Your pointer to the very best
tech support information on the Web.
Issue 61 - 1st October 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
So Windows XP is finally upon us. You won't be able to buy
a shrink-wrapped copy until 25th October, but various companies
have already started shipping machines with the new operating
WinXP is a very significant release. No longer do we have
code platforms, with the relatively unreliable and unstable
95/98/Me kernel for home users and the much better NT/2k
system for business computing. This will help to keep things
simple, and anyone who buys a computer for home use will now
receive a much more reliable pre-installed OS.
There is, though, still a large degree of discrimination
between home and business users. The entry-level version
of Windows XP runs the same kernel as the business version,
so it's just as stable and reliable. But Microsoft has
deliberately crippled it by, for example, removing its ability
to log into a domain.
If you buy a new PC, you'll now get Windows XP as standard.
And there's certainly no reason to object. It's a better
product than WinMe or Windows 2000, both of which are now
But should you consider upgrading your current operating system
to the new XP? We say no. Don't waste your money. If
your computer is working just fine, there's little to be
gained by installing a new OS. It's unlikely to make your
machine faster. You can almost certainly get a better speed
improvement by formatting the hard disk and reinstalling
your current OS and applications, to remove all the rubbish
that builds up on a typical PC.
If there's a few hundred dollars burning a hole in your pocket
and you're desperate to spend them on improving your PC,
buy some more RAM or another hard disk instead, or upgrade
the CPU. It will do far more good than an OS update.
Yes, WinXP is the best Windows ever. But sorry Microsoft,
there are just not enough genuinely new and useful
features or facilities to make it worth the bother of
upgrading. And the irritating copy protection system isn't
going to help anyone either.
PS: I sometimes get asked why Tech Support Alert is delivered
in plain text format rather than pretty HTML. We do it this
way because we think that HTML email is unnecessary, wastes
bandwidth and poses a security risk. Do you agree? Or
would you prefer it in HTML? Email me and let me know.
IN THIS ISSUE
1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
- Ask the Security Experts
- Ask the Library
- PC Help Live
- Nimda Check
- FrontPage Sorts Tables!
- Outlook Email Organizer
- Modem Info and Drivers
- Windows Upgrade Advisor
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
- Patches Required for Nimda
- Email Security
- 11165 And Counting
- Exchange DoS Attack
- Network Security Advice
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
- Linux Gets Oracle
- Hoaxes and Urban Legends
- BestCrypt 7 in Beta
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES
- SharePoint for Free
- Switch That Chip!
1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
Ask the Security Experts
One of our favourite IT security sites has a new security
clinic. If you have a security question, post it on the
site and it will be forwarded to a group of 100 experts
from leading IT security consultancies around the world.
Ask the Library
We loved this. A huge database of articles, searchable
by using plain English questions. It claims to offer
research without the legwork, and we wouldn't argue with that.
Definitely worth a look.
PC Help Live
The number of PC support sites is growing, and here's another
good one. All help is currently free, though a paid-for
option will also be available soon. A great source of
information, patches and drivers.
Russ Cooper's team at the NTBUGTRAQ site have put together
a free tool for detecting the Nimda worm on servers. The
tool is in the form of an XML file which works with the
HFNetChk tool, released by Microsoft last month to help
sysadmins check that servers are running all the latest
FrontPage Sorts Tables!
One major omission from Microsoft FrontPage, even the latest
XP version, is the ability to sort tables. There's no way
to put a set of HTML table rows into alphabetical order
except to load the table into Word or Excel. But Microsoft
has finally seen sense and released a free FrontPage add-in
which will do the job just fine.
Outlook Email Organizer
Nelson Email Organizer, or NEO, is a new software product
which, claims the designers, will save you huge amounts
of time by helping to categorise your incoming email.
Modem Info and Drivers
Need a modem driver, or information about any modem-related
matter? There's a good chance you'll find it at this site.
Windows Upgrade Advisor
Microsoft has produced a free tool which will check your PC
and advise whether it is capable of running Windows XP
without any problems. It checks for possible hardware and
software compatibility problems. And so it should - considering
that it's a 50 MB download!
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
Patches Required for Nimda
Microsoft has posted some useful information on the Nimda
worm, including details of the patches you need to apply
to prevent infection, and the steps you will need to take
if you find the worm on your systems.
Nimda has proved a reminder, yet again, that email security
is about more than installing regular updates to your
virus scanner. This Microsoft site contains a huge number
of interesting and useful articles which will help you
understand the risks and, hopefully, protect your systems
more effectively from all sorts of email-borne attacks.
11165 And Counting
The latest Internet worm, Nimda, continues to wreak havoc
around the world. If you haven't already installed the patches,
do it soon. BugNet, the home of thousands of bug fixes and
associated advice, reports that its servers have been probed
by Nimda-infected machines 11165 times so far. Scary. Just
goes to show that this one really is a problem, and not
simply hyped up by the anti-virus companies. Why not check out
the site and see how much the figure has increased since we
prepared this news item?
Exchange DoS Attack
If you run Exchange 2000, you need to download and install
a new Microsoft patch which prevents a potential Denial of Service
attack vulnerability. An attacker could cause the system
to slow down by repeatedly requesting a non-existent file
from his own mailbox.
Network Security Advice
Microsoft's Technet database has a huge amount of useful
information on network security. Whether you need to
protect your intranet from intruders, or you want a thorough
understanding of PPTP or IPSec, you'll find it here.
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
Linux Gets Oracle
Red Hat Linux 7.1 has been validated by Oracle as being
able to run Oracle9i Database and Oracle9a Application Server.
Oracle will now offer and support its software running
under Red Hat Linux. You can just hear Microsoft's WinXP
team planning their retaliation, can't you?
If you're looking for a protocol analyser and network monitor
that can analyse internet traffic too, take a look at the
latest release of LanExplorer. Read all about it, and
download a 10-day free trial copy, from the Web.
Hoaxes and Urban Legends
In the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Centre, various
snippets have been circulating on the Internet about hidden
messages in some Windows fonts. They're hoaxes. The flight
number was not Q33NY, for example. Next time you're tempted
to circulate a funny email to your colleagues, check out
this excellent online list of known hoaxes and fakes first.
BestCrypt 7 in Beta
Our favourite encryption program, BestCrypt, is about to undergo
a major upgrade. Check out what's new in version 7, and download
the beta if you wish. We like this program because it gets
around almost all of the major security problems with Windows.
And it's far better than the Encrypting File System.
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES FROM ITP
SharePoint for Free
October's issue of PC Network Advisor has just been published.
In it you'll find articles on Microsoft SharePoint; how
Motorola uses Previo to manage users' PCs; smart cards under
Windows 2000; Win2k disk quotas and how to use them; a look
at the Microsoft MSDE Data Engine; plus a major article on
If you don't already subscribe to PCNA, read more online.
You can also access this month's article about SharePoint
free of charge.
Switch That Chip!
The latest issue of PC Support Advisor includes articles
on Windows XP Product Activation; the new data recovery
features in Windows XP; troubleshooting tips for PageMaker
and Illustrator on the Mac; and how to make your Web site
appeal to a global audience. Plus we've a major article
on CPU upgrades, which explains precisely which options
are available to you if you want to make your machine
If you're not a PCSA subscriber, check out the site now.
You can even read our brand new article on CPU upgrades
completely 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
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(c) Copyright International Technology Publishing 2001