Anton McConville
Digital Designer & Developer
2fa Ate My Github

Little did I know that excitedly switching to a new iPhone in January would result in my antonmc GitHub account entering some kind of limbo.

The problem was 2fa ( two factor authentication ). I had been using the Google Authenticator app to handle my 2fa needs, but I hadn’t set up a backup strategy for it, nor saved the security string that GitHub recommended as a backup. I had believed it would all magically be handled in ‘the cloud’ when I switched to a new phone.

As I continued to acquaint myself with the new iPhone, it became uncomfortably clear that Authenticator’s two factor app relationships didn’t just carry over. This locked me out of services at work too, though that was a little easier to resolve. A little easier, but not without a degree of embarrassment.

The net result is that although I know my GitHub username and password, I can’t complete logging in. I tried reasoning with GitHub support, but their policy is that the buck stops with two factor authentication. I can no longer log in to manage my GitHub account, including my previous website, that was hosted on GitHub Pages. It is kind of dormant, although somehow GitHub Desktop is still able to connect to it.

If you’ve landed at this blogpost hoping for answers, because you’ve similarly locked yourself out of your GitHub account, I unfortunately don’t have a magic cure. Personally, I waded through a period of unhappy denial about my account, before realizing that I needed to get on with just creating a new GitHub account and rebooting …

A kick up the backside …

Although losing access is a nuisance, it has given me a much needed kick up the backside to become better organized, to tidy up my repos, and be more careful with future project plans. It has felt a bit like a new beginning, and I’m starting to feel grateful my website and blog are reviving.

I set up and started re-designing my site. I’m fairly happy with the redesign. There were a lot of things that I neglected before with my site - in part because of my lack of love for the github pages blogging platform Jekyll. I struggled to integrate the blog with my previous site, and ended up with a dispiriting, confusing, and sprawling mess of files to navigate.

This time, I realized that the site could live in one repo, and the blog part could live in its own independent one. This feels liberating to me. I’ve been able to focus on re-establishing my portfolio site, and attempt to code in better responsive design. I iterated over the tiled view, and sampled the inspiring colors from Farrow and Ball to create what I hope is an interesting, but still professional style.

I want to go into deeper detail about the apps and projects that I’ve been working on, and have a more substantial design brewing for that.

Setting up an independent repo for the Jekyll blog site has enabled me to groom it into shape in a less cluttered way, and to learn a bit more about the liquid scripting model. I used to blog a lot, but became disheartened by the clumsiness of the bloated blogging platforms and integrations. I feel more hopeful that I can rekindle my blogging habits, now that the infrastructure is more minimal and understood. I have a list of topics that I want to write about, and I want to reform a habit of writing.

So, that’s the story of how 2fa ate my github, and how I’ve reacted so far. I have a couple of app projects that I’m very excited about establishing in this new account.