========================
                         Support Alert
                         Free Edition
                    ========================
                    www.techsupportalert.com

                 "Gizmo's top picks of the best
                  Tech resources and utilities"

                  Issue 116 - 15th December, 2004

    Support Alert is a registered online serial publication
                         ISSN 1448-7020.

                        <<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>
 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
=================

"Nationalism is the strange belief that one country is better
than another by virtue of the fact that you happen to be born
there." - George Bernard Shaw

Of course, had Shaw been alive today he may well have added:-

"Software-centrism is the strange belief that one software
product is better than another by virtue of the fact that you
happen to use it." ;>)
 

IN THIS ISSUE:
=============

0. EDITORIAL - end of year awards

1. SUPPORT ALERT AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE 2004
 - Product of the Year
 - Best Free Utility

2. TOP TECH SITES FOR 2004
 - Excellent Free Tech Support Sites
 - Free Help with MS Word
 - The Definitive Microsoft Outlook Resource Site
 - Free Modem Help
 - Windows XP Tips Galore
 - Troubleshooting Wireless Networks
 - Is Your Browser Infected With Scumware?
 - Check Your Browser Defenses
 - Spyware Removal Utilities That Are Actually Spyware
 - Free Service Tests a Suspicious File
 - Public Wi-Fi Access Points
 - The Top 75 Network Security Tools
 - What DLL is That?
 - Solve Windows File and Printer Sharing Problems

  ** Additional items in the premium SE Edition **

 - How to Fix Your Printer Yourself
 - How to Solve Problems Accessing Secure Sites
 - Free CoolWebSearch Killer Available Again
 - Track Your Web Site Google Rankings for Free
 - How to Run SpamAssassin on Windows
 - Good Spyware Resource Site
 - How to Remove Spyware (and other nasties) from Your PC
 - What to do When You Get the Blue Screen of Death
 - How to Legally Share Music and Videos with your Friends
 - How to Speed up Your P2P Downloads
 - How to Speed Up FireFox
 - Tweaks for XP Freaks
 - How to Test Your Email Security
 - How to Transfer Music & Files from your iPod to your PC
 
3. TOP UTILITIES FOR 2004
 - Free Utility Enhances MS Word
 - Free Local Search Utility Shines
 - How to Manage Your XP SP2 Firewall
 - Remove Hidden Data from Office Documents
 - A Free Time Correction Utility That Actually Works
 - New Microsoft Tweaking Utility
 - Icon Manager Solves System Tray Clutter
 - New Version of PocketKnife Peek
 - Free Network Monitor Watches All
 - Selectively Erase Browser Tracks
 - Edit the Right Click Context Menu
 - Easier Way to Handle Windows and DOS Paths
 - The Best Text Processing Utility
 - How to Fix the Windows Task Bar
 - Free Utility Transparently Encrypts Mail
 - The Best Free Windows Explorer Replacement
 - The Best BitTorrent Client?
 - Microsoft Restores Free Access to Lookout
 - Tweak Your TCP Settings
 - 309 Megabytes of Free, High Quality Windows Software
 - Another Free Way to Free Up Your Desktop
 - How to Check That Your System is Fully Secured
 - The Best Free Anti-Trojan Scanner

   ** Additional items in the premium SE Edition **

 - How to Run an Application as a Service
 - The Best Boilerplate Text Manager
 - Best Free Startup Manager
 - The Free Encryption Utility That I Use
 - Free Version of RealMedia without the Adware
 - Genuine Security for Your PDA and Smart Phone Data
 - The Best Free Process Viewer
 - Free Utility Recovers BIOS Passwords
 - How to Analyze Your Internet Sessions
 - Free Collaboration Software
 - File Sharing Without the RIAA Watching
 - Easily Send Personal Email to Several Recipients
 - Another Way to Increase Your Street Cred
 - How to Automate Mouse Clicks
 - Send Files up to 1GB for Nix
 - Free Word DOC to PDF Converter
 - Free Utility Controls User Access to USB Drives
 - Free Network Management Tool
 - Free Utility Fixes Broken XP WinSock Installations
 - Encrypt a Message in an Application File
 - The Best Free Registry Editor
 - Get US Computer Prices Anywhere in the World
 - How to Easily Remove All Traces of Software from Your Registry
 - A Great Free Solution to Emailing Photos

 
0. EDITORIAL
============

This is the special end of year edition of Support Alert.

