Your pointer to the very best
tech support information on the Web.
Issue 62 - 15th October 2001
Welcome to Support Alert, the email newsletter that
points you to the best technical support resources
on the Internet.
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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
Firstly, my thanks to all of you who replied to my question
last time. The result was overwhelmingly in favour of plain
text rather than HTML, so that's how we'll be staying.
So, Microsoft has finally woken up to the fact that it is
indirectly responsible for the majority of the biggest security
problems in IT. Sure, Microsoft doesn't write viruses, but
Outlook's address book and Word's macro language don't exactly
help matters. Actually I lied about Microsoft not writing
viruses. Wasn't the very first Word macro virus written by
someone at Microsoft as an experiment, which then went wrong
and escaped into the wild?
And it's not just the spreading of viruses where Microsoft is
at fault. The company has issued 51 security patches so far
this year, plugging holes in its products.
But what really made Microsoft sit up and take action was a
recent report from a respected research company which stated
that Microsoft's corporate Web server product, IIS, was not
secure enough to be used in a corporate environment and that
customers should consider dumping it in favour of something
which didn't attract so much attention from hackers. This
stinging attack has the potential to hit Microsoft where it
hurts the most - right in Bill's bank balance.
So, if you look at http://www.microsoft.com/security, you can
read about something called Microsoft's Strategic Technology
Protection Program. You can download a comprehensive security
toolkit which explains how to protect your business systems
from hackers and viruses.
All credit to Microsoft for providing, free of charge, the
tools that are so desperately needed. But did it really have
to take so long?
PS: I reckon I spend about 80% of my working day using
Microsoft Word. But which programs do you use the most?
Let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
so I can ensure that Tech Support Alert and our sister
publications continue to remain useful and relevant to you.
IN THIS ISSUE
1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
- IT Reviews
- PC Health Check
- Microsoft Security Toolkit
- SupportDesk 4.2
- Server Aliasing
- Latest from Laplink
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
- Novell Client Continues to Request Password Change
- New Outlook XP security patch
- IE assumes incorrect security settings
- Excel and PowerPoint Macro Security Bypass
- Windows 2000 Backup
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
- Test your Skills
- WinXP Phone Home
- Is it obsolete yet?
- Print VB listings in colour!
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES
- Office XP Data Recovery
- Windows 2000 Disk Quotas
1. TOP SUPPORT SITES
We've mentioned this site before, but it's recently been expanded
so we thought it deserved another plug. IT Reviews is a Web site
at which professional IT journalists post reviews of IT products,
so you can check out a piece of hardware or software before you
buy it. It's easy to use, and access to the reviews is free.
So, you want a Web site but you don't want to pay for hosting,
learn FrontPage or HTML, or do any of the standard things that
you traditionally need to do in order to get your site up
and running. Sitemotor reckons that it's the answer to your
prayers. It's an automated site for building, hosting and
editing Web sites with the minimum of fuss. Not necessarily the
answer for corporate mega-sites, but great for the web-curious.
PC Health Check
Not sure if your PC is running at full speed? Drop it in
for a pitstop at this site, and let it check out whether
there's any room for improvement.
This site offers free tech support on all PC and Windows
matters. Another one to add to your list of places to
try, before finally admitting defeat.
Microsoft Security Toolkit
As mentioned above, Microsoft has made available an excellent
Security Toolkit to help you lock down important servers and
workstations and then to keep them secure. You'll find the
full product in downloadable form on the Web, though not yet
for Windows XP. That will be coming shortly.
In case you didn't know, steganography is the art of hiding
confidential data. For example, encode your secret passwords
into the left-most bits of each pixel in a .JPG file of
an abstract graphic, and no one except you will know that the
information is there. Read all about it, and download some
programs to do your own stegging, right here.
Richmond Systems has released version 4.2 of its help desk
suite, which now features a new Web-based interface that
integrates remote control, email, support desk, knowledge
base and more into a single easy-to-use screen.
