Friday, June 22, 2007

If A Blogger Falls In The Forest...

Cyberspace is a strange and surreal place. We've become part of an ethereal community in which we are friends, but most of us have never met. We know each other, but we've never heard the sound of one another's voice. We care about each other, but very few of us even know--or really care--where or under what circumstances the other lives, works, or indulges in his or her pastimes. Many of us couldn't find our blogger friends in a phone book because we not only don't know their last names, we don't even know their real first names.

If something happened to one of us, how would the rest of us find out?

In my case, no one here at The Dept. knows my Blogger sign-in information. Rick, Sam, or Jared wouldn't be able to post a notice, if they even thought about it. True, there are several of my "regulars" who live near me and who also blog, and they might kindly make mention of it at their blogs, or think to append a notice in the Comments section on my Last Post. But that seems pretty self-aggrandizing to take that for granted. Still, there are a few of you who might care and want to know.

You know, if Something Happened.

Well, I'm here to tell you that someone has already thought of all this. Of course. Let me introduce you to Deathswitch. A deathswitch is a program that prompts you for your password on a regular schedule that you have predetermined. If you don't respond within a previously agreed-upon time, it will prompt you again, several times. If you still do not respond, your computer assumes you are dead (or critically disabled) and basically goes on an automated emailing binge, sending out prescripted messages that you have prepared for this eventuality. "A deathswitch," reads their website, "is information insurance. Don't die with secrets that need to be free."

Holy Crap.

Let me just say this: I have a ton of secrets. A. Ton. And I am taking them to the grave with me. The whole point of secrets is just that. They are secret. Benjamin Franklin said, "Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead." No way I'm emailing a bunch of secrets. No one is getting The Pesto Recipe. Among other things.

And, is it just me, or are the rest of you seeing oh, about eleventy billion scenarios in which this deathswitch thing could go horribly awry? "Oh, sorry about that, Aunt Martha. We had a power outage and my computer got all screwed up and my deathswitch accidentally sent you that. Ha ha. Never mind." or "Hello? Oh, hi, Mom. No, it's really me. No, Mom. Please, Mom. Stop screaming. Mom, please. Mom, I really do love you. It was a joke. My roommate was just goofing around on my new computer. Mom...!" or "Hello, New ISP? I can't seem to get my email set up correctly...."

No, no Deathswitch for me. Instead, I'll opt for an index card with my Blogger info on it. I'll put it with my will and, when it's time for The Last Post, either someone at The Dept. will do it, or they'll recruit one of you.
Last Year at The Dept. of Nance: The Cats Are Pointless


  1. My favorite line of that blog:
    "Hello? Oh, hi, Mom. No, it's really me. No, Mom. Please, Mom. Stop screaming. Mom, please..."

    Too funny.

    Oh, and I think Sam would recruit me to write The Last Post. He already tried to pay me $50 to write a history paper, which I didn't write-I swear-and i'm sure he'll never admit that. I did, however, help him.

  2. That is the most hilariously ingenious thing that I have EVER heard of. SOOO many ways for that to go awry- I could spend all day here listing them.
    Thanks for pointing it out though- I need to inform everyone about it! :)

  3. Anonymous7:53 PM

    Sometimes I think blogspot has already done this; first there was blogspot - one password to that; then they changed the format without saying what was going to happen to the former blog - another password to that; then you had to have a gmail address; now I have two blogspot accounts and have no idea what is the password to each. if I do pass to the great beyond will gmail/google/eblogger/blogspot promise to flush it all away???

  4. Anonymous9:30 AM

    Yeah, I can see where that could go terribly wrong! Love your scenarios with your aunt and mom! :) Now, about that pesto recipe... ;)

  5. Anonymous11:33 AM

    I have often thought of that scenario! My husband knows I have a blog, but... it's like he knows where the extra rolls of toilet paper are. If he runs out, he's literally S.O.L. My site is hosted by a blogger who does web hosting, although she lives in Michigan and would probably have no clue, either, if anything happened to me. The "Deathswitch" scenario is just begging to be written into a movie scene, though. It could even be the premise for the whole story, LOL.

  6. Anonymous11:36 AM

    I've thought about this kind of thing before and it prompted me to give my husband my password. Now if I can only teach him how to publish using my Typepad account. Of's not as if I need it or anything. I'm perfectly fine. Really. I feel great. Nothing wro--

  7. Anonymous1:02 PM

    WORDGIRL,WORDGIRL...Please Answer!!

    I feel like the wireless operator on the Titanic...

    WORDGUY,WORDGUY,..You have the password. Use it to tell us what happened to Wordgirl...

    Nance, Is it possible that a Deathswitch is really needed?

  8. June 21st Tie: I actually saw that one live. By "live" I mean, of course, the TV broadcast, not the podcast. I could have seen it live, however, since I live in the twin city of Ft. Worth, a.k.a. Dallas, home of the Cowboys, and an incalculable number of Texas Barbies, but, alas, I knew not where the camera crew was hanging out.

    The Tie for That Night did look like a repeat of something. Maybe because the stripes made it rather like a paler (yellow) version of the Boy Scout tie. But, as usual, you are right. We do not need any more stripes, and we do not need a repeat of that tie. As if we had a say in the matter.

