Sep 25 2015

Peter Simonyi, Master of Computer Science

Published by under News

2015-09-25, 10:13 AM
Today, Peter Simonyi successfully defended his MCS thesis, with only minor 
revisions required. 
Congratulations, Peter!

Peter’s Thesis: Interaction History Support for Web Applications


All users of complex software make decisions that they may later wish to change. Many computer systems have tools to support this need for revision, such as the undo command. However, the common history tools (like undo) do not support exploratory, epistemic interaction well. And there are common, non-specialized tasks that are difficult in common computer systems, but would be much easier with improved support for managing interaction history. Desktop computing environments have well-established norms for how undo works, but there is room to explore this in newer computing environments, such as the Web and surface computing, as their design culture has not stabilized to the same extent. We argue that history tracking needs to be more accessible to users. We developed a prototype JavaScript library for Web applications that lets users keep a history of all their interaction states, including those that would be discarded by using a traditional stack-model undo system. The history is presented to users in a tree structure similar to the model used in source control software. We ran a usability study of our system with two applications designed to encourage the kind of exploratory behaviour we wanted to support. We identified usability improvements that could be made, but the study suggests that this kind of system could be generally useful even in non-specialized fields.


Sep 15 2015

Jeff Wilson, Master of Computer Science

Published by under News

2015-09-15, 4:40 PM
Today, Jeff Wilson successfully defended his MCS thesis, with only minor revisions required. 
Congratulations Jeff!

Jeff’s Thesis: ACH Walkthrough:  Designing and Building a Web Application for Collaborative Sensemaking


This thesis describes the research and development of a prototype for a co-located collaborative intelligence analysis tool: ACH Walkthrough. The tool is a collaborative variation of an established structured analysis method called Analysis of Competing Hypotheses, originally developed for intelligence analysis. Recent changes to web application architectures offer important opportunities to produce visually rich applications that support co-located and remote collaborative decision making scenarios. We begin by reviewing the literature on sensemaking and development frameworks for surface applications. We then explore architectural issues in using web frameworks for collaborative applications. We then present the design and implementation of ACH Walkthrough, our prototype design for team-based intelligence analysis, and the evaluation of the application’s major architectural components. Finally, we document feedback on the tool and explore alternative designs and architectural approaches.



Sep 08 2015

New Security Paradigms Workshop in Twente

Published by under Uncategorized

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 3.01.10 PM
The New Security Paradigms Workshop (NSPW) was in the Twente region of the Netherlands  this year. As usual, NSPW  invited new ideas, even if there are limitations or incomplete aspects, and everyone who does attended participate throughout. Robert Biddle presented collaborative work with Alain Forget and Sonia Chiasson, called CYOA: Choose Your Own Authentication.

Aug 28 2015

Ravina Samaroo, MA (Human Computer Interaction)

Published by under News

2015-08-28, 3:24 PM
Today, Ravina Samaroo successfully defended her MA (HCI) thesis, with only 
minor revisions required!  Congratulations Ravina! 

Ravina’s Thesis: Intent-Gesture Relationships for Collaborative Information Visualization


In this study we look at the relationship between gestures and intents when pairs of participants are collaborating around a large display with a graph. We aimed to find out what gestures paired with which intents, which gestures participants would find suitable for various intents, and how our findings could influence designing interactions with graphs being used for collaborative analysis work. We studied 8 pairs of participants and found 10 frequent gestures and 11 frequent intents. An exploration of the relationship between these gestures and intents found 15 frequent co-occurrences. We analyzed these findings and then proceeded to make design suggestions for enabling co-located collaboration interaction using large multi-touch displays. Throughout, we used a theory of technical intersubjectivity to guide our research.  In particular, this helped us to position large multi-touch displays as enablers of intersubjective interactions, which facilitated our design process.

Jun 30 2015

Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security at Carleton

Published by under News

SOUPS 2014

Usable Privacy and Security is the field where Human-Computer Interaction and Cybersecurity meet. The premier research conference in this area is SOUPS: the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security. This year the conference will be held here at Carleton, July 22-24! The Local Activities Chair is Sonia Chiasson, and the Technical Program Co-Chair is Robert Biddle. The Lightning Talks and Demos Chair is Elizabeth Stobert, who recently finished her PhD and is now at ETH Zurich.


