Useless Usernames & Passwords

on Nov 01, 2012 by Michael Rupured

When I was in junior high a very long time ago, the only number I had to know was the combination to my school locker. I remembered it. Mostly. And when I forgot, someone in the school office could look it up for me.

High school required that I remember two lock combinations (one for physical education and the other for my regular locker). Because I had a job, I needed to know my Social Security Number. In truth, I really didn’t have to remember it because anyone who had one kept the card in their wallet.

By the time I reached college, my Social Security Number served as my Driver’s License and student identification numbers, and was printed on my personal checks. Somewhere in there, ATM cards became available and I had to memorize a PIN. About the same time, I got a telephone answering machine (with the tiny little cassette tapes) that enabled me to pick up my messages when I called in with a pass code. I used the same number for both, and still managed to forget it.

The world wide web as we called it, was the beginning of the end. Email came first, requiring unique usernames and passwords that were both easy to remember and easy for someone else to figure out. Since then, more and more internet interactions require a usernames and passwords. The technology is essentially unchanged. The biggest difference is that most web sites now require complex passwords for increased security.

I’m all about keeping my personal information secure–except, of course, for all the personal stuff I unload here on the blog. The problem is that things have gotten completely out of hand. I have no idea how many usernames and passwords I have–certainly hundreds, and possibly thousands. I give up. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t keep up with a never-ending list of usernames and passwords.

Even though the experts advise against it, I try to use the same username and password as much as possible. But this only helps so much. Password requirements vary from site to site, and some create a username that can’t be changed.

So anymore, here’s what happens. I go to some site I haven’t visited for a while that requires a username and password. Nine times out of ten, I’m unable to recall the correct username, password, or both. I click on the “forget your password?” link now instead of even trying.

Then they ask me some stupid question that I set up seventeen years ago. Even though I know the answer, I never get it right. I suspect the problem is either capitalization or articles (a, an, the) that keep me from getting it exactly right. Dammit.

Now I have to contact the web administrator for assistance. They send me a link, which requires me to change my password again. This is a complete and total waste of my time as there is absolutely no frigging way I’ll ever remember it.

We need to demand change. Surely the technology exists to replace useless usernames and passwords with fingerprints or something that would provide better security and be easier for consumers to use. And I’ll call you Shirley if I want to, cuz I’m a grown ass man, and it’s…

My Glass House

2 Comments

  1. Tali Spencer says:

    I write mine down and hide them in a super secret location only I will ever guess. I know this because my husband, who knows what the password stash looks like, has tried to find them and failed. Sometimes I forget where I hid them, which can be a problem. :/ But I have found the writing down invaluable whenever I, say, have to replace a computer. I would dearly love an omniscient computer or site that just knew it was me. The best of all worlds. But until then, I understand the need for passwords, just hate having to remember them because… let’s face it, my memory isn’t getting any better!