Support Alert
                       Supporters' Edition

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

                 Issue 121 - 18th May, 2005

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


0.   EDITORIAL: Do anti-spyware scanners scan files?

1.1  Master BitTorrent Search Site
1.2  Wacky Wiki can be Altered Willy-nilly
1.3  Let Google Suggest What to Search
1.4  Share Large Files with Friends
1.5  Free Site Offers FTP Access via Your Browser
1.6  Cryptography Snake Oil Revealed (SE Edition)
1.7  Free Network Calculators (SE Edition)
1.8  Buffer Overflows Explained (SE Edition)
1.9  How to Ensure Windows XP SP2 Installs Correctly (SE Edition)
1.10 Free Fonts Galore (SE Edition)
2.1  New Free Autostart Manager Best in Class
2.2  The Best Free Internet Accelerator
2.3  Best Free CD Catalogue Organizer
2.4  Free Enhanced Calculator from Microsoft
2.5  Free Excel Utilities
2.6  Free Flash Drive Backup Utility (SE Edition)
2.7  Best Free Disk Cloning Program (SE Edition)
2.8  How to Permanently Modify Web Pages in Firefox (SE Edition)
2.9  Cookie Management Made Simple (SE Edition)

3.1  Microsoft Security News
3.2  Critical Firefox Vulnerability Patched
3.3  Netscape Flaw Could Allow Attackers to Control Your PC
3.4  Critical Flaw in Real Software
3.5  Apple Patches Flaw in iTunes
3.6  Instant Messaging Malware Emerges as Real Threat

4.1  Wireless Remote for Your iPod
4.2  Print Your Own Graph Paper
4.3  Learn a Foreign Language from Your Mobile Phone
4.4  Total Waste of Time Department
4.5  Laugh of the Month
4.6  How to Get Revenge on Your Un-favorite Web Sites (SE)
4.7  Free Software That’s Free of Spyware, Too (SE Edition)
4.8  How to Defeat Automated Phone Systems (SE Edition)
4.9  How Users Defeat School and Corporate Firewalls (SE Edition)
5.1  How to Disable Internet Explorer

6.1  Free System Information Utility with Built-in Toolkit
6.2  Best Digital Photo Editor For Average Users? (SE)



Last month's editorial generated a huge amount of reader email.
The mail wasn't about the main editorial topic; rather it was
about an offhand comment I made.

What I said was that spyware scanners perform poorly as file
scanners and rarely detect anything in that mode.

This email I received from Robert Carter was typical: “Gizmo,
what you say makes no sense. My spyware scanner regularly finds
adware and spyware infections. That’s the very reason why I use

I have no doubt that what Robert says is true but what I said
was also correct.

The problem lies in confusion; Robert is talking about system
scanning while I’m talking about file scanning.

File Scanning

File scanning is used to detect malware files on your hard drive
from their individual signatures.  That is, some specific set of
characters in the malware file that allow it to be identified
uniquely, in much the same way humans can identified by a

Using this technique, program files on your hard drive are
scanned to see if they contain any such signature. Not just one
signature of course, but often tens of thousands of signatures,
each corresponding to a specific malware product.

When you do an on-demand scan of your hard drive with your anti-
virus or anti-trojan program, this is exactly what is happening.
The scanner is looking at each executable file on your disk and
seeing if it contains any suspicious signatures.

File scanning is great for detecting infected program files
before you ever run them. It's a first line of defense to
prevent you ever getting infected in the first place.

System Scanning

System scanning involves performing a scan of your computer to
see if any malware has already infected your computer. The scan
doesn't focus specifically on program files but rather on special
areas of your computer.

Malware products will generally add themselves to one of the
Windows autostart areas so that they will run automatically
every time Windows starts. By scanning the autostart areas the
malware entries can be detected.

Malware products often make changes to the Windows Registry.
These, too, can be detected.

Malware products also install DLLs in your Windows folder and in
other specific locations on your hard drive. Again, a security
product can scan these locations and try to identify suspicious

By scanning all these special areas (and a few others I haven't
mentioned such as browser helper objects, running processes and
the hosts file) security products have a really good chance of
picking up an existing infection on your PC.

In summary:

File scanners can detect malware on your hard drive before the
infected programs are ever run. That is, before they ever infect
your computer.

System scanners are best at detecting malware products that have
already installed themselves on your computer.

Most Spyware Scanners are System Scanners not File Scanners

Most of the anti-spyware products on the market today started
life as system scanners. These products were originally designed
to remove adware not to detect it or prevent it installing.

