The process begins when a message encrypted using Vanish is sent. The message can only be read until a pre-specified time is reached, after which the message can not be decrypted, as the encryption key is permanently “lost due to a set of both natural and programmed processes.”
Vanish works by shattering the encryption key and distributing the various fragments among computers on a peer-to-peer network – both parties holding the online conversation don’t possess the key. The pieces of the key begin to vanish due to the fact that “machines constantly join and leave the P2P network.” A prototype of the tool is now available. It supports timeouts of 8-9 hours, which simply means your messages will vanish without a trace after that time.
The University of Washington has developed a new tool called WebAnywhere that allows the blind and visually impaired surf the Web on the go. It turns screen-reading into an Internet service that reads aloud Web text on any computer with speakers or headphone connections. For the past month that WebAnywhere has been available, Bigham, has received inquiries from librarians and teachers who struggle to find the time to locate free software, get permission to install it and then maintain the program. They plan to continue to update the program and make improvements.