Pass­words... Now there’s a topic that makes me hot un­der the col­lar.

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There’s noth­ing more ir­ri­tat­ing than the in­con­ve­nience of try­ing to re­mem­ber bizarre words with one cap­i­tal let­ter (at least) in the mid­dle and, don’t for­get, a num­ber or two – and an as­ter­isk or spe­cial char­ac­ter. And, of course, it can’t be too short!

And when that win­dow that says “Your pass­word strength is mod­er­ate” or, heaven for­bid, “weak” pops up... So frus­trat­ing! In the mid­dle of last year, scam­mers man­aged to steal money from my bank ac­count af­ter a ne­far­i­ous sim swop. I got my money back quite quickly, but not be­fore the bank had lec­tured me on how care­less the cell­phone ser­vice provider had been, and the cell­phone ser­vice provider had placed the blame squarely on the bank’s shoul­ders.

And the con­de­scend­ing re­proach from both: “But, Wi­cus, you must have given your pass­word to some­one. Think back care­fully as to when and how it might have hap­pened.” All said with a straight face, al­most piti­fully. As if I would be so stupid!

I must con­fess, and I was sure to tell the foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tors, that the pass­word I was us­ing at the time was cre­ated in a mo­ment of ex­treme ob­tuse­ness; not the sort of word con­coc­tion that one could ever say out loud with­out fear of be­ing turned away from the Pearly Gates. Why on earth would I run around telling peo­ple, or even write it down? Luck­ily, when you type it in, you only see stars on the screen... My mouth was pep­pered enough as a child and that was just for us­ing the word “shut-up”.

But I di­gress. Back to pass­words, and my strat­egy for the new year. I want to de­vise a sys­tem whereby I can ef­fort­lessly cre­ate pass­words and re­mem­ber them eas­ily. Strong pass­words but all ‘above board’. Not one pass­word for ev­ery­thing but one pass­word idea that I can sim­ply adapt for my bank, Show­max, email, Netwerk24, Face­book, In­sta­gram, Ama­zon, my mu­nic­i­pal ac­count... So that I never, ever have to scram­ble for op­tions again, or click on that “For­got­ten your pass­word?” link.

With the hol­i­days here, that’s the only think­ing I plan to do. The rest can wait un­til schools re­open. This year, I’m stay­ing at home be­cause a longer mid-year break awaits, and I need to save money. But sit­ting on the stoep, ly­ing in a ham­mock, sun­bathing on the beach – that’s all free!

The get­aways in this is­sue are a balm for weary souls. What more could one ask for? There’s Buf­falo Bay at the coast, Porter­ville in­land and the Bushveld. Some­thing for ev­ery­one.

Happy hol­i­days! In this is­sue, we wel­come a new back page colum­nist. Years ago, when I was still a green­horn in the world of jour­nal­ism, I crossed paths with Karin Bry­nard for the first time. Since then, she’s be­come a re­spected award-win­ning nov­el­ist, spe­cial­is­ing in crime thrillers that have you turn­ing the pages ea­gerly and anx­iously. In due course, we be­came Face­book friends and her posts were so com­pas­sion­ate and full of hu­mour that I im­me­di­ately asked her to take over from Riana Scheep­ers who, af­ter three years of writ­ing for us, is tak­ing a breather. Thanks for ev­ery­thing Riana and wel­come Karin!

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