What is SSL (the "little padlock")?

SSL ("Secured Socket Layer") is a protocol used to encrypt the communication between the user's browser and the web server. When SSL is active, a "little padlock" appears on the user's browser, usually in the status line at the bottom (at the top for Mac / Safari users.)

This assures the user that sensitive data (such as credit card numbers) can not be viewed by anyone "sniffing" the network connection (which is an increasing risk as more people use wireless networking).

Common web site owner questions about SSL:

How do I get the little padlock on my site?

To get the little padlock, your site must have an SSL Certificate from a Certificate Authority. Once an SSL Certificate has been purchased and installed, it provides three things:

  1. The ability to show a page in "Secure Mode", which encrypts the traffic between the browser and the server, as indicated by the "little padlock" on the user's browser.
  2. A guarantee by the issuing Certificate Authority that the domain name the certificate was issued for is indeed owned by the specific company or individual named in the certificate (visible if the user clicks on the little padlock).
  3. An assurance that the domain name the certificate was issued for is the domain name the user's browser is now on.

Once obtained, the certificate must be installed on the web server by your web host. Since your web host also has to generate an initial cypher key to obtain the certificate, very often they will offer to handle the process of obtaining the certificate for you.

My web host has a "shared certificate" that I can use. Should I?

It's still fairly common for small sites to use a shared certificate from the host. In this circumstance, when a page needs to be shown in secured mode, the user is actually sent to a domain owned by the web host, and then back to the originating domain afterwards.

A few years ago, when SSL Certificates were quite expensive (around $ 400 per year), this was real attractive for new sites just getting their feet wet in e-commerce. Today, with a number of perfectly functional SSL certificates available for under $ 100 (exclusive of installation, etc.), it is a lot less attractive. Since your user can look at the address line of his or her web browser and see that the site asking for the credit card number is not the site he or she thought they were on, the cost savings is probably not worth the risk of scaring off A sale.

What's the difference between the expensive SSL Certificates and the inexpensive ones?

Usually, mostly price. Some expensive certificates have specific functions, such as securing a number of different subdomains simultaneously (a "wildcard" certificate), but the effective differences between basic single site certificates are very slight, despite the wide range of prices:

The encryption mechanism used by all of them is the same, and most use the same key length (which is an indicator of the strength of the encryption) common to most browsers (128 bit).

Some of them ("chained root" certificates) are slightly more of a pain for your web host to install than others ("single root" certificates), but this is pretty much invisible to the site owner.

The amount of actual checking on the ownership of the domain varies wildly among sellers, with some (usually the more expensive) wanting significant documentation (like a D & B number), and others handling it with an automated phone call ("press # 123 if you 'Ve just ordered a certificate ").

Some of them offer massive monetary guarantees as to their security (we'll pay you oodles of dollars if someone cracks this code), but since it's all the same encryption mechanism, if someone comes up with a crack, all e-commerce sites will Be scrambling, and the odds of that vendor actually having enough cash to pay all of its customers their oodel is probably slim.

The fact is that you are buying the certificate to insure the safety of the user's data, and to make the user confident that his or her data is secure. For the vast majority of users, simply having the little padlock show up is all they are looking for. There are exceptions (I have a client in the bank software business, and they feel that their customers (bank officers) are looking for a specific premier name on the SSL certificate, so are happy to continue using the expensive one), but most e -commerce customers do not pick their sellers based on who issued their SSL Certificates.

My advice is to buy the cheaper one.

I have an SSL certificate – why should not I serve all my pages in "Secured" mode?

Because SSL has an overhead – more data is sent with a page that is encrypted than a page that is not. This translates to your site appearing to run slower, particularly for users who are on dial-up or other slow connections. Since this also increases the total amount of data transferred by your site, if your web host charges by transfer volume (or has an overage fee, as most do), this can increase the size of your monthly hosting bill.

The server should go into secure mode when asking a user for financial or other sensitive data (which may well be "name, address and phone number", with today's risk of identity theft), and operate in normal mode otherwise.

Embracing Uncertainty

If you ask investors, they will tell you one thing that they dislike. It is inexainty. Investors always fear uncertainty. In fact, they hate uncertainty. If you ask further, everyone will give different answers but the main reason why they hate uncertainty is that they do not like losing money.

That is right. Losing money is what we as investors want to avoid. However, avoiding uncertainty is not the answer. You see, life is always full of uncertainty. Therefore, taking risks is necessary in investing no matter what your background is. Tell me what kind of assets with no uncertainty at all. One common answer is placing your money in Certificate of Deposit. (CD). The proponent of this investment claims that your money will always accrue interest no matter what happens to the economy, oil price and other things affecting stock investment. But is that so?

