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NAX: Remember when 'Password' was just a TV game show? - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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NAX: Remember when 'Password' was just a TV game show?

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Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 12:00 am

So I just finished enrolling in some computer-based program that is required by this newspaper’s corporate headquarters. Thus I have added yet another user ID and password to my vast bank of things I have to remember — or at least jot down somewhere where I can promptly lose it.

Computers have brought us to this point. To protect access to important and personal information, we need all these numbers and letters (about half my passwords require a combination of letters and numbers).

But, quite honestly, I believe I could hand out a complete list of user IDs and passwords and nobody would ever be able to find any of my accounts because there are so many steps involved to get to the point where you can actually find what you’re looking for.

Still, I do remember the time that I picked up my phone and, after punching in pertinent data, managed to borrow a significant sum of money from my 401(k) account without so much as signing anything or even talking to a human being. A few days later, a check — one I could have bought my first house with and had change left over — arrived. So I appreciate the security measures.

Meanwhile, I’m familiar with all the hoops financial institutions have to jump through to make sure they’re not being used by some terrorist organization or drug cartel to launder money. So naturally some of the bureaucratic red tape filters down to customers. At some point, I had to have my driver’s license scanned into my credit union’s computer system so that, when anyone tries to do a transaction on any of my accounts, my photo pops up on the computer screen. Man, we just whizzed past all those “1984” Orwellian concerns to a brave new world.

At the same time, I am glad that particular security measure is in place. However, worrying about remembering all those user IDs and passwords has aged me to the point that I really don’t resemble my driver’s license photo anymore.

Later today, I have to deal with a whole new problem. I came back from vacation to find a notice in my post office box that it is postal policy to have two forms of identification on file for those who rent post office boxes.

So, despite the fact that I’ve had the same post office box since 1971 (when people notice I have a very low two-digit numbered box they think I was here when the population was only three digits), I will trudge across the street and present the two forms of identification. And, oh yes, I had to fill a new application for the box I’ve had for nearly 38 years.

But I shouldn’t gripe. My individual inconveniences pale beside the people who have to deal with all the red tape every day — the tellers, customer service reps and others who are up to their ears in forms and regulations. Plus, they have to take a load of crap from people like me who can’t believe they’re swimming in such a sea of information overload.

Oh, by the way, if you plan on continuing reading this column in the future, please enter your user ID and password below. Wouldn’t want any terrorists accessing my pearls of wisdom.

Odessa, TX

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