Feb 9, 2015

Password hell

This is not a Bioinformatics post, just an amusing technology catch-22 that I encountered this morning. At NYU we have automatic mandatory password updates for our accounts with IT. This includes email, login to my Windows desktop computer, and wireless devices on the secure WiFi network in our building. Since I am lazy about these things, I did not heed the warnings and follow the instructions in the "Password Update" email from our IT Department. Instead, at home on Sunday night, I got a message when I tried to log in to my email account saying that I should update my password, and a helpful little box appears where it is possible to type old password and new password, hit submit and its all good.

I made a new password, and checked my mail, but after about 5 min, I got knocked off the network and can't log back in. It's late, so I figure to deal with it at the office in the morning. At my desk, I can't log into my computer (uses the same network "kerberos" password), and my phone complains that it can't get on the local wireless network. I try new password, old password, and eventually get the helpful message that my account has been locked by the IT Dept, and I must call the helpdesk. Its 9 AM on Monday and the helpdesk picks up right away. Help Guy asks if I have any wireless devices that may be using the old password. I look at the offending iPhone, and shut off WiFi. Helpdesk says: "I still see wireless activity hitting your account with an invalid password." Back to my desk, where my desktop Mac is using WiFi and getting unhappy messages from the network. Shut down WiFi. Helpdesk still sees activity on my account. Think, think?? Into the drawer where I have a laptop that we use for teaching and public seminars, it is asleep, but somehow still hitting the wireless network with my old password. Turn off WiFi on that one, and finally the helpful helpdesk guy can unlock my account. Then I can go back to each device and rejoin the network with the new password. I guess I'm not the first idiot this has happened to. Moral of the story??? Follow instructions very carefully or your helpful technology tools will gang up against you.

Happy Ice Storm Day from New York
-Stuart

4 comments:

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