"Gizmo's top picks of the best
Tech resources and utilities"
Issue 109 - 19th May, 2004
Support Alert is a registered online serial publication
Quote of the Week
"I am five feet, three inches tall and pleasingly plump. After I
had a minor accident, my mother accompanied me to the emergency
room. The ER nurse asked for my height and weight, and I blurted
out, "Five-foot-eight, 125 pounds."
While the nurse pondered over this information, my mother leaned
over to me. "Sweetheart," she gently chided, "this is not the
It was Saturday morning and I was having a friendly coffee with
my neighbor Fraser.
Fraser had just bought a new 3.4 MHz Dell and it was apparently
running real slow. He asked me did I have any theories why.
"Maybe it's infected with Spyware," I casually suggested.
"No way Gizmo, I can't be infected. I'm protected by WinPatrol."
Ouch. It was the "Can't" that got me. With that one fatal
I knew that it was going to be a very long coffee with Fraser.
Let us start with the facts. WinPatrol is a fine program. It
runs in the background and monitors any changes that are made to
your startup menu, browser home page, host file and several
other key areas of you system.
If any changes are made, it lets you know. You can then choose
to allow the changes or not.
In this way, WinPatrol does indeed protect your computer from
adware, spyware and a number of other pests.
But it has a fatal weakness. It can be easily terminated by
If you use WinPatrol, you can easily demonstrate this
vulnerability. Just hit Ctrl+Alt+Del to bring up the Windows
Task Manager. Locate and highlight WINPAT~1.EXE and then click
Bingo! No WinPatrol.
What you just did manually can be done by another program and
some of the latest scumware products do just that.
I'm not picking on WinPatrol here. The same weakness is shared
by many security products. This includes most of the top
firewalls and many anti-virus scanners. They can all be easily
terminated by hostile programs thus knocking out your defenses.
To bring home the seriousness of this situation, I should tell
you that there are several "black-hat" programs currently in
circulation specifically designed to pull down any defensive
programs running on your computer.
Some of these programs will pull down nearly 300 separate anti-
virus, anti-trojan and anti-scumware products!
Reading the list of products that these terror weapons can pull
down makes frightening reading. It would certainly put an end to
unfounded complacency such as Fraser's.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
A couple of things. The first may seem strange: try to avoid
extremely popular products like WinPatrol.
That's because popular products quickly become targets to be
defeated. So instead of the popular WinPatrol you may be better
off using a product like System Safety Monitor (SSM) which is a
highly capable defensive utility that's not well known outside
security circles. It provides a similar (though by no means
identical) set of defensive functions to WinPatrol and it's free
I'm not sure how far you can push this approach. Unfortunately,
with a few notable exceptions, many of the better products are
also the most popular.
But there's another approach that may be more practical. I've
discovered a product that actively protects your key defensive
programs from being terminated.
It's called Process Guard. I've been watching its development
for a while and with the release of version 2, I feel that the
product is ready for recommendation.
Process Guard provides a number of useful security enhancing
checks. For example, it CRC protects processes and limits the
capabilities of certain programs. But to my mind its most
important feature is that it allows the user to specifically
nominate programs that cannot be terminated or suspended.
Naturally, the first programs to protect will be your defensive
programs like your anti-virus, anti-Trojan and scumware removal
Once protected by Process Guard, your defensive programs can't
be terminated using any standard method. Now thatís comforting.
Process Guard itself cannot be pulled down because it runs as a
kernel mode service not as a user application. It's so
protected that you can't even uninstall the product unless you
boot Windows into Safe mode.
In the long run, the bad guys may find a way of killing Process
Guard too. At the moment, though, it appears pretty solid and
looks like an essential product for users who need a truly
Process Guard is not free, it costs $24.95, but there is a free
trial version that allows you to protect a single application
from deletion. You could use the free version to protect your
Firewall, SSM or even WinPatrol. That's not a complete defense
but itís better than nothing.
Neither SSM nor Process Guard is suitable for beginners. Each
requires time and patience to set up properly. Such is the cost
you must pay today for effective computer security.
