========================
                         Support Alert
                       Supporters' Edition
                    ========================
                    www.techsupportalert.com

                 "Gizmo's top picks of the best
                  Tech resources and utilities"

                 Issue 113 - 22nd September, 2004

    Support Alert is a registered online serial publication
                         ISSN 1448-7020.

                        <<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>
 

IN THIS ISSUE:
==============
 
0. EDITORIAL: What Security Software Does What?

1. TOP TECH SITES
 - Windows XP Fix Zone
 - Free MCSE Study Guides
 - How to Speed Up Your PC
 - How to Slow Down Your PC
 - Browser Swapping Catches On
 - Remove Embarrassing Data from Documents
 - Changes to Windows Support Tools with XP SP2 (SE Edition)
 - What Hardware Doesn't Work With Linux (SE Edition)
 - How to Integrate Gmail with Your Other Mail (SE Edition)
 - Create Your Own Personal Font (SE Edition)
 - How to Remove Spyware (And Other Nasties) from Your PC
 
2. UTILITIES
 - Free Utility Enhances MS Word
 - FireFox Extension Uninstaller
 - Free Utility Offers Full Text Search of Web Sites
 - Free Local Search Utility Shines
 - More Free Desktop Search
 - Minimize Outlook and Outlook Express to System Tray
 - A Utility That Really Improves JPG Image Quality (SE Edition)
 - Free Multi-format ZIP Utility Handles ISO Images (SE Edition)
 - Record Streaming Media on Your Hard Drive (SE Edition)
 - Free Utility Fixes Broken XP WinSock (SE Edition)

3. SECURITY PATCHES, SERVICE RELEASES AND UPDATES
 - The Latest on XP SP2
 - Buffer Overrun in JPEGs Allows Code Execution (833987)
 - More Than 30 Flaws in Oracle Patched
 - Vulnerability in WinZip V9 Fixed
 - Serious Flaw in WinAmp
 - Problem in Adobe Acrobat Reader
 - Some Gloating Material for Windows Users

4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
 - Diversions for Geeks
 - A Good, Free Option for Sending Large Files
 - Free Online Applications
 - Is Radio Bad for Your Health?
 - Flapping Wing Paper Plane Really Flies
 - Top Performing 30-inch LCD HDTV for $1,700 (SE Edition)
 - Classic Computer Games for Free (SE Edition)
 - Encrypt a Message in an Application File (SE Edition)
 - How to Get Macs and PCs Talking (SE Edition)
 - Secret Windows Files Explained (SE Edition)
 
5. TIP OF THE WEEK
 - Fix the "Can't Open Windows Help" Problem

6. FREEBIE OF THE WEEK
 - A Must-have Spyware Scanner
 - The Best Free Anti-Trojan Scanner (SE Edition)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
=================

"Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the
noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists
in the elimination of non-essentials."

- Lin Yutang, the famous 20th century essayist and philosopher,
who clearly anticipated one of the key problems of modern PC
tech support.

0. EDITORIAL
============

It was a sad letter. Tragic really.

I don't get many tragic subscriber letters; informative yes,
enquiring yes, abusive occasionally, but tragic, no.

It was from Tom, a gentleman in his 70s. Tom had just had $8,600
taken by computer thieves from his bank account. The thieves had
surreptitiously downloaded a keylogging Trojan onto his computer
and managed to obtain his online banking password.

That's sad enough but it gets worse. Tom's only computer
protection was a spyware scanner: SpyBot Search and Destroy. Tom
had no anti-virus products, no anti-Trojan scanner and no
firewall.

Now here's the really tragic part. Tom actually thought that his
PC was well protected. Why? Because he'd read my recommendation
for SpyBot, installed it and felt that he was now totally secure.

It's easy to brand Tom's confusion as naive by saying, "How
could you possibly expect to be protected against viruses,
worms, Trojans and other nasties by a just a spyware scanner?"

I don't agree. I think Tom's confusion was, in a way, totally
understandable.

Just a short while back it was easy to separately classify
viruses, worms, Trojans, adware, spyware and spam.

Today the distinction has been almost totally blurred. We have
Trojans which are spyware, worms that drop Trojans, viruses that
spread adware, spam that emanates from Trojans, and all
combinations in between.

