We're planning to have a discussion section on Fridays in a room in Soda Hall, starting at 10:30am. We have the room reserved for 90 minutes. The section will focus on homework preparation and discussion. We want to make it as directly useful to your performance in the class as we can. We'll also use it as a way to teach you some handy parallel and sequential coding tricks that might give you an edge in job interviews!
To be announced in class.
E-mail by itself is not a secure medium. You should assume that if you send a message, anyone in the world might be able to find out who send it and to whom. Also, if you don't encrypt the text, anyone in the world might be able to read your e-mail. This may not be a big deal if you're just saying hi to a friend or asking a simple homework question, but keep it in mind whenever you think about sending a more sensitive message.
Fortunately, there are many options for encrypting your e-mail that aren't too difficult to use. Mark uses the PGP system to encrypt sensitive messages. The actual program he uses is called the GNU Privacy Guard . He invokes it via the Enigmail plugin, in Thunderbird. Enigmail's help page is helpful for explaining how PGP encryption works. In particular, to send Mark an encrypted message, you'll need his public PGP key, which he keeps on his UC Berkeley website. Prof. Yelick and Brian may have their own options. You can also use PGP to encrypt any plain text message, which you can then send via any medium, even as paper in an envelope.
We hope that if you ever have an issue to discuss with either of us GSI's or with Prof. Yelick, that you will feel comfortable bringing it up with us in person or via e-mail. We will respect your privacy and will not penalize you for expressing your views and concerns in a respectful way. However, if you ever find yourself in a situation in which you need to contact us anonymously, you have a number of options. Whatever you do, you should encrypt the message whenever possible.
If you want to send anonymous e-mail, do a web search for "anonymous remailers" to find out more. The Cypherpunks have an Anonymous Remailer Tutorial with links to remailer servers which you can use. For quick e-mails, the Global Internet Liberty Campaign offers an anonymous remailer web form. You should note, however, that neither e-mail nor the Web are secure media. Web servers may track your computer's IP address can be tracked, and whatever you submit in a web form may be sent in plain text. Fortunately, there are web anonymizers like Tor which can conceal this information more or less effectively. Firefox has a Tor plugin, and Tor can be used with other web browsers too. Furthermore, you can use PGP to encrypt the message before you send it. If you're using a web form, just write it in a text file, save the file, encrypt the file, and cut and paste the encrypted text into the form form. (You might want to try this out on a test message sent to yourself, just to make sure that the cut-and-paste worked correctly.) If you don't have your e-mail client set up for encryption, you can use the same cut-and-paste technique there. I'll be able to decrypt the message using my private key.
Another option is to drop off a note in our mailbox. Near the third floor reception office in Soda Hall, there are mailboxes for grad students and faculty. You're welcome to leave a note for us there. (Be sure to put it in a sealed envelope.) The room with the grad student mailboxes is unlocked from 8am or so to 4pm; you can walk right in and drop it off. Be aware, however, that the mailbox room for grad students is not secured.
Calling us isn't anonymous, of course -- well, it might be if you call from a payphone, block caller ID, and run your voice through a machine that makes it sound like Darth Vader! -- but we'd like to point out that Brian and Mark work in shared offices. Mark has an answering machine, but it's not private, so be careful and considerate if you decide to leave a message.