EVALUATIONS

Posted February 24, 2009 by thibaut
Categories: Uncategorized

As discussed in class today, here are the “bigger” projects :
– one video (or audio recording) in which you introduce yourself to a potential employer
– one video (or audio recording) in which you talk about a project you’ve been a part of
– an oral presentation (6-8 minutes long, to be given in one of the two upcoming and last classes)
– a transcript from a video

You may choose any two of the four items on this list.

In addition to these projects, here are the optional projects you may decide to add :

– Portfolio
– Resume / cover letter
– Blog
– Useful vocab webpage = tags, self made phrases, audio examples of phrases

These options will contribute to your final grade only if they improve it.

You have this week to make adjustments to this evaluation system.

four articles

Posted February 17, 2009 by thibaut
Categories: Uncategorized

So today we looked at four articles from the press, two from IHT (International Herald Tribune) and two from Scientific American Mind.

The articles or links were just posted on this blog.

The first step was to read and understand the articles, which we did through the questions game we played in class. The questions are to be found on the questions page.

The next steps are to :

– have debates about the articles

– analyse, store and reuse language content

… and another article from IHT

Posted February 17, 2009 by thibaut
Categories: Uncategorized

International Herald Tribune
From a vault in Paris: The sound of opera in 1907
Monday, February 16, 2009

PARIS: On Dec. 24, 1907, a group of bewhiskered men gathered in the bowels of the Paris Opera to launch a project which, by definition, they could never see to fruition. First, 24 carefully-wrapped wax records were placed inside two lead and iron containers. These were then sealed and locked away in a small storage room, with instructions that they remain undisturbed for 100 years.

The man behind this musical time-capsule was Alfred Clark, a New Yorker who headed the London-based Gramophone Company and provided the records. And, in truth, once the ceremony was over, he had achieved his primary objective of drawing attention to his company and to the new flat disc records that it was promoting to compete with better known cylinder records.

“I know of no other case where a commercial firm has obtained so much free publicity as we have,” he wrote to a colleague two days later.

The Paris Opera displayed a more elevated sense of history. Through this selection of opera arias and instrumental pieces, it announced, future generations could discover the musical taste and the quality of sound recording of the early 20th century.

French officials also predicted radical changes in recording technology. So, in 1912, when they added 24 records and two more containers to the trove, they included a new hand-cranked gramophone, along with instructions on how it worked and a score of spare stylus needles.

The 100 years were up more than a year ago and, after lengthy examination, cleaning and digitizing of the records, EMI, the heir to the Gramophone Company, is reissuing them in three CD’s. The collection will be released in France later this month as “Les Urnes de l’Opéra” and in the United States in early April with the English subtitle, “Treasures from the Paris Opera Vaults.”

Most intriguing is the chosen repertory-for-posterity, and here the surprise is the lack of surprises. Wouldn’t any opera season today also offer evergreens by Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini as well as by Bizet, Gounod, Wagner and Mozart? And won’t many concert programs this year include instrumental pieces by Beethoven and Chopin?

Along with these household names, there are some French composers whose lasting popularity was perhaps less assured. In practice, Massenet and Saint-Saëns, who were both still alive in 1907, have fared well in the interim, but operas by Adolphe Adam, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Victor Massé and Ambroise Thomas (with the exception of his “Hamlet”) are now rarely performed, even in France.

The passage of time is also apparent in the way pre-19th century music was largely overlooked. Although Mozart was hardly in vogue in 1907, he makes the list with arias from “Le Nozze di Figaro” and “Don Giovanni,” but there is no room for Gluck, Handel or Monteverdi, who in recent times have been called on to satisfy the opera world’s need for novelty.

The quality of the recordings themselves is much as might be expected. A century ago, when recordings were made by piping sound through a horn to a diaphragm attached to a cutting stylus, a scratchy sound was inevitable. Further, because string instruments were barely audible in early recordings, technicians favored the piano and wind instruments.

The Gramophone Company’s international reach enabled it to feature the top singers of the day. The great tenor Enrico Caruso can be heard in three excerpts from Verdi and one from Donizetti and Puccini each, while the Australian soprano Nellie Melba sings a solo from “Rigoletto” and Cherubino’s “Voi che sapete” from “Le Nozze di Figaro.”

The legendary Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin could hardly be omitted, although here he sings only a Russian ballad. In contrast, the Italian tenor Francesco Tamagno, who created the title role in Verdi’s “Otello” in 1887, offers a dramatic reprise of the Moor’s dying aria, “Niun mi tema,” to piano accompaniment.

