Support Alert

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

                Issue 71 - 1st March 2002

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
support professionals.

Check out the following free tutorials available now
at http://www.pcsupportadvisor.com

* Understanding TCP/IP
* How to Dual Boot Windows 2000
* Understanding the OSI 7 Layer Model
* The Windows Registry Explained
* How to Create Bootable CDs
* JavaScript Tutorial
* IPv6 Tutorial

Plus dozens more.



If you've ever wondered just how important the registry is on
a Windows-based PC, try running a program which records all
related activity.  You'll be amazed at how often Windows
needs access to the registry.  Single-clicking an icon results
in around 50 accesses, while double-clicking an icon to run an
application such as Internet Explorer results the Windows accessing
the registry more than 300 times!

All this registry access is actually good news for support staff
because it often makes problems easier to solve.  It's a fair bet
that most unexplained Windows problems are the result of a problem
with a registry lookup, and so monitoring the registry access should
provide some major clues.

This proved to be the case recently on my own PC.  A couple of
months ago, Internet Explorer and FrontPage started refusing to
display any graphics.  Not all the time, though, but only in some
cases.  For example, when I'm designing a Web site in FrontPage,
graphics showed up just fine in design mode but disappeared when I
switched to preview mode.  And although graphics on remote Web sites
displayed just fine, when I tried to display HTML pages stored
locally on my machine the graphics just weren't there.

I initially blamed the problem on a corrupted installation of Office
or Internet Explorer, so I deleted both of them and re-installed.
Actually I took the opportunity to upgrade IE from 5.5 to 6.0,
and moved Office from 2000 to XP.  But still the problem remained.

Time for Plan B.  I loaded a registry monitor.  Then I clicked
on a local HTM file which also contained graphics.  Sure enough,
the graphics didn't appear.  I then examined the registry log,
looking for cases where the lookup had returned a NOT FOUND result
rather than a SUCCESS code.  Within a couple of minutes I'd found
a likely candidate for further examination in regedit.  This
led me to discover that JPG image files had their "ContentType"
set to "image/bmp".  That seemed plain wrong to me.

Could this be the cause of the problem that had been so annoying
me for the past 2 months?  Only one way to find out.  I deleted
the suspect entry and tried loading the troublesome page into
Internet Explorer again.

And you know what?  The graphics displayed just fine.

Robert Schifreen

PS:  We're currently working on major new ideas for PC Network Advisor
     and PC Support Advisor, the monthly publications for IT support
     professionals.  Even if you don't currently subscribe, we'd love
     to hear your views.  If you work in IT support, what would you
     like to see in a dedicated publication?  Email me your suggestions
     and comments to robert@schifreen.com.  Thanks!



    - They'll Suggest A Fix
    - Five Stars for Effort
    - Downloadable Versions of Patches

    - Registry Monitor
    - Record Any PC Sound
    - Asset Tracker

    - Not really fixed?
    - MS E-Commerce Server Vulnerable
    - IE5 and IE6 VBScript Problem
    - Windows, IE and SQL Server 2000 at risk

    - Password protection on your Web site
    - Wireless Security Audit
    - DespatchBox 3.5

    - Supporting Excel
    - How to Deal with Spam



They'll Suggest A Fix
Here's a great tech support site, where the resident techie
guys are happy to help with your PC and internet problems.
And the site's completely free, too, so check it out.

Five Stars for Effort
This excellent support site currently boasts 53 technicians, all
eager to solve users' problems.  Access is free, and there's also
a great collection of tips, tricks and FAQs online to search.

Downloadable Versions of Patches
As Microsoft moves towards an internet-based online facility for
patching Windows installations, this causes major problems for
companies who want to download patches and then install them
locally on multiple PCs.  Thankfully, Microsoft has a site which
offers such files for download.



Registry Monitor
If you've read the "From the Editor" column above and you want
to get hold of a Windows registry access tool, the one I used
was RegMon, which is available as a free download.

Record Any PC Sound
Most media players for the PC lack one major feature - they won't
let you record the output to a local .WAV or .MP3 file for later
playback.  This is rather annoying if, for example, you're listening
to an online radio station and want to keep a local copy of what
you hear.  There are various solutions to this problem, and here's
a link to what people tell us is one of the best.

Asset Tracker
Alchemy's Asset Tracker tool helps companies keep track of software
licences.  This helps avoid potential legal problems, and also
ensures that you don't waste money by buying more licences than
you actually need.  You can download a trial version online.


Not really fixed?
Microsoft's recent security patch for Internet Explorer
doesn't fix all the problems that it claims to, according
to this interesting report.

MS E-Commerce Server Vulnerable
Microsoft has issued a patch for a buffer overrun in its
E-Commerce Server 2000 product.  If you're running this
server software, download the patch as soon as you can.

IE5 and IE6 VBScript Problem
Microsoft has found yet another script-related security hole
in Internet Explorer v5.01, 5.5 and 6.0, and has issued a
patch which has a "critical" rating.  The company recommends that
all IE users download and install it as soon as they can.

Windows, IE and SQL Server 2000 at risk
Microsoft has released a patch which fixes a problem that could
allow remote hackers to send and receive XML data without
permission.  The problem affects Windows XP, SQL Server 2000 and
Internet Explorer.


Password protection on your Web site
Protecting access to your Web site with passwords isn't as
difficult as you might expect.  A standard mechanism for
handling user account names and passwords already exists,
in the form of something called a .htaccess file.  Just put
your list of user names and passwords in the file and your
Web server (and users' browsers) will do the rest.

Wireless Security Audit
Internet Security Systems has launched a tool that allows
companies to check that their wireless LANs are operating
securely.  Stories of drive-by hackers tapping into poorly
protected wireless networks are becoming common, so it you're
getting into 802.11b it's essential to think about security too.

DespatchBox 3.5
Secure document delivery company DespatchBox has launched the
latest version of its DataDelivery service, which protects
corporate email users from security breaches, unauthorised
email access, accidental sending of messages and much more.
If you need to store or exchange confidential data electronically
and securely, check out the site for some great services.


Supporting Excel
The March 2002 issue of PCSA has some useful and timely advice for
anyone who supports users of Excel.  If you want to ensure that you
have all the answers to hand when an Excel users asks you a question,
and you also want a great collection of useful Excel tips and tricks,
be sure to check out the article in your March issue of PCSA.
And if you don't subscribe you can still read it for free right here.

How to Deal with Spam
PC Network Advisor recently published a 2-part article on how to
deal with unwanted Spam email.  You can read it online for free.
Such great value, we reckon that a major nightly TV news program
will soon be devoting an entire show to our generosity!


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