Support Alert
                       Supporter's Edition

                 Your pointer to the very best
                  tech information on the Web

                   Issue 93 - 19th February, 2003

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Quote of the Week

"I sit looking at this damn computer screen all day long, day in
and day out, week after week, and think: Man, if I could just
find the 'on' switch..."

Zachary Good.


What's the best backup program?

It's a question I get asked a lot and a tough one to answer.

Backup needs vary enormously. Variables include the importance
of your data, how often your data changes, whether you in a
business situation or private use. And a lot more.

If that's not tough enough, I also happen to think that folk are
asking the wrong question.

The question we really should be asking is "what's the best
restore program?"

An easy to use backup program may be fine but if it can't easily
restore information, then it is of little value.

But this is exactly the case with most backup programs I've
used. They are a dream to use for backup but a nightmare for

Many folk wouldn't know this because they have never had to use
the restore facility.  They are in for a nasty shock when they

Many backup programs for example, store information in a
proprietary format. To restore, you'll need a working copy of
the same program you used to make the backup.  Sure hope that's
available and not one of the things you are trying to restore ;>)

And often files are compressed and encrypted.  Got that password
handy? And just what was that encryption scheme?

Want to restore a single file?  Sorry, you may only be able to
restore the entire backup set and in the process overwrite a
whole series of files you wanted left alone.

Oops, one disk in the backup CD set is scratched. Pity you wont
be able to restore anything, despite the other 10 backup CDs
being perfect.

You may think I'm being facetious but I'm dead serious. I've
personally encountered every one of these restore disasters and
a few more as well.

My advice for backing up your home or small office PC is
straight-forward.  Backup your information in Windows native
file format. Something that you can read and copy with Windows
Explorer or any other file utility. Don't rely on having a
special program to restore (or even view) your backed up

If you have some sensitive files or folders, encrypt them
individually, prior to backup, using one of the many strong
encryption utilities available. Definitely don't encrypt the
backup set itself.

Sure this will mean larger backup sets as most of your data will
be uncompressed. But data storage today is so cheap that it
doesn't really matter. Being able to restore your data when you
need it, does.

If your backup program can't create native file format backup
sets, my advice is simple. You need a new backup program.

You won't need a new restore program as you already have one.
It's called Windows.

Gizmo Richards

PS  If you are interested in what programs I use for backup and
how I plan my backup strategy, then check out the Supporter's
Edition of this newsletter. (Supporters: see link below)

Gizmo's Backup Procedure



 - Scumware Revealed
 - Free Web Site/Application Development Tutorials
 - Stop Spam at Your Mail Server
 - Slipstreaming Office XP

   ** Additional items in Supporter's Edition **
 - Gizmo's Backup Secrets Revealed
 - Mysterious Startup Programs Explained
 - Scrutinize Your Web Site
 - Access Your Email from Anywhere

 - Outlook Productivity Tool
 - Ad-aware 6 Spyware Scanner
 - Speed up Your PC
 - Security Analyzer and Email Snooper
 - Defrag Your Users

   ** Additional items in Supporter's Edition **
 - Photoshop Replacement for Nix
 - Free Source Code Documenter
 - Turbo Charge Windows Media Player
 - Free Outlook Spam Filter

 - Cumulative Patch for Internet Explorer (MS03-004)
 - Ethernet NIC Packet Vulnerability

 - Wireless DSL/Cable Router with Powerline Feed
 - SpamBank - Donate Your Spam Here
 - FDISK - the Director's Cut  - Shocking Cell Phone
 - Restore Desktop Without Rebooting

   ** Additional items in Supporter's Edition **
 - How to Keep your Job
 - Kill Those Reports to Microsoft
 - Buffer Overflows Explained
 - Tricks for Special Characters

 - Free Route Tracer
** Additional freebie in Supporter's Edition **
- Free Utility Stops Browser Hijacking



Scumware Revealed
Discover the latest dirty tricks being employed by adware and
spyware vendors in their never-ending quest to take your money.

Free Web Site/Application Development Tutorials
I don't think I've ever seen a more comprehensive collection of
web development tutorials. Topics include HTML, XML, JavaScript,
ASP, PHP, .NET and dozens of others. The amazing thing is they
are all free.

