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Ordinarily, I don’t refer to commercial products when I blog. Still less do I ridicule people who appear earnest and are apparently engaged in a labor of love. However, in the case of Analogon Book, whose publicity reached me at Linux.com, I have to make an exception on both accounts.

Analogon Book was invented by Byron and Jorita Lockwood, a couple whom, from their picture, seem as middle-aged and middle-American as they come. Let them explain the origin of their brain-child in their own words. When they discovered computers:

The biggest complaint we had was managing the different logons and passwords. Byron does a lot of research online and used scraps of paper to manage his logons and passwords. Jorita would come along and throw them away!

During an argument over Jorita throwing away the scraps of paper she yelled out “why doesn’t someone create a book to write these down in.”

We thought it was good idea then and we still do! We looked in stores to see if this had been marketed, We could not find a book to meet this specific need, and never found the item.

So we created AnaLogon book!

Yes, that’s right: It’s a book where you can write down your passwords.

At this point, if you are not sitting back in dumbfounded amazement or giggling helplessly, let me explain a few basics about passwords and computer security.

Contrary to the Lockwood’s apparent belief, passwords are not just a nuisance. They’re intended to ensure your privacy and to prevent the vicious-minded from stealing information like your credit card numbers.

For this reason, one thing you should never do is write down your passwords, except perhaps on a piece of paper in your safety deposit box, so that your heirs can access your files when you’re dead.

You should certainly not write them down anywhere near the computer. Most computer break-ins are not remote, but committed by people with physical access to the computer. If you keep your passwords in a clearly labeled book, you might as well send out invitations to likely crackers to have your computer raided.

What makes this quote and product so sad and so blackly humorous at the same time is that the Lockwoods never seemed to have researched what they were doing. Instead, they plunged ahead with their business plan – apparently with people who are equally ignorant – and developed their web site, in all its exclamation-point studded glory. Apparently, they never once dreamed as they babbled about the convenience of their brain-wave, that what they are really doing is selling an invitation to thieves.

That’s why, when I see them saying such things as, “Get one for yourself, your spouse, student, parents, and friends” or recommend the book as a gift to a teacher (especially a computer teacher, a diabolical voice inside me whispers), I find it hard to keep a straight face.

And when their site talks about their product as a solution to hard drive crashes as though they have never heard of backups, or as useful for infrequently visited sites as though they have never found the password manager in their web browser, my initial perception is reinforced once again. These good people simply have no idea.

At first, the consensus of those on the Linux.com IRC channel was that the Analogon Book must be a joke. In fact, I wrote to the publicist to ask, and was assured it was seriously meant. Nor, in the weeks since, have I seen any of the distributors treat it as a joke. Thirty years of the personal computer, and a product like this can still not only be conceived, but brought to market without any second thoughts.

But at this point, it would be cruel to explain things to the Lockwoods, I think, shaking my head sadly — and then, I’m ashamed to say, I think of the website’s solemn description of how the product works, and I’m giggling again, and hating myself for doing so.

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