PC Alert
Pointing you to the information
you need to know
Issue 12  :  5th - 18th April 1999

Essential Internet

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

If you haven't already heard, a new virus called Melissa is infecting millions of Word 97 and 2000 documents worldwide.  The virus sends an infected version of your currently-open document to 50 people from your Outlook address book.  This infected version then does the same thing to those 50 users, and so on.  Major problems if you're working on a confidential document, when you find it's now public property.  If your scanners are out of date, go get the latest versions now, from, among others:

Warn your users to be on the lookout for email with headers saying "Important message from..." or "Here is the document you asked for".

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the source code is widely available on the Internet.  The variants are already beginning to appear.    You have been warned.

NT Screen Saver Bug
A new NT loophole called the screen-saver bug could allow unauthorised users to gain administrative access to an NT server.  Get the patch now.

Digital Cameras
The Windows Expert Magazine site currently has online reviews of 6 digital cameras.

Bug Tracking for Developers
Visual Intercept is an add-on debugging tool for all Microsoft Visual Studio programming languages, including Visual C++ and Visual Basic.  If the debugger supplied by Microsoft doesn't do what you want, this product might.

Once you've written a utility for use by your users, distributing it in a form that's easy to install takes effort.  And effort is clearly something that Microsoft has not put into the distribution systems provided with its development products.  One of the best third-party packages is Wise.

Password Recovery Toolkit
There's a new version of the excellent password recovery toolkit, now available for download in demo form from lostpassword.com.  If your users keep forgetting Word or Excel passwords, or others, this tool will get them back for you.

Tracking Down Spam
Getting unsolicited mail?  Want to find out where it's come from?  This site has tools and advice to help you.

Looking for a way to authenticate users onto the network that doesn't involve remembering (and thus forgetting) passwords?  How about facial recognition?   Not the user's face, but the user's ability to pick out a face in a crowd.

Iris Scanning
Or how about scanning the unique pattern on the user's iris?

Voice Recognition
And while we're at it, why not use voice recognition to identify a user?  The company swears that the system will still work if the user has a cough or cold.

Recommended Products
PC Computing Magazine has an online list of recommended hardware and software products, which will be of interest if you're compiling a shortlist from which to evaluate products.

GoBack is a utility which recovers Windows applications to a known state, effectively adding Undo facilities to programs that don't already have them.

Don't Re-invent the Wheel
Looking for ready-made CGI, Perl and JavaScript code for doing commonly-requested features on Web sites such as buttons, validating user input etc?  These sites are well worth a look.

Partition Magic 4
Powerquest is now shipping version 4 of Partition Magic, the incredibly useful tool for re-sizing and manipulating partitions without the need to reformat the hard disk.   A must for any support person, and it even converts to/from NTFS and FAT32.

Computer-related Links
A large set of computer-related links, from the people that bring you Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Office 2000 Ships in June
It's official - Office 2000 will ship on 8th June in the UK and 48 hours later in the rest of the world.  Order your copy now, but our recommendation is not to roll it out to users until you're sure you need to.  If you don't intend to get into intranet publishing, you can probably manage without it.

Virus Advice
This site has a good selection of advice for anyone involved in keeping viruses off users' PCs.

Bug in Lotus Notes
Lotus has admitted that there's a bug in some versions of Notes which can leave unencrypted copies of confidential encrypted messages lying around your system.

CD Links
If you're looking for information on CD-ROMs, and how to record them reliably, this site has a good set of links.

CPU Database
This site has a great deal of information about CPUs - worth reading if you want to know whether it's worth upgrading certain users' motherboards.

Celeron SMP
Intel says you can't do multi-processors with cheap Celerons.  Actually, you can, and this site will tell you how.

Copy Those Protected CDs
Don't you just hate it when you buy a CD-ROM for use on your PC, and you can't copy it onto the server because the software insists on checking that the CD is in the drive?  What you need is IMSI's virtual CD copier, which copies CDs to a hard disk or server and fools the software into thinking that the copy is running in a real drive.  A convenient tool (we use it in the PC Alert office), though we're duty-bound to remind you not to use it for copyright infringement.

Pentium III IDs
Intel said  it couldn't be done, and that no one could get the serial number off your Pentium III without your permission.  It didn't take the hackers long to prove Intel wrong.

Fix-It Utilities 99
Mijenix has launched a new set of tools for support staff, for handling disk crashes, broken registries, and all the other problems that users seem to encounter.

Netscape 4.51
Netscape has a new version of its browser, now up to 4.51.  This isn't the 5.0 rewrite but still has some features which 4.50 doesn't.  Someone somewhere's probably worrying that IE5 is getting all the publicity.

Acrobat 4 Reader
The final version of Acrobat Reader 4.0 is now downloadable from Adobe's Web site.  It's a 5.5 MB file.  Note that the search-enabled version, which can look up information in indexes created with Acrobat Catalog, is not yet available.  Acrobat 4 itself, which creates the PDF files, will be on sale in a month or so.

Beware ProMail
There's a new email client going around, called ProMail.  Rumour has it that it also emails your IDs and passwords back to the author.  You have been warned.

Get Your Euro Symbols Here
Microsoft's European Typography site has updated versions of all the common Windows fonts, complete with the new Euro currency symbol.

