Iron Man 3: Don’t Take Password Advice From Iron Patriot

Iron_PatriotSaw Iron Man 3 over the weekend and it was an enjoyable romp with just the right amount of explosions and mayhem. There’s one little thing that caught my attention, however, and that’s Rhodey’s laughably insecure password.

All those fancy HUD displays and we’re still relying on 1990s AOL-style passwords? Where’s the single sign-on? The two-factor authentication? The retinal scans? The fancy Kree or Shi’ar technology that uses DNA instead of passwords?

Here’s what you can learn about password security from Iron Patriot.

Don’t use common knowledge about yourself as part of your password.
Rhodey’s the superhero formerly known as War Machine and his password is WARMACHINEROX. Yeah, that’s not easily guessable. When he’s forced to change it he’ll probably rotate it with IRONPATRIOTSUX (with an X). And use the same password on Facebook.

Don’t use a password that doesn’t have special characters.
This one didn’t even have numbers. I’m surprised he didn’t put an exclamation point at the end because everyone knows that turns an insecure password into a secure one. Sort of like Silent E.

Don’t use an easily guessable password.
Really, Tony? A totally guessable password and you still had to ask him what it was? I bet Jarvis could have cracked it in about two seconds. On a side note, you didn’t give Jarvis a password cracker? What kind of script kiddie are you?

If that’s the kind of password Rhodey uses I bet he’s no good with security questions either. “What’s your favorite color?” “Red, white, and blue.” Oops, account cracked!

In reality that password conversation should have gone like this:

“Rhodey, what’s your password?”
“Okay, Tony, it’s capital X zero one asterisk lowercase g caret…”
“What the hell is a caret?”
“It’s that upside down V above the 6. Anyway, caret uppercase L uppercase Y seven one nine lowercase j…”
“The HUD in my suit doesn’t have a caret.”
“Yes it does, Tony. Hit the caps lock twice, just like a smart phone.”
“Pepper must have put that there. What’s after the caret?”
“Uppercase L. Then uppercase Y seven one nine lowercase j…”
“Did you say seven one nine or seven nine one? Oh, never mind, just email it to me.”
“But Fury sent a memo saying we’re not supposed to email passwords anymore. It’s not secure.”
“Screw him! Send it to my Gmail.”

By which time the bad guys have incincerated them and the point is moot, not to mention pwned.

The Avengers really need to invest in some better network security. Seriously, Tony, you can’t have Stark Industries buy up RSA or something? I bet Reed Richards has something tucked away in a box. Or you could ask Hank McCoy if he has something up his furry sleeve. Or maybe Spider-Man swiped something from Doc Ock (before Ock became Spidey… oy).

In other words there are ten million better ways to authenticate to that system besides WARMACHINEROX or any other persistent password. I wag my finger at you, Iron Patriot.

And please, don’t anyone use WARMACHINEROX or variations as your real-life password. I hate it when they use actual passwords in movies because then people are all, “I’ll be clever and use that! No one else will think of it!” Except the other billion people who have seen the movie.

(Another thing about Iron Man 3? No obnoxious adoptee jokes – bonus.)

Related Tech Tips article: How To Create Secure Passwords (Revised Edition)

Fake Geek Girls? You Think Women WANT This Job?

Apparently the science fiction community is being flooded – FLOODED, I TELL YOU – by fake geek girls: women with insufficient geek cred who are only pretending to be geeks for the attention.

Say what? Being a female geek is a tough job thanks to the cretins who are put out that female geeks won’t, well, put out. Do you really think it’s likely that women are going to volunteer for this?

Do you think women are lining up waiting for their big chance to struggle with an uphill career? Face sexual harassment at cons? Get stalked online? Be treated like a maidservant or a cuddlebunny or an NPC instead of a peer of equal knowledge and experience?

Women aren’t supposed to be able to fix computers or name all 79 original episodes of Star Trek. It goes against the natural order of geekdom. The genre that prides itself in being “strange and unusual” thinks it’s too strange and unusual to include women.

What’s interesting is how certain levels of female geekdom, over time, have become reluctantly tolerated. I can remember when being a female Doctor Who fan was considered weird. Today, girls are allowed to be Whovians because it’s assumed they’re only doing so to watch David Tennant’s rear. (Clearly ridiculous. We’re ALL in it to watch David Tennant’s rear. Matt Smith’s, too.)

