PC Alert
Pointing you to the information you need to know
Issue 6  : 11th to 24th January 1999

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Essential Internet

Our recommended sites with important new PC information,
helpful resource files and other items of interest.

Create your own Internet mailing list
Internet mailing lists are an ideal way to promote your company or to manage discussions between customers and/or staff.  But it often costs money to get your ISP to run one for you, or you have to go to the trouble of installing the necessary software on your intranet server.  But now there's an alternative.  Two companies are offering to host mailing lists free of charge.  The only downside is that messages to members will have adverts added to the bottom..

Year 2000 Compliance Database
Infoliant is selling access to its online database that contains Y2K information on over 15,000 hardware and software products.  If you need to check the compliance of your company's kit, this might be the easy answer.  Though at nearly US$3000 for a subscription of 200 accesses, it's not cheap.

Groupwise 5.5 Support Pack 2
New from Novell, a major set of patches for GroupWise 5.5.
And don't forget IntranetWare Support Pack 6, the latest patches for NetWare 4.11.

Save and Save Again
Got a user whose PC keeps crashing before they can save their work?  Save Butt is a program that automatically saves a user's current file on a regular basis, even if they forget to do it themselves. And yes, it really is called Save Butt.

NetWare 5 "outperforms NT4"
Or so says a recently-published survey, and Novell is understandably rather pleased.

Is it a bird?  Is it virus?
You've read the garbled press stories about Remote Explorer, and whether it really is or isn't a new virus.  Now read what Microsoft has to say.

RealSecure 3.0
Our favourite real-time NT intrusion detection tool is now up to version 3.

Macro Express
Smartware has a new version of Macro Express for Windows.  Need to automate common tasks?  Got a user who wants to do it?  This will fit the bill.

Web Compiler
Also from Smartware, Web Compiler takes a directory full of HTML files and compiles them into a single executable file complete with integrated browser.  The integrated browser does, though, use various features built into IE4, so both the target machine and the PC used to compile the files needs IE4 installed.

NetSonic Internet Accelerator
Download your free copy of this cache utility that claims to be able to speed up a PC's internet connection.

Exchange Server 5.5 SP2
Microsoft has released Service Pack 2 for Exchange Server 5.5.

First Office 2000 Virus
Yes, really.  Even before Office 2000 ships, the first native O2K virus has been discovered.  The Web site mentioned below tells you about it - it doesn't contain the virus itself.

How well publicised is your site?
This excellent site automatically submits a word or phrase of your choosing to a collection of search engines and reports back the number of hits found.  A quick, easy and free way to see whether the most important aspects of your company's Web site have been registered with the major search engines.

BestCrypt 6.04
Our favourite transparent encryption utility, which adds a password-protected, encrypted virtual drive to a PC, is not up to version 6.  The latest version has persistent network shares, so once you've shared a virtual drive you don't need to set up the share each time you boot the PC that hosts it.

Choice of Face
The trouble with designing Web pages, brochures, reports, or any other document, is that it's difficult to know what typefaces look best with which others.  There's a useful paper on the subject, available via the Web.

V is a Windows file viewer that can cope with just about any file format you try it with.  A rather useful shareware product.

How's tricks, Vern?
Everyone, but everyone, had a copy of LIST in those far-off DOS days.  The ultimate file viewer, and only about 20 KB.  Believe it or not, it's still going, and so is its author Vern Beurg.

Best Cloner Around
ImageCast's IC3 is, says the company, the quickest way to clone a hard disk.  Which, if it's true, will make it easy to roll out PCs to new users complete with standard installation of Office, Windows etc.

Mission Statement Generator
Need a mission statement generator for the office?  This is supposed to be a joke site, but the results are worryingly close to the stuff that real companies put out.

Essential Reading

Our pick of the best of the world’s IT press articles.

