Apparently there’s no pleasing me. A couple of years ago, I noted the incompetence of IT for the transponder program here in MA. Not only could they not suck money in real time or close to it to keep the $20 deposit flush for long trips, but if you called in to support, you have to give up your password over the phone to talk with a rep.
That’s right, your only security for an account that had access to your bank or credit card funds had to be spoken in the most insecure possible way, just to ask a question of support. Some support.
Well, that was true again and still last month. We replaced a vehicle and the stick ‘um stripes for the Velcro retainer did not hold on the new windshield. It seems they are designed this way and the FAQ on the MA DOT site says call in to get new strips.
Of course, I couldn’t even ask for that or explain at all why I was calling without spitting out my “secure” password. Not only that, but there is a separate PIN the agency assigns transponder users that you have to reveal. To see that, you need to log in with your account number and password, highlight the field at top and read that to the rep. Only then can you say you need to 2-inch strips to hold the box in place.
Honest to Ada Lovelace, computers were never designed to remove all mental processing capability from humans. We do that to ourselves and each other.
After eight minutes to inane bureaucracy, my silly rep was satisfied I was the person I represented myself to be and that I deserved the two strips. They arrived about four days later in a #10 envelope. Control freak I am, I thought and told the woman in support that this function should be automated and a menu choice from your account. Of course, that would be less for support to support.
Today’s episode was getting my monthly email of the FAST LANE statement. That includes a link to the DOT site. It has brought up the log-in screen and retrieved my account number and password from a cookie. Good enough.
Not today though. Instead, I got a screen worthy of the Bastard Operator from Hell. Not only could I not do as I had for years, but the stored data was gone. I had to track down my seven-digit account number (which serves as user name), and then bow to the new FAST LANE password schema.
So the old four-character (a.k.a. mnemonic) PW was not good enough. There was no advising about the level. I had to do what the screen said or forever be locked out of my account info. Instead, it meant contriving a new PW that was eight or more characters, and included “at least one of each”:
- Upper-case letters
- Lower-case letters
- Special characters (the punctuation and symbols on the keyboard)
Something you can remember? Forget it!
A tricky non-word or meaningful-to-you number with a funky symbol somewhere? Forget it!
The new PW had to meet five BOFH rules. So there.
Plus, there’s a note at the bottom of the PW hazing screen that you still need to have access to the DOT-assigned PIN as well to get any help from alleged support.
These IT satraps do have real power in their tiny provinces, power they abuse. The only question is are they ignorant of how much trouble they’ll cause in aggregate by their bureaucratic inconvenience or are they being malicious, as in “Let’s make ’em dance.”?