Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Technology Tuesday!

Yay! Geek time!

Just a quick round-up of some things I've come across. Some old, some new, all pretty interesting.

Modern Life Leads to More Depression Among Children

In an open letter in The Daily Telegraph, 110 teachers, psychologists and authors (including Phillip Pullman and Jacqueline Wilson) decry the dangers of technology on the social, emotional and mental development of children. There's no solution or suggestions of what should be done, but I'll give them a pass on this one since it is a complex topic with no easy fix.

I suppose identifying the problem is the first step, but I'm not sure they haven't pointed out the wrong cause. It is not so much that children are not affected adversely by technology or early academic demands (the current pace seems a little... rough). I believe they are when not taught responsible usage and given adequate play and rest time. The real culprit is the environment available to the child during the formative years. And the main shaper of the environment of a child are the parents (or guardians).

Children's primary emotional and social teachers are their parents (or parental figures). They see how their mother and father (or mother and mother; or father and father; or just mother, or... you get the point) interact with the world -- their coping skills, socialization skills, etc... Children will pick these up and emulate them.

I think this is more an issue of the inability of adults to deal with the rapidly changing landscape of technology and the availability of a truly staggering amount of information. And children see this.

Unless there is a clear biological component, problems with coping skills, emotional retardation, and inadequate social skills are typically a direct effect of a developing child's environment.

So, what is the solution? I have no frigging clue. All I know is a disease is not cured by attacking the symptoms.

Secure Your Wi-Fi Traffic Using FOSS Utilities

Here's a neat article for those of you that use WiFi at public APs and don't want anyone snooping on your traffic. It's a step-by-step article for setting up a SSH tunnel on a home Linux box and then using that tunnel to connect to the Internet. Everything leaving and entering your laptop will be encrypted.

Of course you will need a broadband connection and a Linux box at home for this to be useful.

Notes from the Hash Function Workshop

Bruce Schneier's blog entry about NIST's Second Hash Workshop. Mostly for replacing SHA-1 since it has been shown to be cryptographically weak. While there are no practical attacks (yet) and SHA-1 is still considered operationally safe, it's still time for companies and government agencies to start looking for a replacement.

Personally, I use like to use SHA-256 or TIGER if they are available as options. Otherwise, I'm still pretty comfortable using SHA-1 for anything non mission critical.