May 27, 2008

IM Update - Trillian

If you use Trillian as your IM consolidation tool (connect to Yahoo IM, ICQ, AIM and MSN Messenger) - you'll want to update due to a recently found security hole. The current, patched version is 3.10.0, 18 May 2008. Even though the 'Check for Update' in Trillian doesn't say you need an update, if your Help/About doesn't have the 18 May 2008 date on it, you'll want to manually update your software from Trillian's website.
If you don't use Trillian for IM, it's worth investigating. If you use basic IM clients (not the voice and webcam sharing capabilities, which Trillian doesn't replicate) and have friends on more than one network, it will help you organize your friends, and allow you to run just one IM client. Additionally, it offers encryption compatible with several services and allows connectivity to IRC as well.

May 15, 2008

Crypto Thoughts

I was thinking about cryptography the other day (ok, I know I'm weird, shut up) - and I was imagining a good analogy for public key cryptography. I want to write it down before I forget it. Let's say that you created a lockbox (creating a public/private key pair) with two openings. The first opening allows you to easily remove the contents of the lockbox, perhaps a lid to the box. This is locked and you keep the key to yourself (your private key). The second opening is shaped in such a way that you can deposit documents, but documents can not be retrieved without considerable effort. The shape/size and limits of the second opening represent the complexity of the algorithm you've chosen. Perhaps that opening is S shaped, and accepts at most 1 sheet of paper at a time (thus you would have a hard time obtaining the contents of the lockbox through that hole). This opening is locked shut with a second lock, but copies of these keys are made and given to anyone asking for one. By using this second key, people who want to make a deposit know that the key is for YOUR lockbox, and they use the key to open it, verifying that you will be the recipient. They fold their message into that S-shape and stick it through the hole, unable to retrieve it. You come along and open the box with your key and easily remove the now unfolded sheet of paper.

I'll have to analyze the analogy sometime when I have the time to see how it holds up and can be worked to make it a more interesting story (and see if it leads to any insights).

May 07, 2008

Grifters & Swindlers

I just finished my first non-fiction book in a while - a short stories collection called "Grifters & Swindlers" Edited by Cynthia Manson. I love Grifter stories. One of my favorite authors is O.Henry, a turn-of-the-century(20th) author who wrote short stories. He had a whole book with grifter tales in it as well, although the title escapes me at the moment. The stories in this book were pretty see-through, not much room for a deep twist and turn in a short story at all. However, if you like light reading and want a good variety of short con and long con stories, you might want to pick up the book. I got mine at a used book store.