m curious to discover what became of the various contending object oriented verification methodologies. I’d also like to know how assertion based verification has advanced and what the usage and product development proportions are for formal vs. dynamic. SoCs have continued to grow and become more specialized. How have verification software and hardware technologies evolved to handle this complexity?

What verification technology would you like an update on?  Do you have a favorite company or methodology I could find out more about while I’m there?  Do you have any questions regarding how a technology should best be used?  What kind of tool capabilities are you interested in?  What are your toughest verification issues and how do you think they could best be solved?  What technologies do you think should exist that don’t yet?  Who do you think would be the most capable of providing them?  What technologies did you think held the greatest promise yet didn’t pan out?

Let me know what kind of DAC coverage you’d like to see and I’ll do my best to make the rounds and find answers.


6 Details about Quantum Encryption at LANL

Monday, May 6th, 2013

In a paper on arXiv[1], a team of researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory revealed that they had been successfully using a quantum encrypted network for the last two and a half years.

It’s pretty cool stuff, although not as cool as it might sound.  What follows are a few details of the technology including what it will and won’t do.

1.  It’s not fully networked technology
The system works on a client/hub architecture.  While all clients have quantum enabled transmitters only the hub has a quantum enabled receiver.  While the quantum transmitters can be made rather small and scaled for manufacturing, not so much for the receivers which require moderate cooling.  The transmitter is pretty classy looking and is shown in picture 1 below.

2.  It’s not fully quantum encrypted
At least one other reader and myself were confused by the MIT review[3] of the article that used the term ‘one time pad’.  I suspect we’d had just enough crypto exposure to confuse ourselves, but in case you’re in the same boat, here goes.  If ‘one time pad’ means, to you, a pad of random numbers that’s xor’ed with the transmitted message and somehow also transmitted securely to the destination of the message where it will be used once to decode the message and then discarded providing Shannon perfect encryption, then no, that’s not what the LANL paper details.  Basically the scheme uses quantum encryption to encode the keys that are to be used for the bulk message that will be transmitted via standard non-quantum algorithms.  Quantum encryption is used only for the key exchange portion of the message in the same manner that RSA is used in current TLS/SSL technologies.

3.  Your bulk message is still vulnerable to a brute force attack on the non-quantum algorithm
See number two.  Whatever sort of brute force attack an interloper could use on standard algorithms without knowledge of your key can still be used.  This is slightly more assiduous than it seems.  It depends on a number of things like message redundancy.  I can’t find the reference, so I won’t quote the algorithm used, but an engineer in the ’80s showed that a rather secure algortihm could be broken quite easily if it was used to encode auido recorded voice signals.

4.  Your key is completely secure and can’t even be monitored for a brute force attack!
What it does encrypt, the system encrypts very, very nicely.  One of the key advantages of quantum encryption is that the bit stream can’t even be monitored.  If you measure it, you destroy it.

5.  I may have worked for one of the researcher’s dads.
Said in the tone of New York taxi drivers who are commonly portrayed as always saying ‘Seen it.’, no matter how absurd the situation.  (If you’ve seen Curious George, you’ll understand.)  I actually may have worked for Kevin McCabe’s dad when I was an intern in the electronics shop at Los Alamos.  Kinda inconsequential, yet kinda cool to me :)  Checking on it.

6.  Finally, the system is still vulnerable to the most obvious attack of all[2]


1.  ArXiv paper

2.  xkcd on crypto 

3.  MIT Review