Ali Baba had it easy – the only password he needed was ‘Open Sesame’

I had a major scare this week when I realized that I’d run out of things to be annoyed about. And when I run out of things to be annoyed about, I run out of things to complain about. And that means – no more fuel for posts!

Luckily, I remembered that I had created a list of things that annoy me as back up, just in case I ever reach that stage where I actually become a more agreeable person (I never thought that day would come). And as I double-clicked on the document (subtly named ‘Stuff that Annoys Me’), I realized that it was password-protected.

Now, I cannot even begin to imagine why I would password-protect a document about “annoying stuff”. I made this list six months ago (I was just a child then), and I really don’t know what I was thinking. Perhaps I was afraid that this list would become public and then annoying people would use it against me. But it’s more likely that I just did it to feel important. I do lots of things just to feel important.

Whatever the reason, I now had to recall the password that I used to protect an insignificant little document several months ago. And I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember what it was. I hadn’t the slightest clue. All I could do was guess. So I did. I typed in the usual suspects – my most common passwords. Of course, they didn’t work. My mother came in for some helpful input – “It must be ‘chocolate’,” she said. For reasons I cannot fathom, she has this long-held, unshakeable belief that all my passwords are ‘chocolate’. And soon enough, this was a fun family activity: “Try ‘document’!” “It must be ‘humptydumpty’, no spaces!” “I’m telling you, I’m sure it’s ‘12345thisismypassword’!”
“Cabbage!”
“Hitler!”
“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”

At some point I gave up, because I realized that I really didn’t need to open the document. I’d already found something new to be annoyed about. No, not family (although you’re pretty close). It’s passwords.  

Passwords are those frustrating little keys that can let you unlock any door in the world. The only difference is that keys are actual, material things, whereas passwords are simply these mysterious character formations that float around silently in the darkest recesses of your memory, disappearing at will every time you see the word ‘login’.  

I have passwords to five different websites. That’s not much, I know. But those are the most important ones – the ones I can’t afford to forget. And yet, I simply cannot remember which password goes with which login ID. Every time I access one of these websites I have to put in every single combination of password and login ID – that’s 25 different combinations, if my mathematics serves me correctly (which it doesn’t, most of the time). It takes me an eternity to actually log in to WordPress – longer than it takes me to write a post. In fact, I spend most of my day struggling to do what is essentially a make-it-or-break-it game of ‘match the following’.

What’s worse is those websites that need you to have a password with more than eight characters, alphabets, numbers, non-numeric and non-alphabetic characters, letters in caps, letters not in caps, letters in sombreros, the secret of life, the universe and everything etc. You get something that ends up looking like oaiwh01HU;&. How in the world are you supposed to remember a password like that? My mother’s way is to note all these passwords in a little book she bought solely for this. This, however, seems to defeat the entire purpose. What if someone just took the book? They’d have access to all the passwords, wouldn’t they? It’s like keeping your house-keys on the Welcome mat on your doorstep.

To solve this problem, I decided to create a structure for my passwords. It would start with my first name, then my year of birth, and then an emoticon chosen at random. That plan didn’t really work because I kept forgetting which emoticon I used for each website. I had to spend a wasteful amount of time wondering whether I used the annoyed face (:/) for WordPress or for Facebook.

Then I decided that I would use a variation of my mother’s idea. I would write all my passwords down in a book, but in Caeser Shift cipher code. I put the plan into action immediately. I initially failed to recognize the flaw, however – the amount of time it takes me to actually convert he password from the code to the original form. Now, majority of my day was filled with thoughts on the lines of ‘Does A become X? Or is that B?’ This, combined with algebra, resulted in some very unfortunate consequences indeed.

And now, however, I’ve hit upon the perfect idea. I’ve saved all my passwords in a Word document, and I’ve password-protected that, so that now there’s only one password that I need to remember. And what is that password?

I shan’t tell you, but I’ll give you a hint:
As long as I have the helpful input of my mother, I’ll never forget it.

P.S. If you’re a hacker, please ignore the sentence above. 

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Piracy’s got all of us hooked.

