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Passwords, again

Passwords are still the bane of my life *).
The last time I wrote about this, people recommended I used password management software. I downloaded one of the recommended apps, entered those passwords I could still remember, set a master password and promptly forgot it. Usually, I could remember the master password on the third or fourth try, so I got some use out of it, but nevertheless I can write off the "keep them in a local app" strategy as a failure. The password manager wasn't much use when I needed to type a password on one of my other machines, and because of my problem remembering the master password, it was as much of a hassle as guessing my passwords in the first place. Also, a few weeks ago when we reinstalled the studio PC I forgot to back up the program's files and lost all the passwords anyway. I don't even remember what the app is called.
The only thing that helps is good password retrieval functionality in online apps. I'd like to take this opportunity to boo and hiss at Skype which will not do anything for me other than send me a new, random, password. This stone-age solution would be usable if the software itself actually did what it promised and remembered its own passwords. In my bitter and recent experience since last weekend's internet outage at the studio, it does not, so in the past two days I've requested two new random passwords. The second time I remembered to forward the password to my gmail address so it won't vanish into thin air again.
iTunes, which I need to login to on two different machines to authorise the second machine to play the DRM'ed music I bought from them (I find the DRM just about acceptible at the prices they charge but may change my mind if it turns out that I can't easily un-authorise the old, erased Windows installation) does better; unfortunately their system is still defeated by users whose stupidity is as resourceful as mine, and when it is, it fights back using some stupidity of its own. To retrieve my password I have to enter my email address, my date of birth and the answer to a secret question I fed it when I signed up. Can you guess what happened when I did that? I got two out of three right.
Secret questions work when they're something dumb like your mother's maiden name or other things that you can easily remember and third parties can easily find out. Mine was too inventive (but secure). All right, that's my own fault. The correct answer is some variant of a word with one syllable missing or maybe some numbers tacked on, or some odd use of capitals. I don't know. What does irritate me is that having guessed wrong twice, I have to go back and enter my email address, and date of birth again! What's the point of that? Assuming that I'm not me, I have clearly got my hands on a correct combination of email address and DOB. iTunes confirmed to me that those data were correct by letting me go on to the secret question. So if I'm a fraud, I'm not going to enter a different combination. If I'm me, on the other hand, I'm going to get angry about having to jump through that hoop again. So "Yay!" to iTunes for getting the basics right, but "Boo!" to them for not thinking through all contingencies.
Addendum: There is an alternative. You can have them send an email with instructions to reset your password. Do I need to explain why I don't want this? I guess I'll just write it down and stick it to my monitor like everyone else, this time.

Anyway. Wanna be richer than Bill Gates and maybe snap up a Nobel Prize or two? Invent something better than passwords and you'll deserve that and more.
*) Except of course for several hundred other things that are the bane of my life. My life has many a bane. Woe is me.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 29, 2005 10:56 PM.

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