Charles Owens mug (2023)

As technology continues to evolve and innovate with each passing year, one particular aspect of the digital age hasn’t exactly improved.

And this is the most annoying part of it.

I’m talking about passwords and usernames. If you are like me, you probably have 30 or 40 or 50 of them by now. Gosh maybe even more.

How in the world is a person supposed to remember all of these passwords, user names and two-step authentication requirements?

In the beginning — I’m talking 25 years ago or so — it was all very simple.

Your password was normally your name and your birth date, or something uncomplicated like 1234 or ABCD.

Then hackers and scammers and other bad actors came along, and we were all required to change our usernames and create stronger passwords with more characters, including numbers, symbols, etc.

Then, suddenly — and it felt like this all happened overnight — just about every device we owned required a username and password.

So we went from one password to 20 and then 30 and then 40 and then on and on.

Now all of our televisions are smart, and require not only passwords and user names, but regular online system updates. Soon, and don’t hold me to this particular prediction please, but I have a sneaky feeling that in the next few years our refrigerators, stoves and microwaves will probably all be online-only devices that require usernames and passwords to operate.

Yes, I’m guessing a robust broadband connection and password will be required to cook a TV dinner in the microwave by 2025. I do hope I’m wrong about that particular prediction, however.

And that electric vehicle that your local lawmaker is trying to force you to buy, well I’m also willing to bet that one day it too will require a username, password and online connection for the engine to start. Of course, I don’t own an electric vehicle and have no plans to buy one anytime soon.

So the EV-obsessed lawmaker will have to be satisfied with the solar lights in my front yard. And the solar Christmas lights I used last December. And the electric lawnmower and the electric weed eater that I already own. Wait a minute. It sure sounds like I’ve already gone green, doesn’t it?

Now, you might be wondering what prompted this particular column?

Well, a few weeks ago, while trying to update the newspaper’s website from home (I find myself doing this a lot lately), I was suddenly informed that a two-step authentication would be required because this appeared to be the first time I was connecting to the newspaper’s website with this particular device. Seriously? It’s the same computer I’ve used multiple times in the past to update our website from a remote location.

The two-step authentication process sends an email and a four-digit code to my work email. Of course, when you aren’t in the office and are working from home, that’s a little inconvenient. In order to get the four-digit passcode, I would have to get in the vehicle, drive to the office, turn the computer on, retrieve the four-digit pass code, and then drive back home to input the four-digit authentication code into the computer back at the house.

Technology can certainly be a lovely thing at times.

Since I couldn’t use the computer, I did the next best thing on this particular snow day. I typed the entire story, added photographs, and assigned its location and placement: The truth of the matter is there really isn’t much of a difference between doing this on the computer or the phone.

In fact, the only reason I prefer the computer is because of the bigger screen. On the cellphone, everything is smaller. So glasses, or readers, often are a necessity.

The next time I write a story from home, or update the website remotely, I’ve more or less decided I will just use the cell phone.

Fast forward to a week ago, and another computer glitch caused more headaches, but this time at work. The end result of which required me to re-enter usernames and passwords to most of the websites we utilize. And yes, Facebook required a two-step authentication. So much fun.

Oh well, another technology crisis resolved, at least for now.

But I’m sure as we navigate our way through 2023, a plethora of new passwords and usernames will still be required somewhere on some new device.

And if your new electric vehicle suddenly requires a two-step authentication four-digit code before you can start the engine and leave the house, well I’m not for sure what to tell you. Maybe call your local lawmaker?

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens.

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