Tag Archives: work

Be there or be square

‘Be there or be square’ was the headline of a housparty of a friend of mine a few months ago. Well, yes, my last post was quite a time ago. I don’t really liked writing for the past few weeks, what is probably because of your’re getting more and more involved in every day live of where you are: in work-life of my university, private-life with friends, and my life, I’m still kind of on my own. Well, that wont change, I know that there will come the time when it’s time to go.

More and more people are leaving now. Especially the exchange students, who were here for one semester for about 3 months, are leaving for holidays an Australia vacation now. I met some really nice guys, and we probably will catch up in Sydney for New Years Eve. The firework should be great there 🙂 And if I’m staying in Sydney at this time, I’ll still have a good time. I really love speaking English all day long, it’s getting better and better. Especially when I talk to Germans it’s great to speak a language, where nobody of us is professional. Some of them are trying to speak German, but I don’t really care about German. I love English, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m here, to learn some English. So why speak German? I’m not like those Asian guys grouping together and talking their language all the time. That’s kind of boring. Not just for us, must be boring for them too. As soon as I’m kind of interested in Australians, I have to talk their language, otherwise I’ll fail. And nobodys’s perfect, especially not oversees students 🙂

Today we celebrated Kim’s farewell, she’s going to leave for Germany on Tuesday, We’re going to catch up somewhere in Europe probably. Would be quite cool. Some of the guys I met are going to be in Europe for the next semester. So there’s a good chance to meet some of them. Especially the Austrian guys from around Upper Austria. But Germany and Greece is not that far away either. It’s just exciting seeing all those people doing the same thing as so many other people, who already took this step.

By the way, this weekend was about halftime for my internship here. A bit of a summary for the last few weeks:

  • We got some search engine log data from a VERY famous computer company.
  • For the last few weeks, we’re trying to analyze this data
  • To get the data, we proposed a speacial thing to do with the data
  • Now we’re kind of running out of time: Just about next week to go, then we have to deliver results
  • We, this is are two Lab members, Gavin, Tim, and me.
  • So, tomorrow and over the weekend our nice little two Java programs are going to analyze the data
  • And at the beginning of next week we hopefully got a nice breakthrough 🙂

I’m helping here and there, trying to make things easier for the guys. I feel like an intern, and would never say to be something else. I read papers, but don’t do any serious research, I think about how to solve problems and suggest my ideas, but never really have all the responability to get results. So just how it’s meant to be, it’s great!

This week I got a parcel from Teneriffe. My parents went for vacation, and sent me a book and lollys from there. They also sent some nuts, but Australian Post decided to take out those nuts because of Quarantine reasons. I could send those nuts back to Austria, but it’s about 45 bucks to do this. Well, it’s about half a kilo of nuts, maybe I should do it…

So people, I hope you liked reading another post from Down Under. If you have any ideas, how to make this nice life a bit nicer, let me know. My grandmo is gonna send me some cookies for Christmas, hope those Post guys don’t eat them. And I also expect some Austrian guys on their around the world journey around Christmas, maybe we’re going to a nice island close to Adelaide before. The best thing for them: They probably can stay in my house in a room which is going to be empty for a few weeks. They just stay for a few days, so it should be no problem.

What I just thought of: There are a lot of blogs like this out there, especially about KWM internships around the world (see the link bar to the right). Most of people started to write, when their internship started. But it seems like the longer they do their internship, the less they write. Why’s that? I’d love to read a lot more about your daily life and work. What you’re doing in Vienna, what you’re thinking in Munich. What are you exploring in Stuttgart? And what about Berlin? What’s up in Wisconsin? Some people seem to write quite constantly and provide some insight to their lifes: I know whats up in Canada, and I know what’s going on in Stockholm. But there’s so much more outside. So, guys, please start writing again. I love reading your impressions from home and around the world 😉

Just another little thingy here: FH Hagenberg started again. That means, I have to do some stuff beside my internship over the Internet. That was quite tough in the first days for me. It just sucked. Reading all those posts and then trying to formulate my own opinion to a topic where everything has been said already. But now I’m getting more and more used to it.

