Your pointer to the very best
tech support information on the Web.
Issue 74 - 15th April 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
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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
I get quite a few letters from subscribers asking me what
are the best sources of IT information. I guess some readers
figure that if I can produce this newsletter, I must have
access to some very special resources.
Unfortunately I don't. The items in each issue are compiled or
generated from many sources. Quite often, they are the result
of my own research into a particular subject or topic that's
caught my interest. I have no master source of information I
can mine, it's mainly just a lot of hard work.
However, for those who asked, here are some of my everyday
sources. I hope one or more may prove may useful to you.
Usenet newsgroups are a mine of information but I'm afraid
you'll have to wade through a lot of haystack just to strike the
very occasional needle. If you haven't time to wade through
newsgroup posts, use the little known Google Group Search
Engine at http://www.groups.google.com. Try it, it's a great
time saver and will often get you results when all else fails.
General Web search engines are invaluable and of course
http://www.google.com is in a class by itself for search
relevance. Download the free Google browser bar from their site
too - it's a great time saver.
I've been successfully using a new search engine at
http://www.teoma.com/ that has been set up to produce even
more relevant results than Google. I must say it looks quite
promising, though at the moment the database is smaller than
Google's. Definitely a good second source when nothing shows
up on Google, though.
Meta search engines offer another backup and you should try the
very fast http://vivisimo.com. In my opinion it leaves the very
popular meta search engine http://www.dogpile.com for dead. And
if you are looking for suppliers, try the advertiser-driven
search engine at http://www.overture.com. It's often the
quickest way to find the main players.
However, without doubt, the most time effective way of staying
in touch with what's happening in IT is to subscribe to quality
newsletters in your own speciality or field. That's because the
newsletter editors have already done most of the sifting work
for you. I subscribe to literally dozens of these.
Finding relevant newsletters is not hard. Just go to a
centralized IT newsletter subscription site like FreeTechMail
at http://www.freetechmail.com, sift through the subjects that
interest you and subscribe. All the newsletters there are free
and you always have the option of unsubscribing at any time.
The more you read, the more you know. And in IT, ultimately,
you ARE what you know.
IN THIS ISSUE
1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
- Free Office Clipart
- Automatic Password Resets
- Flexible Favourites
- E2K XML Web Services Toolkit
- Free Outlook Add-In
- Advanced Registry Tracer
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
- Cumulative IE5/6 Patch
- Win2k Domain Controller Patches
- WinXP Unchecked Buffer
- Overcoming Disabled Scripting
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
- FrameMaker 7
- StarOffice 6
- Red Hat Advanced Server
- Those Enron Papers In Full
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES
- Excel Add-Ins
- How to Tame Outlook 2000
1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
This excellent paid-for support site has some great free offers
at the moment, to attract new subscribers. In addition to offering
help with your problems, there are also some great articles, full
texts of lots of useful books, troubleshooting guides and more.
Free Office Clipart
Putting together a PowerPoint presentation or a Web page? Need
some new graphics to liven it up? If you're bored of the ones
that ship with MS Office, there are hundreds more on the Web
that you can use for free. And these ones, on the official
Microsoft site, integrate with Office and automatically install
themselves on your PC ready to use.
Automatic Password Resets
Plagued by users who keep forgetting their passwords? Here's
a product that will save helpdesk staff loads of time.
Password Station asks the user a series of personal questions
in order to verify the identity. Assuming these are answered
correctly, the program resets the user's password without
the need for intervention by a helpdesk person. Simple, eh?
The trouble with keeping your URL favourites on your local PC
is that you can't use them anywhere else. Surely it would be
better to keep them online somewhere, so that you can access
them from any PC in the office, or any Internet terminal in
any hotel in the world? Here's a site that lets you do just
that. And because favourites are only of use when you're online,
the fact that you can't get to your favourites unless you're
online really isn't a problem. Er, if you see what I mean.
E2K XML Web Services Toolkit
Microsoft has launched a free toolkit "to allow developers to
bring contextual collaboration to .NET-based applications using
Exchange 2000". The toolkit includes sample code, how-to
video clips, and other training material. Which is handy, because
our experience of .NET is that it's incredibly hard to learn and
is going to frustrate most existing developers.
Free Outlook Add-In
Microsoft has released a free add-in for Outlook XP called
Pocket Contact Synchronizer. It helps sync your PDA with
your Outlook contact database.
Advanced Registry Tracer
If you want to troubleshoot a PC, being able to monitor
registry access is a great help. Here's a tool that will
help you. Rather than running in real time, and possibly
slowing down the PC, it takes 2 snapshots of selected parts
of the registry and then lets you compare the "before"
and "after" versions. You could, of course, do this by
exporting the registry and comparing the 2 text files, but
this program makes it easier.
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
Cumulative IE5/6 Patch
Microsoft has issued a new cumulative patch for Internet
Explorer 5.01, 5.5 and 6.0 which fixes all existing
security problems plus 2 new ones. If you're a regular
user of IE, especially on a machine that's not firewalled,
we definitely recommend that you install this fix.
Win2k Domain Controller Patches
Microsoft has issued a patch for all machines running Windows
2000 as domain controllers. A bug could allow a hacker to
lock the Group Policy files, preventing the system from
being able to apply group policy for any users affected by
the Group Policy Object.
WinXP Unchecked Buffer
Remember how Microsoft said that there were no more unchecked
buffer problems in Windows XP? Seems they were mistaken. This
one, which also affects NT and Win2k, is in the Multiple UNC
Provider code and could allow hackers to execute code of their
choice on your servers.
Overcoming Disabled Scripting
There's been a host of new bugs discovered recently in
Microsoft Internet Explorer which allow scripts to run
even if the user has turned off the facility. Such bugs
are potentially very serious, so it's well worth reading
these advisories. The easiest way to avoid falling victim
to malicious sites which use the technique is to disable
scripting of ActiveX objects.
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
Adobe has launched version 7 of FrameMaker, its high-end
publishing software for Windows and Mac. The new version
makes XML easier to use, and also includes all the extra
functionality that was previously only available in the
FrameMaker+SGML product. FrameMaker Server, a new member
of the family, now gives companies the ability to produce
personalised data-driven content for output to print or PDF.
Sun is allowing access to beta versions of version 6 of StarOffice,
its Office suite for Linux and Unix and Windows which provides a
real alternative to Microsoft's more expensive product. Sadly, Sun
seems to have decided that its original plan to keep the product
free of charge was unsupportable, so you'll now have to pay.
Red Hat Advanced Server
The success of Linux continues, this time into the world
of big corporate servers. Red Hat has launched an Advanced Server
version of Linux, developed with support from companies such
as Oracle, designed to compete with the corporate versions of
Windows. Prices start at US$800 per server.
Those Enron Papers In Full
If you're following the Enron bankruptcy, then you'll love
this site. It's a central repository holding all the published
paperwork in the case. Ideal reading for lawyers and insomniacs.
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES FROM ITP
One of Excel's most useful features is the idea of add-ins.
April's issue of PC Support Advisor, to be published soon,
includes a great articles that explains all about how to
obtain and use some great add-ins to make Excel even more
powerful. Read the full article right now, for free.
How to Tame Outlook 2000
The forthcoming April edition of PC Network Advisor includes
a useful article on making Outlook 2000 behave just the way
you want it to. Get this superb tutorial before everyone else,
by logging into the PCNA website right now. It's free.
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