Internet Stats
All sorts of interesting Internet statistics here, including the relative market share for Netscape and IE.  Fascinating reading.

Need to troubleshoot a serial or parallel port connection?  Want to monitor or record all data going down a serial or parallel port under Windows 9x or NT?  Portmon will do it.

NetWars Online
Regular PCNA and PCSA contributor Wendy Grossman has written an excellent book on the Internet and some of the less nice things that happen on it.  Before you buy a copy, you can read the full text online.

Essential Reading

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

Head-to-head comparative reviews
14 Colour PostScript laser printers Publish, April http://www.publish.com
5 antivirus programs Windows Expert, April  http://www.idg.co.uk/windows
5 PC security utilities Windows Expert, April  http://www.idg.co.uk/windows
2 biometric authentication devices Windows Expert, April  http://www.idg.co.uk/windows
7 handheld PCs Pen Computing, April http://www.pencomputing.com
10 digital video cameras PC Magazine, 6th April http://www.pcmag.com
11 networking wiring kits PC Magazine, 6th April http://www.pcmag.com
13 web-hosting services PC Magazine, 6th April http://www.pcmag.com
7 500 MHz PIII machines PC Computing, April http://www.pccomputing.com
5 accounting packages PC Computing, April http://www.pccomputing.com
3 corporate internet security tools PC Computing, April http://www.pccomputing.com
5 e-commerce packages Internet Magazine, April http://www.internet-magazine.com
10 sites for DHTML developers Internet Magazine, April  http://www.internet-magazine.com
10 ready-made JavaScripts Web Techniques, April http://www.webtechniques.com

Adobe InDesign
In April's issue of Publish magazine, there's a thorough 10-page review of InDesign, the new DTP program from Adobe which is billed as "The Quark Killer". General opinion of InDesign is certainly favourable, and the QuarkXPress compatibility features help too.

Windows Security
The April issue of Windows Expert magazine concentrates on security, and reviews a number of products aimed at keeping hackers out of PCs, doing backups, detecting and eradicating viruses, performing authentication, etc.  Well worth reading if you are responsible for protecting the information help on corporate PCs and/or servers.  The cover CD also contains a number of security-related utilities.

Networking HPCs
Handheld PCs conforming to the Microsoft HPC spec actually have Ethernet interfaces.  The April issue of Pen Computing explains how to use it, and thus how to achieve transfer rates far in excess of those available when using the IrDA interface.

Java in 3D
In the April issue of Performance Computing, there's an interesting feature on the 3D API for Java, explaining how to use it to produce 3D images within a Web browser.  Great for allowing access to design models over the intranet - just don't let the marketing people get hold of the idea or they'll want to turn your company's Web site 3D.

Monitoring Router Traffic
Also in the April issue of Performance Computing, a useful article on monitoring network router traffic with MRTG.  Worth reading if you're currently in the realms of capacity planning or traffic troubleshooting.

Corporate Network Security
Again un the April issue of Performance Computing, a good article on solutions for corporate network security including management-level descriptions of firewalls, biometrics, proxy servers, secure Web servers, encryption and so on.

International Programming
April's issue of Microsoft System Journal looks at international considerations and explains how to design Unicode-based multi-language programs for use around the world.  If you're developing utilities for use in international subsidiaries, this is worth a look.  Also, if you're a subscriber to PC Support Advisor, note that PCSA issue 127 will have an in-depth article on Unicode.

Porting C++ to Unix
April's issue of Dr Dobb's Journal looks at porting C++ code from NT to Unix.  So if you're currently investigating the possibility of adopting Linux within the company, this will tell you what you need to know about getting home-grown code to run.

Notebook Torture Test
In April's issue of  PC Computing it's time once again for the annual notebook torture test.  The magazine's staff dropped, froze, hit, and otherwise mistreated notebook PCs from various manufacturers in order to find out which ones would survive best when given to your most clumsy users.

Adding Network Storage
Also in PC Computing, a good article on how to increase the storage capacity of your network through the use of add-in drives, RAID, online backup, tape drives, CD jukeboxes and more.

Year 2000 Countdown
In the April 6th issue of PC Magazine, the cover feature is entitled "critical steps to prepare for the millennium".  If you've still not done anything, or you want a "sanity check" to ensure that there's nothing you've missed, this is recommended.

Also in the April 6th issue of PC Magazine, a tutorial on biometrics.  Learn how to use face recognition, fingerprints and other personal characteristics, rather than passwords, to authenticate users on the company networks.

Quark vs Adobe
In May's issue of Digit magazine, a look at what Quark is doing in the battle with Adobe for the DTP market.  Adobe's new InDesign package trounces QuarkXPress in some areas, but Quark is not standing still.  Also in the same issue, the cover-mounted CD ROM has 22 Photoshop filters.

Online Planning
April's issue of Internet Magazine looks at online appointment diaries, address books, calendars and forward planners.  These programs are accessed over the Internet, allowing users to access them from anywhere.  Useful for travelling staff, though there's an obvious security risk.

Online Credit Card Trading
Also in April's issue of Internet Magazine, how to set up online credit card processing on your Web site.

Evaluating Web Server Capacity
In April's issue of Web Techniques, learn about how to evaluate Web server capacity and how to plan for the day when your server needs some more power to cope with increased traffic.

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This compilation copyright International Technology Publishing Pty Ltd 1999.