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Issue 95 - 27th March, 2003
Support Alert is a 100% subscription-only
Quote of the Week
"The road of good intentions is paved with Hell."
By Spencer Ante, who clearly was anticipating the problems of
teaching end-users to regularly back up their data.
I've told you about Bayesian spam filters before. I've now spent
5 months using them and here's what I've found:
Each of the Bayesian filters I tried easily out-performed the
best classification style filters such as SpamKiller and
When I say "outperformed" I really mean thrashed. There was no
The Bayesian filters not only correctly identified way more
spam; they also rarely misclassified my real mail as spam.
And because Bayesian spam filters are quick learners, they were
far better at detecting spam specially crafted by spammers to
get through traditional classification filters such as SpamGuard.
I looked at five filters: POPFile, Spammunition, Spam Bully,
Disruptor OL and SpamAssassin. The latter two are hybrid
classification and Bayesian filters.
On my PC, the top-performing spam filter was POPFile. It was the
very first I tried but in the end it proved to be the best.
Its performance was staggeringly good. Maybe I should say
staggeringly good, because it's now staying permanently on my PC.
With POPFile in place, I have seen only 1 spam message in over
three weeks. That's pretty amazing when you consider I get 150
messages a day with 30% or more being Spam.
In the same time period I didn't have one false positive. That
is, POPFile didn't ever wrongly classify any of my real mail as
spam. Again, an amazing performance.
Mind you, I was able to train POPFile on my personal collection
of over 2,000 spam messages and 3,000 real mail messages. If you
haven't been saving your spam, you'll have to train POPFile to
learn the difference between your real mail and spam as your
mail comes in. Depending on your mail volume, it may take you a
while to reach the accuracy levels I've achieved.
Now the really good news: POPFile is free, works with any POP
mail client and is available for several different platforms,
POPFile acts as a POP proxy server that sits between your real
mail server and your mail client. That's why it will work with
pretty well any POP email program.
The product has its own browser-based interface but a number of
different third party add-ons are available that will integrate
the product directly into your mail reader. I use OutClass, a
free program that provides POPFile buttons in Microsoft Outlook.
Check out the POPFile forums for add-ons for other popular mail
Don't wait any longer. Go get POPFile and as the ads say, "wave
goodbye to spam."
POPFile => http://popfile.sourceforge.net/
POPFile Forums => http://sourceforge.net/forum/?group_id=63137
OutClass => http://www.vargonsoft.com/
IN THIS ISSUE
1. TOP TECH SITES
- Black Hole for Spam
- Special Deal for Support Alert Readers
- Great Free Support Site
- Tips and Tricks Galore
- Remove Unused DLLs
- Forward Web Mail to Your POP Account
- Debug Software Problems
- Easy to Use Backup Utility
- Batch Process Digital Images for Free
3. SECURITY PATCHES, SERVICE RELEASES AND UPDATES
- Windows 2000 Server Vulnerability (MS03-007)
- Windows 2000 Server Vulnerability Part 2
- Windows Scripting Engine Flaw (MS03-008)
- Flaw in ISA Server DNS Intrusion Detection Filter (MS03-009)
- Update to Windows Update (KB 814033)
- Linux Kernel Vulnerability
- New SpyBot Released
- New Kaspersky AV Suite
- MailWasher Upgraded to V3.0
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
- Cheap Videoconferencing
- Enhanced Version of Hit Game for Free
- Add-ons for Your Brain
- The Future of IT Revealed
5. FREEBIE OF THE WEEK
- Get RealAudio Without the Real Pain
1. TOP TECH SITES
Black Hole for Spam
Here's a neat idea: a free service that provides you with a
special kind of temporary email address. Initially, all mail is
forwarded to your real address. Then, after two hours, any more
mail is deleted. Great for those annoying web sites that insist
on you registering.
Special Deal for Support Alert Readers
PestPatrol always manages to find more spyware, adware and other
pests on my PC than any other product but at $39.95 it's too
expensive for many folks. I've just managed to cut a once-off
deal for you, dear readers, where you can get the product for
$24.95. This, I believe, is the lowest price available. I
managed to get you this bargain price by forgoing any commission
for myself, so take advantage of the opportunity. It won't be
Great Free Support Site
I've mentioned this great site before but after using their
services last week, I was again impressed with the service.
