Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Creating a new password provides unexpected fun

I may have misled you last week when I gave the impression that I know next to nothing about computers.
In point of fact, as the late Willoughby Councilman Don Prindle was so fond of saying, there is actually A LOT that I know about computers.
I shall attempt to summarize the vast storehouse of information I have on the subject. But first, I must share with you some knowledge on another topic which I find fascinating.
The subject is palindromes. I cited, as examples, Mom, Dad, Radar, and one I have always believed to be the mother of them all. Or the father, as the case may be.
That would be “Able Was I Ere I Saw Elba.”
I reprinted one that Bud Boylan of Lyndhurst sent me: “Go Hang a Salami; I’m a Lasagna Hog.”
But in the interregnum since that little exercise (I am still tired from it all), I received one in the mail from Joann Rogers of Waite Hill, and it is equally spectacular.
Get a load of this one: “A Man, A Plan, A Canal – Panama.” If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, then perhaps nothing will.
And if you don’t know the backwards and forwards of palindromes, then this conversation is probably lost on you, so we will return to our assigned topic today, and that is computers.
Sorry about the lengthy digression, but sometimes I cannot help myself. I know it is probably a mental condition, but at least I am not homicidal. That I know of.
Anyway, there is one phase of the computer business (sickness?) that I probably know more about than anyone in the world. At least, in the world that we inhabit. I don’t know about the other places because I have never been there and I have no plans at the moment to visit there.
Janet Podolak is probably familiar with those places because she has been EVERYWHERE, and I have not.
I have been to Europe only once in my lifetime, and that was a trip to Germany which I took in her place because she was already booked for that week. But I digress.
What I know so much about in the World of Computers is passwords. Everywhere I go, if I use a computer, I keep getting instructions: “Change your password.”
For some users, and I use the term in its most innocuous sense, that is a terrible burden, because they are unable to come up with new passwords.
Not me. I can think of new passwords quicker than you can say Jackie Robinson. They literally roll off my tongue.
Well, not literally, but you know what I mean.
The trick to a good password is one that cannot be hacked into by someone in Bombay or Rangoon, you know, a thief in the night who wants to get access to your bank account, or your credit cards, or worse yet, the list of girls you dated in high school who attended the former Andrews School for Girls.
I don’t know what a thief would do with that list, because they are somewhat long in the tooth by now, but you get the idea.
The “experts” tell us that anyone who uses a birthday, mother’s maiden name or anything that can be learned at the drop of a hat is, in a word, stupid.
And believe me, if you have ever dropped your hat, you know how painful that can be. Especially if you are still wearing it.
I invent passwords no one could ever figure out. For example: 14159265358979323846. That is pi to 20 places. Who knows that, other than I?
Here is another one a hacker would have trouble with: RA15355077.
That was Don Slagle’s service number when he was in the Army. He was a high school classmate, and I haven’t
seen him since. Why would I remember it? I have no idea. That is just the way my mind works.
(I won’t tell you my Army serial number because I use it myself from time to time in passwords.)
Here is one you might like to use: Bob19Bernie19.
Here’s another one I like: JimmyCaseyDoak37.
I could go on all day making up passwords, but there is no profit in it unless clients start paying me for them.
By the way, there are missing names in the above passwords, and I will fill them in for you, in case you haven’t figured them out.
They are, Feller, Kosar, Piersall, Stengel and Walker.
Those are some of my favorite people in sports, mainly because I like their numbers.
I also liked Jim Otto’s number because it was 00. If you say that is not really a number, keep in mind, I am the person (a true story) who made up the phone number for The News-Herald when it was changed 40 or so years ago.
When I came up with 951-0000, the general manager told me, “That’s not a real number.”
“Sure it is,” I said. “Just call up Ohio Bell. They’ll tell you it is.”
He did, and they did. And I rested my case, which needed the relaxation because I was getting a little tired.


Anonymous Judge Gene Lucci said...

Jim, there is a website that will tell you how secure a password is. Check it out at For instance, a password such as the value of pi to 20 places, including the decimal point (3.14159265358979323846) would take a desktop a quadrillion years to crack. Even without the decimal point it would take 7,000 years to crack.

May 24, 2015 at 11:37 AM 

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