Protecting the privacy of you computer files...

There are many programs available to encrypt your files. This isn't about that! Whether you use a special program, or simply the 'password protect' option provided with good applications like Quattro and AmiPro, you are faced with the problem of choosing (and remembering!!) a password. (Where the encryption is used to protect a file in transit, there is also the problem of letting the recipient (only!) know what the password is.

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(Click here to go to offers page where an encrypting prgogram is available)

Here is a simple idea which overcomes some of the problems of using passwords. Call your file anything you like, as long as you leave me the last three characters of the first part of the name. For example, if you want to call something PHONES.TXT, that's fine.

For an example, let's give the file the password ursdaesday. How on earth are you supposed to remember that? I want to use 'my' three characters as follows. The file would be saved as PHONES423.TXT. The 423 tells me that the password is made from parts of 'thursday' (4th day of week) and 'tuesday'. I always take 5 characters from each. I started (this time) with the 3rd letter in each name, and 'told' myself that was the rule with the last character in my code.

Now you have a way to 'mark' your files with an indication of the password which will unlock them. If you send things to other people across the net, you can tell them the system and they will know the password from the file's name.

For more critical missions, you can extend the system. Use letters instead of numbers, so 'dce' would mean use the 4th (d is 4th letter) and 3rd starting points, start at the 5th point within each. For such a system, a book with pages 1-26 marked 'a' to 'z' would be helpful. The third character could be interpreted as 'Use the first word on the nth (5th in example) line.'

I hope the ideas above are of interest / use. (A quick email would be welcome if so.) I have ideas for a more complex, more secure system of 'locking' files based on 'one time pads' stored on floppy discs. Let me know if you would be interested?........................................... Enough on file security. The rest of this page is things that are meant to be of general interest._____________________

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From 'Miss Manners' Guide to Rearing Perfect Children': 'When acquiring a child, as when acquiring a car, one never sufficiently considers the parking problem. Yet delightful and welcome as the acquisition may be, one can't spend all of one's time running around with it.

'However, one can easily spend all of one's time worrying that it will be damaged in one's absence. There is simply no question that anyone planning to have a child will at least occasionally require a safe parking place, with a responsible attendant on charge. Why people don't consider that before they take the very first step toward having a child, Miss Manners cannot imagine. Nannies first, and then the babies sees to her the natural order of life.'_____________

Back in 1990, there was a fire in an electricity substation in Manhatten, New York city. Think about the following numbers I noted at the time. Remember that big city buildings trap heat, and the the air conditioners are not really just luxuries.

When the power went there were 80,000 people in the World Trade Centre, many of them in the two 110 story skyscrapers. On the emergency power, they each had only one elevator, and for a time, they were only going to the 44th floor. Outside, the traffic lights for Lower Manhatten (not good at the best of times!) were out for several days. ____________

At the ski resort Vail in Colorado, the lifts can shift 45,000 people an hour. It is said to be the largest in North America.

Get any children you know trying to work out things like... If 45,000 people were lined up single file, how long would the line be? How fast would the people have to move forward to get all of them past one point in an hour? Email me any other 'interesting' ways you have of illustrating the number, please?________________