October 2005


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10.13.2005: "Electronic Lab Notebook"

This project will use an Electronic Laboratory Notebook for record keeping instead of a traditional paper notebook. Lot of research was done to find a suitable and reliable solution.

After setting up the lab notebook, I researched the XEM3001 FPGA board and familiarized myself with the documentation available. After I am more familiar with the Opal Kelly documentation, I will look into last year's code and then try some C# tutorials and get my feet wet. Software needs to be installed on the lab computers. Hopefully that will happen soon so Jeff can start testing with last year's software.

More on the Electronic Lab Notebook: The key factor was to find a solution where in the information entered could not be digitally altered, which requires a strong encryption. The information also needed to be globally accessible, so it has to be stored in an open format and finally the information needs to be timestamped. The first two concerns were remedied by using 2.0 from Sun Microsystems Inc. as the data entry and storage format. Using a portable document format [PDF] add-on the notebook installments will be published in PDF format with 128bit encryption.

Several more hours of researching online provided the solution to the time stamp problem. The PDF document will then be timestamped using an open source time-stamping software from . The time-stamping service using a security certificate on a remote server to digitally sign the document and encloses it in a timestamped format (*.timestamp). The validator program, that is part of the package, opens the timestamped document and shows the time that was stamped by the trusted Time Stamp Authority [TSA] and allows for the document to be opened or saved in the original format.

Further the lab notebook will be maintained as individual documents for each day that the progress is recorded for. At the end of each session that the notebook is worked on, the session's document will be converted to encrypted PDF format and then timestamped.