A better choice than using Gator is out there

Helpline

February 05, 2004|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I'm a faithful reader of your column, trying to stay only a few steps behind my two laptop-powered 14-year-old sons who also act as my in-home IT department, though I fear at times I'm losing the race.

My question relates to Gator, and how this is undesirable software because of the ads it sends your way from the data it stores on your Internet browsing habits. The problem is, I really like its ability to remember (supposedly only on my hard drive) my multiple passwords and personal data that I can, with a flick of a mouse, fill in forms with.

Since I'm not a fast or touch-only typist, this is a really handy capability that I'd like to still have. Is there some other nonintrusive software that will do this instead, even if I have to buy it rather than make a free deal with this ad-supported devil to get?

I have no evidence whatsoever that the intrusive Gator organization is dishonest, but I do cringe at the idea of trusting one's passwords to a promoter of spyware, pop-ups and other Web wastes.

Call it a matter of principle and point your browser to www.roboform.com for a highly acclaimed password manager and Web form filler-outer that you can try for free for 30 days and buy for $30 if you like it.

The developers of AI RoboForms promise there is no spyware or adware, and my tests backed that up. It includes a feature that lets users import their data from Gator's program and place it under bulletproof 3DES encryption.

The software from Virginia-based Siber Systems works by creating tiny files called pass cards that can be activated when you reach a site to automatically fill out name and password, not to mention filling out forms for credit card numbers, names, addresses, etc. It can create separate identities for you and each of those 14-year- olds.

I must say, however, that setting up AI RoboForms requires substantial heavy lifting upfront to input all of the data to be stored, as well as creating new pass cards for each Web venue covered.

Also at issue is that the software permits users to print out hard copies of their form information database, including all passwords, user names, card numbers and other data.

This is absolutely necessary, but it creates a hard copy that is dangerous to leave lying around your home or office work space.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. Contact James Coates at jcoates@tribune.com.

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