January 27, 2023
  • 10:02 am Plainview PD matches DNA evidence with burglary suspect in custody in New Mexico
  • 10:00 am The Idle American: A man who found his way…
  • 9:57 am New Senior Center board works to keep the Center open
  • 9:27 am Public comment sought regarding Draft Land Protection Plan for Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge
  • 9:13 am Bailey County Stock Show set for Friday


I guess I’m safe.

On my computer, I mean. My passwords for my online accounts are so strong that I can’t even get into half of my own accounts more than half of the time. And it takes so much time.

You need “two-factor authentication,” the computer security experts say. What that means is that even if I manage to remember my password, I still have to go to my mobile phone to get the code that they send, or, for Google, head over to YouTube and tell them, “Yes, I would very much like to sign on to my Google account, or Gmail, or whatever. Please, may I?”

Or, for financial accounts, such as my bank or a credit card company, I might be required also to answer questions about the last name of my first grade teacher, or the best/worst car I ever owned, or the name of my first dog.

Carmody, I remember. I’ll never forget Mrs. Carmody. That amazing fire-headed Irish force of nature was fiercely determined that not only can “all kids learn” (the modern mantra), all kids in her classroom had better learn. Or else! She even checked our fingernails each morning. No dirt allowed. And she wielded a ruler that she might have occasionally used for measuring but was certainly able to use for discipline. I owe that great lady a lot.

The worst car I ever owned? Not hard. An AMC Pacer. It was also the only brand new car we’ve ever bought. It looked like a tick, and it soon failed and deposited my wife in an inside-middle lane of Houston’s Gulf Freeway. You can’t even find those cars in wrecking yards now. But should I answer “AMC Pacer” or just “Pacer”?

The dog? I loved our family’s cocker spaniel, but even I can’t remember if the canine’s name was spelled “Bootsie” or “Bootsy.”

The sad thing is that I chose these questions/answers myself, and I still flunk once or twice on two out of three. Fail too many times, and you’ll be forced to wait for—well, I guess for the planets to align or something.  Or, worst of all, you’ll be required to create a new password. (You’re supposed to change those things often anyway. Right.)

When I realized that the password file I stored on my computer (you’re not supposed to do that) was up to thirty pages, I decided to go with “password manager” software. Great, but even my password manager has a “master password.” I forget it. Then I have to change it. Then I forget it again. I make a note of it (you’re really not supposed to do that) and keep it in our pitiful little “fireproof” safe where, after a fire, someone could find it. More likely, its ashes.

Or, my new computer offers, I could use my face or fingerprint to sign in. Fine. If my face and fingerprint are available. (You should read about this. You’ll find that asking a funeral director to save your pickled thumb—maybe in a jar in your safe—won’t work.)

I decided to try a physical digital “key” (mine’s called a YubiKey), but don’t lose that thing! And make sure it will work on your multiple devices. On some, you can just touch them. On others, well, you’ll need the proper key with the proper connection to plug into the proper port. Don’t forget the assortment of dongles you now must carry in your computer bag so that your various PCs, Apple devices, Android devices, etc., can be built with only one type of port each. And be sure to keep an extra key so that your heirs can find it melted in the aforementioned not-so-safe safe.

Yes, but I’m safe. Not safe from needing thirty minutes to access my bank account online. But safe.

Surely some nerd who can’t comb his hair but who can program a super-computer will one day find a better way.

I’m thankful that God’s children are invited to access the very throne room of heaven at any moment. He knows us. Recognizes our voices. Lets us in for a talk anytime. Two- or three- or four-factor authentication is not required.

No angel or door-keeping apostle will be asking, “What was your first car?” And I won’t have to remember if I should reply, “VW Beetle” or just “Bug” or just “VW” or just . . .

Curtis K. Shelburne

Muleshoe Journal Correspondent

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