That's because when adware first arrived on the scene a few
years ago it was bundled in with legitimate products, so called
"advertising supported" products. Folks got the advantage of
free software but had to put up with the ads. The early versions
Ad-Aware and similar products were designed to remove those ads.

Things changed when spyware arrived on the scene. The developers
of anti-adware products realized they needed some protective
measures built into their products. So they added some protective
features like SpyBot's TeaTimer and Ad-Aware's AdWatch.

However, this early emphasis on removing existing infections is
still reflected in the design of these products today. It would
not be inaccurate to describe SpyBot as a system scanner with a
monitor bolted on.  The same could be said of Ad-Aware Pro. (I
could cynically add that SpyBot's TeaTimer monitor is by default
turned off and the free version of Ad-Aware doesn't have a
monitor at all!)

That said, let us now return to my original statement that
spyware scanners perform poorly as file scanners and rarely ever
detect anything in that mode.

I hope by now the reason will be clear. These products were
simply not designed to be file scanners. They are system

Yes, Ad-Aware can be configured to scan files but it's unlikely
that it will find anything because its file scanning engine is
not designed for the task.  For example, by default it doesn't
even look at files contained in ZIP archives let alone more
complex archives.

SpyBot is even more limited in its file scanning capabilities.
The only way I've found to get it to scan files is to use the
Advanced Mode, click Settings/Directories and manually add
folders to be scanned. It is, however, I warn you, an exercise
in pointlessness. Like Ad-Aware, it rarely finds anything, even
in files that are known to be infected.

Don't get me wrong; Ad-Aware and SpyBot are excellent system
scanners and will do a great job at detecting existing
infections. But they were not designed as file scanners and you
cannot rely on them to detect spyware infected program files
before you run the programs.

However anti-virus products do have powerful and sophisticated
file scanning engines and even though they are not targeted to
specifically detect spyware, you'll find that their on-demand
file scanners will detect more spyware infected files than most
specialist anti-spyware products. In my recent tests of security
products, Norton AV in particular put in an excellent
performance in this unexpected duty.

So folks, if someone send you a program file and you are worried
it might contain spyware there's little point in running your
anti-spyware scanner. First it probably won't even check the
file and second, it probably wouldn't find anything anyway.

Nope, in this situation run your AV scanner instead. It's
detection is not foolproof  but it's way better than your
anti-spyware product.

However anti-virus products are not as effective as anti-spyware
programs in detecting existing spyware infections. Here the anti-
spyware products shine. Again it’s a function of the way these
different security products evolved.

It’s quite possible to design a single security product that
will be equally adept at finding viruses AND spyware in both
file scanning and system scanning modes. At the moment no such
product exists and we need two separate packages to do the job.
Well three, if we include the problem of detecting trojans.

I hope we’ll see this kind of product soon. Security companies
have already taken the first step with their security suites
though these currently are little more than separate products
cobbled together. The next step is to design a single integrated
product from the ground up that is equally competent across the
whole malware spectrum.

Well, that's it folks. Next issue I'll return to the topic I
originally planned for this month's column: the performance of
the best free security products versus the best commercial

See you next month.



A thank-you from Gizmo
Before we start let me thank all the folks who posted my “46
Best Freeware Utilities” page to forums and newsgroups over the
last two months. More thanks to those who got the page listed in
LockerGnome, LangaList, and dozens of other newsletters. I don’t
know your names but please write as I’d like to thank you
personally. The only major tech newsletter that didn't mention
the "46 Best..."  was SlashDot, so there’s a challenge for some
reader. I’ll throw in a free lifetime subscription to the
premium SE edition to make the challenge more attractive;>)

1.1  Master BitTorrent Search Site
Here's a nice find; a site that allows you to do a single search
that will cover all the major BitTorrent sites. If you can't
find what you want, try the second link which is to another BT
search engine.

1.2  Wacky Wiki can be Altered Willy-nilly
Wikis can be thought of as user-editable web pages. Operating a
Wiki normally requires a special Wiki software package that runs
on a web server.  By contrast, TiddlyWiki is a Wiki that runs
locally in your browser using JavaScript and CSS. What's so
fiendishly clever is that the web page describing TiddlyWiki is
the Wiki engine itself. To create your own Wiki content, just
download the TiddlyWiki page and alter the content from within
TiddlyWiki. Got it?  If not, don't despair, it had me scratching
my head, too. Don't let the cleverness deflect you from the fact
that this is a very practical and useful way to create your own
hyperlinked content.

