Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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ZYR2-F32Z-N00001

Combinatorial Reference
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I am sick and tired of meaningless alphanumeric strings whenever I make a travel booking/ purchase over the internet. I scribble down umpteen digits/ letters, and then I can never work out if they are 0s or Os, or 2s or Zs. Likewise pin codes for secure sites etc.

Much simpler: use combinations of everyday words. A list of 1,000 words, and two word combinations gives you 1,000,000 possible combinations. Chuck in another word and you have a billion. Surely enough for anyone...

Goodbye "ZYR2-F32Z-N00001", hello "moist badger magnet". Cut down on all those mis-transcriptions, and - hell - you might even have a chance of remembering your passcode.

p.s. Why is there so much redundancy in most booking/ reference numbers? I had to quote a 13 digit number to my gas company this morning. There are enough numbers for every man, woman and child on the planet to have well over 1,000 each...

whimsickle, Feb 13 2004

Phonetic Numerals http://placevaluenumbers.com/home.htm
A 9ai2 in the a00, but it works. [dryman, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

AOL passwords http://members.aol..../aoh/passwords.html
waugsqueke pointed these out - I've seen some funny ones in my time [jgang, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

XKCD's opinion https://xkcd.com/936/
Good idea or bad idea? [mylodon, Nov 17 2017]


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Annotation:







       The one advantage of "ZYR2-F32Z-N00001" over "moist badger magnet" is the ability to say it with a straight face.
hazel, Feb 13 2004
  

       but the former is less easy to pronounce...
jonthegeologist, Feb 13 2004
  

       do I really want to know what a moist badger magnet is?
po, Feb 13 2004
  

       What I want to know is: Is it a magnet for attracting moist badger or is the badger magnet moist?
GenYus, Feb 13 2004
  

       Sorry - that should have read "moist badger magnate". Guess there are potential problems with homonymy...
whimsickle, Feb 13 2004
  

       What if you don't know how to pronounce "magnate"?
Worldgineer, Feb 13 2004
  

       Didn't one scandinavian bank do this for passwords unitl one bloke got the equivalent of "wood-penis" as his? Or am I going totally mad?
oneoffdave, Feb 13 2004
  

       I'd never heard of badger as a euphemism for ladies bits before, but I don't see why it couldn't be used as such. Most words can I suppose. In the light of that, the phrase "moist badger magnate" seems somehow even worse than the original.
hazel, Feb 13 2004
  

       try a google for "growl at the badger". Apparently "badger" is a more common euphemism than I thought...
hoopdy, Feb 13 2004
  

       save for your records
croissant confirmation code: clipper idocrase reliable slop doingle
  

       annotation confirmation: kneecap penniless venery
oxen crossing, Feb 13 2004
  

       If you can make the system work for Ford part numbers I'm all for it. Might have a problem dealing with dictionary password cracker attacks.
RayfordSteele, Feb 13 2004
  

       //Guess there are potential problems with homonymy// If you have a limited number of words you can eliminate that problem. For added redundancy and easier memorizing set it up so the words always make up a simple sentence. Like:
1st is a relative
2nd is a popular name
3rd is a verb
4th is a number for checksum
5th is an object ...
Confirmation for your ticket: "Aunt Jane eats 12 slugs in the yard."
kbecker, Feb 13 2004
  

       AOL does this with temporary passwords on their CDs.
waugsqueke, Feb 13 2004
  

       Nonsense. It's all a bunch of consumer claptrap. Next time, buy your item in person and to further avoid the rigamarole contemplate (gasp) having a conversation with the person with whom you have the transaction. Not simply the data involved, but various unrelated items. How's your earlobe today? Mine is a bit pesky, got a bit of a scratch. . . . your's as well? That's fascinating. Perhaps there's a bit of an earlobe scratchery going about and so on. try it.
Mungo, Feb 13 2004
  

       You called, sirs?