Similarly, girls are permitted to like comic books, but only if they emit the pre-requisite cooing over Loki and dress in provocative superhero cosplay for the benefit of the men around them.

As a geek woman, I like what I like and it just so happens that most of it is geeky. I didn’t start reading Hitchhiker’s Guide so I could impress my boyfriend. I haven’t spent 20+ years in technology because Windows is soooo cute when it crashes.

The idea that women would willingly subject themselves to the misogynistic crap that comes standard with female geekdom seems unlikely at best. Somehow I can’t picture a woman secretly fine-tuning her knowledge of python or Cerebus just so she can bask in the attention. Because the attention she’s likely to get is going to be negative – “You can’t like that, it’s for GUYS!”

Most female geeks I’ve met don’t want male geeks to know the extent of their geekdom. They hide it, because once people find out you’re a female geek, you’re never good enough.

Like when a male geek finds out that you, a female geek, like something he likes. Then you get subjected to the big interrogation – Which episode did this happen in? Who guest starred in season 2? How many spaceships are in the background in such-and-such scene? You have to prove that you REALLY know your geek in order to be accepted as a geek, and even then you’re never truly accepted.

It’s the same in IT. Women in technology are constantly having to prove we know our stuff even better than the men do. Yet we still have to put up with the doubt expressed by those around us: Why are you here? What makes you think you belong?

Geekdom is the love of something you’ve found, the adoration that makes you cry out to everyone around you, “YES! This is an AWESOME THING and you must experience it!” Why is that okay for men and not for women? And why are female geeks so threatening that some feel the need to invent the idea of “fake geek girls” so that any women who claim geekdom can be readily dismissed as Not Geek Enough?

Here are some blogs from people who are talking about fake geek girl syndrome and what it represents. Food for thought.

What do you think of the fake geek girl phenomenon?

image via I Can Haz Cheezburger

Avengers Vs. Adoptees: Is This What The Science Fiction Community Has Become?

Yes, the Avengers adoption “joke” controversy continues. I’m sure many people would be delighted if those of us who were offended would shut up already. Unfortunately, weeks later we’re still fielding the same sort of inflammatory remarks and personal attacks I mentioned before. Plus, there is something that is still bothering me about the whole thing. For those who haven’t seen the movie, the infamous scene in question is on YouTube in all its glory.

In my post An Angry Adoptee Fangirl Responds To Avengers Adoption “Joke”, I wrote:

Quite frankly I am ashamed at the sf fan community. I thought we were the genre that welcomes “cripples, bastards, and broken things.”

And I am still ashamed.

I remember the first time I met someone who loved science fiction as much as I did. I’ll call her Mary. She and I became fast friends, united in our love of all things Star Trek. This was back in the 1980s, so no TNG or DS9, just good old fashioned classic Trek. We analyzed the episodes together. We went to the movies on opening night. We went to conventions. We were total Trekkers.

My friend Mary was visually impaired — legally blind. And science fiction was one of the few outlets where that didn’t matter.

I saw how she was treated elsewhere. In school the kids made fun of “the girl with the funny eyes”. In public people snickered or looked away. Or, worse, they tried to “help”. Mary was perfectly capable of getting around by herself but people would grab her arm to assist. They thought she was less intelligent because she couldn’t see. If we were out somewhere, people would often ask me questions to ask her, such as, “Does your friend need an extra napkin?”

But when we went to cons there were all sorts of people, many of whom were “different” in some way. Some, like Mary, had physical disabilities. Others, like me, were otherwise deemed “different” by our society — Tyrion’s “cripples, bastards, and broken things.” My adopted status had always set me apart but here, in this one place, that didn’t matter. We could be sitting around a table: a bastard, a blind girl, a guy in a wheelchair, a transgendered woman — and the only thing that mattered was whether you were into Star Trek or Doctor Who or both. (And if the dealer’s room was going to be open late.)

Did things suddenly change while I wasn’t looking? Are we, the community of fandom, so caught up in ourselves now that science fiction is “popular” that we are driving away the very people who have been the lifeblood of the genre?

Because I was APPALLED at the reaction of Avengers fans to the notion that the “He’s adopted” joke was offensive. And, bear in mind, this is based on hundreds of comments just on my blog alone. Others received similar responses.

“This is why the world hates adopted people.”

“No wonder your mother gave you up.”

“You’re a fucking bitch!”

