Timen Swijtink
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Timen reviewed on 26 Jan 2004
From reading Maury McCown's brief description of PasswordMaster on thePasswordMaster site, it becomes evident that his goal when writing PasswordMaster was to create a simple, easy to use application that can store and secure all the passwords and serial numbers you use in your digital life, and possibly beyond. When reading his description I was left with a feeling that a quality product was being downloaded to my hard drive. Such phrases as "Simple, clean, and clean interface." and "448-bit BlowFish Data Encryption to keep data files private." were flashed before me while my download progress bar raced towards the finish line.

Done. Good. Quitting Safari.

Now StuffIt Expander launches automatically and starts to decompress the 1.5MB file "PasswordMasterX.dmg.sit"... wait a minute... ".dmg.sit"? Oh boy. Why some software developers package their software on a disk image and then compress the disk image is beyond me (just skip using the disk image if you'd ask me).

I just find it annoying because I am left with four icons on my desktop, one being my hard drive. When I download Safari all I am left with is a single file: the application itself. Oh well. I just forget about it and open up the last icon in the row: "PasswordMaster X" and a new window opens up which clearly states to copy PasswordMaster X to my Applications folder. No problem.

Now for another annoyance: what the heck am I going to do with the Documentation folder? I'm sure Maury spent a good deal of time working on all these neat little help files for his simple application but I'm a busy man so I just eject the disk image, leaving the documentation behind. I delete both the "PasswordMasterX.dmg.sit" and the "PasswordMaster X.dmg" files from the desktop. Phew. Now I can get to work.

As you can probably notice, we're not off to a great start. Now before you think I have a problem with RAILhead Design or with Mr. McCown, I would like to say for the record that I do not, nor have I ever. I read his daily update every single day on railheaddesign.com with enthusiasm, and I enjoy it tons. PasswordMaster X has so much potential but, as you might have guessed, I am frustrated with it and I will try to explain why.

Upon launch of PasswordMaster I am confronted with a screen that asks me to register PasswordMaster. No problems with this; all shareware will have such a window reminding you of the fact that it is shareware. PasswordMaster costs 10$, not bad for what PasswordMaster can do, actually. I emailed Maury telling him about the fact that I was going to write a review on PasswordMaster, and after some time he replied gratefully with some useful information on his application and a serial. I enter the information and the App thanks me for it.

Maury was right; his interface is clean and simple.

I like the primary interface of PasswordMaster. I think it gives a lot of credit to the programmer when he or she builds an application that can both do something useful and keep a simple, flowing interface as well. PasswordMaster lets to store your serials, passwords and lets you create your own passwords as well. These three categories are divided clearly into three tabs. Well done, Maury, but why couldn't you keep it up with the rest of the interface?

Interface hiccups are one of my pet peeves. PasswordMaster doesn't have many, but one glaring one that I found could confuse the novice computer user easily. When backing up your data file, it asks for a destination folder but there is something really screwy about this save window. It is best to take a look at the screen shot I made... Weird huh? I don't understand why such glaring quirks couldn't be fixed by version 1.6! Isn't Maury aware of such bugs?

What the heck is going on here?

Frustration is brewing up (yeah, I guess I got frustrated quite quickly). I need some time off and decide to look at some sites a friend told me about. I use the standard Apple-H to hide the application but PasswordMaster doesn't hide at all. It launches Safari instead and goes to the RAILhead website. This pisses me off. Besides Photoshop (which has an (not so great) excuse for this weirdness), this is the ONLY application that I know of that does something this erratic when doing a simple, Apple human interface guidelines defined keystroke. Apple-H should HIDE an application, not go its home page (I'm guessing that's what the H stands for according the RAILhead human interface guidelines). Timeout for me. Quitting PasswordMaster for another time. Luckily this does work easily with Apple-Q and I can go on to browsing cool sites. If you have time, take a look here. It's pretty neat.

Okay. Back to work for me, and I made a decision. I don't want to continue frustrating you and probably myself with rant about PasswordMaster. I probably am making it sound way worse then it really is. So I am just going to list some good things, and some bad things about PasswordMaster X 1.6.2 and hope that the bad things list will be looked at by Maury and fixed in later releases.

Good:
- Clear, cool interface. Most of the time.
- Can check online for updates, but this can also be annoying when configured a certain way in the preferences.
- Isn't very expensive at all, and is very promising for later releases (free updates!).
- Secure, no doubt about it.
- Reliable, with a lot of flexibility.
- Lots of neat little options to tinker with.
- Again, DUH that this field is for the App's name... it makes me feel stupid or something.


Bad:
- Simple interface, yet apparently there is still a need for help notes for each item in the main window. Move your mouse over the password field and a little help-tidbit pops up stating, "This is the service's password/pass phrase." DUH!
- Entry procedure can be confusing at first. It starts off with one blank entry. Why?
- Some not so apparent user interface quirks, bugs and annoyances.
- "Email Maury..." is a tool. Why? I don't mean to be picky, but it isn't a tool. This should be in the about.
- Rip-off from Microsoft Office sound set. Those sounds suck anyway, why use them?

Anyway, my rattling has ended. I am done. I obviously am not going to give this application a great grade. PasswordMaster X has great, and I mean really great potential, but at its current state I rather keep my password text file in an encrypted, password protected disk image. PasswordMaster is not worth my ten bucks just yet.
[Version 1.5.4]



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