Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Movies that seem like passwords

In scanning down the list of movies I've seen with my critics card -- a list I have no purpose in keeping other than obsessiveness -- I couldn't help but notice that consecutive slots were taken up by Mother! (or is it mother!?) and Patti Cake$.

And I thought "Those would make good passwords."

For those of you who don't know, I reset passwords. It's one of a hundred things I do in my job working on a service desk, but it's one of my most regularly recurring tasks, something I do as many as five times on an average day. I've even got my personally developed script down exactly:

"Okay, I'm going to give you the password in upper and lower case letters and numbers and symbols, and I'm going to use the military alphabet, so for example if it's the letter 'A' I'm going to say 'alpha.'"

I say these exact words as many as five times a day, and then I get a password that looks something like this -- D!7*(xB -- and give it to the end user.

(And yeah, I've got my military alphabet down cold, because I'm a hard-ass muthafucka.)

Don't know where that came from. Maybe it's all this talk about Patti Cake$. Or, the talk I'm about to launch into.

Setting aside all discussions of the quality of the movie, which I liked a lot (it's a bit like Hustle & Flow meets 8 Mile), its title makes for a valid password in my organization's complex 7 password criteria. In order to set a valid password, it has to be at least seven characters long and contain three of the following four: an upper case letter, a lower case letter, a number and a special symbol. (What makes them so "special," I don't know.)

Patti Cake$ certainly qualifies. It's 10 characters long, has two upper case letters, seven lower case letters, and a valid "special symbol," which is no guarantee -- it won't accept just any old weird symbol you can find on your average keyboard. In part to avoid conflicts with coding, I assume, the [ and the { and even the & are right out. You can't even use a ~, but I suspect that's because it's a major pain in the ass to have to explain to your average person what a "tilde" is, especially when most of them don't know the difference between a colon and a semi-colon. (Making matters more complicated, in Australia the parenthesis is referred to as a "bracket," while [ is called a "square bracket" and { is called a "fancy bracket.") Strangely, you can select either < or >, but for some odd reason, when these characters come up as part of a system-generated password, they prevent you from successfully setting a preferred password, which begs the question why they appear among the eligible characters in the first place.

The one area Patti Cake$ falls short is by containing a space, so you can just knock that right out. Oddly, though, the space is recognized as part of password if you are cutting and pasting and accidentally cut a space either before or after the password. The system will reject the password under those circumstances. Don't ask me. I don't understand these things.

The other thing that makes this a good password is that a common method of setting a complex 7 password is to type a real word that's easy to remember, only replace certain letters with symbols or numbers that look like them. The most common are things replacing an "a" with @, an "i" with 1, an "e" with 3 or, yes, an "s" with $.

Now Mother! is a slightly different story. Let's again set aside discussion of the film's quality (I liked it, it's like ... well, I'm not even going to get into what two or maybe 50 movies "meet" each other in this movie). If this were your password, it would perfectly qualify by being exactly seven characters, containing no spaces, having both upper and lower case letters and using a valid special symbol (the exclamation mark is also sometimes referred to as a "bang," but only among IT geeks, never to the general public).

Lately, though, I'm seeing the title written as mother!, lower case, and damn sex, lies and videotape for making other films think they can come along and do this. If that is indeed how Darren Aronofsky intended the title to be, it's no longer a valid password as it is missing the upper case letter, giving it only two of the four necessary content criteria.

Now if you want a valid administrator password, then you need to opt for the movie I'm seeing on Thursday night: Blade Runner 2049 (again excising the spaces). Administrator passwords have the stricter standard of a complex 13 requirement, which still permits you to use only three of the four (there are no numbers in my current administrator password) but requires it to be at least 13 characters. Blade Runner 2049 clocks in at 15 characters, even without the spaces.

I gotta stop taking work home with me.

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