"Gizmo's top picks of the best
Tech resources and utilities"
Issue 108 - 21st April, 2004
Support Alert is a registered online serial publication
Quote of the Week
The E-mail of the species is more deadly than the mail.
Home is where you hang your @
C:\ is the root of all directories.
A user and his leisure time are soon parted.
When asked "what's the most valuable utility on your PC?" I
always answer without hesitation "Enfish Find."
The reaction is always the same: "What?"
It's a product very few people have ever heard of. Why, I'm
sure. True it's a bit pricey. True it's not heavily advertised.
True it's not the kind of glamour product that catches the
attention of the computer media.
But a product this good, this useful, should be known by
I'm guilty here, too. I should have mentioned it more often in
this newsletter than I have.
But I've had a reason for not mentioning it. I've been looking
for a free or lower cost product that does much the same thing.
And I think I may have finally found it. Maybe.
What does Enfish do? It's a local search engine that allows
to search the contents of your files on your computer. These
files can include your email messages, office documents, text
files, PDF files, and html pages, whatever.
Note that we are talking about the contents of files here, not
searching file names.
Enfish allows you to search from toolbars within Office
applications or from a tray icon. All very convenient.
The reason Enfish is so useful is that it allows you to find
just about anything on your PC regardless of where it is
located, what format it is stored in and when it was created.
An immediate benefit is that you no longer have to sort your
information into folders. For example I only have two email
folders: my inbox and the deleted items folder. Before Enfish I
had over 30. But I can find old emails far quicker with Enfish
with two email folders than I could manually with 30 folders.
Another benefit is that you can drag together information from
all file formats. If I do an Enfish search on "Joe Blogs" I'll
see all my email to/from Joe and all my Word documents which
involve him. And I'll see them in a single display in date order.
Once you find a document in Enfish, you can click on the
document name and the document will be opened by the appropriate
application. So if I click on an email it will open in Outlook,
a .doc file will open in Word and a PDF file in Acrobat.
I use Enfish to find information more than twenty times every
day. I can find just about anything in seconds which is amazing
when you think that I have over a gigabyte of personal files.
Now the downside. Enfish Find costs $49.95. Is it worth it? You
However there a lot of folks who just don't have $49.95 so I've
been looking for nearly two years for a cheaper alternative.
There are a few similar products around and I've tried them all.
I've even participated in the beta programs of a couple
including X1 which at one stage I thought was going to be a
But everything I've looked at has had problems. X1, for example,
is unstable. Others have a clunky interface or are just slow to
However, there is new kid in the block and he's arrived from an
Search Engine company Lycos has released its HotBot Desktop
toolbar. Like the Google or Yahoo toolbars, it's an Internet
Explorer plug-in. Unlike the others, the HotBot Desktop toolbar
not only searches the web but the contents of your hard drive
files as well. Just like Enfish.
How good is it? Pretty good indeed. It indexes your Outlook
Outlook Express email, Office files and a wide range of other
files types as well. Additionally, the interface is good so
finding information is easy. It also offers a raft of search
toolbar features such as a popup stopper, an RSS reader, the
ability to save web searches and more.
But when it comes to searching your hard drive, is it as good as
Enfish Find? No, Enfish Find is a more polished and refined
product. And there are some things I didn't like, such as the
unwanted desktop environment and the ad supported RSS reader.
The real point about the HotBot Desktop is that it's free. Even
if it is not as good as Enfish Find, it's a viable alternative
for those folks who simply can't afford Enfish and are prepared
to tolerate the HotBot Desktop negatives.
However, if you can afford $49.95, don't mess around. Go with
Enfish Find, it's simply a superior product. There's a 30-day
free trial version so you can give it a test drive without
spending a cent.
If this sounds like a rave review for Enfish, you are right.
That said, I want to end with a few warnings and caveats.
First, I should say my Enfish experience has been with Microsoft
Outlook. According to the Enfish web site, it will also work
with other email clients. I can't attest to this, I've only used
it with Outlook. Second, both Enfish and Hotbot take hours to do
their initial indexing so install them when you don't need to
use your PC. For the same reason, set them up to re-index
overnight, not on the fly. Finally I've heard reports that some
folks have had trouble with the web-based script installation of
the HotBot search bar. I haven't but be warned.