System Safety Monitor (SSM)
http://maxcomputing.narod.ru/ssme.html?lang=en (slow site)
IN THIS ISSUE:
1. TOP TECH SITES
- Free Wi-Fi Access Points
- Better Way to Store Your Web-based Information
- Linux Distros Explained
- Share Files with Friends and Colleagues
- Impressive Windows Tips and Tricks Site
- Track Your Web Site Google Rankings for Free (SE Edition)
- Free PDF Conversion (SE Edition)
- Choosing Between Office 2003 and Open Office (SE Edition)
- How to Fix Your Printer Yourself (SE Edition)
- Son Of AIDA32 Born
- Redirect Your Email for Free
- Edit the Right Click Context Menu
- A Screen Saver for Techies
- Easier Way to Handle Windows and DOS Paths
- The Best Text Processing Utility
- File Sharing Without the RIAA Watching (SE Edition)
- Spyware-Free File Sharing (SE Edition)
- Free Utility Gives Access to Outlook PST Files (SE Edition)
- The Fastest Web Browser? (SE Edition)
3. SECURITY PATCHES, SERVICE RELEASES AND UPDATES
- Vulnerability in Windows Help and Support Center (840374)
- New Phishing Scam Uses Fake Toolbar
- Critical Flaw in All Versions of Eudora Email Client
- Norton Internet Security is itself a Risk
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
- How to Build Your Own Linux Server
- Google as a Security Risk - Part II
- Throw away the Fax Machine - Send Faxes via Email
- Pop-up Blocker Blockers
- Tension Relief for Techies
- Run SpamAssassin on Windows (SE Edition)
- Expert Tools for Finding Stuff on the Web (SE Edition)
- Free Tool Allows Visualization of Relationships (SE Edition)
- High Powered Computer Maths Package for Nix (SE Edition)
5. TIP OF THE WEEK
- Enable Auto completion Feature for Windows XP Command Prompt
6. FREEBIE OF THE WEEK
- Fix the Windows Task Bar
- Get Enfish Find for free (SE Edition)
1. TOP TECH SITES
Free Wi-Fi Access Points
This site lists free access points in the USA and Canada.
Better Way to Store Your Web-based Information
This is good. Furl is a free web-based service currently in beta
that allows you to create and search your personal collection of
saved web pages. Where bookmarks save the URL, Furl saves the
entire page in your personal archive on Furl's server along with
your comments and rating. Furl is simple, effective and free. It
could well be the future of bookmarking.
Linux Distros Explained
Many folks who want to try Linux get confused about which
distributions to choose. The process is not helped by the fervid
commitment of many members of the Linux community to a
particular distribution. The short guide on this web site is a
little basic but brings some objectivity to the argument.
Share Files with Friends and Colleagues
Last issue I mentioned Foldershare, an impressive free web
service that allows you to share files and folders with friends.
It's just one of a whole crop of new products that utilize
private P2P networks. If you want to see the potential for
these networks, check out "Our Pictures," a web service that is
geared specifically to sharing digital photos. Just upload a
photo to the service and it "appears" in a designated folder on
the PCs of your friends who are also members of the service. Non-
members get an email that gives a link where they can view the
photo on-line. Operationally, this is the neatest solution I've
seen to photo sharing. There are some real minuses though: you
have to install the massive .NET framework and the service is
not free - it costs $49.95 for 4 members. Foldershare, however,
does a remarkably similar job, if less elegantly, for zip. Try
Impressive Windows Tips and Tricks Site
More performance enhancing and behavior modification tweaks than
you ever imagined.
** Bonus Items for Supporters **
Track Your Web Site Google Rankings for Free
Anyone with a web site should be interested in how well their
site ranks in Google for relevant keywords. This site offers one
of the best keyword tracking tools available and it's totally
free. I use this for all my sites and find it invaluable. While
visiting, check out the other free tools.
Free PDF Conversion
This site provides free online conversion of your documents to
Adobe PDF or HTML. Documents may be in DOC, RTF, XLS, PPT, TXT,
PDF or HTML. There is no limit to the number of documents you
can convert. Simple, effective, free.
