George V. Reilly

Don't Leave a Mess

messy cables

I’ve appointed myself as Frank’s electronic executor. He had an active online life, spending over 20 years in Usenet newsgroups and selling hundreds of pieces of vintage costume jewelry on eBay.

We had a dry run for this in October, after he’d been in hospital for a month. The need to deal with his eBay customers had grown pressing. Lyndol is not tech­ni­cal­ly savvy and was unable to handle it. I had to work out how to get into his eBay, PayPal, and email accounts. For­tu­nate­ly, I was able to phone Frank in the hospital and ask him. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, he had forgotten many of the passwords and I had to use various password reset features.

I dug into the enormous pile of costume jewelry and worked out what needed to be sent to who, packaged it up for Lyn to send, and sent email to his customers, explaining Frank’s hos­pi­tal­iza­tion.

When he came home to hospice care, he sent out email to his online friends telling them. Thought­ful­ly, he set up an email folder called “friends to notify”, which I used on Tuesday. Less thought­ful­ly, he continued buying and selling jewelry on eBay until he could no longer sit at the computer. I spent several hours yesterday closing up the business. I had to refund a couple of buyers because I couldn’t find their purchases.

Mindful of the password problem for my own heirs, I recorded a CD with my KeePass database several weeks ago. I put it inside a sealed envelope with the master password written out, and I put the envelope into the firesafe. I don’t actually know most of my passwords, as they’re “strong”, random passwords generated by KeePass. Most of them are unim­por­tant, from websites that I registered with long ago.

The password database, in itself, is not enough. I need to draw up some in­struc­tions on what’s important and a list of policies and bank accounts, and put that somewhere safe too. Then update it pe­ri­od­i­cal­ly.

You should too. Some poor bastard will think more kindly of you someday.

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