Password Frustrations

So tell me why is it that some websites have a Fort Knox approach to passwords when it may not be appropriate?

Most of that is answered with a question:  Appropriate to whom?

The best way to answer all of this for myself is through examples.

I have a few passwords that I repeat all over the place.  The reason why I repeat them is because I don’t care if the account gets compromised.  Websites that require free registration are typical of this.  If you aren’t really invested in the information, a password is a nuisance and I generally give them “that password”.

“That Password” was one that I used at work, years ago.  It became something that quickly formed a “body memory” in that I could sit at a keyboard and just burst it through my fingers.  So why not, right?

The problem there is “Familiarity Breeds Contempt”.  You want a password you know, and that you think others won’t guess, but not too simple.  That leaves out things like your dog’s name, Mom’s name, your elementary school, 12345, password, or the ever favorite “qwerty”.

Why?  When someone tries to crack a password online, any given network for example, they typically won’t walk up to “your” computer and type away.  They’ll be noticed. 

Who was that guy in cubicle 9 anyway?

They will use software that will show up if someone is actually watching the store.  That network guy who is usually in cubicle 9 is probably down the hall watching the statistics on a remote computer or the phone, and locking down that specific port or address coming in to his network that someone outside is running the software on and will be back in a moment.  He’s got to stop off and visit the boss, grab coffee, hit the head, and fight a few fires.

The problem is that companies have decided that it is your problem to worry about your own passwords.  So they’re getting grumpy.  You’re asked to think of a new password every time you log in because you haven’t visited them in more than once a month, and there are rules.  Evil, sick, and twisted rules.  Something that you won’t remember because it requires Mixed Case, Punctuation – but not all punctuation, and a f3w numb3rs. 

Yeah, numb3rs.  That will show th3m!  The name Eric becomes 3R1q just because it is k3wl and L337.

Except it doesn’t.  All those remote attacks will be done via software.  The software has access to all the same books you read, plus the ones you didn’t read, plus the telephone book, plus many other aspects of popular culture.  I once came across some of those dictionaries to crack a computer that I was given and they’re massive.

I didn’t end up using that because on the fourth try, I guessed the password for the happy client.

My biggest complaint, though, is the Recruiting and Human Resources websites.  The worst of them assume that you actually care about them.  You end up rewriting your resume once you get in, and have to type in War And Peace while you’re doing it.  Oh, and don’t forget to log back in once every two weeks or we will delete your information!

No wonder why I try the “Low Security” password that I memorized and if that doesn’t work I click on the “I forgot” link.

Recruiters, you really are not all that significant and are a hurdle to get past, so relax on the security. 

So what do you do?

When I was doing Project Management at the University you would be shocked to know how many times I found people’s passwords.  Forget the Social Engineering tricks of their baby’s name plus their dog.  I would walk to their workstation and lift up their keyboard.  There would be a Post-It note with the passwords written on it.

Believe it or not, that isn’t as terrible as it sounds – if you convert that post-it note to a text file on your phone or on the cloud that you really really do know what the password is for.  After all, while I would lift  your keyboard, I won’t be able to get into your phone.  That is unless it is unlocked or your password is “1111” or something simple like that.

There is a file I keep on my computer.  It’s a clear text file.  Has the passwords on it.  There is a wrinkle though, it is only hints to the password and the hints are pretty obscure unless you are in my family.  But it is in a “safe place” that only I know where it is.

Now that you have found the place to store the hint file, what would I suggest you make the password?

Random numbers, letters, and punctuation is probably best, but make it a physical keyboard pattern you will find easy to memorize, and change it for truly important websites like your bank and credit cards and that annoying website you get all your financial advisor’s information from.

That last one emails me practically every day and I hate logging into it.

Find the file, open it up and remember what that password was…

Actually, this all makes me wonder where I put that post-it note.  Nope, not under my keyboard.  I’ll have to have a look. 

Fort Lauderdale Beach, A1A And Las Olas

How about a ride!
In The Car!
Let’s Take The Dog!

We were heading down to flip tapes at Kevin’s office.  That meant we’d be stuck in traffic.

Since we were going to do it at least twice plus other ancillary voyages up and down our suburban pseudo urban sprawl that constitutes the Proposed State of South Florida, that means sitting in the car looking at the pretty scenery.

