PC Alert
Pointing you to the information you need to know
Issue 19 - November 1999

Essential Internet

Recommended sites with important new PC information,
helpful resource files and other items of interest.

Service Pack 6 for Windows NT is now out.  A 34.5 MB download, containing a miscellany of new fixes including some non-critical Y2K updates.   If you don't want to download it, and you're a PCNA subscriber, you'll find the file on the CD-ROM supplied free with PCNA 114.

Office 97 SR2B
You know all about Service Pack 2 for MS Office 97.  Now, there's pack 2b.  It has a few new non-critical fixes, but there are so many reported problems with it that most people are recommending that you don't touch it.  If you insist, you'll find it on Microsoft's site.

NT Security Guidelines
Trusted Systems, a US company specialising in security, has a very useful document on how to configure NT for optimum security.  This long, valuable document, which was written in conjunction with the NSA, can be downloaded for free.

Forum Directory
Lots of Web sites now have online discussion forums, providing the power of Usenet with the friendliness of Web browsing.  ForumOne has a directory of over 300,000 Web-based forums - an ideal place to start a research project.

Sniff This
You'll swear this is a joke, but apparently it's not.  The next big thing to hit Web browsing will, apparently, be smells.  A small box sits on your desk, containing various jars of oils and some small fans.  It'll mix and radiate smells rather like an inkjet printers makes thousands of colours from 4 pots of ink.

Personal Web Storage
iDrive is a free site that lets you create your own virtual, private disk drive on the host's server.  You can then copy whatever you like onto the drive.  And the service is free.  A great way to swap files with colleagues who are away from the office if you can't get to grips with email attachments, but make sure you use some decent encryption just in case someone's watching.  You can even host Web pages from your iDrive.

Ten Four
You've installed a sound card on a user's PC and you're looking for something fun to test it with.  Fire up the Web browser and listen to live real-time intercepted traffic from the police radios in LA and New York.

McAfee Clinic
McAfee Clinic is a new product for protecting users' PCs from crashes and viruses, and it will also scan the machine for outdated applications and DLLs.  It'll even detect unnecessary files on the hard disk and offer to delete them in order to save space.  And it all runs online.

HTML Reference
Looking for a good book on HTML?  Don't bother.  The reference pages on this Web site are as good as anything you can buy off the shelf, in our opinion.

MS Java Update
Microsoft has updated the JVM, the Java Virtual Machine behind Windows and IE.  The fix plugs a hole that could allow a malicious Java app to do things that Java apps aren't supposed to be able to do on the client PC.  You should download the latest version and consider rolling it out to your users who have Internet access.

Mailing List Directory
Looking for some interesting mailing lists to join?  This site has a directory of around 100,000 lists worldwide.

Cobol?  Script?
We've had VBScript, and Javascript.  Now, CobolScript.  Put Cobol routines in Web pages!

Security Patch for IE5
Microsoft has a patch for IE5, to fix a hole that could allow a malicious Web site to read files on a client PC.

Y2K is almost here
2000 is almost upon us.  If you haven't checked your critical systems and applications, now might be a good time to do so.  Microsoft's Web site has a large section that explains which of the company's products are compliant and which need updating.

Acrobat Password Recovery
There are various Web sites around that will sell you programs to crack the passwords on files created by Excel, Word, 1-2-3, Quicken, and more.  Now, someone's worked out how to crack password-protected Acrobat PDF files.  $500 a crack, payment in advance, results guaranteed or your money back.

Now here's a useful idea.  An Excel add-on that lets you produce reports from Access databases.

Fix for Corrupted Office Files
Got a user with a corrupted MS Office document?  Tried the built-in filter for raw text recovery and got nowhere?  Try this site, which has programs designed to help you.

Tips By Mail
Sign up for any of these free email newsletters, and receive tech tips by email every day.

Embedding Fonts in HTML
If you design an HTML page and you specify a font that isn't present on the user's PC, your page won't appear as you intended it to.  Wouldn't it be good if you could embed fonts in HTML pages.  Good news...

