Headmaster’s Thoughts – July 2013

I think I have Multiple Password Disorder. Every time I try to access a product or service or try to even get a price on an article, I have to log in, create a user name, and then—woe of woes—create a password. We all know that we should not use the same password again and again, but so many passwords have created the need for a password vault, which requires, of course, another password.

The other day I tried to buy a pair of shoes from a well-known Internet shoe enterprise. They do, as far as I can see, all their business online. No bricks and mortar stores for them, only the Internet. Fine! They have a computer that writes back to you as you buy their products. And if you make a mistake, or miss a step, the computer will prompt you. Sounds so good, does it not?

Me: “I want to buy the shoes, item XL245 on page 14.”

Company computer: “Input e-mail address and password!”

“I don’t have a password.”

“Entry denied without password!”

I go to “create a new account” and input my e-mail address and a password.

“Invalid password! The password must have ten characters, of which two must be capitalized letters, three digits, and one punctuation mark other than a comma or a period.”

I put in a password following those directions.

“Shoes purchased. Any further transactions?”

“Socks! Article SL414.”

“Different password for separate sock purchase!”

“You’re kidding!”

“Different password for separate socks! Password must have ten characters, two digits, three capitalized letters and one non-digit, non-letter, non-punctuation mark.”

Now I will have to remember all this with a %$#@&^*() or +.

I insert this password and go back to Socks SL414.

“Insert number of separate socks!”

I assumed socks came in pairs, so I wrote “One pair!”

The computer had no problem with a pair of shoes but a real problem with a pair of socks. Socks were obviously not something they specialized in.

Company computer: “Pair equals two. Two socks require two passwords. Passwords must have ten characters, two digits, three capitalized letters and one non-digit, non-letter, non-punctuation mark.”

“For two socks?”

“Two socks require two passwords. Passwords must have ten characters, two digits, three capitalized letters and one non-digit, non-letter, non-punctuation mark.”

At this point, we older people remember HAL, the computer that turned malevolent in the Stanley Kubrick classic movie2001: A Space Odyssey. I became slightly belligerent. Let me say that I now realize that it is a mistake to get belligerent with a computer—a serious mistake.

“Forget the shoes, forget the socks. I am giving up.”

“Cannot quit program without logging out!’’

“What do you mean? I am going to leave this program and turn this silly program off.”

“Cannot quit program without logging out! Screen will remain permanently on program until logout!”

Ugh!

“How do I logout?” I ask in print.

“Logout requires new password. Twelve characters of which four must be digits, two must be capitalized letters, and one function key must be used.”

I turn the computer off and then turn it on again.

“Did not logout! Computer will freeze if logout not executed correctly!”

“This is ridiculous! Is there no other way of doing this?”

“If computer freezes, only solution is to login under new name with new password and logout under new password!”

“Let me guess… fourteen characters, two capitalized letters, three numbers, four calling birds, and a partridge in a pear tree!”

“Computer will freeze in twenty seconds!”

“All right. I’ll…”

“Computer frozen! For tech support, login with tech support user name and tech support password! Tech support password must have 16 characters, none of which may be in the sentence The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. ”

I told you I had Multiple Password Disorder.

Ronald P. Stewart, Headmaster
E-mail: rstewart@yorkprep.org

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