When I was very young, that was the question you were asked before you could enter our den. If you didn’t give the right answer you were not allowed in and you could be pelted with four bombs.
Now, in this more advanced technological age, passwords are the key to everything. Whoa betide you if you forget them – you can be locked out of your office, your car, your suitcases, your computer and even your house. In these security conscious days when we are almost always on “amber alert”, you need to keep in your head loads of codes, a plethora of passwords and a concoction of combinations.
The technology gap, far from making life simpler, is making things more complicated. (See earlier post on this theme by clicking on “Technology Gap” in the TAG CLOUD).
My first experience of combination locks was when I was about 12 and I got a new bike. I bought a Bass Four Digit Lock and used 1234 as the code. Nobody ever broke the code, but then again I didn’t use the lock very often and eventually I lost the lock somewhere. Nobody ever stole my bike, even though it didn’t have a lock anymore. I think that experience coloured my view of security and locks ever since.
Now about to go on holiday there is security every step of the way. All our suitcases have combination locks and I am no longer allowed to use an easy to remember code like 1234. Finding a clean shirt can take hours :-(.
Leaving the house is a challenge, setting the burglar alarm with a different code is simple enough as long as you don’t accidentally press a wrong number. If you do, you have a panicky 30 seconds to remember how to cancel it or all your neighbours are looking out their windows. If you are really unlucky, a police car will eventually arrive, give you a crime number and tell you that you have been burgled. No further investigation required.
Now, if you want some foreign currency on your holiday, you need to ring up your bank and arrange it, but first of all you have to answer twenty questions to identify yourself. Where were you born? What’s your mother’s maiden name? What’s our favourite flower? Who is your favourite football manager? What is the fourth letter of your middle name? —- get any of these wrong and you do not pass go and collect £200, you go to jail! All this, in spite of the fact that once you give them your postcode, they know all about you.
Now, if you need any information about your trip, you are into the cyber code world of computers. No such thing as a simple code here. Computers are permanently on red alert. You need a password to get a password. Four digits went out years ago, now you need six or even eight digits, although some of them must be letters and some of the letters need to be capitals. And by the way, it is best to change your password every month.
No wonder older people, like me, are getting left behind. We can’t switch on our computer, we can’t get money from our bank, we are unable to unlock our suitcases. We are locked out of our own houses.
All we can do is get on our bike.