Please Enter Your Password

I just got back from my annual doctor’s appointment, where I got some good news and some bad news.  The good news is that they found no health issues, so if all goes well, I don’t have to darken their door for another year.  The bad news is they want me to sign up for their “online patient portal,” which they promise will allow me to access my medical records, ask questions, and make appointments quickly and easily.  Previously, doing any of that meant you had to actually call their office, go through their automated answering system and then be placed on hold until you grew old and died while waiting for an actual human being to come on the line.  I admit that I like the idea of never having to listen to an orchestra play the Rolling Stones’ song “Satisfaction” again, but I doubt that I’m going to sign up for the new system.  Because if I did sign up, I’d have to create yet another password, and I absolutely do not want to do that.

Even though I’ve resisted online banking and am one of the few people in this country who still prefers to go to an actual store to shop rather than sit in my pajamas in front of my computer and simply order stuff that someone else has to deliver to my door, I still have way more passwords than I can handle now.  It would be easy if I could just create one password for everything, but the experts warn against that.  They also warn us not to create passwords based on the names of our pets or children, our birthdays, or something so obvious as “my password.”  Which means that I can’t make a password out of anything I can possibly remember.

IMG_1082I’ve come up with my own system for “remembering” the passwords I have to use when I’m at home on my own computer.  I have a binder that I keep in my desk drawer, right under my computer monitor, clearly labeled, “Important Computer Passwords.”  My son, who does tech auditing for a living, has pointed out that there’s little sense in having passwords if I make it so convenient for everyone to find them.  But I think that if someone has taken the trouble to break into my home with the intention of accessing my computer accounts, the least I could do is make it convenient for them.  That way, they might not be so inclined to mess with my important stuff, like the profile on my Facebook page.

I have heard of online systems for storing and retrieving passwords, on what is called “the cloud.”  But I just don’t see how putting all of my passwords out in cyberspace is a good idea.  Aren’t the people who hack into websites also on cyberspace?  It seems to me that the idea of storing passwords on the cloud is riskier than having them in my notebook.  The chances of a hacker actually showing up at my house to look in my notebook are rather small, but I have already received several of the dreaded “security breach” notices from my credit card company, bank, and insurance company, who all insist on storing important information on the internet.  It seems to me that storing my passwords in cyberspace makes as much sense as me storing my Sunday roast in my dog’s supper dish and expecting her to ignore it.

So, for now, I will decline to join the system that lets me access my doctor’s office via cyberspace, at least until someone comes up with a way to keep that information safe without forcing me to create yet another password I have to worry about.  I know that makes me sound hopelessly old fashioned, and I probably am.  But I’d rather be on hold for thirty minutes than have to admit that, once again, I’ve forgotten my stupid password.

PS:  Many thanks to George, over at the excellent blog called The Off Key of Life, for the inspiration to write this post.

50 thoughts on “Please Enter Your Password

  1. Love this Ann…sometimes I get so disgusted with technology that I threaten to “go back to the village”…until I realize that means dial up Internet – sometimes we just can’t go back… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, so true! I have a password-protected file on a hard drive that has two pages of passwords that I could never have remembered (other than that one key password). I recently had computer problems so that I could no longer open that file so I had to keep a paper copy next to my laptop. I do like not having to wait on the phone to “talk” to my doctor, though.

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  3. Great post. I have the online portal for my doctor’s group. I really like my individual doctors, but they have been forced by necessity, I imagine, to join a conglomerate that I despise. So every time I see an email with the group’s logo on it, I won’t open it. So mature!! Ha
    A word of caution, though. I pride myself on being “techy.” But a year or so ago I had my identity stolen. I was SURE the bank would say it was from internet usage. But nope, it was probably from my grocery store. They get you swiping your card. So I continue to use my passwords online, and now pay by cash in all stores.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The last time I talked to someone at the bank, they said the same thing: “don’t swipe your debit card at the grocery store.” I kept my mouth shut, but I wanted to point out that when they first issued that card, they told me to use it EVERYWHERE. I’m getting to the point where I prefer cash as well, which is why I hate the fact that everyone keeps talking about moving to a “cashless society.” There will be no way to stay safe then! And I’m so sorry about your identity theft! I can’t imagine how frustrating and time consuming that must be!

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      • I wrote a post about the absurdity and frustration of identity theft last March.
        http://saneteachers.com/?s=Australia+and+Poland
        The new debit card I have has the chip in it. But most stores don’t have machines yet that are set up for the embedded chip. I figure it won’t take the criminals to take long to figure out how to back those too.
        You’re right, we have been encouraged to use our debit cards everywhere. My father was afraid to use his and I scoffed at him. Now I do as much as possible on the internet as I’ve been accustomed to. But cash for all else.

