Saturday, February 28, 2009

Passwords (and associated ruminations)

If you are reading this, you have some sort of a computer. Congratulations! That means it is very likely you have at some point entered into the Wonderful World of Passwords!

Most of us have places we visit on the web that require a password. Some of us are among those fortunate souls who visit sites, usually for work, that require a regular changing of said passwords. Those sites also prompt you with certain "helpful" suggestions as to how to go about setting those passwords; they must contain a certain number of alphanumeric characters, including a mix of upper and lower cases, and possibly with one or more non-alphanumeric characters, some of which you may be prohibited from using. Got that?

You are also provided a nother "helpful" hint to make these passwords as random as possible, say, qA65xYz01!$. You also get the friendly reminder not to record your passwords or write them down and store them near the computer.

For those of us who lack an eidetic memory this can pose a problem, namely, how in the world are we supposed to remember something random, like qA65xYz01$ (I had to look), as opposed to , say, Joe001, which we change in 30 or 60 days to Joe002 or Joe666 or some such in sequence, which is indeed either written down and stored near the computer or in a non-password-protected file cleverly labeled Passwords.

Some well-intentioned folks decide to use the same password for all non-changing passwords; that works until a ne'er do well hacks into your still-not-protected system and access everything you have typed for the past five years.

The tricky part is thinking of something to use that you will be able to remember as well as recall exactly which site the password will access. I just love the sites that lock you out after three failed attempts; just because I cannot recall the **** password does not automatically mean I am trying to hack into the system! It likely means that I am an idiot with a bad memory.

Perhaps I should hire Prof. Charles Eppes from the tv series Numb3rs to come up with some sort of algorithm that would enable me not only to come up with a way to generate random passwords that I will also be able to recall! Maybe I will use a modified Fibinacci (also spelled Fibonacci) Sequence of my own to help me with my dilemma. (Look that one up!)

As an aside, my Wonderful Daughter told me in the first season of Numb3rs that while she thought the show was interesting, she could not watch it, not because she was not a math wizard (she has passed calculus, however, whilst I am able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, thank you very much), but because the aforementioned Prof. Eppes is played by one David Krumholtz, who also played the Head Elf, Bernard, in the Tim Allen Christmas classic, The Santa Clause. I guess, for her, elves and higher math do not mix.

I would never have made the connection between Bernard and the good professor on my own, so thank you, Dear Child.

Dear Child is now 28, which causes me math problems of my own, as I only think of myself as about 30, so that means I must have had a child when I was age 2. Not likely. And, Dear Child has told me I must stay at least two years ahead of her chronologically, so, how do I remain feeling 30 every year? For her sake, I will admit publicly to being two years older than her so that I do not end up someday with a daughter older than I am. I am certain she will appreciate that.

My Beautiful Wife, however, is always 39, so there may be problems on that front at a later time.

But, I digress.

I have posted these thought in order for you to contemplate the necessity of passwords in this electronic age while remembering that, were it not for computers, we would be spared the aggravating task of even having to think about them.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

North of 50

Friday, February 27, 2009

Hello out there...

In the words of my esteemed brother; Hello World; nice to meet you.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the firmament, and then my saintly parents, and then myself. Everything after that is a life experience. Everything before that is an adventure to be explored to it’s fullest within the constraints of what holds my interests.

I am not famous. I am not a scientist, nor a doctor, nor do I hold a PHD in anything, nor am I likely to. I live in the real world with real people of which I interact with nearly five-hundred every day at work. The key word here is ‘interact’. Walking down the street passing others on a busy street is not interacting. Studying small groups of people in a controlled environment has its benefits but does not yield the results of living in the real world with real people.

This blog is fifty years in the making. Not fifty exactly. I don’t remember the first few years of my life. Babies don’t remember much; of course there isn’t much to remember. Lying on your back and staring at a ceiling with a light bulb isn’t thrilling. Ask the guy in the hospital next time you’re there.

