Thursday, July 28, 2005


Just that much less secure

Have you noticed how ill-informed I've been lately? That's because B and I cancelled our NY Times subscription for our recent summer sojourn. Yes, I know we could have done a vacation hold, but B theorized that if we cancelled and then renewed under my name instead of hers, we might get one of those new subscriber discounts...

What B didn't count on was my sloth in matters of husbandry, as a result of which our NY Times subscription has not been renewed for a whole month since we got back. As much as I've missed the blue plastic dog-poop bags that the Times is delivered in, have I really missed out on that much content?

I mean, I heard as quickly as anyone else that that guy Bob Roberts was nominated for whatever (saw it on The Daily Show), and I still get my one line headlines when I check my Yahoo email, and the My Home Town Daily Herald had some awesome coverage of our State Fair.

But B finally put her foot down today, and re-subscribed to the NY Times on line, using my name. And here's the unfortunate part. They asked her three "security questions" in order that we could access my "account" at the NY Times web sit.

Never mind why I even need "access" to an "account" to get the damn newspaper -- just have your guy drop the blue bag on my doorstep, I read the paper, give the bags to people who want to pick up dog poop with them, you send me a bill, and I send you a check. It's that simple!

The bigger issue is that (as I've said previously) I really hate these
... so-called “security questions” that some web sites use to let you recover your forgotten password. It’s a list of 10 or 20 questions, the kind that you would use to prove your identity to your long lost brother who doesn’t recognize you, so you say, “ask me something only you and I would know the answer to!” The questions include, “what is the name of your first pet?” “What is your father’s middle name?” “What was your high school mascot?” You get the idea.

Isn’t it kind of creepy that AOL and PayPal [and now The New York Times!!] know the name of your dog, your third grade teacher, and the word that was uttered by your sex partner the first time he/she had an orgasm with you? (Okay, maybe they don’t ask that question... yet.) Answer enough “security questions” and Time Warner, in a joint venture with Microsoft, will be able to engineer an android who can get on the telephone and convince your own mother that it’s you on the line. (I'm not implying she knows the answer to the sex question.)
Without revealing all, I can tell you that I've really shot myself in the foot, because the answers to the "security questions" on the Times web site are all found in the pages of this blog. For example, "what is my favorite drink?" Can you guess?

(Have you noted a self-referential quality to this post? Three different links to my prior posts plus a sort of dare to read all my archives so you can pretend to the New York Times that you are me. Does this mean I can be ejected from Blogger for "excessive self promotion"?)


that assumes you tell the truth on these answers that websites ask you. Don't discount the possibility of creating a fake persona just for the filling out of these ridiculous online forms.

The only drawback to that, is having to remember the fake details.

The one that gets me is the security questions work asks when you need your network password reset. One of them is "start date" - I've been "hired" by this company 4 different times. Which of those dates do they want???
You cited yourself so much in this post that I was starting to think that I was reading a law review article.
Ha ha! Tonya, that made me laugh.

CM, I am forever forgetting what my security answer was. Some help those questions are. Pfft.
Keep it up. I enjoy your nice blog. check out my stuffed dog site. It pretty much covers stuffed dog related stuff.
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