Choosing Between Office 2003 and Open Office
This article looks closely at the pros and cons of migrating an
organization of 300 users from Office 97 to either Office 2003
or Open Office. Setting cost aside, most users found Open Office
totally acceptable, though small layout and usage differences
did require an adaptation period. However, a number of advanced
users felt the features offered by Excel 2003 were a strong
How to Fix Your Printer Yourself
Sick of paying out big bucks to fix simple printer problems?
Then try repairing it yourself using the resources provided at
this specialist site.
Got some top sites to suggest? Send them to
Son of AIDA32 Born
Subscriber Patrice Gevedon writes, "In issue 108 of the Support
Alert Newsletter you mention looking for a replacement for
AIDA32. No need to look any further, AIDA32 is still available
for free under a new name. It's now called EVEREST Home Edition
and can be downloaded from the Lavalys site." Thanks for that
good news Patrice. Unfortunately, the Home Edition, while free,
appears to be a limited version of the old AIDA. It excludes
quite a few features including most of the networking reports.
If you want all the features, you'll have to pay $30 for the
professional version. Looks like another example of Gizmo's
law - "All great non-GPL freeware eventually morphs to
shareware." Ah, such is life. (2.6MB)
Redirect Your Email for Free
Many folks have more than one POP mailbox. Often it's convenient
to redirect mail from one box to another or from all boxes to
one. Chimera ERC is a freeware utility designed to just that. It
will redirect on demand or according to a set schedule. The
program itself is nothing fancy but it certainly does the job.
The free version will redirect up to four accounts, which is
more than enough for most users, me included. NB: ERC won't re-
direct webmail. For that, you need something like the commercial
product IZymail. ERC, Freeware, 1.21MB
Edit the Right Click Context Menu
One of the common failings of software un-install routines is
that they leave unwanted items in the right-click context menu.
They can be removed by editing the Windows Registry; however,
the freeware utility "Context Menu Editor" will do the job
safely and painlessly. Freeware, 737KB.
A Screen Saver for Techies
Nothing is less cool than fish swimming around your monitor. If
you really want to lift your street cred, try this PC status
screensaver with a real-time display showing inbound/outbound
packets, running processes, TCP UDP socket status and more. The
screen saver is non-time-limited shareware but requires minor
user intervention to unlock the screen. This can be removed if
you shell out $19.95 for registration. 1.83MB.
Easier Way to Handle Windows and DOS Paths
Ninitech Path Copy is a little utility that adds a "Copy path to
clipboard" option to the right-click context menu. What's neat
is that it offers a sub-menu that allows you to choose several
ways of copying the path. These options include Windows full
file names, DOS 8.3 names, UNC path and more. You can even
specify your own formats. I use Path Copy regularly to convert
long Windows paths for use in old DOS programs. Freeware, 155KB.
The Best Text Processing Utility
Text processing is one of those computer tasks you end up doing
just about every day. Some jobs are simple like alphabetically
sorting a file or cleaning up a contact list. Others are more
complex like multiple search/replaces, converting formats or
sort-merging databases. Whatever the job, text processing is
something that's hard to avoid. There are plenty of specialized
utilities available to help you with individual text processing
tasks but TextPipe Pro is different in that it will do just
about anything. It's a unique product that could be best
described as a menu driven version of the classic UNIX utilities
grep and awk. Even so, that description would sell it short as
it is totally customizable and actually more powerful than its
UNIX descendants. Its features are too many to describe here so
I'll just give you an actual example of its use. This week I
needed to extract the AOL users from a list of subscriber's
email addresses. I then wanted to remove from the AOL list any
address which occurred in another list. Finally, I wanted to
remove invalid email addresses and strip off trailing blanks.
