Cash is dying

I don’t use cash anymore.

Or at least not so much as I did last year.  Everywhere I travel in the UK I tend to use a card to pay for things.  Although I still hold bills in my cash clip the notes are getting old and tattered as I very rarely use cash.  I’m using contactless (‘NFC’) a whole lot more.

This may be down to a couple of things: I don’t park using on-street meters a lot, the few times I park in a multi-story car park I pay using a card, and the coffee shops I frequent now take contactless payment pretty much everywhere.  In fact, I was so surprised at my local MacDonalds when they didn’t accept contactless for a burger recently that I was tempted to pay using an actual bank note.  My use of notes has receded for another reason: I mostly used them for paying for cab rides in the City but now take the London Underground in preference.

So my personal economy has gone cashless and now with the imminent arrival of Apple Pay into the European market I wonder how soon I will be using my phone instead of a card to pay?  I welcome it as taking multiple items (car keys, wallet, cash clip, mobile phone, laptop) as I travel bothers me and I typically do a ‘pat down’ of my clothes as I exit the office, exit a train, exit my home to check that I have my triumvirate of items.

Why I hate passwords, and so should you

I’m an IT professional with a long and varied career.  I guess that may stand for something when I say that passwords are like belts AND braces: they give a feeling of security and familiarity, but don’t add anything to the overall function of the system.  Perhaps you have a better analogy?

I’ve just gone through the routine of password changing for my employer and this is mandated every 90 days (due to some arcane European law) with attendant rules such as “must be eight characters or more” and including upper, lower case with special characters.  Now, that last piece was my undoing today.

I agree with the whole ‘complexity equals security’ thing to some degree but I have at least ten places that I regularly sign into for my work (corporate websites, email client, laptop, file sharing) and I like to keep them in sync – one day’s pain is enough without contemplating different passwords for each.  So I take a couple of hours each quarter and hit the buttons, working my way through a list of sites and technologies.  I do it in a particular order too – change my BYOD MDM before changing the underlying mobile email client’s so that I don’t time out my access via too many ‘sync’ events while working through the list.  It feels a little like standing on one leg while whistling Dixie.

And that’s the thing.  I’m very hardened to computing technology’s ability to impose stringent rules and logically do the illogical.  I once lost hundreds of hours of typing on a computer program I’d written while doing my degree, all down to a single press of the wrong button.  Ever since I’ve held no awe for computing’s infallibility, and today revealed another step on the downwards spiral.  For today I chose a special character for my password which represents a currency symbol – pounds, dollars or whatnot.  Most of the password systems accepted it but as I reached mid-point through the list one rejected it.  With a sigh I substituted another character but then the next rejected that also, leaving me now with THREE different variations of password and no way back.

In case you think I should just change them all to something else – my corporate systems at one point mandate that passwords should not be changed more than once per day, so no, that’s no solution also.  Until tomorrow…

We seriously need to rethink this computing paradigm.