They quickly solved an annoying problem that had been bugging me
Tips and Tricks Galore
This site features an excellent collection of Windows tips taken
from the PCstats forums. I particularly liked the registry patch
for removing those annoying entries in the "Add/Remove programs"
menu that hang around long after the program has been
Got some top sites to suggest? Send them to
Remove Unused DLLs
Over time most PCs become cluttered up with the unwanted
remainders of long deleted programs. DLL Archive is a free
utility that will scan your PC for DLLs that are no longer
referenced. You can then archive the unwanted programs away or
delete them entirely. Archived items can easily be restored to
their original location if any problems arise. (227KB)
Forward Web Mail to Your POP Account
With Yahoo and Hotmail now charging for forwarding your web mail
to your POP3 account, you might like to check out Email Forward,
a nifty shareware utility that will do the same thing at lower
cost. Email Forward will check up to 20 Hotmail, MSN, Yahoo or
POP accounts and forward messages to designated POP accounts.
Operation can be either manually initiated or automatically
scheduled. Setup is extremely straight-forward and on my Windows
XP Pro machine it worked like a charm. A version for MAC is also
available. The product costs a mere $15 and a free 30-day trial
version is available.
Debug Software Problems
Thanks to long time subscriber Jeff Partidge for this item:
"PE Explorer by Heavenware is simply made to order for those who
have a broken program, be they programmer or support tech, and
want to find out what went astray. It gives experienced users
the power to look inside Windows PE binary files such as EXEs
and DLLs. It comes with a PE Header Viewer, Exported/Imported
API Function List Viewer, API Function Syntax Lookup, Resource
Viewer/Editor, Dependency Scanner and Disassembler. I
investigated a number of executables and I was able to look at
all the DLL's involved and scan for other interdependencies with
a minimum of effort. I may not use this program every day, but
we all know how many times our days are soaked up by fiddling
with software bugs." At $129 it's not cheap, but when you take
into account the time this tool can save, it's good value. A 30-
day trial is available. (2.23MB)
Easy to Use Backup Utility
I've just finished reviewing 11 different home/small office
backup utilities for an upcoming report. Having reduced the
field down to the best three, I decided to send these top
programs out to some end-users to get their feedback. The
product they thought easiest to use was WinBackup from
Liutilities. This is a shareware product with a raft of features
as long as your arm and at $29.95 it's great value for money.
My only beef is that it stores backed up files in a proprietary
file format so you need a working copy of Winbackup in order to
restore your data. That aside, it is an impressive piece of
work. A 30-day trial version is available. (1.84MB)
Batch Process Digital Images for Free
ThumbNail Refinery LE is a free utility that will quickly
process and resize your digital images so you can send them by
email or mount them as thumbnails in a gallery. It can write all
popular formats including JPG and PCX and allows control over a
variety of parameters including rotation, size, color depth,
sharpness, brightness and contrast. It's fast, it's stable, and
itís free. (1.55MB)
Got some favorite utilities to suggest? Send them to
3. SECURITY PATCHES, SERVICE RELEASES AND UPDATES
Windows 2000 Server Vulnerability (MS03-007)
Microsoft has released a critical level advisory covering a
buffer overflow problem for IIS 5.0 on Windows 2000 servers. By
sending a specially formed HTTP request, an attacker could gain
control of the server or cause it to fail. A patch is available
although the patch itself has caused problems on some machines.
Microsoft has now revised the advisory to address these
Windows 2000 Server Vulnerability Part 2
While MS has claimed that the vulnerability mentioned above only
applies to IIS 5.0, other researchers differ. Numerous reports
have been posted at BUGTRAQ including one from David Litchfield
of the UK-based NGSS. Litchfield argues that IIS is simply one
attack vector of many that can be used to exploit the
vulnerability - "Likely areas will be non-Microsoft Web and FTP
servers, IMAP servers, anti-virus solutions and other Microsoft
Windows Scripting Engine Flaw (MS03-008)
This "critical" level advisory from MS covers a flaw in the
Scripting Engine used in all versions of Windows from Windows 98
onwards. Using a specially crafted web page or HTML email, an
attacker could effectively gain control of the victimís computer
with the same privileges as the user. A patch is available.
