The week started with a meeting with Jeroen Dewulf (http://german.berkeley.edu/people/professors/jeroen-dewulf/) , the brand new Director of the Institute of European Studies (http://ies.berkeley.edu/). Jeroen is from Ostende (Belgium) , he did Germanic Philosophy and Portuguese in Ghent ,worked in Portugal for several years , did his PhD in German Literature in Bern (Switzerland) and joined UC Berkeley in 2005. Jeroen is very enthusiastic with very good ideas about the future of the Institute. We have agreed that I will deliver for his students and researchers a presentation on “Multilingualism in the EU Institutions” in late January or early February…. I will need help from my friends in DGT, DIGIT and other DGs dealing with this matter at the EC to prepare it !!
By the way , Jeroen and I, had coffee at the famous Free Speech Movement (FSM) Café, centrally located at the entrance to Moffitt Library at UC Berkeley, a casual place to gather, study, or take a break with friends and colleagues. It is also a venue for periodic FSM Café educational events. The Café honours Mario Savio, who played a key role in the struggle for free speech at UC, and commemorates the events of the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley at UC Berkeley during the Fall 1964 semester which was the first of the 1960s campus student movements to make headlines all over the world.
Lasting a little over two months, it ended with the arrest of 773 persons for occupying the administration building, the removal of the campus administration, and a vast enlargement of student rights to use the University campus for political activity and debate.
This year the University celebrates the 50th anniversary of the start of the movement and I think that people here are actually very proud of the movement and its consequences for freedom of expression.
Close to my cubical at CITRIS works Jorge, a PhD student from Paraguay, but coming from the University of Trento in Italy. He is Visiting PhD student at UC Berkeley for five months and he is preparing his PhD project in relation with the use of on an IT platforms and social networks for citizen participation in Paraguay. While here, he has been working with the California Report Card (CRC, see my previous post) development team to release version 2.0 particularly on the Spanish version, what is very interesting given the amount of Spanish speaking population in California. He has also developped the interface of CRC with social networks like Twitter. Al the post to the hashtag of the CRC are automatically tranferred to the CRC platform. Version 2.0 went into production last week.
Last week, I also visited Facebook. A friend of mine is working there as head of the investigation team and I wanted him to tell me about the security challenges as they preceive them from the Facebook global network and what they do about it. I also wanted to tell him about my work and my research at UC Berkeley so that he help me to find contacts to discuss the topics of my research in FacebooK.
They are now located in Menlo Park since the company bought the former campus of Sun Microsystems.On Fridays, they allow employees to bring friends and families for lunchand visit of the premises and I had the opportunity to go around with him and have lunch in one of the many restaurants around. Food is for free in most of them and the court was full of youngsters (the current average age in Facebook is well below 30… with many Asians and Indians , like everywhere around here !!!!).
My friend told me about the last security threatwhich are very dangerous. The so called Shellshock vulnerability affects the Bash command shell and is able to take remote control of the system by executing specific scripts. The targetted Operating Systems (OS) are exclusively Linux and, what is worst here in the Valley, OS/X the Operating System of Macs….. (compared with other places there is a tradition in the Valley to use more Macs that PCs, I would say it represent about 70% of the laptops I see every day). The vulnerability also affect mobile devices whose OS Unix based and represents a threat for the future Internet of Things (IoT) .. the specialized press say…. well it looks that not only Microsoft has security problems.. as competitors claim ;-)). I said long time ago that was only matter of time….
It looks that Facebook develops its own versions of every Open Source product they use and therefore they include a lot of customization and security and performance monitoring layers. This protects them better from attacks. My friend said to me that there were already hackers trying to exploit the above mentioned vulnerability on their infrastructure…
I also saw Marc Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, in his office. The office is on one side of the Restaurant’s Court and has transparent glass, what allows to see him from outside; it looks that it is like that to send the message of “openness” in the company. He was there with his usual grey T-shirt, jeans and sport shoes. My friend said to me that he shake hands a couple of times and he is kind but shy.
I have sent him a presentation on the EU Cybersecurity Strategy since he would like that I come and explain this internally in Facebook. To be followed…..
I continue with my readings and discussing with my contacts on my research project; soon and I will have the scope clear and will start the field work accordingly.
More to come… stay tuned !!!