7 Aug 2011

Hestia and the tyranny of passwords

This is me at my actual pc. So old it works in runes.
I'm sure I'm not alone by admitting this - but I have to write down all my passwords and login details because every sodding thing that you like on the intertubes needs them.  And being a bear of little brain (well, a bear who refuses to devote much of her little brain to remembering them) I write them down.  Don't tell my bank manager.

Every month I pay my credit card bill and the event goes like this:  Find credit card bill (hopefully within a few days of it needing to be paid) log in.  Pray to God that my computer remembers all the log in details, otherwise I need to go upstairs to my office and rootle through all my credit card statements until I find the ONE with the cryptically inscribed password/login details.

How cryptic are they?  Well, put it this way - I usually have to e-mail Tartarus to be assisted in what my cryptic clues might be - For example DOB 4 and 5.  Obviously DOB is date of birth, but whose?  And what in the hell is 4 and 5? Neither of us has a clue what I meant, so we had to go through the palaver of changing the whole set up.  Now we can't remember what the new password is, but still have a clear record of DOB 4 and 5.....

Anyway, I eventually will find the login details for my credit card and dutifully fill in the boxes that ensure that it will be paid.  Then you need to enter your bank card details.  And then there is a login check on those.  Dear reader, every month I write down what the login is and every month I enter it and it is refused for some perverse reason.  So then I give up and request new log in details.  It is only August and I've renewed the login details 13 times this year.

Trying to pay my credit card bill is like breaking in to the Bank of England.  I was going to say 'Bank of America', but their coffers are empty of everything,  except kirby grips and old broken polo mints.

The worst thing is trying to pay Tartarus's credit card bill.  'You may not proceed unless you are...Tartarus...It is an offence to proceed unless you are the card holder' dictates the robotic lady-voice on the end of the phone.  WHY??? For GOD'S SAKE.  I'm trying to PAY it, not EMPTY it!


I have spent a whole day and two hours trying to log in to Sonshine's Nintendo Club to register his new 3DS.

We sit at the computer together.

Me:  'Right  - what e-mail address did your dad use when he signed you up?

Sonshine *shrug*

Me - opens all the e-mail accounts that belong to me.  tries to find some reference to Club Nintendo.  Eventually finds reference and seems to be linked to Tartarus's e-mail.  Excellent.  That's 30 minutes of my life I won't get back.

Me:  OK - what is the password?

Sonshine *with confidence*  Big Bunny

Type, type, type......


big bunny








Me:  Are you sure?  Go and find the password book *yeah, I know, I'll need to burn it or bury it by the time he is 14 or I'll be penniless and in the gutter*

Sonshine returns with the book.

I eventually find Club Nintendo.  Filed under D.  Of course.  For DS, I assume.  Tartarus's powers of filing are inventive and probably goes some way to explain the crypticness of our log in details.

me:  Aha!  I have found it!  *cryptic clue:  Daddy's favourite toy*  Well, that's easy, it's either ME or the Ducati.  Since I haven't been played with for about 8 years, I plump for the Ducati.

Sonshine looks shifty.  'I just requested a new password, mum.  Sorry.  Never mind - it will be e-mailed in a couple of minutes.

I sigh.  'It might be e-mailed in a couple of minutes, but it will be sent to your father's e-mail address. On the ship.  We'll need to wait until he logs on and forwards it to us.'

Sonshine looks at me hopefully. 'Don't you have dad's e-mail log in details?'

I don't.  Well, I can't be buggered looking to see what weird filing system he's used for hotmail and, frankly, I dread what I might uncover in the search for it.

We wait.

The e-mail arrives today. With the new password:  It is a mixture of letters and numbers - two of which are 0 or a O and two of which are a 1 or a I.  I spend almost an hour typing every permutation of zeros and capital Os, ones and capital Is until the fecking Nintendo Club account cracks under my relentless Enigma Code-breaking skills.

He logs in.  Downloads a free game.

me:  Is that it?  Is that what we needed to get into the Club Nintendo for?  A FREE GAME?'

Sonshine nodded and kissed me gently on the forehead: 'You're the BEST mum in the world,' he said - insincerely, even by my jaded standards.

I logged off and went to lie down with a Georgette Hayer novel.

Sometimes technology is a terrible, terrible thing.


  1. I'm guilty of this too, all cryptically written down in code.
    Hubby shakes his head in despair, but I must have to remember about 20 passwords, and the ones at work need changing every month - nightmare to think of a new one that isn't too similar to one I've used in the last 5 years!
    I sympathise entirely.

  2. I think we've all been there.
    A helpful hint: USe the same password for all sites with subtle changes.

    You can use Sonshine's name and ADD a couple of letters and numbers.
    E.G. Sonshine23Z, using numbers you can remember (like 4 & 5 ?)

    I've used the system for years and find it's relatively easy to remember.

  3. Hilarious, Ali! I'm quite good at remembering passwords, and also use TSB's method of using the same password and/or adding a few bits to it. My college email insists I change password every month! I just keep the same word with the number of the month it is :)

  4. I am not a domestic goddess--I'm a simple forest spirit. It is essential to simple sanity to write all the password and log-in info on 3x5 cards and keep them in a recipe box in my bedroom. This worked for years, but a couple of months ago I lost it. Or the cats stole it. Or someone unknown put it away somewhere mysterious. The passwork keeper will be a large loose-leaf notebook. They are too large to lose or hide. And when it disappears, I'm going to start carving them on the trees in some wonderfully elegant script. You see, it really is simple.

  5. Georgette Heyer is the literary equivalent of comfort food :-)

  6. Oh Ali, I do sympathise. I think most of us have been frustrated by wasting hours of our lives trying to log in. I tried the subtle changes in passwords and that just got me even more confused. Have a peaceful day. Lesley x

  7. I write all mine down but there are so many of them I am thinking of creating a spreadsheet so that I can sort them alphabetically - it's not my stupidity just the tinterweb's need for stronger and stronger codes! Most recently my bank sent me a fob to access my accounts but first I had to create some secret answers to secret questions - and when I put in the name of my oldest son I got it wrong (according to HSBC not me - I do actually know his name!)I did shout some unpublishable stuff at the screen.

  8. hey! i'm here to save the day. there are free programs out there that keep all of your log-ins and passwords and URLs for you. all you have to do is remember the password to the program - i.e. ONE! they will even paste them into the appropriate blanks as needed. highly recommended - we use KeePassX and love it.

    my parents use a word (say... "eel") and then add the word about the site (i.e. eelamazon, or eelbank).

    i still hate our password driven world.

  9. Wrie things down, what a novel concept.
    Even if I wrote it down, I'd still have to remember where i left it. I've got NO chance

  10. yeah I used to write it down and then I would add something to the end or the begining....to disguise it from baddies....and then i couldn't remember which end was not the password....it never ends!!xx

  11. Oh god, I have exactly the same palaver with my online banking. It's usually very good but if I want to set up a new payment then I have to have my password. Sounds simple, but this is not the user number, special online PIN or login details that I need to login normally, it's some bizarre thing that only ever gets used when I set up a new payment. It's written on a piece of paper which always manages to sink to the bottom of my archive box of paperwork and I have to turn my entire bedroom upside down to find it.

    Hope it was a soothing Heyer and not one of the ones like Cousin Kate. That would send you down a dark path!


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