1.3  Let Google Suggest What to Search
One of Google's many buried features is the capacity to suggest
a search by auto-completing a search phrase as you type it in.
For example if you type in "46 Best..." Google will offer
several choices including "46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities." To
access the feature you need to use the special link below.

1.4  Share Large Files with Friends
Dropload is a free web service that allows you upload files to
their server that can then be picked up by someone else. The
intended recipient automatically receives an email from Dropload
telling them that the file is available along with download
instructions. Maximum file size is 100MB and all files are
deleted after seven days whether they are collected or not.

1.5  Free Site Offers FTP Access via Your Browser
This could be quite handy when traveling and you are forced to
use a public terminal.  It's a site that allows you to run a
full FTP session from your browser. The site owners claim it is
all confidential but common sense caution should be applied.

** Additional Items in the SE Edition **

1.6  Cryptography Snake Oil Revealed
An excellent technical article on the pitfalls to be avoided
when buying cryptographic products.

1.7  Free Network Calculators
This site offers calculators for subnet masks, mask inverters
and converters, IP address conversion and more. If you are a
techie it's well worth bookmarking.

1.8  Buffer Overflows Explained
Ever wondered how attackers use a buffer overflow to run code of
choice? This article explains how. (High geek factor)

1.9  How to Ensure Windows XP SP2 Installs Correctly
I get many letters from readers who have had problems installing
SP2. Many of the problems can be avoided by doing a little
preparation before you install. This guide [1] offers some
useful advice on what to do, including some useful post
installation cleanup tips. Don't forget to check out the
Microsoft pre-install guide [2] as well.

1.10  Free Fonts Galore
A good selection of free downloadable fonts here with relatively
few ads.

Got some top sites to suggest? Send them to


2.1  New Free Autostart Manager Best in Class
Emisoft, the maker of the highly regarded a-squared anti-trojan
program, has released V1.0 of HiJackFree. This is a
sophisticated utility that lists Windows autostart programs,
processes, services, Explorer add-ons, open ports and more. The
autostart listing is particularly comprehensive with over 50
locations covered including numerous obscure autostart sites not
covered by any other similar utility.  Some of these tricky
locations were so obscure that I was forced to do some quick
research on Google to learn a bit more about them. The on-screen
information provided for each item is also comprehensive and is
supplemented with a web based service that gives excellent
guidance on the function of each item and the level of threat
presented. Full editing facilities are provided including the
ability to stop or delete items. After using this product for a
while I can state confidently that it provides more useful
information about what programs are running on your PC than any
other free utility I've used. This makes it a superb tool for
chasing down spyware, trojans, keyloggers and other unwanted
pests that may be secretly infecting your PC. However like all
such programs, it is potentially dangerous in the hands of a
beginner. For experienced users, though, this program is a must-
have addition to your toolkit. Freeware, Windows 98 and later,

2.2  The Best Free Internet Accelerator
In a surprise move in early May, Google released a beta version
of a new product called the Google Web Accelerator (GWA). Unlike
most other accelerators which provide caching on your own PC,
the GWA utilizes caching on Google's own dedicated web servers
to accelerate browsing. On top of that it uses a number of other
techniques to speed things up including compressing html pages
and pre-fetching links. The WGA program automatically installs
itself into the Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers and can
be manually configured to work with other browsers. To protect
user privacy, the accelerator does not function during
connections to secure sites such as internet banking.  Does it
work?  You bet, with most users, myself included, reporting
improvements of 10-40% in browsing speeds. There are, however,
some caveats: First, the product is only available for Windows
XP or Windows 2000 SP3+. Second, the product is optimized for
broadband use and modem users may experience little or no gain.
Third, the system is currently working best within the USA and
Europe and users located in other areas will only receive a
partial benefit. Fourth, there are some potential privacy issues
involved so all users should closely read what Google has
documented on the subject. Personally, I don't have a problem
with the privacy stuff but others’ mileage may vary. Finally,
some webmasters have been scare mongering with reports that the
WGA pre-fetching function can cause all buttons on a web page to
be automatically pressed including things like "delete my
subscription." I've looked it this and, frankly, every case I've
seen has been due to very sloppy web coding.  However, if you
want to be super cautious then I suggest you simply disable the
WGA for any page that uses forms and buttons. These reservations
aside, this is a terrific product. It provides for nix almost
all of the benefits of expensive commercial web acceleration
services like Propel. Stop Press: Google has for the moment
stopped offering new downloads. The web site now carries the
message “We have currently reached our maximum capacity of users
and are actively working to increase the number of users we can
support.”  Actually all they have done is remove the download
link. However I still have my installation file so I've uploaded
it to the Supporters' Area of the web site. You can download it
using the last link below. Be patient though, my web server is
not designed for heavy download traffic.  <= FAQ (1.4MB)

