FROM THE EDITOR
People do such strange things. So strange that sometimes I
think I really must be living on Mars. Try this:
Every time we send out an issue of this newsletter we get
lots of mail returned by corporate spam filters that have
taken objection to some word or phrase in the particular
issue. Usually I can work out what term is triggering the
response. Mostly it's something really dumb, like in one
issue, where we jokingly referred to USB as an acronym for
"You son of a b-tch."
But after a recent issue, I got lots of bounces and I just
couldn't see what the spam filters were objecting to. So
in desperation, I rang an Email Manager who had
conveniently put his phone number on the bounce message.
This is the conversation that took place when I asked him
why the message was bounced:
"It got bounced because it contained the word 'Spam'."
(Shocked pause from me.)
"But that makes no sense. you can't stop spam by filtering
messages that containing the word 'spam'. That's confusing
the word with the thing it describes."
(Long pause from him.)
"It's because spam often includes the phrase 'this is not
"But lots of genuine messages say that too."
"I know, but at least we kill the spam."
"But what about all the genuine mail you filter out?"
"Tough. People get too much email anyway."
"That's a strange attitude, particularly from someone who's
job is Email Manager."
"Best way to manage it, is to reduce it. The less the
better. People just have too much. Most of my users
wouldn't complain if I filtered out all their email."
"OK then, why not add the word 'the' to your email filter."
"That's not such a bad idea you know."
End of conversation.
Now I told you that I must be living on Mars.
But at least I don't have to worry about offending the
Martians. Our Email Manager friend will never see this
newsletter. It contains the word "spam".
PS. As promised, I've finally finished my review of the
best anti-trojan programs. I'm not yet making it publicly
available but subscribers to this newsletter can read the
review at this private URL on our web site. If you have
been thinking about buying an anti-trojan program, this
review will give you all the information you need. Please
let me know if you find any typos.
IN THIS ISSUE
1. TOP TECH SITES
- Shrink Those URLs
- Shortened Survey
- Solving Windows Install and Reinstall Problems
- How Does Your PC Rate?
- New Paid Support Service Offers Five Day Free Trial
- Icons to Burn
- Now Where Did I Put That Email?
- Enhance your Launch Bar
- Open HTML Email Safely
- Stop Pop-Ups and Just About Anything Else
- Previewing Mail In Outlook
- Google Toolbar For Mozilla
- Audit the Security of Your Web Server
- Test Your Firewall
- An Essential Utility
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
- Microsoft Fiddles While Rome Burns
- More Fiddling - Microsoft 'fesses Up
- New Internet Explorer Cumulative Security Patch
- ActiveX Buffer Over-run Patch
- Latest Cumulative SQL Server 7 & 2000 Patch
- Security Patch for Office Web Components
- P2P File Sharers be Warned: Another KaZaa Virus
- Google Search Bar Concerns
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
- Bridge Linking Wired Ethernet Systems to Wi-Fi
- Speed-up Internet Access with Windows XP
- Netscape 7 and Mozilla 1.1 Browsers Released
- New Version of Quicken
- Wi-Fi or Hi-Fry?
- The Mouse That Flies
- Humans Beat Computers
- Bad News for We Geeks
- Even More Bad News
1. TOP TECH SITES
Shrink Those URLs
With every issue of Support Alert I get messages from
subscribers saying that a particular link doesn't work.
Almost always the link works fine but the subscriber's
email reader has wrapped a long URL link over two or more
lines. TinyURL offers a free redirection service so that
you can give a short URL that redirects to a really long
one. I've used it for some long URLs in this issue.
Here's an example of URL shortening. Both links below will
take you to the same location - our survey of what
subscribers would like to see in future issues of Support
Alert. While you are there, fill in the survey, it takes
less than 60 seconds.
Solving Windows Install and Reinstall Problems
This whole site is dedicated to Windows installation
problems. The range of how-to's is quite extensive with
step by step instructions and screen shots. I found the
article on installing XP on a blank drive pretty
useful. There are a lot of ads and they'll try and sell
you their CD but this does not detract from the usefulness
of the site.
How Does Your PC Rate?
If you think you've got the fastest PC on the block then it
will need to be even zippier than this Asus 3.2GHz machine.
It's based on a P4B5333 motherboard capable of keeping the
PCI and memory clock at sane speeds while overclocking the
front-side bus and CPU. Just one of many interesting
hardware articles at this free site.
New Paid Support Service Offers Five Day Free Trial
This new tech support service offers 24 hour a day phone
and email support. The rates are reasonable, the operation
is professional and the five day trial attractive. I took
advantage of the trial and dumped on them a problem I have
been unable to solve for months. To their credit they
persevered and finally came up with an answer. I was
impressed. They probably weren't when I cancelled before
the five days expired. None the less - recommended.
