Tag Archives: Joseph Williams

Bad passwords or just bad advice?

Another year, another article in the media slamming the password habits of people. Evidently the advice of the past few decades hasn’t quite sunk in, with “123456” taking the award for the most obvious password for the 30th year in a row.

I’m sure we’ve all been guilty at some stage of using bad passwords. I remember being a young teenager, and inviting a friend over to my house in order to create a Hotmail account for MSN Messenger. “What do you want your password to be?” he asked. Being a child who possessed the three quintessential qualities of a teenager: naivety, stupidity and a general smart assary, I thought it would be hilarious to choose the password ihateyou. My reasoning was sound, “Well, if anyone hacks into it then they know I don’t like them”. Genius, really. Unsurprisingly, my Hotmail account was compromised a year later, and I lost my 2MB of e-mail space and my friends list of people who I saw at school every day.

Self-deprecating anecdotes aside, the largest reason for this blog post comes from a BBC article posted a couple of days ago.

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Curse of the Dreaded Dates

As an undergraduate, I was given a Bash assignment and one of the sub-tasks was to sort some .csv file by date. It took me two weeks to realise that the way we, as British humans, format the date (dd-mm-yyyy) is utterly useless to sort with and simply reversing the date (to yyyy-mm-dd) and treating it as a numerical type (example, 20150810) would guarantee an easy way to sort. It later transpired that formatting dates to yyyy-mm-dd is an ISO standard and what you should be doing when working with dates on computers and whatnot. At the time, though, my undergraduate mind was overjoyed that I managed to solve what was a tricky problem.

Given that previous lesson, you really would have thought that an experienced Joe, having already world exclusively solved the date sorting problem for the standards committees, would not be naive enough to use dates that follow dd-mm-yyyy format when programming.  Well…

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