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                         Support Alert
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                 Your pointer to the very best
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                   Issue 88 - 20th November, 2002

    Support Alert is a 100% subscription-only newsletter.
 Instructions how to un-subscribe are at the end of each issue.
 
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Quote of the Week

"The only people who have anything to fear from free software
are those whose products are worth even less."

David Emery
 

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FROM THE EDITOR

You would think that if you had personally invented the World
Wide Web you'd be entitled to feel pretty happy with your
achievement.

Not so with Tim Berners-Lee.

He's stated publicly that he is actually pretty uncomfortable
with the way it all turned out.

Why?

Because he wanted the WWW to be more interactive. In particular
he wanted the browser to be an editor as much as a viewer so
there could be a two way interchange of information.

As a result, today most folk who use the Web are takers. They are there
to get information, not to give it.

It's a real pity because the reality is that there is more
knowledge possessed by surfers than is stored on the Internet.

It just has to be.

Take this newsletter for example. It's the work of one man -
yours truly.  But just think how little I know, compared to all
you subscribers. Your collective knowledge must be enormous.

The problem is that there is no technical means to easily tap
that knowledge. If we had a browser along the lines conceived by
Tim Berners-Lee, maybe it would be different.

For example, at this very moment I'd love to ask you subscribers
how I can make this newsletter more interactive.  But I can't
effectively do it. You can of course, email me suggestions. But
it's awkward and clunky.

Tim Berners-Lee was right. Had his original vision been
realized, the Internet would be a very different and far better
place.

Maybe we should blame Al Gore ;>)
 

Gizmo Richards
mailto:editor@techsupportalert.com

P.S. After a philosophical editorial, the Yin-Yang principle
requires a counterbalance. Here's a story shamelessly stolen
from http://www.techcomedy.com

"Hello, thanks for calling tech support, can I have your phone
number please?" "I don't have a phone number." "Ok, sir, how can
I help you today?" "Well, I'm having a problem dialing out."
 

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IN THIS ISSUE

1. TOP TECH SITES
 - Express Assistance
 - Decode RAM Chip Numbers
 - The Future for Worms
 - Upgrade Your BIOS

2. UTILITIES
 - Free Disk Cleaner
 - Defrag Your Registry
 - Backup Outlook Express Files Easily
 - Cheap Way to Create PDF Files
 - Free Search and Replace Utility
 - New Version of PestPatrol
 - Backup Your Windows Drivers

3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
 - We've Won the Lottery
 - Outlook Express 6 SP1 (Q331923)
 - Apache Perl Vulnerability
 - WinZip 8.1 Service Release 1

4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
 - Dual Standard Wi-Fi Access
 - Batch Processing with PhotoShop
 - Content vs. Style
 - Remote Control for Your PC
 - Bad Web Design
 - Office XP Clipboard Blues
 - Insult More Effectively
 - Freebie of the Week

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1. TOP TECH SITES
=================

Express Assistance
Need some help with Outlook Express? Try here:
http://insideoe.tomsterdam.com/

Decode RAM Chip Numbers
At this site you just plug in those RAM chip numbers to find out
the memory specs. Just the thing for all those mystery boards
http://www.chipmunk.nl/DRAM/ChipManufacturers.htm

The Future for Worms
Scare yourself silly by reading what awaits us with the next
generation of viruses and worms.  KaZaa and other P2P network
users should note the last paragraph. You have been warned.
http://blanu.net/curious_yellow.html

Upgrade Your BIOS
With older PCs and some generic brands, it's often difficult to
determine whether a BIOS upgrade is available. This site offers
a downloadable program to identify your BIOS as well as a follow-
up service to tell you your update options. Naturally they'll
want to sell you the upgrade but that doesn't detract from a
very useful service.
http://www.esupport.com/biosagent/

Know some great tech sites? Send them in to
mailto:editor@techsupportalert.com
 

 2. UTILITIES
=============

Free Disk Cleaner
G-Lock Temp Cleaner is a handy little utility that identifies
all those .$$$, .tmp, and other temporary file types cluttering
up your hard disk. Once identified, the Cleaner allows you to
delete those you don't want.  It freed up 140MB on my notebook.
It even works over a network which makes it handy for
sysadmins.  Download here:  (895KB)
http://www.glocksoft.com/temp_cleaner/index.htm

Defrag Your Registry
Resplendent Registrar is a registry editor that's been around
for quite a while. It's the kind of product I admire but have
never felt inclined to buy. At $45 I figure I can make do with
RegEdit. However, following a reader recommendation I decided to
check out the latest version - V3.01.  It was soon clear to me
that the product has been greatly improved. An interesting new
feature is a registry defragging tool.  Now, Microsoft claims
that there is no performance gain in defragging system swap
files so I've always figured that the same must be true for the
Registry. It appears I was wrong. After defragging the registry,
my PC was noticeably faster, particularly when surfing and
downloading. I suggest you get the full featured trial version
and see for yourself. If you want a heavyweight registry editor,
Resplendent Registrar is as good as they come. (1.99MB)
http://www.resplendence.com/registrar

Backup Outlook Express Files Easily
This free utility allows you to do a full or selective backup of
OE's critical files including mail folders, newsgroups, address
book and identity settings. Simple, effective ... neat.  (2.1MB)
http://www.oehelp.com/OEBackup/Default.aspx

Cheap Way to Create PDF Files
Adobe Acrobat Reader is available for free but if you want to
create your own PDF files, Adobe expects you to fork out $249
for the full Acrobat product. A $39.50 alternative is PDF-
XChange. This program allows you to easily create PDF files from
Microsoft Word and a variety of other applications. It produces
very compact files with resolutions of up to 2400 dpi and the
latest version supports encryption. A demo version is available.
http://www.docu-track.com/index.php?page=22