2.3  Best Free CD Catalogue Organizer
I don't really have a need for this kind of product but if you
do then you'll be interested in this excellent suggestion from
subscriber David Killian Woods. "Disclib is a terrific utility.
I archive all of my projects to CD/DVD and keep them in a
fireproof box for storage.  But there are over 30 full discs now
(half are DVDs), and many of them have multiple versions of the
same project.  Disclib keeps an index of the file/directory
structure of every disc, so I can search through them all
without having to swap 30 discs in my drive! Invaluable!”
Thanks for that David, nice find.  Freeware, Windows 2K and
later, 1.75MB.

2.4  Free Enhanced Calculator from Microsoft
Microsoft Calculator Plus is really three calculators in one.
First, it's a normal four function calculator; second, it's a
full fledged scientific calculator; and finally, it's a powerful
unit conversion calculator. The scientific functions are
extensive and it will handle hex, octal and binary arithmetic as
well. The conversions offered are also comprehensive. It's a
pity they didn't offer a financial calculator mode as well, but
even so it is a most impressive freebie. Freeware, Windows XP
only, 475KB.

2.5  Free Excel Utilities
In Issue 113, I mentioned WordToys a program that provides a set
of enhanced functions for MS Word.  Subscriber John Viney has
written in to let me know about the ASAP Utilities program that
provides a similar set of enhancements for Excel. I checked it
out and it's quite impressive with over 300 individual functions
and tools. I particularly liked the one that allowed you to
automatically color alternating lines. It's a presentation style
I use a lot and have always had to do manually. The good news is
that the ASAP utilities are free. Excel 97-2003, 1.8MB.

** Additional Items in the SE Edition **

2.6 Free Flash Drive Backup Utility
Microsoft’s USB Flash Drive Manager is a simple utility designed
to allow users to back up and restore data to USB flash drives.
The program is fairly basic but it more than compensates with
its ease of use. For many folks it will be all they ever
require. Note: To use this program you must have the Microsoft
.NET framework installed on your PC. Freeware, Windows XP only,

2.7  Best Free Disk Cloning Program
HDClone is a free version of a commercial hard drive cloning
product. It allows users to make an exact copy of one hard drive
onto a second. This is, of course, useful for backup, but the
main application is when upgrading to a larger hard drive. What
I like about this product is that it fits onto a floppy and has
its own operating system built in so you are not limited by the
OS limitations of the host PC. The free version won't clone
identical or smaller size disks and can't handle SCSI or ultra-
DMA. If you can live with these limitations, you'll get a great
product for nix. Free for non-commercial use, 473KB.

2.8  How to Permanently Modify Web Pages in Firefox
In a recent issue I mentioned GreaseMonkey, a free Firefox
extension that allows users to alter the way web pages are
presented on their computer. At a simple level it can be used to
remove ads and other annoyances or it can be used for more
complex applications like replacing all affiliate link codes
with your own.  Platypus is a new extension that builds on this
idea and allows changes to be stored so that every time you
visit a page your personalized changes will be applied.

2.9  Cookie Management Made Simple
Here's an excellent suggestion from regular contributor Leib
Moscovitz. "Hi Giz, Cookie Monster is free utility that offers a
great way to handle cookies in virtually all browsers including
K-Meleon, which incidentally, is why I use it.” Nice find Leib,
it works well. The ability to permanently classify certain
cookies to be preserved while being able to delete the rest is
certainly a handy feature.  Freeware, all Windows versions,

Got some favorite utilities to suggest? Send them to


3.1  Microsoft Security News
A quiet month from Microsoft. The latest monthly release of
security advisories contains only one item and even that is
given the modest rating of "important."  The flaw, which
involves the way Web View in Internet Explorer handles certain
HTML characters in preview fields, is actually potentially very
serious but exploitation would require significant user co-
operation. A patch is available from the Windows update service.
Full details here:

Much more interesting is the recent announcement from Microsoft
of an upcoming product called OneCare which provides, according
to the press release "... a comprehensive and simple-to-use
consumer subscription service that will provide automated
protection, maintenance and performance tuning as an all-in-one
package for Windows-based PCs. Windows OneCare is initially
being distributed to Microsoft employees this week as part of an
extensive testing and development process before broad public
beta availability scheduled for later this year."  If it
delivers on the promise, this could be just the product that
many end-users have been praying for.

