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Blog: Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles
Groucho Told Me "Say the Secret Word" To Win Access To My Sites (Password Talk)



On the old television show, You Bet Your Life, Groucho Marx would encourage contestants to "say the secret word" and the audience would watch with baited breath to see if the prize-winning word would be uttered.  If so, the prize duck, complete with Groucho-glasses and mustache would drop from the ceiling and HURRAY, the contestant would win the prize.  No magic word? No prize.

Do you ever feel like trying to remember the correct internet password is like being a contestant on a game show?  If you win, you can transfer money from one account to another or post an update on your blog.  If you lose, you may struggle for hours to gain access to your accounts or files.  Sometimes, frustrated, the best you can hope for is to go home with a parting gift of Rice-A-Roni (the San Francisco treat).

Previously, we've discussed why it's dangerous to leave your passwords on your desk and monitor. Who wanders by your office computer? Customers, vendors, consultants? Friends and family of other employees? Maintenance staff and colleagues?  Who else? Can you be certain that you're safe from corporate espionage and identity theft

Even in a home office, where only the UPS guy and babysitter see your desk, it's crucial to protect sensitive data from disclosure—whether that's your own Social Security number and bank data or your clients' proprietary information. The more clutter in your desktop environment, the harder it is to know when something is missing or if prying eyes have settled on them. 

The same is true if you've got a mini Post-It® taped to your laptop.  Turn away from your screen for a moment to get a napkin to wipe up the coffee this random guy at Starbucks just spilled and...YIKES! Random Guy's partner-in-crime just made off with your laptop, passwords, identity and financial future!

If you're a long-time Paper Doll reader, you know how I bemoan floozies.  Well, having your login name and password on an accessible, visible (albeit tiny) piece of paper is a disaster waiting to happen.  In a future post, we'll review the advantages and disadvantages of various paper and digital alternatives to floozies and undependable memories, but today, I have something special to share.

Back when we were talking about identity theft, I said:

If you have a poor memory and must keep your passwords accessible, consider creating a cheat sheet with the clues instead of the actual passwords. For example, instead of writing down your password of ElvisVermontMaple, write down "1stConcertFavoriteSyrup", or some equally obscure bit of information to hint at the information only you need to know.

Well, the folks at Innovention Lab have done my cheat sheet one better with the Internet Password Organizer™.  Now, you don't need to encode your passwords (though you still could do so) because your passwords, though accessible, are no longer visible to every Groucho, Harpo and Zeppo.




The Basics
The Internet Password Organizer™, upon cursory examination, looks like any ordinary address book.  The 5.5" x 8" covers are made of marbled, black paperboard, firm to the touch and likely to survive multiple drops and dings.  The binding is double-loop or Wire-O rather than the more common but less hardy comb or coil-style binding, so you don't have to worry about the binding unraveling.  The binding makes it easy to open the book and lay it flat to add new entries.

From most angles, it could easily pass for a personal journal or diary.  So, unless a thief wants to know about your latest crush, the Internet Password Organizer™ is unlikely to inspire any curiosity, whether you keep it on your reference bookshelf, on your desk or locked in a drawer.  (Note:  The narrow label wrapper you see above simply slides off, leaving no indication of the contents.)

There are 13 tabbed dividers with the alphabet pairings (AB, CD, EF, etc.) on both sides, a boon to lefties (or anyone writing in Hebrew)!  Each individual page provides the opportunity to list the login information (web page name, username, password and ample room for comments/notes) for five sites.

The Internet Password Organizer™ is sold online its own website, at www.OnlineOrganizing.com, Amazon.com and other retailers for $19.99.

