Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Reflexes

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Elephant
They say ‘an elephant never forgets’…

Last week I was asked to change my login password at work, ahead of the aforementioned Office 365 migration. I’ve been using the same password for… too long – probably 6-7 years now. Whilst it was unique, and not used on any other web sites, it was rather short. The newer one is a bit longer but still memorable, as I don’t want to have to refer to 1Password every time I log in.

Of course, this means that on just about every morning since then, I’ve tried logging in with my old password. Perhaps it’s an indication of how I am when I get into work – having only been awake a couple of hours and (usually) without having consumed any caffeine. But it may also be a habit, or a reflex action, that will take a bit of time to unlearn.

Also, it took me a while to work out why I couldn’t connect to the Wifi at work, before I realised that it was due to an invalid saved password. Sadly WPA authentication with a RADIUS server seems to fail with a generic ‘unable to connect’ message rather than ‘incorrect password’.

In a similar vein, if you asked me to tell you my PIN for my debit card, I wouldn’t actually be able to tell you all four numbers confidently. I’ve never changed my PIN in the twelve years I’ve had it, and use it, on average, daily, without getting it wrong. I subconsciously know what buttons to press, but not what they actually mean – it’s just something I do without thinking. Indeed, on the rare occasion that I use my credit card, I’ll enter my debit card PIN by accident at least half of the time. Yet, I could tell you my credit card PIN – as I use it less, I’ve needed to actively memorise the number.

It’s odd how our brains work.

One Comment

  1. Password changes are probably the single biggest source of brain fuckery for me. These days I really do leave everything to my password manager (lastpass for me). Which is great except for when it isn’t.

    And when it isn’t is usually an app on my phone that needs login credentials for some service and I have to then leave that app, fire up lastpass, search for my credentials, copy them, go back to the app, paste credentials. Which is a total pain.

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