Jun 01 2015

Elizabeth Stobert, PhD

Published by under News

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 12.03.23 PM

2015-05-01, 3:26 PM
Today, Elizabeth Stobert successfully defended her PhD.
Congratulations Elizabeth!
Robert Biddle

Elizabeth’s Thesis: Graphical Passwords and Practical Password Management


Text passwords pose a number of difficulties for end users, who must create, remember, and manage large numbers of passwords. Users are often regarded as the weak link in security systems, but they are a crucial component of the system, and need to be better considered in the design of security products. Many password alternatives have been proposed, but none have successfully replaced ordinary text passwords, and the potential consequences of password problems grow as more information relating to work and life is stored online.

This thesis explores practical approaches to helping users select, securely reuse, and manage passwords, and investigates questions about password alternatives. The attention is on the end user, and how authentication affects these users in their daily lives. Our focus is on practical, actionable results to assist end users in their daily tasks.

The thesis begins by investigating issues of memorability with graphical passwords, and proposes the design of PassTiles, a new graphical password system that allows secure random memorable passwords to be easily assigned. This graphical password system is used to explore what type of memory retrieval best supports the memorability of graphical passwords, and the results show that cued-recall graphical passwords give an advantageous combination of memorability and usability.

Password coping strategies are next explored through interviews with end users, and investigation into the techniques that users rely on to handle current password demands. Interviews with expert users were conducted to understand how their additional expertise helps them manage the same problems faced by end users. Grounded Theory analysis led to the emergence of a password life cycle model. A survey study suggested that the coping strategies discussed in the interviews are widespread.

Finally, the thesis proposes the design of a password manager to support users’ existing coping strategies by protecting password reuse, and to securely protect users’ accounts with memorable assigned random graphical passwords.

May 01 2015

Visit by Prof. Martin Kropp

Published by under News

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 12.45.22 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 12.43.56 PM

We’re very lucky this year to have as a sabbatical visitor Prof. Martin Kropp, from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW). He has been doing excellent work on support Agile Software Development processes. In particular, he and his colleagues have developed a truly impressive agile card wall system aWall (shown above, also see a presentation). He has also conducted surveys of Agile Software Development in Switzerland. We hope to work together on these projects while he is at our lab in Ottawa, April-July.

Oct 01 2014

New Security Paradigms Workshop in Victoria

Published by under Conferences

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 10.43.26 AM
The annual New Security Paradigms Workshop (NSPW) is not a typical conference. It specifically invites new ideas, even if there are limitations or incomplete aspects. And it only invites people actually presenting or otherwise involved. Moreover, everyone who does attend is expected to participate throughout. And it has a Trojan Rabbit as it’s mascot (pictured above). This year NSPW was in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, Canada. Elizabeth Stobert presented her work on Versipass, A Password Manager That Doesn’t Remember Passwords.

Aug 01 2014

Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security in Silicon Valley

Published by under Conferences

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 11.37.57 AM

SOUPS, the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security, was in Silicon Valley this year: it was held on the campus of Facebook. The number of papers submitted this year was an all time high, and the number of people registering hit the room limit of 200. Another first this year was that the proceedings were published by Usenix, the Advanced Computer Systems Association. They are available free from the Usenix SOUPS 2014 site.


Jul 01 2014

Psychology of Programming in Brighton

Published by under Conferences


Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 11.11.03 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 11.01.20 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 11.13.55 AM

For those of us who spend lots of time doing it, programming is an intense activity. And an intensely human activity. Despite this being experienced since the days of Babbage and Lovelace,  little attention has been devoted to this aspect, but an important exception is the annual Psychology of Programming Workshop, held this year in Brighton, UK. I have followed this workshop from a distance for many years, and this year I was invited to speak: I enjoyed it very much and I hope to attend again. From a perspective of HCI, it always occurs to me that programming systems quickly push beyond the capacity of the models we normally adopt: programming requires immense investment, and the invisible and dynamic complexity remains a formidable challenge for human capabilities. I was especially pleased to have time to chat with Thomas Green, who has influenced my work since I came across his book Human Interaction with Computers (shown above) in a Cambridge bookshop in 1979. It was one of the first books on HCI, before that term was coined, and it addressed many issues which remain challenging today.

Next »