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

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