What the tech happened? If the password inventor thinks his creation is a nightmare, what hope is there for the rest of us!

I was determined today to video chat with my BF in London, who has been seriously ill and is recuperating at home. Now, I should say upfront that I’m hopeless with all these video-calling apps. Maybe it’s just me, but it takes me so long to get them working that I might as well just jump on a plane and turn up in person.

I had a go with FaceTime – which now seems to be called FaceTap. But no matter how much tap- tap- tapping I did, it wasn’t going to work – I’d forgotten that it’s blocked in the UAE.

So I turned to Whatsapp. There was a brief moment of elation in the UAE a few months ago when the voice and video-calling features on Whatsapp were unblocked. I remember the day well: we did a happy dance at work and, around the UAE, millions of expatriates called friends and family back home on Whatsapp – rendering the network so overloaded that it became unresponsive.

Holding my breath, I tapped my BF’s contact and then the Whatsapp video icon – it half worked! I could see and hear her, the inside of her London apartment filling the screen, blurred at first, and wonky, then coming into clear focus.

“I can only see your photo! I can’t hear you!” said my BF. Her lovely face, out of sync with the sound, assumed a puzzled expression as she peered at her screen.

After a minute or two of me sending ‘I can see you!’ messages, like some kind of breathy, deep-throated dirty caller, I had to give up on Whatsapp too.

So Skype. This was the answer, I decided. I knew it worked in the UAE as I’ve used it before – there was just the small problem of the app apparently vanishing from my devices and not being able to download it again as my Apple password wasn’t working. Here’s how it went:

Enters password




I cycle through all my other passwords, try out the obvious, attempt to recall what was going on in my life at the time I made the password. Make sure I’m typing correctly. I even try meditating.

I mean really? To avoid having your identity stolen, use long passwords that contain digits, punctuation and no recognisable words. Make up a different password for every website –and change all of your passwords every 30 days. HAVE THESE SECURITY PUNDITS EVER LISTENED TO THEMSELVES? Apparently the inventor of passwords has even publicly said his creation is a ‘nightmare’.

The Geeks  *want one*

My mind wanders to a press release I’d received about a new service in the UAE called Geeks. They promise to come and sort out all your technical problems, from setting up a cloud backup to installing a nanny cam (!) If Catherine the Great ever leaves us, I’m so going to hire a Geek to live in her room and never have any technical problems ever again!

The meditating failing, I get annoyed and want to throw my iPad out the window. I’m so sure one of the passwords I’m trying is the right one.

Eventually, I go about resetting my Apple password, using ‘my trusted phone number’, a combination of digits and the last of my will power.

And a message flashes up: ‘New password can’t be old password”

Sets fire to computer.


Descending into password hell

“We’re going to change the way we talk to you,” the school announced by email. A parent portal that mums can access via a log-in password was launched last November, comprising diary dates and all the information needed to ensure our children’s wellbeing.

Now, you’d think an online message board would be right up my street. But (and the irony of this is not lost on me) it’s playing hardball. I’m convinced it’s because the school never sent me the username and password, but there’s a chance these details are floating round my bottomless in-box.

Anyway, it’s causing me embarrassing problems, because, as a result, I’m not on top of what’s happening at school. I get wind of things, like wet n’ wild day, look at your three-year-old’s scribbles day, but don’t have enough information to avoid making a fool of myself.

I might look like I’m working, but really I’m still trying to log-in to the system

“Is there something going on today?” I chirpily asked the teacher when I realised the mums weren’t hot-footing it to Costa Coffee in their maxi dresses and shades as usual, but were gathering outside the classroom.

“Yes, it’s sports day,” she replied, deadpan. “You need to go to the sports hall at 8.15am.” (*thanks lucky stars LB co-incidentally had his PE kit and I wasn’t dashing off to the office*).

I can circumnavigate this problem by lurking around other mums, particularly the class mum, who probably synced her iCal to her iPhone months ago. By doing this, I learn all sorts of things about how much money I owe for the janitor’s son’s leaving present, but it’s not a fool-proof substitute for actually accessing the damn portal.

It just seems that EVERYTHING is password-protected these days. I try to use the same combination of initials and birthdays for everything, but this doesn’t work. “Crap” the dialogue box says, after assessing the strength of my password and finding I might as well have it pinned to my forehead. So I hurriedly invent a new one, and promptly fill my mind with other stuff.

Then, the next time I log in, that TORTUROUS box pops up asking for the 2nd, 9th and 23rd letters, and it’s like playing a game of roulette, in which – as we found out the other day – if you don’t win, you’re locked out of your life savings.

Just as frustrating was last week’s eye-rolling run-in with the website due to a password issue. After much teeth gnashing over an ‘invalid’ password, I contacted customer services – who told me they couldn’t help in case I was a fraudster (“you could try guessing the password,” they helpfully suggested), and then signed off their response with the words “Peace and long life”.

*Runs into the desert screaming*