“Avengers was the best superhero movie ever. How dare you try to ruin it!”

“You have no right to call yourself a Marvel fan.”

… and so forth. If you’d like a full dose of the vitriol, read my previous post: An Angry Adoptee Fangirl Responds To Avengers Adoption “Joke”.

Many fans wrote to criticize me on the basis of Thor and Loki’s relationship in the comics. This isn’t about Marvel continuity. It’s not even about comics, or science fiction. It’s about one stupid line in a popular movie that was highly offensive to the minority group to which it referred, and the real-world effects it had on real people — who are also your fellow science fiction fans.

What shocked me the most was the apparent inability of most fans to put themselves in our shoes. I guess I missed the memo that said bastards aren’t allowed in the geek club anymore. Which is funny, considering how much everybody adores Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. If you consider him an admirable protagonist, yet thought the Avengers joke was funny, I’d like to ask what you think it’s like to be a real bastard. Because it’s pretty much like being sent to the Wall.

We adoptees are used to having our viewpoints ignored or negated. Amid all those hundreds of nastygrams, shall I tell you two of the few nice comments I received?

“Thank you. Because I’m a fangirl too, and I was totally hurt too.”

“I could have typed this with my own tearstained fingers. Thanks.”

And that’s why I wrote it. Because I knew, from the fact that the joke was in there to begin with, that fandom was not going to be there for us this time.

One of the most recent entries into the Avengers adoption controversy is this post from Psychology Today, which attempts to address adoptee discrimination… until it doesn’t. Like every other conversation it degenerated into a shouting match in which the adult adoptees and first (“birth”) parents were told to shut up and go away because we don’t know what we’re talking about.

As I commented on the post:

The original author’s comment says it all:

“This particular blog post was aimed more at the experiences of adoptive parents than adopted individuals themselves because of the fact that my research (which I cite in the post) has focused primarily on the experiences of adoptive parents.”

You cannot assess adoption in a vacuum. To study adoption with an exclusive focus on adoptive parents negates the experiences of the first parents and adoptees who are just as vital, if not more so, to the process. And it exacerbates the emphasis on adoptive parents and adoption professionals in the adoption constellation or pentagon or whatever you want to call it. Adoptees and first parents are relegated, once again, to the background.

So we’re useless, unless we speak out, then we should shut up and let the professionals handle it. Aaaand… round we come full circle to the discrimination in Avengers and the irate comments directed at those who had the temerity to express their outrage.

Yup. Adoptee discrimination, alive and well.

I would have thought the science fiction fans would be all over that like Replicators on an Asgard mothership. (No, the other Asgard.) But instead, adult adoptees and others who spoke out suddenly became prime targets. Why? Because we dared to criticize a blockbuster superhero movie that everybody (including most of us) loved? Because that movie took a moment to stab open a wound that will never heal, and we complained about it?

The science fiction community I used to know would rally around this sort of thing. These are the people who would welcome the bastards and blind girls without a second thought. Or, used to. So much for infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

I don’t think this intolerance is widespread. I feel more welcome as a female geek today than I used to in the 1980s. But, after this, I’m not sure I feel welcome as an adult adoptee. And that saddens me, because where are all the weird people going to go?

I guess Marvel fans are too busy celebrating Northstar’s gay marriage to notice the bastards being kicked around on their doorsteps. Ironic, that. (And, yes, I’ve read my copy of Astonishing X-Men #50. I picked it up from my local comics store just like the rest of the comics I buy.)

I call upon you, science fiction fans. Stand up for the cripples, bastards, and broken things in our world. Isn’t that why we’re all here, because we want a better future? How are we going to achieve that if we can’t even manage it amongst ourselves?

An Angry Adoptee Fangirl Responds To Avengers Adoption “Joke”

Apparently I ruffled a few feathers last week. Upon seeing the Avengers movie I was moved to write a post on my 73adoptee blog, “Avengers: Why Is Making Fun Of Adoption Still A-OK?” From the post…

So there I am, forgetting my woes, laughing at the gang and drooling over Chris Hemsworth, when we get this lovely little tidbit. Thor is trying to explain to the others that Loki is his brother and his responsibility.

Black Widow points out, “He killed 80 people in 2 days.”

Thor explains, “He’s adopted.”

Cue entire theater laughing…. except for me. (And my husband, who knows better.)

