Have Computers Simplified Our Lives?  Sometimes, Yes.  And Sometimes…

Back in the mid-70s, as computers were becoming more common in workplaces and homes, some brainiac wrote an article for Business Week in which he predicted we were heading for what he called the “Paperless Office.”

Most record handling would become electronic, he said, so big supplies of this in office storerooms…

… would become unnecessary.

That was then.

This is now.

Realty check:

If your workspace doesn’t look like this, obviously you’re slacking off:

Every office has lots of these, full of guess what?  Paper:

Here’s an attorney with his 15 boxes of 50,000 pages of documents for just one case in 2019:

Instead of paperless offices, according to this article…

“…Between 1980 and 2000 global paper consumption doubled.”

And according to Statista.com,

“…the global consumption of paper and board amounted to an estimated 399 million metric tons in 2020.  It is expected that demand will increase steadily over the next decade, reaching approximately 461 million metric tons in 2030”:

So much for the “paperless office.”

Granted, not all of those metric tons of paper are used for printing in our offices and homes – there are lots of other products like toilet paper, paper towels, books, magazines, newspapers, boxes, egg cartons, six-pack beer carriers, postage stamps…

And, once upon a time, if you were really stylin’, this Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup paper dress:

Which FYI, is now available, framed, on eBay for just $4,999.

So paper is used other than for office and home printing, but let’s get real here.

The paperless office idea became so ludicrous that books were written about it, like The Myth of the Paperless Office, in 2003.

Again, back in the mid-70s, another widely accepted belief about computers was that they’d make our lives much easier.  And it’s true – in some ways computers have made our lives easier.

But in some ways…

Take, for example, computer usernames and passwords.

Take, for example, for my home computer.

I have more than 40 passwords for my home computer.

Why so many?

Because according to computer security experts, Rule #237 in their guidelines for strong passwords is:

Never use your password for other websites.

So, I have a different password for my phone, my bank, my Amazon purchases, my email account, my wireless account, my car insurance account, my library account, this blog account…

And before you know it, you’ve got more passwords than you’ve got family members and friends combined.

I don’t have those 40+ passwords written down, because that is also an absolute no-no, according to Rule #632:

Never write your password down; a password that has to be written down is not strong, no matter how many of the above characteristics are employed.

The “above characteristics” for strong passwords are actually below, and of course you’ve seen them many times:

  • At least eight characters – the more characters, the better.
  • A mixture of both uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • A mixture of letters and numbers.
  • Inclusion of at least one special character, e.g., ! @ # ? ].

I swear, if I did everything the experts told me to do, each of my 40+ passwords would look like this:

Tpry!01rncZ392tUnLqv83#zx5]54WoPkng614xhfR87B!ThisMakesMeCrazy4BPouy40lmed72!!hujoP063#lmnoPenw820Ydh!munP020reLak390lk2uyBN47AQ???minp98n0v

But even that’s not enough.

I’m supposed to change my passwords every three months.

I barely remember to change my smoke detector batteries once a year, and I’m supposed to remember to change all my passwords every three months?

And commit them to memory?

But wait!

Before I hammer my computer, I’m remembering that lots of websites ask if I want the website to remember my password:

Isn’t that nice?  Shouldn’t I do that instead of trying to remember 40+ passwords?

Absolutely not, say security experts in rule #981:

While the fact that we’d no longer have to remember each different password for our online accounts may seem ideal, relying on the browser to remember them for us presents a security risk.  Browsers leave an opening for a hacker to review a user’s list of passwords.

I figured I’d pretty much run out of options when I remembered something called an “offline storage device.”  

They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes:

And these devices – not me – will remember my 40+ passwords!

Marvelous!

Magic!

My match made in Heaven?

Because before I can access my passwords on my spiffy new offline storage device…

I must have…

Another password.

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