Monday, November 22, 2010

System failure

Ah, the cascade effect.

This morning I had a lesson to teach. I don't have a printer at the condo, so I must print documents at the school. We are not supposed to connect our laptops to the school printer. So I email my documents to a web-based email account, access that at the school on a school PC, then print the documents.

So this morning I arrived at school, accessed my email account, retrieved my two-part lesson plan, and discovered that where I thought I'd attached Lesson Plan A and Lesson Plan B, I'd attached duplicate copies of Lesson Plan A.

Uh and oh.

No problem. I'll just pull out my laptop, send it to myself again, and I'll be good. No. I didn't think I'd need my laptop, so I'd left it at the condo.

No problem. I'll just go online with the school PC and access my web-based backup files (which I hated to do since I really don't trust the school PCs' security). So I pull up the website, enter my login and then my password, only to find I'd entered the wrong password. Hmmm, don't want to re-enter the wrong password, because I don't want to be locked out of that account altogether (like I'd been locked out of a gmail account the week before - more on that later).
No problem. I'll just go to another account and retrieve that ol' password (which I hated to do because I don't trust the school PCs' security). Oh damn it. My password for that other account is such that it includes some keys that are very different from those in the U.S., and I could not figure out how the heck to get to certain symbols, which was the cause of my lockout last week with an entirely different web-based account.

Result: I walk back to the condo, fire up my laptop, send myself Lesson Plan B, pack the laptop in my bag, and trudge back to school. All making for a very poor start to my day.

Important lessons learned:

  • ALWAYS have at least one accessible Plan B in my pocket (i.e. I should have taken my laptop with me), even when it's kind of a pain in the ass; and
  • Select passwords that are strong, but which don't undermine you when you encounter foreign keyboards.

You might ask - hey, why don't you just take your flash drive with you and insert that into the school PC? That would be much more portable, to be sure. The problem is I don't trust the PCs and I ain't gonna do it if I don't have to. In another scenario, I may have to do that with a strange PC, but I don't have to do that now. 

A note on the email account I got locked out of last week. Super annoying and still unresolved. Thank God it wasn't a critical email account for me. In response, I set up a brand-new email account with three features: 1) It has a good password that's easy for me to remember, 2) which doesn't use symbols that require advanced study of the foreign keyboard, and 3) which has as its sole purpose homework stuff. It's what I call my "stupid" account. If it were to get compromised, there's nothing lost. I wish I would have thought of doing this earlier.


Cat said...

How about having a simple thumb drive that you just put a few documents on at a time. Example just have the two Lesson Plans on it that you needed and then you can delete later instead of a thumb drive with everything on it.

Mzuri said...

Good idea - I thought of that, too, and then remembered that I'd be putting that drive back into my laptop each time I needed to retrieve more docs for transfer.