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MEMORY: Recalling passwords for online security and accounts is important these days. However, choosing the correct method for logging passwords would help.

Being password challenged

Almost every method I’ve used to try to remember passwords has backfired.

During my full-time farming days, I lived through major droughts, several damaging windstorms, livestock death, equipment breakdowns, hailstorms, minor injuries around the farm, fixing of creek fences in flooded streams, and snow shoveling in subzero weather. Like all farmers, I had my fair share of challenges. Those were all real-life difficulties, but in my life today, one of my greater headaches is remembering passwords for accounts, big and small.

There are passwords for everything. You can’t do anything online without a password. Our dogs probably have their own passwords. To register the warranty on the new aluminum scoop shovel I just purchased, I’m sure I need a password.

I know, there are apps for that. I know that I could easily keep a log of all my varied passwords, so I would have a master list to consult whenever I needed it. But as I have tried different methods of remembering passwords, things haven’t always worked out as planned.

Passwords are an important way for us to maintain crucial online security around the farm and ranch, in our businesses and personal lives. This is true. Many times, passwords are only the first line of defense, because they are followed by a list of specific, customized questions that only the user could answer.

For instance, what was the name and breed of the first horse I ever fell off of when I was 11 years old, and how old was the saddle? Simple questions like that should be easy to recall.

But you have to remember that I grew up in an age when being “hacked” meant I got hit on the arm playing basketball and fouled while trying to shoot a basket. When I was in high school, the three computers we had in the entire school operated on cassette tapes.

Not having grown up with the Internet, and only recognizing in those days that a mouse was a little critter I didn’t want in my house, this online stuff continues to evolve very quickly for me when you consider my previous experiences in what my children call “the olden days.”

I suppose that I could write my passwords on my arm as a cheat sheet, but then I wouldn’t remember which password went with which account. I tried writing them all on a sheet of paper and hiding the paper to protect the passwords from being stolen. Then I forgot where I hid the paper. I followed that by creating a file with all of my passwords, but I named the file a secret coded name, and I can’t recall what that name was.

You may laugh at these antics, but my children aren’t laughing. I have threatened to take away their electronics as a punishment for not doing household and farm chores on time, but when I followed through with the threat and actually took away the electronics and hid their devices for a time, I couldn’t remember where I hid them in the first place when the punishment period had passed.

The good news for my wife and I about this is that my children do chores on time now because they never want Dad to take away devices again. He will forget forever where he hid them.

One day, when I have passed from this earth and my children or someone else is living in this old house, they will be amazed to find ancient, lost electronic devices from bygone days hid all over the house, along with the occasional Christmas gift for my wife that I unintentionally misplaced.

As I am writing about all of this, it makes me wonder if this challenge over passwords is a challenge that only I have in my life. Maybe this problem isn’t something other farmers worry about. Maybe the fact that this is challenging to me says something about me. Perhaps the problem isn’t with passwords, but with my memory?


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