Last Tuesday I attended CASCON 2005. CASCON is hosted by IBM’s Centers for Advanced Studies. I have been to many technology conferences in the past such as Internet World but this was the first academic conference I have attended. As such, I don’t have anything to compare CASCON against. The conference itself seemed to be organized well. The atmosphere was very relaxed.

The keynote speech for the day was by Rob Clyde from Symantec Corp. His speech was entertaining and had lots of good statistics on the current state of computer security. Throughout the whole speech one thought kept circling in my mind, the security industry is far more worried about managing the security problems that plague computer networks than solving them. This makes sense since it is hard to sell solutions to problems that no longer exist. The moral for this story is that computer science as a discipline shouldn’t be looking to the main stream computer security industry for solutions to basic security problems.

A key part of CASCON is the technology showcase. Interested faculty and students are given small booths where they can present their current research to anyone interested. The closest analogy may be an elementary school science fair for adults. This is a great way to get some idea of what other people are currently researching and also provided me with many ideas for my own thesis topic.

Perhaps the most memorable part of my CASCON experience came after the conference was over for the day. During diner I lucked into sitting beside Dr. Morven Gentleman. A short while into the meal I discovered that among several other distinguished positions, Morven had worked at Bell Labs during the late sixties. If you know anything about the history of computing you probably know that both Unix and C were developed at Bell labs during this time. Hearing first hand anecdotes about the formative years of Unix and C was absolutely fabulous. The rest of the diner consisted of me peppering Morven with questions about the history of computing which he seemed happy to answer. Hopefully I wasn’t too annoying.

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