Flaw in ISA Server DNS Intrusion Detection Filter (MS03-009)
Microsoft has issued a moderate rated advisory covering a flaw
in the Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server
2000 software. "An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by
sending a specially formed request to an ISA Server computer
that is publishing a DNS server, which could then result in a
denial of service to the published DNS server." For more details
and the patch, click the link below.
Update to Windows Update (KB 814033)
This patch fixes a problem with the Windows 2000 and XP Updater
that prevents updated drivers from correctly installing. If you
are having other problems with Windows Update, try the Update
Troubleshooter at the second link below.
Linux Kernel Vulnerability
A flaw in the Linux Kernel versions 2.2.x before 2.2.25, and
2.4.x before 2.4.21 could allow an attacker to take control of a
machine with full privileges. The flaw affects a number of Linux
implementations including Red Hat Versions 7.1 to 7.3 and 8.0. A
patch is available from Red Hat.
New SpyBot Released
Version 1.2 of my favorite free spyware remover has just been
released. It features a host of new features including a greatly
improved interface and a real time monitor that "immunizes" your
PC against new infestations. If you are using 1.1, you really
should upgrade and if you aren't yet using SpyBot, now is the
New Kaspersky AV Suite
KAV has long had a reputation of being one of the top products
for detecting viruses and possibly the best AV program for
detecting trojans. However, high resource usage and a clunky
user interface have been major drawbacks. With the release of
4.5 Lite, Kaspersky has tried to address both these problems and
early indications suggest they may well have succeeded. If so,
4.5 Lite will be a major challenger to Norton and McAfee. A
free trial version is available.
MailWasher Upgraded to V3.0
Whenever I'm traveling, I use MailWasher to preview my email on
my mail server before downloading. It's the quickest way I know
to check for any important messages and has the added advantage
that you can kill any spam, viruses and unwanted large
attachments right on the server. MailWasher has always been
freeware but with the release of Version 3, it's now $29.95
shareware and re-branded under the "Firetrust" name. I must be
honest and say that V3 is not all that different to V2 so
there's not much incentive to fork out for the new version.
However, as all new development will be focused on the shareware
version, this situation may change in the future. Meantime, if
you are happy with V2, stick with it.
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
The D-Link DVC-1000 Broadband Videophone is a neat and simple
way of videoconferencing on the cheap. The mike and camera are
built-in so all you need to do is plug a normal TV set into the
back of each box, attach a broadband connection then fire up
NetMeeting. Because the DVC utilizes the industry-standard H.323
for video and G.723 for audio, you can even interface with high-
end teleconferencing systems. The street price for a pair of
devices, including remote controllers, is around $530.
Everything You Need to Know About 802.11g
The standard has yet to be fully ratified yet 802.11g Wi-Fi
devices are popping up everywhere. This excellent "Need to Know"
guide from Tom's Hardware will explain all.
Add-ons for Your Brain
In my last editorial I mused jokingly how Google could be seen
as the first prosthesis for the brain. But it looks like the
joke's on me. Scientists are getting ready to test a silicon
chip hippocampus for those suffering brain damage caused by
accident or illness.
The Future of IT Revealed
Writer Andrew Grygus has produced an insightful analysis of
computing trends that will shape the way we work in the next
decade. Compelling reading, particularly the Microsoft stuff.
5. FREEBIE OF THE WEEK
Get RealAudio Without the Real Pain
Everyone needs a RealAudio player on their PC but the current
version, RealOne, is one of the most intrusive pieces of
software known to man. At this site you can get all the old and
far less objectionable RealAudio players for free. While you are
there, check out their selection of earlier versions of other
Got some top sites and services to suggest? Send them in
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This edition of Support Alert was proof-read by subscriber A.
Belile who kindly donated her services. My hearty thanks.
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