PC Alert
Pointing you to the information you need to know
Issue 7  : 25th January to 7th February 1999

Essential Internet

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

Netscape Bug Allows Unauthorised Remote File Access
A bug in Netscape 4 means that it can be used to read a file on a remote machine without the knowledge or permission of the file's owner.

Security Review of '98
Security guru Bruce Schneier has a new version of his Crypto-gram newsletter out, and it's a retrospective look back (is there any other kind?) at 1998 from an IT security perspective.  All your favourites are there, including the declassification of the Skipjack algorithm and yet more cracking of DES.  If you need to keep up with developments in crypto, Crypto-gram is well worth subscribing to.  And it's free.

Zip drive does USB
Iomega's 100 MB Zip drive goes from strength to strength.  Not only is the IDE version shipping built-in to a variety of systems, but there's now a USB version available.  Works in the iMac, too.

Australian Walsh Report Exposed
The Walsh Report ("A review of policy relating to encryption technologies") was commissioned by the Australian Government in 1996.  When finally published, various parts had been censored.  Now, Electronic Frontiers Australia claims to have an uncensored version.  And, of course, they've put it on their Web site, with the censored bits clearly marked so you can see what They didn't want you to know.

Pentium III Will Have Serial Numbers
Remember a few years ago when chip theft (especially RAM) was rampant?  And remember how we kept telling Intel that it would be a good idea to put unique serial numbers on Pentium chips?  Well, with the Pentium III, they're finally going to do it. The privacy Web sites are livid, but it's no worse than cookies.  And yes, you can turn off the Pentium's feature too.

Avoid NT Crashes under SMP
If you add another processor to a PC, configuring NT to take advantage of the new power is, in theory, simply a case of running a program or two.  But there are bugs in the process that will render the PC unusable unless you read the three relevant Microsoft documents first.

Kill Bob
Your users getting sick of the animated paperclip character in Office 97?  There's a paper on ZDNet that'll tell you how to remove it once and for all.

Run a BBS on your intranet
Dial-up bulletin boards used to be the best way of holding discussions among people in different cities, time zones etc.  Now, there are many programs that let you host message forums on Web sites and intranets, using standard Web browsers as the client software.  One such is Ultimate BB, which is available in both freeware and commercial forms.  Another is WebBBS, which costs just US$57.

User Manager for NT
NTScript is a utility for NT that helps you create and maintain groups of users. Recommended for anyone who's administering one or more NT servers.

Installing NetWare 5 into a mixed environment
Novell has published a free white paper explaining how to go about installing new NetWare 5 servers into a mixed 4.x environment.

WordPerfect Office Service Pack 5
Corel has a new set of bug fixes for WordPerfect Office Suite 8.  And at 14 MB for the download, it's a mere fraction of the size of Microsoft's patches.  See, there just had to be a reason not to go with Microsoft Office.

PDF To Whatever
BCL Computers has converters that take Acrobat PDF files and can convert them to RTF, HTML or TIF files.  Got any manuals in PDF format that you'd really like to put on the intranet or read from within a text editor?  BCL may have the answer.

Freedom of Expression
An organisation called Human Rights Watch has produced a report about restrictions on Internet free speech around the world. Fascinating reading, though worrying at times.

New Encryption Technology
According to press reports, a 16 year old Irish girl on a 2-week placement to security company Baltimore has invented a new public-key encryption algorithm which is just as strong as current systems but 20 times faster.  All that's emerged so far have been headlines, and no hard facts.  Maybe it's true. Or maybe, just maybe, those Baltimore marketing people decided that crypto algorithms aren't sexy enough to get coverage outside the geek press and that giving a pretty schoolgirl the credit might make good commercial sense in the long run.  Cynical?  Us?  As if.

E-Commerce : The Facts
Good, hard facts about electronic commerce are hard to find.  One recommended site is the Electronic Commerce Association, which contains lots of useful white papers and other documents.  OK, so it's a British organisation, but EC is international and so is most of the material on the site.

SoundBlaster Live! gets own site
Creative Labs' new top-of-the-range sound card, the SoundBlaster Live!, has its own Web site.  In addition to drivers and bug fixes, there are also bonus drivers which provide additional features not available with the software out of the box.  Recommended browsing if any of your users are running an SB Live card.

Premiere in Real Time
Adobe Premiere 5.1, the high-end digital video editing suite, is now available in an RT (for Real Time) version.  It's available specially configured for Pinnacle and Matrox hardware, and is available only as a bundle from these two vendors.  Worth a look if you want to produce top-end video presentations using PC hardware and software rather than broadcast-quality (and with a price tag to match) kit.