Both Enfish and HotBot are capable of transforming the way you
use your PC. Try them and find out for yourself.
Disclaimer: I have no association with the Enfish Corporation or
HotBot and do not derive any commission or favor from them.
Simple as that.
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IN THIS ISSUE:
1. TOP TECH SITES
- Troubleshooting Wireless Networks
- Best Free Utilities Report Updated
- Help for those Switching to Linux
- Free GIFs and other Art
- Office XP SP3 Popups Driving Users Crazy
- Google Popup Blocker Ranks Highly
- Track Down Windows Errors (SE Edition)
- Tools for Snooping on the Competition (SE Edition)
- How to Solve Problems Accessing Secure Sites (SE Edition)
- Free Tutorial Explains Regular Expressions (SE Edition)
- Excellent Set of Free PDF Tools (SE Edition)
- Free Network Monitor Watches All
- Freeware Clipboard Manager Saves Data to Disk
- Free Online Contacts Manager
- Selectively Erase Browser Tracks
- Free Windows Audit Utility
- Add Mouse Gestures to Your Browser and More
- The Best Free Windows Network Analysis Tools (SE Edition)
- Free Utility Recovers BIOS Passwords (SE Edition)
- How to Analyze Your Internet Sessions (SE Edition)
- The Best Free Digital Image Editor? (SE Edition)
3. SECURITY PATCHES, SERVICE RELEASES AND UPDATES
- Security Update for Microsoft Windows (835732)
- Cumulative Update for Microsoft RPC/DCOM (828741)
- Cumulative Security Update for Outlook Express (837009)
- Vulnerability in the Microsoft Jet Database Engine (837001)
- Security Risk with Sony Ericsson and Nokia Bluetooth Phones
- OpenSSL Flaw Patched
- Hackers Release Tool to Exploit Multiple Cisco Flaws
- Backdoor into Cisco Wireless LAN Engine
- Serious Flaw in Realmedia Plug-in
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
- A 35 Gigabyte ZIP Drive?
- Norton Firewall Censors Google Searches
- All Singing, All Dancing Flash Drive
- Better than Google
- Finally a Use for Your Bluetooth Phone
- The Ten Hottest Certification Courses for 2004
- MP3 Wi-Fi Arrives (SE Edition)
- Run Linux and Windows Simultaneously (SE Edition)
- Google as a Security Risk (SE Edition)
- Get US Computer Prices Anywhere in the World (SE Edition)
5. TIP OF THE WEEK
- Make Adobe Acrobat Reader Load Faster
6. FREEBIE OF THE WEEK
- A Solution to the Problem of Line-Wrapped URLs
- Free Collaboration Software (SE Edition)
1. TOP TECH SITES
Troubleshooting Wireless Networks
Despite the advertising, I can assure you that installing a
wireless network can be a real pain. If you run into trouble try
the excellent troubleshooting section at this site. The site has
some excellent tutorials as well.
Best Free Utilities Report Updated
I've just updated my "46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities" report
with a batch of new utilities plus updates to the descriptions
of many existing items. Those blessed with the skill of being
able to count will note there are now 54 utilities listed even
though the report remains titled "The Best 46." Just geek humour.
Help for those Switching to Linux
Tom's Hardware is running a two part how-to guide on migrating
from Windows to Linux. It's not as detailed as you might expect
from Tom's but it's an excellent starting point for those about
to make the big shift.
Free GIFs and other Art
Here's a good collection of GIF based art including some quite
excellent animated GIFs, all free provide you link back to their
site. This is not the largest site of its kind but at least it's
totally free from ads.
Office XP SP3 Popups Driving Users Crazy
Any unfortunate soul who installed the just-released Service
Pack 3 for Microsoft Office XP will probably be suffering from
frequent popups warning of an unauthorized program is trying to
access their mailing list. Intended as a security measure, the
messages are a major pain with some users encountering hundreds
per day. The problem can't be solved by uninstalling SP3 as it
can only be removed by reverting to a prior system check point,
presuming of course that you made one. The Slipstick web site is
offering some workarounds and Microsoft has conceded the problem
in some recent Knowledge Base articles. If you are considering
installing SP3, I suggest you read this article first.
