How To Suck At Programming- Use your IM as a password prompt


Don’t act like it’s just me! You’ve been there! You’re hacking away feeling uber productive (I hate the word “uber” because it sounds so geeky) in a Tuesday morning. You got about 15 windows open that you meticulously manage bouncing back and forth between your email and your calendar verifying meetings at 10:30 and 2pm, your IDE and your web browser triple checking the last second Javascript patches that you made to the company site, your command line and your multiple IM sessions as you secure shell your way through the company’s most secure networks while chatting with your neighbor, your buddy from Illinois, and some sys-admins in a totally different time zone. Of course the probability for error is high but you are a trained professional. You pay careful attention to every keystroke you make. You have hot keys to every critical system function memorized and you know how to whiz from the current totally confusing multi-window multi-desktop information overload to a single window focused environment and the click of a button. (The click of the Shift+Ctrl+Home, Escape sequence you custom programmed using a mixture of Groovy, and python over the weekend during the Giant’s Triumph over the New England.) You are completely in control of your multiplexed-multitasked-multi-desktopped universe!

The day continues with a Mac, and two desktops all running side by side using a software KVM your single keyboard and a mouse empowering you with the might of a dictator running a small nation. Check in that source code patch there, respond the Elgin who’s inquiring about when your team’s next release will go live, swing the mouse to the far left (into the connected Mac) to make sure you’re not late for your daily stand up, swing your mouse back to the right (across the WinXP desktop) into Linux land where focus follows your mouse cursor and begin the login process to the production system. What’s that blinking slightly behind your terminal window? Oh that’s your chat window where all of your buddies are hanging out discussing which bar they’re going to hit this weekend! ignore that for now as you sip from your coffee mug and delicately place it back on the desk only slightly nudging your high precision optical mouse. Lets type the old password for the production server, which also happens to be the same password for your email, your online bank account, your employee payroll access center, and about half a dozen other highly sensitive places that you don’t care to be banned from simply because your memory has the capacity of an old 386 machine from the late eighties after an install of Doom. We type fast because we’re professional and we know what we’re doing. We quickly mash the enter key as a reflex to the muscles trained habit of typing the same password 647 times per day. We only realize after the chat window comes to life that the slight nudge from our coffee mug was just enough to move the cursor off of the terminal window and onto the chat window where “focus follows mouse pointer” (because you’re such a clever KDE desktop nut). We have now given the secret keys to our bank account, email, company secured servers, and plenty of other secured locations to the rowdy bunch of compadres on the other end of your connected ICQ Instant Messenger Network.

Well done genius! You not only have the joy of tracking down and remembering all of the servers and websites that your now exposed user credentials belong to. You also have the honor of resetting various browser and other software for the next 27 days and tracing bugs due to authentication failures where these same credentials were hard coded in local text files among other places. So if you wanna suck at software, use the single user id password system. Exposing it to the world over an IM or an email goof only hurts twice as much as leaving your gas oven on during a vacation to Tahiti.

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