Support Alert

           Your pointer to the very best
        tech support information on the Web.

             Issue 66 - The Best of 2001

Let's face it, 2001 was a bad year. A great year to forget. Unfortunately, many of us won't be able to.

All we can hope is that 2002 will be better and you know what, I've got this really strong feeling that it is going to be.

Here at Tech Support Alert we've actually had a good year.  Our site traffic has grown enormously and subscriptions to Support Alert Newsletter have exploded. And we've now got several new volunteer guides at work, scouring the Web looking for great new sites for you. Thanks guys, we all appreciate your contribution.

During the year we've had a few surprises. None of us here, for example could possibly have predicted the popularity with our readers of the article on Port Scanning.  Guess a lot of you out there are really paranoid about security. Or maybe a lot of you are hackers ;>)

Another surprise was the popularity of item we ran last issue about our survey of cheap suppliers of inkjet cartridges. We did this survey for our own purposes and only posted it on the website as an after- thought. Proves I'm not the only cheapskate around!

For those who missed these items, you'll find them listed below, along with dozens of others, in this special "Best of 2001" issue.

Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, even if it's nothing at all, here's to a great 2002 from all of us at Tech Support Alert!

See you next year!

Robert Schifreen


Fixing the Unfixable
Microsoft released Service Pack 2 for Exchange 2000. This massive 190 MB download is at http://www.microsoft.com/exchange.
If you subscribe to PC Network Advisor and don't want to download the patch you'll find it on the PCNA Issue 139 CD-ROM.

Read between the Lines
Also new is version 2.0 of Microsoft Reader, which competes (very poorly, in our opinion) with Adobe Acrobat.  Get it online at http://www.microsoft.com/reader. There are also some great free e-books to download from the same site.

Oldies but Goodies
WinZip 8.1 is finally out of beta.  Grab your copy of this great utility from http://www.winzip.com.

X Files
For the fastest games and best sound, get version 8.1 of
the Microsoft DirectX drivers.  You'll find them at http://www.microsoft.com/directx

And for a bit of festive fun, try the great puzzles and mindgames at http://www.puzzles.com/PuzzleUp/WelcomeToPuzzleUp.htm.
And if you work out how to do the HexaRoll, let me know!

BEST OF 2001

We've given you hundreds of useful Web pointers during 2001,
so here's a round-up of the ones that were the most popular:

Helping the Helpers.
Over the last year we've featured dozens of free how-to articles, tutorials and troubleshooting guides from PC Support Advisor. Judging from web page hits, these were the most popular:

* Port Scanning Tools for Windows & Linux
* How to Deploy Windows XP
* How to Dual Boot Windows 2000
* Troubleshooting Monitor Problems
* How to make a CD Bootable
* Understanding Intrusion Detection Systems
* IPv6 Explained

All are now available for free at: http://www.pcsupportadvisor.com

WebAttack is a great site for Internet users, offering loads
of useful downloads and features to help you make more
of the Web and to keep your PC running smoothly.  A very professionally produced site, that we liked a lot. http://www.webattack.com

Registry Info Online
This excellent site contains just about everything you'll ever need to know about the Windows registry. So whether you simply want to improve your knowledge of the registry, or troubleshoot a particular problem, you'll find the answer here. http://registry.winguides.com

Burn a CD Online
We like this.  A file download site that includes the option
of burning your chosen files to a CD and sending it to you
by snail mail.  It costs only $10 per CD, including shipping, and will save you huge amounts of online time. Clever. http://www.burnadisc.com

Living Without Bill
While everyone else is telling you how wonderful Windows XP
is, we thought we'd be different.  So if you're fed up
with all the hype and want to know whether life is possible without contributing to Bill Gates's profits, here's the answer. http://www.livingwithoutmicrosoft.org

Catch Up
Here's something we've been waiting for, and it's superb. Download the free client tool for your PC and it will check whether updates for any of your installed software are available.  It's the easy way to ensure that you're always running the latest versions, and it's completely free. http://catchup.cnet.com

This is a great tool for managing your collection of bookmarks. Lots of readers have told us that they like this, so why not see for yourself? http://www.kaylon.com/power.html

Sweep Those Bookmarks
Wouldn't it be useful if your browser could automatically
check your list of favourite sites to ensure that they all still exist?  Well, thankfully there's a tool that does just that. http://www.manitoolssoftware.cjb.net

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. http://www.beachfrontdirect.com/tsab1.html

Tech Dictionary
This excellent computer dictionary and glossary will help
you if you need definitions of just about any IT-related
term.  Recommended. http://www.computeruser.com/resources/dictionary/noframes/index.html

Ask the Bank
Answerbank is a great free site where people ask and answer questions on all sorts of topics.  So whether you want to know how to reinstall Windows or the distance from the earth to the moon, someone will post the answer to your query. http://www.answerbank.co.uk

50 XP Tips
Have you upgraded to Windows XP yet?  If so, and you want
some tips to help things along, check out this great
collection of 50 free WinXP tips and tricks. http://www.lockergnome.com/issues/special/windowsxp.html

You've probably heard of StarOffice, the free Microsoft-compatible office suite for Windows and Linux.  But you may not have heard
that there's another free office suite available too.   It goes
by the rather stupid name of 602Pro, but has millions of users worldwide and is very highly regarded.  An unlimited site licence for corporate use is only US$200. http://www.software602.com