Icons to Burn
Now you can select the perfect icon rather than accept a
compromise choice from the limited set offered by Windows.
Here's a free collection of over 5000 quality icons, sorted
into categories and downloadable in a single zip file.
Where to Buy Obscure Cables
This site specialises in cables for PDAs, Cell phones and
PC Cards and has a great range of AC Adapters as well.
Disposable Email Addresses
This site is specially set up to make the creation and
management of disposable email addresses really easy. You
can even create new addresses just by clicking on an icon
in your web browser toolbar.
Know some great tech sites? Send them in to
Now Where Did I Put That Email?
Long time subscriber Lex D. writes "a common problem for
users is finding and cross referencing information
scattered between email, word processing documents,
contacts and other sources. Enfish Find locates it and ties
it all together so efficiently and seamlessly that the
location becomes almost irrelevant. Occasionally you do
find software that really does simplify life." Well I'd
never hear of this product before Lex wrote but now that
I've tried it, it's going to be a permanent fixture on my
machine. It allows me search all my email folders,
including archives, in less than one second and that's only
a small part of it's capabilities. Enough said, try it.
Enhance your Launch Bar
True Launch Bar 1.2 is a small Explorer add-in that packs a
lot of new functionality into the quick launch region of
your taskbar. I've added in just about all my commonly
used programs, functions and folders all neatly ordered
into hierarchies and accessible via popup menus. Sort of
like the Start/all programs menu but customized to meet my
Open HTML Email Safely
I hate opening HTML email. Despite multiple layers of
protection I just know that one day some cunning new
exploit is going to get me. That's why I'm so enthusiastic
about PocketKnife Peek, a small free Outlook add-in that
allows you to preview your HTML email as text. Recommended.
Stop Pop-Ups and Just About Anything Else
The Proxomitron is an impressive free utility that allows
you to transform Web pages on the fly. You can stop pop-ups,
pop-unders, ads, flash animations, status bar scrollers and
just about anything else. Next time you are asked what
pop-up stopper you use, you can answer; "why, I use
The Proxomitron". Now how cool is that.
Previewing Mail In Outlook
We've previously mentioned MailWasher (www.mailwasher.net)
as a great solution to previewing and filtering your email
prior to downloading into Outlook or other email client.
However there is a basic, though well hidden, preview
facility called Remote Mail already built into both Outlook
2000 (in Corporate/Workgroup mode) and Outlook 2002. It
doesn't allow you to bounce spam but it does allow on-
server deletion of unwanted material. Very handy when
travelling and connected to the Internet through expensive
hotel lines. To learn how to enable this little known
feature, type "remote mail" into Outlook help or check here:
Google Toolbar For Mozilla
I've been using the free Mozilla 1.1 browser recently and
have been quietly impressed. My only complaint has
been the absence of the Google tool bar. But now's there's a
clone and it works just fine.
Audit the Security of Your Web Server
N-Stealth 3.5 is a Web vulnerability assessment product
that will really test out your Web server security. The
software comes with an extensive database of over 19,000
vulnerabilities and exploits. I tried it out on three
hosting services and N-Stealth found vulnerabilities in all
three. You can download a full working version for free but
updates to the vulnerability database are by subscription.
Test Your Firewall
Robin Keir has written this little (13KB) demonstration
program called Firehole to illustrate how a malicious
trojan could disguise itself as a trusted application to
transmit information straight through your firewall. My
firewall didn't know what happened. Test it on yours.
An Essential Utility
Directory Toolkit is a brilliant shareware utility that
allows you to easily compare directories and files. All
differences are clearly shown in a side-by-side, two window
display. It's great for synchronizing directories and for
comparing different versions of the same file, including
programming source files. It also has a wide range of file
management functions including file concatenation. Should
be part of every user's toolkit.
Got some favourite utilities? Why not share the news? Send
your top picks to firstname.lastname@example.org
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
Microsoft Fiddles While Rome Burns
We reported last issue that Microsoft was down-playing the
significance of SSL flaws with its software. Quote: "Such
(exploiting) techniques are difficult, temporary, and
generally require favourable network (layout)." Meanwhile a
security expert staged a demonstration for Reuters, in
which he broke into three Swedish banking systems in quick
succession by utilizing the SSL weakness. Full story here:
More Fiddling - Microsoft 'fesses Up
Computerworld claims Microsoft have finally admitted
that the recently disclosed Secure Sockets Layer
vulnerability is caused by the Windows operating system,
not Internet Explorer. MS is apparently quietly working on
New Internet Explorer Cumulative Security Patch
On August 22 Microsoft released a new Internet Explorer
patch covering six vulnerabilities, the most serious of
which could allow an attacker to execute commands on a
user's system. Versions affected are 5.01,5.5 and 6.