With that blurring there has been a matching confusion in the
role of our defense products. Should your spyware scanner pick
up Trojans or should this be left to your anti-virus scanner or
perhaps a dedicated anti-Trojan product? Should your anti-virus
scanner detect spyware or should that job be left exclusively to
a spyware scanner? Should your firewall be responsible for
checking auto-start programs and program integrity or is this a
task for your anti-spyware product?

I don't know the answer to these questions. Neither, apparently,
do the makers of the defensive products. In fact, what I see in
the marketplace is a lot of product overlap, confusion and a
great deal of misleading advertising.

Some security product vendors are responding by simply expanding
the scope of their products. Look at the ads for spyware
scanners and you’ll claims that the products pick up worms and
trojans as well. Similarly ads for many anti-virus products
claim the ability to detect spyware.  In my view, many of these
claims are outright deceptive.  Yes, these products do have some
ability to detect malware outside of the original scope of the
product but such detection capabilities are usually very
limited. Expecting a spyware scanner to detect a process-
injecting, polymorphic Trojan is an exercise in wishful thinking.

Other vendors are moving toward integrated solutions with
several defensive layers rolled into a single “security suite.”
Typically these combine an anti-virus scanner with a firewall
and often a spam filter as well. It’s a great idea but most are
just cobbled together. Indeed I’m yet to see any security suite
that does a decent job picking up spyware and their Trojan
detection capability is often minimal as well.

Folks, ignore these advertising claims. The hard fact is that as
of today, no single product will give you all the computer
security you need. You need multiple products. At a bare minimum
you must have:

- a competent anti-virus product that scans both files and email
- a specialist anti-trojan scanner
- a dedicated anti-spyware product
- a secure two-way firewall

Additionally at least one of these products should have a real-
time monitor that warns you about potentially dangerous changes
to your system.  This includes changes to the Windows Registry,
to the list of programs that start automatically with Windows,
changes in the size of common programs and processes and changes
to your browser settings.

And that is just a bare minimum. You could add to the list a
program like Process Guard that protects your defenses from
being pulled down. You’ll also need something for spam control.

Writing this list is the easy part. The hard bit is to find the
right combination of security products. A combination that works
together harmoniously yet provides broad spectrum defense.

So what is the best combination?

Frankly I don’t know. In fact, I doubt that there is one “best”
solution. Rather there will be quite a few, each suited to a
particular user’s needs and budget.

I’ve scoured the internet and it seems virtually no-one has
comprehensively addressed the question of the right combination
of security products. But that's about to change.

I'm running some security product combination tests right now.
It's not going to be complete, nor will it be definitive, but it
will be a start. Stay tuned, I hope to have the first results
for the next issue.

Meantime, let me know what you've found. What security products
do you find work well together? Does Norton AV work well with
ZoneAlarm? Does Ad-Aware clash with AVG? Does WinPatrol overlap
too much with SpyBot’s teatimer? Indeed, what security products
have simply failed you?

Tell me the good, tell me the bad. Let's try together to
dissipate the security product confusion. Let's ensure there are
fewer tragic experiences like Tom's.

See you next issue.

Gizmo
Editor@techsupportalert.com
 

1. TOP TECH SITES
=================

Windows XP Fix Zone
Another useful tech support site with a large collection of how-
to articles, troubleshooting guides and customization tips. The
site organization is a bit strange but that doesn't detract from
the value of the content.
http://www.winxpfix.com/

Free MCSE Study Guides
Ben Ice from Exam Force has emailed to let me know they are
currently running one of their periodic freebie offers. This
time it's a bundle of tear-outs from the Exam Cram series of
self study books covering 15 different Windows 2000 topics. Just
the thing for those planning to sit for their MCSE.
http://www.examforce.com/customer/special6.php?sid=728

How to Speed Up Your PC
Got an XP system with 256MB or more of RAM? Then improve
performance with this free utility that will reset your system
disk caching parameters. I tried it on an un-tweaked XP system
with 512MB of RAM and had no doubt that the system was zippier
after the adjustment. There's nothing here that can't be done by
a bit of registry tweaking but pushing a few buttons is safer
and way easier. Freeware, 49KB.
http://techrepublic.com.com/i/tr/downloads/netadmin/tools_exe/DiskCacheAdjuster.zip

