Monday, May 11, 2015

The Evil Words of the Internet

There are two words in the English language that I have grown to hate, a third that I fairly despise. These are the words that strike terror in my soul. When they appear, very bad things happen. I see them and my heart sinks, my disposition sours and great lamentation is sure to follow. These words have the power to transform me from an efficient, productive businessman into an incompetent, bumbling idiot in a matter of seconds. At the mere appearance of these words on my computer screen, I feel isolation, frustration, then anger. Which words am I referring to, you ask?

                      USERNAME,    PASSWORD,   and their evil cousin...PIN

To get anything done on a computer, one has to identify oneself. I'm not an idiot, I understand the way the world works. There are bad people out there who would love to steal my identity and go on a shopping spree at my expense. So, every website that I frequent for either work purposes or for pleasure requires me to prove that I am, in fact, who I claim to be. To accomplish this, I am asked to provide my USERNAME and PASSWORD.( ok, for the rest of this blog, I'm gonna use U & P...just typing these words is giving me the creeps ). 

So, I cast about trying to come up with a U & P that is at once familiar to me but difficult for some would be identity thief to decipher. To aid me in this effort, I am given special instructions that look something like this:

" U & P must be no fewer than 8 characters and must include both lower and upper case letters, no fewer than two numbers, plus at least one symbol."

So, I fool around with several permutations of dog names, birth dates and street addresses and finally 
enter something that I have at least half a chance of remembering, then get a flashing message that says words to the effect of, " Your U & P really suck! I mean a third grader could figure them out!!" So, it's back to the drawing board. Finally, fifteen minutes later, I manage to enter something marginally acceptable at which I am greeted with a drop down box filled with, "personal identification questions." Wait, what? I thought the whole purpose of the U & P nonsense was to prevent unwanted access from someone other than me. Now, I have to run the gauntlet of personal questions? I must pick three out of a long list of trigger questions:

1. Mother's maiden name
2. Name of first dog
3. Favorite sport
4. First name of closest gay relative

Finally, I'm approved! Then the computer asks me the blessed question..."Would you like to save this U & P?"  My God, YES!!!! You have no freaking idea how much I want this computer to save this U & P!!!! But...there's a problem. Because my computer has done me the great favor of saving this information for me, I never again have to enter it myself, which means it immediately enters the ether, along with the million other things that I have permanently forgotten. Even this isn't a problem, until I try to access this site from, another computer! When I do this, I am always at a different location. So when I try to access say, Expedia, from my iPad, I am restricted from doing so, because all my U & P information is stored on my work laptop! 

See, I know what all of you computer geeks are thinking out there. I can practically feel your judgement and ridicule. " Why don't you write all of your U's & P's down on one piece of paper or
even on some handy storage device so you will always have them available?" Already did that, and
it's three pages! I actually counted them last night. I have 67 different sets of U's & P's to keep track of. Most of them are work related and since I work in the investment business, we are legally obsessed with the privacy of data. You can imagine how complicated and bizarre the U's & P's have to be to enter some of the websites I have to use. My three page cheat sheet is about as dog-eared as the Dugger's family bible.

But the worst thing that happens to me is when I successfully enter a U & P, think I'm home free, only to be greeted by that ghastly formulation: "Please enter your four digit PIN."


Or, even better..."For security purposes, we require that you change your U & P every six weeks. Please enter a new U & P. And this time, try not to suck."

So, I enter, " YourCOMPAny BLOWS&$@#2 "

" Sorry. Someone has already used this Password. Try again."