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Here are all my passwords

We live in an era of Internet balkanization, where every site wants you to create an account just for them. And it’s probably for the best, because it turns out that your information is less and less secure the more and more it gets shared with large, centralized sites (I’m looking at you, social media giants). But using so many smaller sites means that you can’t humanly remember all your login and password details.

Maybe you use the same name and password on multiple sites. That’s a big no-no! Maybe you use a password manager. That’s probably the best thing to do, so long as you keep that master list secure. Maybe you write your passwords down and stuff those paper notes into a safe, which certainly makes it difficult for online hackers to get at, but it’s pretty inconvenient when it comes to easy access.

What if there were a way to share your passwords with the world (or at least carry them around in your wallet) in a way that still makes it difficult for anyone but you to use them? As you’ve guessed by now, I’m going to give you one impossibly stupid way to do that, with something I’m calling a scramble sheet:

I made this fun little toy when I removed the ads from my company’s game site and I was left with some free space that needed to be used. All it does is take a list of characters and mix them up into an “alphabet soup” that you can print and stuff in your wallet or otherwise copy and share with anyone around the world. You can then refer to it any time you need to create a new password. The trick, of course, is not to share the steps you take when you select characters from the sheet. I mean, sure, you could just use them line by line from left to right. Like a dope. That’s not who you are, though, right? You’re a creative person full of free will. You can start on any square you want. You can trace any pattern you imagine. You can jump around whenever it feels right.

For the default 8x8 (64 character) version, each selection would ideally represent 6 bits of entropy. Depending on how you use it, though, you might quickly reduce that to 3 or 2 bits for each character. But no matter! A longer password (I suggest 10+ characters) is easier to create since you can always refer back to this cheat sheet to recall it. And still nobody who sees the same jumble of letters will have any idea what your actual password is.