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What does "first thing" mean in the following paragraph?

"I'm Steve from IT. We're running network tests for the rest of the day. I need you to reset your password to 'test123'. You can change it back first thing tomorrow. Thanks!"

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closed as general reference by Kris, MετάEd, Mahnax, StoneyB, Cameron Sep 19 '12 at 5:16

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Any time tomorrow morning or later. (Presumably "tomorrow morning" is something sensible, like "any time from 6am", rather than "any time after midnight".) –  Billy Sep 17 '12 at 6:25
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It means that social engineer Steve wants to lull you into feeling secure overnight. –  jwpat7 Sep 17 '12 at 6:48
    
non-Q. Voting to close. That's the last thing one should have doubt about. –  Kris Sep 17 '12 at 7:27
    
@Kris: it looks like a question to me, and a perfectly valid one. –  Billy Sep 17 '12 at 7:38
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One needs to do one's research to qualify a question on ELU. There's nothing rude about this convention. –  Kris Sep 17 '12 at 7:46

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Because Steve is running network tests for "the rest of the day", he probably doesn't want you to change the password back today. But, since leaving your password set to 'test123' is not good for security, he wants to you to change it back as early as possible.

In this case, he's being explicit about his request -- you should change it back tomorrow, as early as possible (first thing). It is a way of saying "the first thing you should do tomorrow is change your password back".

Colloquially, it means to do something with a high priority -- for example, "I'll reply first thing tomorrow" means a promise to do something tomorrow (though it might not literally be the first thing they do).

[Side-note: As a computer science major, I'd be concerned if anyone phones you up and asks you to change your password to something specific...do make sure he's not trying to trick you through social engineering!]

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Indeed, if he has the power to do anything that requires your password, then he probably has sufficient power that he doesn't need your password. By the way, I would expect a reply "first thing tomorrow" to arrive early. But I understand the sentence "you can change it back first thing tomorrow" to mean "you can change it back any time from first thing tomorrow" (i.e. you probably want to change it back as soon as possible, but regardless, that option will be open to you from first thing tomorrow). I don't understand it to mean "please do so as early as possible", necessarily. –  Billy Sep 17 '12 at 7:31
    
Thanks for reminding nneonneo. In fact I'm learning the course "security awareness" in skillsoft.com. This paragraph is an excerpt. –  Yousui Sep 17 '12 at 7:41

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