It features my annual awards for the "Product of the Year" and
the "Best Free Utility"

It also includes my pick of the best tech sites and utilities
that have appeared in the newsletter throughout the year.

I'm not making any claims about any of these being the absolute
best. I haven't reviewed all the products available and besides,
there is always an element of the subjective in such matters.
What I can say is that the sites and products listed are superb
by any standards. Congratulations to all involved.

I'd like to give particular thanks to the Web's freeware
authors. They, in the true spirit of the Internet, do what they
do simply for the pleasure of their craft and the pleasure of
sharing.  We are the beneficiaries.

And thanks to you gentle readers. Your letters, suggestions and
occasional rebukes during the year have been a source of
enjoyment and stimulation.

Well, folks, that's it for 2004. The next issue will be around
the middle of January.

The free edition of Support Alert currently has over 45,000
subscribers in 49 different countries. To all of you, I wish
peace, happiness and prosperity for 2005.

Gizmo Richards
mailto:editor@techsupportalert.com

P.S. In producing this newsletter I have willingly and with
pleasure given you hundreds of hours of my time. May I ask for a
few seconds of yours in return?

Support Alert relies on voluntary donations to survive.  If you
feel that you've benefited from reading this newsletter during
the year perhaps you might consider donating by subscribing to
the premium "Supporters' Edition" of this newsletter.

The premium SE Edition contains almost twice the number of great
tech sites, free utilities, tips and other content as the
standard edition. It's also ad-free.

In fact, now is a GREAT time to subscribe. This month I'm giving
away a free commercial software product to every third person
who subscribes. I've got quite a pile here to give away so your
chances of scoring a copy are excellent.  Here's what's on offer:

Subscribe this month and have a 33% chance of winning:

- 3 copies of Norton Anti Virus 2005 (Retail $49.95)

- 5 Copies of Ad-Aware SE Plus (Retail $26.95)

- 2 copies of PestPatrol (Retail $39.95)

It's first-in, first served so subscribe now because once these
products are gone, that's it.

Even if you don't win a prize you'll still get my special report
"Gizmo's Desert Island Utilities" which outlines the software I
consider most useful, including many free products. You'll also
get the benefit of a 12-months subscription to the special
enhanced "Supporter’s Edition" of this newsletter which contains
almost twice the number of great tech sites and free utilities
as the standard edition.

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE PREMIUM SE EDITION
==========================================

12 months subscription to the Premium Supporters' Edition costs
$10 which can be made by check or credit card using either
ClickBank or PayPal.

Click the link below to subscribe now:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/se-edition.htm
 

1. SUPPORT ALERT AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE 2004
===========================================

Product of the Year
===================

Winner: Mozilla FireFox Browser
http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/

I'm afraid that this year it was a non contest for the Product
of the Year title. FireFox could in fact have won it on two
separate grounds; first for its achievement as an advanced,
customizable tabbed browser and second for its contribution to
internet safety.

As a browser FireFox is a delight. It's free, fast, stable, user
friendly, standards compliant and cross platform. Its speed
combined with tabbed browsing offers enormous productivity gains
to users. So much so that it's very hard to go back to clunky
single window browsers like Internet Explorer.

The hundreds of extensions available for FireFox allow users to
customize the product to meet their own specific needs. I
currently have 11 extensions installed performing functions
ranging from saving my tabbed browser sessions through to
telling me the weather forecast. They transform FireFox from
being a browser to being MY browser.

In a year marked by a tidal wave of spyware exploits FireFox
offers users a welcome lifeline. FireFox is nowhere near as
vulnerable to these attacks as Internet Explorer.  In fact many
subscribers have written to me to say that the number of spyware
infections on their PCs has dropped to almost zero since
installing FireFox, an experience that mirrors my own.

As more people use FireFox it's quite possible that it will
itself become a target for hackers and malware purveyors. They
will however find their task much harder than with Internet
Explorer. That's because FireFox was designed right from the
start with safety and security in mind. The risk is further
reduced because FireFox does not support active scripting such
Microsoft's trouble-prone ActiveX.

Currently I recommend FireFox to all users as a security
accessory. In that role it shines. The fact that users also get
the world's best browser is a bonus to be savored.

