Re: Log on (in), sign on (in) -- technical distinction?

Subject: Re: Log on (in), sign on (in) -- technical distinction?
From: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: Odile Sullivan-Tarazi <odile -at- mindspring -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 15 Oct 2009 11:24:59 -0400

I can only give the techie distinction, which is stateful vs stateless.

On a computer, or perhaps on a local network, logging in creates a
state. A process for the user is established, and continues until the
user logs out. Over the Internet, http connections are deliberately
stateless, which is to say that your http request is treated as a single
entity that is not intended to create a state (or a process) in the
targetted host. It is a request, it gets a reply, and it is done.

The burgeoning need for stateful connections over the http has resulted
in various methods for signing in, where the host system establishes a
cookie within the user's browser, or does some other action to identify
and remember a particular user. It's not a trivial problem, because a
server that's taking care of sequentially related transactions for
thousands of users must recognize each and distinguish among them, even
in the face of some of them trying to steal the identities of others.

Those who are in charge of systems where users log in and log out, such
as the Linux system I'm using right now, do not like to see the term
"log in" used for stateless Internet connections. Hence "sign in." The
rest of the world apparently see the terms as indistinguishable.

Historically, the terms LOG ON versus LOG IN (and the commands LOGON
versus LOGIN) tended to be IBM versus most everyone else. But that's
outside the current discussion. Gee, I'm doing a lot of that, recently.


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Log on (in), sign on (in) -- technical distinction?: From: Odile Sullivan-Tarazi

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