After running into problems with remembering my logins at many different services on the Web, I finally decided to settle on a nickname that would always be the same—no more problems with forgetting, barring major amnesia.

However, creating a nickname can be much more difficult when you want it to be consistent across many different systems, as most things that are easy to think of will be already taken most places. For example, my handle when I first got on the internet, "banana", is usually taken—though, remarkably, it does seem to be free on E2. My ICQ nickname (a side note: since ICQ uses numbers rather than nicks for logon, you can have any nickname, taken or not) "cilantro", while I am rather fond of it, is no longer one I use because, again, it is often taken.

Often, I've used my surname, "Cotrell", or some combination of that and my first name or initials, such as "CCotrell", "CLCotrell", "ChristopherCotrell", and so on. While I have a relatively uncommon last name, it's around—and I soon learned it's frustrating to have to go through several variations on your name before you can finally log in.

When I signed up for AIM, I got frustrated with every possible nick I could think of (I don't want no stupid numbers), I finally used the nick "qousqous". I don't quite remember how I came up with it—though it does seem to follow the food theme, being reminiscent of "couscous". I eventually settled on this as my universal handle. Never have I found a system with this nick taken—or when it is, it's because I'd signed up for the service before and forgotten I had. It's not as interesting as having multiple nicks, but quite convenient.

As for passwords, well, you know it's a Bad Idea to use the same password everywhere . . .