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11/9/09 PHD comic: 'Brain saver'

by Greg Bernhardt
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Greg Bernhardt
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Nov10-09, 05:40 PM
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Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
www.phdcomics.com
title: "Brain saver" - originally published 11/9/2009 For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!



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Moonbear
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Nov10-09, 06:37 PM
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I can completely relate! Our new IT security policy is that all computers have to turn on a screensaver and require a password to wake after 15 min of inactivity. Do you have any idea how many times I've had to type in a password to keep working when I've been staring at the screen trying to think?!
Pengwuino
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Nov10-09, 08:37 PM
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I use to have a program called "Drunken Mouse" that automatically moved your mouse around continuously. There's an anti-screensaver weapon :)

Hurkyl
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Nov10-09, 08:53 PM
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11/9/09 PHD comic: 'Brain saver'

Quote Quote by Moonbear View Post
I can completely relate! Our new IT security policy is that all computers have to turn on a screensaver and require a password to wake after 15 min of inactivity. Do you have any idea how many times I've had to type in a password to keep working when I've been staring at the screen trying to think?!
You can't set it to turn on screen saver a minute before the password lock turns on? Gives you a chance to jiggle the mouse without doing a password.
Moonbear
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Nov10-09, 10:45 PM
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Quote Quote by Hurkyl View Post
You can't set it to turn on screen saver a minute before the password lock turns on? Gives you a chance to jiggle the mouse without doing a password.
Shhhhhhh....I may have already altered the settings a bit more than that.

I'm not a fan of arbitrary rules. To me, computers are more vulnerable when people leave their doors unlocked during short trips to the bathroom or to grab a cup of coffee (they might be related), rather than when they lock their door to leave their office for more than 15 minutes. I still think it's hilariously stupid that the only system I use that contains sensitive information (student grades) has the weakest password rules...in fact, I can't make a stronger password because it has a very low UPPER limit on password length. But I still have to create a new, strong password every 3 months that can't be a repeat of the past 6 passwords to prevent someone from paying my parking tickets for me (it's even sillier that I don't actually have any parking tickets).
mgb_phys
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Nov10-09, 11:04 PM
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I use to have a program called "Drunken Mouse" that automatically moved your mouse around continuously. There's an anti-screensaver weapon :)
Topher925
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Nov10-09, 11:51 PM
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Quote Quote by Moonbear View Post
Do you have any idea how many times I've had to type in a password to keep working when I've been staring at the screen trying to think?!
Thats your problem right there. Why would you ever be thinking at work?
Moonbear
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Nov11-09, 12:24 AM
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Quote Quote by Topher925 View Post
Thats your problem right there. Why would you ever be thinking at work?
D'oh! You're right. I KNEW I was doing something wrong.

I like the idea of the dunking bird too, though I'm not sure that acetone is good for my keyboard.
Monique
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Nov14-09, 02:08 PM
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I've had it happen numerous times that not the computer screen goes black, but the entire room

The lights in the rooms have motion sensors and turn themselves off after some time. It is not so much a problem in summer, when there is enough light outside until around 10 pm. But in fall and winter you'll find yourself sitting in a pitch-black room. For some reason the sensor is not very sensitive, so I find myself frantically waving my arms, getting up and walking in a circle, just to get some light again.
mgb_phys
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Nov14-09, 02:33 PM
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Quote Quote by Monique View Post
For some reason the sensor is not very sensitive, so I find myself frantically waving my arms, getting up and walking in a circle, just to get some light again.
It's a conspiracy by an international union of mime artists.
Most mime artists now find employment in conference rooms being used to walk against the wind at the back of the room to trigger the motion sensors.
Andre
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Nov14-09, 02:39 PM
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Quote Quote by Monique View Post
For some reason the sensor is not very sensitive, so I find myself frantically waving my arms, getting up and walking in a circle, just to get some light again.
That's because of the temperature, you will find that around the freezing point the sensor becomes much more responsive.

Maybe contemplate a switch to override the system or have another light with a light sensor that reacts on darkness.
Andre
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Nov14-09, 02:44 PM
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Quote Quote by Moonbear View Post
Shhhhhhh....I may have already altered the settings a bit more than that.