Web Site Design Search Engine
JowExpert.com is a new search engine, dedicated entirely to HTML programming and Web site design.

Technical Help Online
Help.com is a new resource for tech support staff, with answers to thousands of questions available online.

Disaster Recovery Directory
The Disaster Recovery Yellow Pages lists over 3000 companies that have products to help you recover from anything from a virus infection to an earthquake-hit office.

Essential Reading

Our pick of the best of the world’s IT press articles this month.

Head-to-head comparative reviews
24 17-inch monitors      PC World,  November      http://www.pcworld.com
100 600-MHz AMD Athlon PCs PC World,  November http://www.pcworld.com
10 Colour printers PC World,  November http://www.pcworld.com
2 Windows terminals Windows NT Mag, October http://www.winntmag.com
12 remote control apps for NT Windows NT Mag, October http://www.winntmag.com
7 email servers PC Magazine, 2nd November http://www.pcmag.com
3 Groupware packages PC Magazine, 2nd November http://www.pcmag.com

Rent, don't buy
Some say that the future of software is rental rather than purchase.  After all, when you buy software today you are merely buying a licence to use it, so why not have the licences controlled centrally and access the software down the Internet?  The 2nd November issue of PC Magazine examines the issue and looks at what will happen in the future.

PC Upgrade Guide
In November's issue of PC World, a major feature on PC Upgrades.  Lots of  ideas on how to breathe new life into a user's PC by replacing the CPU, hard disk etc, or adding new peripherals such as USB support.

Choosing an Email server for business
Email is crucial to modern business, and your choice of server software and provider is critical.  The 2nd November issue of PC Magazine examines the subject and reviews 7 products.

Beating the Spam
Everyone gets plagued by unwanted email.  A good feature in November's issue of PC World explains how the magazine went out of its way to attract spam, and then reports on which products and services were best at blocking it all again.

PC Purchasing Guide
There are lots of  new chip sets and RAM types available, and it's more easy than ever to buy hardware which is not up to the job.  A useful article in November's PC World will put you right.

NT Security Special Issue
In October's Windows NT Magazine, a collection of features on security.  Topics covered include firewalls, Kerberos, smartcards, proxy server security, workstation shares, and more.  Essential reading if you're involved in the security of an NT installation.  

Security Toolkit
Also in October's Windows NT Magazine, pointers to lots of useful security-related tools from commercial sources as well as downloadable from the Internet.  From firewalls to intrusion detection to ACL dump utilities. 

Best NT Practices
And also in October's Windows NT Magazine, an article on NT Best Practices contains lots of useful tips on how best to organise users' machines in order to make life as straightforward as possible for help desk staff.  Plus, how to use the script policy settings to define and apply common NT scripts to multiple users.

Getting Started with WinSock
Windows Sockets is the easy way to write programs that communicate over private TCP/IP networks and/or the Internet.  An article in October's issue of Windows Developer's Journal shows how it's done.  

A GINA is a component of the NT login process that you can customise.  It's how those fingerprint readers add the necessary functionality to the operating system, for example.  An article in October's issue of Windows Developer's Journal explains more about the GINA, and shows how to write your own if you need to add additional security features to NT.

Security on Linux
All Unix boxes need security to prevent and detect unauthorised access, and Linux is no exception.  The October issue of SysAdmin magazine looks at security on Linux and explains what you need to do to safeguard your systems.

Balancing Flexibility and Support
Also in the October issue of SysAdmin magazine, tips on how to balance user requirements and the needs of support staff in a Unix environment.



About PC Alert

PC Alert is published monthly by Email, by International Technology Publishing.  Its function is to save PC and networking support personnel the tedious task of browsing the Internet and wading through magazines just to find the occasional item of interest.  PC Alert saves you time, saves you money and keeps you ahead of the game.

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Copyright International Technology Publishing 1999.