A worthy winner of the Product of the Year Award

Best Free Utility for 2004
==========================

Winner: Prevx Home, Intrusion Detection Software
http://www.prevx.com/

In the coming year I suspect that most users will end up
installing at least one intrusion detection software product
(IDS) on their PC. That's because IDS provide a vital additional
layer of protection against internet security threats.

Current security products like anti-virus software and spyware
scanners have a serious weakness. They are only effective at
protecting you from viruses, worms, trojans and spyware that are
currently listed in their signature databases. They offer little
protection against new malware products whose signatures are
unknown.

Many anti-virus vendors only distribute updates to their
signature files on a weekly basis. In the interval between
updates your PC is vulnerable to new threats.  Unfortunately
such threats can propagate across the internet in hours.

That's where IDS can play a vital role in securing your PC.

IDS detect malware trying to get into your PC by its behavior
rather than by looking for a characteristic signature.  Kind of
like a detective catching a thief using his modus operandi
rather than his fingerprint.  Any of you who use WinPatrol or
SpyBot's TeaTimer are actually using a form of IDS.

In the last month I've been evaluating the home IDS software
products on the market. I'll have the full results for a future
issue of this newsletter but I can tell you that the product
that impressed me the most was one called Prevx Home.

The level of protection offered by PrevX is awesome. It detected
everything I threw at it - nothing got past. It didn't miss a
single malware product.

And there's more that impresses:

Unlike other IDS programs like WinPatrol and TeaTimer, Prevx
runs as a kernel level service rather than a normal windows
program. This means it can not be easily attacked and pulled
down by hostile malware programs. This protection is vital as
many malware products routinely pull down or disable security
products.

No other product I tested offered this combination of
outstanding detection combined with hardened self security.

But this effectiveness comes at a cost. IDS programs are
notorious for flashing up many false alarms and Prevx is no
different. In fact it's amongst the prolific. That's because
it's so good at watching your computer that it inadvertently
catches legitimate programs carrying out legitimate activities.

When first installed it issues dozens of security warnings.
Enough to annoy many users and confuse others.

That's the bad news. The good news is that Prevx gradually
learns what is legitimate and what is not so the number of
warning messages slowly declines over time.  In the interim
though expect to get warnings frequently. Such is the cost of
security.

Inexperienced users and those who install a lot of programs may
find this price too high to pay.  That's a personal decision.
Those prepared to accept the inconvenience however will be
rewarded with a dramatic upgrade in their computer security.
That's why Prevx is now permanently resident on my PC.
 
One of the reasons Prevx is so effective is that it a home
version of a full fledged commercial IDS product. We
congratulate the Prevx Company for making such an outstanding
product available to the internet community for free.
 

2. TOP TECH SITES FOR 2004
==========================

Excellent Free Tech Support Sites
Subscriber Ted Green writes: "Thanks a million Gizmo for telling
me about the Tek-Tips forums. With the help of the forum members
I solved a Windows shutdown problem that was driving me nuts."
Note, though, that Tek-Tips is geared towards IT professionals.
Other users may get better results from the TechSupportGuy and
Suggestafix forums. Both are free and excellent.
http://www.tek-tips.com/
http://forums.techguy.org/
http://www.suggestafix.com

Free Help with MS Word
Here's a site dedicated to tips, tricks and techniques for
getting the most out of MS Word
http://www.word-answers.com/

The Definitive Microsoft Outlook Resource Site
Whether you use Outlook as a stand-alone client or together with
Exchange, this site is quite simply the best Outlook resource on
the web.
http://www.slipstick.com/

Free Modem Help
Reader Alex Goode says, "This site is my first port of call when
I run into modem problems or when I'm looking for modem
info..."  I've checked it out and it is as goode as Alex says.
http://www.modemhelp.net

Windows XP Tips Galore
The first link below is to a site offering a nice list of 101
tips covering ways you can improve performance, increase privacy
and more. The second link is another site which, rather cleverly,
lists its tips in popularity order. Backing up, restoring and
disabling XP activation topped the popularity list.
http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=1494
http://is-it-true.org/nt/xp/index.shtml

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.
http://www.practicallynetworked.com/

Is Your Browser Infected With Scumware?
At this site, you can get a quick check for actual infection.
The test doesn't cover all known products but it's well worth
visiting.
http://www.doxdesk.com/parasite/