Other singers in the time capsule may be known only to opera buffs, but some earned footnotes in opera history. Hector Dufranne, for instance, created the baritone role of Golaud in Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande,” while Ernestine Schumann-Heink created the role of Clytemnestra in Richard Strauss’s “Elektra.”

And yet the dream of Clark and the Paris Opera that these same records would be heard a century later has only been partly realized. In 1989, while air-conditioning was being installed, the opera house’s administrator insisted on opening the storage room with the containers. It was then discovered that one of the 1912 containers had been opened and emptied and that the gramophone was missing. The three remaining containers were then moved to the French National Library.

Thus, in December 2007, when two of the sealed containers were presented to the news media at the opera house prior to being opened, the gramophone on display was actually an identical period copy of the one that had been stolen.

There were further complications. The records had been wrapped in asbestos-covered cloth which only technicians wearing all-body protection could handle. They had also been separated by thick sheets of glass; in one container, nine of 13 sheets had broken. But most records were undamaged.

By good fortune, the first 1907 container and the surviving 1912 container included parchments with a detailed list of all the musical pieces chosen in each year. As a result, thanks to the national library’s collection of 350,000 pre-1938 records, it was possible to digitize the same records as those missing from 1912.

Finally, it was decided to leave the other 1907 container sealed and again to use identical records from the library’s collection. “Even if these old records are played once, they are slightly damaged by the needle,” said Elizabeth Giuliani, who oversaw the project at the library. “We decided to await new optical technologies which can read them without touching them.”

So even now, the experiment is not quite over.

But it has at least drawn attention to a long-ignored plaque set in the marble floor at the entrance to the Comédie-Française, France’s national theater. Dated Dec. 10, 1957, it notes that a live recording of a performance of Henry de Montherlant’s play, “Port-Royal,” is buried there “for the attention of future times.”

It just doesn’t say when the recordings should be dug up.


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… an article from IHT

Posted February 17, 2009 by thibaut
Categories: Uncategorized

International Herald Tribune
Imagining a new, more secure Internet
Monday, February 16, 2009

Two decades ago, a 23-year-old Cornell University graduate student brought the Internet to its knees with a simple software program that skipped from computer to computer at blinding speed, thoroughly clogging the then-tiny network in the space of a few hours.

The program was intended to be a bit of cybernetic fungus that would unobtrusively wander the Net. However, a programming error turned it into a harbinger heralding the arrival of a darker cyberspace, more of a mirror for all of the chaos and conflict of the physical world than a utopian refuge from it.

Since then, things have gotten much, much worse, bad enough that there is a growing belief among engineers and security experts that Internet security and privacy have become so maddeningly elusive that the only way to fix the problem is to start over.

“Unless we’re willing to rethink today’s Internet,” says Nick McKeown, a Stanford University engineer involved in building a new Internet, “we’re just waiting for a series of public catastrophes.”

That was driven home late last year, when a malicious software program thought to have been unleashed by a criminal gang in Eastern Europe suddenly appeared after easily sidestepping the world’s best cyberdefenses. Known as Conficker, it quickly infected more than 12 million computers, ravaging everything from the computer system at a surgical ward in England to the computer networks of the French military.

Conficker remains a ticking time bomb. It now has the power to lash together those infected computers into a vast supercomputer called a botnet that can be controlled clandestinely by its creators. What comes next remains a puzzle. Conficker could be used as the world’s most powerful spam engine, perhaps to distribute software programs to trick computer users into purchasing fake antivirus protection. Or it might be used to shut off entire sections of the Internet. Whatever happens, Conficker has demonstrated that the Internet remains highly vulnerable to a concerted attack.

“If you’re looking for a digital Pearl Harbor, we now have the Japanese ships streaming toward us on the horizon,” Rick Wesson, the chief executive of Support Intelligence, a computer consulting firm, said recently.

What a new Internet might look like is still widely debated, but one alternative would, in effect, create a “gated community” where users would give up their anonymity and certain freedoms in return for safety. Today, that is already the case for many corporate and government Internet users. As a new and more secure network becomes widely adopted, the current Internet might end up as the bad neighborhood of cyberspace. You would enter at your own risk and keep an eye over your shoulder while you were there.

The Internet’s original designers never foresaw that the academic and military research network they created would one day bear the burden of carrying all the world’s communications and commerce. There was no one central control point, and its designers wanted to make it possible for every network to exchange data with every other network. Little attention was given to security. Since then, there have been immense efforts to bolt on security, to little effect.

