Maxed Out 

Passwords fail me

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"Help me... help me... help me!"

- The Fly

Poor Andre Delambre. So driven, so dedicated, so curious. Nearly a decade before the cleaver writers of Star Trek sidestepped the sticky problem of how exactly one moved from orbit to planet without the attendant hassles of piloting a bigass space ship through the pull of gravity - and quite possibly an atmosphere - or repeatedly firing up a smaller shuttle craft, by simply writing in the age-old conceit of a fully-functional transporter, Andre was beavering away in his basement working on just such a device. Why exactly he wanted to convert matter into energy and back again - possibly to escape the '50s - wasn't clear but then, neither was how a man so painstakingly careful didn't notice the fly that buzzed into the transport chamber with him. Yikes!

Poor David - or was it Al - Hedison. In the early days of a 50-year acting career, spent largely as a footnote on television shows none of us would willing admit we watched, he was forever hung with the "Help Me!" line, weekly squeaked as he crawled around his lab, a common housefly with a human face and a scientist's brain. I don't think it would be giving too much away, especially since no one watches black-and-white movies anymore, to reveal he was swatted out of his misery before discovering the joys of fly sex. Oh well, at least he never lived to feel the pain of computers.

Lately I've been feeling that pain. I don't suppose it's as bad as growing wings, regurgitating more disgusting goo than usual or dodging flyswatters but it's an almost universal, 21 st century pain. I feel it, you feel it, people who barely even use computers feel it.

Passwords. User IDs. Obtuse hints at bits of trivia long forgotten.

As I write, I'm certain that if there is a hell, a whole new Dantesque ring is being excavated for software writers and security "experts" who can't manage to get themselves out of the sticky flytrap of passwords they've captured all of us in. I say enough's enough. No more passwords.

Right now I can't retrieve my phone messages from afar. Why not? I don't know the password. Never did. It was a secret my Perfect Partner took with her to oblivion. I can't get into my benefits plan at the MotherCorp: The Sequel. Why not? I guessed too many times at my once-a-year password and am now considered a potential terrorist and locked out. Well, isn't that just like management? Can't sign my employee agreement either. Did I ever have a password for that one? Beats me, but it takes one to get in. Dave, in case you were wondering, I agree to whatever it is you'd like me to agree to. Can we call it even?

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