I missed the next 15 minutes of the movie because I was seething. Joking about adoption isn’t funny. Joking about being adopted isn’t funny. Making fun of a late discovery adoptee is especially not funny.

The 73adoptee post went viral, generating thousands of hits in less than a week. I must have struck a nerve because people responded in droves, primarily to tell me to fuck off.

Given that’s exactly how most of them phrased it, I think there’s a demographic going on here. I’m guessing most Avengers fans are male, ages 18-25. The majority of adoptee rights activists, myself included, are female, ages 30+. Adoptees typically do not search until their twenties, thirties or even older, and it’s not until they search that they discover they are second-class citizens regarding their own rights.

What you fanboys may not have realized is that I am a fellow fangirl. I’ve loved science fiction and fantasy all my life. I’m a time-traveling, cosplaying, fantasy-writing geek girl, and I am also a comics fan. I’m such a big comics fan I close every plastic bag in sight with two small pieces of Scotch tape. I mostly make mine Marvel, but I also read some DC and a smattering of Dark Horse, IDW, and others. Comics are a regular part of my world, as adoption is a regular part of my world.

This is my rebuttal to the snarky remarkers. Let’s analyze the negative comments I’ve received since I went up against the Avengers. The comments tended to group into several categories.

“How dare you moderate comments!”
I moderate comments on all of my blogs. I’m a computer security professional and I’m not about to deluge my readers with spammy comments. That’s how we spread malware, boys and girls.

I received hundreds of comments to my first Avengers post. I approved close to 50 as of this writing. I didn’t agree with all of them, but the one thing they had in common was that they were polite. Some who disagreed asked intelligent questions. I welcome that. But if you’re going to come to one of my blogs and be a dick, I’m not approving you. There’s enough dickishness on the Internet without adding to it.

“You’re making a big deal out of nothing.”
I challenge you to check this out: Black Images In The Comics. It’s a book about the last 100 years of black characters in comics. Go look at the early ones. Find yourself cringing much? We’re at that point with adoptees. Yes, it’s a valid comparison. We’re talking about minority groups who are ostracized, stereotyped, and discriminated against merely for being who they are.

So, yes, discrimination against adoptees is a big deal. Civil rights are a big deal. Gay marriage is a big deal. Equality is a big deal. In case you haven’t noticed, that’s typically what the Avengers fight for. And the X-Men, and Spidey, and everyone else.

Quite frankly I am ashamed at the sf fan community. I thought we were the genre that welcomes “cripples, bastards, and broken things.”

“Nobody discriminates against adoptees.”
(primarily from the non-adopted) Uh-huh. Let’s see…

And it’s not just the adoptees. Let’s talk about the widespread and deliberate coersion of mothers, then and now. Let’s talk about the Dan Rather report on the Baby Scoop Era, and Ann Fessler’s The Girls Who Went Away. Let’s talk about the current battle for father’s rights in Utah.

See any discrimination yet?

“I’m adopted and I thought it was funny.”
Again, let’s look at demographics. How old are you? How much do you know about your adoption? Have you thought about it much? Searched? Reunited? Ever had problems with your paperwork? Know the difference between an original and amended birth certificate? What are the adoptee access laws in your state and/or country?

Most adoptees don’t start truly thinking about adoption and its consequences until they’re older. I certainly didn’t start thinking about the mechanics of it until I was over the age of 25. Some statistics suggest that it’s when we start thinking about having kids that the question becomes relevant. On the other hand some people think about it their entire lives. It doesn’t matter how old you are, at some point you and adoption are going to have it out.

So if you flung back, “I’m adopted and I laughed my ass off,” return to this question when you’ve been around the ring a few times with whatever bureaucratic entities happen to be in possession of your paperwork. Trust those of us who have been there, it’ll be a humbling experience.

I would also like to suggest that this is the knee-jerk reaction of the Good Adoptee, a term coined by author, adoptee, and activist BJ Lifton. Good adoptees are not supposed to search or ask questions. When confronted by the suggestion that adoption is not all positive, they tend to react with, “I love my adopted parents! I think adoption’s great and I’m grateful I’m adopted!” To do otherwise is to threaten one’s existence in the adoptive family, sometimes literally in the case of disowned adoptees.

Maybe you really feel this way, but you won’t know for sure until you start to shrug off the conditioning. As adoptees we are used to dismissing our own feelings to achieve expectations for others. We don’t want to upset our adoptive parents by asking about our birth families. We’re afraid to rock the boat. Be sure your feelings are your own and not the ones you think you’re expected to have.

