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Archaeological Introduction (six years after the fact):

Back in '06 or '08 or whenever KryptisolC was a gas, as the kids say.  It was a real eye-opener and quite an education in the vagaries of ANSI C command line programming as well as encryption technology.  I had bigger plans for it including a compression option and an archiving feature that would lump files and directories into huge tar-ball-like structures that would further disguise the contents and be more reliably portable, i.e. it wouldn't be up to the user to preserve the directory structures.  But, alas, the Mint-flavored Ubuntu that I now use and Windows as well, I suspect, have all of that functionality built into right-mouse-button clicks.  So it is unlikely that the venerable KryptisolC will ever be revisited and updated.  The only thing I wanted that I don't get with the store-bought utilities is the satisfaction of knowing that there are no "back doors" or security holes intentionally built into the code for the convenience of hackers, manufacturers or the gubmint.  Right this minute I'm just not feeling paranoid enough to pursue a full featured roll-yer-own encrypterizer.  So, for the foreseeable future, KryptisolC is one of those quaint antique curiosities like vacuum tube circuits that may be fascinating but aren't just all that practical.  The only real satisfaction is in knowing that here, on the fabulous RancorTone website, it is right where it belongs.

Project of the Day, February 2

Hi there, boys and girls.  For the big Ground Hog Day kick-off project here on Uncle Ralph’s Project Page I thought we would put the finishing touches on Phase One of a file encryption utility I like to call KryptisolC.  Kryptisol is a name I made up.  Krypto is one of those clever misspellings, or “brandings,” that marketing people are so fond of.  It’s from “crypto” like in cryptology or cryptography or whatever, the art and science of encrypting things.  You “encrypt” something, like data for instance, by cleverly encoding it so as to disguise it so that someone else cannot recognize it or figure it out.  It is also useful to be able to “decrypt,” or decode, it so that you can recognize it and figure it out later.

 

I wanted to call it Kryptosolé (krip-toh-sol-AY) at first.  It had sort of a Club Med feel to it.  But when you try to enter that into compilers and such, you get unpredictable results.  Some software is okay with the é (Alt-1-3-0) on the end, some will accept it but not display it, and some will spit it right up.  Oh, well.  How about KryptisolA?  Same effect but in a form even Microsoft can understand.  A good start, but as time wore on and Uncle Ralph had epiphany after epiphany about how you should and should not make a file encryption utility, KryptisolA became KryptisolB then KryptisolC then  . . .

 

We finally decided to freeze the name at KryptisolC because Phase One of this project, which is all we’ll have time for today, is a “command line” utility and we thought we’d let the C stand for “command line.”  “Command line” means that it has no recognizable user interface.  You must painstakingly type in all of the information the program needs to do its job (parameters we call them in the biz) at the command line prompt in a DOS box, a DOS box being a little black square on your screen that says something really friendly and helpful like C:\>_.  In prehistoric times there were nothing but command line utilities.  They are still very popular in the Unix and Linux communities where a lot of reptile-brained programmers live who have never come in contact with a computer user (or any other humans for that matter).  And, speaking of cryptography, the string of characters you must type at the command line to get your program to run, and do as you ask, is usually a formidable hodge-podge of lowercase characters, numbers and punctuation that means nothing to the average human but must be typed in the exact right order to work at all.  One extra space and the program will vomit up a “usage” list and abruptly end.  The usage list, a snickering attempt to tell you that you messed up without actually telling you how to fix it, is, all but always, also unfathomable.

 

So today, boys and girls, we will see if we can’t construct a command line utility as inscrutable as anyone else’s.

 

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