Friday 15 September 2023

Comms connex

Did I mention that we had sold our souls and all our secrets to Vodafone, our intermediary for connecting to rural fibre optic bband? I did! The Vodafone sales-rep and his apprentice and their company car had pulled into the yard to reel us in a month previous and thereafter we had been dealing with Circet the subcontractor for the National Broadband Ireland. The NBI only, like, employs €100,000+ executives, all the effectives are subbies. The actual wire-puller and pole-climber loads up their truck each day with four 500m reels of fibre-optic cable and is given a list of tasks to complete. Each home or office on their round will have been seduced by the blandishments of one of 29 [twenty-nine!] ISPs. The cable is generic but the router is branded NBI but the modem at the end point will carry one of 29 different logos and each company will have its own characteristic factory-set of passwords.

The point of the password is to make it hard for your neighbours to free-load on your contract, so it shouldn't really require anything more than a PIN code of 4 or 5 digits. Our previous ISP went for 8 characters first fjfa0gyb then 11 chars A37AF7897FD. The first is stupid because 0 is ambiguous [zero or oh] and absurdly long for brute force guessing [(26+10)^8 >> 3,000,000,000,000!] the second is still longer [(26+10)^11 =~ 1.3 x 10^17]. At least they have the virtue of using only either digits and l.c. letters OR digits and CAPS. Why is that a virtue? Because you will probably have to explain that password to your printer on a very primitive hunt-and-peck "keyboard" changing case requires an extra bunch of keystrokes. This is Vodafone's idea of a convenient but secure password:


that's sixteen characters!! in a mix of cases. That's 4.7 x 10^28 possible permutations. That's a hella big number for security and required me to press cursor-buttons at least 160 times - 20% of them because of internal case changes. Why, user-experience experts at Vodafone, is that a good / necessary use of my time? Answers on a postcard or in the comments below. 

If you, dear reader, want to hang out behind the woodshed coat-tailing on our superfibre broadband, you now have the wherewithall.

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