AF3Y/Gene, that last post had me on the floor in laughter!
Folks, let's remember something here. Some folks learn best by reading. Others remember by pictures. Others are audio learners, learn by hearing. Still others are kinsethetic, learn by doing. Some are a mix, some are extreme one way or another.
The folks who learn by hands on with someone showing them...are NOT going to learn by reading it. It just ain't gonna happen, their brains are wired different. Not better or worse, just different.
Ever seen smart people struggle in classrooms, but ace the laboratory work? Those are the kinesthetics. Folks that "never have to crack a book" are audio learners. Visual recalls of maps and pictures and places are visual learners.
Just some examples. I am a strong kinesthetic learner, and an extreme picture/visual learner. I almost never read the manual except when I get stuck. I like to ask questions or just power through. Getting on the air with the Flex radio was a challenge for me, but once I powered through it...it made sense.
Same with LoTW. I read the instructions like 6 times. I sort of understood it, but did not "get it." Oh, I received the postcard and had my login set OK. But the certificates, protecting them and backing them up...was all like some dialect of the long lost tribes of Bwana Bunga. The concept finally clicked one Saturday night late when I was just fooling around with the TQSLCert program. And I drew out a picture of what was happening. And it made sense. If I can diagram it, I get it.
I think somewhere there is a diagram of the process on the ARRL website, but I can't find it.
Well here's a great written explanation (supposedly) of certificates, which looks to me like chickens in a break-dancing contest. It means nothing to me as a picture learner.http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc776447(v=WS.10).aspx
This is better, but not much.http://www.digi-sign.com/digital%20certificate/how%20digital%20certificates%20work
To understand LoTW, I needed to know WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON
. I needed to understand some basics of WHY and WHAT.
1. What is ARRL trying to do?
Verify the user and implement some sort of authenticity to the LoTW program.
2. How are they doing it?
Using a digital certificate process.
3. What the HELL is a digital certificate? http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=digital+certificates+identity&qs=n&form=QBIR&pq=digital+certificates+identity&sc=1-29&sp=-1&sk=#view=detail&id=DE220764DAAFEE75AEF0257F71C19ABC9E7E19C7&selectedIndex=7
4. How do I get one, how does it work? http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=digital+certificates+identity&qs=n&form=QBIR&pq=digital+certificates+identity&sc=1-29&sp=-1&sk=&&id=04CD0A3FE651BEB5B81BBFFC28E138F9D266D108&selectedIndex=8#view=detail&id=04CD0A3FE651BEB5B81BBFFC28E138F9D266D108&selectedIndex=0
Here is a written explanation that my hard head can understand: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_does_digital_signature_work
This is a pretty good visual: http://www.youdzone.com/signature.html
The question everyone is asking is why did the ARRL go to such lengths with all this for LoTW? Integrity of the LoTW process.
Why is it so complicated? Complicated compared to what? It's straightforward basic cryptography. Crypto is not basic, but if somebody shows me with pictures what is being attempted, then I can understand it.The problem is that I don't think the story and the logic behind LoTW is being told near and far.
Single Side Band? Oh, EVERYBODY gets why we have SSB over AM. And CW over spark gap. But LoTW over mail in? And LoTW security? Needs to be a better story told there, in my humble opinion (and so says a bunch of folks who struggle with it).