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      • Until about three or four years ago I simply refused to have a debit card. I was forced to switch when my bank chose no longer to have an only ATM card or debit card you could choose from, so I was forced to get a debit card, if I wanted ATM access. Before then I paid either by cash or check. I still prefer that method, but it’s amazing now many people don’t know how to handle checks at check out, anymore, or how many stores now no longer accept checks. Sigh………….Here, they warn against using the debit cards at gas stations.

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    • You are so funny, Deb! Luckily, I had several mice as pets when I was a kid, and they don’t live very long, which means they were replaced often. So, I still have lots of dead pet names to go, but like you, I can’t remember which one goes to which account. Go for the book, it helps.

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  4. Ah…. security, my favorite topic.

    Here is a humorous little tale of high security. A government facility (which shall not be named) installed a fingerprint reader to control access to a secure area. About two months after the new system went into effect, the security team realized that a housekeeper had never been cleared and her fingerprints were not on file – yet she entered the facility every day.

    So they watched her.

    In the course of her daily duties, when she came to the fingerprint reader, she leaned towards it and breathed on the laser pad. As her breath condensed, the image of the thumbprint of the last person to enter the facility appeared and locks clicked open.

    So much for sophisticated security systems.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have no problems believing that story! I think the only thing I know for sure about security is that I’m supposed to have it. Exactly how I go about it still baffles me, hence my notebook. But at least you found some humor in the situation!

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      • The best security is obscurity. I once worked on Unisys A Series mainframes. They were so obscure that no one knew how to hack them. Soon after I moved to the Minnesota BCA, our NT based system was hacked by The Legion of the Sacred Cow (that’s a real group).

        Personal obscurity is simply sharing as little as possible and remaining content in the backwaters of computing.

        Liked by 2 people

        • That makes sense. I try to keep as low of a profile as possible, but I know I mess up and put a bit more personal information than I should on my blog and Facebook pages. And I have to say, hackers or not, The Legion of the Sacred Cow sounds intriguing!

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  5. I was late to technology, too, Ann. I only got a debit card about two years ago and my first smart phone this past November. I usually use the same two or three passwords with one or two slight variations, so usually as long as I keep trying I’ll get the right one. Loved the first paragraph about being kept on hold, so funny!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think I’m going to have to master that variation on the basic password thing, as it’s the only way I have even a chance of remembering passwords without my trusty notebook. Technology is certainly a mixed blessing, anyway you look at it. Thanks, Kim!

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  6. Thank you for the shout out, Ann and like you I’ve rejected the whole portal thing after my yearly eye exam.
    I have so many passwords I don’t where to go with them all but the cloud isn’t one of the places I feel comfortable with. I also hate when I forget the password and I have to reset it and begin a process all over again. But it’s the times we live in so I just keep on keeping on and hope some jack out there doesn’t find me. Heck of a way to live, isn’t it?..:)
    Thank you again, that was very kind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is very frustrating, trying to remember all the passwords that seem so necessary to our everyday life, and just laying low and praying our personal information doesn’t get hacked, isn’t it? I know technology has brought some terrific gifts, but in other ways it’s a giant pain in the neck!
      As for the shout-out, the thanks go to you for suggesting I write this post, and for your excellent post that made me realize I have rather strong feelings on the subject!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Like you I refuse to put everything on the cloud….. I don’t back up anything on the cloud or the sky or the moon. Most often I can’t remember my passwords and its frustrating that most sites now want you to sign up, create an account before you can even browse…so therefore like you I like to go shop, touch, feel, look before I buy anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean! And even when we shop in an actual store, they want us to sign up for their “rewards program,” which always means giving our personal information so they can track our purchase, and often needs a password as well. It’s so frustrating. Just take my money and hand over the product, is my theory. And if I want to shop on line, just take my credit card number, no need to set up an account each and every time! Thanks for the comment….

      Liked by 1 person

  8. So, if you look in your notebook for a password and then go to the computer to enter it, can you still remember it? If so, you’re doing better than me! I can forget something in the space of few seconds. But I’m with you on using fewer rather than more sites, for this password amnesia problem. (Likewise, I have a pin-number amnesia problem.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m with you on that one! What I do is get my password notebook, carry it over to my desk, open it and place it on my lap while I’m typing in my password. Otherwise, I’d forget too!

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