Schools are always trying to come up with things to make kids want to read. I’m not sure any of it works — kids either pick up the love of reading or they don’t, and the summer reading clubs or painted signs or gold stars don’t seem to make much difference one way or the other — but I had to hand it to the unknown artists at the school down the block who came up with a flying saucer, a space shuttle and boosters and representations of all of the planet in the solar system.
One question: does anybody use the phrase “out of this world” anymore?
Hacking hackers are everywhere these days, and all at once. For the IT guys amongst us, that means tinkering with firewalls and new defensive software and systems vulnerability checks and incident response plans and all of the other technical gibberish that makes IT guys boring death at a party. For the rest of us, we can only groan in grim anticipation, because we know that we’re going to be asked to change our password . . . again.
One of the great challenges of modern life is remembering all of the different “passwords” that we must inevitably use to access our various electronic devices and internet accounts and computer access points. Unfortunately, we can’t use passwords like Allen Ludden would recognize. In fact, they can’t be a properly spelled word at all. So that it’s a “strong” password, it’s got to include a weird combination of capitalized and lower case letters, numbers substituting for letters, and random characters, like ampersands and pound signs and question marks. The result often looks like the sanitized representation of cursing that you might see from the Sarge in a Beetle Bailey cartoon — minus only the lightning bolts. (@#%*$^@#!) In a way, that’s pretty appropriate.
Of course, all of these suB5t!tu+ed characters, plus the fact that you need different passwords for different devices and accounts, plus the fact that passwords now must be changed much more frequently, make it impossible for the average human being to remember the passwords in the first place. How many of us sit down at a computer or pick up our tablet and idly wonder for a moment what the &*%$# the password is? And there’s the new year/check writing phenomenon to deal with, too. When a new year comes, how long does it take you to stop automatically writing the old year in the date, because you’d been doing that for the past 346 days? I had to change my iPhone password several weeks ago, and I still reflexively type in the old password every time I’m prompted, until I dimly realize that I’ve changed it and it’s time to key in the new one — if I can remember it.
There’s a positive aspect to this. We’re all getting older, and people who deal with aging say that if you want to stay mentally sharp as the joints creak and the brain cells croak you need to play word games or solve puzzles. Well, this generation has got that covered. We don’t need silly games, because we’ve got frustrating passwords.