It’s Not Rocket Science: Plagued by a phalanx of passwords

&jh729++;53*gy? NOPE, THAT’S NOT IT
Illustration by Lindsey Masterson

This column will be password protected.

Passwords must contain a combination of the following: between eight and 53 letters/numbers/symbols including one uppercase letter, one numeral, one “special” character, a forest shrub, the first ingredient from a traditional kosher recipe and the proper name of a saltwater fish.


Sorry, that password already has been taken.

Today, we need passwords to recover our passwords, and every website has different criteria.

Having one all-purpose password won’t fly.

We are forced to try to remember multiple combinations of silliness. There are sites where you can store all of your passwords, but they require a password.

And that’s the tip of the security iceberg.

Next come the security questions. What was the nickname you gave your first car? What city should you live in if you like quiche?

On which side of your neck did you get your first hickey? It’s all too much.

My dad was sent to a rehab facility for a few weeks. He is a newshound and a sports nut, so disconnect him from the internet for a few hours and he gets pretty stir crazy.

So we wanted to set him up with his computer. We fired up the laptop and up popped the password prompt. We entered his password, and it failed. Again and again.

Dad was sure he had it right — it’s the number of his favorite baseball player reversed, he said — but after going through every player on his favorite team’s roster and reversing their numbers, we had failed to break through.

Reluctantly, we called the folks who made his computer. After 34 layers of voice prompts, I found  myself explaining our problem to a very nice woman 8,000 miles away with a heavy East Indian accent.

Repeatedly, she told me, “Hoshifate very fast.” Over and over we worked to clear our language barrier. I was banging my head on the keyboard like I was trying to tenderize meat.

After 30 dysfunctional minutes, I finally got it: Hold shift and hit the 8 key very fast.

That’s it? With all the technology on the planet, the trick is to getting into this computer is to hold one key and hit another really fast?

After convincing myself that this wasn’t some elaborate prank, I started doing it. It was a two-handed job, so I put my phone on speaker and started banging the 8 key until my hand started to cramp.

I could feel a blister forming on my fingertip.

All of a sudden, I was overcome by a warm glow. Something was happening on the screen. I hugged a nurse like I had just gotten favorable colonoscopy results.

The little hourglass on the screen was flipping over. I looked up, anticipating the release of confetti.

Wait for it … here it comes. It was all going to be OK.

And then, four words appear on the screen under a little empty box.

Please Enter Your Password.       



Gary Yordon is president of the Zachary Group in Tallahassee, hosts a political television show, “The Usual Suspects,” and contributes columns to the city’s daily newspaper, the Tallahassee Democrat. He may be reached at

Categories: Opinion