Cryptography

The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Month: October 2018 (Page 1 of 4)

Blog Assignment #9

For your next blog assignment, write a post between 200 and 400 words that responds to one of the reading questions for Singh Chapter 7.

Please (1) give your post a descriptive title, (2) assign it to the "Student Posts" category, and (3) give it at least three useful tags. Your post is due by 9:00 a.m. on Friday, November 2nd.

Math Exam Study Guide

Updated 11/8/18 with more practice problems!

The math exam, scheduled for Friday, November 9th, will cover the mathematical concepts and techniques we’ve explored this semester.  The exam will not involve any codebreaking, although some questions on the exam may draw on cryptography for context.  You are encouraged to bring a calculator (scientific or graphing) to the test, but you will not be allowed to use a laptop during the test.

For a topic list and suggested practice problems (with solutions!), see the study guide.

Problem Set #5

Here is your fifth and final problem set. It's due at the beginning of class on Monday, November 5th.

Bookmark #5

For your next bookmark assignment, find and bookmark a resource that shows how cryptography is relevant to the digital life of a college student in 2018. You might share a resource on how cryptography is embedded in the computer systems we use or one that offers advice for protecting one's digital privacy. Be sure to select a resource that's credible!

Save your bookmark to our Diigo group and tag it with "practicalCrypto" and at least two other tags. Also: Leave a comment on your bookmark with a piece of advice for a fellow college student, drawn from your resource.

Your bookmark is due by 9 a.m. on Monday, October 29th.

Online Participation Check-in

Your online participation in this course contributes 10% of your final course grade. At the end of the semester, I'll ask you to review your online participation in this course, compare your participation to that of your peers, and assess your contributions to the learning community. I'll ask you to give yourself an online participation score between 0 and 10 points, and email it to me with a justification (not more than a paragraph). If I think your score is reasonable, given your justification, I'll use that as your online participation grade.

Your assignment for Monday, October 22nd, is to email me your self-assessment of your online participation in this course as it stands now. This is your chance to reflect on how you've been contributing to our little learning community.

To assess your online participation, focus on blog posts and bookmarks on Diigo, as well as other forms of online participation, if any. In each of these areas, I usually ask you for specific contributions -- posts that responded to particular questions, or bookmarks about specific topics, or tags and comments that fit certain parameters. As you look over your contributions to the course, keep these requests in mind. Also consider how your online participation contributed to the learning of your peers in the course.

Podcast Assignment

Here are the details on your podcast assignment, along with a draft rubric I'll use for assessing your podcast episodes.

Rhett McDaniel, educational technologist at the Center for Teaching, will join us this Friday, October 12th, to show how to use Audacity to edit audio and to walk us through some of the podcasting resources he has collected.

Numbers Station Podcast

Numbers Stations is particularly interesting for me for many reasons. In the intro part, the author starts by talking about his personal connection with the topic, thus making his listeners more engaged in the subject. And then, the author uses a mixtape of different radio waves to create a context for the listeners. The author then wastes no time to dive right into a very simple and elegant introduction of the topic, starting with an example of the spanish numbers station.

What's particularly interesting to me is how the author went a long way to quote a lot of different sources. By stating everyone's name and position, he successfuly convinced his audience the credibility of his sources and brought many different perspectives to the podcast. He managed to keep all his examples authentic, despite the fact that they are all in different languages. The audience was provided with a great historic context. The author also ended by exploring the contemporary development of the topic, creating a sense of entirety for the topic.

The music use throughout the podcast was very intriguing. The tone of the music remained almost unchanged, and he adjusted different tunes to fit with the plot line. Overall the podcast is a mixture of many elements and its audience would never get bored.

A Killer on the Loose

"A Killer on the Loose: The Zodiac Ciphers" gives an extensive history of the Zodiac Killer and the attempts of the officials at Vallejo at capturing him. I believe that the producers were successful in making a good podcast and kept a balance between the content and the theatrical aspects of it.

The title itself gives the impression of an interesting podcast and serves as a good hook for the audience. Additionally, the background music complements the eerie tone set by the podcast and betters the experience of the audience. The structure of the podcast is such that it seems like an interesting story but is also filled with information and facts which seems like a good way of sharing raw information without causing much boredom. To refer to an example, the segment about cracking the Zodiac cipher seemed to come right out of a dramatic movie but was filled with precise information on the cryptanalytical steps taken.

Finally, I also felt that the conclusion was done in manner that inspired the audience to look up the focus of the podcast. By mentioning different unlikely theories, the producer was able to spark an interest in the different theories behind the identity of the Zodiac Killer. All these factors contributed in making this podcast a good production.

Zodiac Killer on the Loose

I thought that the podcast about the Zodiac Killer was extremely interesting and very well done. I think that one of the most important aspects of this podcast was the use of music. The creator of the podcast clearly knew how dark the subject matter was and chose music accordingly. I liked how the music was not overpowering either so that the voice of the narrator was crisp and clear. I think that finding this balance is difficult, and I think they did a very good job with it.

I also really liked their use of storytelling. Nowadays, we are so used to the movies where everything is shown to us, so explaining in words the gruesomeness and eerieness surrounding the Zodiac killer's murders is a difficult task on a podcast especially. They did a very good job with the storytelling, and overall their podcast was pretty stellar.

If I had to make one small critique though, it would be that at a couple of places there were a few short pauses/ stumbles that drew away from the rather fluid nature of the podcast, if these were cleared up, I think it would be very hard for me to tell their podcast apart from the professional ones.

Takeaways From an Engaging Podcast

One of the podcast episodes I chose to listen to was "Numbers Stations" from 99% Invisible.  The episode is hosted by Roman Mars, who discusses mysterious shortwave radio frequencies used to broadcast endless strings of numbers, also known as numbers stations.  Something I found very interesting about this topic was the degree of mystery and obscurity behind these broadcasts.  It is assumed that the numbers represent coded messages, but nobody knows who is meant to receive them.  The most popular theory is that these shortwave frequencies are used by government agencies such as the CIA to communicate with spies around the world, but there's no way to be certain.

The producer does an excellent job at keeping the podcast interesting and engaging through the use of various sound clips.  He sprinkles in recordings of numbers station broadcasts throughout the episode, allowing listeners to feel like they are directly tuning in to them.  Additionally, there is a lot of creepy background music which serves to reinforce the sense of mystery behind numbers stations and make the listener want to know more about them.  Finally, the content is explained in a way that is relatively easy to understand.  The producer avoids using heavy jargon in order to keep his audience as broad as possible.

After listening to this episode, I realized how important it is to have good background music and other appropriate sounds.  It adds a whole new dimension to the experience.  Depending on the topic I choose, I plan to implement strong auditory elements into my own podcast to hopefully make it more engaging.

Page 1 of 4

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén