Mysteries

The Problem with Passwords

Drama!

I was typing in a password today for a work account and thought for a second that I should make sure I have it recorded somewhere. It’s not that I’d forget it, but I do sometimes have a memory outage, so to speak. I’m not the only one. One of my customers called me one evening frantic that she’d forgotten her windows password. I asked her if she had it written down anywhere and she said no. She tried a couple of things while I was on the phone to no avail. Finally, I told her to take a break from it for a bit and then try again later. She called an hour later and excitedly told me she’d just logged in! All she had to do was relax.

I think passwords, especially ones we use often, tend to not just be stored memory, but are sometimes tied up in muscle memory – that is to say, movement and specifically movements that you routinely copy – like a password. I often key in my password almost too fast to even think about it because at some point, the memory has shifted from knowing it to “feeling” it when I type. The problem, then, is that at some point if your muscles can’t remember the movement, you may have not paid attention for so long that you’ve forgotten the password. This actually is only a small step from Chrome and other browsers remembering our password for us. Since I work in the department that gets calls when someone can’t log in, I know firsthand how often passwords are forgotten and it happens to all of us. It will happen to you too, which is why you might actually want to record that password somewhere safe. Not in case you just plain forget it, but just in case one day you need to log in and don’t remember how.

Weekend Update

The Weekend Update

For a country that outlaws fireworks in a lot of places, there sure were a lot of fireworks accidents over the last few days. The most interesting I think was where the bomb squad stuffed all of those coke-can sized fireworks into their detonation chamber and it blew apart. That must have really been a surprise to the guy who detonated it.

We had a good weekend. I’m a bit tired now. We had our first neighborhood gathering since before Covid hit. Maybe 30 people came over and we cooked out. I worked on the yard for weeks leading up to Sunday and my wife worked inside the house. A fun time was had. Lots of cobblers showed up. I finished the blueberry one yesterday all by myself. We decided to just take the day completely off and lay around since the last few weeks have been a bit treacherous getting ready. It wasn’t bad at all. I played animal crossing and took a nap and then we watched a couple of movies and then topped it all off with a few episodes of LetterKenny, our latest TV show of choice.

It’s true – if you want your house really clean, have a party. Our house and yard are meticulous right now. It’s really at the point where you want to go stay in a hotel so you don’t mess the place up. Maintaining it is probably possible with some effort. I still need to take down and old gutter and fix a piece of wood missing on the front steps. Now it’s 95 degrees again and I can’t bring myself to work in the heat. Maybe it will cool off later in the week.

I splurged and bought a couple of computer games. Is that even a thing? People probably don’t call them “computer games” anymore. Maybe they are just games. Anyway, I’ve been eyeing these games called “The Room” for a while and they just went on sale so I bought The Room 1, 2, and 3. Portal was also on sale so I bought Portal 1 and 2. These are all puzzle type games. I played The Room for a couple of hours the other day, which is really unlike me but it’s been hot and I had a bit of time so I just enjoyed it. You are in this room with big safe looking thing and you have to get inside. I’ve managed to get through two layers of it so far. Now I’m nearing whatever is in the middle. Not bad for the $1.99 or so that I paid for each.

Wacky Wednesday

The Micro-Manager

Umm, Yeah…

I used to work for a direct marketing company. I started when computers were just coming out in 1985 (well, coming out to our company at least). We had mainframes, but not PC’s. PC’s were just starting to show up. I think we had two or three total. Fast forward years later and yada, yada, yada – we had a large network with tons of computers and I had worked my way up to VP. All that means is that you end up working with people who might not be suited to be in management. A lot of managers are just people who did their job well and got promoted. Doing your job well doesn’t mean you can manage people.

We had a salesman who became a manager and he was terrible. He was a micromanager. I don’t mean he was super small or anything (well, he was, but that’s besides the point).

What Is a Micromanager?

