Gallstone #4

March 3, 1999

I got this email recently, soliciting for a clever new piece of software-

"With Password Companion, you'll use today's latest technology to store all your codes, passwords and combinations in one safe, password-protected place. ATM codes, Web site passwords, PIN numbers, lock combinations... there's room for all of them.
And when you need a printed copy, Password Companion makes it easy to print all the data in the database. The simple interface means that with a few, simple clicks of your mouse, all the information you need is just seconds away. Don't wait until you forget or lose one more password!
You give me $5 dollars (plus $5 shipping and handling) and I'll give you one of the handiest software programs available. Even better, download it today and skip the shipping and handling charges. It's easy! You'll be able to use your new software right away..."

Is anyone else disturbed by this? I mean, the paranoid fringe is telling us in no uncertain terms that Bill Gates et al. can conceivably monitor our every keystroke, and this outfit wants me to buy their software and enter all my passwords into it? A few years back, I think this same company invented writing your PIN on the back of your ATM card. Gee, that way you don't hafta worry about forgetting it.
I think it would be GREAT if every important password/PIN I ever used was in one database on my PC, and there was software installed so userX could print them all out "with a few, simple clicks". Presumably this feature is password protected- where do I keep the password for THIS program? Next year, beta testing will begin for Password Companion Companion.
Is it really a paranoid stretch to think this company could have easy access to everything you enter into their program? I think not, in fact I think this program is a genuinely stupid idea. Who are they selling this to?

"Hey, buddy! Get rid of that little notepad in the top drawer of your desk... enter all your passwords on this neat software, so you can print 'em out whenever ya want! No more little notepad! It's been replaced by a $2,000 computer! Isn't technology great? And we promise that we would never use readily-available technology to spy on you, and neither would the disgruntled ex-employee who wrote the code for this little gem of software. Send us your money... if you order online, we can install an auto-update cookie for you..."

Maybe this is like those little *nose-hair-clipper* ads. The REAL purpose is to mark you as a profoundly gullible consumer, so your name can be sold at a premium to the evil mailing-list people.

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