Bestpasswordever!

I have a new phone, I call it Roger. I find it endlessly diverting whenever I go to use my phone to say, I’ll ‘Roger that’. Roger goes everywhere with me, a habit I developed with my previous phone. This eventually brought about that phone’s demise when it slipped off a hand basin and fell into the loo. No amount of dried rice was going to bring Dory back; ‘Over and out’ you could say. This won’t happen with Roger – he’s waterproof.

I purchased Roger from a store where the salespeople looked as if going outside was something weird people do and were young enough to think a landline was a geo-political thing. I’m so technologically challenged that two salespeople were assigned to me; they tagged in and out at regular intervals. I didn’t mind, I found them so similar and their talk so incomprehensible that they were interchangeable. I called them ‘Thing One’ and ‘Thing Two’; not to their faces of course. I’d like to have, but the chance of interrupting their torrent of tech talk to say anything was zero. Thing One spoke eloquently of the advantages (or was it virtues?) of each phone until I was so bamboozled that I chose Roger because I liked his colour. Thing Two then banged on and on about security, especially the need to upgrade my passwords. It appears the 123456789 that I regularly use has been cracked by hackers. ‘But I can barely remember that!’ I protested. ‘How can I be expected to remember, fjr843jrAD55HJUb4’? ‘Furthermore’, I remonstrated, ‘I’ll have to pass on the security changes to all the people I share my passwords and accounts with’. At last there was silence; they were speechless. Apparently, I was doing it all wrong, and unless I wanted to see my details, my contacts’ details and all my money disappear off to Eastern Europe I needed to get serious about security.

A biometric method of accessing your phone is the most secure, more so than a PIN or pattern. I tried facial recognition, which should be super-secure as no-one’s face looks like the recorded one on my phone, including my own face if Roger’s success at recognising me is anything to go by. His success rate is lowest first thing in the morning. I know I can look a little rough first thing, but all the other Rogers that I have woken up to (never you mind how many) recognised me the next morning. While they might have considered it they didn’t have the brutality to deny knowing me before slipping back into sleep mode.

I have passwords for Africa, which is a good thing because I’ve been contacted by an uncle I never knew I had who lives there and who is after some of them. Passwords are the bane of my life. Rather than unlocking worlds they bar me from entering everything from Adobe to Zoom – I hate them! I have scraps of paper with every possible variation of my first pet’s name, mother’s maiden name and favourite sport written on it. These scraps of paper have been heavily over-inked with additional numbers and special characters until they look like they were written by someone experimenting with cryptology and LSD. I have no idea which websites these relate to. Passwords, I hate them!

Then I discovered a password manager, and the sun shone and lambs came out to play. Now I need only remember one password, but it must be a good one! The conundrum is to develop a password that is impossible to guess yet easy to remember. I was advised to think of a memorable sentence that only I knew, then take the first letter of each word to form an apparent random collection of letters. To be topical and positive I tried the sentence, ‘Cecily Loves Information Technology’, which while memorable does not strike the tone I was looking for. I had more luck with my second choice, however due to security reasons I am unable to tell you what it is. You see I am learning.

However I do like to share, so if you’d like we can meet up for coffee and I’ll tell you then. That’s what I told my Uncle in Africa, but I haven’t heard back from him yet.

No News Is Bad News

I like to keep abreast of current affairs. I find important issues such as elections, changing macroeconomic conditions and the name of Kate and Will’s latest to be extremely compelling.
In addition to keeping a watchful eye on these weighty issues I am also drawn to the weird happenings in the world. For instance this week I learnt of a 0.5km fun run in the Texan town of Boerne. That decimal point is not a typo, we’re talking 500m. I could do that – it’s a fraction of the distance I run every day looking for my keys, phone and wallet. The run starts at one bar and ends at another. One hundred and fifty metres into the run there’s a doughnut stand, which is beside a smoking area. It would be fair to say the emphasis is more on fun than run.
You could say the organisers of the Boerne fun run are “taking the piss”, but not as much as IKEA, as this next piece of news will reveal. IKEA recently placed a magazine advert for baby bassinets that doubled as a pregnancy test. Anyone who thought they might be pregnant was encouraged to pee on the ad that was splashed across the magazine’s pages. If they were pregnant the positive test revealed a previously hidden special discount price. If there are couples out there reading this and trying to get pregnant – not at the same time obviously – please note this only works for women.
Some people may discount weird items news as being improbable or inconsequential. Whereas I, having lived with myself these past few decades, find them entirely believable. Furthermore, I find they have value in allowing me to view the weird events in my own life less severely. For example, I read of a job interview that went awry when the applicant fainted and only regained consciousness in an ambulance. Which made me feel better about the time I went to the toilet while nervously waiting for a job interview. When I tried to leave the stall I found I was locked in. With my phone in my car, and my cries for help going unnoticed I resolved to commando crawl under the door. However I was concerned my clothes would get dirty so I stripped to my underwear then squeezed through the gap. While lying horizontal and scantily clad on the toilet floor someone came in; I was relieved – in every sense – when they didn’t hang around. However I did get the opportunity to explain myself fully to them when I saw them on the interview panel. You see it works, you’re already feeling better about your own worst interview.
It is incorrect that News is an acronym for either Notable Events, Weather and Sport, or for North, East, West and South. Rather the clue is in the name; news is to do with new information. Other explanations are fake (news).
Fake news, unlike real news, is intended to deceive. It is not news. Nor is it new – the term was used as early as 1894 in a cartoon by Frederick Opper. We owe a lot to President Donald Trump for the work he has done in the area of fake news. We are especially indebted to his broadening of the term to include accurate news that he doesn’t like.
Real news has power, and the people who vilify the fourth estate, or worse still harm those within it, realize this. News has the power to increase the engagement of ordinary people in society. Initially through increasing their ability to hold a conversation. Secondly, it facilitates the shaping the people’s opinions and beliefs. Then ultimately, news allows people to go out and shape their world. Clearly dangerous stuff.
So I’m going out to buy a quality newspaper with accurate reporting, reasoned editorials and a few job vacancies with interviews by Skype – not in an office block with a dodgy toilet door.
Cartoons