Computer Lingo

March 26, 2023 at 4:40 p.m. Lois Greene Stone

Creating a password is complicated. On some medical portal, I could use the name I gave my childhood canary and that’s okay, but it isn’t strong-enough for my tablet and phone. Seems medical records should be more private than emailing ‘hi, how’re you doing during this global crisis, and how’s your family holding up.’

Then there is the passcode.

Pass: ‘Do not pass Go’ ... a Monopoly board warning or command? I never did take a pass/fail course, but I did pass the baton in relay-racing, got a hall pass to leave class during high school, heard an old song that said, ‘pass the ammunition.’

And code? In religious school, I learned about the Code of Hammurabi, some really important laws to deal with civil and criminal things. The combination lock on the steel rectangle in the Girls’ Gym, high school, had turn right/turn left/three numbers but I didn’t think of that as a ‘code. Home room closet held my outer coat, and that locker was to hold mandatory gym suit or my clothing when I put on the one-piece, balloon shorts, puff sleeve attire washed and starched by my mother. A code was talking Pig Latin when I was pre-teen, holding the heavy black Stromberg Carlson telephone that was tethered to the wall; I was sure my parents had no idea what ooh-yea meant.

My new iPad was ordered sight-unseen and mailed to me. The computer store, although actually open in a local mall, was not going to transfer data from my previous one even if I’d gone in person, donned in a mask covered with a face shield for extra protection. By phone, a grandson 400 miles away, ‘walked’ me through the transfer and erasing the previous device or order to mail to the company’s trade-in place for some cash-back. Then came the e-mail: while my former tablet was ‘clean’ and such, some encoded item still present had to be removed. Go to Find My Phone, they said; my phone was next to me so why should I ‘find’ it. I looked in ‘settings.’ I never had that turned on, so what was I to do so the company can finish evaluating my trade-in? 

Ah. Call my Guru grandson back; he got my private information and took over my tech item here and dealt with the company.

Well, suggesting I change my password, and to something I might even remember, my husband and I sat at the kitchen table. A real table, by the way, and not a counter with high stools that, at our ages, we’d have trouble even climbing on. He said, ‘make it strong.’ Why isn’t a weak one as good since everyone will expect strong? I can remember weaker ones since those don’t need upper case, lower case, numbers, math symbols, and be at least eight letters long! Okay, how about a ‘p’ and maybe a ‘t’ to start? The ‘p’ might look both upper and lower case, so that was out, the ‘t’ when handwritten might look like a plus-sign. Out. An ‘s’ or ‘c’ ‘or k’ or ‘m’ or ‘n’ – oh, you get the idea. They also might confuse me since I’d be handwriting those in my little ledger. A lower-case ‘l’ seems too much like the numerical ‘1' so that was out. Let’s go back to the letters, I suggested, and also do the math symbols. Writing out a dollar sign appears that I’m crossing out a big ‘S’ and the tic-tac-toe board had me want to play as its meaning as hashtag just isn’t in my memory bank. The ‘&’ looked like a musical symbol; oh, let’s do symbols as the last step in creating a password! Okay, how hard can numbers be? We got four numbers. Could I remember those easily? Possibly if the other necessary things for a password were also meaningful. And I shouldn’t use birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, old phone numbers.... why! Who are all these people in space that know these about me! All right. I won’t use any of those.

Password finally done and took longer than it should. But I have to enter it in the device, twice. Done. Oh, I have to do that again on my phone? Okay. Uh-oh, I’m not finished with this easy process: two-factor authentication. What’s my passcode? Geez. Passcode is not password; how do I open my devices using numbers rather than one digit that has wavy lines unique to me? Go to my ledger and look that up: there, hand-penned with a ballpoint.

Oh, setting up a tech thing is so easy. And changing passwords is not a problem at all. When the pandemic ends, the public will hear how important a Geek is to do these things, for the small price of $100 set-up.

I once thought moving pieces around a Monopoly board was confusing with the railroads, and which properties were worth saving and which ought to be traded if any player even would trade. Do not PASS Go... Maybe that would make a valid password..... nope, doesn’t have numbers or symbols.

Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard & softcover book anthologies. Collections of her personal items / photos / memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s current ‘Girlhood’ exhibit has a large showcase where Lois’ photo represents all teens from the 1950's; her hand-designed clothing and costume sketches are also displayed.

Lois in 1954. This photo and the skirt Lois is wearing are part of a Smithsonian exhibition about teens in the 1950s. 


Share this story!

Latest Stories

Memphis is my kind of town!
Memphis is a city with heart and a whole lot of soul. Take its pulse and register the passion, pride and resiliency that resonates through the people. This is a town where the roots of history run deep, where music beats through the city’s lifeblood and where the cultural tapestry is rich with influences from across the globe. And this is a place where visitors receive a warm welcome, and good old Southern hospitality.

I'm Nobody's Young Lady
I didn’t see red, but it was definitely hot pink around the edges

Cherished Childhood Memories
Last month's Q&A asked readers to recall their most cherished childhood memory

A Brief History of Golf in Washington
Washington's golf history dates back to 1894

Still a U-Pick, the historic Cascadian Home Farm is now an educational nonprofit
The historic property formerly known as Cascadian Home Farm opens its fields to the public for u-pick berries in mid-June