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May 23, 2002

Bring on the Biometrics!

Eye
Spent most of the day grading 470 projects. If there's a common theme for the day, though, it's that this is an awkward in-between era we're living through and I'll be glad when it's over.

We're surrounded by systems that need to know who we are, and they're all different and it's getting to be a pain to deal with them. Case in point: SDSU has finally developed a way for us to turn in grades electronically. For faculty like me who put grading off until the last minute, it should be terrific. To check out the system, I logged in with the temporary password I was given and plugged in the grades I had already done. Very slick system. I also took the opportunity to change the password to something I could remember and logged off.

Then, with a half hour to spare before the deadline, I logged in again to post the rest of my grades. Who the hell are you?! the system asked. I tried the old password and the new one several times and then the screen told me that my account had been locked down. The formerly slick system now saw me as a potential hacker trying to give even more A's away and it blew me off. So tomorrow I need to go physically to campus to turn in the rest.

Then off to pick up some dinner. I pulled up to the ATM and punched in my PIN. No way!, said the ATM. What I'd typed in was my old PIN but we just got new cards with a new PIN and since I'd only used it once a month ago, I'd forgotten what it was. No cash.

With Pizza Hut P'zones warming the back seat, I picked up June at Von's where she had spent the time getting groceries. They asked at the checkout if we had a Von's card. June said we did, so they typed in our phone number to get our discount. They lie!, said the cash register. We used to have a Von's card, but it's no longer in the system. So we spent another few minutes applying for another one to get $8 off our $40 order.

thumb printIf only all these systems could just look me in the retina or gaze lovingly at my thumbprint. No muss, no fuss. I'm willing to let Big Brother know my bank account balance, my grocery buying habits and my grading behavior for the blissful convenience of it all. He already knows it all anyway.

Turns out the Department of Justice has "http://www.biometricscatalog.org/" target="_blank">a search engine to help one find the latest and greatest technologies from this realm. Not surprising.