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)

To My High School Classmates From The Nerd You Used To Tease

Me, with sonic and sunflowers.

I received email recently from a former classmate requesting class news for the upcoming school alumnae newsletter. They should know better than to ask me. I’m far too likely to say something like:

Triona’s been busy with her new role as Champion of Kirkwall in the Dragon Age 2 video game. Between restless mages and the Qunari threat, there’s ever so much to do! After that it’s on to Tales Of Graces with its excellent graphics and catchy J-pop theme.

She highly recommends the new Captain Marvel comic as well as the Gambit limited series but says you can take a pass on AvX unless you’re a die-hard Marvel fan. Having finished A Song Of Ice And Fire (aka Game of Thrones) she’s excited about the latest book in Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series.

It wouldn’t be a Triona update without mention of computers, so she suggests you install the most insecure version of Adobe Flash possible. Be sure to activate Java while you’re at it. And don’t run antivirus; nobody needs that.

She wants all of you to know that being a middle-aged nerd is WAY more fun than being a mercilessly teased nerd in high school, and hopes you have boring, boring jobs that strangle you with ennui while she has a rockin’ good time dressing up like Amy Pond for the Doctor Who premiere.


Fangirl Review: Doctor Who/Star Trek Assimilation2 #3: Blast From The Past

When we last left our heroes, Jean-Luc Picard and the Eleventh Doctor were up against a creepy combination of Borg and Cybermen. And it looks like things are getting a little timey-wimey…


This issue segues from “current” events in the 24th Century to “past” events of the 23rd involving the original Enterprise team: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, plus some curly-haired guy in a long scarf. Who? Right!

I’m pleased that the cover of Assimilation2 issue 3 wasn’t a marketing ploy, putting Kirk, Spock, and McCoy on a cover with Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor just to sell more comics. It’s actually relevant to the plot. Good. Covers that show scenes that aren’t even in the comic tick me off – it’s like false advertising. (What do you MEAN Rogue doesn’t actually kiss Gambit in this issue?!)

The art continues to appeal to me. I like the segue from modern artwork to old-school as we move from Picard’s era to Kirk’s. I can’t help hearing Matt Smith’s voice in my head as I read Eleven’s dialogue, or Tom Baker’s as I read Four. Speaking as a fan of both Old Who and New, it’s not easy to pull off something that will appeal to both.

I still want to know exactly when this takes place in Four’s timeline. Circa The Deadly Assassin, perhaps? That might explain the lack of companion. Or maybe he just nipped out for a moment while Leela was swimming in the TARDIS pool (which at that time was not in the library).

In this issue, the timelines are changing and the Eleventh Doctor’s memories have been altered by Four’s Kirk-era encounter with the Cybermen. Yay for the timey-wimey! Still waiting to hear whether the Doctor has traveled to the Star Trek universe or if the Doctor Who and Star Trek universes are actually the same (temporarily? permanently?).

Set warp factor to “annoy”: Must we always hide in nebulae when the senior officers need to talk? For pity’s sake, Starfleet might as well install nebula generators in every starship for those emergency tactical debriefings during tense enemy encounters. “Fire up the nebula generator, Number One. Mr. LaForge and Mr. Data have some technobabble for us.”

LOL moment: “Don’t be ridiculous, Commander. I’m nowhere near 100.”

And the last panel… oooh, the last panel. I won’t spoil it, for those who haven’t read it yet. But of all the people in the Trek universe to meet the Doctor…! This is one you won’t want to miss.

Women In Tech: Microsoft Is Just For Men, Plus Girls In Short Skirts FOR SCIENCE!

After the fallout from Dell’s misogynistic gaffe at a recent conference, you would think people would have figured out that alienating women in technology is a Bad Idea. But you would be so very wrong.

First we have Microsoft’s decision to join Dell in the 19th Century. A presentation in Norway on Windows Azure included the “Azure Girls” in a fabulous dance number while music blares: “I’ve got the skills to impress / I’m a computer genius / The words ‘Micro’ and ‘Soft’ don’t apply to my penis.”

Seriously, boys? I first heard that joke in third grade, and that’s where it should have stayed.