My parents, God rest their souls, raised five children, four boys and a girl. I am the last of the boys. My sister being the youngest received the benefits of being unique and a small degree of torture from the rest of us. As a group we are well educated and mostly comfortable within the self imposed constraints of our lives. We did not have much growing up, hand-me-down clothes, just enough food on the table and a roof over our heads. My parents loved us unconditionally. I understand it as a parent but I’m not always sure why; we all had our moments.

My parents were of ‘the greatest generation’ as they have been called. Our fathers saved the world and gave it back to the rest of us, more or less in one piece. It was our job to clean it up and do the best we could with it.

Their job was now was to hold our hands and show us how to do it properly. Many parents have done just that. My parents did just that. It’s not necessarily their fault if their children then go out and make bad choices. Don’t always blame the parents; blame the stupid people.

As I write to these pages it will be just as much a journey of discovery for myself as it will be for those that read them. After many years of writing novels (unpublished ones, mind you), I have begun to understand that you can learn a lot about yourself, much more than you thought you knew when you actually put it down on paper. I hope all who read my coming thoughts will enjoy, have pause to think, and hopefully enjoy a laugh or two along the way.

I would also like to thank 'North of 50' for a rousing start to this blog.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Inaugural Post

Hello, World; nice to meet you.

Original phrase, that; clever, pithy, almost as good as the Faron Young classic, "Hello Walls". Written by Willie Nelson, incidentally.

I have been given the singular honor of inaugurating Rambling50 with the initial posting, such honor bestowed upon me by my younger brother, and the founder of this blog, Robert T.

Logic would dictate that the eldest sibling should be awarded this high honor, but then logic would not (logically?) consign such a one to be the 21st century equivalent of a Luddite. It is not entirely his fault, mind you, but that is another story altogether.

Second-in-birth-order has too much on his frazzled plate to perform this function in a timely manner. He would certainly be willing to do so, but, with his schedule, the initial post would appear somewhere around the time when Halley's Comet next swings by this part of the cosmos. And that is far too long to wait.

So, the inaugural post then devolves to me, third out of our mutual birth canal, a few years ahead of my now-50-year-old younger brother. He could have chosen the youngest, the only girl, but she lives out in The Land of Fruits and Nuts, and is so busy driving hither and yon to satisfy all the athletic/creative interests and endeavors of her four lovely children that her minivan refuses to be turned off, having addicted itself to SoCal freeways. Besides, she is not (quite) 50 yet, so the first post on Rambling50 must not be conferred upon a 49-er, if you will. Also, it would be rather inappropriate that the ramblings of a 50 year old man be started by a woman.

My dilemma, of course, is: what to say here. How memorable will I be able to make this so that you repeatedly and enthusiastically return for more Rambling50 observations, mostly from HeWhoIsNow50, and occasionally from moi.

If this was a book, I would have to check Webster's for the difference between an Introduction, a Forward, a Preface and other literary phenomena, to decide which this should be. As this is a blogspot, I will merely term it The Inaugural Post.

I began this effort knowing neither (I prefer the alternate pronunciation "NY-ther") what I wanted to say nor how I wanted to say it. I seem to have hit upon a lighthearted approach, one which suits my more-often-than-not mood; for, as our cousins across the pond are wont to say, to our often undiscerning ears, and in a stereotypically broad London accent, "You're having a lahhrff!", which is what you should do when confronted with life's little absurdities, be the humor (humour to the Brits) dark or light, depending.

If you cannot see the humor in much of life, you are not enjoying your stay upon this mortal coil before you slip the surly bonds of earth.

I will tell you that Robert T and I are quite alike in our WorldView, though it differs greatly and remarkably from that of Numbers 1 and 2; we've never really determined the WorldView of baby sister, as it likely has suffered greatly from 25 or so years of exposure to life in the Golden State. But, we love her anyway. Quirks and all.

As this work is entitled Rambling50, I appear to be rambling on quite nicely, but I will now defer to Robert T for his initial post, and thank you all for stopping by.

Best of luck with this, Robert T, from your least-elder brother, who signs himself

North of 50