A micromanager is a boss or manager who gives excessive supervision to employees. A micromanager, rather than telling an employee what task needs to be accomplished and by when will watch the employee’s actions closely and provide frequent criticism of the employee’s work and processes. (https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/micro-manager.asp)

Anyway, one day I was talking to the president and I pointed out that this guy was a micro manager and a short time later, he was gone. Asked to leave. I’m not saying I caused it, I was just another nail in the coffin. I thought, “Wow, this is great – we can really start moving ahead now without all of the nit-picking.” To my surprise, I found that maybe 75% of the people in the company now walked around aimlessly. I don’t know if it was because they were over-supervised for so long or maybe they really were slackers. Work didn’t get done on time, people did lousy work. It was a super fiasco. So these people needed to be micromanaged. They expected it and depended on it to move forward each day. As a self-starter, I’ve always hated micro-managers. I am aware of what I need to do each day. I am cognoscente of deadlines. I don’t need someone watching me work.

I can no longer say that for anyone else – and I never would have anticipated that.

Tuesday Tidbits

The Jury Duty

Surprised

I have jury duty… again. This will be my fourth time. I only say that because whenever I tell someone I have jury duty, they say “I’ve NEVER been called for jury duty.”

The first time was 1985. I was working for a trucking company. A fledgling programmer. I received a jury duty notice and showed it to my boss who immediately said “I’m 65 and I’ve never had jury duty!” He told me to tell them it would cause undue stress at my job, so I did and they said I was excused.

The next time was maybe around 2012. I was working at a marketing company and I actually got called for duty on that one. The case was about some towing company who took a car and then wouldn’t let the guy get something out of the glovebox – or something like that. The fun really happened behind the scenes. The decision should have taken minutes, but this one guy on the jury with us started screaming and banging on the table in the deliberation room. He said “I’m diabetic and I have to eat! I have to have lunch NOW!” He got up and started banging on the door and the judge called us all back in and he told the judge that he had to eat lunch. So the judge told us to break for an hour. We get back and sit down in the deliberation room and we start talking about the case. Some lady said that the towing guy had rights and the same guy slams his fists on the table and said she was CRAZY!! The car owner needs his stuff!! She looked shocked. Anyway, we all decided in the favor of the guy and not the towing company. We were done in maybe 15 minutes which made me wonder why they ever broke for lunch.

The next jury duty was around 2017. What’s odd about this one is I walked into my boss and showed her the letter and she said “No problem” and then I apparently completely forgot about it. I never called. I never thought about it again. I only realized this when I just received my latest summons. It’s like it was super important and then nothing. I’m not even sure what happened to the notice. I certainly never heard from them.

Now I have my latest summons. It says call every Monday and Thursday night for possible jury duty on every Tuesday and Friday. I’ve called all month long and every single call so far has been “No jurors are needed tomorrow. Please call on your next designated time.” I think I’m being punked. I have one more call. Jinx!! Maybe I’ll have to go in Friday and I’ll have another drama to report.

Wacky Wednesday

The Habit(s)

Learning

I downloaded a Habit Tracker app. I didn’t even know these existed until I was reading about journaling and saw a reference to a habit tracker journal and then I went down the rabbit hole and realized they have apps for this now. I test drove maybe 5 of them before finding one that met my needs. If you are interested, look them up on YouTube. Apparently, people love to review them. Some look really flashy, and that’s great, but I’m not into flashy. I prefer functionality. The one I chose is called Loop Habit Tracker.

My new habit is lifting a 10lb dumbell 20 times a day with each arm.

Seems easy enough, right? I’m basing the ‘need’ for this after a friend of mine years ago started doing the same thing and 30 days later he had these great looking arms. It was ridiculous, really.

So far, I’ve installed the habit tracker. That was last week. Every day it says “Hey, did you do your arm curls yet?” and every day I dismiss it. The most I’ve actually lifted my dumbell is to move it around my office because it’s in the way. Does that count?

To be fair, since I started this post I actually performed the habit.

It wasn’t horrible.

Tuesday Tidbits

The Really Long Day

Bionic

Well, it’s going to be a long day. Summer marks the beginning of our four-day work weeks. So instead of 5-8 hour days, we have 4-10 hour days. That’s better right? It *seems* better on the surface. You get a glorious 3 day weekend every single week during the summer, but the first two weeks of that you spend most of Friday laying around trying to recoup for the week. Late start today, which ISN’T what you want, but the there was an accident in the tunnel, of course, and I had about 30 minutes of just sitting and staring at the seagulls.

