I’ve just spent a couple of days away at the JISC conference in Liverpool. The event was really useful (I particularly enjoyed the session by JISC Digital Media and co on Using digital media to improve teaching and learning) and there were plenty of oppurtunities to network (with colleagues I already knew (physically and virtually) and people I hadn’t met before). Our session on Amplified events went well and Chris Sexton has written a nice post that sums up the main discussion points. Brian Kelly has also produced a Storify story about the session.
However I know that in years to come it’s not the conference or the talks that will stick in my mind but my journey home. Liverpool to Chippenham isn’t a straight route and there is quite a lot of changing trains, finding seats, lugging bags about. By the time I got off the train in Bristol I was feeling pretty tired and looking forward to getting home and climbing into my bed. It was then that I realised that I’d left one of my bags on the train.
I went up to Liverpool on the Sunday and so had taken a couple of days clothing and essentials, my various bits of ‘on the road’ technology (such as laptop, chargers, headphones and the like) and my usual handbag stuff – keys, money, phone etc. – all this equated to 3 bags of stuff. I realised I’d left my laptop bag on the train. The thing was this wasn’t just a laptop bag containing a laptop (which would have been bad enough) but it was a laptop bag containing my laptop, my note pad and my other work papers. As I realised my mistake and I started mentally going through the contents of my bag I suddenly realised that there was something in there that I wanted to lose even less than my laptop and what was on the laptop…
I don’t have that great a memory, there is quite a lot going on in my life and I resolve this by being methodical in the way I approach things. My way to stay organised is to be very systematic and write particular things down in particular places. I also back many of these things up just in case (experience has taught me to do this) e.g I now back up contacts by 1) writing them down in an address book 2) having them on my phone 3) synching them with Yahoo. I am also methodical in the way I remember passwords. I write them all down and have a copy of them that I store in a particular place at home. Unfortunately having a back up wasn’t really the issue here. The fact was that my laptop along with a written out list of about 250 user names and their corresponding passwords was now in an abandoned bag heading to Cardiff. There were passwords for all sorts of services from Twitter to Facebook, Paypal to Ebay, Skype to O2 – and many of these accounts had credit card details attached. I was doomed! Anyone who found the list could hack into my identity and quite possibly spend a lot of money on my behalf. Cancelling my credit cards might stop this but someone could still make my life very miserable by ‘being me’ and using my accounts.
Needless to say I was pretty upset and feeling mighty cross at my stupidity.
After a lot of running around like a headless chicken, a lot of lamenting down the phone to my team leader and a fair amount of pleading with the Bristol station to see if they could get in touch with the train I eventually resigned myself to the fact that there was nothing I could do there and then and I got on a train home. By the time I arrived home I’d already constructed a plan of my next steps – cancelling my cards, running through my ‘at home’ password list and changing the passwords on the most sensitive accounts, banging my head against the wall! However I was saved the effort, luck was on my side and as I walked in the door my husband told me that a train manager had found my bag and was taking it back to Bristol. My husband very kindly drove over to Bristol to get it for me.
So the end result is a big gold star for south Western Trains and their staff, a big gold star for my husband and a big black mark for me, my bag handling and my unacceptable way of storing passwords.
Needless to say I realise I’ve had a lucky escape, I’ve been saved the cost of a laptop and goodness knows what else. I can now clearly see the error of my ways and am on a mission to come up with a better solution for dealing with my ever growing number of logins and passwords.
When I get some time I’m going to take a look at some passwords managers. So far I’ve come accross:
Any recommendations much appreciated. I’d also be interested in any other methods people use to store their passwords.
I realise that I’ve been a fool but hopefully telling my tale may inspire others to be less foolish. Hey I’m here to help!