Let me answer your question with another question. Why do different banks give you different interest rate for your CD? Sure, it is affected partly by their money supply and demand. If a bank can take in more money than it can loan, it will generally give lower interest rate. However, do you notice that larger established banks generally give lower interest rate than say, an internet CD from e-trade? The answer is uncertainty. Big banks are less likely to fall and therefore, investors are willing to accept lower return investing in their CD. On the other hand, internet banks are more uncertain to survive ten years from now. Thus, the higher interest rate. You see, when you embrace uncertainty, you will earn a higher return on your investment. How about risk? The risk here is that when you invest in small unestablished banks, it may go bankrupt and bring your money down with it. Sure, in theory, your money is protected up to $ 100,000 from FDIC. If you loan your money to a friend, he or she will always say that they will pay your money back, no matter what. But banks are not your friend. In fact, you friends who borrow money from you, can default on their payments.

That is the risk of investing in CD. While, the risk seems remote, it always exists. On the opposite side, investors who fear accidently will probably stuff their money in the mattress, approaching little or no money. This is an extreme example but as you see, getting rid of uncertainty does not look that good here.

Embrace accidently does not mean investing your money blindly. To get a higher return, you need to embrace uncertainty and be educated to minimize your risk. In our CD investment case, what should investors do? Well, for example, you can research the trustworthiness of your bank to sites such as bankrate.com. Once you are comfortable about the status of your bank, you can then invest in CD which offers higher interest rate. A little bit of your time will earn you quite a bit. This is what I called embracing uncertainty. You accept that uncertainty is part of investing but you need to be aware of the risks that you take in any kind of investment. From there, you can weigh your risk and reward and decide which the additional risk is worth investing or not.

Similar case can be applied to stock investing. It is full of uncertainty and there is no way around it. However, by being educated in the stock market, you can minimize your risk and can earn additional return in the process.

Turnaround investing validates this concept. You can choose to invest in a well-run companies with seemingly no trouble in the horizon. Or … you can choose to invest in companies with short-term trouble and wait for them to turnaround. In these two cases, investing in turnaround companies will give you greater return. This is due to the uncertainty of investing in companies with short-term trouble. As always, you have a decision to make. Life is full of choice. Would you rather invest in CD and avoid uncertainty even? Or embracing uncertainty and reap a higher return on your investment?

Education: The Military's First and Best Line of Defense

The idea now prevalent among some defense officials that formal classroom-based education is either expendable or unnecessary flies in the face of millennia of historical precedent. Brilliant strategists and military leaders not only tend to have had excellent education, but most acknowledge the value and influence of their mentors. The roll call of the intellectual warriors is sometimes the best argument in support of training armies to think: Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Robert E. Lee, Erwin Rommel, George Patton, Chester Nimitz.

In stark contrast we can cite familiar military leaders whose educations were, we say, lackluster: the Duke of Wellington (he beat Napoleon – barely – after a slugging 7-year campaign), Ulysses Grant, George Custer, Adolph Hitler, Hermann Goering, Josef Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Manuel Noriega. For these men, military victories were often a matter of luck over tactics, overwhelming force over innovative planning, and soldiers more fearful than their masters than of the enemy.

I am a moderate, neither "red" nor "blue," with leanings in both camps. I firmly resist a draft, but support (and was once part of) ROTC. When I read that Columbia University had voted overwhelmingly to ban the Officer Officer Training Corps from returning to the campus, I felt that the concept of academic freedom itself had been violated. It is not the university's place to impute value judgments or decision on moral issues. Instead, universities were intended to be places where minds could visit among a broad range of viewpoints, hopefully to pick and choose the best parts from among them. By banning a campus ROTC contingent, Columbia has denied students that choice, and as an academic I am ashamed for them.

ROTC has much to offer university students, including (sometimes especially) those not enrolled as officer candidates. As a thirty-something graduate student working on my master's degree, I enrolled and participated in two ROTC history classes being taught by a multi-decorated Marine colonel, himself a holder of a master's degree in history. The things I learned about military implications of the battles we studied, the social effects of each decision, and the pains taken by most leaders to secure better materiel and intelligence for their troops far exceeded anything taught in the history department's coverage of the same incidents. It was from that extraordinarily patriotic US Marine career officer that I learned, for example, that during the War of 1812 the US invaded Canada and, when it discovered it could not succeed, burned the national Parliament buildings. It was for that last action that British soldiers later pressed on to Washington and set fire to the US Capitol and White House.

Does any of that make a difference? Indeed, I think it is crucial to national survival that soldiers and the public know the big picture behind events that becoming rallying later later. After 9/11, a precious few people asked the loaded question, "what have we done to incur this attack?" The overwhelming response was to stifle such questions – the US were the good guys, and those religious fanatics were angry because they were jealous of our luxury and wealth – and simply treat the attackers as nameless, inhuman enemies. There was no question allowed as to what the real problem might be, only that the US must attack them and annihilate aggression. But what competent physician, I ask, treats only a symptom but ignores the cause of the disease? According to numerous studies mandated by the UN and other agencies, the most important change that would most work towards eliminating poverty and war would be the universal access of women to an education.