We have two upcoming parties. A party for my nephew’s graduation this coming weekend – out of town, and a July 4th party at our house. My wife is convinced that the absolute BEST way to get the house clean is to have a party, and I think she’s right. Our next door neighbor’s daughter just graduated and they’ve been working on their back yard for weeks to get it ready. Looks like an oasis when I look out the window now. Our yard isn’t far off. I’ll post pictures before the party when it’s at it’s best. My son put up a privacy fence near the back of the yard where he can start putting all of his ‘junk’ so we don’t have to see it. He has a lot of mowers and oh, cars. I say a lot, but there are two for parts and he has maybe 4 that he drives regularly. Not sure where he’s going with all of that yet. When I was his age, I spent a LOT more on computers than he is spending on cars. But that might be debatable, because you buy a car for $200 and you feel like you have a deal and then you put $1,500 into it to get it to where you want it.

My weakness was always technology. I had maybe 4 or 5 computers in the late 80’s before everyone had a computer. I had a TRS-80 Model IV (this cost me $1,100 and only had floppy drives), Commodore 64 (why??), and Amiga 2000 which seemed ‘right’, and an IBM clone which is what I did most of my work on. Back then, computers only had small hard drives. I had a 5 meg drive. Now you buy USB thumb drives that have 32gigs on them. I think the best thing about old computers is you could actually hear the hard drives working. Made you feel like work was being done. With the invention of SSD’s, it’s anyones guess what’s going on in there now.

Mysteries

The Mail

Curmudgeon

I have a beef with the USPS. Not specifically at them, but rather what they have to deal with on a daily basis. I have this large box near my front door. There is also a small table and a lamp. When I get the mail I scan through it and if it is strictly advertising, it goes in the box. Anything of value goes on the table.

This box fills completely up every few months and then I throw it into a burn barrel and the process is complete. It’s actually amazing to me that so much goes into direct mail advertising. Someone spends a huge amount of time reviewing proofs and trying to pin down exactly the right slogan to try and get me to make a purchase, then they print my name and address on it and sometimes personalize everything so it looks really good. Then they pay to get it delivered and the postman lugs around a huge bag of this stuff and takes it to each house. Then I throw it in the trash and burn it.

Admittedly, I’m probably losing out a little since I did open something from the Nielsen Ratings company and it had a $10 bill in it. I was so intrigued I did try to call them and sign up to be a rating person, but when I called I could never get connected and that pretty much is the limit of my patience.

It’s hard to believe the USPS is having such financial difficulty and I can’t imagine what would happen if I got my way and direct mail advertising went by the wayside, since it’s probably the only thing keeping the USPS afloat. Sad, really, because it would be great if all of your mail was super fun and useful (letters from friends, cards, and bills (not as exciting, but necessary)).

I might even consider sending a few cards.

Thursday Tidbits

The 8-Track

Day Dreaming

In the early 80’s, I went with my dad to one of those junk car lots where you take parts off of vehicles and they sell them to you. This is a great place to get a replacement light or even a transmission if you are so inclined. While my dad was looking around, I found an old black 8-track with no labels or anything. Having an 8 track in my truck and also in my room, I was pretty excited to possibly get something new to listen to.

Later that day I had a chance to listen to it and it was some of the most amazing music I’ve heard, but I didn’t know who it was. I led what you can only describe as a sheltered radio childhood. I never listened to the radio except for old radio shows, which at the time were still new in some cases, like the Sears Radio Theater. Anyway, I really liked the songs on this tape and eventually, I learned that it was a little group called ELO.

The album is called “A New World Record” and had great songs like Telephone Line and So Fine. I think my friend actually identified this right off and also introduced me to the soundtrack from Xanadu which had ELO on it also. I’ve since picked up several of their albums and certainly enjoyed the opening to Guardians of the Galaxy 2 which sported their Mr. Blue Sky single.

That’s really all I have to report. The only other two 8-track’s I actually still recall are [1] I recorded a tribute to Guy Lombardo right after he died and I had an 8-track with lots of his music and also information about his doctor and him dying. I think something to do with his heart. [2] was an 8-track that a friend recorded for me of singles, some of which were from Xanadu, but at least one was Lunatic Fringe from Red Rider – which was incomplete because the tape ran out and I never really liked Red Rider or Lunatic Fringe anyway so whenever it started I’d hit the fast forward to next track button.