To conclude with a questions: When there’s a person outside you are feeling very close to, how do you know what your relationship to this person is or could be? I thought about asking, which I might do. But sometimes words are just boring… 😉


Intern News

At the end of the fourth week in Adelaide a short recall of topics:



  • server setup, port configuration, JAVA application deployment
  • services: apache2, SSH, webmin, firestarter
  • configuration of sudoers, proxy configuration;
  • issues with blocking site partially solved with increasing time between requests (other options: running several instances of the application, randomize requests);
  • moved to server room, up and running.


  • desktop GUI setup;
  • Oracle setup following an excellent tutorial on http://www.pythian.com/blogs/968/installing-oracle-11g-on-ubuntu-804-lts-hardy-heron A tricky part was the creation of a database using dbca. All wizard steps where pretty smooth. There were no errors at all. But the last screen of the wizard just showed a Grey window without any buttons, so the process couldn’t be completed. Problem solved with disabling all visual effects in Ubuntu (System->Preferences->Appearance->Visual Effects->’None’);
  • without a startup script, the $ORACLE_SID has to be set to the database name before connecting with SQL Plus: export ORACLE_SID=dbname
  • connect to database using command history recall (‘Up’-Key): rlwrap sqlplus username

Commands: sed, cp, mv, nc, ssh, dhclient, ifconfig,…



  • played with several SQL statements and PL/SQL procedures to determine relationship between queries and documents, starting with (query, doc1, doc2) triples. Each triple represents a graph; the graphs connected result in a ‘forest’ which can then be explored (emergent semantics);
  • wrote documentation


As we’re running Macs in our Lab, we’d like to keep the TimeMachine funcionality on the Mac Pro where the database is going to run. Therefore, no Linux. In fact, there’s no Oracle 11g server distribution for MacOS. As we won’t need Oracle’s Spatial functionality like we thought before, we might port to PostGres.

Oracle – PostGres differences

Oracle PostGres
VARCHAR2(n) no VARCHAR2(n), use VARCHAR(n) instead
no autoincremention, use triggers instead auto incrementation data type SERIAL4
sequence.NEXTVAL, sequence.CURRVAL
  • nextval(‘sequence’)
  • currval(‘sequence’)
  • lastval (returns value most recently obtained)
  • setval(‘sequence’, bigintvalue)
PL/SQL unique constraint exception DUP_VAL_ON_INDEX UNIQUE_VIOLATION
EXEC fname(arg1, arg2,…); SELECT fname(arg1, arg2,…);
Before creating a function: CREATE LANGUAGE plpgsql; define to use this language in function header: … RETURNS void AS $$ DECLARE …; after function creation: $$ LANGUAGE ‘plpgsql’;
DESC tablename; \d tablename;
START script.sql; \i script.sql;
Start client from command line: rlwrap sqlplus username sudo -u user psql database
Exit command line: exit \q
Show user tables: select table_name from user_tables; \dt

Debian and Future Tasks

Work diary, second week:

The Debian server is almost ready to go. Managed to get Apache2 with phpWiki running this week. Reminder: Always delete every other Apache installation. And: Watch out for existing log dirs when setting up a VirtualHost (entries have to be the same as in filesystem).

Set up Webmin, a great webinterface for Linux systems. You can manage almost everything: Apache server, MySQL server, processes, etc… from remote. Disabled automatic boot startup and changed port for Webmin. SSH works great.

Main application is running, although it seems to have still some problems with particular sites.

Future tasks: Discussed goals with Helen. As soon as the server setup is finalized and the application runs smoothly, the system is going to move (still open: try .sh scripts, port from Mac to Debian; access from only within the Lab network?). Subsequently, based on the image retrieval project I outlined in another post, I’m going to rebuild the experiment and do research in a new direction.

