Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Challenge To The Reader

Below is reprinted an actual verbatim copy+paste of a work memo I received several months ago. It was intended to aid the user in constructing a password that met Bureau standards:

Password must be 12 characters, and as follows: 1 upper case, 1 number, 1 special character, can not contain a word in the dictionary.

That's not especially hard to do for anyone who has been using PCs for a while, but for those who did find it troubling, HQ sent out a memo containing written advice and tips on how to simplify password creation. For a few days, I was required to read this memo aloud to new employees in my training classes, but after I read a portion of it to my boss, she said "ahg! stop!" and told me to no longer read it at class, HQ be damned.

My challenge to you, the reader, is for you to see how far you can wade into this progressively convoluted text before you reach a point where it stops making sense and starts making you feel crazy. How many hours per week could you follow orders given by the author of this mess:

Some individuals are immediately aggravated at this password routine, but if you will stop and think a little you will see that it is very easy. The key to a password is being able to make it sensical to you. For example: there are several alphabetic characters that can be substituted for numbers and vica-versa. An L and a 1 can be interchanged. A 3 is just a backward E. An h just an upside down 4. Certain special characters can be very helpful an ! is an upside down i, an & can replace the word and etc. If you know a foreign language this can help also, for example, in Russian a "ch" looks like a 4 with the top open (you know like the way we hand write the 4) If you know Hebrew a W can be a "shin" or "sh" sound. So with these tools you can make sensical passwords that are easy to remember. For example I could use my position, part of my name and [my job code] to make a very strong password. "amtKDGhe!p$U2" read it, it reads easily and would be easy to remember. Or "I-10ve2gOWop" "I love to go shop" the o of love is a zero, the number 2 for to, the o for go is zero and the Sh for shop is W or the Hebrew shin sound. This can make the creation and remembering of passwords very easy. With a little thought you will see that you don't even have to write them down. Every 60 days, just flip some character around.

Got it? I don't think the writer intended it the way I interpret it, but I love this (slightly modified) line from the jumble above:

The "oh" of love is a zero.


My 9-year old PC is dying. Despite my job insecurity, I feel that I deserve a new computer, and a good one, to boot. Get it? To boot?

Anyway, I did my homework and found a machine with 8 GB of RAM and added a video card with 1 gig of on-board RAM. My current PC has 608MB of ram and 128MB on the card. The new one cost cost less than $600, shipping included. Nice. We will see how Vista plays's been tweaked a lot since it came out and I've recently talked with a number of happy users.

Two radio shows- four hours total- so I'm just posting the playlist and that's it. It's cut and pasted from the radio blog :Artist-Song/Album/Label.
And yes, I did play the song twice by mistake...but other than that, I had a rollicking good time.

The British Breakfast , 23 May 2009 (Guest hosting for Gene)

T.Rex- Chrome Sitar/Futuristic Dragon/Relativity
Soft Boys- Asking Tree/Invisible Hits/Glass Fish
Marianne Faithfull- Broken English/BE/Island
Bill Nelson's RedNoise-Brave New For Young Moderns/SoundonSound/EMI

Kinks- Artificial Man/Preservation Act 2/Konk
Gary Numan- Me, I Disconnect From You/Replicas/Atco
Richard Thompson- Cash Down Never Never/Daring Adventures/Polydor
Cardiacs- Manhoo/Songs To God/ABC

Beatles- One After 909/Let It Be/Apple
Faces-Miss Judy's Farm/Snakes&Ladders/Warner
Ten Years After- Religion/R&R Music To The World/Chrysalis
Steve Hillage-Talking To The Sun & 1988 Aktivator/Live Herald/Virgin

Danielle Dax- Big Hollow Man/Dark Adapted Eye/Sire
Klark Kent- Excess/KK/IRS
Andy Partridge-Cairo/Lure of Salvage/Virgin
Clannad-Love and Affection/Anam/Atlantic
Joe Strummer-Get Down Moses/Streetcore/Hellcat

Damien Dempsey- Marching Season Siege/Seize The Day/Attack
Hawkwind- Space is Deep;Lost Johnny/ Too Much Acid
Moody Blues- Gypsy/To Our Children/Threshold

Pretty Things- Pure Cold Stone/Rage Before Beauty/Snapper
Snakefinger- Every Day I Get The Blues/ History of The Blues
Genesis-Can Utility/ Foxtrot/Atlantic
Magazine-About The Weather/45/IRS
Emerson Lake And Palmer-Bitches Crystal/Tarkus/Shout