I'm not a fan of arbitrary rules. To me, computers are more vulnerable when people leave their doors unlocked during short trips to the bathroom or to grab a cup of coffee.
At my last job, occasionally we got emails from friends inviting everybody for a big party tonight, or free beer or anything like that. The result of leaving the desk unattended by that same individual.

Ocasionally the victim was a good sport.
Moonbear
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Nov14-09, 08:02 PM
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Quote Quote by Monique View Post
I've had it happen numerous times that not the computer screen goes black, but the entire room

The lights in the rooms have motion sensors and turn themselves off after some time. It is not so much a problem in summer, when there is enough light outside until around 10 pm. But in fall and winter you'll find yourself sitting in a pitch-black room. For some reason the sensor is not very sensitive, so I find myself frantically waving my arms, getting up and walking in a circle, just to get some light again.
One of my other friends used to complain of the same thing when he was a grad student. They also had motion sensor lights in the grad student office, so if he was just sitting there reading late at night, the lights would suddenly go out on him. I think that's when you need a few wind-up toys set up on a tray near the sensors.
Vanadium 50
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Nov14-09, 11:57 PM
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Quote Quote by Moonbear View Post
Our new IT security policy is that all computers have to turn on a screensaver and require a password to wake after 15 min of inactivity.
Try 2 minutes. Maddening.

Quote Quote by Moonbear View Post
But I still have to create a new, strong password every 3 months that can't be a repeat of the past 6 passwords to prevent someone from paying my parking tickets for me.
The system where we download our pay stubs requires a new strong password every month.

I get paid monthly.
Borek
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Nov15-09, 04:14 AM
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Quote Quote by Vanadium 50 View Post
The system where we download our pay stubs requires a new strong password every month.

I get paid monthly.
I wonder if anyone ever checked if these policies are actually not working against safety. It is impossible to remember such passwrods, so they are either getting forgotten or noted on pieces of paper, which can be in turn counter productive.
mgb_phys
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Nov15-09, 01:10 PM
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Quote Quote by Borek View Post
I wonder if anyone ever checked if these policies are actually not working against safety.
Yes it's an important academic field.
The famous case is the German enigma system in WWII - one of it's best security features was that each operator could pick their own code for the day (for various complex reasons - but basically so there was no centrally broadcast code that could be leaked).
This required the operator to think up a new random 6 letter code every day - one famous AfrikaCorp signaller helped the (allied) war effort enormously by choosing 'H' 'I' 'T' 'L' 'E' 'R' every day for several years until he was tragically captured by the British

There is a similair field of modelling how many security guards you should have. Too few and the bad guy might get past them (Reagan), too many and one of them might be a bad guy (Indihra Ghandi).
Moonbear
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Nov15-09, 01:28 PM
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Quote Quote by Borek View Post
I wonder if anyone ever checked if these policies are actually not working against safety. It is impossible to remember such passwrods, so they are either getting forgotten or noted on pieces of paper, which can be in turn counter productive.
I think that's exactly what happens. I can only create so many unique passwords and have them be memorable. My boyfriend just started working in a new firm, and their computer system requires a new password every month, and can't reuse the last 6. I now know his passwords for the entire year, because it took some brainstorming to think up a system for creating memorable passwords...some security. (On the positive side, he now can call me if he needs a password reminder, which is more secure than leaving them written in his desk, and I have no access to his work computer anyway, and can be trusted not to give away our method...of course, my passwords are likely to match his now, too, since it'll also save me from having a list of passwords written in my desk like everyone else I work with has. )
mikeph
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Nov25-09, 02:17 PM
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Quote Quote by mgb_phys View Post
Yes it's an important academic field.
The famous case is the German enigma system in WWII - one of it's best security features was that each operator could pick their own code for the day (for various complex reasons - but basically so there was no centrally broadcast code that could be leaked).
This required the operator to think up a new random 6 letter code every day - one famous AfrikaCorp signaller helped the (allied) war effort enormously by choosing 'H' 'I' 'T' 'L' 'E' 'R' every day for several years until he was tragically captured by the British

There is a similair field of modelling how many security guards you should have. Too few and the bad guy might get past them (Reagan), too many and one of them might be a bad guy (Indihra Ghandi).
I love this kind of stuff, do you know where I can read more?


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