Linux and Living in a community

Firstly, thanks to everybody who messaged or called me on my new mobile. Actually, I missed most calls and can’t write back. I still don’t have any credit.

The last two working days of last week I spent with some papers and an old workstation, trying to get Debian (Linux) installed and prepared for server use. That worked out pretty well, although the Internet connection had to be established manually today. After a modification of the .bashrc with two additional lines for the HTTP and FTP proxy, almost everything was done. Tomorrow I’m going to get the Sun Java Runtime Environment installed and the firewall configured. This particular machine is ment to be the system for a Java application, which is going to gather information about particular Internet services over the next six months. Afterwards the gathered information is going to be analyzed. Next tasks maybe to write a user documentation, get the application installed and ready to run and take care that it keeps running.

For the last weekend I didn’t have any plans so I stayed in my bed almost the whole Saturday sleeping, watching films, setting up a fresh Windows XP and regenerating. I didn’t feel healthy anyway. But staying at home really paid off. On Sunday I felt so much better. And today my cold is almost gone!

Some words about “living in a community”: I remember those days, back at home when there were people (particularly parents) cleaning up for me when I messed up something or “forgot” to put my dishes into the dishwasher. For me, those sweet days are gone for more than a year and I’m fine. But it seems like some of my housemates still need someone, who cleans up after them. There were some serious kitchen cleaning issues the days before my arrival, they got almost physical. Therefore, a house meeting has been issued for last Sunday, were everybody agreed to a key point: Immediate clean up after kitchen use, including fat splatter and similar. In fact, the days right after the meeting, some just ignored what everybody agreed on. As a result, the former kitty manager wrote a very emotional mail to the landlord, mentioning names and informing him about the situation. That lead to some emotional reactions by the mentioned guy, who was supposed to be the “bad guy”… Anyway, with the beginning of September, I’m the new kitty manager, and therefore responsible for our cash, buying general stuff like toilett paper, reminding others to take care of a clean environment and keep the landlord informed if necessary. I’ll try to avoid that, and personally talk to everybody before doing anything else. And today, the kitchen was perfectly cleaned, anyway.

Finally, some pictures from inside the house.

chair, bed, commode

My room: chair, bed, commode

cabinet, chair, desk

My room: cabinet, chair, desk

big window

My room: big window

Favorite bathroom

Favorite bathroom



Dining table, living area in the background

Dining table, living area in the background

Community area outside, car ports across

Community area outside, car ports across

Washing room, big dustbins outside

Washing room, big dustbins outside


So what’s going on at the Security Laboratory I’m working for? A major project is summarized below, another one is currently too sensitive for publication.

Search engines: The problem of lexical ambiguity

This summary is based on [1].

Problems may occur, when search queries consist of words, which have more than one meaning. For example, Gavin the gardener tries to find pictures or information about apples (fruit) using the search term ‘apple’. Google will deliver two result pages exclusively with information about the company Apple (computers). Gavin never heard of a company called Apple before. That was not he was looking for. When looking for pictures, it gets a bit better, although there’re still more than half of the pictures related to the company.

To understand those results, one should understand the PageRank algorithm. Google works with the opinion of the mass. Someone puts a link to a certain website S on his own website. Now, the more people put a link to S on their own website, the higher Google rates the relevance and importance of S in a certain search context.

So obviously, a lot of people are linking to Apples (company) or related sites. (In fact, the ranking might also depend on some marketing aspects. Are companies paying for higher rankings?). One couldn’t say the delivered search results are wrong. They just don’t match with what Gavin had in mind when he searched ‘apple’. Moreover, Gavin never heard of the company Apple before, gives up crawling through the result pages after the third one.

