Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

February 27, 2014

'Locked Out! Password Required'

By Curt Swarm
Empty Nest

---- — My BlackBerry (cellphone) displayed an ominous message, “Locked Out! Password Required.”

“No big deal, I thought. It’s happened before. I’ll just power down, and power back up, and it’ll be cured.” Not.

My next fail safe was pulling out the battery and putting it back in. Once again — not.

Grrr. I had no idea what my password was. I’ve had the BlackBerry for several years, and never had this problem. Why it “decided” to lock itself out, I have no idea. I had plugged it into its overnight charger just like I always do. Computers!

I tried what I thought might be my password. Not again. Another ominous message appeared: “One attempt out of ten. Information will be deleted after tenth.” Gulp.

Second try. Not. Third try. Not.

Oh, no. A full-body sweat, and at 5 a.m. in the morning! — the time I usually get up — my time for peace and quiet, for reading and writing.

One of the options on the BlackBerry was “Emergency Call.” I selected it to see what would happen. I heard it ring and hung up.

Fourth try at a password. Not. I decided to wait until 8 a.m. and call the cellphone store to see if they could tell me what my password was. “Everything will work out,” I told myself — my solution for most problems.

I was deep into my next week’s Empty Nest column, when the doorbell rang. Buddy jumped out of his chair, where he was curled up, and ran to the front door, tail waging. I looked out the window and saw two police cars with their red lights whirling, lighting up the neighborhood. What the....?

I looked at the clock, it was 5:30 a.m. I flipped on the porch light and opened the door. There were two young, good looking Mt. Pleasant police officers holding flashlights. “Are you Curt Swarm?” one asked.


“Did you dial 911 and hang up?”

I apologized profusely. Fortunately, they understood the situation (and believed me) and went on their way. Actually, I was pleased to know that Mt. Peasant’s finest were on the job (and making allowances for numbskulls like me).

After 8 a.m. I called the cellphone store. They couldn’t help.

I kept trying different passwords. I was on my 10th. Gulp Gulp. The screen went blank, and a little word appeared, “Wiping.” Gulp Gulp Gulp.

After two hours of “wiping,” “reprogramming” and “reactivating” my BlackBerry was back in (wounded) operation. Curiously, I was never asked for a new password. And the wiping? All my stored phone numbers had been deleted. Great. I’d have to start over from scratch. (I should have listened to my son. He’d been after me for a long time to upgrade.)

My cellphone was computer problem number one. Computer problem number two, and this has been going on long before my cellphone problem, is that I haven’t been getting emails until one, maybe two days after they’re sent. I’ve studied and studied my Yahoo account, and changed passwords, but cannot, for the life of me, figure out what is wrong. What’s more frustrating is that you cannot call Yahoo.

I recently read in “Time Magazine” that there are these new computers, called Quantum Computers, that work in the realm of quantum mechanics — think umpteen times bigger then supercomputers. These Quantum Computers have the capability (theoretically), of analyzing more data in the wink of an eye, than there are atoms in the universe, i.e., “of tapping into the fabric of reality in a fundamentally new way....”

Please, God, not a bigger computer.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at (319) 217-0526 or email him at