Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A gratuitous rant against a small thing

Last year we were forcibly switched to VoIP phones.

Apparently the switch will save the university serious money in the long run, although it will cost the individual faculty and departments in the short run; there was also, of course, a transaction cost.
Well, they have people who are supposed to be able to figure out if-and-when to do such things, and I'm not going to second guess them, much.

Of course, as we soon found out, this puts a single point of failure on our two primary modes of communication; now if the Net goes down, so do our phones. C'est la vie.

BUT, and this really pisses me off... yesterday I was locked out of my voice mail box; it happened of course on the morning when I had two time critical messages waiting for me when I got in.
Reason I was locked out is that "my password expired"! WTF - I did not set a "password expiry" feature; well, it comes as standard to safeguard the "when will you be home for dinner/is your meeting over/you're late for your meeting/please call me back" which is what my voice mail box contains 99% of the time (yes, I understand that some people have confidential messages on their phones, they may set higher level of password protection as they need to, I don't).

Ok, I'll reset the %^*%$!@ password.
Now along with most people I have a large number of unique passwords and ID codes. The non-critical ones, not infrequently, are algorithmic rather than pseudo-random, ie they are picked using a pattern of some sort (I know this is bad practise, but at some deep level I don't care if someone figures out my reader ID password for the WaPo, or, as it happens, the access code to my VoIP voice mail).

Resetting it failed.
The #%R^$%( thing remembers previous password and forbids reuse!

This is so deeply annoying, useless and counterproductive as to be worth a rant.

Then I bowed to the inevitable and came up with a new, and might I add, totally unbreakable, voice mail password.

Yay me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of technology. I'm also a big fan of cheap phone calls, but it seems like VoIP has a way to go before it matches POTS in basic reliability and QoS. There's also the matter of local 411/911 services...I assume there are still a few phones plugged directly in to the PSTN? Probably locked in the secretariat, ha ha!

Also, is the IP gateway to the PSTN at some central point? When every network traversal is a point of failure... Would be interesting to see how it works out in the long run.

As far as passwords, I finally broke down and found a decent password manager about a year back---I've acquired enough logins and other crap that it became pretty much essential...


5:04 PM  

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