How to Slow Down Your PC
Some old applications and games run way to fast to be usable on
modern PCs. There are any number of utilities designed to solve
this problem by slowing down your PC. You can find a good
listing of what's available here:
http://www.geocities.com/kulhain/

Browser Swapping Catches On
Here's a whole web site dedicated to convincing you that it's in
your interest to abandon Internet Explorer. On the same subject,
check out the second link: a blog page where the writer suggests
you disable ActiveX in Internet Explorer even if you've changed
to a different browser. I like the idea from a security
viewpoint but it means you won't have a browser available for
web pages that require ActiveX to work properly.
http://browsehappy.com/
http://www.geekbooks.com/blog/archives/000169.html

Remove Embarrassing Data from Documents
Several times in this newsletter I've mentioned the security
dangers presented by "hidden" information secretly embedded in
Microsoft Word documents. This so-called metadata information
can easily be recovered using readily available tools to reveal
a complete history of changes, additions, deletions and more.
It turns out that the problem is much more widespread than just
Word documents. Other Office documents, Adobe PDF and
WordPerfect files all have the same problem.  The first link
below is to a site that offers some useful guidance for
individuals and corporations to help contain the problem. The
second link is to a company that sells metadata removal tools.
http://www.metadatarisk.org
http://www.workshare.net/products/pr_w3protect_overview.htm

** Bonus Items for Supporters **

Changes to Windows Support Tools with XP SP2
The Windows Support Tools are a set of command line utilities
that provide useful functions for technical support and
networking personnel. They are on every Windows XP CD but are
not installed by default; rather, you have to dig them out of
the \Support\Tools folder. With the release of XP SP2, the use
and functionality of the tools has altered. Full details here:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?kbid=838079

What Hardware Doesn't Work With Linux
"The Linux Incompatibility List is an attempt to catalog and
document hardware/peripherals of all kinds that do not work with
the Linux operating system.”
http://leenooks.com/1

How to Integrate Gmail with Your Other Mail Accounts
Proud of that brand new Gmail account but find that it's a bit
of an orphan? Don't despair; it's quite easy to integrate Gmail
into your existing POP mail regime by using readily available
utilities. You'll find a good summary here, including products
that allow you to use your 1GB webmail allocation for free
online storage.
http://www.marklyon.org/gmail/gmailapps.htm

Create Your Own Personal Font
At this site they will produce a special font for you that looks
just like your own handwriting. All you have to do is fill in a
form containing every character, scan it and upload it to the
site. Oh, the other thing you have to do is pay $9:>) I tried
their service and the results exceeded my (modest) expectations.
http://www.fontifier.com/

How to Remove Spyware (And Other Nasties) from Your PC
This practical guide is as good as I've seen but it's not
suitable for newbies.
http://www.michaelhorowitz.com/removespyware.html

Got some top sites to suggest? Send them to
mailto:supporters@techsupportalert.com
 

2. UTILITIES
=============

Free Utility Enhances MS Word
This is nice: a free Word add-in that provides a whole bunch of
additional features. I particularly liked the facility that
allows you to quickly select frequently used style elements
(such as fonts, symbols and bullets) rather than having to
scroll through multiple menus and long lists. Also nice is the
enhanced ability to paint formats. These are only two of the
dozens of additional productivity features offered. I'd say it's
an essential tool for serious Word users. Works with Word 2000
and later. The "Personal" version is free for individual use.
(1.58MB)
http://www.wordtoys.com/

FireFox Extension Uninstaller
FireFox 0.9 and later versions have a built-in extension un-
installer but occasionally some extensions can't be removed. You
can remove them manually but it's far easier using this free
extension that removes other extensions. Now if you want to
remove this product, I guess you'll have to locate an extension-
remover extension-remover. :>)
http://jgillick.nettripper.com/extuninstaller/

Free Utility Offers Full Text Search of Web Sites
Here's a good idea: a utility that allows you to do full text
searches of web sites you've visited. It's different from your
internet history in that the entire content of web pages is
indexed. Recall Toolbar works by adding a button to Internet
Explorer that you can click to index the current page you are
viewing. This is then added to a master index. At a later stage
you can then search all pages in the master index. Some
limitations apply so read the description before installing.
Freeware. (742KB)
http://www.recalltoolbar.com/

