August 7th, 2007



My BSNL broadband connection finally got installed today. For the first time in a year since moving out, I have something better than GPRS with which to get online.

I have Wi-Fi at home again. Yay!

I also have a new phone that does Wi-Fi, from which I download podcasts, do bedside late night e-mail, blogging, feed reading, random browsing, IRC chatting, and Skype and Gizmo calling, without needing to lug around that hunk of a laptop. Life is now good.

Double yay!

Now if only someone would fix the way the phone's WebKit-based browser handled HTML TextAreas so I could edit wiki pages. Just one small wish.

Password etiquette

I'm standing in queue at my bank to encash a self cheque, because, for once, the transaction has to be done faster than online transfer between banks affords.

My signature barely matches what the bank insists it is. In about five years of holding this account, I'm yet to finish my first cheque book. I do all my transacting online. My password is my signature.

I use a different password everywhere. I remember all my passwords, or at least all the more frequently used ones, trusting the rest to a password manager.

I never change passwords. My method of remembering tens of unique passwords doesn't work when they have to change.

And so when a site demands a password change every fifteen days as security precaution, my system breaks down entirely. I cycle through the same three passwords across all such sites. My account's security is actually weakened as a result.

Some may say that this will all change with biometrics. I don't buy that. Biometrics will face far more resistance than passwords because it conflates identity with authorisation. It requires changing the fundamental trust patterns of society, which is not an easy sale.

We're going to be a password-based society for some time. How long will it be before a class on password management becomes as elementary as one on letter writing in school?