I have a love hate relationship with the beach at Fort Lauderdale.  It used to be The Strip until some small minded right wingers closed down the whole spring break scene sending it off to other places.  It was a huge draw and an economic engine for all of South Florida.

After that, the businesses closed at the beach one after another, then the Republican induced Great Recession hit, and the Beach isn’t anything like it used to be. 

One of my favorite memories was after driving 1206 miles from my home in Suburban Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale, going to the beach and parking right about where this picture was taken from and enjoying the sun, surf, sand, and the party.

Two out of three ain’t bad, and that’s what they’re saying here.  Granted, it is still off season, so the crowds are a little off and that is to be expected.

Going from The 17th Street Causeway to Sunrise isn’t exactly an efficient drive.  You get stuck most days somewhere, whether you go up Federal, wait for a bridge on Andrews or NE 3rd, or simply take this route at the beach on A1A. 

So, as I get lectured often, why not take the prettiest drive?

To be fair, I was driving the same route with Kevin one day.  He went via A1A, I went via Federal.  We got home within seconds of each other.

Everyone hates being wrong, but he is right, why not enjoy the scenery.

Besides, I’m not the only one enjoying the scene.  Lovers embracing, bikers walking, people taking pictures, lying about on the warm sand or frolicking in the surf.  All of that is what I saw when I was sitting there, two lanes away from the bike path waiting for that light to change.

What To Do When Stuck In Traffic

I don’t often leave the quirky little island.  That is, the Island City.  Everything is here, I generally don’t have to go further than I can walk, and if I do, it’s usually only because we have to carry more than is comfortable.

If that sounds like Small Town America, it is.  In this case, I’m smack dab in the middle of the giant sprawl called South Florida, in a little city called Wilton Manors.  Kind of a cross between Mayberry, a Beach Party, and a lot of things.

Idyllic, well not entirely, but I will say that every time I read the police blotter, most of the “Perps” are not residents.  I am not fond of that sort of import.

We’d had a house guest over the weekend, and we also had a number of errands that simply had to get run.  Unfortunately that also meant being in traffic.  This being South Florida, there were a lot of really insane moves on the street.  I have to say I could never be a traffic cop, I’d spend all my free time sitting in court listening to how this case needed a delay for some trumped up reason by a shyster connected with a traffic “school” after having written a ticket to someone who made a right turn from the left lane across four lanes of traffic.

Snowbirds, please don’t forget that the Universal Vehicle Code also is in force here too, just like back in Ohio, or Quebec, or some other colder spot.

After being stuck in traffic at the beach, twice in one day, and on I-95 in a 3 mile tailback, I pulled out the camera.  It started innocently.  I took a picture of the back of a sealed tractor trailer and emailed it to my sister, still infatuated with the newness of having a new phone with an excellent camera, and the 1 GB of wireless data to use it with. 

“Hi Pat, this is what South Florida Looks Like Today”.

I sent her pictures of flowers and so forth later on after I calmed down.

But that is what I tend to do when I am in the Navigator seat.  I’m now fiddling with mapping programs, predicting traffic, making video, and taking pictures.

After the second day of this I now understand why Millennials are constantly fidgeting with their phones when they’re “idling”.  Traffic is never exciting for anyone.

But add a passing eye for a pretty shot, some incredible weather, a good conversation with the driver, and I managed to fill up the chip with lots of shots.

I also learned that I could silence the lens.  Night shots from a moving car with a silent shutter meant that I got about 5 times more pictures than I expected.

Coming back past the mall, I passed by the Pompano Beach Municipal Golf Course and even my jaded eye was surprised at the sunset. 

As I got shot three, I heard “Boy that is a beautiful scene!  Did you get any pictures?”

Great minds think alike.

Yes, from a moving car, with a cellphone camera, and night photography.  No tripod needed, the software has gotten that good when coupled with a fast processor.  It’s even easier than the old film days and the ASA 400 nonsense.

Unfortunately, you still get blur from motion.  A Fast Processor helps but it isn’t perfect.

But it does help to keep you from being bored when you are stuck in traffic.

A Red Hibiscus For My Sister

These are a fleeting, ephemeral thing.

Lasting but one day, faded before the dawn.

I’m sure that they’re supposed to produce seeds but I have never seen any from a red hibiscus like this.  It’s probably like those bananas we all eat.  Seeds too small to be fertile.