Free Search and Replace Utility
I've been a long time user of Funduc Software's excellent Search
and Replace utility, now in version 4. However, I have to admit
that after using HadyFile's free Search and Replace program, my
loyalties are torn. Granted, it does pretty much the same thing,
but it's faster as changes are made in memory rather than by
writing to disk. This feature also provides a degree of safety.
If you need to do text file replacements over multiple files, I
suggest you give this tiny free utility a spin.(361KB)
http://www.silveragesoftware.com/handytools.html

Got some favorite utilities? Why not share the news? Send
your top picks to mailto:editor@techsupportalert.com
 

3. BUGS, SERVICE RELEASES AND PATCHES
=====================================

We've Won the Lottery!
I don't believe it. The first issue of this newsletter in years
where we have no new security updates from Microsoft! Perhaps
they are saving them all up for the holiday season ;>)

Nine New IE Vulnerabilities
Microsoft may have been quiet but security firm GreyMagic
certainly have not. They have announced nine new vulnerabilities
in IE, eight of which have been rated as critical and could
allow an attacker to take control of your PC. All versions of IE
5 and 6 are affected, though to different degrees. Even IE 6
with SP1 can be caught out by two of the exploits. All these
problems involve object caching. "Object caching takes place
when the attacker opens a window to a page in his own site. The
URL in the window is then changed to the victim page, but the
cached references stay in place, providing direct access to the
new document." Microsoft has reacted to the news by adopting
it's usual "blame the messenger" strategy.  While MS work on a
fix, GreyMagic suggest IE users turn off active scripting. Full
details, including demonstrations, can be found at their site.
http://sec.greymagic.com/adv/gm012-ie/

Outlook Express 6 SP1 (Q331923)
This cumulative patch fixes security problems covered in
earlier patches and addresses a number of new operational bugs.
There are also some minor feature enhancements such as the
ability to differentiate between sending a message and posting
to a newsgroup. More details here:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=KB;en-us;q331923
 
Apache Perl Vulnerability
Several vulnerabilities have been announced in the Apache Server
and the Apache-Perl packages. The vulnerabilities could, among
other things, allow an attacker to mount a DoS attack against a
server or execute a cross-site scripting attack. The problem has
been fixed in the latest release and users are advised to update
immediately.  More details here:
http://www.securitynewsportal.com/cgi-bin/news5.cgi?target=www.newsnow.co.uk/cgi/NGoto/19889050?-2622

WinZip 8.1 Service Release 1
If you are running WinZip 8.1, you should download this service
release which addresses a known vulnerability where a malicious
attacker could cause files on your system to be overwritten. The
patch does not solve the problem but it at least provides you
with a warning message and the option of aborting the process.
http://www.winzip.com/wz81sr1.htm
 

4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
=====================

Dual Standard Wi-Fi Access
Why agonize on which Wi-Fi standard you should adopt when the
Linksys WAP51AB Instant Wireless Dual Band Access Point lets you
connect to both 802.11a and 802.11b wireless networks
simultaneously? It's not the fastest box around but with a
street price of around $250, it's an attractive option.
http://www.linksys.com/products/product.asp?prid=452&grid=22

Batch Processing with PhotoShop
Most PhotoShop users only use a fraction of the product's
features. One of the least known, yet most powerful, is the
ability to batch process a whole group of files. Just the thing
for automatically resizing digital photos or processing images
for the Web.  Batch processing is in fact, a cinch. This article
shows you how.
http://www.creativemac.com/2002/04_apr/tutorials/psbatch.htm

Content vs. Style
As soon as you start thinking about it, the apparently clear
distinction between the content and style of web pages quickly
develops into a quagmire. This lucid and witty article quickly
clarified my previously muddy understanding.
http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/02/42/index4a.html?tw=eg20021101

Remote Control for Your PC
Whether you are doing a presentation from your laptop or playing
DVDs through your desktop, a PC remote control is a handy device.
There are a number of models on the market but ATI's Remote
Wonder has some nice features. First, it's wireless-based so it
will work around corners and other locations where the more
common infrared units won't. Second it will work "out of the
box" with Windows Media Player and a number of other
applications. Finally, it's only $49. Read a full review here:
http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,3973,55618,00.asp

Bad Web Design
Every time I get depressed about how ordinary my web site looks
I visit Vincent Flander's Webpagesthatsuck.com.  I always come
away feeling cheered by thought of just how bad my site could
be.  Click here for some real shockers:
http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com/uthink99x.html

Office XP Clipboard Blues
Does the Office XP Clipboard Pane get in your way when working
with Office documents? Don't despair, you can get help here:
http://www.cnet.com/software/0-6018642-8-20057234-2.html

Insult More Effectively
If you want to flame big-time, consult "The Flamer's Bible."
http://www.psicounsel.com/flame.html

Freebie of the Week
Star Downloader 1.32 is not only free of charge, it's free of
ads, spyware and other undesirable extras packed into most free
download accelerators. On top of that, it is blindingly fast and
has a raft of features including automatic mirror site
detection, automatic resumption of failed downloads, download
scheduling, anti-virus integration and more. If you are not yet
using a download accelerator, go get this product and start
counting the time you save. The faster your internet connection,
the more you will gain. Users with slow modem connections will,
unfortunately, benefit least. (1.3MB)
http://www.stardownloader.com
 

Got some top sites and services to suggest? Send them in
to mailto:editor@techsupportalert.com

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This edition of Support Alert was proof-read by subscriber A.
Belile who kindly donated her services. My hearty thanks.

(c) Copyright TechSupportAlert.com 2002