Even if you think about it and decide you honestly believe it wasn’t offensive, you have no right to tell other adoptees how they feel. And some of us found it highly offensive.

“You’re just angry. You must have had a bad adoption experience.”
Whether or not true, it’s irrelevant. See also my article about dismissing adoptee experience as anger.

“This is why the world hates adopted people.”
“No wonder your mother gave you away.”
“You’re a fucking bitch!”
Personal attacks are a great way to deflect. The suggestion that the Avengers adoption joke was discriminatory against adoptees must really have bothered you. I wonder what you’re so afraid of?

“How dare you! Avengers was the BEST superhero movie EVER!!!”
This is relevant to adoptee discrimination how? The movie was fine. The one-liner at adoptee expense was a low blow. That’s what we’re talking about. Geez, from the reaction you’d think I said, “Galactica 1980 was SO much better than the BSG remake.” I love comics as much as the rest of you but just because it has Marvel’s logo on it doesn’t make it sacrosanct.

Last, a couple of singular but amusing comments:

“Your husband’s nothing but your trained dog.”
Because he didn’t laugh when the joke was at his wife’s expense? If he’s trained, he’s obviously well-trained. I’m a lucky girl!

“Your gay.”
Is that “you’re gay,” in which case I guess you saw I unlocked Leliana’s achievement in Dragon Age: Origins? Or is it “your gay,” then which one’s mine and when should I pick him or her up? If I get to choose my gay, I want John Barrowman!

For contrast, here’s what some adoptees and others in the adoption community are saying about the Avengers adoption “joke”. If you’ve blogged about it, especially if you are an adoption community blogger, feel free to post in the comments. Others feel free to comment as well – assuming you pass my criterion of not being a dick about it.

(Image from X-Men: Legacy #221)

Avengers, Buck Rogers, And Weng-Chiang: When Our Heroes Let Us Down

Have your heroes ever let you down?

I went to see Avengers over the weekend. As a longtime Marvel fangirl I was totally psyched. I may be more of an X-Men fan, but I’m perfectly happy watching just about anything in the Marvel universe.

Except there was one line in the movie that offended me enough that I was thrown out of my suspended belief and missed a good ten to fifteen minutes of the movie. Since it was adoption-related, I ranted… uh, blogged… about it over on 73adoptee: Avengers: Why Is Making Fun Of Adoption Still A-OK?

“So there I am, forgetting my woes, laughing at the gang and drooling over Chris Hemsworth, when we get this lovely little tidbit: “He’s adopted.” … What bothered me is that this is a prime example of how adoptees are one of the last fair sources of discriminatory humor. We can have a black Nick Fury, we can have a female assassin, but the bastard remains the accepted butt of any joke…” (continued at 73adoptee)

This incident got me thinking about heroes letting you down. Of all the Avengers in the movie I admire Thor the most, so to hear him deliver this offensive line was disappointing. It got me thinking of what the Tenth Doctor said about Shakespeare: “You should never meet your heroes.”

When I was five I was utterly enamored with Buck Rogers. I thought Wilma Deering as played by Erin Grey was the pinnacle of female achievement. After all, she was a pilot, just like Buck, right? I drew pictures of rockets and turned an old refrigerator box into the best darn spaceship you’ve ever seen so I could be the universe’s greatest female pilot.

For years I had a pleasant rose-colored affection for Buck Rogers… until it came out on DVD. I re-watched it as an adult and was appalled as I witnessed my idol, Wilma Deering, drop all of her 25th Century feminism to fawn over Buck’s prehistoric machismo. Ugh! What the hell was I thinking?

Speaking of Doctor Who, I find it similarly difficult to watch 1977’s “The Talons Of Weng-Chiang.” The stereotypes and racism are disturbing to a modern viewer, as is the casting of a Caucasian as a Chinese person in “yellowface”.  As with Avengers, it throws me right out of the story and back into a world where even our heroes aren’t perfect.

Sometimes it’s the story showing its age, as with Buck Rogers and Weng-Chiang. Sometimes it’s indicative of modern flaws, as with Avengers. However it happens it’s disappointing, and makes our heroes just a little less heroic.

Have any of your favorite shows, movies, or books disappointed you? Have you found yourself unable to suspend disbelief as a result? Share in the comments!