3.2  Critical Firefox Vulnerability Patched
As Firefox continues to grow in popularity it has come under
greater scrutiny for security holes.  This is no surprise;
indeed, it was to be expected. Thankfully, the Mozilla
organization has been incredibly fast acting in confirming and
fixing security problems, a stark contrast to Microsoft's
record. The latest Firefox vulnerability, a cross scripting
flaw, is the most serious to date and could allow an attacker to
gain remote access and control of a system. Within hours of
details of the flaw being published, Mozilla issued a work-
around with a new version 1.04 released within six days. V1.04
also includes patches for two other important security problems.
All users should update immediately.

3.3  Netscape Flaw Could Allow Attackers to Control Your PC
Security firm Secunia has issued an advisory about a buffer
overflow flaw in Netscape 6.2.3 and 7.2 and possibly other
versions. Attackers could use the flaw to crash or compromise an
affected system. Netscape has acknowledged the problem and
suggests users move to the latest version 8.0 of the software
which is based on Firefox.

3.4  Critical Flaw in Real Software
A patch has been issued for a critical flaw that exists in most
versions of RealNetwork's flagship RealPlayer and RealONE
software.  The flaw, a buffer overflow problem, could be
exploited simply by users playing a specially crafted .ram
format media file. Attackers could then run code of choice on
the target PC. All users are advised to update their products
using the "Check for Updates" feature in the Tools menu of their
media player.

3.5  Apple Patches Flaw in iTunes
All versions of iTunes prior to V4.8, including both Windows and
Mac editions, have a serious flaw which could allow an attacker
to take control of a targeted computer simply by enticing the
user to play a specially crafted MP4 media file. All users are
encouraged to update to iTunes V4.8 immediately.

3.6  Instant Messaging Malware Emerges as Real Threat
Recent variants of the of the Bropia worm such as Kelvir and
Serflog have utilized Microsoft's instant messaging client to
spread. This development,combined with the increasing number of
trojans being distributed over IM, underscores the need for
users to be vigilant about their IM security. Treat IM like
email: be aware that the sender may be forged, don't click
unknown links and attachments and definitely don't download or
install any unknown files. Some anti-virus programs such as
Norton offer IM protection and an increasing number of
specialized IM security utilities [1] are becoming available.
ZoneLabs offers a free product called IMSecure [2] but it's
pretty limited compared to their commercial version.


4.1  Wireless Remote for Your iPod
Here's a neat idea for anyone who plays their iPod through their
stereo. It's a USB based wireless remote that gives you full
control over volume and track selection from anywhere in your
house. It works with both the MAC and PC versions of iTunes and
can control Windows Media Player as well. Full retail is $39.99
with street prices a few dollars cheaper.

4.2  Print Your Own Graph Paper
What a simple idea – a collection of downloadable PDF files
which when printed will provide you with graph paper in just
about every grid size and pattern you could ever want.

4.3  Learn a Foreign Language from Your Mobile Phone
Recently I mentioned Softvoile Virtual Teacher, a screensaver
that teaches you a foreign language via on-screen flash cards.
Now you can get similar software for your mobile phone and PDA!
A useful way to use idle time like waiting for the bus or
traveling on the subway. Multiple languages are available. From

4.4  Total Waste of Time Department
Novelty Flash and Shockwave sites are proliferating like
wildfire. Here are three good examples that will keep you amused
for a few minutes.

4.5  Laugh of the Month
This was listed at StumbleUpon as the "Worst Choice of Web Site
Logo Ever." It's a perfect example how we all see things in
different ways. Personally, I couldn't stop laughing when I saw
it. The web site has probably changed the logo by now but here's
a screenshot courtesy of StumbleUpon. Only folks with warped
minds will see the humor in this so I can safely assume that
prudish subscribers will not be offended. Even so, sensitive
readers may wish to skip this item.

** Bonus Items for Supporters **

4.6  How to get Revenge on Your Un-favorite Web Sites
At this page just type in the address of the site you dislike
and select your preferred form of (virtual) destruction.  Gives
new meaning to the old quip "Malice in defeat, revenge in

4.7  Free Software That’s Free of Spyware Too
This site
describes itself as “a public Open Source and Freeware software
development web site, providing free publishing, packaging,
hosting, and marketing services to individual developers. The
mission of is to enrich the global internet
community by providing software developers who lack the time,
money or knowledge a centralized place to publish, control and
market their creations at no cost." Well worth a browse.

