My Mother’s Name is not Invalid!

My Mother’s Name is not Invalid!

My Mother's Name is Not Invalid.
My Mother’s Name is Not Invalid.

By means of one of those routine IT e-mails, I got one of those announcements that I had to change my e-mail. A continuing unpleasant duty is changing the password every so often, and I often joke with my students that due to the frequent changes and the large number of passwords each faculty member has to master -that half the passwords on campus are written on something underneath or attached to the computers themselves. (I keep a word file with mine.)

Anyway, so I attempted to change my password and when I did, it said I wasn’t finished. There was an error. My security question was wrong. The question is – what is your mother’s middle name? And the answer was wrong. How was it wrong? My mother’s middle name is four letters long and there must be five.

That’s right. The IT people have decided all on their own that names less than five letters long are invalid. I am certain that my mother’s middle name appears on her birth certificate and I am certain as an attorney that under the laws of Oklahoma, the United States and under the law of nations, that name is valid. It also appears to me that under the customs of this nation, the name, a relatively common one, is acceptable to one and all.

Yet, it is invalid.

I like to think of IT people as normal people. Their children are apparently named things like John! or Ann&* or Jo^87 and they are probably a little more fascinated with Dr. Who than the average American but I still like to think that a human heart beats within them.

So, let us try reasoning with them.

TO Those in the Information Technology Department.

“People name their children sometimes on a whim and other times after a relative. Sometimes, they even name them after themselves. Many of them have pre-computer era names. They are all letters, and at the current time, whatever your insistence, while they do have a capital letter and a “small” letter, they do not have a number, a special character like an _ or a space.”

“Your insistence that people follow arbitrary rules that you have developed in an apparent cultural isolation chamber is unwise. People are likely to become angry and disillusioned that you are making important decisions in their lives just because you can. I do understand that you have reasons for these ideas. It is highly likely that if we use letters from the Cyrillic alphabet or perhaps even Japanese phonetic symbols, it will make our passwords and names more difficult to predict for those trying to break into the system. And yet, we must remember that computers are here to facilitate our work and that they are here to serve us.”

“And so are you.”

“So, let us who create the product at our joint enterprise continue with our and our relatives’ too short names and we will leave you in peace to do whatever it is that you do in your department.”

James Pilant