Google Popup Blocker Ranks Highly
Here's another site where you can test the effectiveness of your
popup blocker. The site also rates and ranks the performance of
many popup blocker products and I noted that the one built into
the free Google Toolbar came out very close to the top of the
list, a result that equates with my own experience.
** Additional Items in the SE Edition **
- How to Track Down Windows Errors
- Tools for Snooping on the Competition
- How to Solve Problems Accessing Secure Sites
- Free Tutorial Makes Regular Expressions Comprehensible
- An Excellent Set of Free PDF Tools
Got some top sites to suggest? Send them to
Free Network Monitor Watches All
ServersCheck is more than your usual LAN monitor. It also
optionally monitors a host of other functions including Internet
operations, email, FTP, application operation, TCP Ports,
Windows and Linux functions, database operation and file
activities. The list of things that can be monitored is truly
impressive; not quite sure if it can keep an eye on your
girlfriend but it wouldn't surprise me if it could. There is a
standard version that includes up to three monitors that is free
for personal use. Commercial versions with unlimited monitoring
start from $250. (9461KB)
Free Clipboard Manager Saves Data to Disk
Almost everyone has experienced the frustration of having their
PC go into a hard stop while in the middle of a major cut and
paste exercise, thus losing everything on the Clipboard.
MultiClipBoard solves this problem by saving the clipboard to
hard disk where it can be recovered in the event of a disaster.
It's not a bad clipboard manager either and, given the price, is
well worth serious consideration. Freeware, 0.54MB.
Free Online Contacts Manager
At first look Plaxo appears to be yet another free, online
address book service, but in fact it offers much more. Plaxo
allows you to automatically sync your addresses in Outlook,
Outlook Express, Yahoo, Palm Pilot, Netscape and more. Plaxo
also allows you to share contact information between users, and
provides an automatic contact verification facility as well. One
of the neat side benefits of using the service is that it will
(optionally) extract contact information from your stored email.
Plaxo is a free service, though like the free AVG anti-virus
scanner it ads a self-promoting tag line to your email.
Selectively Erase Browser Tracks
Internet privacy utilities typically work by erasing from your
computer all records of your browsing activities. This can be a
good thing, particularly when you are privately surfing at
work. However, these utilities also erase information you may
want to keep. For example, you lose the auto-completion of all
typed-in web addresses as well as any auto-logon cookies.
FreeToGo is a shareware utility that solves this problem by
allowing you to turn Internet privacy security on and off at the
flick of a switch. Turn it on when you are visiting "personal"
sites and off again at other times. It works a treat, though you
have to close your browser to clear your history. Shareware,
$24.95, 30-day free trial available, 365KB.
Free Windows Audit Utility
AIDA32 has been top dog in the computer inventory and audit
category for some time. Since the announcement that all future
development work on AIDA32 has ceased, I've been looking around
for a worthy replacement. I've just checked out WinAudit, a tiny
freeware utility that, according to the website, "performs an
exhaustive audit of the hardware and software configuration of
your computer. The audit report contains details on installed
software, license information, peripherals, memory usage,
processor model, network settings, etc." It's a nice product
providing similar information as AIDA32 for a single PC, but it
doesn't work over networks. However, the tiny size of the
program, combined with the fact that it needs no installation,
opens up the possibility of sending it to all PCs on the network
for remote execution. Freeware, 112KB.
Add Mouse Gestures to Your Browser and More
Subscriber Michael Kairys writes: "Mouse gestures? You want
mouse gestures? Get StrokeIt! This has become one of my top
three (Well, five. Okay, ten ;-)) ‘absolute must-have’ utilities
on any system I use. You can configure gestures and their
commands for specific applications or globally; and the commands
are a rich set, including running programs, sending keystrokes,
even sending Windows messages." Nice find Michael. StrokeIt!
does much more than add mouse gestures to your browser, it
really opens up a whole new way of working. Free for private
** Additional Items in the SE Edition **
- The Best Free Windows Network Analysis Tools
- Free Utility Recovers BIOS Passwords
- How to Analyze Your Internet Sessions
- The Best Free Digital Image Editor?
