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            Issue 45 - 1st February 2001

Welcome to Support Alert, the email newsletter that
points you to the best technical support resources
on the Internet.

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and discover the secret.



Most days, I enjoy working in IT.  After all, it's the
way that I've made my living for the past 17 years.  But
sometimes, something happens that makes me despair.  And
the latest incident happened yesterday.

I was helping my friend Carol fix her PC. It needed defragging,
the registry needed cleaning, some old software needed
removing - all standard stuff.  She then said that she'd really
like a sound card and speakers - something that the machine
didn't have.

So we popped down to the local hardware store (hey, remember
when hardware stores used to sell paraffin and wood?) and
picked up the necessary kit.  Then, back to her office to
get it up and running.

The card claimed to be Plug 'n Play, and the total lack of
jumpers and DIP switches did nothing to persuade me otherwise.
So we plugged in the card, put the PC back together, and set
about installing the driver.  But this is where confusion
set it.

The company that makes this particular card also makes many
other sound cards, modems, Ethernet adaptors and more.  And
all the drivers, for all its products, were on the single CD.
There was no indication on the packaging as to which particular
sound card we'd bought.  And there was no utility on the CD to
help us find out.  So we had no choice but to open up the PC
again and look at the sound card itself, on which was printed
the model number.  Did no one at the manufacturer think to
provide a card interrogation utility?  Or at least to put a
note in the box, reminding buyers to look at the card before
inserting it and closing the PC?

For the second time, we closed the PC and started installing
the drivers.  The machine continually crashed when copying
the driver files from the CD.  We tried copying the CD to the
hard disk and installing from there.  It still crashed.  We
tried copying the files to a floppy.  And would you believe,
it actually worked.  We finally had sound, after 2 hours of

Carol is glad that she now has sound, and she was grateful
to me for getting it working.  But why should it have to
be so insanely complicated?  I guess it's my own fault
for buying budget-priced kit, but I was only trying
to save a friend some money.

Robert Schifreen

PS:  Keep sending us details of your favourite sites, for
inclusion in Support Alert!  Our email address is



    - 24-hour Support Advice
    - What's Wrong Now?
    - Latest Bugnet Top 10
    - Pricelessware
    - Ready-made Security Policies

    - Security Administrator
    - Easy Upgrades
    - Scrolling Screen Grabber
    - New Mac client for Exchange Server

    - PowerPoint Patched
    - IIS 4.0 and 5.0 Problem
    - Major Bug in FTP
    - Windows 2000 Patches Patched

    - Whistler Will Include Copy Protection
    - First Red Hat Linux Virus
    - Top Malware
    - New AV for NetWare
    - Was it a DDoS Attack?

    - Whistler Preview
    - Running A Training Course



24-hour Support Advice
Tech24.com is a tech support site offering free help for
computer users.  It promises an emailed answer to your query
within just 4 hours.

What's Wrong Now?
A Support Alert subscriber writes to tell us about this
excellent site which will help you find the answers to
all sorts of technical problems.

Latest Bugnet Top 10
The Bugnet site has updated its list of the top 10 bugs currently
affecting PC users.  The list includes problems with Word 2000, and
instances of QuarkXPress 4.x crashing Windows.

Rick Friedline writes to tell us of a site which lists a
large collection of freeware which is judged as being so
good that it's priceless.

Ready-made Security Policies
If you need to write or revise your in-house IT security
policy, check out the latest version of Charles Cresson Wood's
book of 1000 ready-made policies.  Just copy and paste from
the book, or the CD-ROM, and the job's done.


Security Administrator
Ixis has announced version 5.1 of Security Administrator, its
tool for Windows 9x that adds the ability to password-protect
access to components such as the control panel, registry
editing, or specified applications.

Easy Upgrades
Secure Copy is a program that copies Windows server directories
from one directory or server to another, while retaining NTFS
permissions and creating file shares.  If you're moving
servers, it's well worth checking out.

Scrolling Screen Grabber
You know the problem.  You need to grab an image from a Web
page to include in a manual or staff handout, but the page
is too long for the screen.  What you need is a program
that will scroll the screen and append to the bitmap image
as it goes.  Does such a thing exist?  Yes!

New Mac client for Exchange Server
Microsoft has a public beta of a new Mac client for Exchange
Server.  You are invited to test it out.


PowerPoint Patched
Microsoft has issued a security fix for PowerPoint 2000
which prevents a problem that could allow arbitrary code
to run.  It's all down to an unchecked buffer.

IIS 4.0 and 5.0 Problem
Microsoft has released a patch for IIS to fix a new variant of
the "file fragment reading via .HTR" vulnerability.

Major Bug in FTP
Microsoft has admitted the existence of a serious bug in
the ftp command that ships with Windows 2000.  If you use
the append command but you type it in upper case, the ftp
program misinterprets the command and will go into
overwrite mode instead of append mode.  A fix is downloadable.

Windows 2000 Patches Patched
Microsoft has issued a patch for the mechanism in which
hotfixes are applied to Windows 2000.  Under some cases, the
problem could cause the system to remove a security hotfix
from a server, thus rendering it liable again to a problem
that was previously fixed.


Whistler Will Include Copy Protection
Companies around the world have expressed concern over
anti-piracy measures that Microsoft is introducing for
Whistler, the successor to Windows 2000.  You will need
to contact Microsoft for a serial number in order to activate
the Whistler CD, and attempts to request a second serial number
for the same CD will fail.

First Red Hat Linux Virus
The first virus to attack Red Hat Linux was recently discovered.
It attacks version 6.2 and 7.0 of the product and, if activated,
modifies and deletes certain files.

Top Malware
SecurityPortal has produced a fascinating list of the top
malware (viruses, trojans etc) programs of 2000.  Check the
list, then check your AV program to ensure that it could cope
with detecting any of the entries on the list.

New AV for NetWare
Kaspersky Labs, a well-known Russian company specialising in
antivirus software, has a new system for NetWare. If you need
to ensure that your Novell servers are virus-free, check it out.

Was it a DDoS Attack?
Microsoft's Web site has been unavailable for a number of
hours recently.  The official story was that someone released
a set of faulty DNS entries.  Many people were of the opinion
that this had all the hallmarks of the company suffering
a Distributed Denial Of Service attack, ie a hack. Microsoft
later confirmed this.


Whistler Preview
The latest issue of PC Network Advisor has just been published
and includes a first look at Whistler, the forthcoming successor
to Windows 2000.  If you don't subscribe to PCNA you can still
read this article online, free of charge.  Check out the Web site
for the article and for subscription information.

Running A Training Course
The new issue of PC Support Advisor includes the second part
of our comprehensive article on planning and delivering an
in-house technical training course.  Read it online now, free
of charge.  And if you don't subscribe to PCSA, check out the
Web site for details of how to join.


                  ABOUT SUPPORT ALERT

Support Alert is produced by International Technology
Publishing, the publishers of PC Support Advisor and
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(c) Copyright International Technology Publishing 2001