Free Local Search Utility Shines
A utility that can quickly search the content of your emails,
Word documents and other files is arguably the most important
productivity aid you can install on your PC. There are several
excellent search programs around such as X1 and Enfish but they
are relatively expensive products. Thanks to subscriber Lex
Davidson for prompting me to look at the free Copenernic Desktop
Search utility. It's some time since I last reviewed this and in
the interim huge improvements have been made. First, it's stable
and fast. Second, it allows you index a huge range of file types
including PDF, Office, Outlook, Outlook Express and RTF.  Third,
it indexes file names as well as file contents so it's great for
quickly locating lost files. Finally, it presents the results in
a really easy-to-use format.  No, the search interface is not
quite as slick as X1, nor is it quite as well integrated into
Office as Enfish, but otherwise it does a first class job. (2.3MB)
http://www.copernic.com/en/products/desktop-search/download.html

More Free Desktop Search
If you are interested in Copernic then you should also check out
the free local search utility being offered by the folks at
HotBot Search Engine. I mentioned it a while back. Here's some
recent feedback from U.K. subscriber Geoff N.: "I've finally got
around to installing the HotBot Desktop that you recommended ...
It's absolutely fantastic, for freeware or chargeable!  I'm not
able to spend $49 on Enfish, so I can't compare, but thanks for
the best tip I've ever had. As you say, having local search has
changed the way I look at my PC."  (1.5MB)
http://www.hotbot.com/tools/desktop/  <= web install
http://dl.lygo.com/hbdt/en_US/hotbot/hbdt.cab  <= local install

Minimize Outlook and Outlook Express to System Tray
These two free utilities will free up a bit of your valuable
task bar real estate by minimizing Outlook or OE to a small icon
in your system tray. Clicking on the icon restores Outlook.
Quite a few other few utilities are available from the author's
site.  Freeware.  (105KB)
http://www.r2.com.au/software.php?page=2&cat=5&catname=Internet

** Bonus Items for Supporters **

A Utility that Really Improves JPG Image Quality
It's useful to compress your JPG photos and web images to reduce
their size. If you compress too much, however, you end up
creating all sorts of undesirable artifacts that detract from
the image.  JPEG Enhancer is a tool designed to reduce these
artifacts. I must say it performs rather well producing a much
more acceptable image at the cost of a slight blurring. I was
able to achieve similar results using Adobe Photoshop but it
took way longer and was less reliable from one photo to another
compared to JPEG Enhancer. This is a nice single purpose utility
that will satisfy many users. Shareware, $29.95, free trial
available. (1.99MB)
http://www.vicman.net/jpegenhancer

Free Multi-format ZIP Utility Handles ISO Images
Reader Shaun Donnelly writes, "Gizmo, I know you use WinZip and
WinRar but there are several good free compression utilities out
there. My current fav is TugZip which reads over 25 different
archive types and can write 9...."   Nice find, Shaun. I
particularly like the fact that it can read and write BZIP2
(TBZ) archives, my preferred format for compressing executables,
as I currently use a command line utility.  I note too that
TugZip claims to handle CD ISO files and that indeed could be
very useful to some folks.  However, if you are interested in a
free archiver like TugZip, make sure you also check out Zip
Genius and IZArc, two other fine freeware products.
http://www.tugzip.com/ (3.8MB)
http://www.zipgenius.it/index_eng.htm (6.3MB)
http://www.izsoft.dir.bg/izarc.htm (3.0MB)

Record Streaming Media on Your Hard Drive
MediaRecorder is a neat little free utility that allows you
record streaming video and sound for later replay. It's only at
Version 1.0 so it's a little basic but it worked fine on my XP
PC. The only downside is you need Microsoft’s massive .NET
framework installed on your PC for MediaRecorder to work. (156KB)
http://mysite.verizon.net/res0r0en/TwinkleSoft/mediaDetail.html
http://mysite.verizon.net/res0r0en/TwinkleSoft/MediaRecorder.zip