The Rose of Sharon I used to grow in Pennsylvania reminded me of these, so that was why I grew so many of them into the beginnings of a hedge.

Now I have the real thing, surrounding us and blasting forth in color, practically every day.

My sister said that she loves flowers, but you can’t grow these in New Jersey without keeping them in a pot indoors all winter.  I had a tree that I had done this with for years.  It put out the same red flowers, and every year when the weather got close to freezing, it would come in with the rest of the pots.  Shivering in the Kitchen of my house, by the door, it would drop leaves and mope until April when it would go outside to be eaten by Japanese Beetles.

Luckily here there is none of that and I can enjoy them whether in pots or in a yard or even in a hedge along the street on the daily walks.

Enjoy your flower, Pat.  Remember, the flower goes behind the Left Ear.  Mike will like that.

Revisiting Lisa’s Pentas

I think my friend Craig has given me a new set of eyes with which to see the world.

Having been given a new to me cellphone, I started learning how to use it.  The camera in it has more megapixels at 14 mpx than my older stand alone camera.  More importantly, I am able to take more kinds of pictures than before.

While the lens in the old camera had a much better zoom on it, I was limited in how close I could get to something.  The result was that I had to crop too much out in order to get to the picture I wanted.  The cell phone, a Samsung Galaxy S4, allows me to get within only a few inches of the subject.  I’ve been taking pictures of things that I couldn’t even see before without a magnifying glass. 

Having been stuck in traffic with the phone, someone texted me to find out where I was.  I took a picture of the car in front of me stuck at NE 3rd Ave and Broward Blvd with the words “Going to FLL”, and got back the word “Huh?” and responded Airport and was done with that.

Fun to be a smart alec at times, isn’t it?

But getting really close to subjects was something I thought was limited to a proper DSLR and a Macro Zoom.  The extra optics would help in some situations, but there are just so blasted many dots in the raw pictures that I would have to scale it down to print out a “Photograph”. 

The rules are that it should be at 300 dots per inch.  The camera puts out, therefore, a 13.75 inch by 7.74 inch image.  A little judicious cropping will be in order, but this is capable of putting out something that could be printed on a sheet of letter paper without scaling and losing detail.

One late afternoon, bored and armed with the camera, I went out back.  I take a lot of pictures of the backyard, including video.  Trying not to be repetitive, I did notice that I could get closer than I expected to my subject.  Why not run with it?

I have a penta plant in the pot in the yard.  It was given to me by Lisa a while back.  She had bought three, and she only wanted two.  I wasn’t completely sure what to do with this riot of red inflorescences, so it went on the irrigation chain and later into its own pot.  I figured that it was going to survive in my Darwinian garden or get selected out.  It has done well, although it needs to have the spider plant that I dropped in there with it removed. 

In my climate of never-freeze South Florida, the Penta are a small shrub.  They also produce seeds so I can propagate them.  Yes, more flowers from yours truly, we’ll need more pots. 

Lisa’s gone, a great friend and a Big Sister to us all, but her flowers are still here.  Just the way I like it.  After all, it gives me a subject to practice getting too close with a cell phone and pretend I’m doing “art”.

Or just share Purdy Pixturez with my friends.  Isn’t that what life is about?  Sharing with Friends?

A Man Was Tailgated One Morning

I try not to “source” my jokes on Facebook since, well you’ve probably seen it before. 

On the other hand, is there ever a truly original joke?

Thanks to my friend Valerie up in West Virginia, we have this one. 
Thanks to traffic and drivers in South Florida (and everywhere else) it’s pertinent!

A man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard.

Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten The red light by accelerating through the intersection.

 The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup.

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed, and placed in a holding cell.

After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ‘What Would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker, the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday-School’ bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk, Naturally… I assumed you had stolen the car.”

Two Guys are Playing Golf

Two Guys Are Playing Golf

The women in front of them are really taking their time and are slowing the men up.

So one man says to his friend, “I’m gonna go ask those ladies if we can play through.”

He starts walking, but about halfway there, he turns around. When he gets back, his friend asks what happened.

He replies, “One of those women is my wife, and the other is my mistress. Why don’t you go talk to them?”

So the second man starts to walk over. He gets halfway there and turns around.

When he gets back, his friend asks, “Now what happened?”

To this he replies, “Small world.”