Check Your Browser Defenses
I just discovered this site operated by security company Scanit
and its set of tests is quite comprehensive and covers multiple
browsers. Given the current scumware plague, I strongly
recommend you go to this site and test out your browser. It's
free and only takes a couple of minutes.
http://bcheck.scanit.be/bcheck/

Spyware Removal Utilities That Are Actually Spyware
A few issue back I mentioned a number of bogus spyware removal
utilities, many with names deceptively similar to well known
legitimate products. This site has a more complete list with
over 100 entries. Many of the "free" apps generate large numbers
of fake "infections" to alarm users into purchase. Others are
simply spyware applications. Proof positive that scumware comes
from scums.
http://www.spywarewarrior.com/rogue_anti-spyware.htm

Free Service Tests a Suspicious File
Got a program you'd like to run but not sure if it's OK.
Then upload it to this site where they'll run it through ten
different virus scanners and let you know the results.
http://virusscan.jotti.dhs.org/

Public Wi-Fi Access Points
This site lists no charge wi-fi network access points in the USA and
Canada. It's not complete but still useful.
http://wififreespot.com/

The Top 75 Network Security Tools
This personal list is more extensive than selective but is a
fabulous resource for anyone wanting to know what's available.
http://www.insecure.org/tools.html

What DLL is That?
Ever wondered what a particular DLL does. Find out from this
useful Microsoft database.
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=/servicedesks/fileversion/dllinfo.asp

Solve Windows File and Printer Sharing Problems
Suffering from invisible network printers? Only able to access
data one-way between PC's?  Get solutions to these and other
common Windows 2000/XP file and printer sharing problems here:
http://www.tomsnetworking.com/Sections-article64-page1.php
 

MORE OF THE BEST TECH SITES IN THE PREMIUM SE EDITION
=====================================================

 - How to Fix Your Printer Yourself
 - How to Solve Problems Accessing Secure Sites
 - Free CoolWebSearch Killer Available Again
 - Track Your Web Site Google Rankings for Free
 - How to Run SpamAssassin on Windows
 - Good Spyware Resource Site
 - How to Remove Spyware (and other nasties) from Your PC
 - What to do When You Get the Blue Screen of Death
 - How to Legally Share Music and Videos with your Friends
 - How to Speed up Your P2P Downloads
 - How to Speed Up FireFox
 - Tweaks for XP Freaks
 - How to Test Your Email Security
 - How to Transfer Music & Files from your iPod to your PC

 
3. TOP UTILITIES FOR 2004
=========================

Free Utility Enhances MS Word

This is nice: a free Word add-in that provides a whole bunch of
additional features. I particularly liked the facility that
allows you to quickly select frequently used style elements
(such as fonts, symbols and bullets) rather than having to
scroll through multiple menus and long lists. Also nice is the
enhanced ability to paint formats. These are only two of the
dozens of additional productivity features offered. I'd say it's
an essential tool for serious Word users. Works with Word 2000
and later. The "Personal" version is free for individual use. (1.58MB)
http://www.wordtoys.com/

Free Local Search Utility Shines
A utility that can quickly search the content of your emails,
Word documents and other files is arguably the most important
productivity aid you can install on your PC. There are several
excellent search programs around such as X1 and Enfish but they
are relatively expensive products. Thanks to subscriber Lex
Davidson for prompting me to look at the free Copenernic Desktop
Search utility. It's some time since I last reviewed this and in
the interim huge improvements have been made. First, it's stable
and fast. Second, it allows you index a huge range of file types
including PDF, Office, Outlook, Outlook Express and RTF.  Third,
it indexes file names as well as file contents so it's great for
quickly locating lost files. Finally, it presents the results in
a really easy-to-use format.  No, the search interface is not
quite as slick as X1, nor is it quite as well integrated into
Office as Enfish, but otherwise it does a first class job. (2.3MB)
http://www.copernic.com/en/products/desktop-search/download.html

How to Manage Your XP SP2 Firewall
OK, you've taken the plunge and installed SP2. Wouldn't it be
nice to be able to control your enhanced firewall, check current
activity or inspect the logs? Well you can do all that with
FirePanel XP, a $10 shareware product. The download is only
170KB but you need to have the Microsoft .NET framework
installed on your PC.
http://www.router19.org/

