Elvis1, Elvis 2, Elvis1935, OldShep#56 – We’ve Hacked them all!
If you are an Elvis fan then your bank and computer passwords have all been busted!
For this Elvis fan my cultural references have almost run dry as nowadays every system asks me to upgrade my passwords with uncompromising regularity. Over 15 years of PIN numbers and secret unique passwords and I’ve almost run out.
I've tried Elvis1, Elvis2, Elvis 3 etc until upping the trickiness heading to Elvisl935, the date of His birth. When prompted by my office computer to change my password yet again, I've reached for His first return (from the army) Elvis1960, then His comeback Elvis1968, His Vegas comeback Elvis1969, until getting to Elvis1977, the date of His death. This stops my computer log-in termination and happily continues over the course of several months.
A while later though, the IT computer system has had enough of the King of Rock'n'Roll and I must change my overall password again. And so begins the series focused on Jesse, Elvis' stillborn identical twin. Thus Jesse1, Jesse2 etc, until Jesse1935 and Jesse1977.
This placates the angry computer and I am able to log in and do some work, but not for long. Due to a Millennium bug system upgrade, the computer then declared a simple combination of letters and numerals is insufficient to protect the high security required for me to read ElvisInfoNet.com and send CD requests to the library of the radio station at which I work.
My password must have between six and nine characters - more, I note, than the typical early Beatles song - and my choice of two of the following: numbers, capitalisations and symbols.
I contemplate telling the computer to F#9% Off! before realising I have just created a password that suits the new
I soon discover F#9% Off! is impossible to remember and so I'm forced to write it out in large letters and stick it to the side of the computer. I'm no computer expert but I have a hunch this may be defeating the purpose.
The large notice on the side of my computer saying F#9% Off! is also tragically misinterpreted by several co-workers who merely wish me to return all the CDs I've borrowed from the record library, and so I'm forced to rethink.
This time IT help me by trying to create a password, together with a system for remembering said password. Tibet*Lama, for example, has an asterisk in the middle signifying the middle eye which Tibetan Lamas are said to possess, but I count the letters and it's one too many.
ElvisIsA* seemed the perfect answer but I couldn’t choose a number, as he was a star for every year.
Maybe the trick is to tell a story. For instance, OldShep#56 tells the sad tale of my favourite dog who had to jump the fence (‘#’) before saving me from being drowned back in 56. But then I forget if it is a hurdle ‘^’ or ‘#’ fence or ‘’ gate. Perhaps old Shep jumped them all OldShep^#56 but how will I remember the order?
I'm pretty good on history, so maybe that's where I should make my stand. Captain Cook spotted Sydney in 1770, presumably using the pair of binoculars that is contained within his name. Therefore cOOk1770, eight digits, mix of numbers, letters and capitals: perfect. I then look up Wikipedia and realise he used a telescope and not binoculars, so it's really cOk1770, which seems a bit rude.
Worse, the office password is only the start. For most people, there's a baffling mix - your choice of Facebook, iTunes, Amazon, FECC forum, a health fund, and CheatOnYourPartner.com.
And don't think you can just hit the "forgotten your password?" link, as all these accounts are linked to a dazzling array of different email addresses – EIN email, current work email, home email and the Hotmail account you set up when you were 16 bearing the now mortifying candle LindaThompsonMegaSexy4Me.
As a result most of us commit the secret codes to our phone book but under cleverly disguised names. Who could guess the true identity of Uncle Amazon, Ian Tunes or Feys Book? Or we hide them on a card secreted deep in our wallet or purse: "Elvis plans a trip to the AMAZON when he is 13"; or "Old dog jumps fence same year Milton Berle show." Tell me the hacker who could break a code that cunning.
Add to this the PIN-cushion that is now our brain - the frontal lobe almost exclusively taken up with so many codes, for EIN host-server, bank, airline or office door – that most of us are now entirely pinnumerate.
Certainly, we pause for a moment before using the ATM, staring into space, thrumming our fingers on the ledge and generally holding up the queue as we try to remember.
While you stand impatiently behind, we're mentally regurgitating our whole personal history, wondering whether this PIN is the one based on our postcode but with the middle numbers reversed, or that first million seller LPM 1254 - or the 1975 tour where Elvis said they all "look like frogs out there with binoculars " - 7588.
Back at work, I contemplate the abyss. I need a system that will beguile the computer for several years without any effort on my part.
Then suddenly I have it.
All Elvis' No. I hits, in order, first five letters of the song, with date attached, the next hit substituted whenever the computer demands a fresh sacrifice. Tentatively I make my first submission to the digital gods - Heart1956 - and, graciously, they grant me a tick of approval.
In terms of computers, I'm still down the end of lonely street, but finally I have a new place to dwell.
Original article written by Elvis Fan, author and radio broadcaster Richard Glover of ABC radio & The Sydney Morning Herald. Go here to know more about Richard Glover via his own website.
Spotlight by Piers Beagley
-Copyright EIN September 2013. Do Not reprint or republish without permission.
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