Stop Spam at Your Mail Server
If you are looking for Spam filtering software for your mail
server then I suggest you check out this rather extensive
listing of currently available products.

Slipstreaming Office XP
Slipstreaming is the process of blending a service pack into a
product to produce an updated version. The advantage is that
should you need to reinstall the product, the service pack does
not have to be separately installed.  This article shows you how
to slipstream SP1 and SP2 into Office XP.

** Bonus Items for Supporter's **

Mysterious Startup Programs Explained
If you've ever looked at your Windows startup folder you're
bound to find a number of odd-named executables. Check out
exactly what each program does at this valuable resource site:

Scrutinize Your Web Site
This site brings together on one page, a whole range of web site
validation tools.

Access Your Email from Anywhere
It's not hard to set up your own dedicated IMAP mail server
using an old PC. Once setup, you can access all of your mail
from anywhere.  Just follow the instructions here:

Got some top sites to suggest? Send them to


Outlook Productivity Tool
MS Office allows you to print address labels and envelopes from
Word but not from Outlook Contacts which is kind of crazy
because that's where you store the information. Aladdin’s
Envelopes & Labels is an Outlook add-in that provides this
missing functionality and it works like a charm. Everyone who
uses Office to print envelopes should get this. At $34.95 it's a
productivity bargain. Download the free demo here:

Ad-aware 6 Spyware Scanner
I've now tested the free version of the just-released Ad-aware 6
scanner on four "dirty" computers and compared its performance
with PestPatrol 4.1 and Spybot Search and Destroy 1.1.
PestPatrol found the most scumware products closely followed by
S&D then Ad-aware. These results exclude cookies, which are the
most common but least offensive items. All products found
slightly different sets of products and true paranoids may want
to use all three. Search & Destroy was the best free product and
now has my top recommendation. (If you download S&D, get the 1.1
beta which includes an "inoculation" feature that prevents many
hostile products been downloaded to your PC without your
http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/   (1.45MB)

Speed Up Your PC
The Intel Application Accelerator is a free software package
that eases bottlenecks that occur in the sub-systems between the
hard disk drive and the CPU. It can produce a significant
improvement in PC performance but only for machines with
specific Intel chipsets. This article tells you how to obtain
and install the software and also tells you where to download a
free Intel utility to identify your chipset. (14KB)

Security Analyzer and Email Snooper
Capsa is a Windows based TCP/IP Network Monitor and Analyzer. It
does a fine job in this role but my main use of this program is
to demonstrate to disbelievers, the total insecurity of
unencrypted email. You should see peoples jaw drop when they see
their email messages whipped off a LAN and appearing on the
Capsa screen.  They drop even more when I show them the
prominent advertising claim on the Capsa site that "Capsa also
captures the protocol of each packet, and this means the you can
easily view valuable information, such as passwords and email."
The site goes on to explain how the product will automatically
save POP or SMTP email packets in easily viewable Outlook
Express format. Good to see a company trying hard to ensure its
products don't fall into the wrong hands. ;>)   (1.21MB)

Defrag Your Users
Defragmenting end-users machines is an essential ongoing task
for corporate tech support staff.  Defrag Manager is a utility
that allows for remote defragging of XP, 2000 and XP
workstations according to a pre-determined schedule. A free
trial CD is available to companies with more than 10 PCs.
Pricing is not mentioned on the web site but you get the feeling
you may need to consult your bank manager before purchase ;>)

** Bonus Items for Supporter's **

Photoshop Replacement for Nix
Oriens Enhancer is a graphics processing program similar in
function to Photoshop and Paintshop. The big difference is that
it's free, the others cost big bucks.  But don't think free
means limited. On the contrary this product can read more than
40 file formats, has filters, textures and color effects to burn
and can even handle layers. If that's not enough for you, let me
say that on my PC it was both fast and stable. I'm giving this
one Gizmo's JCBTIF certification. (Just Can't Believe This Is
Free) (4.05MB)

Free Source Code Documenter
Doxygen is a free, open source documentation system for C++, C,
Java, PHP and C# programs, amongst others. It generates
documentation in HTML, PDF, RTF, PostScript and a number of
other formats including a compressed HTML which is compatible
with Microsoft Help format. The documentation is produced from
the source code. For undocumented code, Doxygen will
automatically document the source code structure using a variety
of dependence, inheritance and collaboration diagrams. Doxygen
was developed under Linux but executables for Windows 9x/NT and
Mac OS X are available.

