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                         Issue 21 -  1st January 2000

Welcome to PC Alert, the email newsletter that keeps you informed
of the best new support resources on the Internet.

If you've missed any previous issues and you'd like to get copies,
email me at editor@itp-journals.com.

Robert Schifreen

PS:  May I take this opportunity to wish you a happy new year, and all
the best for 2000.  Enjoy this issue of PC Alert.



1.  Ask Maxwell
2.  WinDrivers.com
3.  Microsoft SYSKEY patch
4.  Sarah Flannery
5.  Smartgroups
6.  NetWare disk usage tools
7.  Daily Web Listings
8.  Spreadsheet Assistant
9.  Corporate Security Overview
10. ResearchIndex
11. Computer Forensics
12. O'Reilly on Samba
13. New Year Resolutions
14. WordPerfect Law Office
15. Free NT Audit Tool
16. Y2K
17. Microsoft Analyzer
18. Australia Bug Reports
19. More Drivers
20. Internet Security Review
21. NT Defrag
22. Windows 2000 Gold


1. Ask Maxwell

Microsoft has a new staff member on its online support network.  Maxwell,
a search system based on the Ask Jeeves engine, is designed to take the
guesswork out of finding the most appropriate Microsoft technical support

The system currently knows answers to questions about Windows 98 - other
operating systems, and MS Office apps, will be added over the coming



2. WinDrivers

We've reported before in PC Alert about useful sites containing
drivers, and here's another.  WinDrivers.com has pointers to thousands
of drivers for all sorts of Windows devices, plus general pages of
technology news and other useful sections.  Well worth checking out.



3.  Microsoft SYSKEY patch

You've probably heard of L0phtcrack, the NT password cracker which
works by sucking the encrypted user and Administrator passwords from
the registry and then cracking them by brute force.  With NT4 SP3,
Microsoft included a tool called SYSKEY which adds an extra layer
of encryption to the security database and supposedly stops
programs like l0phtcrack working.  Only it doesn't, because someone
recently published a detailed paper explaining just how weak the
extra SYSKEY encryption really is.

So, Microsoft has a patch that turns SYSKEY into what it should
have been in the first place.



4.  Sarah Flannery

If you're interested in security, and encryption in particular, then
you may have heard of the Cayley-Purser algorithm, developed by a
16 year old Irish girl.  Details of the system, including how to
break it, are now available.



5.  Smartgroups

Want to set up your own conferencing system on the Internet, rather
like a CompuServe forum?  Smartgroups lets you do it for free.  Ideal for
sharing ideas with colleagues and/or customers although, like any
such system, one shouldn't assume that it's 100% secure and so you
should not use it to discuss highly confidential matters.



6.  NetWare disk usage tools

Got a NetWare server?  Want to know which user's files are taking up
the most disk space?  You'll find some useful NetWare tools, including
a disk hog one, here.



7.  Daily Web Listings

Internet journalist David Brake has a new site, which lists the Web sites
that he finds interesting.  The site is normally updated every day, so
there's always bound to be something of interest.



8.  Spreadsheet Assistant

The Spreadsheet Assistant is a shareware add-in that adds 200 tools
to Excel, including the ability to put sticky notes in your worksheets.

Useful for power-users as well as for support staff who maintain
complex Excel spreadsheets, and you can download a free evaluation
version from the Web site.



9.  Corporate Security Overview

One of the writers at the rather useful securityportal.com site has
put together an excellent article on corporate IT security.  If you need
an overview of the subject, this is well worth a look.



10.  ResearchIndex

We've all heard of Web search engines that work by automatically scanning
for HTML files.  The next step, it seems, is to construct a "digital
library" by looking for interesting documents, grabbing the file,
automatically building a citation index, and providing full text search

ResearchIndex currently has 220,000 articles on all sorts of subjects, and
is growing by the day.



11.  Computer Forensics

So, you reckon that someone in your company has been using their PC
to get up to no good?  The next step is forensic examination of the
No, you don't have to dust it for fingerprints.  Instead, you use all
sorts of clever technical tools to look for evidence in hidden files,
deleted disk space, etc.

Dan Farmer, the author of the Satan tool, co-hosted a workshop on
the subject back in August, and the full presentations from the day
are available for download.



12.  O'Reilly on Samba

Samba is a freeware product that helps you link Unix networks to NT ones.
The full text of the O'Reilly book "Using Samba" is now available for
free, in either PDF and HTML format.



13. New Year Resolutions

So, you're designing or updating the corporate Web site but you don't
know which screen resolution is the most commonly used.  Are there still
really lots of people with 640x480 screens, or can you safely design
for 1800x1200?  Or is the answer somewhere in between?

This Web site automatically gathers stats on Web browser resolutions
used by visitors, and the results make very interesting reading.


Meanwhile if you want to know how the Net is being used in various
countries, and by how many people, that information is also available.



14.  WordPerfect Law Office

Before WordPerfect lost most of its market to Microsoft, it was
very big in the legal world.  Now Corel is trying to claw back some
of that market share, with an Office product specially made for legal



15.  Free NT Audit Tool

To coincide with the millennium, and the fact that there may be hackers
out there with nothing better to do over the holiday period than break
into your systems, NT OBJECTives Inc has a special offer.

Until January 14th, you can download a fully-functional free copy
of its VisualList product for NT, which is a software tool to help
you analyze NT security logs to detect unauthorised logins.



16.  Y2K

Just in case you're still not sure about the Y2K-readiness of your
applications and hardware, you'll find details from various manufacturers



17.  Microsoft Analyzer

And Microsoft has an automatic analysis tool that checks all the MS
software on a PC and reports which of it is not Y2K compliant.  It's all
a bit late now, of course, but if you still reckon you need help,
it's available.

Right, that's it.  No more Y2K stories, ever.  Hopefully.



18.  Australia Bug Reports

OK then, just one more.  The official Australian site that lists actual
problems which have occurred and which can be put down to the Y2K bug.



19.  More Drivers

Still looking for that elusive Windows driver?  Here's yet another
site that may have what you're looking for.



20.  Internet Security Review

Meanwhile, if your security interests lie more in Internet-related
threats, take a look at the online edition of Internet Security Review



21.  NT Defrag

Windows NT doesn't come with a hard disk defragmenter.  But that doesn't
mean that NT disks don't get fragmented and affect system performance.

One of the best-known NT defraggers is Diskeeper, from Executive Software,
and you can download a 30-day trial version from the company's Web site.



22.  Windows 2000 Gold

Windows 2000 has gone gold.  Final code was released to manufacturing
before Christmas, and the product will ship in mid-February.



                             About PC Alert

PC Alert is produced by International Technology Publishing, the
publishers of PC Support Advisor and PC Network Advisor, the standard
resource publications for PC and network support professionals.

To unsubscribe, send blank email to

In the current issue of PC Network Advisor (issue 113), featured
articles include:

<> How to secure NetWare 5
<> The future of mobile data comms
<> How to install a firewall
<> Nortel, and the convergence of voice and data
<> How to implement email

In this month's issue of PC Support Advisor (issue 133), we
have articles on:

<> How to write Excel macros
<> Alternative browsers to Microsoft Internet Explorer
<> What's new in the Office 2000 user interface
<> Troubleshooting common problems with monitors

(c) Copyright International Technology Publishing 2000