All users of these versions are advised to apply the patch
immediately. The patch can be obtained here:
ActiveX Buffer Over-run Patch
This patch has two components: One for Web sites hosting
TSAC ActiveX services and the other for end-users. Web
sites should apply the patch at the address given below.
End-users should apply the cumulative Internet Explorer
security patch above.
Latest Cumulative SQL Server 7 & 2000 Patch
Microsoft has released a new cumulative patch for SQL
Server and 2000 that resolves a number of previously
identified vulnerabilities (including buffer overflow) plus
a newly identified vulnerability. Patches are available now
for download and application.
Security Patch for Office Web Components
Office Web components are utilized by a raft of Microsoft
products including Office 2000/XP, BackOffice Server 2000
and Money 2000/2002 to name just a few. This critical
security patch covers three vulnerabilities the most serious
of which could allow an attacker to run commands on the
user's system. More details here:
P2P File Sharers be Warned: Another KaZaa Virus
Kaspersky Labs reports the detection of the network worm
Duload, which is spreading across the KaZaa file-exchange
network. The worm is technically a trojan horse. It
pretends to be one of several dozen popular files shared by
KaZaa users including Winzip.exe, Winrar.exe, System
Monitor.exe and The Sims Game Crack.exe. At this stage the
worm appears to do little other than replicate itself.
Check out your anti-virus program vendor for updates.
Google Search Bar Concerns
Greymagic have issued an advisory concerning flaws in the
popular Google Tool Bar which could allow an attacker to
read local files and execute a local program. A new version
of the Toolbar is available now from Google and should be
installed by anyone running versions 1.1.58 and prior.
Uninstall the old version before upgrading.
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
Bridge Linking Wired Ethernet Systems to Wi-Fi
I received this interesting press release from LinkSys
about a $129 device that allows wired Ethernet devices to
communicate with 802.11b wireless network devices. Can see
lot's of uses for this, both in the home and office. Cheap
Speed-up Internet Access with Windows XP
The XP QoS Packet scheduler limits the system to 20% of
the bandwidth of a connection. This article describes how
you can overide it.
Netscape 7 and Mozilla 1.1 Browsers Released
Mozilla 1.1 beta has now become a full release. It features
better performance and stability plus a raft of small
enhancements. It's looking real good. Netscape 7 is also
out, based on Mozilla 1.0.1. I haven't tried it yet. If you
have, please let me know what you think.
New Version of Quicken
Quicken users should check out the new version called
predictably enough, Quicken 2003. New features include
financial planning guidance and scheduled automatic
downloads of your financial data.
Wi-Fi or Hi-Fry?
"Health officials in California are about to open a
Pandora's box for the electric utility industry. They will
soon issue the strongest, most sweeping warning to date on
potential health risks from exposure to electromagnetic
fields from power lines, appliances and electrified
transportation systems, among many other sources." From:
The Mouse That Flies
Gyration have developed a cordless, motion sensing mouse
that can be used in the air. Guess it really cuts down on
mouse pad wear. While at their site, check out the neat
wireless keyboard with a 100ft range.
Humans Beat Computers
If you feel demoralized by computers beating International
Grandmasters at chess then take heart. With Go, the
Japanese board game, a relative novice can defeat the most
powerful computer program available. If you have never
played Go you are missing something. An ancient game of
strategy rather than tactics, its simple rules can be
learned in five minutes. You can download a computer
version of the game at the address below and it comes with
an excellent tutor as well. The real game is played on a
19*19 board while this demo is only 9*9. Beware! This game
is very, very addictive.
Back to the Grind
Charge your cell phone by hand with Motorola's FreeCharge a
mechanical wind-up style device that converts your manual
labour into electricity. You'll spend 45 seconds grinding
in order to get 4-6 minutes of talk time.
Bad News for We Geeks
An upsurge in autism cases diagnosed in Silicon Valley has
led researchers to speculate that geek and autism genes
may be linked. Maybe this explains all that catatonic
Even More Bad News
Australian clinical psychologist Tony Attwood goes further
and links geeks with Asperger syndrome (AS), a neuro-
biological disorder, which resembles mild autism. "The link
between AS and computers is well known. Computers were
designed by - and for - people with AS. Those with AS seem
to know the language of computers better than social or
Got some top sites and services to suggest? Send them in
Make Your Mark on the Future
Do you like some of the items that appear in this
newsletter more than others? Then let me know by filling
in this quick on-line survey. It takes less than 60
seconds to complete and your responses will shape the
future of this newsletter.
Trojan Survey Now Online
If you load new programs onto your PC, you need a trojan
detector otherwise one day you will be caught. Find out the
best products in our just-released survey.
The Small Print
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