Got some top utilities to suggest? Send them to
3. SECURITY PATCHES, SERVICE RELEASES AND UPDATES
Last week saw the release of a whole batch of "critical" level
security updates from Microsoft. The flaws covered by the
updates are extremely serious and already there are reports of
demonstration code circulating amongst hackers that will allow
the exploitation of these vulnerabilities. If you haven't yet
applied these patches visit the Windows Update site at
http://v4.windowsupdate.microsoft.com/en/default.asp and apply
them immediately. Note particularly that the Outlook Express
Update should be applied even if you don't use Outlook Express
as your default mail client.
Security Update for Microsoft Windows (835732)
Systems affected: Windows NT/2000/XP, Server/Server 2000
Problem: "This update resolves several newly-discovered
vulnerabilities. An attacker who successfully exploited the most
severe of these vulnerabilities could take complete control of
an affected system, including installing programs; viewing,
changing, or deleting data; or creating new accounts that have
Cumulative Update for Microsoft RPC/DCOM (828741)
Systems affected: Windows 98/SE/NT/2000/XP, Server/Server 2000
Problem: "This update resolves several newly-discovered
vulnerabilities in RPC/DCOM. Each vulnerability is documented in
this bulletin in its own section. An attacker who successfully
exploited the most severe of these vulnerabilities could take
complete control of the affected system. An attacker could then
take any action on the affected system, including installing
programs; viewing, changing, or deleting data; or creating new
accounts that have full privileges."
Cumulative Security Update for Outlook Express (837009)
Systems affected: Outlook Express V5.5-SP2, V6, V6-SP1
Problem: "This is a cumulative update that includes the
functionality of all the previously-released updates for Outlook
Express 5.5 and Outlook Express 6. Additionally, it eliminates a
new vulnerability that could allow an attacker who successfully
exploited this vulnerability to access files and to take
complete control of the affected system. This could occur even
if Outlook Express is not used as the default e-mail reader on
Vulnerability in the Microsoft Jet Database Engine (837001)
Systems affected: Microsoft Jet Database Engine version 4.0
Problem: "Buffer overrun vulnerability exists in the Microsoft
Jet Database Engine (Jet) that could allow remote code
execution. An attacker who successfully exploited this
vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system,
including installing programs; viewing, changing, or deleting
data; or creating new accounts that have full privileges."
Security Risk with Sony Ericsson and Nokia Bluetooth Phones
Both companies are suggesting the Bluetooth capabilities be
turned off on some of their phone models because of a security
flaw. The flaw leaves the phones vulnerable to a number of
different type of attacks including "bluesnarfing", where an
attacker could read, modify and copy a phone's contacts,
calendar and other personal data even if the phone is not paired
with another Bluetooth device. Vulnerable models include
Ericsson T68, Sony Ericsson R520m, T68i, T610 and Z1010, Nokia
6310, 6310i, 7650, 8910 and 8910i. More details here:
OpenSSL Flaw Patched
OpenSSL is an open implementation of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
encryption used by most secure web servers and browsers. A patch
has been released that fixes a previously disclosed flaw which,
if exploited, could lead to a DOS attack.
Hackers Release Tool to Exploit Multiple Cisco Flaws
An Italian hacking group has publicly released a hacking toolkit
which exploits nine separate vulnerabilities in Cisco's Catalyst
switches or machines running versions of IOS. (Internetwork
Operating System). The vulnerabilities could be used for a DOS
attack and, in one case, could allow the "running of malicious
code on the affected system without needing to supply a user
name or password." Cisco has issued an advisory which lists
counter measures that can be employed.
Backdoor into Cisco Wireless LAN Engine
Here's some depressing news from Cisco for owners of their
Wireless LAN Engine: "A default username/password pair is
present in all releases of the Wireless LAN Solution Engine
(WLSE) and Hosting Solution Engine (HSE) software. A user who
logs in using this username has complete control of the device.
This username cannot be disabled. There is no workaround." Amen.
Serious Flaw in Realmedia Plug-in
Realmedia has issued a patch to fix a flaw in the R3T media plug-
in used in a number of versions of their popular media players.
The flaw is serious and, if exploited, could allow an attacker
to take control of an affected computer. Impacted software
includes RealPlayer 8, RealOne Player and RealOne Player v2 for
Windows, RealPlayer 10 Beta and RealPlayer Enterprise.
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
A 35 Gigabyte ZIP Drive?
