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Issue #730: July 18-24, 2021

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Q: I have been using my daughter’s online newspaper account for about two years. For the past two months, the website won’t accept what I am certain is the correct username and password on either my iPhone or iPad using Safari. No one else in the family has this problem. My wife accesses it every day on her laptop.

– Bud F.
Shalimar, Florida

A: This just happens to be It’s Geek To Me’s 14th Anniversary issue. It’s also Issue #730, for those of you who keep track of those kind of things. I find it rather interesting that after all of this time, people who happen to live in Northwest Florida, as do I, seem to think that this is the only place that It’s Geek To Me publishes. The truth is that I’m never quite sure where it’s publishing at any given time, as the various papers don’t contact me to say “Head’s up! We’re running I.G.T.M. this week!” Through my own independent research, I’ve learned that, besides the nine north Florida newspapers that carry the column, over time, it has appeared in newspapers in Texas, California, North Carolina, Arizona, Alabama, and Louisiana. It has also been picked up on various RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook, and various other platforms across the Internet. For a little home-grown column that I don’t get, and never have gotten paid a dime to write, it’s been pretty far-reaching.

Nevertheless, Bud, since you live in Shalimar, Florida, I’m going to assume that the “online newspaper” to which you’re referring is the e-Edition of our primary hometown newspaper, the Northwest Florida Daily News. Let me preface this by saying all the statements I’m about to make come from my observations of the site, not through any “insider” knowledge, as I don’t have any of that anyway.

As of this writing, the delivery of online content on the Daily News’ website is divided into two parts: stories that are free for all to read, and the subscriber-only e-Edition, which is an electronic, page-for-page version of the print edition that can be viewed in a web browser. Like all pay-for-use web services, the e-Edition is protected in such a way that you must provide a valid, current, username and password to gain access to the content. Somehow, it seems that therein lies your problem.

To ensure there aren’t problems with the type of hardware you were using in your attempts to access the paper, I used my own personal account to access it, using two different browsers on a Windows PC, and the standard Apple Safari browser on both an iPhone, and an iPad. In all cases, I was able to access the e-Edition without any problems, as you stated the other members of your family had.

A few things come to mind as possible answers. First of all, and least likely to be causing the issue, is the case of multiple, concurrent sign-ins. By its very nature, the system that serves up the e-Edition to various customers must know which accounts are signed-in at any given time. It’s possible that the paper is limiting concurrent sign-ins to one per account, and that you’re failing to get in because someone else is already using the account credentials. You’d need to contact customer support to learn whether this is the case, but it seems unlikely to me that it would always be you who is denied access.

Second, you should try clearing out cookies and the local storage in the browsers of the devices that are failing to access the content. In cases where an account failure occurs, it’s always possible that something has gotten stuck in the system and is providing incorrect usernames and/or passwords, and just needs to be flushed out for the system to work properly.

Finally, you stated an absolute, unquestionable certainty that the credentials you’re using are correct. I humbly suggest that you swallow your pride and at least consider the possibility that they are in error. After all, it only takes a single incorrect character to produce a failure. Keep in mind things like capitalization. It usually doesn’t matter in user account names, but is almost always absolutely critical in passwords. Also, remember that characters such as number 1, and lowercase l (L), zero and capital O, number 5 and capital S, and others, often look similar on those tiny screens, and can easily be mistaken for one another.

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