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Issue #566: May 27 – June 2, 2018

Q: Lately I have been getting a reply “invalid username”.  It works on other requests.  How can someone tell me that my user name is invalid?  I have used that username since the internet first started with e-mail.

 – Glenn H.
Shalimar, Florida

A: Your question is missing some contextual information, Glenn.  From whom or what are you getting that reply?  I can only assume you meant my website, and I’ll answer that below, but let’s explore the issue first.

The way I see it, there are at least three possible meanings to the phrase “Invalid Username”.  One would be that the username in question does not meet certain criteria required by whatever it is that you’re signing into.  For example, it might require an e-mail address, and you entered only your name.  How can they tell you that your chosen username is not valid?  Well, in this day and age of increasing cyber-crime, and with so many people continuing to be so lax about protecting themselves, many online services are enforcing rules to help protect their users’ data – and for good reason.  One of the first things many people do when their data is compromised is to blame the service.  In such cases, a service might very well declare a username to be “invalid” if it doesn’t meet their strict security requirements.

A second possible meaning of “Invalid Username” is that the system you’re trying to sign into cannot find a match in its user records for the login information you entered.  That would certainly make the username “invalid” from the perspective of allowing access.  If this is what’s happening to you, that would certainly explain why you’re able to say “It works on other requests.” because if you’re using that username on other sites, well, of course it’s considered valid there.  I looked into the user records of my own website, and could not find an account record for you.  I found that to be odd, because I know you had one at one time, because you’ve submitted questions via the site’s web form.  I noticed that this question arrived via regular e-mail though.  If it was my site you were talking about, try signing up again (It’s still free!).  If you have problems, drop me another e-mail and I’ll see what I can do.

One final possible reason is that perhaps the username is valid, but the account’s password is wrong, or has expired.  The worldwide web is truly world-wide, and there are occasional language barriers on some sites, as well as occasional programming errors.  It wouldn’t surprise me even a little bit to see a page that displays the phrase “Invalid username” by accident when it actually means “Invalid password.”

 • •

Q: I read your column faithfully; it is my favorite in the newspaper! I have an Acer Laptop running Windows 7 which periodically does not recognize that it is plugged in to the wall. The battery icon just keeps getting lower & lower with no indication that it’s plugged in, even though it is. It has done this on and off since I bought it new. I bought another charger but that did not do the trick. It is random, and can even do it while plugged in, not shut on and off or unplugged, just all of a sudden stop detecting that it is plugged in. Hence, if I keep it on it dies once it uses all of its charge up. Any ideas? I use it for business and would like to keep it going before being forced to Windows 10 for my business. Thank you in advance for all your wisdom over the years!

 – Maureen D.
Defuniak Springs, Florida

A:  Such kind words, Maureen – thank-you!  I’m not even sure I.G.T.M. is my own favorite column in the newspaper, but I’m glad to hear that it’s yours.  Thanks for being a loyal reader.

My first suggestion would have been to check your charger, but you said you tried a new one.  The only other thing I can think of is that perhaps the part of the laptop that the charger plugs in to has become worn, and is making intermittent contact.  Even a battery going bad would not cause the symptoms you’ve described, and everything else involved in managing power in your laptop is software-based, and can’t really wear out or go bad.

Next time the issue occurs, without touching either the mouse or keyboard, gently wiggle and push on the cord where it plugs into the laptop.  If it immediately snaps back into AC power mode, you have a plug that needs work.  If not, take a second look at the charger.  Make sure it’s really working properly, and that it’s the exact model that your laptop’s manufacturer calls for – they’re not all the same, even though they might have similar plugs.

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