Today, I’m going to write a post about piracy. It will be a balanced, well-informed, coherent discussion about why the demerits of piracy outweigh its utility. I will attempt to use clear, precise arguments and will try my best to appear knowledgeable and wise.

If you’ve stopped laughing, I’ll begin by clarifying that I do not mean ‘piracy’ in the “Arr, matey, let’s get us some treasure” sense (I apologize if my representation of pirate lingo is erroneous – the source of my information is Johnny Depp in a pirate costume). When I say piracy, I mean downloading stuff illegally off the internet.

I’ve been trying my best not to say this, but I must. Piracy is lame.

PeglegPirate_answer_3_xlarge

(Pun not intended).

I have expressed this opinion of mine on several occasions, and have been greeted by wails of mocking laughter, disbelief, and the occasional case of social ostracism. People also often misconstrue my statement about piracy as a satire on our preoccupation with mindless entertainment (#firstworldproblems, as I believe it’s referred to).  It’s one of the rare but cherished occasions on which I’m actually mistaken for being smarter than I am.

So why am I against piracy, you ask? (Or maybe you don’t care and you’d rather go back to watching a pirated version of Sherlock, but I’m going to answer it anyway). There are two reasons: 1. It’s illegal and 2. It’s wrong.

Now, to explain why it’s wrong, I shall have to divide this into two: a) piracy of music and b) piracy of movies and television shows. According to me, each type of piracy has its own dynamics.

a) Piracy of music: Pirating music is, to put it plainly, pointless. You can get absolutely any song you want on iTunes for next to nothing. There are no shades to this. Buy the song. Be guilt-free. Lead a happy life. Live long. Get a big tick mark in your Life Book.

b) Piracy of movies and television shows: This is slightly more complicated. I understand that certain movies and television shows are not released in certain parts of the world and are unavailable to the people there. In cases like this, there is absolutely no way for you to access these, and piracy is the only option. It’s still illegal, but I don’t mind this sort of piracy (not that the law takes my opinions into account, but hey, as long as I’ve got a blog…). I do have problems, however, with piracy that involves downloading a television show off a torrents website simply because you cannot wait a week for the show to be telecast where you live. Be patient and you will be rewarded. I realize that I probably sound quite saintly, ‘holier-than-thou’ and morally scrupulous here. Well, good.

Now I’m going to play soothsayer to guess your responses to what I have just said and will also attempt to respond:

1. “Are you completely crazy?”
– Yes, probably.

2. “Why would I pay for something when I can get it for free?”
To answer this, I’ve created the following list.

Why you should not be the Jack Sparrow of the internet:
a) Ethics are like, so cool: My motto is, “Buy it, and it shall weigh less heavily upon thy conscience”.
That’s assuming you have a conscience, of course.

b)  The ‘their-shoes’ paradigm: Imagine that you became a world-famous singer or television/ movie star and made an amazing song/ show/ movie. Would you like it if everybody downloaded your life’s best work for free?
But who am I kidding? ‘World-famous star’? Yeah, right. Forget I ever mentioned it.

c) The unhappy artist conundrum: So you really like a singer, and you download all his/ her songs off the internet. Everybody else does too. And eventually, the singer has earned no money, and is so busy starving that he/ she has no time to write another song. Then what?

d) Every action has an equal and opposite reaction: You download the latest episode of a television show a week before it is telecast where I live. Then you tell me exactly what happens in the episode. I won’t delve into details, but a broken nose is a strong possibility.

3. “Research has shown that piracy is actually good for the entertainment industry because it promotes artists.”
– It’s just a guess, but I really don’t think that the entertainment industry would feel very ‘promoted’ if we all downloaded every single episode of every single television show off the internet.

4. “Technically, unofficial YouTube videos are pirated too. Don’t you watch them?”
– I do watch unofficial videos, yes. But to justify this I have something I like to call the cost-benefit analysis. If a YouTube video is a few minutes long, and is unofficial, I will watch it if necessary. If absolutely imperative, and if I have no choice, I will download a short video as well. But I draw the line at entire episodes – that’s just my definition of piracy.

“So basically, you’re a hypocrite.”
Why, yes. Yes, I am. I’m glad you noticed.

