And Another Thing: At least eight characters, including 3 numbers

By: Susan Rushton
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Years ago, a coworker taped a Chinese cookie fortune to her computer monitor. I don't remember what it said, but it resembled something like this: "Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others."

She kept the fortune up there because part of it was always part of her password. The company demanded we change our password every two months, or seven days, or 13 hours, or some stupid thing, and so for a while hers was "Vision is the art." Then she'd change it to "Is the art of" and then "the art of seeing"--and when she got to the end of the fortune she'd start over again. Or maybe by then she'd had Chinese food again and started using her new fortune instead.

This, of course, was before the deadly serious and deeply important stipulation to be grave and somber about one's passwords, before the need to include numbers and symbols and not repeating yourself ever, like never having 77 or yy; and not doing something predictable, like having 1234 or lmnop1234.

I can also imagine that her manager never caught on to her scheme. Otherwise he'd have grabbed his chest and gone into conniptions. Imagine his hissy fit--how can you do this, how can you display your password in public, how careless how appalling how slipshod how unspeakable, etc. etc. etc.

Her clever method was so simple. So simple, in fact, that it just wouldn't do today. Tape your password on the front of your computer? Horrors. Use the same words over and over? Eek.

Who knows? Maybe she used the same technique at home. Maybe, at the risk of causing a heart attack, she used the same fortune. Take it easy, take it easy, deep breaths, now. Calm yourself.

Recently I've had this fantasy about my next million-dollar entrepreneurial idea. I'd start this software business, see, that would create passwords for people. Charge 'em $29.99 or $753.99, whatever the traffic would bear, and I would design their passwords. Or my fancy equipment would.

And they'd just need one password for the life of everything: their bank accounts, iPads, phones, mortgages, credit cards, Paypal accounts. Oh, I'd clean up, absolutely.

Of course I've long been convinced that if I can think of something, it already exists. So I'm too late. Someone much brighter has developed this very clever software that makes it possible to only use one password everywhere you go.

I just wish I could find this guy.

Because I know I'm not unique. I know I'm not the only one sick to death of having to come up with a new password every time I buy a new piece of technology. I bought an iPad Mini a couple of months ago and didn't realize when I entered the store that I should have spent some time thinking about a new password. The salesman doesn't have all day, after all.

I hate that we're supposed to have all different passwords. Hate that we're not supposed to carry these passwords with us, hate that we should file them--but wait, not in an obvious place, not in the file with the receipts and the instructions, no, that's too obvious, too sensible. The password has to be someplace else, someplace hidden and secret. Someplace in Seattle.

Right. If it's someplace else, someplace not obvious, how am I ever going to find it again? I mean!

Want to know my biggest fear? Here's my biggest fear: pretty soon I'll need a password for everything--from turning on the TV and starting my coffee in the morning to setting my alarm clock and locking the house. Pretty soon I'll need a password to answer the phone. A password to order a pizza, brush my teeth, sharpen a pencil, blow up a balloon. Geez, a password to turn right on red.

How about ijustcantstandit2013? Sorry, Susan, that password is taken.


Susan Rushton's opinion column appears every other Sunday in the Auburn Journal. Her email address is