Expiration date

This night my telephone rang the alarm bell to tell me my mail password had expired. To my surprise it just did it once, I expected it to wake me up every hour or so.
This morning when I switched on my computer I was greeted by ‘your outlook password has expired, consider changing…’.
‘Great’ I though, Sunday morning at home changing Windows/Outlook/AD password have never worked for me before. I always end up calling the support desk and hear them say ‘this look odd’ and then they reset all that can be reset for my account and then it works for another password period. That procedure however requires I’m at the office work hours.  
‘Great’ I though, ‘Sunday morning and I cannot log in to the company network’, I had planned to work the whole day. Anyway I had to try the password change, lo and behold, I just ctrl+alt+del ‘change password’ and it worked like a charm, the same thing with my mobile, just changed the password and the mail started to replicate. I was stunned! First time ever the password procedure worked for me. Now I only have to sit back and wait for a number of ‘job failed’ mails. Many backend jobs need access to network resources like email, databases etc. In theory you should create special userids+fixed passwords or ‘bypass procedures’ for such jobs, but this often takes effort and time you do not have and you definitely do not want to wait for this while you are developing a new backend process. I use my own userid. I’m sure many of you do the same. After a while you forget all about it, which means ‘failed job’ mails turns up somewhere and you say ‘f-k I forgot about this, I need to fix this properly’, then you update the password and forget about it until next time you password expires.

Software expiration timing.

Many years from now, 04:00 in an Italian hotel on our first honeymoon night, the night porter was banging on the door, telling me he had an important message for me. It was from the company, the company computer had stopped, it refused to do anything from midnight. After an hour discussing with the operator back home I realized the RACF compatible security system ‘Top Secret’ had silently expired three months in advance. We had to wait until the ‘Top Secret’ guys woke up, they promptly sent a patch and promised to remove all hard stops out of the software, later I was told all ‘Top Secret’ installations had stopped the same night.
2009-01-01 05:00 coming home after a serious new year's party, almost still with the funny hat on I turned on the computer just to check everything was OK. Of course it wasn’t, (the VPN software had expired 2009-01-01 00:00). I ordered a more nearby colleague to take a taxi to the office to check what the problem was, he reported all was OK, it took me a while to find out it was ‘only’ the VPN that had expired. Together with IT-support I had it all fixed by the afternoon and could go to sleep.

Software should ideally only expire the second or third  ‘work’ Wednesday in the month at 11:00 nonsensitive months, at the company that is February, April, May, October, November. There is as far as I know no software that have an expiration mechanism that can follow my recommendation. I try to go for the 15th in nonsensitive months, December and January is a nono! Interestingly the old Romans did not have month names for this period of the year, they only had ten months, I bet they foresaw the evil of having software expire that time of the year.

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