I’m Now an Expert on My Password Journal

One of the gifts we bought for our early Christmas in Detroit was “My Password Journal.” Apparently, it’s a hot item.

On first seeing this thing, I clutched my pearls in horror thinking that it was encouraging kids to write down their online passwords within a physical journal.

I’m a user and big fan of 1Password, so the idea of resorting to paper/pencil is horrifying to me. Luckily, it wasn’t encouraging this approach. Rather, the whole “My Password” angle is that the journal uses voice recognition to grant (or deny) someone access.

As it turned out, we bought one of these guys for Audrey. And later, in Detroit, we learned that Anne and Kirt had purchased two as well – one for Paige, one for Audrey. We ended up doing some shuffling around and worked it out where all the girls (Paige, Audrey, and Isabelle) got one.

I ended up helping Paige set hers up, and later helped Audrey with hers as well (Isabelle seemed to be fine on her own). In the setup process, I figured out how to set a password, how to reset a password, how to set an Intruder Alert, how to listen to a failed login attempt, and how to turn on the secret light that displays the invisible ink.

The instructions suggest shorter words for passwords, as the voice recognition really requires an exact pronunciation each and every time someone logs in. Let’s say one of the kids made their password “Let me in, journal!”

More often than not, something this long would get pronounced a little differently each time. And result in a login failure. Or the journal wouldn’t work on the first attempt, and in frustration they’d say the password with a bit more anger (“Let me IN, journal!”). Which would again not match the original recording.

So – shorter passwords. Single words are best.

On one failed attempt, an automated reply giggles and says it’s not the password. Then it waits to listen for a second attempt. When this second attempt fails, it then plays a pre-recorded “Intruder Alert” message that the owner can record.

Interestingly – when an attempt fails, the journal actually records the intruder’s voice and saves it for playback. This recording only kicks in on the second failed attempt. But once the owner gets back into the journal successfully… it lets them know there was an intruder, and plays the recording back so they can hear who it was!

But these recordings don’t stack up over time. You could try and fail 50 times, and it would only record the last failed attempt. In some instances, when testing out this intruder recording thing… we’d intentionally fail the login. But then the owner wouldn’t get a match for their password, and inadvertently record themselves failing to log in.

Still though, it’s a pretty neat toy – and smart enough to recognize different voices, even though different people were trying the correct password.

I toyed with the idea of buying Sebastian this motion activated voice recorder, because that seemed like a good counter to the voice identification measures Paige and Audrey were employing on their journals.

But then I realized he could just turn each of the journals over, and hit the “reset” button on the back. It’s not recessed or anything, but there and pressable… for anyone to find. It’s a necessary feature, in case you needed to clear things and start over.

Or, you know… just break in.

Early Christmas in Detroit, Part 2
Twitter Phishing Scams and Password Strength

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Before we left, I tried to sneak over to Audrey’s journal and intentionally failed the login attempt. Rather than use a password, I used “Uncle Felix and Auntie Liz love you very much.” Figuring that, on failing to log in, the journal would record this. And then Audrey would hear it when she next opened up the journal.

    Sadly she caught me putting her journal back in place, and immediately logged in. She heard the message, and I saw her eyes light up from surprise. A few minutes later, when she was trying to show someone else the message again… she failed her login, and ended up recording her own voice (and wiping out my message). Technology, I tell ya.

    avoision Reply

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