Remove Hidden Data from Office Documents
Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint all retain recent changes
to documents even though these changes are no longer visible.
Unfortunately, this information can be easily recovered with a
simple text editor. This presents a real security threat and
potential legal problems as well. Microsoft has released a free
Office XP/2003 add-in that removes this hidden information.
This is an essential download for all Office XP/2003 users.
Free, 280KB
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=144e54ed-d43e-42ca-bc7b-5446d34e5360&displaylang=en

A Free Time Correction Utility That Actually Works
A lot of folks have difficulty getting time correction software
to work on their PC. If that's you then try Dimension
4, a free utility that gives you the choice of connecting to a
time server either by standard TCP protocol or by the more common
(and more problem-prone) SNTP protocol. If you haven't yet got a
time correction utility, this is the one.  It's free, it’s easy
to use, and it has every function that you could conceivably
want. Because it works from both the command line and Windows,
it's ideal for batch files, too. (292KB)
http://www.thinkman.com/dimension4/

New Microsoft Tweaking Utility
MS has released Tweakomatic, a WMI scripting utility that
"allows you to retrieve and/or configure Windows and Internet
Explorer settings" on a local or remote computer. In essence
it's a kind of like TweakUI with the advantage that it works on
remote machines, which makes it a very handy product for
sysadmins. Freeware, 258KB.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/scriptcenter/Tools/twkmatic.asp

Icon Manager Solves System Tray Clutter
System Tray real estate is one of the most valuable and highly
congested areas of the Windows interface.  PS Tray factory
allows you to consolidate many different icons into one master
icon. Right clicking this icon pops up a vertical menu giving
easy access to the individual icons and their right click/left
click functions.  The product also offers complete control over
what icons are selected as well as their properties.  Those
using Windows versions other than XP will also reap the
additional benefit of gaining XP-like task bar features. On my
XP machine this utility freed up two full inches of notification
area space - quite enough to earn it a permanent place on my
machine. Shareware, $24.95, 716KB.
http://www.pssoftlab.com/pstf_info.phtml

New Version of PocketKnife Peek
This free utility has long been one my favorite Outlook add-ins.
It works by adding a button to the tool bar which, when pressed,
opens any HTML message as text. This allows you to safely open
any unknown message without fear of triggering a hostile script
or web bug. PKP also allows you to easily examine the full
message headers, which can be very useful at times. The latest
version of PKP now lists all email attachments including the
full contents of attached ZIP archives. A neat feature is that
attachment file names are shown with embedded blanks deleted,
thus eliminating one of the common ways of disguising an
attachment’s true file type.  A must for every Outlook user.
Free for personal use, 520KB.
http://www.xintercept.com/peekdownload.htm

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)
http://www.serverscheck.com/versions.asp

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.
http://www.freetogo.com/

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
use, 120KB.
http://www.tcbmi.com/strokeit/

Edit the Right Click Context Menu
One of the common failings of software un-install routines is
that they leave unwanted items in the right-click context menu.
They can be removed by editing the Windows Registry; however,
the freeware utility "Context Menu Editor" will do the job
safely and painlessly. Freeware, 737KB.
http://www.bartdart.com/

Easier Way to Handle Windows and DOS Paths
Ninitech Path Copy is a little utility that adds a "Copy path to
clipboard" option to the right-click context menu. What's neat
is that it offers a sub-menu that allows you to choose several
ways of copying the path. These options include Windows full
file names, DOS 8.3 names, UNC path and more. You can even
specify your own formats. I use Path Copy regularly to convert
long Windows paths for use in old DOS programs. Freeware, 155KB.
http://home.worldonline.dk/ninotech/freeutil.htm#pathcopy

