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Issue 53 - 1st June 2001
Welcome to Support Alert, the email newsletter that
points you to the best technical support resources
on the Internet.
Support Alert is free. If you like it, why not share
the good news and email a copy to a friend or work
Support Alert is sponsored by PC Support Advisor and
PC Network Advisor, the standard reference sources for
Check out the following free tutorials available now
* Understanding TCP/IP
* How to Dual Boot Windows 2000
* Understanding the OSI 7 Layer Model
* The Windows Registry Explained
* How to Create Bootable CDs
* IPv6 Tutorial
Plus dozens more.
FROM THE EDITOR
The Internet is about to undergo a major change. No one knows
precisely how or when the change will happen, but everyone
accepts that something big is about to occur.
The reason is quite simple. Advertising revenue. Or
the lack of it.
The number of clicks that advertisers receive on their banner
ads is declining rapidly. In some cases, clicks are down by
90% compared with 18 months ago.
Those who claim that Internet advertising is still healthy
like to point out that ads aren't just about clicks. They're
mostly about brand awareness. After all, a typical radio or
TV ad doesn't always implore you to go out and buy something
right now. In the case of expensive items, that would be
impractical. Instead, the ad builds up your awareness of a
particular brand of car, TV, computer or whatever, so that
when you are ready to buy such an item the advertised brand
will subconsciously make its way onto your shortlist.
But Website banner ads don't work like that. They are mostly
placed by companies who want you to click onto their site and
buy something. There's no brand-building going on here, it's
straightforward appeals for your cash right now. And people
just aren't clicking on ads like they used to.
It's not as if surfers take a look at the ads and decide not
to bother clicking. Most people have learned to ignore that
top inch or so of a Web page, and don't even look at the
banner ads any more.
And then there are the programs such as Web Washer, which hook
into your browser to prevent ads being displayed at all. Not
only does this remove the distractions from your screen, but
it speeds up the loading of Web pages.
Similar technology has existed for many years, which could allow
manufacturers to produce VCRs that didn't record or play back
adverts. But all kinds of pressures have been brought to bear
by various interested parties, so such machines have not really
seen the light of day. On the Internet, things don't work quite
like that, so banner ad removers are common and are growing in
popularity by the day.
With the huge downturn in banner ad revenue, how will the Web
sites finance themselves? Maybe they'll finally have to
persuade users to pay subscription fees. And that will
represent a huge shift in the way that the Web works.
IN THIS ISSUE
1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
- Office Site Revamped
- Tech Know-How
- Intelligence Information
- Most Valued Professional
- Beating PKZIP
- Rearrange your Keyboard
- Drive Imaging
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
- Word 2000 Weakness
- ISAPI Unchecked Buffer
- Media Player Patched
- Free BugNet Trial Sub
- Windows 2000 SP2
- Win2k SP2 Proxy Problems
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
- Sam Spade
- Free CourseWare
- Free Graphics
- MSDN Library
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES
- Windows 2000 EFS
- Office XP
1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
Office Site Revamped
To coincide with the launch of Office XP, Microsoft has
revamped its Office website and even given it a new name.
So now there's a single starting point for all the
information you need about all versions of Office.
This rather handy Web site offers a comprehensive range of
services for users and support staff alike who are looking
for the answer to their technical problems. The site
offers a basic service for free, but there are also paid-for
options if you want top-quality service.
Control-F1 is a support site for tech support staff, the
motto of which is "we help you help them". Check it out
for the latest information, tips and tricks.
If you're into Visual Basic coding and you're looking for
sample code to illustrate some particularly tricky concepts,
you're unlikely to find a better online resource than the
Andrea VB site. It's packed with some superbly useful
demo code snippets as well as some full applications too.
Highly recommended for anyone using Visual Basic.
Cryptome is a site which specialises in news and information
about intelligence matters. It also makes great reading
for anyone with an interest in IT security, as it provides
ideal background material on what organisations and governments
around the world are doing to guard against the risk of
hacker attacks. This one's definitely worth a look.
Most Valued Professional
Microsoft's MVP scheme has its own Web site, which is open
to all. And it's a superb resource, with links to hundreds
of useful places.
