What's Code for 'Die, Computer'?

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By John Kelly
Monday, July 13, 2009

Your password will expire in seven days. Do you want to change it now?

No.

Your password will expire in six days. Do you want to change it now?

No.

Your password will expire in four days. Do you want to change it now?

No . . . Wait, I thought I had five days.

I was trying to get your attention. Your password expires in five days. Do you want to change it now?

No.

Your password will expire in four days. Do you want to change it now?

Yes.

Really?

No. Psych!

Your password will expire in three days. Do you want to change it now?

No.

Your password will expire in two days. Do you want to change it now?

Do you like your life?

I'm sorry?

Do you like your life, which as far as I can tell consists of constantly asking me whether I want to change my password? Does that bring you happiness?

First of all, I am a machine. I am not programmed to feel -- or even seek -- happiness. Second, I do not "constantly" ask whether you want to change your password. I commence the password-changing process every 90 days, as stipulated by this firm's cyber-security protocols.

No.

"No"? "No," what?

No, I don't want to change my password.

Your password will expire in one day. Do you want to change it now?

No.

To create new password . . . Wait. What did you say?

No. I said no. NO, NO, NO! I don't want to change my password! Do you know how hard it is to come up with a new freaking password every freaking month?

Ninety days.

Every freaking 90 days?! I just want to sign onto the computer, do my stupid job and go home. Is that too much to ask?

Cyber-security protocols require a new password every 90 days to thwart hackers who might compromise corporate data integrity.

Fine. Let's do it.

To create new password, type new password now.

"password"

That is not an allowable password.

"********"

That is not an allowable password

Why not? That's what my password looks like when I type it.

Eight consecutive asterisks is not an allowable password.

Fine. "beatles"

That is not an allowable password. Passwords must contain at least one uppercase character.

"Beatles"

That is not an allowable password. Passwords must contain at least one uppercase character AND at least one number.

"Beatles65"

That is not an allowable password.

Why not? It contains an uppercase character and some numbers. And it's easy for me to remember. It's the title of the Beatles' fifth LP on Capitol Records. Released in December 1964, it contains such classics as "I Feel Fine." In the UK, it was titled "Beatles for Sale."

That is your current password.

Argh! Do you have any idea how hard it is to come up with a password that meets all your stupid requirements and is easy to remember? It seems like I spend most of my life trying to think up new passwords: at work, for my bank, for the cable company, for Amazon.com, for eBay . . .

I can suggest many memorable passwords: XjOkOp987xtl. 93ddmNKop178. {$181}hgf*FC09{lcub}=*gz.

Those are horrible! Look, how about you let me keep my password for another 90 days? No one has to know. I promise I'll come up with something good by then. Please, I'm begging you, for the love of Christ, don't make me change my password today. I just don't have it in me.

That is not allowed. Cyber-security protocols stipulate that . . .

"Cyber-security protocols . . . " Listen to yourself! You're just parroting the party line. That's no way to act! Do you think John Lennon worried about cyber-security protocols? Or Picasso? Or Thoreau? Is being a cog in a machine all you aspire to? Don't you long to create? To dream? To feel a lover's embrace? To hear a mother sing her baby to sleep? To watch fireflies trace glowing lines through the gloaming? To see attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion?

Your password will expire in one day. Do you want to change it now?

Okay, I give up. Yes.

Yes, what?

Yes, I want to change my password.

Yes, what?

Yes, PLEASE, I want to change my password.

To create new password, type new password now.

"ComputerMustDie09"

Password changed.

Send a Kid to Camp

There are two weeks left in our Camp Moss Hollow fundraising campaign. In the past six weeks, we've raised a whopping $257,824.16. That's wonderful, but we're still short of our $500,000 goal. Please help us in this final stretch. To make a tax-deductible gift, send a check or money order, payable to "Send a Kid to Camp," to P.O. Box 96237, Washington, D.C. 20090-6237. Or contribute online by going to http://www.washingtonpost.com/camp and clicking on the donation link. To use MasterCard or Visa by phone, call 202-334-5100 and follow the instructions on our taped message.

My e-mail: kellyj@washpost.com.


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