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            Issue 42 - 15th December 2000

Welcome to Support Alert, the email newsletter that
points you to the best technical support resources
on the Internet.

Support Alert is free. If you like it, why not share
the good news and email a copy to a friend or work
colleague?

Support Alert is sponsored by PC Support Advisor and
PC Network Advisor, the standard reference sources for
support professionals.

What's the secret?  What is it that thousands of
support staff in 16 countries know, that you don't.

Find out now. Take advantage of our current US$29.95
special promotional offer and try Support Advisor and
Network Advisor for yourself.

Just point your browser to http://www.itp-journals.com 
and discover the secret.

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FROM THE EDITOR

Do you use an encryption program that creates a virtual
drive?  If not, are you thinking about using such a program
in the future?  If so, you really must read this.

One of the tools that is sadly lacking from Windows NT
is a hard disk defrag utility.  Windows 2000 has one,
and so does 95 and 98 and Me, but NT has nothing.

One of the NT machines in the office was running very slow.
We decided that defragmentation was a possible cause so we
ran a check using Diskeeper, our favourite defrag tool.
It analysed the PC's drives, and reported, as expected,
that the drive was heavily fragmented.  It recommended a full
defrag run, so I went ahead and pressed the button.

One of Diskeeper's menu options lets you create and manage
an exclusion list.  This lets you inform the program about
files or directories that you don't want to defrag.  I know
all about exclusion lists, but only because I was forced to do
so by hindsight.

One of the files on the drive I defragged was a container file
for an encrypted drive.  The drive was not mounted, so existed
purely as a 4 GB file.  I assumed that no harm would come to the
container file by defragging it and that, if such files should
not be defragged, either the encryption program or Diskeeper would
be smart enough to handle this.

As you have probably guessed by now, I was wrong.  Diskeeper
defragged file container file, and this caused major corruption.
Upon mounting the encrypted drive, most of the directories
were empty.  All 4 GB of data was either lost or unreliable.

In our case, recovery was not a problem.  All the data was restored
from a backup via the office network in less than an hour.  And once
I'd added the container file to the Diskeeper exclusion list,
everything subsequently worked just fine.  But it certainly
reminded me that, in IT, there's always something else to go
wrong that you hadn't thought of before.

Have a great Christmas!  See you next year.
 

Robert Schifreen

PS:  Do you have a favourite site that you'd like to
see featured here?  If so, send details to me
at editor@itp-journals.com.

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IN THIS ISSUE

1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
    - Top 20 Netscape 6 Bugs
    - Freeware Home
    - Tools that hackers use
    - Windows Registry Guide

2. SUPPORT UTILITIES
    - MP3 to WMA Conversions
    - BlackICE Defender
    - Excel Delete Links Wizard

3. SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
    - IE 5 Template Fix
    - Buffer Overrun in SQL Server 6.5 and 2000
    - Phone Book Buffer Overflow
    - Windows 2000 Registry Permissions

4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
    - IT Case Studies
    - Opera Goes Free
    - Top 100 Products of 2000

5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES
    - Understanding PHP
    - How to choose a scanner
 

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1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
====================

Top 20 Netscape 6 Bugs
BugNet is possibly the world's largest provider of software
fixes, and reports over 500 every month.  Among the leading
stories at the moment is Cisco's security patches for 600-series
routers and the top 20 bugs in Netscape 6.
http://www.bugnet.com

Freeware Home
This excellent site has loads of freeware, including programs
of interest to support personnel.
http://www.freewarehome.com

Tools that hackers use
If you're responsible for the security of your servers,
it's crucial that you know about the automatic hacking tools
which are available.  You can then ensure that you are
prepared to handle anyone using such a tool against your
systems.  To make your life easier, there's an excellent
list of such tools available on this superb security-oriented
Web site.
http://www.insecure.org

Windows Registry Guide
Need to understand the Windows registry?  Check out this
site, for lots of useful information and tips.
http://registry.winguides.com
 

2. SUPPORT UTILITIES
====================

MP3 to WMA Conversions
Microsoft is trying hard to promote its WMA (Windows Media Audio)
as an alternative to MP3 files.  If you're looking for a program
to convert MP3 to WMA, Microsoft has answered your prayers.  Such
a facility is part of the new Windows Media Player bonus pack.
http://cgi.zdnet.com/slink?70218:12400908

BlackICE Defender
BlackICE Defender, now at version 2.1, is a personal firewall
product for Windows.  The latest release offers improved
compatibility with VPNs, and supports all 32-bit Windows.
http://cgi.zdnet.com/slink?69594:12400908

Excel Delete Links Wizard
Got a spreadsheet that has links to other files?  Having
trouble finding those links, in order that you can modify or
delete them?  Microsoft has a free add-in that will help.
http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q188/4/49.asp

3. SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
===============================

IE 5 Template Fix
Microsoft has a patch for Internet Explorer 5.x which fixes
a problem that could allow a malicious Web site to run code
on visitors' PCs.  It could also allow the Web site to view
the contents of certain files on the visitors' machines.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms00-093.asp

Buffer Overrun in SQL Server 6.5 and 2000
Microsoft has issued a fix for a buffer overrun bug in
SQL Server, which could allow arbitrary code to be run on
a machine.  You can get the patch from Microsoft's Web site.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms00-092.asp

Phone Book Buffer Overflow
A buffer overflow problem in the Windows NT4 and Windows 2000
phone book utility could allow hackers to increase their
account privileges to system administrator.  Microsoft has
issued a patch, which can be downloaded from the Web.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms00-094.asp

Windows 2000 Registry Permissions
A new security patch has been issued for Windows 2000, to
correct a problem with the wrong access permissions being
assigned to registry keys that control SNMP.  The problem
could lead to unauthorised access to SNMP devices on a network.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms00-096.asp
 

4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
=====================

IT Case Studies
A case study can be useful if you want real-life examples
of how particular products or techniques have been used.
This Web site has hundreds to read.  Unfortunately most are
contributed by the product vendors themselves, or their
PR companies, but it's still a useful site.
http://www.itcasestudies.com

Opera Goes Free
The Opera Web browser is now freeware, albeit supported
by advertising.  If you fancy a change from IE or Netscape,
why not download it and check it out?
http://www.opera.com

Top 100 Products of 2000
Computer Shopper magazine has announced its 100 top
products of the year.  So if you're in the market for
new hardware or software, check out the run-down before
placing your order.
http://cgi.zdnet.com/slink?67459:12400908

5.  TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES
==========================

Understanding PHP
Ever wondered why some Web pages have a php extension instead
of htm?  You can find out all about the php scripting language
in the December issue of PC Network Advisor.  And if you don't
subscribe, you can still read the full article online at
http://www.pcnetworkadvisor.com.

How to choose a scanner
Choosing a document scanner is not as easy as it might
first appear.  There are dozens of combinations of options.
Making the wrong choice may cost you dearly.  The current
issue of PC Support Advisor has a detailed article on how
to choose the right scanner for you and your users.  Read
it for free at http://www.pcsupportadvisor.com.
 

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                  ABOUT SUPPORT ALERT

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