university

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Privacy and Anonymity Colloquium • Activity program announced!

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 09/19/2018 - 17:07

It's only two weeks to the beginning of the privacy and anonymity colloquium we will be celebrating at the Engineering Faculty of my University. Of course, it's not by mere chance we are holding this colloquium starts just after the Tor Meeting, which will happen for the first time in Latin America (and in our city!)

So, even though changes are still prone to happen, I am happy to announce the activity program for the colloquium!

I know some people will ask, so — We don't have the infrastructure to commit to having a video feed from it. We will, though, record the presentations on video, and I have the committment to the university to produce a book from it within a year time. So, at some point in the future, I will be able to give you a full copy of the topics we will discuss!

But, if you are in Mexico City, no excuses: You shall come to the colloquium!

Letter to UNAM's Rector regarding the facts of September 3rd; omission, complicity and impunity are also violence

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 09/05/2018 - 13:09

Our university, among the largest in the world and among the most important in Latin America, had an unexpected and traumatic event last September 3rd: A group of students from one of the high schools our university operates, peacefully protesting, demanding mostly proper study conditions and better security for their area, were violently attacked by a large, organized group. Things are still very much in flux, and we have yet to see what this really meant, and what are its consequences.

But in the meantime, I cannot but take as mine the following words, by Comité Cerezo. I am sorry for not translating into English, interested people will be able to do so using automated services or human talent.

Original here: Carta al Rector de la UNAM por los hechos sucedidos el 3 de septiembre: la omisión, complicidad e impunidad también son violencia

Ciudad Universitaria 4 de septiembre de 2018

Enrique Luis Graue Wiechers
Rector de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Ante los hechos suscitados el día 3 de septiembre en la explanada de Rectoría de la UNAM y sus alrdedores, el Comité Cerezo México, cuyos integrantes en su mayoría formamos parte de la comunidad universitaria como egresados, estudiantes en activo, académicos y trabajadores, nos dirigimos a usted con el objetivo de manifestar que, como la gran mayoría de quienes se han pronunciado, repudiamos los hechos de violencia por medio de los cuales un grupo de sujetos atacaron violentamente a estudiantes que se manifestaban pacíficamente ejerciendo su derecho humano a la protesta. Sin embargo, consideramos que el repudio a la violencia y la promesa de investigación queda corta ante los hechos ocurridos. Por ello, maniestamos que:

1. Repudiamos con la misma fuerza la actitud omisa e indolente que en los distintos videos e imágenes se observa por parte del cuerpo Auxilio UNAM ante los hechos de violencia. Incluso nos preguntamos por qué elementos de esta corporación de seguridad se acercaron a los grupos de jóvenes que atacaban a los manifestantes e incluso los saludaron de mano en lugar de impedir que agredieran a los estudiantes.

2. Repudiamos el hecho de que, a priori, en algunos comunicados de las autoridades se afirmara que los agresores eran personas ajenas a la comunidad académica. De acuerdo a informaciones que circulan en redes sociales (y que por supuesto deben ser verificadas) algunos de los agresores forman parte de la comunidad estudiantil y de grupos que operan, al menos en CCH Azcapotzalco, CCH Naucalpan y CCH Vallejo. La condena a la violencia y la afirmación pronta de que los agresores no son integrantes de la comunidad es un acto incongruente con la promesa de investigar los hechos. En el mismo sentido afirmar que los hechos que se vivieron buscan enturbiar el ambiente sin tener una investigación clara de qué grupo operó, sin tener claridad en la cadena de mando y en la implicación de algunas autoridades no abona en nada a la resolución del conflicto.

3. Manifestamos nuestro extrañamiento por el hecho de que pese a que en los pronunciamientos de las autoridades se afirma que están abiertas al diálogo, no se haya mencionado que las demandas por las que los estudiantes se manifestaban en Rectoría serán atendidas y de qué modo.
Ante esto, exigimos a las autoridades responsables que a la brevedad:

a) Expliquen a la comunidad universitaria por qué el cuerpo de Auxilio UNAM, como en otros casos ya públicos, no detuvo a los agresores ni intentó contenerlos. Es necesario también que expliquen a la comunidad por qué un integrante de Auxilio UNAM afirmó ante un medio de comunicación en un video que “tenían órdenes de arriba de no actuar”. La comunidad universitaria exige claridad en la rendición de cuentas de cómo y por qué se operó de ese modo. Asimismo, deben aclarar quiénes eran los funcionarios que en los distintos videos están cerca o saludan al grupo de agresores y por qué en lugar de impedir los hechos se limitaron a mirar y en algunos casos a interactuar con estos grupos.

