1. A type of sailing ship
2. An encription system promoted by the US government with built-in back door
3. DOS database program compiler, based heavily on DBase III, but with loads of extra useful features. Originally written by Nantucket, who were later taken over by CA.
The UK equivalent of the US zippo lighter not because of its functionality or looks but in its mass distribution. We're talking about every smoker or pyromanic's owned last least one before. It has a detachable flint mechanism that can be used to push down the tobacco when making a joint.

"Friends don't let friends make badly constructed joints. Use your flint responsibly."

2002.04.17 at 13:40 - Oolong says re clipper: Do you not get clippers in the states then? I wouldn't have said they were really a close equivalent of zippos, given they're much cheaper and run on different fuel, and tend to get nicked ('clipped') constantly...

The year is 1993, and the National Security Agency is scared.

Two years ago, Philip Zimmerman's PGP software first hit Usenet. Since then, it has become the de facto standard among the paranoid for encryption—an encryption which is effectively unbreakable with today's computers. Although the software is primarily used to encrypt e-mail and other text media, one offshoot of PGP, known as PGPfone, can be used with telephone communications.

This presents a problem for the NSA.

Since the early part of the 20th century, the United States government has been using wiretaps to foil criminals: from catching spies during the Great War to collecting evidence against the Mafia in the 1960s, wiretapping has been regarded by the FBI to be "the single most effective technique used by law enforcement to combat illegal drugs, terrorism, violent crime, espionage, and organized crime."

It is easy, then, to see why the government (the NSA and FBI especially) is a little squeamish to discover PGP circling the globe. Now organized crime, drug dealers, terrorists, and pedophiles—the "Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse"—will be free to go about their criminal activity with impunity, since their voice and e-mail communications are absolutely secure. The government needed an encryption standard to which they would have the unfettered access that they had had before 1991, and they needed it now.

And thus Clipper was born.

Clipper (and its e-mail crypto brother, Capstone) was an exercise in key escrow: whenever a telephone call was made over a telephone with a Clipper chip, the chip would encrypt the data stream with a single-session key. This key would then be "split in half," with each half being sent to a different government agency: in this case, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of the Treasury (the agency responsible for maintaining the Secret Service) would be the recipients. If the government could adequately convince these two entities that an individual's phone had been used to commit a crime, then the two halves would be reunited and the calls decrypted. In February 1994, the President officially announced the adoption of Skipjack (the algorithm used for both Clipper and Capstone), and the NSA contracted AT&T to begin producing Clipper-enabled telephones.

So what went wrong? Where are all the Clipper phones?

In May of 1994, Matthew Blaze, a young researcher for Bell Laboratories, decided to respond to the NSA's open call to the crypto community to have a crack at Clipper. His efforts were to be the would-be crypto standard's downfall.

Blaze focused his efforts on a specific part of the Clipper mechanism: the Law Enforcement Access Field (LEAF). The LEAF is critical to the NSA's ability to crack suspicious messages: it contains the encrypted single-session key that is split in two and sent to law enforcement agencies. Blaze was able to modify the LEAF by cracking the 16-bit checksum that protects it—a process that took him less than an hour—and then replacing the legitimate LEAF with gibberish, making the message indecipherable to the government. Blaze hadn't cracked Clipper, but he had rendered it effectively worthless.

With the new standard in tatters, on July 20, 1994, Vice President Gore announced that the government was abandoning Clipper. PGP continued to flourish, used by the honest and wicked alike. And the government's attempts at key escrow fell, at least temporarily, by the wayside.

Sources cited:

Electronic Privacy Information Center. "The Clipper chip." http://www.epic.org/crypto/clipper/ (28 September 2001).
Meeks, Brock N. "Clipping Clipper: Matt Blaze." Wired Sept. 1994: 7.
Singh, Simon. The Code Book. New York: Doubleday, 1999.

A barbering tool, these days powered by electricity, used in men's haircutting.

Hair used to be cut for the longest time with razors and shears. However, at the beginning of the 20th century some enterprising young men decided to repurpose a veterinary horse hair clipper. It consisted of a set of scissors type handles which connected to a body with a moving comblike blade and a stationary comblike blade. It "chewed" through hair, leaving it all one very nice and even length.

The tool was eventually scaled down and refined for use on human hair, and its adoption led to a revolution in men's hair styling. Now not only was a short haircut feasible with a lot less labor, but by "rocking" the tool from its body onto its heel as you moved up the head from the nape of the neck, you could taper a haircut. (Modern parlance calls that a "fade").

Some enterprising soul decided to make it into an electric tool and the 1920s opened the field to any of a number of electric clipper companies, and the close-faded haircuts of the 1950s overtook the long, slicked-back looks of the 1940s. Still on the same principle: there's a moving blade and a stationary blade, only the two are vibrated at fast speeds by an electric motor.

There are different types in terms of technology: the strongest motors are the rotary ones, like the Oster 76, a classic in the barbering trade. That will plow through hair like a hot knife through butter, and the motor is damn near bulletproof. The other forms of motor are the magnetic motor, which vibrates one blade back and forth by energizing and de-energizing a magnet balanced against a spring (similar to a tattoo machine) and is typically used in high speed, quiet and cool running haircutting, and the pivot motor, which offers far more power but works also by moving the blade back and forth on a pivot.

The clippers can also vary in terms of their usage pattern. A clipper proper is used to cut hair to short lengths evenly and quickly - whether an Oster with a replaceable blade (which can be pulled off and replaced while the clipper is still running) or a magnetic unit with combs locked over the blades so that less hair is able to reach the blades. These have numbers corresponding to the length of hair they leave. A 1 leaves 1/8" of hair, and a 4 leaves 5/8" of hair. Using combs beyond that is typically unweildy, especially around the ears, but you will have the occasional customer who insists on using a #7 or #8.

There are specialized clippers usually referred to as liners, whose sole function is to make hard edges by clipping the hair clean off wherever it touches. It's typically used around ears to terminate the hair above and around the ear, used in a carving motion around the ear itself. It's also used to "block" hair at the back, producing a clean edge above the shirt collar. Turned over, it can be used to clean the hair almost to the skin, and should only be dragged across skin upside down. A straight razor is used in many shops to finish the hair on the neck proper. Some clippers extend their reach beyond the clipper body, referred to as a T-liner, and are used to get very close and precise. Liners are also used to cut lines or other patterns into the hair, especially in African American hairstyles.

The length of the remaining hair is determined either by the blade installed, the comb mounted over the blade, a combination of the two, or in some clippers, a lever on the side whose purpose is to move the blade up and down with respect to the stationary blade, allowing for infinite intermediate lengths between two clipper blades or combs. The lever set up is ideal for fades and tapers, though some cut stair steps with different blades and fade them manually by clipper over comb.

Clipper blades do need sharpening occasionally, and they also need to be "set" so that the moving blade doesn't extend beyond the stationary blade (otherwise what you have is an electric meat knife) but not so far back that close cutting can't be achieved. The blades are typically put together against a hard surface and then screwed down with retaining screws.

Clip"per (?), n.


One who clips; specifically, one who clips off the edges of coin.

<-- sic. coin here is in the plural. -->

The value is pared off from it into the clipper's pocket. Locke.


A machine for clipping hair, esp. the hair of horses.

3. Naut.

A vessel with a sharp bow, built and rigged for fast sailing.

-- Clip"per-built` (), a.

⇒ The name was first borne by "Baltimore clippers" famous as privateers in the early wars of the United States.


© Webster 1913.

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