The Pain of Passwords

courtesy of

Are you like me and have just had it up to there with passwords?  I tried to access a site earlier and couldn’t remember my password.  Thirty minutes later, numerous screens, error messages, and two emails, I still don’t know the password.  That’s 30 minutes of my life I could have spent doing my cardio work-out.  (insert hysterical laughter here)

When I worked in a cubicle farm, a majority of us would stash our computer passwords under our keyboards.  We all knew each other did this, but nobody said anything because, of course, it was not an allowed practice.  But it was easy to remember.  And, that’s the problem with passwords — only a 12-yr old can remember any of them.

I tried using the same password for everything.  That fell apart when some jerk hacked an email account.  I got the notification, panicked, and realized I had 70 hundred thousand million passwords to generate.  And they all had to be different.  And I had to have them in my head and be able to retrieve them.  Oh my.  This would never work.

I got the bright idea of jotting down passwords in a small notebook.  That failed when the notebook fell on the family room floor somehow and EmmaLou, Golden Destroyer, had a midnight snack.  Ack.

Next, I decided to embed passwords into phone numbers.  Disaster!  I couldn’t remember which part of the phone number was the password, or if the phone number was a real one, and ended up phoning some rather angry people.

I had heard about smart phone aps that took care of passwords.  I quickly downloaded the latest ap.  I loaded all my passwords into it, then gave it a password.  Guess what I forgot?  The password to access my passwords.

I created an Excel spreadsheet and put all my passwords there.  Then I thought it would be a good idea to print it out, so if I died unexpectedly (like from a password event-generated stroke), Devoted Spouse would be able to get into all my records online.  But the spreadsheet was too big for my printer paper.  I had to scotch-tape the printed pages together.  It turned into such a mess, I shredded everything and opened a bottle of wine.

There seems to be no easy solution to this.  I have a copy of the spreadsheet that wasn’t taped together. I threw it in a file folder to deal with later.  I just don’t remember what I did with that folder…sigh…


Heigh Ho the Derry-O, The Dell Limps Along

I have been literally babying my Dell laptop for months now as one thing after another either falls off or goes wrong.  Let’s recap this fun journey, shall we? …

Not counting the massive amounts of Vista-related crashing…the first traumatic injury was when the quotations key fell off, only to be re-attached by some computer geek guys, but it fell off again and refused to be re-attached.  I taped it to my whiteboard in my home office and gave it a small tribute:

Not to be outdone by the quotations key, both the backspace key and the K key decided they no longer wished to function correctly.  Now those two keys must be pounded on with the finger pressure equivalent to an elephant being dropped 30 feet to the ground in order to get them to work properly.  The fingers on my right hand associated with those two keys are getting pressure calluses.

Feeling left out and one-upped by the backspace key and the K key, the E, R, N, and M keys all decided to peel off their coverings so that if one were not a touch typist, one would be in deep doo-doo while writing a blog post.  I’m not making this up:

Then the amazingly constructed power cord decided to stop functioning correctly.  It would, at the worst time, simply pop out of its home on the side of the laptop, leaving me on battery.  Then it escalated its mischief and stopped working while it was fully plugged in and much like the old tv rabbit ears antennas, I would have to hold the power cord up and over my head with my left hand while trying to type with my right hand so the battery wouldn’t keep discharging.  Not only was the power cord acting wonky, it was not charging the battery when it was fully plugged in – so I was screwed regardless.  Power on – battery still slowly dying.  After much agony and an aching left shoulder, I ordered a replacement power cord.  It now works, for how long is anyone’s guess.

Being the highly educated, innovative, creative problem solver in the family…I got out my handy dandy Sharpie and re-drew the letters E, R, N, and M and then painted some craft varnish over them to keep the Sharpie from accidentally smearing.  I’m so clever:

And so for now we have a barely functioning laptop once again.  I can update any or all 3 of my blogs, I can Twitter to my heart’s content, and maybe…just maybe I can get to read and comment on some of my bloggy friends’ postings this week.

Nothing else could possibly happen to this laptop could it?…

Just in case, I have this handy:

And I am not afraid to use it…

My Dell is a Dell-inquent

Dell XPS M1330 laptop

Dell XPS M1330 laptop

The above picture is my Dell laptop complete with missing quotation key.  Notice that the keys are a silver color and the color ON the key denoting its function is a somewhat darker grey; they are not lit in any way and so at night I need to have an overhead light shining down on the keyboard or I have to move the monitor part of the laptop such that its light shines on the keys so I can hunt down a particular key — fortunately I’m a touch typist so I don’t have to do this often, but nonetheless, to see the keys at night takes some work.  Further, what you can’t see in this picture is that the print on the E, R, N, and M key has worn off – again, it’s a good thing I’m a touch typist.  Now to add insult to injury, the power cord works intermittently and when this particular laptop goes into battery mode, the screen lighting fades to where you can hardly see the screen at all.  Add to this the issues with the Vista operating system and you may understand where I am today.  In computer Hades.