Online Company Directory
Looking for the Web site of a particular IT company?  You'll probably find the address in this comprehensive database of web sites, phone numbers and addresses.

Security for MS Proxy Server
Internet Security Systems has announced a version of its host-based security assessment tool, Systems Scanner for Windows, customised to include policy templates for Microsoft's Proxy Server.

Got a question about DVD?  You'll find the answer in this rather useful FAQ.

Free NT Load Balancing Tool
Microsoft has released  a free tool to help you do load-balancing on a cluster of NT servers.

IIS Hack Loophole
Microsoft has released a patch for the so-called GET bug in the latest version of its NT Web server software, IIS.

IE4 Frame Spoof
And the company has also released yet another security patch for Internet Explorer 4, this time to correct something called the Frame Spoof problem.  IE4 may be free, but keeping it secure and updated certainly isn't.

And Excel bugs too
What a month it's been for Microsoft bugs.  Here's news of one in Excel, known as the CALL problem, which could allow unauthorised programs to be run on a machine from within an Excel session.

Ontrack News
Ontrack, the company that can (almost) literally save your life by recovering data from damaged drives, has a free newsletter with lots of information and ideas about preventing disaster.

Bug News
Of all the sites on the Web that claim to alert you to bugs in software, Bugnet is one of our favourites.

Essential Reading

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

Head-to-head comparative reviews
15 Business PCs and notebooks Windows International, January 1999 http://www.winmag.com
6 hard disk cloning tools Laptop Buyer's Guide, Jan 1999 http://www.bedfordmags.com
6 encyclopaedias on CD-ROM PC Magazine, 19th Jan 1999 http://www.pcmag.com
800 Web sites World Wide Web Guide Monthly, Jan 1999 http://www.webguidemag.com
11 Print servers PC Magazine, 19th Jan 1999 http://www.pcmag.com
4 Image Management tools Publish Magazine, Jan 1999 http://www.publish.com
Best Buys of '98 Computer Shopper, Jan 1999 http://computershopper.com
3 desktop tape libraries Performance Computing, Jan 1999 http://www.performance-computing.com
12 digital cameras PC Magazine, 19th Jan 1999 http://www.pcmag.com

Windows 2000 Preview
Windows 2000, the successor to NT4 and Win98, will soon be upon us.  The previews have already started, and one of the best to appear so far is in the January 1999 issue of Windows International.   Thorough, detailed, and nowhere near as full of Microsoft hype as some of the others.

USB Roundup
Peripherals designed to connect to the USB (universal serial bus) connector on modern PCs are now starting to appear.  Windows International  takes a look at a selection in its January issue, including scanners, cameras, monitors and hubs.

Exchange Server 5.5
The January edition of Windows NT Systems goes into great depth on the hows and whys of upgrading your Exchange Server to version 5.5  First step, of course, is to get the service pack that we reported in PC Alert 6.

Exceptional Products in Systems Management
We're well into the new year but still they give out awards.  This time, the January edition of Windows NT Systems offers prizes for the products it considers to be the best for managing NT systems in terms of security, admin, backup, and Unix connectivity.

Scanning Perfection
The January edition of Publish magazine has a useful feature on how to get the best results from a scanner.  Recommended reading for any marketing department that's trying to get some decent pictures for the corporate Web site.

Future Laptop Technologies
The January issue of the Laptop Buyer's Guide has a detailed article about what's around the corner for notebooks, in various categories such as audio, video, processors etc.  If you're about to source some new laptop hardware, this will tell you whether it might pay to wait a while.

IIS Configuration
The January issue of Performance Computing looks at how to install and configure Microsoft Internet Information Server, the http server that ships with NT.

Get More from NetMeeting
NetMeeting is Microsoft's free tool for remote meetings via video and audio conferencing.  If you want the lowdown on just what it can do, and how to make it do it, look no further than January's edition of Microsoft Internet Developer, the magazine formerly known as Microsoft Interactive Developer.  A new name, but the Web site stays the same.

Zip 250
Iomega's Zip drive is now available as a 250 MB version.  PC Magazine's issue of 19th January 1999 looks at the product.

Best Download Sites
PC Magazine's issue of 19th January 1999 has a large, useful list of recommended download sites on the Web from which useful shareware can be obtained.

AOL 4.0
America Online's new front end software, version 4, is reviewed in the January issue of World Wide Web Guide Monthly.

Pick a Panel
The January issue of Computer Shopper looks in depth at how to buy a flat panel monitor, and offers some good advice on what to ask before you choose a particular model.

Laplink Pro
Also in the January issue of Computer Shopper, a review of the new version of Laplink designed for tech support staff and IT professionals.

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This compilation copyright International Technology Publishing Pty Ltd 1999.