randword: Generating memorable random passwords

This started when I decided to learn python by rewriting one of my old perl scripts in python.  randstring is a script to generate a random string of characters.  I use it sometimes to generate passwords, but password strings or random characters usually can't be remembered, at least not easily.  Passwords like that can be useful at times.  You need to store them in an encrypted password safe.

I have another script that generates more memorable passwords.  Some people I know, have found it useful.  There are always some passwords you need to be memorable.  For instance your login password and the password to your password safe.  randword generates a bunch of words from a dictionary.  XKCD style passwords, if you like.  In the process of examining it, I rewrote it in both perl and python, fixed some bugs and added some features.

In general a bunch of words can be much easier to remember and can be just as difficult or far more difficult  to crack.  I like to generate a bunch and choose a few at random.  4 or 5 or more words is OK.  Hint: misspellings are good but not if you can't remember what you did.  Passwords on websites are a bit mad at the moment with complicated rules, like: "there's an illegal character" or "you must have an upper-case letter and a number", or "that password is too short", or "too long" etc. 

New features of randword:
  • There's a couple of new options about output format, like camel case.   
  • randword can use any dictionary or word frequency lists as long as they have a fairly simple format - ie at least a word and an optional number at the start of each line. 
  • randword can also take a bunch of text and create dictionaries of words that it can use to generate random passwords.  
For word lists, I have used various texts, for instance Jane Austen's complete works, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Chaucer.  There are many works that can be easily got from Project Gutenburg among other places on the net.  Also word lists and text that can be found at COCA or Lancaster University  etc.Since I only want ascii because I can't type non-ascii characters easily, I used unidecode (python or original perl version) to turn them into ascii.  Python unidecode comes with a command line script.  I wrote a very simple perl script to detect non-ascii characters, (not included) although working out what encoding a page is in is a kind of major headache and you need to know the encoding before unidecode will work, grrrr. 

The links below include word lists from Chaucer, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and the linux word dictionary.

This is my original blog post on the scripts with all the links to the scripts and associated stuff.

randstring.pl randstring.py
randword.pl randword.py
some word lists
tarred and zipped archive of scripts and wordlists


In memory of my mother, Marjorie Pizer Holburn, 3rd April 1920 - 4th January 2016

Marjorie Pizer died on the 4th of January 2016. She is sadly missed.

It's impossible in a short time and with my limited time and writing skills to summarise her.  Here is my brief message.  In time I will perhaps add links to other people writing about her.  If you knew her please feel free to add a comment.

My mother was a poet, artist, psychotherapist and a deep thinker. She had many unconventional beliefs, which she held passionately. Politically, she almost always sided with the underdog; and she was troubled by the inequities in our world. She was inspired by the beauty of nature, and loved music, poetry and art of all kinds. She read 2 or 3 books a day, every day, on almost every subject imaginable, until near the end of her life. My mother was a member of all the local libraries; municipal, city and state. Brought up in Melbourne, she lived much of her life in Sydney where she went to the beach and swam nearly every day for forty years of her life.

Marje was one of my best friends for my whole life. I was always much more a scientist and she a poet and writer, our discussions were always wide ranging and broadened both our view points. She was and is a reference point for me for ideas and values. Although in later life I agreed with her ideas less, we always had lively and interesting discussions.

When I think of my mother I picture her surrounded by books and works of art and odd found objects from the beach. Pieces of driftwood, and a vase of fresh cut flowers on the table. We would eat a simple meal together, have a cup of tea and discuss the state of the world. This is how I will remember her.

Marjorie's books can be bought at lulu and apple and amazon.  They are published by Pinchgut Press (me). 

Daniela Torsh's obituary from the Sydney Morning Herald: Poetry Marjorie Pizer's vehicle of optimism and understanding. And her speech.

A memory

When my son comes home late,
He sits on my bed
And tells me about his day.
Someday he will remember this
When I will be no more,
When I have had my say
And gone before.
Then I will not exist
As I am now.
This me will be a memory
Of his when I,
Who now am here alone,
Have gone into oblivion.