Steve Malone: 'IT's like this...'

I recently received an email from a Web site offering a new service. In fact, I received five emails from this Web site.

I recently received an email from a Web site offering a new service. In fact, I received five emails from this Web site. The difference between them was that they had been sent to five different screen names ranging from Steve1UK to yingyangdiddle.

You've probably guessed that this is a history of my attempts to get onto this site, forgetting my password, having to re-register and my increasingly desperate attempts to find a unique screen name.

How many times have you forgotten your password, re-registered, and then be told: "The name SidWidget has been taken." How many times have you wanted to scream, "yes you stupid humans it's me!!"

Funnily enough this time around the passwords were all the same. I tend to keep the same generic password for all these registrations for simplicity.

Nevertheless all these shenanigans doubtless do wonders for sites with compulsory registration who can claim a multitude of eager registered users even if it is only a handful of poor sods who are continually exercising their creativity on dreaming up new screen names. The trouble is that these systems are now starting to choke with the number of unique names and will actually be putting a brake on growth.

Recently, I was investigating some travel plans in the US. Looking up the company's web site I found a suitable route to fly me from A to B but when I wanted the price, the software demanded that I register. Chew on that for a while and imagine the scene at your local Marks and Spencers

"Excuse me, could you tell me the price of this shirt?"

"I'm sorry Sir, before I give you that information, first you'll have to tell me your name, address and daytime telephone number