Recently Netted...; October 1996; Scientific American Magazine; by Eisenberg; 1 Page(s)
Snailmail Fights Back. Starting this winter, the U.S. Postal Service can stamp your e-mail with a time and date, according to Ken Ceglowski of the USPS. Customers will be able to send their e-mail or documents to a USPS server; the machine will electronically postmark the correspondence, digitally sign it and forward it to an e-mail address or World Wide Web site. The process--which will cost about 22 cents for documents 50K in size or less--should take about two minutes, Ceglowski says. Mail dispatched electronically by the USPS will probably travel with legal protection similar to that guarding physical mail: the electronic postmark will be analogous to an envelope¿s cancellation mark, widely recognized as "proof" that the message existed at a specific moment; the authentication routines will be equivalent to the seal of a paper envelope, guaranteeing that the message has not been altered since it arrived at the mailbox--in this case, the USPS server. This legal protection may prove to be a strong selling point, for garden-variety e-mail carries with it no penalties for tampering.
Cookies Redux. Cookie technology is still with us in Netscape 3. 0. A "cookie" is a nugget of information about you that is established by the Web site server when you go visiting-- it provides information about what pages you see, for instance, or what language you speak. The cookie is stored on your hard drive; when you revisit a site, it is retrieved by the machine that set it in the first place. This can be very useful if, for example, you want information about, say, your preferred method of payment immediately known when you reach a favorite on-line shopping site.