    Non Tie Report comment, whilst I am back here in the comments section: thoroughly enjoyed reading "The Cats are Pointless." Please do keep linking to previous posts!

  9. Anonymous5:10 PM

    Holy hell. Deathswitch IS. INTENSE. (And yes, capitals were needed there). I suppose the name 'deathswitch' could have been a huge tip-off to just how intense, but still. As for dying suddenly, I'm paranoid about that so I too have put my password in a safe place, along with instructions for a nice memorial on my wordpress site. This includes details like "everyone must write in comic sans font", to bring an uplifting mood to the day, etc.

  10. danielle--sigh. do not continue to embarrass me by airing out my children's various frailties (all of which they get from their father, btw) here on the interwebs. SIGH.

    princess--perhaps we all need to circumvent deathswitch and just form a "deathring" amongst ourselves.

    ascenderrisesabove--thanks for stopping by and commenting! welcome to the Dept. I agree that blogger has gotten progressively more complex. the hoops we have to jump through are bordering on ridiculous.

    girlanddog--The Pesto Recipe dies with me. I gladly give out pesto, but never the recipe. At least, not the REAL one.

    ortizzle--i'm sure there are a ton of safeguards built in and all, but really--it's just not foolproof enough considering that computers and ISPs are constantly having issues.

    wordgirl--maybe it's just gas.

    nancy--i'm sure there might be some people who think it's great, but...not me!

    ortizzle--as you know, i have the Tie Report Archives dating back to February, and I perused them carefully and found no mention of this tie. however, it is awfully close to the Dreaded Tie in color, but not stripe arrangement. I still think it's new.
    Thanks for noticing my link to previous posts. As soon as my 2nd year anniversary hits in August, I'll start linking back to my earliest stuff. I did some really fun work in the past before readers really "discovered" my blog, and I'm hoping current visitors get a chance to read my old stuff and enjoy it. Shortly, my Alaska cruise posts will be linked to--in mid July.

    brandy--thanks for commenting and stopping by the Dept! yes, the deathswitch website is very "arresting", isn't it? and, my, you're really ready for The End, aren't you? I'm impressed. i'd better use some of my summer to catch up.

  11. "Maybe we could start our own Deathring."


    This is why middle-aged people shouldn't blog. Now we're getting sucked into pre-planning our cyberfunerals! Geez, I feel old.

  12. And it's $20 a year for this lovely service. My favorite part of the website was that one of its uses was to "Have the last word in an argument". Brillant. I can feel a story by the man already in the works about this!

  13. v-grrrl--"middle-aged"? who's middle-aged? not me, certainly! i plan to live forever! LOL.

    j.--honestly. this whole deathswitch thing sounds like it should be called "ultimate revenge" instead. yes, it's definitely story fodder, as ortizzle mentioned above. why no one has already written it is beyond me. tell E. to get started immediately. the time is ripe and the link is here.

  14. Wow that deathswitch thing is creepy! I have read articles about people dying and their blogfriends not knowing what happened. Someone usually finds a way to leave a last post. So sad.

    On a different note, you were right about the strange things happening with BW's tie before. I read an article that he had some explaining to do about suddenly falling into second place. The ties were the indicator!

  15. Yeah, I don't know if I like the deathswitch thing! You do bring up a good point though...what IF something happened and we had no way of knowing? Of course Nina could let everyone know if anything ever happened to me, so I guess I am not to worry. But wow. gave examples of a few mishaps, but I shun to think of the dozens more!

    Eleventy...I love the use of that number!

  16. No deathswitch for me. My internet use can be very sporadic at times.

    If you or Tera come up missing I'll do my best to get the word out :)

  17. Thanks for the add to your sidebar!

  18. Similarly, thanks for the P&P shout out in the sidebar too!! :)

    And now that my brain has caught up with the rest of my bodily functions today...I love the title of this post...very catchy!

  19. anali--fashion does not lie! when will people listen to me?!

    tera--i think nina will be our spokesblogger. let's just go ahead and designate her our "deathknell." how morbid! oh, and you're welcome for the sidebar shout-out. sorry it took so long.

    nina--you're welcome for the sidebar mention. again, sorry it took so long to sneak you in there. i think i still have a couple more to add, but i will get to it. hope you don't mind the heavy mantle of responsibility that tera and i have placed upon your shoulders. so glad you've accepted it rather willingly. i promise to do my utmost to stay healthy and wear my seatbelt so that you don't have to give it a second thought! ;-)

  20. Wow! And they actually charge for this morbid service! Did you read the details? "The people in your life will feel better knowing they can expect an email from you after you're gone."

    I need to go loofah.

  21. brookelina--yay! so nice to see you back at the dept! hope you're all moved in over there in JOISEY!!

    yes, i read the deets at deathswitch. the site just cracks me up. so intense and intimidating. no way would anyone feel better knowing that there are little email bombs waiting to be dropped when people kick off all over the globe. yikes.

  22. Q has all my logon info and I have his. If we both die together, well, no death-announcing posts for us.


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