b) Que la investigación de los hechos así como sus avances se hagan públicos. Esa investigación implica una gran exhaustividad y claridad. Las autoridades deben explicar a todos ¿Quiénes eran los jóvenes, y muchos no tan jóvenes, agresores? ¿A qué grupo o grupos pertenecen? ¿Cómo se trasladaron a la Rectoría? Pero no basta con la aclaración de los hechos que componen el ataque, es necesario también que se investigue quién ordenó u orquestó tal ataque, la cadena de omisiones que lo hicieron posible así como la investigación de las autoridades involucradas o no en tales hechos, de tal manera que no sólo se investigue a los ejecutores de las agresiones sino a la cadena completa de mando que las planeó u ordenó.

c) Que se atienda y brinde todo el apoyo necesario para los alumnos atacados, sus familiares y amigos de manera integral y apoyándolos en todas las acciones que ellos necesiten no sólo en su atención médica y psicológica, sino en el acompañamiento jurídico en caso de que quieran proceder contra los agresores.

d) Que de inmediato se nombre un representante de Rectoría que se haga responsable de recibir a una comisión que presente el pliego petitorio o las demandas de los estudiantes y que de inmediato rinda cuentas de la manera en que se atenderán esas demandas. De lo contrario decir que el diálogo y la apertura es la solución sin establecer mecanismos concretos y claros de cómo se atenderán las demandas de los estudiantes es sólo una declaración que no alcanza a resolver el problema.

e) Vigilar que bajo ninguna circunstancia, los estudiantes que han decidido parar actividades y aquellos que están marchando y/o concentrándose en la explanada de Rectoría, como ejercicios del derecho humano a la protesta por los graves hechos ocurridos el 3 de septiembre en la Rectoría, sean intimidados, molestados, amenazados o agredidos por grupos porriles (ajenos o no a la comunidad universitaria) ni por autoridades o integrantes de la misma comunidad.

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Demoting multi-factor authentication

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 06/18/2018 - 20:11

I started teaching at Facultad de Ingeniería, UNAM in January 2013. Back then, I was somewhat surprised (for good!) that the university required me to create a digital certificate for registering student grades at the end of the semester. The setup had some not-so-minor flaws (i.e. the private key was not generated at my computer but centrally, so there could be copies of it outside my control — Not only could, but I noted for a fact a copy was kept at the relevant office at my faculty, arguably to be able to timely help poor teachers if they lost their credentials or patience), but was decent...
Authentication was done via a Java applet, as there needs to be a verifiably(?)-secure way to ensure the certificate was properly checked at the client without transfering it over the network. Good thing!
But... Java applets grow out of favor. I don't think I have ever been able to register my grading from a Linux desktop (of course, I don't have a typical Linux desktop, so luck might smile to other people). But last semester and this semester I suffered even to get the grades registered from Windows — Seems that every browser has deprecated the extensions for the Java runtime, and applets are no longer a thing. I mean, I could get the Oracle site to congratulate me for having Java 8 installed, but it just would not run the university's applet!
So, after losing the better part of an already-busy evening... I got a mail. It says (partial translation mine):

Subject: Problems to electronically sign at UNAM

We are from the Advance Electronic Signature at UNAM. We are sending you this mail as we have detected you have problems to sign the grades, probably due to the usage of Java.

Currently, we have a new Electronic Signature system that does not use Java, we can migrate you to this system.
(...)

The certificate will thus be stored in the cloud, we will deposit it at signing time, you just have to enter the password you will have assigned.
(...)

Of course, I answered asking which kind of "cloud" was it, as we all know that the cloud does not exist, it's just other people's computers... And they decided to skip this question.

