HTTPS: the end of an era — Medium

HTTPS: the end of an era — Medium

Mozilla, the foundation that maintains Firefox, has announced that it will effectively deprecate the insecure HTTP protocol, eventually forcing all sites to use HTTPS if they hope to use modern features.

This essay explains why this was such depressing news to me, why this shift marks the death of a way of life.

Part 0: HTTP vs HTTPS

If you know the difference between HTTP and HTTPS, you can probably skip this part.

But for those of you not into tech acronyms, HTTP is the hypertext transfer protocol that your browser uses to talk to web servers bringing you data. It is relatively simple, to the point that if you have a way to inspect the packets of data as they come down the wire, you could read the web page right off of them. Those packets are being sent down a long series of routers between you and the web server, and there is a not-insignificant chance that somewhere along the way they are being inspected or stored by criminals, overly aggressive advertisers, the US National Security Agency, or some bored creep somewhere.

Thus HTTPS, the secure version. Via HTTPS, the site you are connecting to (herein, because I don’t feel like inventing something clever) has some associated encryption codes, and your PC (or phone or watch or whatever contraption you are connecting with) uses the codes to encrypt all data before sending it, and the other side sends encrypted data back. So all of the packets are basically illegible to any of the many parties that handle those packets, but are legible to you and the web server at

But what if the NSA intercepts your connection, tells you it is, and tells your PC to use NSA’s preferred encryption codes? You send data encrypted with NSA keys over the wire, the NSA decrypts and records your data, then passes it on to, and passes’s requests back to you after recording those. You think nothing is wrong, but the man-in-the-middle (the NSA) has read all your communications, rendering all that encryption useless.

So you can’t trust the data until you get the right keys, but you can’t trust the keys as being from until you get some other verification, but then how do you trust that other verification? The solution is a signed certificate registering the identity of There are a small number of certificate authorities providing such trustworthy certificates, and your browser knows them by name.

The true web / Snarkmarket

The true web / Snarkmarket

One of RSS’s weaknesses in its early days—its chaotic decentralized weirdness—has become, in its dotage, a surprising strength. RSS doesn’t route through a single leviathan’s servers. It lacks a kill switch. As long as the URL resolves, a feed can still surprise you. RSS is the true web: a loose net of dark filaments.

What will this Medium post look like in two years? — – meta – — Medium

What will this Medium post look like in two years? — – meta – — Medium.

Mediums change, but what’s unique about Medium, and so many other digital platforms, is that that these changes often apply retroactivelyYou may “finish” a post on a platform, but to those who own the platform, it’s never quite finished.

I think of this as digital wear & tear. If you leave a book on a shelf, it gets dusty and the pages turn yellow. If you leave a post on a platform, the <div>’s change and the header gets redesigned.

Optical character recognition – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Optical character recognition, usually abbreviated to OCR, is the mechanical or electronic conversion of scanned images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text into machine-encoded text.

It is widely used as a form of data entry from some sort of original paper data source, whether documents, sales receipts, mail, or any number of printed records. It is crucial to the computerization of printed texts so that they can be electronically searched, stored more compactly, displayed on-line, and used in machine processes such as machine translationtext-to-speech and text mining.

OCR is a field of research in pattern recognitionartificial intelligence and computer vision.

Early versions needed to be programmed with images of each character, and worked on one font at a time. “Intelligent” systems with a high degree of recognition accuracy for most fonts are now common. Some systems are capable of reproducing formatted output that closely approximates the original scanned page including images, columns and other non-textual components.

via Optical character recognition – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.