Iomega, the maker of ZIP and JAZ drives, has just released their
new REV model which can store up to 35GB of uncompressed data
with a data transfer rate of 25Mbps, eight times faster than
tape. Iomega bundles REV with a copy of their Automatic Backup
Pro and a special version of Norton Ghost modified for REV Drive
operation. With a retail price of around $400 for the REV drive
itself and $50 for each cartridge it looks like a good backup
solution for many smaller organizations.
Norton Firewall Censors Google Searches
According to the industry newsletter "Search Engine Watch", the
latest version of Norton Personal Firewall now, by default
setting, blocks any paid ads that appear in Google and Overture
search results. Not a bad thing in itself but, in this case, I
find it worrying as it's not the kind of behavior I expect from
a firewall. Makes you wonder what else is being censored from
your view. If you are running Norton Personal Firewall, try
searching Google for "anti-virus software”. Bet you won't see
any ads from Norton's competitors ;>)
All Singing, All Dancing Flash Drive
Take a tiny 128MB USB 2.0 Flash drive, add in an MP3 Player, a 2
Megapixel camera and a camcorder, and you get the Philips KEY019
Key Ring Camcorder. At this stage it doesn't offer personal life
counseling, though that apparently is planned for the next model.
Better than Google
Google may be the king of search engines but when it comes
specialist subjects there are often better choices. For science
and technology searches try Scirus instead, and for medical
searches you can't beat PubMed.
Finally a Use for Your Bluetooth Phone
If you lament the way networks like Friendster are changing
courting habits then you are in for a shock when you learn about
"Toothing," the latest technological trend that, according to
the computer press, "is sweeping the U.K."
The Ten Hottest Certification Courses for 2004.
This list shows what's hot and what's not. No surprise that
Microsoft security tops the list though oddly, "Migrating to
India" didn't make the cut.
** Bonus Items in the SE Edition **
- MP3 Wi-Fi Arrives
- Run Linux and Windows Simultaneously
- Google as a Security Risk
- Get US Computer Prices Anywhere in the World
5. TIP OF THE WEEK
Make Adobe Acrobat Reader Load Faster
Users of Acrobat Reader are all too familiar with how long this
product takes to load. With the release of V6, it's become
A lot of the delay comes from loading plug-ins, most of which
have no value to the average user.
You can bypass the loading of plug-ins by holding down the
<Shift> when the Reader starts. The difference in load time is
If you want to permanently disable the plugs-in from loading
just move them to another folder - full instructions here:
6. FREEBIE OF THE WEEK
A Solution to the Problem of Line-Wrapped URLs
After every issue of this newsletter, I get email from readers
saying that a particular link in the newsletter doesn’t work.
Almost always the link in question is fine but has been broken
across two or more lines by the reader's email reader creating a
truncated and usually invalid URL. UrlRun is a tiny free utility
designed to solve this problem. UrlRun picks up any link that's
been copied to the clipboard, strips out spaces, new lines and
'>' characters and then runs Internet Explorer. UrlRun is a
stand-alone program but, if you use Outlook, there's a special
add-in version that will fix a highlighted link by right-
clicking and selecting UrlRun from the menu.
http://www.sellsbrothers.com/tools/ <=UrlRun (10.9KB)
http://www.cheztabor.com/UrlRunAddIn/ <= Outlook Add-in (46KB)
** Bonus Freebie in the SE Edition **
Free Collaboration Software
Users often have the need to share files with each other or
across different computers such as an office and home PC. There
are a number of collaborative software products geared to handle
this kind of need but they are usually very expensive. However,
I've been quietly impressed by this free package that allows you
to share multiple files across a dedicated P2P network. Usage is
remarkably simple; whenever you update a file, a Word document
for example, it is updated transparently and automatically on
all the PC's of the users authorized to share that document. For
security, the data is 256-bit AES encrypted and various levels
of access permission can be assigned to individual users. An
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Thanks to the following volunteer reviewers for their efforts:
Daniel Rose (D.R.)
Annie Scrimshaw (A.S.) aka Annmarie at www.cybertechhelp.com
Jeff Partridge (J.P.)
Sheila Foss (S.F) aka PippieT
Reviews written by Annie, Daniel, Jeff and Sheila are indicated
by their initials at the end of the review.
Thanks too to A. Belile for proofreading this issue.
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