​Passage: A new era for passwords

It happened this past week ... two possible alternatives to computer passwords.

Security experts have been nagging us about passwords for years now:

Use at least eight characters, they say ... mix upper- and lower-case letters with numbers and symbols.

Don't use names or birthdates ... use different passwords for each account ... change your passwords frequently.

And, above all, don't EVER write all those different passwords down.

Well, now comes word of possible relief, from Yahoo and Microsoft.

Yahoo has introduced a system for sending single-use passwords "on demand" to mobile phone users. You receive a new password every time you wish to access your account.

While Microsoft is proposing "biometric authentication," where your computer will recognize your face, iris or fingerprint.

Your face may not be able to launch a thousand ships, but at least it could launch an online search.

Neither plan is foolproof, of course. Critics say Yahoo's single-use passwords could spell trouble if your phone falls into the wrong hands, while facial recognition is still not entirely reliable.

Which leaves doubters still stuck in password limbo.

To come up with passwords is always a slog,
You can't use your own name,
Or that of your dog.
You can't use your birthdate,
Or that of your mate,
Or a breach of security will be your fate.
No password a hacker could possibly guess,
Is it likely that YOU will forget it? Oh, YES!