We may "Remember the Alamo," but how many recall that Texas was either part of the US then, nor was it trying to become a state. It was seeking independence as a nation so it could maintain slavery, which Mexico had outlawed. When we "Remember the Maine," do we also recall that the ship was probably sunk by an engineering problem, and not from Spanish sabotage? That the war was pushed by US hawks and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hurst, knowing that a war would greatly boost newspaper sales? We must learn from history, because we are already doomed to repeating it. The 9/11 attack was carried out out predominately by Saudi Arabs, but the US response was to attack Iraq. Despite a preponderance of evidence that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, the American public still preferred the fabrications about anthrax attacks, WMDs, and terrorist training camps.

So what of military plans to merely enlarge the distance learning programs to replace classroom instruction? As a career teacher, I risk sounding like a ludite when I disparage distance learning. In my experience, there can be no substitute for a human-to-human interaction, where ideas can be immediately sorted, argued, and revised. Seeing the emotional expression of classmates when one discusses controversies ranging from "just wars" to the use of nuclear weapons to the pros and cons of a given policy simply can not be part of an electronic lesson. There is simply no substitution, for example, to having a combat veteran point out "I was there" in a class when another student has presented the sanitized version of a controversial event. That level of emotion will not come through a cable modem. We are already becoming extremely dependent upon the impersonal Internet, so how much more non-human contact can possibly be good for our psychological, especially empathic, development.

Historically, one of the first tragedies of war – after truth and diversity of opinion – is basic humanity. In wars, our soldiers do not kill Germans, French, British, Indians, Japanese, or Vietnamese people. Almost from the beginning, they instead fight krauts, frogs, limeys, savages, nips, or gooks. How much more difficult is it for a poorly educated soldier to understand the enemy when the enemy has been made subhuman? How, perfectly, can the war be won and, more important, peace maintained if we can not understand (but not necessarily agree with) the enemy?
It is unfortunate that the senior military officers so often bring the brunt of public hostility for actions made by civil authorities. The present administration is among the most academically impoverished in US history, while the senior officers are among the most highly educated. While it is true that some soldiers actually enjoy combat, the vast majority would welcome, nay embrace, a career of unbroken peace. The intelligent career soldier trains to protect that which he or she most values, knowing that wars are inevitable. Most pray that they need never fight, but stand ready to put their lives on the line should the rest of us need protection. Rather than reduce, compromise, or restrict education to these defenders, I would argue instead that they all receive free access to our universities and colleges. The academic world needs to get behind a unified message: education is not a privilege; It is the first and best line of defense.

Digital and Conventional Presentation of Content

Displaying content is extremely important for any marketing agency. Ultrathin tubes have long replaced the old-fashioned and expensive Cathode-ray tubes. Internet connectivity, live TV streaming, videos, and images are the future of signage and modern marketing. Shopping malls, shops, and all other businesses prefer electronic display over wallpapers.

Digital signage applications include high-resolution display devices that are easy to use anywhere, indoor or outdoor. The modern way of displaying content includes versatility and innovation. For example, an electronic display can run a combination of media including videos, images, and text that altogether deliver a specific message.

With the passage of time, the global advertising industry is growing bigger and bigger. The electronic display has become the need of every modern business. Some of the purposes digital signage serve are:

  • Informational
  • Commercial
  • Experiential
  • Behavioral

It is rightly said that there is no success without the content. Electronic signage is considered to be a new way of displaying content to an audience. It offers variety and a number of interesting features that allow users to be creative in content management. We often see digital signs at public places and retail stores. Therefore, it has a cultural impact on customers and viewers.

A question arises whether or not signage has emerged as a new and effective advertising source. The answer is a big yes as digital signage is gradually taking over the conventional and outdated advertising solutions. However, the significance of traditional display cannot be undermined as they are cost-effective. Commercial places should be well equipped with the information that might help customers make a purchase decision.

The internet is used widely across the globe. And the information provided on a computer allows us to check back and reach the content easily. It is easy to change and manage content on digital devices. Your success depends highly on how you are advertising your business. Therefore, use digital signs to promote and advertise your business or cause. Digital signage is expensive as compared to those simple and static display means. However, digital display has become mandatory for rapidly growing businesses.

The display industry cannot keep itself apart from technological advancements. However, some of the old-fashioned signage is still being used by many businesses in developed and developing countries. For instance, a banner or a decal is a very simple type of signage. The presence of highly advanced electronics signs could not outsmart old-fashioned sign systems. However, it is recommended to use the digital and interactive form of signs which can captivate the attention of customers.