The Tele

The Picking and Flipping

Perplexed

After I couldn’t take watching one more Hoarder trying to keep track of their mounds of garbage, I decided to venture out to see if there were similar shows that I might actually enjoy. The two I found were “Picking” which is where two guys go out to various collectors (aka – Hoarders) and try to buy stuff from them. They use words like “rusty” and “old” and then once they get their hands on it, they immediately take it somewhere else and sell it. They bought two old gas pumps from some guy for maybe $900 and then immediately went to a gas pump collector/refinisher who paid them maybe $1700. I wonder what the collector thought when he was watching that show. I mean, the pumps were located nearby which is why they went right to his shop. He could have gone there himself and saved a chunk of money. Ah, but he didn’t. Don’t quote me on either of those two figures, but it was.. well, not fulfilling. I’m not a fan of people rummaging through people’s stuff, picking out items and selling them. What I think I’d like to see is them say “Hey, we found a guy who will buy these from you for $x” – but then you wouldn’t have a show. Also, I suppose they ARE doing a bit of the footwork. It’s a little like going to a rummage or estate sale, buying something and then selling it. Which I don’t think I have a problem with. It’s the unsolicited “showing up” of these two that I might question. So Picking isn’t really for me.

Meanwhile, did HGTV make a deal with every medical facility in the country so that whenever you go to any doctor, you’ll see HGTV in the waiting room? And has anyone noticed that the majority of shows on HGTV are “Flip this house” (aka, take a crappy house, dump $50k into it and sell it for $100k more than you paid). I don’t agree with flipping houses. Call me a curmudgeon, but buying a house for a cost that fits the area, dumping money into it and then selling it for a ridiculous profit just doesn’t fit my idea of how money should be made. It “feels” like manufactured inflation. Case in point – our next door neighbor rented for maybe 25 years then the owner died and the kids didn’t want to rent it anymore, so the neighbors moved out. Then the kids dumped about $50k into the house and sold it for $240k which is about $120k over the other houses on our street. I spoke to the new neighbor and they love the house with the new floors and new appliances, BUT there are weird plumbing issues and I’ve seen the A/C guy there maybe three times already. It’s like when someone buys an old beater car and then put some sawdust in the oil so it doesn’t leak and sells it for twice what they paid. I can’t quite get behind that. Is it just me?

BetterLivingTips

The Hoarders

Puzzled

While recouperating, I’ve been trying to find something to watch on TV. When I got my first hip replaced, it was easy – I watched ALL of the Marvel movies I’d never seen and I also watched the new Super Friends (aka Justice League – 4 HOURS – Geeze, but not horrible. btw, SuperMan is a LOT stronger than he was when I was little and he was only in Black and White)

My wife was watching Hoarders and I decided to give it a go. That’s a tough show to watch. You always think your house is dirty or trashy until you watch and episode of Hoarders and you realize that your house is mearly lived in. These people are EXTREME.

If you’ve never seen an episode, what usually happens is they identify someone who is a hoarder. Then they show up with a physchiatrist type guy/lady and a guy who specializes in removing TONS of junk/trash. Then they enter the house and you see someone living in a cubby off to the side – sort of like a nest. You have climb up and over ungodly tall mounds of stuff to get to this cubby and you can only imagine it smells like dead rats and cat poop. They usually have a cat and or cats. I haven’t seen many dogs. I suspect a dog would just run away and avoid being on TV.

They Psych person talks to the man/lady living at the house and they agree that it’s terrible, and YES, they would LOVE you to clean up. Then the cleanup crew shows up and they say things like “Let’s start with these old clothes” and then the man/lady living there says “OH! I want to keep those! Those are my favorites.” Okay, how about these books? “OH! I want to keep those books. I’ve been meaning to read them.” Then two days later, the person holds up some old rotted, coffee stained papers and they here “OH! I need those papers.”

It’s kind of like that “Suprise Gardner” show they used to have where the professional groundskeeper shows up and fixes up someones’ yard and you know that in about 12 days, it’s all going to be dead. Just like when they revisit these hoarders and find they’ve completely re-filled the house. It’s at this point, I want to have a new show. It’s very easy. You show up, but you don’t bring a Psych person. Instead, you bring a cleaning team and a guy from the local Zoo with a dart gun. You shoot the owner in the ass and then when they wake up in a few days, the house is completely empty and clean. I think I’d watch every episode of that over and over again.

Honestly, if you are thinking about cleaning up your house, watch a few episodes of Hoarders and you will clean like nobody’s business