Free Utility Fixes Broken XP WinSock Installations
Many folks who have had a spyware infection have found that
after cleaning up they can no longer connect to the Internet.
The problem is usually a broken WinSock setup which is bad news
as it is a notoriously difficult problem to fix.  This freeware
utility will attempt a repair. It mostly works but don't expect
miracles. Freeware, Windows XP only.  (1.4MB)
http://www.snapfiles.com/get/winsockxpfix.html

Got some favorite utilities to suggest? Send them to
mailto:supporters@techsupportalert.com
 

3. SECURITY PATCHES, SERVICE RELEASES AND UPDATES
=================================================
It's a month now since Windows XP SP2 was released and reports
from the field suggest that it can be installed without problems
on somewhere between 70 and 90% of PCs, which is not bad for
such a large patch. Personally, I've updated 8 PCs belonging to
friends and relatives and all but two went fine. The other two
were so broken that despite hours of effort, I couldn't get them
working and had to uninstall the patch. The uninstall itself
worked without problem, though note that you have to use the
normal Windows uninstall utility in the Control Panel rather
than System Restore.

All the PCs I updated belonged to folks who only had standard
modems. They had contacted me because they were faced with 75-
120MB downloads. I helped out by installing SP2 from CD.

If you use XP and only have a standard modem connection I
suggest you do two things:

1.  Stop the Windows Update service from automatically
downloading SP2 by using the following utility from Microsoft.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=8BCE6BBA-EA5D-4425-89C1-C1CB1CCD463C&displaylang=en

The utility will prevent SP2 automatically downloading "for a
period of 240 days from August 16. At the end of this period,
Windows XP SP2 will be delivered to all Windows XP and Windows
XP Service Pack 1 systems."

2. Get the free XP SP2 CD from Microsoft. You don't even have to
pay for shipping!  Place your order with Microsoft here:

http://www.urltrim.com/ct/t.php?l=64  (links to microsoft.com)

If your system doesn't work properly after installation from the
CD, then uninstall SP2 using the "Control Panel/Add or Remove
Programs" option.

I'll leave my own PCs unpatched for a while yet or until XP SP2a
inevitably arrives. I have too many 3rd party utilities
installed to have any confidence that the SP2 updates will work.

If you have a full fledged firewall and your XP is otherwise
fully patched, there is no real need to update to SP2, with one
exception. SP2 does fix some security issues with Internet
Explorer for which there are currently no separate patches
available.

I handle this by simply using FireFox as my browser. Besides, at
least two new IE vulnerabilities have been discovered in SP2
patched systems.  You can view the full depressing list of
unpatched IE vulnerabilities here:
http://secunia.com/product/11/#advisories

OK, on to this month’s alerts. The first, from Microsoft is
serious and affects many MS products including Office so read
the item below very carefully.

Buffer Overrun in JPEG Processing Allows Code Execution (833987)
Severity: Critical
Systems Affected: Dozens of MS products including Windows XP and
Office 2002/2003, Server 2003, IE and .NET.
Problem:  “A buffer overrun vulnerability exists in the
processing of JPEG image formats that could allow remote code
execution on an affected system ... an attacker who successfully
exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an
affected system."
NOTE: Because this vulnerability affects so many MS products,
patching it requires more than using the Windows update service.
For example, Office users will also need to visit the Office
Update site and users of MS graphics programs will need to
update separately again. Check out the second link below for
full details how to update all your MS products.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms04-028.mspx
http://www.microsoft.com/security/bulletins/200409_jpeg.mspx

More Than 30 Flaws in Oracle Patched
Oracle has adopted the same monthly patch announcement cycle as
Microsoft and the first batch is a bumper with over 30
vulnerabilities fixed including buffer overflow issues, PL/SQL
injection, trigger abuse, character set conversion bugs, DOS and
more. Download the patches from here:
http://metalink.oracle.com/

Vulnerability in WinZip V9 Fixed
The folks over at WinZip have issued a new version, V9 SR1, that
addresses a potentially serious buffer overflow problem. The
service release also includes a number of minor product
enhancements and fixes. All V9 users should upgrade.  Full
details here:
http://www.winzip.com/wz90sr1.htm