An easy way to free up hard disk space on workstations
and servers is to compress those files which are rarely
used. If you've been using PKZIP to do this, or other
tools which create PKZIP-compatible archives, it might be
time to think again. In our tests, BZIP was by far the
best at shrinking text files. Our 211 MB test file reduced
to 27 MB under PKZIP and GZIP, but just 17 MB with BZIP 2.
Rearrange your Keyboard
A Support Alert subscriber recently mailed to ask us
if we knew how to change the keyboard layout under Windows.
As luck would have it, we'd recently learned of a program
to do just that. It's shareware, and costs US$20.
If you're about to upgrade the hard disk in one or more of
your users' PCs you'll probably be looking for a drive
imaging program. These tools let you copy an entire drive
to a new device, including all OS files, so there's no need
to reinstall Windows plus all the applications once the
upgrade is done. And thankfully, this Web site will make
it easy for you to choose a drive imaging program.
If you're distributing custom software to users within your
company then you'll probably need an installation wizard to
guide the users through the process. Most programming
languages come with such facilities, though some are fairly
limited. Inno Setup is simple, easy to use, and creates
a single EXE file that users can download from a Web site
or network share. It'll even create desktop shortcuts and
registry entries. And it's totally free.
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
Word 2000 Weakness
Microsoft has issued a patch for Word 97 and 2000 which
fixes a serious security problem. The bug allows viruses
and trojan programs to travel in RTF files, and for these
files to open without Word triggering its antivirus
precautions. Get the patch. Do it now.
ISAPI Unchecked Buffer
Windows 2000 implements the Internet Printing Protocol
via an ISAPI extension which is access by IIS 5.0. Microsoft
has released a security patch for the ISAPI extension
which fixes a buffer overflow problem. If you don't
patch your Windows 2000 servers, this could allow a
remote hacker to gain control of your system.
Media Player Patched
If your users are running version 6.4 or 7.0 of the Microsoft
Media Player, you need to know about a security bug which
Microsoft recently patched. Full details are on the Web. You
can fix the problem by upgrading to version 7.1, which is now
available for free download.
Free BugNet Trial Sub
BugNet is currently offering free 30-day trial subscriptions
to its service, which claims to be the world's leading
supplier of bugfix info. If you need to be ahead of the
game, why not check it out?
Windows 2000 SP2
Last week, Microsoft finally announced that Service Pack 2
for Windows 2000 is out of beta and officially available.
It's a 101 MB download from Microsoft's site. Alternatively,
if you subscribe to PCSA or PCNA (see below for details) then
you'll find it on your PCNA 133 or PCSA 153 CD-ROM.
Win2k SP2 Proxy Problems
Installed Windows 2000 SP2? Got a problem with proxy servers?
You might well find the solution here.
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
Your firewall tells you that someone at a certain IP address
has been trying to get into your system. But now what do you
do? How do you find out who the IP address belongs to?
What you need is a Web site that will help you trace it,
by providing links to the necessary tools and a front-end
to some of the best online tracing systems. And here's
just the site you're after.
Want 5,000 pages of free downloadable courseware? You'll
find this, plus lots of training links and more, at this
rather handy site.
A British company has set up an electronic service designed
to do what traditional courier companies do, but to do
it electronically. Rather than simply emailing a file to
someone and hoping a hacker doesn't intercept it, the DespatchBox
service lets you upload it to a secure server and specify
the people who will subsequently be allowed to retrieve it.
Working on a Web site or intranet? Looking for some free
clipart, photos, banners, buttons, bars etc? This site contains
around 12,000 free images. Just remember not to close the
advertising window which appears, or yet more similar windows
will keep popping up.
Microsoft's Developer Network site has a huge online
library, which contains full product documentation,
Office Resource Kits, and much more besides.
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES FROM ITP
Windows 2000 EFS
The June issue of PC Network Advisor has just been published,
and includes an article on the Encrypting File System that
is included with Windows 2000. Not a subscriber to PCNA?
Don't worry, you can still read this article online, free
of charge, right now.
Microsoft has just started shipping Office XP, and the latest
issue of PC Support Advisor has a detailed preview of what's
new in this version. Should you upgrade or stick with 2000?
Just what are Task Panes? How does the product activation work?
Check out our coverage online, free of charge.
ABOUT SUPPORT ALERT
Support Alert is produced by International Technology
Publishing, the publishers of PC Support Advisor and
PC Network Advisor, the standard resource publications
for tech support professionals.
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(c) Copyright International Technology Publishing 2001