Cheapest compatible inkjet cartridges?
We did this survey for ourselves and only posted it as an after- thought. Who would of thought it would be so popular? Must be a lot of cheapskates like me out there.  Bookmark the page below so you'll know exactly where to go when you next run out of ink. http://www.techsupportalert.com/cheap_inkjet_cartridges.htm

Hushmail Pro
Hush Communications is now shipping Hushmail Professional, a new add-in for Outlook 2000 and XP which adds integrated PGP encryption.  It's the easy way to make sure that your email messages can't be intercepted and spied on, and that anyone who access your Outlook mail file can't decipher what it contains. http://www.hush.com

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. http://www.windrivers.com

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. http://blog.org/

More Drivers
Still looking for that elusive Windows driver?  Here's yet another site that may have what you're looking for. http://www.drivershq.com

Virus Hoaxes
So, one of your staff has received a message about a new and dangerous virus.  You're convinced it's a hoax, but you need to be sure.  Are there any Web sites that you can check to find out?  Yes. http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/index.html

Wash Those Ads
Browsing the Web?  Fed up with banner ads?  Want an automatic way to prevent them appearing?  For free?  Then you need webwasher. http://www.webwasher.com

CokieCentral is a useful Web site which contains lots of information about Internet cookie files and the ways in which they can be misused.  If you need to ensure that you're up to date with all types of security threats, then it's worth keeping an eye on this site. http://www.cookiecentral.com

Ports Database
Internet connectivity and security depends on TCP/IP ports.  But where to find a comprehensive list of port numbers?  This Web site has just such a list. So if you need to know whether that open port on your server can safely be blocked, here's where you'll find out.# http://www.portsdb.org/

Automatic link checker
There are various Web sites which will automatically check another Web site for broken links etc.  Linkalarm is one of our favourites, and is well worth using before you release the latest version of your corporate Web site to the public. http://www.linkalarm.com

T1?  E1?  OC-3?  DS0?  Er...
If you're always forgetting whether a T1 line is faster than an E3, or what speed an OC-3c runs at, you need a handy lookup table.  And thankfully there's one on the Web. http://www.crystalinfo.com/bandwidth.html

Shush that PC
The fan is often the most unreliable component in a PC or server.  Even if it works OK, it's often incredibly noisy.  This can cause problems in small offices.  The solution is a replacement fan that's designed to be extra quiet. http://www.quietpc.com

Encyclopedia Britannica is now free to access over
the Web, with no subscription required.  Just point
your browser at http://www.britannica.com to look up.

Keep On Top
One of the best IT security sites on the Web just keeps
getting better, and is now averaging more than 35,000 visitors per month.  So if you need to keep on top of important security announcements and bug fixes, add this site to your favourites. http://www.itsecurity.com

If you'd like to print a long Word document with more than
one page of the file on each sheet of paper, or you want
to create booklets, then you really need FinePrint. Although Word 2002/XP has rudimentary booklet-printing facilities, FinePrint will do a much better job. http://www.fineprint.com

CPU Central Moves
The CPU Central site has a new address, so check out the
new home if you're looking for any information on CPUs. http://www.clickon-cpu.com

Programs Programs Everywhere
You're looking for a utility to perform a specific task.  You just know that someone somewhere has probably already written such a thing, but you don't know where to find it.  Sounds familiar?  Before you go reinventing the wheel and writing your own version, check out this site.  They've probably got it. http://www.programfiles.com

Remember the very first spreadsheet?  Before Excel or
Lotus 1-2-3 there was Visicalc, by Dan Bricklin.  The original program is now available as a free download for your PC, and is just 27 KB. http://www.bricklin.com/history/vcexecutable.htm

Secret Windows
Are there any undocumented commands in Windows, which Microsoft's programmers use but which other developers aren't supposed to know about?  You bet!  Thankfully, sites like this "Undocumented Windows" one have managed to let the cat out of the bag.  And although it only covers up to NT4, all those features are still in Win2k and even WinXP. http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/4942

Help On The Net
One of the better free support sites that we've listed
here in the past has recently been updated. http://www.helponthenet.com

Snowy White Papers
Security specialist ISS has a large range of white papers available for free download from its site.  Whether you want to know about secure e-business, setting up a VPN, or just about anything, you'll probably find it here. http://www.iss.net/customer_care/resource_center/whitepapers/

Office Keeps Exiting My Apps
We've featured this fix before, but we still get regular
emails from Support Alert subscribers who have only just encountered the bug.  So here it is again.  If you have installed Office 2000, or an Off2k Service Pack, and your Office apps keep quitting after a minute or so, here's a link to the explanation and a downloadable fix. http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q255/5/03.asp

Here's a clever application which doesn't quite fit into
any existing software category.  You could probably describe
it as an ideas processor rather than a word processor, as it lets you create unstructured documents for use when planning new ideas or projects.  And when you're ready to bring some structure to the document, it'll help you create a more conventional outline.  Well worth checking out.  Shareware. http://www.brainstormsw.com

Finding Office XP Cheaper
If you want to buy Office XP and you want the cheapest
price, this site will be of interest.  It tracks the cheapest places to buy Office XP, both online and in person. http://www.cheaperoffice.com

Free CourseWare
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. http://www.despatchbox.com


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(c) Copyright International Technology Publishing 2001