(The lyrics on the screen flashed “or vagina” as the lyrics were sung, which neither makes sense nor mitigates the offense – although it’s a good thing the conference took place in Norway because THAT sort of language would NEVER be allowed in places like Michigan.)

Is this how Microsoft wishes to advertise itself? Well then, as a woman in technology, I have some constructive criticism for them. Let’s consider the uproar over forcing people into Windows 8’s annoying Metro interface. Let’s consider the lackadaisical response to the Surface tablet announcement. Let’s discuss the Microsoft malaise that has entered the general consciousness.

Instead of coming up with penis jokes, I suggest they focus on business.

If that’s not enough misogynistic mayhem for you, there’s the EU’s ad campaign for teenage girls: “Science It’s A Girl Thing!” Because all girls like lipstick, so the way to get them to like science is to add more lipstick. And I always wear my stilettos when I’m in the server room.

Why is it that anything marketed toward females has to be cute, pink, fuzzy, and dumbed down? This ad campaign only reinforces the notion that to succeed a girl must have a supermodel figure, wear the latest fashions, and hide her intelligence.

To deliver a response, I would like to get together a diplomatic team consisting of Dr. Samantha Carter, Captain Kathryn Janeway, Dr. Moira MacTaggart, and Dr. Liz Shaw (the original, thank you). No short skirts here, but a hell of a lot more brain cells than the people who came up with these ideas.

Why do these incidents continue? Because the women who manage to pursue careers in science and technology are not permitted to sit at the table when decisions are made. I’ll bet there were few females present, if any, when Dell decided on an offensive emcee for their Copenhagen conference, when Microsoft developed the idea of “Azure Girls”, when the EU wrote the campaign for “Science It’s A Girl Thing”.

And that’s the crux of the problem. You can’t get women involved unless you get women involved.

Until women are accepted as equals in fields like technology and science, until they have a say in what happens in the boardroom, the glass ceiling will remain firmly affixed and girls of the future will be expected to find the right shade of lipstick to go with their Bunsen burners.

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)

8 Simple Rules For Reading X-Men Comics

I’ve been jonesing for comics lately. It’s been a long time but back in the day I was an avid fan, especially of the X-titles. And there’s this dangerous thing called an “iPad” created by an evil genius named Steve Jobs, upon which one may purchase comics without removing carcass from comfy chair.


So I start browsing Marvel’s online catalog. There’s some New Mutants. Any good these days?

WARLOCK IS BACK! Everyone’s favorite alien is back on Earth, but why? Plus, witness the vicious battle between Cannonball and Dani Moonstar!

Okay, you had me at “Warlock”. And it’s only two bucks. What could it hurt?

Fifty comics later I am refreshed on current events and reminded why I like X-Men so much. As I tweeted at the time: “I will nevereverever get tired of X-Men. I’ve been gone for 15 years and everything is exactly the same.”

Now, before you lambast me for buying my comics digitally instead of going to my local comics shop… the digital comics actually inspired me to go to my local comics shop for the first time and buy a bunch there too, and I’ll definitely be going back for new issues. So support your local comics shop, they’re good people.

Are you behind on the X-times? Here are my eight simple rules for returning to the X-Men comics:

  • People who were alive are now spectacularly dead. People who are dead are now spectacularly alive.
  • Don’t ask Cyclops about his love life.
  • Don’t ask Wolverine about his past. Or his present.
  • If the Professor is walking around on two good legs, don’t ask about the wheelchair.
  • If Illyana Rasputin appears out of nowhere, the only correct response is: “I’ll get Colossus.”
  • Your choice of Fearless Leader depending on death, draining of powers and/or angst: Professor X, Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Magneto, Emma Frost. If it’s not one of those it’ll be someone you never expected like Leech or the Power Pack.
  • Friends showing up with glowing eyes is usually not good. Unless their eyes are supposed to glow, in which case if they aren’t glowing it’s not good.
  • You’ll get by better with Patented Shi’ar Technology(tm)!

Do you have any X-suggestions to add? Share in the comments!

(Adorable tokidoki X-Men sweatshirt from ThinkGeek. I have one and I love it.)
(Warlock image from the cover of New Mutants #5.)