The Best Text Processing Utility
Text processing is one of those computer tasks you end up doing
just about every day. Some jobs are simple like alphabetically
sorting a file or cleaning up a contact list. Others are more
complex like multiple search/replaces, converting formats or
sort-merging databases. Whatever the job, text processing is
something that's hard to avoid. There are plenty of specialized
utilities available to help you with individual text processing
tasks but TextPipe Pro is different in that it will do just
about anything.  It's a unique product that could be best
described as a menu driven version of the classic UNIX utilities
grep and awk.  Even so, that description would sell it short as
it is totally customizable and actually more powerful than its
UNIX descendants. Its features are too many to describe here so
I'll just give you an actual example of its use. This week I
needed to extract the AOL users from a list of subscriber's
email addresses. I then wanted to remove from the AOL list any
address which occurred in another list. Finally, I wanted to
remove invalid email addresses and strip off trailing blanks.
Normally, I'd write a tiny once-off program to do this kind of
job but I did it all with TextPipe in 15 minutes without any
prior experience using the product! Now that is impressive and
gives you an indication of its power. TextPipe is not cheap and
it’s not for raw beginners, but anyone who regularly works with
files will find this an invaluable tool and an excellent long-
term investment. Shareware, $299, free trial, 3.95MB
http://www.crystalsoftware.com.au/textpipe.html

How to Fix the Windows Task Bar
I don't know why so many people have trouble with the Windows
Task Bar. From subscribers' letters, I hear reports that it can
disappear, change position and shape, get grayed out, behave
unpredictably, get stuck in Classic View and more. Most of these
taskbar problems can be resolved by using this splendid free
utility from Kelly Theriot of Kelly's Corner fame. Additionally,
it will fix many stubborn Notification Area and Quicklaunch bar
problems.  The standard version is free. Some optional advanced
features can be enabled for a modest $5 contribution. 48KB.
Http://www.kellys-korner-xp.com/taskbarplus!.htm

Free Utility Transparently Encrypts Mail
SecExMail Home is a security application that automatically
encrypts/decrypts mail to/from secure correspondents with whom
you have set up security keys. It works as an email proxy that
sits between your POP3/SMTP mail client and mail server so it
will work with just about any email program. What's nice is the
process is totally transparent to the user. All mail looks the
same to the user, secure or not, as SecExMail handles all the
housekeeping.  Encryption is via RSA public key encryption and
the Twofish block cipher. Much to like here particularly at the
price.  Free for personal use, Windows and Linux versions, 2.7MB.
http://www.bytefusion.com/products/ens/secexmail/whatissecexmail.htm

The Best Free Windows Explorer Replacement
Anyone who tries to do any serious file management quickly runs
into the limitations of Windows Explorer. There are lots of more
powerful replacements available but most of these are expensive
commercial products. The best free version has long been
2xExplorer and the good news is the vendors of that product have
now developed an even more powerful product called Xplorer**2
(the **2 is my plain text transcription of a superscript "2"). A
shareware "Pro" version is available but what interests me is
their free "Lite" version that offers all the features of
2xExplorer plus 31 more! Impressive to say the least. Try it.
Once you get used to a two pane file manager, you'll wonder how
you ever worked without it. Free for home or academic use. 575KB.
http://www.netez.com/xplorer2/x2lite.htm

The Best BitTorrent Client?
It's amazing how quickly BitTorrent has become one of the major
download formats. With good reason, too: it's fast, equitable
and efficient. If you haven't yet installed a BitTorrent client
on your PC, you should as there are some great free programs
available. I recommend the Open Source program Azureus. It's
beautifully implemented, well supported and, being Java based,
is available for multiple platforms.  Of course the Java code
will eat up your CPU cycles so you need a fast PC. Those with
older machines should check out BitTornado. It's also cross
platform and is fast and highly configurable as well. Both
products are adware and spyware free.
http://azureus.sourceforge.net/ (4.4MB)
http://bittornado.com/ (3.3MB)

Miccrosoft Restores Free Access to Lookout
Last issue I mentioned Lookout, an impressive new indexing
program for Outlook 2000 and above. It appears it impressed

Microsoft, too, because they just bought the company. As a
result, the free beta immediately disappeared from the Lookout
web site. (Thanks to subscriber Gary Kuever for letting me
know.) The latest news is that due to public outcry, Microsoft
has re-instated the free beta on the MS website. I've been using
it for a week and it's a great product. It finds email within
Outlook almost instantly and I'd rate it as just as good as
Enfish. Go get it while it's free. (860KB)
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=09b835ee-16e5-4961-91b8-2200ba31ea37&displaylang=en

