How Hard Can It Be?

So here at the office we use smartcards to authenticate and log our users on to their workstations.  Without going in to the details, it’s more secure and supposed to be easier for the end looser user and for the most part it is…  Right up until the point that they need to get a new card…

The thing is even the card registration process is simple – so simple that I can (and have) done it in my sleep.  Sadly however quite a few of the end loosers users here are so dumb that they’re completely incapable of finding their way to the restroom let alone how to register their card.

Some of the common conversations:

End User: Hi I’m here to register my card

Me: Have you ever logged in to the system?

EU: Umm – the folks at the gate told me to come up here….

Me: Right, but have you ever logged on to a computer here?

EU: I got a new card at the gate, they said to come here…

Me: I understand.  But I need to know if you have ever logged on with your card before we can get started….

EU: ???  Um I just got a card?


This morning’s person showed a little promise at first:

EU: I got a new card and the gate said I needed to see you

Me: Ok.  Have you ever logged on with a card before?

EU: No I have a username a password

Me:  (Excited that I may have a user with half a brain) Ok, log on to the computer just like you would at your desk.

EU: Do what now?

Me: (sinking back into the pit of dispair) Log on with your username and password just like you do in your office.

EU: But I have a card, why can’t I just use my card?

Me: Well we need to register your card before you can log in with it.  You need to sign in with your username first so we can register your card with your account.

EU: But, I have a card now…

Me: I know but you can’t sign in with it until it’s registered to your account, if you would please sign in we’ll get you set up…

EU: Ummm.  I forgot my password.

And then my head exploded….

By Don

Lead bottle washer at, host at and tech guru for the MotoringFile family of sites.


  1. Dude, I SO hear you. When I was in Alabama I was the Point of Contact for PKI/User CAC issues and EVERY SINGLE TIME we came back to work from a 3 day weekend I would have a line of people waiting to get their PIN reset. It’s not like it’s hard to remember a 6-8 digit number 🙁

  2. I really don’t have anything to say other than I so feel your pain. Kinda nice _not_ working IT directly for a change so I’m not presented with those kinds of issues on a regular basis.

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