Serious Flaw in WinAmp
Security firm Secunia has confirmed a serious vulnerability, the
so called "Zero day exploit," in the popular WinAmp media player
that can be triggered simply by loading a specially crafted
WinAmp skin. "An XML document in the WinAmp skin zip file can
reference an HTML document using the ‘browser’ tag and get it to
run in the ‘Local computer zone’. This can be exploited to run
an executable program embedded in the WinAmp skin file using the
‘object’ tag and the ‘codebase’ attribute." Version 5.04 is
known to be vulnerable and other earlier versions may also carry
the flaw. A new version, V5.05, is available that fixes the
problem. All WinAmp users should upgrade immediately to the
latest version as the exploit is currently in wide circulation.
http://secunia.com/advisories/12381/
http://www.winamp.com/player/  <= upgrade

Problem in Adobe Acrobat Reader
Secunia is also carrying an advisory covering a flaw in the
Acrobat Reader versions 5 and 6. According to Secunia there is
"a boundary error within the "pdf.ocx" ActiveX component
supplied with Adobe Acrobat Reader. This can be exploited via a
malicious website using a specially crafted URL to potentially
execute arbitrary code. “Adobe claims that the problem is
resolved in Acrobat Reader V6.02 and users of earlier versions
are advised to upgrade.
http://secunia.com/advisories/12303/
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html <=Upgrade

Some Gloating Material for Windows Users
Let's face it. We Windows users are having a hard time on the
security front.  Here, though, are some recently discovered
vulnerabilities in other systems that you can quote next time
your choice of operating system is being questioned. First,
Apple has just announced 15 security flaws in its Mac OS X
operating system. Second, two serious vulnerabilities have been
discovered in Linux in the components used to view graphics and
handle archives. The bad news is that both Apple and the Linux
distributors have fixed the problems but we don't have to
mention that bit do we?
http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=61798
http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=151034
 

4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
=====================

Diversions for Geeks
Nice collection here: a binary wristwatch, a rubber ducky USB
drive, abusive rubber stamps, the world’s most caffeinated
beverage and more.
http://informit.com/articles/article.asp?p=174304

A Good, Free Option for Sending Large Files
When you need to send files that are too large to email, try
Yahoo Briefcase. It offers 30MB of free storage and is set up so
that it's easy to share files with other users.
http://briefcase.yahoo.com/

Give up Using Passwords
Not really, rather the suggestion here is that for real security
you should be using pass phrases instead. Read the reason in
from this well informed and highly readable blog page.
http://weblogs.asp.net/robert_hensing/archive/2004/07/28/199610.aspx

Free Online Applications
This Google Groups thread is about free online applications that
you can utilize as an alternative to buying expensive desktop
programs. Like most forum threads, the topic drifts, but do
persevere - you'll be rewarded with some real gems.
http://www.urltrim.com/ct/t.php?l=62

Is Radio Bad for Your Health?
Wired is carrying a report of a Korean study that has found a
substantially higher incidence of leukemia deaths in areas
adjacent to AM transmitters. This is yet another in a mounting
body of evidence that electromagnetic radiation may be harmful.
At this stage the evidence is indicative not conclusive, but
would I live near a powerful transmitter? No way.
http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,64579,00.html?tw=newsletter_topstories_html

Flapping Wing Paper Plane Really Flies
I've seen lots of paper plane designs over the years but never a
flapper! Dead simple to build too.
http://homepage.mac.com/keithgreenstein/Flapper/PhotoAlbum41.html

** Bonus Items for Supporters **

Top Performing 30-inch LCD HDTV for $1,700
It's true and I'm tempted. Read the full review here:
http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1558,1642876,00.asp

Classic Computer Games for Free
These days I rarely play computer games but occasionally I feel
the need to play some of the great oldies such as Galaxion and
PacMan. This site has got a good collection of classics and they
are all free.
http://www.justfreegames.com/index.php

Encrypt a Message in an Application File
Hydan is a free utility that will not only encrypt a message
inside an exe file but do so without altering the file size. An
impressive achievement.
http://crazyboy.com/hydan/

How to Get Macs and PCs Talking
Here's a site full of useful information about networking Macs
and PCs.
http://macwindows.com/

Secret Windows Files Explained
When I get requests from subscribers asking about the infamous
Windows index.dat files, I refer them to this short explanatory
article. The site also offers a free index.dat viewer.
http://www.exits.ro/index-dat-files.html
 

5. TIP OF THE WEEK
==================

Fixing the "Can't Open Windows Help" Problem

A number of subscribers have written about being unable to
access the Windows Help system from Windows XP. There is more
than one cause for this but the most common is running the
Registry cleaner, Easy Cleaner, when you have a non-standard
name for Windows System folder. Easy Cleaner changes the Windows
Help file associations which then make the Help system
inaccessible.