You have 2 LAN servers. You need to take one out of service
to upgrade it. But while it's out of service, all requests
from clients to access it will fail. Wouldn't it be useful
if you could make the remaining server respond to requests
from the old one as well as itself, by having it answer to
its own \\servername and the other machine's \\servername
too? Well, you can, and all you need is this great free tool.
Latest from Laplink
The company behind the most famous file transfer program has
launched two new products. PDAsync lets you transfer data
between your desktop PC and a mobile phone or PDA. FileSync,
meanwhile, is a cut-down version of Laplink.
3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
Novell Client Continues to Request Password Change
A bug in the most recent Novell client for Windows can result
in users being prompted to change expired passwords even after
the password has already been changed. You can download a
patch for this from Novell's web site. And you can read more
about it, and about lots more bugs too, at bugnet.com.
New Outlook XP security patch
There are now 3 security fixes for Outlook 2002. The latest
one amends Outlook so that you receive a warning if the
size of a .PST or .OST data file approaches the 2 GB limit.
Without the patch, once you hit the limit your file becomes
IE assumes incorrect security settings
Microsoft has released a patch for Internet Explorer v5. This
fixes 3 separate problems. The first problem could allow
a malicious Web site to be treated by IE as being in a trusted
zone, thus allowing restricted code such as VBScript to run.
Full details are on the Web. We recommend that you install this
patch on any machines running IE5.
Excel and PowerPoint Macro Security Bypass
A new patch from Microsoft fixes a problem with Excel and
PowerPoint for both Mac and Windows. Without the patch, all
versions of Excel and PowerPoint could be made to run macro
code without the permission of the PC's user.
Windows 2000 Backup
There's a problem with the Windows 2000 backup utility, when
you use the /un command line switch to schedule a backup
at a later point in time. When the time comes for the
unattended backup, the program asks whether it's OK to overwrite
the current tape and then waits for the user to click a
button. This is clearly not ideal for an unattended backup.
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
Test your Skills
There are lots of IT certification sites offering free stuff
but by far our favourite is BeachFront Direct. Get free quizzer
downloads on Win2k, Network+, CCNA and more.
Our favourite software in the office this month is WebStyle v2
from Xara. It makes fancy graphic headings and dividers and
banners and stuff for your Web site. It's simple to use, and
the results are really rather good. You can download a demo
version, which only has a small subset of the available graphic
templates, but it's still worth a look. Recommended.
WinXP Phone Home
As the Windows XP launch date of October 25th edges ever closer,
the Microsoft publicity campaign is in overdrive. To ensure that
people like us keep mentioning Windows XP, the company is carefully
trickling out announcements on an almost daily basis. Among
the current crop of news, most of which is rather dull, comes
details of a new Windows Messenger client which will allow your
PC to make phone calls across the internet to another PC or
to any telephone in the world. Neat. Though our experience of
internet telephony is that it doesn't always work out as cheap
as you might expect.
Is it obsolete yet?
With Windows XP on the horizon, is Windows NT officially
obsolete and unsupported? What about Windows 95 or even
Win98? Check out the official Microsoft guide to what's
current and what's ancient in the world of Windows.
Print VB listings in colour!
One helpful thing about Visual Basic is that program listings
on screen appear in different colours to indicate code,
comments, errors and so on. But print out the listing, or
paste it into Word, and the colours are lost. But there
is a way to preserve the colours when printing.
5. TECH SUPPORT RESOURCES FROM ITP
Office XP Data Recovery
A system crash usually results in the loss of all the
work you've done since you last saved. But not if you're
using new Office XP, says Microsoft. Can it really be true?
The current issue of PC Support Advisor examines the new
data recovery features in Office XP and you can read the
complete article online, completely free.
Windows 2000 Disk Quotas
There are 2 ways to ensure that you always have sufficient
hard disk space on your servers. You can keep buying more
disks every time space gets low, or you can implement
storage quotas to ensure that users don't take up more
space than they need. Find out how to set up disk quotas
in Windows 2000, in the latest issue of PC Network Advisor.
Or read the full article online, free, right now.
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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