“Choose a password you can’t remember and don’t write it down”

By | January 15, 2015
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“Choose a password you can’t remember and don’t write it down”
That’s what standard advice about passwords often seems like. I do have a tip that might help, though.

First, I’m digging out my crystal ball and having a look… and making a prediction (you can check whether I get it right in another year or so)…

Tim stares into a crystal ball…
At the start of the year, I often stop to have a think about what I think might be coming (in the world of computers) in the next year or so.

And there’s one thing that’s easy to predict this time. Tablets (where you touch the screen to control them, like the iPad) will become more and more popular. In fact it’s already happening to some extent – and I bet even more people have one after Christmas.

I’m not saying it’s the end of the PC or anything like that, but there’s a few reasons I see tablets becoming so popular. First of all, they’re light and easy to carry around – even easier than a laptop. That’s not only helpful if you want to take it out of the house with you (maybe to read the news in a cafe). It’s also helpful if you simply want to relax in your favourite armchair… or if you have a conservatory… or even in the garden!

Secondly, in a lot of ways they’re easier to use than PCs. Of course, there are still things you’d never work out unless someone shows you – hidden tricks that make things easier. But the basics of using one, how you actually control it, is simpler.

In fact my two little boys (aged 4 and 2) play on my iPad quite happily. This Christmas, Alastair even got my Dad hooked on Angry Birds.

And though I don’t want them sitting playing on it all the time (Alastair and Edward that is, Dad can decide for himself!) I think it’s really good for them. Lots of the games they play are educational. And even playing something like Angry Birds (designed for adults) is good – it’s a bit hard for him, so he’s learning that he can’t do everything first time and has to keep trying to be able to manage a particular level. It’s a good way for him that some things are difficult and he needs to keep on trying.

Anyway, I think tablets like this are really good for lots of things you could use a PC for, not just games!

They’re also ideal for browsing the web or reading the news or whatever online. They’re good for reading ebooks, too, so you can fit hundreds of books in your bag. And you can even store music on them to listen to. As well as using them to keep in touch with email, Facebook (if you use it) or even Skype to make video phone calls.

It’ll be interesting to see, in another year or so, what other things people are using them for.

Something coming up…
I said I think in a lot of ways tablets are easier to use than PCs. And I stand by that. But they are very different. Which means if you’ve learnt to use a PC or laptop, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s that much help when you start to use a tablet.

And to confuse matters more, the different makes of tablet use different systems – using an iPad is quite different from using something running “Android” (the other popular system).

We do have some books called the Ordinary Person’s Guide to Modern Technology that cover tablets, along with PCs, laptop and smartphones. But we’re working on something more specific – something specifically about iPads and tablets running Android. Watch this space for more info…

A useful tip about passwords
Standard advice when you’re creating a password for something important like a shop you use online is to make sure it includes capitals and lower case, letters and numbers, some other symbols like !?£ or so on and make sure it isn’t a word from the dictionary or a name. Or a date.

Then you’re not suppose to write it down in case anyone finds the bit of paper you’ve written it down on.
I’ve heard this described as “Create a password you can’t remember and don’t write it down.”
It’s tricky. On the one hand if you use “password” or “1234” as your password, people might easily hack in. But if you use 4k%Th0G&P it’s not exactly easy to remember.

One tip that some people find useful is to use a mnemonic. Instead of trying to think of a word to use, think of a sentence. For example “The 3rd dashed password I’ve created this week!”. Then you use the first letter (or number) from each word, adding in any apostrophes or anything as well. So your password might be: T3dpI’ctw!

Not too hard to remember, as long as you remember the sentence. And it’s one that would be pretty hard to crack.

I’m not trying to say you should use this tip all the time but it’s worth knowing about it in case you need a really secure password you don’t want to write down but need to remember!

Tim Wakeling

2 thoughts on ““Choose a password you can’t remember and don’t write it down”

  1. George Stark

    I haven’t struggled to recall passwords since I started using https://vulgarpassphrase.com It creates a passphrase from short common words juxtaposed to head turning profanity. Vulgar Passphrase uses the Giphy api to create a humorous mnemonic.


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