Saturday, 19 July 2008

Password hell

The Doctor had the day off yesterday, and decided to do deal with all the ‘admin’ - ie random pieces of paper - that floats around our house, piling up on every available surface, and never getting dealt with. (Whenever I go to other people’s houses and their surfaces are sparklingly empty, I always wonder where the hell they keep it).

In particular, he wanted to set up some new system that somehow encrypts all the internet passwords we ever need to use, so no-one villainous can ever get hold of them and steal our identities.

Now I am rubbish at passwords and pin numbers. I invent them quickly because I want to get on with whatever I am doing – like booking a train ticket, checking my bank balance - and then I instantly forget them. I used to write them in my diary, but The Doctor was always warning me not to write them down, so I stopped.

It doesn’t help that now there are so many passwords and logins. In the good old days, you only had to remember a couple of bank card pin numbers. But now, you can’t order your shopping online without some horror dialogue box popping up and asking you for 1st, 15th and 77th letter of your password (is it just me, or is that really hard to work out?). And you can’t ring up and speak to someone about your mobile phone without them demanding your mother’s aunt’s maiden name or the birthday of your first pet.

So when The Doctor turns to me and says – “so what’s your online password for the XXX account, the one that we set up a couple of weeks ago” my mind races. Oh lord. What possible combination of letters, numbers, names, birthdays, anniversaries and just random words can I have used?

I used to pride myself on my ultra-sharp memory – I was the one that always remembered what year a particular event took place, or the names of other people’s children – but somehow my brain cannot compute this kind of information any more. That side of my memory (if it ever existed – I think it probably ranks with remembering how to set the video) has been pushed aside by all the rubbish that I need to remember these days. Like packing the Littleboys’ nursery bags with fresh trousers each night, not leaving my mobile in the car/losing the pram and buying more baby wipes/hummus/petit filous. They say motherhood makes you great at multi-tasking and that’s true – but somehow, important stuff like how to access your life savings goes down the plughole.

I had to admit, shamefaced, that I have no idea for the life of me what the password was. And we have to start from scratch, registering on the web site all over again. So we descend, once again, into password hell.

10 comments:

The Dotterel said...

I use a combination of birthdays and initials and the like; they always come up as 'secure' when you try them out. And you'd think that I'd remember such important numbers, wouldn't you? But I'm a man!

Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk said...

I so know what you mean,its an absolute nightmare. And I'm in charge of every password - like I don't have enough stuff floating around in my head as it is.
I've tried writting them down too but I can never find them when I need to!

Mud in the City said...

Even when you get it right they conspire against you! I was using telephone banking recently and was asked for my date of birth. This was a question I normally don't ahve any problem with.... But I was informed by the bank that it was incorrect. Upon questioning this they said "Your date of birth has been arbitrarily re-set" and refused to tell me what it now was.... Helpful!

Nota Bene said...

I divide them into two types...the web sites that need proper passwords and those that don't...you know things like the weather report or making a comment a blog...the one's that don't get a standard word, and the proper ones get passwords that are 100% secure. Even against me

Millennium Housewife said...

write it underneath your dining room table. Who would think to look there? I do hope no burgulars are reading this MH

Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk said...

. . . By the way, there is an award for you over at my place . . . You don't need a password to get in either!

Potty Mummy said...

You and me both! I must admit that I cheat - though I won't say how (not that it would be too tricky to work out!)

valley girl said...

Dottorel, that sounds eminently sensible – but as you imply, do men really remember birthdays and anniversaries...?

Tara, I’m dead impressed that you are in charge of passwords – in our household, this would spell impending doom. (Thanks so much for the award by the way! Will put it up just as soon as I have worked out the instructions....)

MITC, I can sympathise – the whole thing is quite Kafkaesque..heard another story the other day of someone being told that that they did not exist as their name had been changed by deed poll and there was therefore no record of their birth.

MH – good suggestion, as under my dining room table is most definitely a no-go area, strewn as it is with the remains of the Littleboys' meals as well as assorted pieces of Lego, jigsaw puzzles and the like. Not even my cleaner goes beneath it.

Nota Bene, all the passwords I come up with are secure against me - well I pride myself on being quite creative....

And Potty Mummy, I am intrigued to know how you cheat - perhaps it is some kind of mental sat-nav?

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Decluttered surfaces? Merely shove everyhing in drawers, cupboards and under sofas when visitors arrive! Et voila, the Nunhead Mum way to pristine surfaces....and finding an important something two months later and saying "oh, there it is!"

With regard to passwords I have one generic password that I use for everything but I have loads of PIN numbers that mean absolutely bog all to me. My experiences when using Chip and Pin are hilarious because I have to get my mobile out to find out what the pin number is as I've cunningly disguised it as part of a phone number........but can never remember what name I've saved it under.

Miss Hope said...

Enlighten me, Mr Greenwood never remembers my birthday, but he always remembers my pin...which is my birthday...