If you are online for very long, you will being your collection of wonderful random combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols that we all collect, the password. If you are like me, and work with computers all day, you will add to your collection rather quickly until you have more passwords than you can remember. And then it happens. That fateful day when you have to change a password. Usually this happens about the time you have secured the previous password into your memory. Then, the next time you need to log in, you have to remember your password. No, not the one you had committed to memory, the one you changed to after that. All the pounding of your head against the keyboard can’t help you now.
Four stages of learning a new password:
1. Space Odyssey Stage
In this stage, you enter your old password on instinct, click enter and get an error. The old movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, one of the more memorable lines comes from the computer system in the spaceship, HAL9000. “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” I’ve staggered in this stage for weeks at a time, sometimes entering the old, wrong password multiple times before realizing why I’m unable to log on. The absolute worst part of this step is when you realize that your password was changed, but cannot remember what the new password is.
2. Galaxy Quest Stage
In this stage you enter your old password, but mere seconds before you hit the enter key, you remember that it is the old password and you are able to avert any errors by correcting it before you hit enter. The film Galaxy Quest parodies the Star Trek culture. In the movie, the aliens had seen all of the Galaxy Quest television show and modeled their society and technology on what they saw. At one point a countdown timer is, well, counting down toward the imminent explosion of the ship. It stops at 1 second and Sigourney Weaver’s character says, “It always stops at one on the show.” The aliens had matched every detail in designing their ship, including the “last-minute save”.
3. Dumb and Dumber Stage
In this stage you remember that you changed your password before you enter the old one. Unfortunately, it takes a moment or two to remember what the new password is, so you sit, for those few moments, staring at your computer monitor like one of the character’s from Dumb and Dumber. “Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this…”
4. Groundhog Stage
In this stage, you finally remember you password, and when you sit down you automatically log in without any hesitation or error. Only one problem, it is now time to change your password again. Just like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, you get to repeat the entire vicious cycle one more time.
I’m currently in limbo between stages 1 and 2.