Normally, I'd write a tiny once-off program to do this kind of
job but I did it all with TextPipe in 15 minutes without any
prior experience using the product! Now that is impressive and
gives you an indication of its power. TextPipe is not cheap and
itís not for raw beginners, but anyone who regularly works with
files will find this an invaluable tool and an excellent long-
term investment. Shareware, $299, free trial, 3.95MB
** Bonus Items for Supporters **
File Sharing Without the RIAA Watching
Regular readers of this newsletter know that I am no fan of file
sharing networks. It's not so much a moral objection as one
based on the unacceptable security risks involved. I do,
however, have a moral objection to the terror tactics used by
the RIAA and that's why I'm letting you know about a free
utility called "The Blocklist Manager." This utility downloads
the addresses used by the RIAA from a constantly updated source
and then exports these addresses to your file sharing client or
firewall where they can be permanently blocked. While at this
site, check out Protowall, a free driver level IP blocker and an
effective partner for Blocklist Manager.
http://bluetack.co.uk/blm.html <= Blocklist Manager 2.84MB
http://bluetack.co.uk/pw.html <= Protowall 875KB
Spyware-Free File Sharing
While on the subject of file sharing, I suggest you try KCeasy,
an open source file sharing client that is totally free of the
spyware, scumware and other unwanted components found in
commercial file sharing products like KaZaa. KCeasy is actually
just a windows front end to giFT; an open source daemon that can
access multiple file sharing networks. Works well. Freeware,
Free Utility Gives Access to Outlook PST Files
The proprietary PST format used by Microsoft Outlook to save
email messages (and other data) can be a real pain when you need
to process the email with other applications. There is an export
utility in Outlook but it is limited in scope and omits the
Internet message headers. "Personal Message Store Export
Utility" is a freeware product that will save as text any email
folder within a PST file while retaining full header
information. It's small, fast and effective. (24KB)
The Fastest Web Browser?
Thanks to subscriber Steve Halvorsen for letting me know about
Off-By-One, a tiny free web browser that will fit onto a floppy
disk. This thing is a speed demon, though you pay for this in
terms of reduced features. If you want a fast browser that's
full featured, you should also check out the latest nightly
builds of Mozilla FireFox. The speed improvement over the
official release V0.8 is marked and let me make it clear, V0.8
was already pretty quick. These are betas so the normal caveats
Got some favorite utilities to suggest? Send them to
3. SECURITY PATCHES, SERVICE RELEASES AND UPDATES
Vulnerability in Windows Help and Support Center (840374)
Systems affected: Windows XP, XP-Sp1, Server 2003
Problem: "A remote code execution vulnerability exists in the
Help and Support Center because of the way that it handles HCP
URL validation ... If a user is logged on with administrative
privileges, an attacker ... could take complete control of an
New Phishing Scam Uses Fake Toolbar
A number of phishing exercises have made use of a bug in
Internet Explorer that allows fake addresses to be displayed in
the browser address bar. Microsoft has issued a patch for that
the address toolbar with a fake toolbar containing dummy
addresses. Other scamsters are using popups to overlay the
address toolbar with a graphic containing a fake address. Full
details, including preventative measures, can be found at this
Critical Flaw in All Versions of Eudora Email Client
According to a report in TechWorld, the security company Secuna
has discovered a buffer overflow problem in the popular Eudora
client that could allow an attacker to take control of a
targeted PC. According to the report, "the hole can be exploited
with no more than a malicious email containing an overly-long
link (over 300 bytes)." No patch is currently available so
Secuna recommends not using Eudora until it is fixed. "If you
still insist on using Eudora, you must disable both Allow
executables in HTML content and use Microsoft's viewer in Tools
> Options > Viewing Mail ... and disable automatically download
HTML graphics in Display."
Norton Internet Security is itself a Risk
The security research company NGSSoftware has released details
of a flaw in the popular Norton Internet Security package that
could allow an attacker to take control of a users PC by using a
malicious script within an HTML email or web page. Norton has
issued a patch that should be automatically distributed to users
through its Live Update service. Norton Internet Security users
who do not use the Live Update service should connect and update
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
How to Build Your Own Linux Server
ZDNet-UK is carrying an article on building your own Linux
server using an old PC. Lot's of useful information here though
there's not quite enough detail for Linux newbies to use this as
Google as a Security Risk - Part II
Last issue I mentioned how unwary webmasters can unwittingly
allow sensitive information to be indexed. This hack site lists
some very scary examples. All webmasters take note.
Throw away the Fax Machine - Send Faxes via Email
Email may rule but the humble fax is far from subjugated.