How to deal with that problem? As we figured out, to humans ‘apple’ has at least two meanings. Therefore, some sort of classification should be applied. And why don’t we use the opinion of the mass again? A ‘Co-active intelligence’ system, as PageRank is, tries to address this issue. They rely on user-generated information. So why don’t we collect user-information concerning different meanings of certain search terms? Assuming every search session addresses only a certain meaning of a word or combination of words, based upon the collected user interaction information we can build up a collection of classes that are logically connected to specific search terms.

For example, Gavin searches for ‘apple’ with the fruit in mind. The search engine delivers certain result pages. Gavin chooses several pages, pictures, … The search engine now internally connects the search query with the selected pages, assuming that Gavin knows, which pages, images, … fit best for the query. The more people participate, the more accurate results will get. Users then can choose, which meaning actually fits best in that specific search context.

Co-active intelligence systems are able to reveal associations that may not have been discovered yet, known as ‘emergent semantics’. For example, ‘big apple’ could also be associated with New York. In general, emergent semantics can also be used in another context like scientific cooperation or service discovery [2].

[1] Truran, M., Goulding, J., and Ashman, H. 2005. Co-active intelligence for image retrieval. In Proceedings of the 13th Annual ACM international Conference on Multimedia (Hilton, Singapore, November 06 – 11, 2005). MULTIMEDIA ’05. ACM, New York, NY, 547-550. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1101149.1101273

[2] K. Aberer, P. Cudre-Mauroux, A. M. Ouksel, T. Catarci, M.-S. Hacid, A. Il-
larramendi, V. Kashyap, M. Mecella, E. Mena, E. J. Neuhold, O. D. Troyer,
T. Risse, M. Scannapieco, F. Saltor, L. de Santis, S. Spaccapietra, S. Staab, and
R. Studer. 2004. Emergent Semantics Principles and Issues. In Procceedings of the 9th International Conference on Database Systems for Advanced Applications (DASFAA 2004).

First days at UniSA

Monday: 10:30 am. First meeting with Helen who’s my supervisor and responsible for the Security Laboratory at the University of South Australia (UniSA). Got some formal stuff done. Afterwards, Helen introduced me to some other students, working with me in the same lab. Then, a basic introduction to current projects followed. Rest of the day I spent with reading papers to get into the projects and surrounding topics. Also got my Health and Safety instructions. UniSA is very serious about that. Lunch at Subway, the sandwich bar. Left office at about 08:00 pm. Bought some stuff at Woolworths (open til 09:00 pm). Meat with mushrooms, tomatos, rice and salad for dinner.

Tuesday: 10:00 am. At the staff room. Instant coffee. Made with filtered water. Not as bad as it sounds. Rest of the day: paper reading. Trying to summarize a bit what I read. Lunch at Subway. Left office at about 06:30 pm. Pasta with fresh olives for dinner. 09:00 pm: Griffins pub in Adelaide city, going out with Gavin (one of Helens PhD students) and some exchange students. It’s 3 $ day! Spoke a bit German with John, an Austrian. There’re night buses on Saturdays only. Therefore: last bus at 11:00 pm.

Today: 10:00 am. Woke up feeling a bit ill. Aspirin. Sidenote: I should reintroduce to have breakfast. At the lab: Read papers again and did my online Health and Safety course, which took me about an hour. And still more to come. UniSA’s really serious about that. I even got instructions what to do, if someone planning a bomb attack calls me. Lunch at Darshana’s Indian and Sri Lankan restaurant. Good and cheaper than Subway. And the waitress is a beauty. In the evening, Jan-Felix, a third year undergraduate genius helping out in the lab, introduced me to a new project. We’re going to get together next Tuesday for details. Got home at 08:30 pm. Pasta with salad for dinner.

Time’s running. The first week is almost over. Two days left. Looking forward to the weekend. At the house nothing’s going on. Housemates are all really quiet. Jamies’s girlfriend is going to visit him on weekend. I’m going to be the kitty manager for September, responsible for trashbins, cleaning stuff,…