Developers often have a love/hate relationship with wxWidgets, especially on the Mac. The common complaint, which I can’t dispute, is that wx applications don’t look and feel particularly well-integrated on the Mac. If you devote some effort to polishing the look and feel, this doesn’t have to be the case. It can be a lot of effort though, to build something that really feels native. That said, sometimes I’m just amazed at what you get for free. Here’s one of the test applications for PKIF, with no tweaks other than some mild build system manipulation, running on the Mac (not an officially supported platform). Screenshot after the jump.

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Tonight, I received more than one email with utterly meaningless confidentiality disclaimers attached to the end. There is one legal theory that attaching such disclaimers to non-confidential emails actually hurts you. All legalities aside, though, they’re pointless. Any disclaimers I encounter in the future will meet with the following response:

This message is digitally signed. Any confidential information sent to this email account should first be encrypted using the X.509 certificate included with this digital signature. The recipient of electronic communications controls neither the routers handling internet email nor the server upon which such messages will ultimately reside. Given the mechanics necessary for the transmission of email over the internet, it is impossible to compel any intermediary or recipient to delete or disregard information contained therein; the only reasonable guarantee of confidentiality is encryption. Failure to encrypt confidential information indicates that the sender accepts sole responsibility for any breach that may occur, regardless of any disclaimers or instructions that may accompany such information.

In response to criticism from “I.T. Managers,” Microsoft has apparently removed the newest addition to their download site. Private folders was a nifty little utility users could download that would allow them to encrypt some of their private data such that other users of a system could not read it. Obviously, there’s nothing groundbreaking about this functionality. Free utilities that perform just as well abound; anyone who’d like to keep their data private has many options. The strange thing about this whole affair is that some “I.T. Managers” felt the need to gripe to Microsoft about the matter. Moreover, they were loud enough that Microsoft caved and removed the download!

I hate to knock hard-working I.T. folks. Managing a company’s systems is fraught with challenges. Sometimes it’s difficult just to keep the lights on. But any “I.T. Manager” who complained to Microsoft about this utility is surely not doing his or her job. Microsoft has provided I.T. departments with facilities to control who can and can’t install software for many years now. These facilities are actually pretty good in Windows XP, which is required for Private Folder. The fact is, if a user cannot be trusted not to expose your business to increased risk of data loss by installing and running this utility, that user should be prohibited from installing software on your systems and you should refuse to install this software on them. End of story. Any manager who allows this type of user to install software is neglecting to manage their infrastructure.

Anyone who’s been paying attention has seen this coming for some time.

Now, I’ve never been opposed to reasonable police powers. If the cops can convince a judge that a warrant is justified, they should certainly be able to obtain the wiretaps they need to perform their duty. That’s not disturbing in the least. But coupled with stories of “designated free-speech areas” and people being arrested and/or harrassed for such things as t-shirts advocating peace, the notion that backdoors should be built into every piece of communications equipment gives me pause. In particular when the regulation requiring the backdoor includes provisions for activation without a warrant. I opposed this crap during the previous administration and opppose it now.

So my big question about the proposed regulation is: will my activities now be criminal? See, my needs aren’t served by the communications equipment on the mass market. I’m presently building my own communications equipment to service my requirements. My build includes:

Now, it’s a real safe bet that neither the crypto accelerator nor the firewall software will ever include the backdoor the feds mandate. Frankly, if they did, I’d write my own firewall and do my crypto in software I’ve personally audited for holes before I’d consider using them. It’s absolutely impossible to design a backdoor such that authorized police agencies can access it and no one else can. Any assertions to the contrary are over-optimistic, disingenuous or both.

Do they honestly plan to make the use or distribution of this correctly functioning equipment illegal? That sounds unthinkable to me, but apparently I’m an exception in this regard. I’m patriotic. I have no intention of doing anything harmful or illegal. But this really rubs me the wrong way. Am I the only one?