In simpler terms, I hate this laptop with every fiber of my being.  This is my third Dell; my second Dell laptop.  This one was recommended by my IT guru and I don’t blame him for the fact that this particular machine is a gigantic piece of computer crap — maybe in his capable hands it would have worked like a charm.  All I know is I paid a tremendous amount of money 2 years ago for this; the warranty has run out,  and I’m ready to chuck it out the window.

Now I use my computer every day, especially in the pursuit of my degree and also when writing this and my other blog.   The keyboard gets quite a workout so it has to be functioning well to suit my needs.   I can always order a new power cord; it’s not cheap.  There is absolutely nothing I can do about the broken quotation key except to pound my finger on the spot where the key once was which results in a series of quotation marks and I simply backspace until I have what I want.  Oh, I can replace this keyboard for about $250 but that doesn’t include installation/labor.  Pitiful, isn’t it?

So I have decided I need to find the money to buy a new laptop in the next 6 months.  The one nice feature of this laptop is it’s small and very lightweight – it’s only 12 1/2 inches wide and 8 1/2 inches deep and it weighs hardly anything at all so I can easily take it with me and I’m not lugging around 10 lbs of computer stuff on my shoulder.  That is its one saving grace – the portability.  It also has good memory and it only crashes once every week or so now.

I don’t think I’m asking too much to buy a computer that isn’t going to crash at all – ESPECIALLY when I’m trying to complete an online timed school quiz.  Gah….talk about frustrating — I’m on question 18 of a 20 question test with 15 minutes left and the computer crashes.

So…do I completely change my focus and try out a Mac?  Or should I stick with a PC and simply ditch Dell in favor of maybe HP?  I need some input from readers please.  I really want to know — what do you use and what would you all recommend I buy?   I really don’t need alot of bells and whistles; I’m not into gaming – I basically want this for school and to surf and play on Twitter and on my blogs, and to collect my pictures of EmmaLou and Devoted Spouse.

Help me please – send comments on what you like and don’t like about what you use and if I have any Mac laptop users out there please give me comments on what laptop is best for students?  I’ve heard bad stuff about the new Mac Air.  It’s getting to the point I don’t know which reviews to believe anymore and I’m just not a techhead at all!  So give me your valuable recommendations please!!

Things Haven’t Been the Same Since That House Fell on My Sister…

I still feel like I’m in the land of Oz for some reason.  Life is just strange the past few days.

Been having issues with my laptop so Mon morning I ran it over to my IT guru, Mike the Incredible.  When I drove back home without my laptop I had this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Then I realized I hadn’t eaten lunch – it wasn’t the missing laptop bothering me; it was missing my sandwich – dang, don’t like to miss grits.

Still, life is strange.  Incredible IT Mike called Mon evening and said exactly what I knew he was going to say, “Linda, there’s nothing wrong with this computer; it’s working fine.”  If I’d had my 380 Bersa handy I would have shot it into the phone – sorry Mike no offense buddy.  It’s just that every time I tell him something bizarre is going on, he takes the computer and does all his techno stuff and doesn’t find anything wrong.  It drives me insane.  It’s like finding this strange knocking sound in your car and taking it to the mechanic who assures you there’s not a thing in the world wrong with your car and gives you the look.  You know the look.  The one that says, “It’s okay, I’m sure you really heard that noise.”  So I bring the computer home all the while just knowing he’s sitting in his living room telling his wife what a bozo I am.  Duh.  I simply must learn more techno stuff so I can diagnose and fix this stuff myself.  (right about here I burst into hysterical laughter at that idea alone)

This computer needs a good dose of Bug Bam; that’s what it needs.

Anyway to get back to strange things – this is a bit macabre and I probably shouldn’t tell this story but it pretty much sums up how things are going lately.  The stepmother died last Friday – oh we knew it was coming; she had been sick for a long time, and I made the grueling trip to DC to say goodbye the weekend prior but didn’t know how long she would linger and my injury was really bothering me (in fact the driving had exacerbated the problems) so I came on home to the loving arms of Devoted Spouse and loving ministrations of Physical Therapists.

Anyway, the funeral was Monday morning.   Monday afternoon I got the strangest call from my step-uncle who wanted to tell me my flowers were lovely and everything was very nice (it’s like old people discussing surgeries – I really didn’t want to hear any of the details by this time).  And then he said, “We only had one slight snafu.”  Excuse me?  A snafu at a funeral?  What could possibly go wrong at a funeral?  Are you ready for this?  They buried her in the wrong plot.  Let me repeat that.  They buried her in the wrong plot.  They lowered the casket into a hole in the ground next to my step-uncle, not next to my father.  Of all the buggering stupid things I have ever heard, that one takes the cake.  Another case of Bug Bam needed.

The funeral folks rectified the situation but even so, I am absolutely dumbfounded.  It was so odd it was funny in a way – this is the stuff of sitcoms truly.  My stepmother liked attention; so of course, she got two burials.  Bizarre.