On the matter of the idea, I think that NewScientist has been running an extended correspondence in the Feedback section on this.
badgers, Feb 14 2004
  

       Fine idea. As to the question "Why is there so much redundancy in most booking/ reference numbers? I had to quote a 13 digit number ...", this is to prevent number generating attacks on websites from mining personal data about customers. One security measure among (hopefully) many.
gardnertoo, Feb 14 2004
  

       I like it... you can play that "refrigerator poetry" game with your flight reservations and ATM PIN codes.
zigness, Feb 14 2004
  

       //Fine idea. As to the question "Why is there so much redundancy in most booking/ reference numbers? I had to quote a 13 digit number ...", this is to prevent number generating attacks on websites from mining personal data about customers. One security measure among (hopefully) many.//   

       Part of the reason is to allow multiple independent sites to generate numbers which are globally unique, and to allow a number to be correlated to the site that assigned it. Although it would be possible to assign each site a number and then have each confirmation number simply take the form sitenumber-indexnumber, people might think it was "too obvious" if the first part of all IDs from a given site was identical. So they munge them up a bit.   

       Also, it should be noted that in some states things like drivers' licenses include a soundex code of the person's name, as well as their birthdate and sometimes some other information as well. Can sometimes cause weirdness when twins with the same initials get licenses.
supercat, Feb 14 2004
  

       The best use of such a code I've seen was for when I bought a rail ticket from the SCNF.   

       You printed out the final web page and took it to the railway station where a kiosk printed the ticket in response to re-entering the alphanumeric code. It worked like a dream, providing me a valid ticket without any direct human interaction.   

       Typing in common French words would have been harder, even though I do know a modest amount of French.
Aristotle, Feb 15 2004
  

       Assuming that there is a direct mapping between alphanumeric codes and words, you could have both, Aristotle. Can't remember "le mouillé blaireau aimant"? just remember "ZYR2-F32Z-N00001".
Loris, Feb 17 2004
  

       With the computing power and password cracking software today this is just too easy to break.
bkornele, Feb 17 2004
  

       But its not about passwords, just confirmation codes, to prove, for instance, to your rental car company that you actually do have a reservation, or to your bank that you did make an electronic transaction. Do these really need to be super secure?
oxen crossing, Feb 17 2004
  

       You are correct about confirmation codes. They do not have to be secure. Thanks for clearing that up.
bkornele, Feb 17 2004
  

       It is no less secure provided there are as many combinations. Therefore the idea may require more than three words, which might be a problem.
However, a further reason for so many alpha-numeric digits is to include error-detection digits - precisely because they are so hard to remember and differentiate. Provided the list of words were chosen carefully, this idea includes that 'for free'.
Loris, Feb 17 2004
  

       You see this sort of thing a lot with random-word-combination spam email subject lines too. (One such in my yahoo box now: "dual argumentation anastasia folklore").
waugsqueke, Feb 17 2004
  

       registering some software i ended up with an alphanumeric string with no idea whether the o was a letter or a numeral, so dictionary based password would be good
engineer1, Feb 20 2004
  

       [waugsqeke] - I think the subject lines you received were the beginnings of the internet becoming sentient. This is just happening now in the future, and everyone is having to come to grips with it. Enjoy your life back there in 2004; things were simpler then.
mylodon, Nov 17 2017
  

       Although - and feel free to berate me on this - I'd signed up to some damn service and made some password, and later on I needed to get back into it and had to call some call center guy, who asked me what my password was. I didn't have a choice. Devices were malfunctioning.   

       In that instance, it really would have been better to have something less dodgy and more obfuscated.
mylodon, Nov 17 2017
  

       I would like this. No one is actively generating the words, so everyone just needs to psychologically grow up and laugh at the words given in a bit of whimsical random reference checking.   

       Watch those sly administrators though. You never know what they get up to with low level control. So if you random words hit home a bit too hard maybe you know of the administrator.
wjt, Nov 18 2017
  

       I feel like using those three as synonyms for said words.
nineteenthly, Nov 19 2017
  


 

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