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Password management (idea #1)

How, in heaven’s name, are we to remember all of our passwords, especially since we’re told (a) not to use the same password for everything, and (b) not to store them electronically? Help us!

In Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better (2nd edition; Wiley Publishing, Inc.; Indianapolis; 2008), author Gina Trapani suggests a great way to remember multitudes of different passwords by following simple guidelines that utilize just one rule set. Here’s how it goes.

First, choose a “base” password … and this is really all you need to remember. To that, says Trapani, you’ll apply a single rule that “mashes in[to it]” some form of each Web service with that base password.

EXAMPLE: Let’s say I love horses, and I decide that my base password should be all of the consonents in that word — i.e., hrss.

But wait! Since many services also require that passwords (which should always be eight characters or more, by the way) also include numbers or special characters, let’s add some of those to our “base” password, just to be safe. For example, let’s say that I not only love horses, but that I would really love to own a stable of them. So I’m going to add a big number to my base, let’s say 12. My base password then becomes hrss12. Twelve horses. This is all I need to remember.

Next, says Trapani, you select a rule for applying additional, unique password variations to specific Web sites. One idea she has is to add, after your “root” (in my case, hrss12), the first three letters of the service name. So for me, my password for amazon.com would become hrss12ama.

Another idea is to add the first two or three vowels (or consonants) of a service’s Web site.

These ideas should get you going. Think about what would work for you!

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