Durham County

Passwords of wisdom — Neil Offen

You must create a password to register for this account. We recommend that you create a password that is strong, untraceable and sufficiently unique so that no one would ever dare hack it, nor would anyone, including you, be able to remember it.

Please note that your password has to include at least 11 letters, three numbers and four smiley faces. The smiley faces should not be the ones where one eye is winking.

The numbers preferably should be in German.

You also have to use symbols. When you use a symbol in your password, make sure it doesn’t have an umlaut because we are not sure we can do umlauts or even, really, what they are or how to find them on the keyboard. If you feel you absolutely have to use an umlaut, make sure it is encrypted.

If you don’t know how to encrypt an umlaut, welcome to the club.

Acceptable symbols include #, $, % or &, unless that is, in fact, your user name. (If it’s actually your real name, you have other problems.)

Your password cannot be the same as your user name. It also cannot be the same as the name of your spouse, your dog, either of your children or your favorite potato dish. Your password should not in any way be identifiable with you and, if it is, you should change your identity and move to Jersey City and become a clarinetist.

Your password is case-sensitive. That means you should either use capital letters or lower-case letters but shouldn’t tell anybody which ones are which. Don’t overthink this. If your cases are too sensitive, perhaps they shouldn’t be in the password business in the first place.

Your password also cannot be all capital letters because, in the world of the internet, that means you are SHOUTING, and that means you won’t be able to hear us when we tell you your password is no good and you need to start over again.

You should not use the same password that you used to order from Amazon or to pay for your car insurance or for your ophthalmologist’s health portal. If that means you have no more passwords left, you should have thought of that before you started.

If you’ve run out of password ideas, why not try using as your password your address, including street number, zip code and the Dewey decimal code for non-fiction, when you were 9-years-old? No one except perhaps the children’s librarian will remember that.

How about the first letters of the words in the second verse of the Marseillaise? This would be extremely safe because no one knows there is a second verse of the Marseillaise. Not even the French.

Congratulations. The password you have created is acceptable, strong and unhackable. Unfortunately, it took you so long to come up with it, it is now time to change your password.

Neil Offen can be reached at theneiloffencolumn@yahoo.com. Past columns can be found at www.theneiloffencolumn.wordpress.com.