Thursday, September 05, 2013

Wherein I play on stereotypical notions of French cuisine, and bitch about Internet security. (Captioning A New Yorker Cartoon)

It's time again to Caption A New Yorker Cartoon, the blog post where you get a feel for what it's like to be me as I... um, caption a cartoon.  OK, I mean this would be more exciting if that sentenced had finished up with "Surf a Tsunami" or "Battle The Incredible Hulk with my bare hands" or even "do anything but caption a New Yorker contest" but, then, that's life for you.

Or, rather, THIS is life for you, because you're still reading.

And, as before with this feature, I find myself irritated at the outset because as usual, the INCREDIBLE LEVELS OF SECURITY NECESSARY TO CAPTION A CARTOON have ENRAGED ME, so maybe I will become the Hulk? No, I need gamma rays.

I sat down over 15 minutes ago to do this caption, and noted right away that The New Yorker, which apparently has not only comics to caption and occasional comments by Henrik Hertzberg but also must be storing $140,000,000,000 in gold bullion, probably moved there to stymie thefts because Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis are busy, as I was saying, The New Yorker, upon my clicking to caption the cartoon, notified me that there was some new log-in procedure whereby I could use my regular log-in, rather than my cartoon contest log-in.

That's right: In the past, The New Yorker required two different sign-ins to caption a contest, but apparently with Bin Laden dead, we can all breathe in the sweet fresh air of liberty and sign in only once to make a funny (?) line about a caption.

The problem was, I could not remember my log-in.  Remember all that fuss about Google Chrome storing your passwords? I wish.  It's been so long since I last captioned a New Yorker cartoon -- nearly 7 months since this last attempt didn't win -- that I don't even use the email that I used to log-in last time anymore.

That email was my Yahoo! ID, and as we all know, Yahoo!, which was never a great company to begin with, has gone completely to hell in a handbasket in the past year, beginning with the fact that their email security was the exact opposite of the many levels of challenges needed to access a Cartoon Caption Contest at The New Yorker.  Apparently, Yahoo! had a policy of letting anyone use anyone else's email, judging by the number of times my email was hacked into to send advertisements for fat-burning drugs to my friends and business contacts and relatives, only some of whom actually had a need for those products.  (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!)

So I had long ago sworn of Yahoo!, even though it was the only exclamation-point-based email system out there, but my The New Yorker sign-in was through my Yahoo! email, and I couldn't remember my password for The New Yorker, mainly because since February I've changed my passwords a few times to things, which is what people tell you to do, only if you don't access a website every day, and if Chrome DIDN'T remember your passwords, which Chrome DID NOT for me on this one, then you're screwed.

Because my option was to tell Yahoo! that I wanted to sign in with Gmail, thereby exposing my Gmail address and passwords to the Yahoo! "security" system, a 'system' that simply guarantees Yahoo! will hand my passwords over to Russian hackers who will turn my computer into a zombiebot.  OR I could answer the 'secret questions,' and so guess which one I opted for?

And so guess which one Yahoo! said was 'not available until September 6, 2013'?

That's right: Yahoo!, apparently playing hard-to-get, decided that if I really wanted to take a stab at answering my own secret questions and get access to my own email, I would have to wait a day.

So, reluctantly, I tried to sign in using my Gmail information, only to be told that I would have to "upgrade my account" by creating a new Yahoo! ID and password.  There was no option to bypass this step.  LOVE US, Yahoo! demanded.  I could not retrieve the email that would let me reset my New Yorker password without first upgrading my account to prove to Yahoo! that I was truly committed to having an account there.

I'm not dumb -- I'm sure that Yahoo! simply uses this stuff to boost its statistics, as the millions of people who were tired of having their identity stolen because Yahoo! was bought out by Nigerian princes tried to recapture a password, Yahoo! could boast that it had created X number of new accounts each day -- so I tried to just do a standard Yahoo! account, and it told me to choose a password between 8-12 letters or numbers.

So I tried.  I will tell  you what password I tried, with each result:

HITHERE-- invalid.
HITHERE8 -- invalid.
HITHEREGUYS -- invalid
HITHEREGUYS81-- invalid
THISSUCKS-- invalid
THISSUCKS-- invalid
IQUITNOW -- invalid.

NO combination of words that I tried was accepted as a password I was trying to create for my own account, but I did have to twice re-login using my gmail address, so if you get an email from my Gmail account suggesting you are fat, ignore it, unless you are fat.

As a result, I have been unable to log in to Yahoo! to get my The New Yorker password to log in to The New Yorker to get my official entry to the caption contest, so this is really a moot point here, as I will likely have to later on try to contact The New Yorker to reset my log-in, but that is the price you pay for freedom.  What was it Ben Franklin said, again? Those who are unwilling to constantly memorize and never ever ever write down a random string of characters in order to access a cartoon caption contest are nevermind the joke got old.

Let's caption this monkey!  (I'm toying with the idea of calling things, monkeys, as an affectation. Did it work for you?)

So we've got a centaur and a Centsnail. Snailtaur? Let's toy with that.  How does one become a centaur? BEST NOT TO GOOGLE THAT.  How about we pretend that centaurs are like machines:

"This is just a loaner."  

You know, like there's a Centaur Body Shop.  Go with that.  Ok, ok.

"I had to move to something smaller after the recession."  Possible.  Plays on the financial crisis, which is always funny, right? People love jokes about how terrible their lives are.

Look again.  Snails versus horses.  What about something like Zeus got distracted no, wait:

"I'm from the French version of your myth."

YES. That is it.


Pat Dilloway said...

I hate when Firefox and Chrome forget my login or password for a site. It's like it gets Alzheimer's or something and goes senile. I rely on that feature at work because I have all these stupid state and city tax websites to log into and I'm sure as hell not memorizing 47 different logins and passwords for them. They need to just hurry up and get retina scanning technology but then I suppose hackers would start stealing your eyeballs like in "Demolition Man" where Wesley Snipes poked out the warden's eye to escape prison.

Andrew Leon said...

I like "this is just a loaner." That's pretty hilarious. I also like "snailtaur."

However, something like
"My parents said I was an accident."
could be good, too.

No, I won't go compete against you.

Why didn't you just set up a new New Yorker profile?

Briane P said...


If I set up a new profile it'll mess up the automatic log-in on my Kindle, which means I can't get my magazines automatically. I tried finding the password through the Kindle but wasn't able to do that.

You SHOULD enter the "accident."


I'm willing to risk Wesley Snipes stealing my eye, if it means never having to remember a password. But at the least, the security-question to enter is a great idea; why not just have an email sign-in, and a security question to answer?

Andrew Leon said...

Well, I'd like to say that I will, but I'm really not likely to do that. I have to leave to teach class in less than 2 hours and I have way too much to do before I go.
What's the deadline?

Liz A. said...

Trying to recall an unused password--yep, been there, done that. Many, many times.

Did you know they make books for you to write down your passwords in. It's like an old time personal phone book, only this one stores passwords, not phone numbers.

My brother swears by a password safe thingy that he has as an app on his phone. That's probably the better option.