You can go see what is required for this implementation at https://www.fea.unam.mx/Prueba de la firma (Test your signature): It asks me for my CURP (publicly known number that identifies every Mexican resident). Then, it asks me for a password. And that's it. Yay :-Þ

Anyway I accepted, as losing so much time to grade is just too much. And... Yes, many people will be happy. Partly, I'm releieved by this (I have managed to hate Java for over 20 years). I am just saddened by the fact we have lost an almost-decent-enough electronic signature implementation and fallen back to just a user-password scheme. There are many ways to do crypto verification on the client side nowadays; I know JavaScript is sandboxed and cannot escape to touch my filesystem, but... It is amazing we are losing this simple and proven use case.

And it's amazing they are pulling it off as if it were a good thing.

Much belated book presentation, this Saturday

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 02/28/2017 - 00:21

Once again, I'm making an announcement mainly for my local circle of friends and (gasp!) followers. For those of you over 100Km away from Mexico City, please disregard this message.

Back in July 2015, and after two years of hard work, my university finished the publishing step of my second book. This is a textbook for the subject I teach at Computer Engineering: Operating Systems Fundamentals.

The book is, from its inception, fully available online under a permissive (CC-BY) license. One of the books aimed contributions is to present a text natively written in Spanish. Besides, our goal (I coordinated a team of authors, working with two colleagues from Rosario, Argentina, and one from Cauca, Colombia) was to provide a book students can easily and legally share with no legal issues.

I have got many good reviews so far, and after teaching based on it for four years (while working on it and after its publication), I can attest the material is light enough to fit in a Bachelors level degree, while it's deep enough to make our students sweat healthily ;-)

Anyway: I have been scheduled to present the book at my university's main book show, 38 Feria Internacional del Libro del Palacio de Minería this Saturday, 2017.03.04 16:00; Salón Manuel Tolsá. What's even better: This time, I won't be preparing a speech! The book will be presented by my two very good friends, José María Serralde and Rolando Cedillo. Both of them are clever, witty, fun, and a real honor to work with. Of course, having them present our book is more than a double honor.

So, everybody who can make it: FIL Minería is always great and fun. Come share the love! Come have a book! Or, at least, have a good time and a nice chat with us!

Talking about the Debian keyring in Investigaciones Nucleares, UNAM

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 08/17/2016 - 13:47

For the readers of my blog that happen to be in Mexico City, I was invited to give a talk at Instituto de Ciencias Nucleares, Ciudad Universitaria, UNAM.

I will be at Auditorio Marcos Moshinsky, on August 26 starting at 13:00. Auditorio Marcos Moshinsky is where we met for the early (~1996-1997) Mexico Linux User Group meetings. And... Wow. I'm amazed to realize it's been twenty years that I arrived there, young and innocent, the newest of what looked like a sect obsessed with world domination and a penguin fetish.

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Readying up for the second "Embedded Linux" diploma course

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 01/12/2016 - 11:28

I am happy to share here a project I was a part of during last year, that ended up being a complete success and now stands to be repeated: The diploma course on embedded Linux, taught at Facultad de Ingeniería, UNAM, where I'm teaching my regular classes as well.

Back in November, we held the graduation for our first 10 students. This photo shows only seven, as the remaining three have already relocated to Guadalajara, where they were hired by Continental, a company that promoted the creation of this specialization program.

After this first excercise, we went over the program and made some adequations; future generations will have a shorter and more focused program (240 instead of 288 hours, leaving out several topics that were not deemed related to the topic or were thoroughly understood by students to begin with); we intend to start the semester-long course in early February. I will soon update here with the full program and promotional material, as soon as I receive it. update (01-19): You can download the promotional information, or go to an (unofficial) URL with the full information. We are close to starting the program, so hurry!

I am specially glad that this course is taught by people I admire and recognize, and a very interesting mix between long-time academic and stemming from my free-software-related friends: From the academic side, Facultad de Ingeniería's professors Laura Sandoval, Karen Sáenz and Oscar Valdez, and from the free-software side, Sandino Araico, Iván Chavero, César Yáñez and Gabriel Saldaña (and myself on both camps, of course ☺)

It has landed.

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 08/12/2015 - 22:48

Basically everybody who knows me is aware that, basically for the last two years, I have been writing a book on Operating Systems for use in my class — and, of course, in any similar class. Well, long story short, as of today:

What's that in my car trunk? Lets have a closer look.

Finally, Facultad de Ingeniería finished printing the book!

