Weekend Reading: Terminals, Cryptography, and Products as Functions
💻 Learning from Terminals to Design Future User Interfaces
Pieces like this often come off like geeks calling for a return to how it “used to be” — “HyperCard was the peak of dev tools”. But this author makes some excellent points about performance, responsiveness, and control. As a frequent terminal user, there’s a tactility to it that comes from its fast response to input, but it is true that consoles have lagged behind in other ways like media richness and user interface display.
🔐 Quantum Computers and Cryptography
Quantum computers promise to upend a lot of this. Because of the way they work, they excel at the sorts of computations necessary to reverse these one-way functions. For symmetric cryptography, this isn’t too bad. Grover’s algorithm shows that a quantum computer speeds up these attacks to effectively halve the key length. This would mean that a 256-bit key is as strong against a quantum computer as a 128-bit key is against a conventional computer; both are secure for the foreseeable future.
For public-key cryptography, the results are more dire. Shor’s algorithm can easily break all of the commonly used public-key algorithms based on both factoring and the discrete logarithm problem. Doubling the key length increases the difficulty to break by a factor of eight. That’s not enough of a sustainable edge.
🚦 Products Are Functions
Ryan Singer on the concept of products behaving like mathematical functions; they sit between an input and output, processing one into the other. Having known input and known desired output serves as a mental aid to “solve for”
f(x) in the middle.