Your pointer to the very best
tech support information on the Web.
Issue 72 - 15th March 2002
Welcome to Support Alert, the email newsletter that
points you to the best technical support resources
on the Internet.
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Support Alert is sponsored by PC Support Advisor and
PC Network Advisor, the standard reference sources for
Check out the following free tutorials available now
* Understanding TCP/IP
* How to Dual Boot Windows 2000
* Understanding the OSI 7 Layer Model
* The Windows Registry Explained
* How to Create Bootable CDs
* IPv6 Tutorial
Plus dozens more.
FROM THE EDITOR
Although I've worked in offices that have had UPS protection on
PCs, I'd never thought about getting a UPS for my home PC. Sure,
I've suffered occasional power cuts and brownouts over the
years, and have lost small amounts of work in progress, but nothing
catastrophic. And anyway, I always assumed that UPSes were huge,
expensive, heavy, and not really necessary for domestic PCs.
Now I can hear what you're thinking. You reckon I'm about
you about the huge power surge which recently wrecked my expensive
PC and wiped the entire hard disk. Well, you'd be wrong. There
was no surge and my data is perfectly intact, thank you for asking.
But it just so happens that, a few weeks ago, I was browsing through
my local computer store and I came across some UPSes. They were
small, cheap, made by a well-known company (IBM), and very tempting.
So tempting, in fact, that I took the plunge and decided to buy
one, even though it wasn't something I really needed or wanted.
I got it home, wired it up to PC and monitor, tested it, and then
thought nothing more about it. It really was a fit-and-forget
product and it appeared to be working just fine.
Last week, a big storm caused havoc around the town where I live.
There were no long-term power losses, but we lost power many times
for just a fraction of a second. Enough to severely annoy the TV
and all my clocks, plus the VCR and the hi-fi. And the lights
gave the occasional flicker, of course, just like in the movies.
But the PC? Well, it just kept on going. No loss of
system crashes, and I was able to carry on working. It was the
first time I'd actually used a UPS "in anger", and experienced it
protecting the machine I was working on.
If you're keen to buy another gadget to upgrade or improve your
desktop PC and you're thinking about Windows XP or more RAM or a
CD-RW drive or another hard disk, maybe you should think again.
You'll probably never need a UPS, but you never know.
IN THIS ISSUE
1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
- About PC Support
- PC Mechanic
- Experts Exchange
- Keep It Up
- Zone Alarm Pro v3
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
- Buffer Overrun in Windows Shell
- Grey Magic
- SMTP Authentication Bug
- Visio 2002 SR-1
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
- File Extension Database
- Turn Off those X.10 Ads!
- Trust me, I'm A Hamster
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES
- Inside the Win2k Registry
- Software for Internet Access Control
1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
Here's a useful site offering free technical support for PC
and Mac users by email. Register, ask your question, and
one of the members will send you a reply.
About PC Support
The "About..." site, which contains guides on dozens of
subjects, also includes an excellent guide to PC support.
So if your own PC is playing up, or you're a support person
looking after other people's machines, here's a useful place
The PC Mechanic site is free, though you do need to register.
Once you've done so, it's a great way to get answers to your
technical problems and queries.
An online community of more than 400,000 users and IT
professionals working together to help each other solve
problems. And it's totally free too!
There are more tech support sites at
Keep It Up
Stay Connected v4.1 is a $25 shareware program that keeps your
dial-up Internet connection alive. Many ISPs drop the line
if the connection is idle for more than a few minutes. Stay
Connected keeps the connection alive by generating occasional
activity, and by redialling if the connection is ultimately
dropped. A 21-day evaluation version can be downloaded for free.
Zone Alarm Pro v3
Zone Labs has released version 3 of the world's best-known
software firewall, ZoneAlarm Pro. As yet, the freeware version
is still at 2.6 though this may change shortly. You can download
a 30-day eval version of ZoneAlarm Pro v3, though.
If you're involved in project management and you need a Web-based
system for distributed PM tasks, you could do worse than to take
a look at Project Companion. It contains all the features you
need, and there's even a freeware version available for smaller
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
Buffer Overrun in Windows Shell
There's another buffer overrun problem in Windows, which could
lead to hackers being able to execute code of their choice
on someone's PC. If you run Windows 98, 98SE, NT or 2000 then
you need this patch, and you need it soon.
One of the most dangerous security holes in Internet Explorer
5.x and 6.0 was discovered recently. It allows a malicious
Web page to run any executable file on a visitor's PC, even
if all ActiveX and other scripting features are disabled.
You can read more about it, and find out how to prevent your
PC being affected, by checking out the link below.
SMTP Authentication Bug
Microsoft has issued a fix for Windows 2000 and also for
Exchange Server 5.5 which fixes a problem that could allow
unauthorised mail relaying. If you're running Win2k or ES5.5
then check this out.
Visio 2002 SR-1
Microsoft has released a service pack for Visio 2002, which
includes a number of bug fixes and security patches. If you're
running Visio XP, it's recommended that you download and install
this update although there are no critical fixes.
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
File Extension Database
The excellent online directory of file extensions has a new
home, necessitated by the large amounts of traffic it was
generating. This just goes to show what a useful site this
is, if you come across a file with a strange extension and
you don't know which app created it and which ones will read it.
Turn Off those X.10 Ads!
Fed up with those incredibly annoying pop-under ads for X.10
kit such as tiny Webcams? Here's a great tip that will add
a special cookie on your PC, the presence of which will disable
all X.10 pop-under ads for a month! After a month, you'll have
to visit the site again to get a new cookie. Or just hack the
cookie with a cookie editor, of course.
Trust me, I'm A Hamster
The Ideahamster Organisation is, apparently, a group of 150
people who have collaborated on a project to produce a manual
explaining how to test the security of your network. You
can download the manual for free. And no, we've no idea why
they chose such a weird name.
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES FROM ITP
Inside the Win2k Registry
In the latest issue of PC Support Advisor you can read
all about the Windows 2000 registry, and how to tweak it
to manage and tune your PC. Not a PCSA subscriber? No
problem! You can read the full article online, right here.
Software for Internet Access Control
The March issue of PC Network Advisor has a great roundup
of software for controlling employee access to the Internet.
If you want to buy such software for your business, check
it out. Non-subscribers can still access the full article
for free by clicking this link:
the small print
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