Mapping context and scope for a Keccak writeup

Filed under: Software, Writing — Jacob Welsh @ 19:42

I intended to briefly introduce and present my implementation of the Keccak family of cryptographic hash functions today. A relatively small and self-contained piece of code, doing a well-defined thing, solving a well-understood problem... should be easy, right? Or so I thought, for about two minutes.

As I considered what context would be necessary even for readers already educated in "wtf are hash functions?", it soon blew up into a whole web of connected topics: some already written up elsewhere, some clear enough in my head to write up now, some needing a refresher, and some requiring further research.

There'd be history of Keccak itself; history of its interest to the forum, including why not SHA3; the seeming lack of a spec in place of SHA3 for "last hundred yards" questions like byte order and parameter selection; the degree to which the original paper does or doesn't help with those questions; history of interest in the Ada programming language in the forum; how I wanted to embrace it but was averse to accepting GNAT; approaches I made to that problem; an attempt I made to tidy up an older Keccak implementation; deciding to do my own in C; the level I aim to work at in that language regarding support libraries and why; my experience of reading the Keccak paper and filling in knowledge gaps; my observations in comparing it with SHA3; how I approached the parameter question and what remains open there; the process of implementing, mistakes made and tracking them down. Then could come presentation of the code itself, noting requirements, tested platforms and observed performance.

Perhaps I've now exaggerated the problem a wee tad; surely something sensible could be produced with a scope in between "everything that could possibly be said" and "here's some code: good luck". Certainly the debts of my past writing avoidance are making themselves felt. I hope I've at least better illuminated for myself a path out of the pit and provided a hint of things to come. Onwards!


Analysis of "The road to Ossasepia" series

Filed under: Ego, Writing — Jacob Welsh @ 18:41

diana_coman: anyways, it's easy then: do a re-reading tomorrow and extract theme, structure and scope for the road to ossasepia series,(i) write them analytically bullet-point style and then see what you can say about them

The overall themes I see in the series are the journey, the internal struggle, relationships, and vulnerability.

The attempted scope was the events of my time in the channel from joining to acceptance with enough context to make sense of them.

The overall structure was narrative, starting with exposition on background concepts then proceeding to my initial state, my interactions in and out of channel, and ending with results. In detail:

Part 1:

  • Opens with a quote from my entry to the channel, representing the beginning of this journey and middle of larger one.
  • Sets up for explaining the meaning and context of the quote and the events to follow.
  • Introduces TMSR through a summary of what I understand it to be about.
  • Introduces the concept of the forum through a summary and reference.
  • Hints at the structure of the hierarchy.
  • Introduces Diana Coman in this context, though not much is said about who she is otherwise.

Part 2:

  • Turns the focus to me, and in particular where and how I'd gotten myself stuck, by my present understanding and with reference to some TMSR terms of art.
  • Introduces Robinson, somewhat obliquely.
  • States the dissonance, the decision, the plan, and early steps (without much detail)

Part 3:

  • Describes my heading to the castles, learning about YHC and deciding to focus my attention there.

Part 4:

  • Describes my struggle with the reading and decision making.
  • Illustrates some interactions in channel and privately.

Part 5:

  • Analyzes causes for my hesitation and how they were dealt with.

Part 6:

  • States my next steps upon applying.
  • States the criticism of unbalance in the form of weakness or avoidance in talking about myself.
  • Itself comes across as a reversion to this pattern, presenting a rather dry account of events without shedding light on my own experience of them.(ii)
  1. Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. [^]
  2. And indeed I wasn't all that enthused to dig back into it now, which precisely shows that it's an important exercise. [^]

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