Turbo Charge Windows Media Player
Version 9 of Windows Media Player supports CD burning but its
performance falls well short of specialist CD burner programs.
Nero, maker of the market leading burner, is offering a free
plug-in for WMP that lifts its burn performance considerably and
provides a few additional features as well. (1.8MB)

Free Outlook Spam Filter
Disruptor OL is an Outlook Plug-in that provides a huge
selection of spam filtering techniques. Word filtering, phrase
filtering, pattern match, black list, white lists, Bayesian
filters and just about anything else you can think of. Once set
up, integration into Outlook is seamless. This is an impressive
product though setup is not for the faint hearted. Sun glasses
are recommended when visiting the web site ;>) (1.21MB)

Got some favorite utilities to suggest? Send them to


Cumulative Patch for Internet Explorer (MS03-004)
This is the cumulative patch that replaces all other cumulative
patches until the next cumulative patch.  If you run IE 5, 5.5,
or 6 you should install this at it fixes the serious cross
domain scripting vulnerability disclosed by Andreas Sandblad.
Originally MS dismissed Andreas' claim, but I notice that they
now thank him for disclosing it. How sweet.

 Ethernet NIC Packet Vulnerability
Security company Atstake has published a whitepaper outlining a
potential vulnerability in all Ethernet networks. The
vulnerability stems from the way many NIC drivers handle packets
less than the minimum size of 46 bytes. Slices of information
from other packets could be exposed as could kernel memory. The
whitepaper outlines corrective measures. (PDF file)


Wireless DSL/Cable Router with Powerline Feed
In the last two issues I've mentioned combo DSL cable routers
which combine 4 port Ethernet with 802.11b wireless connection.
The Siemens SS2524 model goes one further and adds powerline
capability so you can network through your AC mains wiring.
Around $130 street price.

SpamBank - Donate Your Spam Here
At spamarchive.org they are compiling a database of commercial
spam as a resource for the testing spam filtering software. So
donate you spam to a good cause. Find out how from here:

FDISK - the Director's Cut
Most folks only use the most basic features of FDISK. This
excellent guide gives you the whole story.

Shocking Cell Phone
Sick of mobile users ruining your evening at the theatre? Then
discourage them with a mild electric shock to the ear delivered
using this device invented by the designer of the Ti-Vo.

Restore Desktop Without Rebooting
Here's a guide what do when you are faced with a completely
empty Windows desktop.

** Bonus Items for Supporter's **

How to Keep Your Job
This is a guide to writing unmaintainable code; a sure way of
ensuring your employer will need you forever ;>)

Kill Those Reports to Microsoft
Every time a program crashes Windows XP opens a dialog asking
whether you want to send a report to Microsoft. Here's how you
can get rid of the feature permanently.

Buffer Overflows Explained
Buffer overflows have been one the most common security
problems. If you've ever wondered what this means then check out
this informative article.

Tricks for Special Characters
I don't know about you but my I just can't seem to memorize
important ALT+nnnn keyboard combinations that are needed to form
special characters such as the copyright sign (©,ALT 0169). I've
now bookmarked this handy guide to make life is a little easier.


Free Route Tracer
3D Traceroute is a free utility that graphically displays
Internet route information. You can use it for technical tasks
such as diagnosing slow connections or for general purpose
snooping like determining the location and owner of a web site
or tracing spammers. (996KB)

** Bonus Freebie for Supporter's **

Free Utility Stops Browser Hijacking
There's a browser hijacking plague at the moment. All it takes
is a visit to a pushy web site or a loaded shareware install and
next minute your Internet Explorer homepage has been changed,
your default search setting altered or phantom bookmarks added
to your favorites. This free monitor will let you know when
something's trying to change your settings and pass control back
to you. (394KB)

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


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