So to conclude: I know that nobody will have an epiphany reading this post. In fact, I doubt that anyone even reached the end of this post without feeling the urge to laugh out loud at my idealism and pedantic moralism. But I live in the hope that one day, someone will read this post and actually reflect on this issue for a few minutes, before switching to another tab and downloading Game of Thrones.

P.S: If anyone’s interested in being my friend, please send me an e-mail. After this post, I predict that there will be many free slots available.

 

Cut ‘it’ out! Just cut ‘it’ out!

You know how some people have ‘verbal diarrhoea’?
Well, I think I suffer from written diarrhoea.

I am very sorry to have put that image in your head. Believe me, I did try, but even the omniscient Google could not suggest more tasteful synonyms for what I wished to convey.

Basically, I’m just trying to say that I can’t stop writing once I begin. That’s probably a better way to put it, yes.

Sorry.

Anyway, I find it really hard to end anything I write. I can ramble uselessly for pages and pages, without actually saying anything meaningful. This blog is actually a very good example of that.

My tendency to be verbose is okay in context of a blog, where the only thing I have to look out for is making sure that my posts are short enough for readers to actually get to the end. And trust me, this is hard enough. But when I have to complete assignments with a word limit, it’s a major problem. And I mean major.

I have no spatial visualization ability, and essays are no exception. I always overestimate the amount I need to write. I usually end up writing novellas for an essay with a limit of five hundred words. Then comes the really hard part: the editing.

Oh, the grief that editing gives me!

I hate throwing things away (serial hoarding disorder), and I love words. This is a bad combination. I simply cannot bring myself to delete unnecessary words, forget entire paragraphs. To explain why I find editing so tough, I’ve devised a little something I like to call ‘the five stages of editing’:

1. Denial: Quite simply, denial is the stage in which I obstinately refuse to understand numbers and what they mean. ‘Five thousand words?’ I think. ‘That’s nothing. I’ll write a couple of thousand words more and then cut it down to five hundred. It’ll be easy. All I’ll need to do is cut down on a few adjectives and definite articles – it can’t possibly be that hard.’  

2. Anger: In this stage, I understand that it is impossible to cut five thousand words to five hundred, and choose to vent my frustration by bestowing the choicest of curses on the person who set the word limit in the first place – i.e. the teacher. ‘What is her problem? She should try writing this essay in five hundred words! It’s just impossible – what was she thinking? How can she not give her students creative freedom? She is suppressing my artistic liberties, my freedom of speech! I should take her to court for this!’

3. Bargaining: By now I’ve calmed down and I’ve realized that there’s nothing I can do about it – I must edit. So I turn to a higher power. My mother. “Could you please edit this for me? Please? I promise I’ll do anything you want. I’ll give you a foot massage! I’ll do the washing-up! Please, just edit this!” And when she agrees to edit it – “No, no, no! What are you doing? Don’t delete that sentence! It’s vital to whole essay! What are you doing? Haven’t you edited anything before? You’re deleting that word, wha…wait! Just give my essay back to me. I wouldn’t have given it to you in the first place if you’d told me that you were deleting important words like ‘very’. I’ve written it twice for a reason – it’s called emphasis.”

4. Depression: Now I’m convinced that there is no hope left for me. This will never work. There is simply no way to cut this down to five hundred words without annihilating the whole essay. But this essay is my life’s work! I’ve never written anything as good as this. I will have to irreparably damage the best thing that I’ve ever done. I hate my life – why does this always happen to me? It’s so unfair that I’m being punished for my writing talents!

5. Acceptance: This stage usually comes a day before the deadline for submission. I’m forced to accept that editing is a necessity of life – I cannot avoid it. So I get to work, editing out words like ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘a’ and ‘it’ until there is no semblance of coherence left in my essay, and it seems like something written by a very drunk James Joyce. For those of you who don’t know James Joyce sounds like (when he isn’t drunk), here’s an example:

What clashes here of wills gen wonts, oystrygods gaggin fishygods! Brekkek Kekkek Kekkek Kekkek! Koax Koax Koax! Ualu Ualu Ualu! Quaouauh!
– James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

Editing is truly very, very frustrating.