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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life - 41

May 2004  

You can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web.

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring. Getting the most from your computer.jpg (5543 bytes)

Jackie has also written the two books shown here - you can find more details about these by clicking on the cover images above. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s.


Via Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, why not email her

or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too




May 2004 

Usernames and passwords 

As these terms are used so much, this month I am offering a simple guide to what they are and why you need them. 

Once you start using your computer, you will find you are often asked to register.  This means supplying two names/codes which are combined to identify you and allow you access to secure parts of the system.  This can include a bank account, e-mail account, shopping account or simply your own area on a networked computer. 

The most important thing is that you MUST remember them and type them accurately, or you will be denied access. 

Having registered once, every time you revisit the site or want to start a computer session, you must enter both names.  This is known as logging-in


This is also known as the account name or ID and is usually a form of your own first name and surname, perhaps with the addition of numbers, that will often be used as the first part of an e-mail address e.g. bilbo_baggins, bilbo123b or b.baggins256

When registering for the first time, have a few alternative names ready when asked to enter your preferred username.  This is because, if you have a common name, someone may already have claimed the straight forward username and you will be offered an unwieldy alternative.   

Type in upper or lower case letters, it doesn’t matter, but don’t forget the underscore or full stop. You usually cannot leave spaces between words, and the punctuation symbols allowed will vary depending on the system. 

You will normally use the same username all the time, and it will be well known to others. 


This is NEVER divulged, and should be changed regularly. It should be reasonably long e.g. 6 or more characters, and usually a mix of letters, numbers and punctuation symbols. It is case sensitive i.e. if it starts with capital D, it must do so each time it is typed. 

When you type the password, you will only see *****.  This will stop anyone sitting or standing nearby seeing what you are typing. 

Very often, you will be asked to supply the answer to a basic question e.g. your maiden name, favourite food, pet etc. when you first register. This is so that, if you forget your password, the answer you give will identify you as the true owner of the username and you may be able to continue into the system. 

The major problem with passwords is the need to keep changing them.  This is because unscrupulous people spend a great deal of time trying to break into secure areas and passwords can easily become compromised.   

Try to use words that others working with you will find hard to guess, and DO keep a note of the changes each time – although don’t leave these anywhere near the computer or where people can find them.  

Have you had problems with usernames or passwords – do let me know and I will try to answer any queries in a future column.



View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers

Click on a book or magazine image above or below to see full details.




For a wealth of books on the web and IT generally, visit Amazon and under the books section select Computers and Internet.

Don't forget to visit the general laterlife features section called laterlife interest



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