The fix is simple: download and run the file fixwinxphelp.vbs
from Doug Knox's excellent site at http://www.dougknox.com/index.html

To find the file, go to the  site, select Windows XP Fixes from the sidebar
and the click on
"Fix Windows® XP Help" from the long list in the center pane.

Note that when you run this script you may get an alert from
your virus scanner. Don't panic, it's fine. Just authorize the
script and your Windows Help problem will be fixed.

There are a lot of fixes for common XP problems at this site and
it's well worth a visit.

6. FREEBIE OF THE WEEK
======================

A Must-have Spyware Scanner
Lavasoft has released Ad-Aware SE V1 (actually now at V1.04), an
improved version of their highly popular anti-adware and spyware
utility. They claim improvements in scanning effectiveness, a
better user interface plus enhanced customization options. I
found the new version lives up to their claims and is
unquestionably a much improved product. In particular, the
malware detection is much better - the new version picked up
multiple products on my test PC totally missed by version 6. In
fact, I'd rate the detection now as good as SpyBot Search and
Destroy, though each product tends to detect somewhat different
sets of pests. Overall, SpyBot with its immunization and active
protection still remains my number one choice as the best free
spyware scanner, however I now recommend that all users should
also run the free version of Ad-Aware SE in addition to SpyBot.
That way you'll get enhanced protection without spending a
cent.  Still missing from the free personal edition is a real-
time monitor; you have to upgrade to the $26.95 Plus version to
get that. Similarly, a lot of the customization improvements are
only available in the paid edition.  However, the degree of
protection offered by using both free products together should
be adequate for most users.  If you want maximum protection,
then by all means upgrade to the Ad-aware Plus version.
Personally, I think that if you really want maximum protection,
your money is probably better spent by staying with the free
version of Ad-aware and adding a third spyware scanner or other
additional layer of protection.  (2.5MB)
http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/
 

** Bonus Freebie for Supporters **

The Best Free Anti-Trojan Scanner
Faced with the current onslaught of security threats, every PC
needs to have multiple layers of defense. At the very least this
should include a firewall, an anti-virus scanner, an anti-Trojan
scanner and an anti-spyware scanner. Luckily, there are
competent free versions of each of these products available.
With one exception. Until recently I've never encountered a free
anti-Trojan scanner that I thought was good enough to warrant
recommendation. This is a real pity as anti-virus products are
not particularly good at detecting modern Trojans.  Without a
dedicated anti-Trojan scanner, users are missing a vital and
increasingly important layer of defense. With the arrival of a2
anti-Trojan (pronounced a squared), the situation has now
changed. a2 is a successor product to two older products: Anti-
Trojan 5.5 and ANTS 2.1. In itself a2 is a very competent
commercial anti-Trojan, but the really exciting news is that
they are offering a free version. Better still, the free version
has the same scanner as the commercial version and is offered
with on-going signature file updates.  What's the downside?
First, a2 is not yet as effective as the top anti-Trojans; it
rated 3 in a field of eight on my recent tests. Second, the free
version is lacking a real time monitor - to get that you'll have
to buy the full product. Third, the updates in the free version
are not automatic; you have to initiate them manually.  That
said, a2 free is an invaluable addition to your computer
security. In fact, I'll bet that quite a few readers will
discover some unpleasant visitors on their PCs when they do
their first a2 scan. If you can afford a full commercial anti-
Trojan then do so, but if you can't, do yourself a favor and get
a2 now. Free for personal use.  (2.9MB)
http://www.emsisoft.com/en/software/free/
 

Got some top sites and services to suggest? Send them in to
mailto:supporters@techsupportalert.com
 

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Gizmo
editor@techsupportalert.com