Digital Signatures March 27, 2007Posted by caveblogem in DIY, how to, lifehack, Memory, Other.
I took something to the post office a couple of weeks ago and when I paid for whatever it was with my debit card the postal employee asked me for my “digital signature.” I was a little confused, but I picked up the weird stylus thing and prepared to sign something pressure-sensitive, assuming that she misunderstood and thought I was charging it as credit. “No,” she said, “your digital signature. Your pin number.”
“Oh,” I said. “I’ve never heard them called that before.”
“That’s what the Postmaster wants us to call them,” she apologized.
Driving back to work I was thinking about the differences between handwritten signatures and these four-digit codes, which brought to mind all of the passwords we are plagued with these days, and by “we” I mean us people who are in the blogosphere.
Pins are like signatures because they, in combination with the numbers on the physical card, are unique and identifiable.
Unlike signatures, however, they are so plain. And in this age of personalized ringtones and the ability to choose to dress in combinations of clothes from any era, they seem so mass-produced. When I was a senior in high school I changed my signature so that it didn’t really look all that much like my name anymore. But it was interesting-looking and very distinctive.
I lost my debit card last month and I called the bank and they issued me a new one, with a new pin. They told me that I could change the pin whenever I want. But I suspect that doing so would make it easier for other people to guess. So I decided to keep it. But I personalized it as an attempt to memorize it quickly, nonetheless. Here’s how:
I associate all numbers with consonants according to the following, standard (yes, people all over the English-speaking world use this same one, and I don’t know where it came from) scheme:
- 1=T or D
- 6=Sh, J, Zh, or Ch
- 8=F or V
- 9=B or P
- 0=S or soft C
So that the new pin immediately formed a couple of distinctive, easy-to-remember words in my mind, because you can vary the consonants a little (Nos 1, 6, 8, 9, and 0) and you can vary the vowells considerably, leaving them out or putting them in to make words or names. I chose the most distinctive and repeated it a couple of times and can never forget it.
So it is a little more like a signature to me. But I realized that nobody else could ever marvel at my cool pin number, ’cause that would defeat the purpose of the thing.
Oh, well. Just as I was leaving the post office the postal worker told me that the postmaster wants them all to call pencils “graphite dispensers.” I laughed, but I don’t think she was kidding. That’s like calling a rifle a “hot lead dispenser.” Doesn’t say much about the function of the object, does it?