4.8  How to Defeat Automated Phone Systems
Want to by-pass all those phone options and speak direct with a
real person? Then consult this list which shows how to bypass
the automated systems of many major companies.

4.9  How Users Defeat School and Corporate Firewalls
Constraining end users from doing what they want is a near
impossible task. This site [1] is a classic example. It uses a
CGI script to allow users to view another website’s content from
within the host site. The net result is that users can access
anything they want - unless sysadmins ban the host site, that
is. Still, there's more than one way to skin a cat [2].


5.1  How to Disable Internet Explorer

There's no doubt that Internet Explorer has been a prime target
of attack for spyware merchants and other ill-intentioned
goons.  That's why many folks have turned to alternate browsers
for their web surfing.

If you are using another browser and don't use Internet Explorer
anymore, there's a case to be made that you should remove it
from your system. It is, after all, a potential security threat
so, if you don't need it, why not get rid of it?

Except, getting rid of IE is not that easy. In fact, with later
versions of Windows there's no satisfactory way of removing it
completely without risking crippling Windows itself.

That hasn't stopped folks from trying to remove IE, however, and
you can find several techniques documented on various web sites.

Instead of removing IE I favor the simple and safer approach of
disabling it. Sure, it may not provide the same degree of
security as complete removal but that's a small price to pay
compared to the cost of potentially de-stabilizing Windows.

There are several disabling techniques but I suggest the method
below as it's simple, easy to reverse and doesn't interfere with
the operation of the Windows Update service.

Step 1.  From IE select Tools/Internet Options/Connections/LAN
Step 2.  Put a tick in the check box next to "Use a Proxy Server
         for your LAN ...”
Step 3.  Type in "" in the address box and "80" in the
         Port box. Don't type in the quote marks of course, just
         what's inside them.
Step 4.  Click OK.

What you've done is set up a dummy proxy server that
goes nowhere. With these setting IE cannot make an HTML
connection to the internet and vice versa. You have simply and
effectively disabled IE.

There's no magic in the address, any dead proxy address
would work just as well. I've used that particular address to
keep things simple.

If you ever need to re-enable Internet Explorer start it up and
select Tools/Internet Options/Connections/LAN Settings from the
toolbar and un-check the box "Use a Proxy Server for your LAN

If you really want to remove IE more completely then you can
check out these resources but, as I said, I don't recommend it.

Windows 95 - Windows 2000 SR1

Windows 2000 and later.


6.1  Free System Information Utility with Built-in Toolkit
There are a lot of system information utilities available but
this one really impressed me. First, it's a stand-alone product
that doesn't require installation. This means that it can be run
from a USB flash drive or CD to analyze any PC. Second, it
reports in detail on just about every aspect of a PC including
specs for motherboard, BIOS, CPU, devices, memory, video, disk
drivers, ports, printers, operating system, installed programs,
processes, services, serial numbers (CD keys), users, open
files, system uptime, network, network shares, as well as real-
time monitors for CPU, memory, page file usage and network
traffic, currently active network connections, installed codecs,
and more. Finally, it includes a really useful set of tools
including Windows password crackers and passwords revealers. All
up, a product that should be in everyone's toolkit. Freeware
(donations welcome), all Windows versions, 1.3MB.

** Bonus Freebie for Supporters **

6.2  Best Digital Photo Editor For Average Users?
I've been looking for some time for a free digital editor that's
easy to install and easy to use. Something that average folks
could use to touch-up, re-size and compress their photos for
email transmission.  The Gimp will do the job but is way too
hard to install. from Washington State University
gets closer to the mark but requires the massive .net framework
to be pre-installed and, additionally, will only work with the
latest versions of Windows.  Last week I stumbled on a product
called PhotoPlus 6.0 from a company called Serif. I must say
that it's an impressive piece of work. It installs easily, is
loaded with features including layer support. In fact, it looks
and feels like a "lite" version of Adobe PhotoShop except that
it is relatively easy to use. I say "relatively" because
graphics editing is by its nature not simple. There is a whole
set of concepts like color picking, brush sizing, cropping, and
effects filters that just have to be understood before you can
effectively use any graphics editing product. That said, I feel
PhotoPlus was just about as intuitive as you can get.  However,
since I'm an experienced PhotoShop user, I'm not the best person
to ask.  Please give me your feedback. Freeware (registration
required), all Windows versions, 19.4MB.

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