It’s just been the strangest few days, I’m telling you.  I’m almost afraid of what’s around the corner…



Thursday my phone, both landline and cell, rang all day long.  Really…several times every half hour one of the phones was ringing off the hook.  Know why?  Because none of them were within easy reach of me.  Happens every time.  If I have my cell phone on me or next to me it will stay as silent as a falling snowflake.  But put it in another room and it rings its little heart out.  I even had a call from someone I was thinking about — how strange is that?  He was on my mind and in minutes the phone is ringing and it’s him wanting to set up a shooting session w/us for the weekend.  Telephone telepathy.  I’m good.

We don’t get that many calls anymore unless it’s the step spawn or sometimes a neighbor or one of Devoted Spouse’s school buddies.  Isn’t that sad – I obviously have no friends and no life apart from this blog and Twitter. Because no one ever calls me.   How pathetic.   The stepmonster and I quit speaking over a year ago and it looks like that extended to her entire family coz I sure as heck haven’t heard from any of them either (no great loss believe me; these people are the definition of the word “toxic”).   Saves me lots of minutes on my cell bill.  But we do tend to hear alot from telemarketers and if the phone is in the kitchen and we’re in the family room it takes at least 3 rings for one of us to get up and get the phone.  By that time usually whoever it is soliciting heaven knows what has hung up just as I’m screaming for the fourth time HELLO??!!

Devoted Spouse doesn’t understand why I even bother — he looks at the caller ID and if it says private number or unidentified caller or it’s an 800 number, he just ignores it.  I have this horrible compulsion — I HAVE to know who is on the other end of the phone calling me.  I may not want to talk to them and I never want to give them any money, but sometimes I can get in the best conversation with the little old lady who calls every month to see if I want any donations picked up from AMVETS organization.  She’s just a hoot and I enjoy talking to her.  Again, Devoted Spouse thinks I’m off my rocker to have so much fun with a total stranger on the phone.  I really need a part time job or at least more social interaction.


I’m going upstairs now to work on the closet cleaning some more – there’s a phone right there in our bedroom.  I guarantee it won’t ring…unless I make a trip to the bathroom.  I guarantee it.

Step Away From the Dog!

A story on Good Morning America  this morning announced a new method of hair removal — do-it-yourself home laser hair removal.  Sweet mercy, what are they thinking?  Putting lasers in the hands of the public has disaster written all over it. 

Is there a woman out there who remembers the Epi hair removal system?  A sucker for any new gadget, I actually bought one of these.  That evening in my bathroom with my new Epi hair remover is forever burned into my brain as one of the most painful evenings I ever endured.  Ouch to the power of 10.  This thing literally ripped out hair and my pain receptors worked overtime.  Epi was relegated to the trash.  I vaguely remember stomping on it first.

To quote the dictionary — a laser is “a device that produces a nearly parallel, nearly monochromatic, and coherent beam of light by exciting atoms to a higher energy level and causing them to radiate their energy in phase.”   I don’t think I want any excited atoms radiating their energy on my skin, do you? 

Yes, the thought of never having to shave again is tempting.  But just the idea that I’m using a laser scares me to no end.  You, who visit here frequently, know that I’m not the most graceful creature.  In fact, if clutz was an Olympic event I would hold all the gold medals.  So giving me a laser is probably not a good idea.  I’m easily distracted and could very well end up lasering off an eyebrow.  Plus, this has the extra bonus of being permanent removal — what would I do with only one eyebrow — my best Spock impression — all the time? 

Must I point out what could happen to the family pet?  I can see the kids having a great time with the laser on the dog — no more wet dog smell and no more shedding but who wants a dog that looks like they have a raging case of leprosy?  No, this is bad on several levels.

Don’t try this at home.

You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

The little things in life make me so happy.  We have a relatively new DVR, a complicated piece of machinery for my middle-aged feeble brain to comprehend.  I’ve tried several times, unsuccessfully, to program it — only to discover the next day nothing happened.  Well, Wednesday evening Devoted Spouse and I were both scheduled for classes at our church, so I bravely tried once again to program a show.  In case anyone cares, we wanted to see Bones, a somewhat interesting if slightly gorey forensics-type pseudo CSI with a better love interest angle (you know, the cute guy who used to play Angel on Buffy the Vampire Slayer).  Wonder of wonders, my ability to read and interpret instructions finally kicked into high gear — the show amazingly was burned onto a DVD.  And, we were able to watch said recorded show.  Ah yes, persistence pays off yet again. 

Too bad there aren’t many tv shows I like now that I can program the DVR.  One of the fun aspects of this gizmo is you get to name whatever you are recording — I guess that’s so it’s easier to retrieve that particular show.  It occurred to me that I could enjoy this — I’ve never had kids I had to name; there is only one pet in this household so I don’t have the opportunity to name anything there, and all the items we use on a regular basis already have names — such as Refrigeratorfromhades, Youcrappyairconditioner, and don’t forget DammitEmmaLouputthatdown.  I thought it would be fun to name the programs.  I’ve always been fond of the name Todd – so Bones is now Todd.  There’s a British mystery show on PBS tonight — Rosemary and Thyme — I think I’ll record it so I can name it Herb.  See how easy it is to have fun in my world?  I’m glad I amuse me; it’s so much cheaper than medicine.