Tweak Your TCP Settings
Whether you use a modem or broadband, you'll get a faster
connection if you tweak your connection's TCP parameters. Among
the most important of these is MaxMTU which, in simple terms, is
the largest chunk of data you can send without it being broken
up into smaller chunks en-route. Most techies determine MaxMTU
by trial and error pinging using different packet sizes but it's
a tedious procedure and definitely not for beginners.
TCPOptimizer from SpeedGuide.net is a free utility that will do
the job for you automatically. Furthermore, it will use this
value to advise you on your other TCP settings and then apply
these values at the press of the button. There are commercial
programs that will do much the same thing but TCPOptimizer does
it just as well and is totally free. The only minus is the lack
of in-program help. However you'll find a useful FAQ at the
SpeedGuide site. (225KB)
http://www.speedguide.net/downloads.php
http://www.speedguide.net/faq_in.php?category=100

309 Megabytes of Free, High Quality Windows Software
In previous issues I've mentioned some of the outstanding free
Linux software compilations that are available but this is the
first time I've seen anything comparable for Windows. The
quality is outstanding and the range excellent. There is
software here that will handle most normal PC tasks and it's all
free. The download is in the form of a 309MB ISO file which
you'll need to burn to CD. Conventional FTP and BitTorrent
download options are available.
http://theopencd.sunsite.dk/

Another Free Way to Free Up Your Desktop
Subscriber Pat Gibney writes: "Gizmo, here is a free program
launcher I've used for years and it’s great!  Hides all your
program icons with re-locatable sidebars and takes only one
click to launch the program." Nice one, Pat. I particularly
liked the way the launch bars are invisible until you move the
curser off a screen edge. Makes for a nice clean look.  Free,
595KB.
http://www.h-menu.com/homeEN.htm

How to Check That Your System is Fully Secured
Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) is a free tool that
will scan your PC to identify any missing security updates as
well as some common security exposures. Originally designed for
corporate use, it works just fine on any Windows 2000 or XP home
machine.  Well worth downloading. 1.6MB
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/tools/mbsahome.mspx#EDAA

The Best Free Anti-Trojan Scanner
Ewido is the best of a new crop of anti-Trojan programs. On my
recent tests over at www.anti-trojan-software-reviews.com, it
emerged as one of the few products that could reliably detect
polymorphic and process injecting Trojans that were totally
missed by anti-virus products like Norton and AVG.  No, it's not
as good as TDS-3 or Trojan Hunter but you get what you pay for.
You see, the free version of Ewido doesn’t have a memory monitor
but the on-demand scanner is so good that you'll have no
complaints. The free version download is actually the same as
the paid version but after 14 days the memory monitor becomes
non-functional. I recommend all readers download the product and
scan their PCs weekly. I suspect you may be surprised at what
you will find. I've also included a link to my full Ewido review
for those who want to know more about the product prior to
downloading.  Note Ewido is for Windows NT/2K/XP only. Windows
9x/ME users should check out another anti-trojan called A
squared. It's an excellent alternative to Ewido.
http://www.ewido.net/en/  (2.2MB)
http://www.anti-trojan-software-reviews.com/review-ewido.htm
http://www.emsisoft.com/en/ (A squared)
 

MORE OF THE BEST UTILITIES IN THE PREMIUM SE EDITION
====================================================

 - How to Run an Application as a Service
 - The Best Boilerplate Text Manager
 - Best Free Startup Manager
 - The Free Encryption Utility That I Use
 - Free Version of RealMedia without the Adware
 - Genuine Security for Your PDA and Smart Phone Data
 - The Best Free Process Viewer
 - Free Utility Recovers BIOS Passwords
 - How to Analyze Your Internet Sessions
 - Free Collaboration Software
 - File Sharing Without the RIAA Watching
 - Easily Send Personal Email to Several Recipients
 - Another Way to Increase Your Street Cred
 - How to Automate Mouse Clicks
 - Send Files up to 1GB for Nix
 - Free Word DOC to PDF Converter
 - Free Utility Controls User Access to USB Drives
 - Free Network Management Tool
 - Free Utility Fixes Broken XP WinSock Installations
 - Encrypt a Message in an Application File
 - The Best Free Registry Editor
 - Get US Computer Prices Anywhere in the World
 - How to Easily Remove All Traces of Software from Your Registry
 - A Great Free Solution to Emailing Photos

-----------------------------------------------------------

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================================

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A happy, healthy and prosperous new year to all.

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Gizmo
Ian Richards
editor@techsupportalert.com

 

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