The Extras
Innovention Lab would have a fine product with just the basics, but the Bonus Sections give the Organizer a chance to shine because they remembered what we always forget. Click the links to see the page layouts: 
  • ISP (Internet Service Provider) Info--Be honest, in an emergency, what's the chance that you could find the notes from when you first switched ISPs?  The Organizer provides a gentle nudge to collect and record info about your network settings, server information and technical support contacts, with prompts for all the details you just know you'd otherwise have missed.
  • Home Network Configuraton Info--I won't steal Innovention Lab's thunder.  Suffice it to say they remembered all the things you need to know to configure your home network and keep your modem, router, networks and wireless settings from going kafflouie, or to reconfigure after you've become a kafflouie victim.
  • License Manager--You know how impossible it is to get technical support for software issues if you can't prove you are the lawful license-holder.  Again, the Organizer rocks with ample space for logging all the software data that keeps you sane, safe and happy.
  • Notes--They even added a notes section, because there are always procedures and protocols for fixing problems that pop up just infrequently enough that you forget what to do.  The Internet Password Organizer™ saves you from wasting valuable timing calling tech support (or bruising your ego, calling a tech-savvy ex).
What Paper Doll liked:
  • The simplicity of the design.  Discretion may be the better part of value, but it's the be-all and end-all of internet security.  Nothing about the design calls attention to it as a technical security tool.  It's a blunt-cut bob.  A beige four-door sedan.  An American cheese sandwich.  The design lets the Internet Password Organizer™ hide in plain sight.
  • The ease of use.  The promotional material notes the "intuitive layout and design", and one cannot argue.  A seven year-old could understand how and where to record essential data.
What Paper Doll loved:
  • It's low-tech--there's no learning curve whatsoever. You, your kids and Great-Grandma Gert can all start using the Internet Password Organizer™ without having to read a manual, download any software or firmware, or create a password for your passwords!
  • The bonus features.  Any Hello Kitty address book could be reconfigured for recording URLs and passwords, but the bonus section serves in lieu of your own professional organizer for reminding you which technical information you need to gather and preserve. A+ to Innovention Lab for doing the thinking for us, especially for those of us who don't know a WAN from a LAN from a sodapop can, or a subnet mask from a Halloween mask.
A few (minor) drawbacks:

You can't really travel with your Internet Password Organizer™, or you'll dramatically increase your risk of loss . After all, keeping both your laptop and secret passwords in the one bag carry-on bag means that if a thief gets one, he gets everything. However, this would be a problem with any non-technical security protocol. In future posts, we'll talk about high tech gizmos that protect access with thumb prints or generate new umbrella password keys every few minutes.  However, with added technology comes added costs, while the Internet Password Organizer™ is priced conservatively. 

It's not expandable.  You get 5 web sites per page, with room for entries on the front and back of every page.  Each divider tab represents 2 letters of the alphabet, so behind each tab, you have room for 40 passwords.  For the typical user, this should be more than adequate, but power users might welcome an upgrade.  Perhaps someday an Internet Password Organizer™ version 2.0 could include double the number of pages, or small binder rings instead of spiral binding to allow for pages to be added.

Two suggestions for improvement:
  • The first page bears the name Internet Password Organizer™, and the reverse side of that page says the same, along with providing a place to provide your name, phone number and email address if the book is found. 
On the one hand, I applaud Innovention Lab for putting this data on the reverse of the front page so that someone who opens the book and is inclined to use it will not immediately notice he/she has access to even more personal information.  On the other hand, I'd love to see a false front page added without the product's name.  (Perhaps it could just say Innovention Lab?)  Then again, perhaps reviewing this product has made me a little too much of a paranoid Agent 005 (License to File).
  • A special section for web site owners would be great, or perhaps this could be a new line extension for Innovention Lab altogether.
As more and more of us have our own web sites and blogs, we're acquiring even more passwords for managing our sites' control panels and maintaining our IP addresses and domain registrations.  There's no reason the existing sections of the Organizer can't suffice, but a whole new section (perhaps as part of a deluxe version) would probably sell like hotcakes to all of us who are slowly growing our online empires.

The Bottom Line:

The product promises it's "the best way to safely and securely store all your passwords".  With a deceptively simple design and no fanfare, it helps you protect your online privacy and manage your computer discretely, cost-effectively and simply.  If only our computers behaved so well!

At the risk of sounding like a politician, Paper Doll approves of Innovention Lab's Internet Password Organizer™.  (And that's the secret word!)

posted on: 10/14/2008 10:30:00 AM by Julie Bestry
category: Paper


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Discuss This Post


by Valerie Sprenz on 10/29/2008 9:32:48 PM:

I think that this is a great tool that I could definitely use. I don't need to keep little Post-Its around my computers with my usernames and passwords, but only because I have the same username and password for all my sites, which I have been told repeatedly is not a good thing either! Thus, the Internet Password Organizer would certainly help me in that regard.


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Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles


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