So... Well, some minor data points:

  • The book is (and has been for some time already!) available online as a free download.
  • If you want to derive from it or enhance future editions in any way, just clone it!.
  • Want to get a physical copy? Great! It will soon (a week or so) be ready at both the Faculty's and the Institute's bookstores.
  • But coming to UNAM is hard for you? Stay tuned. I have uploaded it to an on-demand printing service (Bubok), but its service is so dismally slow that I'll try it somewhere else. I'll keep you posted!

Anyway... Very happy here :D

The Conquest of Energy (detail)

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
The Conquest of Energy (detail)

Mural on the Antonio Caso auditorium (originally, Sciences Faculty)

Revolutionary figures

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
Revolutionary figures

On the Central Library walls, Ciudad Universitaria

The atom and nature

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
The atom and nature

On the walls of the National Library

Selene snaps a picture

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
Selene snaps a picture

By the bike road in Las Islas, Ciudad Universitaria

Selene, Regina and Michelle

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
Selene, Regina and Michelle

In Las Islas, Ciudad Universitaria

Copernician cosmovision

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
Copernician cosmovision

On the walls of the Central Library

Ptolemaic cosmovision

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
Ptolemaic cosmovision

On the walls of the Central Library

UNAM. Viva México, viva en paz.

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:38
UNAM. Viva México, viva en paz.

We have had terrible months in Mexico; I don't know how much has appeared about our country in the international media. The last incidents started on the last days of September, when 43 students at a school for rural teachers were forcefully disappeared (in our Latin American countries, this means they were taken by force and no authority can yet prove whether they are alive or dead; forceful disappearance is one of the saddest and most recognized traits of the brutal military dictatorships South America had in the 1970s) in the Iguala region (Guerrero state, South of the country) and three were killed on site. An Army regiment was stationed few blocks from there and refused to help.

And yes, we live in a country where (incredibly) this news by themselves would not seem so unheard of... But in this case, there is ample evidence they were taken by the local police forces, not by a gang of (assumed) wrongdoers. And they were handed over to a very violent gang afterwards. Several weeks later, with far from a thorough investigation, we were told they were killed, burnt and thrown to a river.

The Iguala city major ran away, and was later captured, but it's not clear why he was captured at two different places. The Guerrero state governor resigned and a new governor was appointed. But this was not the result of a single person behaving far from what their voters would expect — It's a symptom of a broken society where policemen will kill when so ordered, where military personnel will look away when pointed out to the obvious, where the drug dealers have captured vast regions of the country where are stronger than the formal powers.

And then, instead of dealing with the issue personally as everybody would expect, the president goes on a commercial mission to China. Oh, to fix some issues with a building company. That coincidentally or not was selling a super-luxury house to his wife. A house that she, several days later, decided to sell because it was tarnishing her family's honor and image.

And while the president is in China, the person who dealt with the social pressure and told us about the probable (but not proven!) horrible crime where the "bad guys" for some strange and yet unknown reason (even with tens of them captured already) decided to kill and burn and dissolve and disappear 43 future rural teachers presents his version, and finishes his speech saying that "I'm already tired of this topic".

Of course, our University is known for its solidarity with social causes; students in our different schools are the first activists in many protests, and we have had a very tense time as the protests are at home here at the university. This last weekend, supposed policemen entered our main campus with a stupid, unbelievable argument (they were looking for a phone reported as stolen three days earlier), get into an argument with some students, and end up firing shots at the students; one of them was wounded in the leg.

And the university is now almost under siege: There are policemen surrounding us. We are working as usual, and will most likely finish the semester with normality, but the intimidation (in a country where seeing a policeman is practically never a good sign) is strong.

And... Oh, I could go on a lot. Things feel really desperate and out of place.

Today I will join probably tens or hundreds of thousands of Mexicans sick of this simulation, sick of this violence, in a demonstration downtown. What will this achieve? Very little, if anything at all. But we cannot just sit here watching how things go from bad to worse. I do not accept to live in a state of exception.

So, this picture is just right: A bit over a month ago, two dear friends from Guadalajara city came, and we had a nice walk in the University. Our national university is not only huge, it's also beautiful and loaded with sights. And being so close to home, it's our favorite place to go with friends to show around. This is a fragment of the beautiful mural in the Central Library. And, yes, the University stands for "Viva México". And the university stands for "Peace". And we need it all. Desperately.

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