“In many respects, we are probably worse off than we were 20 years ago,” said Eugene Spafford, the executive director of the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security at Purdue University and a pioneering Internet security researcher, “because all of the money has been devoted to patching the current problem rather than investing in the redesign of our infrastructure.”

For nearly two decades, efforts to patch the existing network have focused on building sturdy digital walls, but the problem with that approach, some experts say, is that once they are evaded, the attacker has access to all the protected data behind them. “Hard on the outside, with a soft chewy center,” is the way many veteran computer security researchers think of such strategies.

The global computer security industry is thriving, and Microsoft itself began an intense corporatewide effort to improve the security of its software in 2002. But Internet security has continued to deteriorate globally. Even the most heavily garrisoned military networks have proved vulnerable.

Last November, the U.S. military command in charge of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars discovered that its computer networks had been purposely infected with software that might have permitted a devastating espionage attack.

That is why the scientists armed with government research dollars and working in collaboration with the industry are trying to figure out the best way to start over. At Stanford, where the software protocols for the original Internet were designed, researchers are creating a system to make it possible to slide a more advanced network quietly underneath today’s Internet. By the end of the summer, it will be running on eight campus networks around the United States.

The new Internet would improve security and add the capabilities to support a new generation of not-yet-invented Internet applications, as well as to do some things the current Internet does poorly – like supporting mobile users.

The university project, Stanford Clean Slate, will not by itself solve all the main security issues of the Internet. But it will equip software and hardware designers with a toolkit to make security features a more integral part of the network and ultimately give law enforcement officials more effective ways of tracking criminals through cyberspace. That alone may provide a deterrent.

This is not the first time a replacement has been proposed for the current Internet. For example, modern Windows and Macintosh computers already come equipped to support a new Internet protocol known as IPv6 that would fix many of the shortcomings of the current IPv4 version.

However, it has languished because of cost, performance and compatibility questions.

That has not discouraged the Stanford engineers, who say they are on a mission to “reinvent the Internet.” They argue that their new strategy is intended to allow new ideas to emerge in an evolutionary fashion, making it possible to move data traffic seamlessly to a new networking world. Like the existing Internet, the new network would almost certainly have no one central point of control and no one organization would run it. It is most likely to emerge as new hardware and software are built into the router computers that run today’s network and are adopted as Internet standards.

For all those efforts, though, the real limits to computer security may lie in human nature.

The Internet’s current design virtually guarantees anonymity to its users. (As a New Yorker cartoon noted some years ago, “On the Internet, nobody knows that you’re a dog.”) But that anonymity is now the most vexing challenge for law enforcement. An Internet attacker can route a connection through many countries to hide his location, which may be from an account in an Internet café purchased with a stolen credit card.

“As soon as you start dealing with the public Internet, the whole notion of trust becomes a quagmire,” said Stefan Savage, an expert on computer security at the University of California at San Diego.

A more secure network is one that would almost certainly offer less anonymity and privacy. That is likely to be the great tradeoff for the designers of the next Internet. One idea, for example, would be to require the equivalent of driver’s licenses to permit someone to connect to a public computer network. But that runs against the deeply held libertarian ethos of the Internet.

Proving identity is likely to remain remarkably difficult in a world where it is trivial to take over someone’s computer from half a world away and operate it as your own. As long as that remains true, building a completely trustable system will remain virtually impossible.

Lunacy and the Full Moon: Scientific American

Posted February 17, 2009 by thibaut
Categories: Uncategorized

Lunacy and the Full Moon: Scientific American

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A Recipe for Motivation: Easy to Read, Easy to Do: Scientific American

Posted February 17, 2009 by thibaut
Categories: Uncategorized

A Recipe for Motivation: Easy to Read, Easy to Do: Scientific American

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self-introduction phrases

Posted February 3, 2009 by thibaut
Categories: Uncategorized

Here are some of the phrases we took from the student videos last week :

I’m a student of [area] at [school] (in MLV) specializing in [subject]

/ I’m an engineering student at …

I will graduate in …

My objective is to …

establish a career in …

In order to equip myself to be a suitable candidate for the … industry

I’m especially proud to have been a member of the team…

I learned a great deal about ….

I have enrolled in a number of …. related courses including …

I believe the knowledge that I have gained through these courses will help me make a better contribution to my future employer.

it was a very rewarding experience

On a personal level, I’m strongest in … skills

My core competences include …