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May 2007 Archives

Hardware didn't used to have passwords. Your lawnmower didn't have a password, your car didn't have a password, and your waffle iron didn't have a password.

But now things are different. Hardware is much smarter and now often requires a password. Connecting to the console of a Cisco router asks for a password. A Honda Prius has an all-software entry system.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Technical Tips

Ten years ago: Caller ID? Hell no! I'm gonna get it blocked! This is a total invasion of privacy!

Today: I refuse to order pizza delivery from that place until they get a caller-id system so I don't have to repeat my address to them every time I call in an order.

The sad part is that we now go to the "not as good food, but they use my caller-id bits" place instead of the "great food, takes forever to place my order because they don't take advantage of caller-id" place.

I think the morale of this story is that people will gladly give up a reasonable amount of privacy if they get some value for it. Plus, in this case they are only getting the information that I would want them to have anyway. I am going to tell them my address (so they can deliver the food) and giving them my phone number is a reasonable thing in case they need to reach me to ask a question. Plus, all of this is in the phone book. If I wanted to keep it all secret I could pick up the food myself.

Banks are in a different situation. They seem to want to collect tons of information, not all of it obviously needed. When ordering a credit report from Equifax they ask for all your previous addresses, which they then use to supplement the information that they have about you. (All they really need is my SSN and full name, plus the address I want the report delivered.)