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2015 January

January 30, 2015

Grace Hopper: The Queen of Code

Title screen from The Queen of Code.

Title screen from The Queen of Code.

This week, FiveThirtyEight launched its documentary film about Grace Hopper, a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy and the driving force behind the first compiled programming language. Her legacy went largely unnoticed alongside the other early computing geniuses, but as her intensely endearing appearance on Late Night With David Letterman in 1986 showed (during which she taught the young, tousled-hair Dave about nanoseconds and military time), Hopper was a brilliant and blisteringly unique character in computing history.

Now, thankfully, her story is being told.

For the link to the video and the interview with director Gillian Jacobs, check out this article from

January 29, 2015

Weather Prediction and the Blizzard of 2015

Weather models from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center

Weather models of the northeastern U.S. from NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center — January 26, 2015

Over the past weekend, the Mid-Atlantic, New England, and parts of Ontario and Quebec was delivered a massive amount of snow — but not as much as was predicted. posted a series of articles on that powerful storm as it arrived and departed the area and were left trying to answer why the prediction models weren’t consistent or in some cases correct.

On the approach of the storm, there were four different weather models used by meteorologists to predict that New York City could get as much as eighteen inches of snow when at actually they received no more than ten (9.8″ measured in Central Park). There are multiple reasons for the variance between models like computational power for the models, the frequency and volume of data gathered, and lack of communication on the margin of error of the forecast.

For more information, check out these articles from

This article on post-storm analysis of weather models

This article on the increasing frequency of big blizzards in New York

This excerpt on meteorology by Nate Silver from the New York Times Magazine from September 2012

Additionally, CASIT’s Research Support Services (RSS) has data visualization capability for UO programs. For more information about their services and offerings, click here.

January 21, 2015

If you enjoy having your email hacked, these are the best 25 passwords to use.

Security locks

Several news outlets this week have reported on new information, from the password management company SplashData, on the 25 most commonly hacked passwords. When creating a password, random sets of letters, numbers, and symbols provide greater protection than sequences of digits, favorite sports, superhero names, or common keyboard patterns. Another good strategy would be to employ a password manager or keeping them all on a scrap of paper to put in your purse or wallet.

For the list of the top 25 passwords to avoid, check out this article from


January 13, 2015

The Silk Road trial is about more than just Ross Ulbricht

On October 2, 2013, Ross Ulbricht was arrested under the FBI allegation that he was the owner of the Deep Web entity, The Silk Road. The Silk Road Marketplace was known for being an online black market with a particular platform for selling illegal drugs. All transactions were done using the Tor Anonymity Network and the Bitcoin cryptocurrency in order to stay as anonymous as possible. According to’s November 2013 article, the Department of Homeland Security in conjunction with several federal agencies, worked to bring down The Silk Road and specifically seek out its overseer under the screen name, The Dread Pirate Roberts — which is in reference to The Princess Bride character of the same name.

In addition to illicit drugs, investigators found that credit and debit card numbers, fake IDs, counterfeit currencies, hacking tools, and login credentials for hacked accounts were being sold. The site had been taken down by federal law enforcement shortly after and Ulbricht appeared in federal court promptly denying all charges. His trial was delayed until January 5, 2015.

A recent article in The Verge posed that now is not so much whether Ulbricht ran the Silk Road but how one might prove it. Law enforcement caught Ulbricht as red-handed as possible given the infrastructure involved with their strongest piece of evidence being Ulbricht’s laptop in an unencrypted state. The information paired with the Silk Road servers found in Iceland are at the crux of the investigation. The challenge becomes connecting the true identity of a screen name to the physical world…

For more information on this story, check out the links below:

The original article that brought widespread attention to the Silk Road from (June 2011)

The article from explaining more about the federal investigation (November 2013)

The article by The Verge looking into the process of connecting the dots with the evidence (January 2015)

Update (February 3rd, 2015): Ars Technica has an extensive series of articles on this trial here at this link.

January 5, 2015

Five Things We Know About College Students in 2014


Everybody wants to know what college students are thinking, especially educators and marketers. What do they like? What are they like?

The surveyors at Student Monitor, a market-research firm, are among those trying to peel back the layers on the minds that so many people invest so much in courting. The firm’s latest research, based on interviews with 1,200 full-time students at four-year institutions, confirms some stereotypes while defying others.

Going into the new year, here are some things we (think we) know about today’s college students.

To see more, check out this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

January 2, 2015

CASIT Web Services completed projects Fall 2014

Here is the list of projects completed over Fall:

Sites moved to CAS design toolkit:

New Drupal site:

Other projects:

You can see more information about those sites on our portfolio:

Big thank you to Bill, Cameron, John and Yaxuan.

Happy New Year!

Thank you