Super Secret TV Listings

Last night my wife wondered if "Monk" would be on TV. That's one of her favorite shows, but she came to it late so has missed many episodes and is always looking for repeats.

I could have used the TV remote to search for "Monk", but that has a terribly clumsy interface. I thought "Verizon must have this on-line" and went to look.

I've complained before that both Verizon and Comcast are so anxious to sell that they neglect to make it easy for existing customers to use their website. That's true, but after I logged in, I was able to easily find TV listings and search by keyword. But... why did I have to log in?

Is Verizon concerned that someone who is not a customer might see their TV listings? That seems ridiculous - you'd think that someone thinking of switching would like to be able to check out what's offered. But let's say Verizon has some fear-laden reason to restrict this highly sensitive information to current customers: they KNOW I am a customer because of my IP address. No doubt the website could know my name and street address just from that IP - why do they need me to login?

It gets worse. If I had an account, I sure couldn't remember it, so I had to create one. They wanted my Verizon phone number (which, again, they surely could have found from my IP). Why did they want the phone number? Amazingly, so that they could call it and give me a super secret James Bond pin number that I would need to create my Verizon account so that I could log in to see the ultra-secret TV listings that are so important to protect from casual viewing.

I'm astonished that the listings weren't in a screen only format - I was actually able to print them. I'm sure this oversight will be corrected at the next security audit. Eyes only!

I got distracted for a few minutes by an email and when I returned to this I found a popup warning me that my session was about to expire. Did I want to stay logged in? If not, they would log me out and close the window. Of course: some unauthorized neighbor might walk into our house and catch a glimpse of those TV listings - better close off that security problem!

I was thinking of emailing my wife the list of upcoming Monk episodes, but I decided against it. I can't be sure that she wouldn't share that privileged information with someone else. In fact, I had second thoughts about the printout - I shredded it and burned the shreds.

You can't be too careful with this stuff. Loose lips sink ships.

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© Anthony Lawrence

Tue Jul 7 20:05:22 2009: 6621   Kelly


So did she get to see Monk? ;)

Well-said. Verizon and Comcast have both been on my ick list before, and wow, did you nail it.

There are a lot of sites protecting things they don't need to be protecting, but t.v. listings is the ultimate. Imagine having to log in to see whether Amazon has any books or whether iTunes has music! This could be a nice selling point�they could even have "here's what you're missing now" and put up some most-watched shows (or cool obscure things) to get people drooling, but instead they're wasting their best resource�showing off what they have available to people who are considering them.



Tue Jul 7 21:57:47 2009: 6622   TonyLawrence

I guess she did - I had to be out at a meeting and I forgot to ask...

Just asked - it was one she had seen.

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