I’m sorry. You must ENTER a PASSWORD to proceed.
Sorry, “password” cannot be your PASSWORD.
Sorry, too few characters.
Sorry, you cannot use blank spaces.
Sorry, you must use at least 10 characters.
Sorry, you must use at least one numerical character.
Sorry, you must use at least one upper case character.
Sorry, you cannot use more than one upper case character consecutively.
Sorry, you must use at least one symbol.
Sorry, you cannot use more than one symbol consecutively.
Sorry, you cannot use punctuation at the end of your password.
Sorry, that password is already taken.
There are a lot of painfully amusing examples of this type of password angst on various websites, all of which need complicated passwords to view, of course. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there. More than once. Way more than once.
Maybe I happen to spend more time on the old desk top than most people, on account of noodling around various joke sites and Kijiji and Ebay and Wastelotsoftime.com for most of the day and much of the night is what I like to call “writing.” Or sometimes, when I feel particularly deluded: “working.”
I used to have one password. Nice and simple. Four characters, easy to remember. Even my dog could remember it. But then my dog died. But still, the password served me well for quite a long time. Until the dark day when certain unavoidable websites like those of financial institutions, mobile phone service providers and Jokes.com started getting all huffy about “security” and “hacking” and “spelling.”
And that’s when the password plethora caught fire and spread uncontrollably. Like – well — like wildfire. Like Ebola, the bubonic plague and boy singing groups. It was innocent enough at first, just a marginally unreasonable requirement that your password must be more than four characters. And then you couldn’t repeat a character. Then came the obligation for the obligatory numerals, then symbols and then the deed to your house and your first born.
It got so bad, I had to start a password book just to keep track of how to get into Amazon and my own on-line banking, and how to peruse the best sports car sites, vintage guitar websites, illegal music and movie sites, and videos of cats doing adorable things.
My password book has — I kid you not — 20 pages of passwords. Either I spend WAY too much time in cyberspace or my password book has very, very small pages. And I think we both know the answer to that one.
Which reminds me of a good password related joke I found on the interweb (after having to create a password) to view the website. This joke (apparently) (supposedly) (according to the interweb which is always 100 per cent true), this joke won a competition for the “funniest joke at the Edinburgh Fringe (whatever that is):
Stand-up comedian Nick Helm: “I needed a password that was seven characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
Har har. Not the biggest knee-slapper anybody’s ever heard, but hey — anything to make the painful password poppycock a little less poppycockish.
Or how about this one from a different password protected website: “I changed my password to “incorrect” — so whenever I forget what it is the computer will say: ‘Your password is incorrect.’”
And finally, to illustrate just how far we’ve descended into the Password Rabbit Hole of Hell, I found this corporate note which could be or even may actually be true:
“Note to all staff: because of the complexity of the password selection rules, there is actually only one password which passes all the tests. To make the selection of this password simpler for the user, it will be distributed to all supervisors. All users are instructed to obtain this password from his or her supervisor and begin using it immediately.”
So that’s one desperate attempt to sort out the password problem. Now if someone can come up with another desperate way to deal with all the mind-numbing security requirements concerning entering your User ID? Oh, and did I mention I have another separate little book containing only my various User IDs?
Guess how many pages that one has.
Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, award-winning author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate. His books can be found at Chapters, Coles and Sunworks in Red Deer.