Head-to-head comparative reviews
20 Pentium II power desktops PC World, January 1999 www.pcworld.com
100 Webmaster tools (see Web site, not magazine) PC Magazine, 5th January www.pcmag.com
4 voice recognition packages (they liked Dragon the best) PC World, January 1999 www.pcworld.com
Megapixel digital cameras PC World, January 1999 www.pcworld.com
20 budget desktop machines PC World, January 1999 www.pcworld.com
10 top-of-the-range notebooks PC World, January 1999 www.pcworld.com
5 network PBXs PC Magazine, 5th January www.pcmag.com
10 17" monitors (including the new Nokia) PC World, January 1999 www.pcworld.com
100 Top Web sites (see Web site, not magazine) PC Magazine, 5th January www.pcmag.com
2 Hard disk partition managers Windows International, December 98 www.winmag.com
10 graphics cards PC World, January 1999 www.pcworld.com
10 mono laser printers PC World, January 1999 www.pcworld.com

Firewall Configuration Guide
The December 1998 (still on the shelves if you look hard enough) issue of Network magazine has a useful, if short, article on firewall configuration, including some tips on how to ensure that you've done it right.

Two problems.  Too risky?
Also in Network magazine, a thought-provoking discussion on the problems of having to think about NT5 (Windows 2000) rollouts at the same time as managing the Year 2000 problem. Should you tackle both problems at once, or do it one at a time?  This article has some suggestions.

Linux and Caches
Network magazine also looks at Linux and asks whether it's suitable for use on corporate desktops.  Plus, an in-depth article on web caches, and how they can (or can't) speed up your intranet server.

Cures and Fixes for Software Snarls
The theme of the January 1999 issue of PC World is software bugs, and the magazine has literally dozens of pages dedicated to helping you work around or fix common bugs in major software products.  Recommended reading for all IT support professionals.

Practical aspects of the Y2k bug
Year 2000 bug hype has been all over the news, but an article in January's PC World contains some of the best practical advice we've seen on how to check your systems. And no hype.

First Looks
It's not just Microsoft that's about to launch a millennium version of its Office suite.  Corel is planning to do the same, and it'll read and write Microsoft Office files too.  PC World's January issue takes a first look at this, as well as at Internet Explorer 5, WinZip 7 and PGP 6.

Office 2000 beta 2
The 5th january issue of PC Magazine has a look at beta 2 of Microsoft Office 2000.  This is the version we're running in the PC Alert office - feel free to mail us at editor@itp-journals.com if there's anything you want to know about it.

On Review
Also in the 5th january issue of PC Magazine, first looks at HomeSite 4, Caere Omnipage Pro 9, and Dell's Inspiron 3500. And a second look at Apple's iMac - after using the machine for a few months, how does it stand up?

Best of '98
Both PC Magazine's 5th January issue and PC Computing's January issue include major features on the best products of 1998.  If you're looking to source anything, from hardware and software to peripherals, a look at these features should help you decide what to put on your shortlist.  PC Computing awards "product of the year" to an ultralight notebook from Toshiba.

Snap and Scan
PC Computing's January issue has a useful article containing tips on getting the most from a digital camera and scanner.  Need to persaude Marketing to tone down the ads and brochures?  Want to improve the look of a Web site?  This is what you need..

Zapping Windows 98 Bugs
Windows International, in its December issue (still current), looks at the major bugs and problems with Windows 98 and explains how to fix them.  Essential reading for anyone supporting users of this OS.

Starting Windows Cleanly
Windows 98, when it loads, also loads a variety of background programs and drivers that aren't exactly essential to the operation of the PC.  Remove these, and Windows boots and runs faster.  Windows International's December issue explains how.

Printer Tech Support Survey
Various magazines have done PC support surveys, where readers are asked to fill in questionnaires to relate the usefulness of those poor people on the end of the vendors' support lines.  Now Windows International has done it with printers.

NT Buyer's Guide
Windows NT Systems magazine has published a special issue for January containing nothing but a buyer's guide.  Simply thousands of products, with supplier details and a brief functional description, broken down into hardware and software.  Essential bookshelf-fodder for the coming year if you're supporting NT systems, and it's the same price as the normal monthly issue.  That's an awful lot of research for the money.

Scripting for Success
Dr Dobb's journal, in its January issue, looks at Windows scripting languages.  Covers Perl and other Web-related tools, plus those overgrown batch languages built into Windows that allow you to automate tasks that your users perform most frequently.

Make Paperclip Talk
In the February 1999 issue of Personal Computer World (UK), there's a great little technical article on how to put the words of hour choice into the Office Assistant's mouth.  So you can use it to add your own company-specific help messages.  And it's all done with VBA.

About PC Alert

PC Alert is published fortnightly by Email by International Technology Publishing.  Its function is to save PC and networking support personnel the tedious task of browsing the Internet and wading through magazines just to find the occasional item of interest.

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