With eReturns being filled this year, a concept which took a lot of air was digital signatures. Although this is something thats been around for a long while and is heard about now and then but during this eReturn period it really took off and everyone has now his or her idea of what digital signatures are and what are they meant for. Getting one of these from the agencies can cost you anywhere between Rs. 400 to Rs. 1200 for a year. What a DS does is exactly what your signatures do on a bank cheque, affirms the authenticity of the document.

Anyways, this isnt exactly what I wanted to discuss (or may be it was, dont remember). There is another concept of Digital Signatures as well, only amongst developers though. Heard a conversation between two of my friends one day while we were driving into the city after a adventure trip -

Dude (to Gal) – I guess its been more than an year since we last met, what have you been doing recently ?
Gal (serious disinterest) – Yaa, I guess so. I been on a project with this mobile phone company, making components of their UI.
Dude – Sounds great, how do you find it.. is it challenging ?
Gal – I dont know… actually not much. Its pretty much like anything else. Just had a release last Friday.
Dude – Hmmm. And did you sign it ?
Gal – Sign what ?
Dude – Cmon, you know stuff. You always sign a software that you make.
Gal (getting interested now) – I’m lost…
Dude – You really are. Its like… you always leave a tweak in the software that you make, like a signature or a trademark. Get it?
Gal – Why?
Dude – You just do. Its like.. every gun has its bullet marks, everyone has finger prints… just the same way, you always sign your project.
Gal – Like what.
Dude – Could be anything, just leave a mark, a tweak which noone by you know of, and soon enough people would recognize you work by your signatures.
Gal – Hmmm. Would think of something next time. Hey, why dont we get together for a movie or something afterwards.

Dude did get lucky with the signature stuff to get a date for sure. Its like a norm, whenever developers get experienced and confident, most of them start leaving tweaks in their products in their own special ways. One of the guys I know had a specific pattern of logging in his code and you could just make out from the logs who would have written the code without his name appearing anywhere in the logs at all. Another dude I know, would always keep a funny swear word somewhere in this response encrypted or otherwise, not to be noticed by a common user. Another female friend of mine would leave a cat face in the code comments. Also, a lot people put in action to administer their server tasks within their user applications. Thats what I call digital signatures.

Whats your signature ??