The New Breakfast Snob, 23 May : Snubbing Frank

Funkadelic- Good To Your Earhole/Take It To The Stage/Westbound
Residents- My Work Is So Behind/Commercial Album/Ralph
Big Linda- Glass Onion/Mojo Sampler
Garbage- The Trick Is To Keep Breathing/2.0/Almo
Robbie Robertson- Hell's Half Acre/RR/Geffen

Golden Palominos- Pure/Pure/Restless
Residents- Possesions
Klark Kent- Don't Care/KK/IRS
Marianne Faithfull- Flaming September/A Secret Life/Island

Chris Huff-The Night Cafe/North Cathedral Way/Huffmusic
Bob Marley- Hold On To This Feeling/Complete Wailers/JAD
The Frames-Rent Day Blues/Set List/Anti
Patty Hurst Shifter-Promiscuous/Coma La Grava/Pants On Fire

Cursive-Sink To The Beat/Burst and Bloom/Saddlecreek
Ross Phazor-You'll Never Change/Mr. Mango Man/Ross Records

Bruce Cockburn-Anything Could Happen/Big Circumstance/Gold Castle
Stefanie Seskin-Nothing To Say/Edge of Reason/Check Other
Damien Dempsey- It's All Good/Seize The Day/Attack

Crazy Aunt Mary-Quiet Water/(Fell off the back of the Interweb)
Astronauts of Antiquity- Breakthrough/Rocket Science For Dummies/RevCon
Gary Numan- Me, I Disconnect From You/Replicas/ATCO

Skidmore Fountain-Anyone Around/Cloudless Blue/Young Love
Carrie Rodriguez-50's French Movie/SAOAB/Trainwreck
Gang Of Four-Natural's Not In It
Trey Green- My Girlfriend/ Interweb Hijack Mp3
Motorhead-Don't Believe A Word/Overnight Sensation/CMC

Kevin Cahoon & Ghetto Cowboys- Fashionista/ ??
Dare Dukes-Ballad of Darius McCollum/Prettiest Transmitter of All/Starland
G-Spot- Happy Denial/??
Green Man- A Conversation With Death/??


That's all.


yinyang said...

That memo sounds like it was written by some awful substitute teachers I've had, who were used to dealing with elementary school kids and never adjusted their style of communication for the higher levels. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

I was doing okay until "in Russian a "ch" looks like a 4 with the top open (you know like the way we hand write the 4)"

You know, ther's an interesting psychotic flavor to that. I tried to read their exmamples and was baffled about how they were supposed to be easy to read or remember. Especially once you "flipped a character." And I was also wondering if someone who is fluent in Hebrew or Russian along with English would need instructions about password creation.

NYD said...

OK, I didn't bother reading the memo. I just took your word for it and avoided a minor amount of stupidity.

I got a new machine about five months ago and although it's taking me a very long time to get used to Vista (my OS is in Japanese) I like it a lot.

billy pilgrim said...

i give my basic cracker factory password to anyone. they don't even have to remember it, it's on a post-it note on the screen.

passwords are a management tool that holds the user responsible for everything that happens on their computer.

my atm password is 4 digits and it's more important than some inane cracker factory 12 digit password.

yellowdog granny said...

them folks are nuts

ooh new puter..good for you..i want a lap top..i want a lap top so bad i could weep...sigh*
vista works fine for me..but then what the fuck do i know?...nada..ha

angel said...

It kinda made sense up to about "etc."

Lisa Bianco-Songwriter said...

You know I named my acoustic guitar Marianne?....cause she was such a bad a*s. Love her! Great set.

Anonymous said...


Allan said...

YY- I think it's written by a narcissist who has no right to be one.

CW- See my comment above...I once has a step-guardian who wrote like that- she considered herself Mensa material but in truth, she was thick as bricks.
I flipped her the character once. Got me kicked out...

NYD- You should try. It's 'special' in it's egregiously arrogant incoherency.

BP- As someone who has to fix other people's dumb PC mistakes, I feel the user should be responsible for what happens on their PC while they are signed on.

JS- You know as much as Freya wants you to, no more, no less. It's plenty, so don't worry!

Allan said...

Lisa- You rock! Remind me to play you next week!

Anon- Are you NYD's OS? If not, go BSOD yourself.

Angel- That's where I gave up too...she shoulda stopped before then.

Chris Huff said...

Hey Allan. Great show! I am like a month behind on thank yous. Thanks again for the play! Chris

more cowbell said...

Dude, you got a lot of PC for a hell of a price. I just replaced my old laptop, circa 2000. Then I returned that, and replaced the replacement. I thought mine was good, but yours wins.