Faxaway is a web service that integrates both media by allowing
you to send and receive faxes by email. There's a $10 once-off
signup fee but after that, it's only $1 month and a small
transmission fee of 10-20 cents per fax. If you have a scanner,
there's no need to have a fax machine at all.
Pop-up Blocker Blockers
SlashDot is carrying an interesting item about an ad company
called Falk eSolutions AG who have devised a technology to
defeat Popup blockers. Apparently their software detects the
presence of a blocker on a surfer's browser and, instead, serves
floating Shoshkele-style ads that can't be stopped by trapping
Tension Relief for Techies
Ever dream of taking to your monitor with a hammer or your hard
drive with a hacksaw? Find full instructions in the "Illustrated
Guide to Breaking ComputersĒ at this highly therapeutic site.
** Bonus Items for Supporters **
Run SpamAssassin on Windows
SpamAssassin is a free, open source spam filtering package that
is widely used and highly regarded. It was written for
UNIX/LINUX based systems but it's quite possible to get it to
run on Win32 systems with a bit of fiddling. This site offers
detailed how-to instructions that make installation a cinch for
experienced users. If you don't fall into the "experienced"
category, check out the second link below for details of a
$29.95 commercial implementation of SpamAssassin for Windows.
Expert Tools for Finding Stuff on the Web
If you can't find what you want in Google, try some of the
resources listed here:
Free Tool Allows Visualization of Relationships
Forensic company Anacubis has specialized skills in discovering
relationships between entities. At their site they are offering
a free tool that allows you to visualize the interconnections
between sites thrown up by your Google search.
High Powered Computer Maths Package for Nix
Thanks to Arie van Wingerden for letting me know about MuPad, a
mathematical expert system for doing symbolic and exact
algebraic computations with almost arbitrary accuracy. Not
everyone needs this kind of product but if you do, you'll find
this to be an awesome implementation. Free, too!
5. TIP OF THE WEEK
Enable Auto completion Feature for Windows XP Command Prompt
Working in the featureless environment of the command prompt can
be a laborious and tedious business.
One way to boost your productivity is to enable the Command
Prompt file and folder name auto completion feature.
The feature doesn't quite work like the normal Windows auto
completion but rather uses a typed control character to trigger
So instead of typing:
CD C:\Documents and Settings\Gizmo\My Documents\
you could type:
CD C:\Docu followed by a control character, ^D for example
You will then be presented with the matching folder for
selection. Repeated entry of the control key will bring up other
matches if there are any.
Enabling the auto completion fix requires a simple registry
patch. Full details here:
6. FREEBIE OF THE WEEK
Fix the Windows Task Bar
I don't know why so many people have trouble with the Windows
Task Bar. From subscribers' letters, I hear reports that it can
disappear, change position and shape, get grayed out, behave
unpredictably, get stuck in Classic View and more. Most of these
taskbar problems can be resolved by using this splendid free
utility from Kelly Theriot of Kelly's Corner fame. Additionally,
it will fix many stubborn Notification Area and Quicklaunch bar
problems. The standard version is free. Some optional advanced
features can be enabled for a modest $5 contribution. 48KB.
** Bonus Freebie for Supporters **
Get Enfish Find for Free
In my last editorial I mentioned the disk search program Enfish
Find, adds more to my productivity than any other utility on my
PC. I also lamented the fact that it costs nearly $50. This
prompted subscriber Larry Aronberg to write in to let me know
that there was at one time, a free version of Enfish. Larry
however couldn't remember the download link. Well, after
several tedious hours on Google I finally located it. It's not
the lastest version but I tested it on Office 2000 and it seemed
to work fine. PS. If the link gets pulled down, I'll put a copy of Enfish on the Supporters' area of the web site. (6.0MB)
Got some top sites and services to suggest? Send them in to
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Thanks to the following volunteer reviewers for their efforts:
Daniel Rose (D.R.)
Annie Scrimshaw (A.S.) aka Annmarie at www.cybertechhelp.com
Jeff Partridge (J.P.)
Sheila Foss (S.F) aka PippieT
Reviews written by Annie, Daniel, Jeff and Sheila are indicated
by their initials at the end of the review.
Thanks, too, to subscriber A. Belile for proofreading this
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