========================
                         Support Alert
                       Supporter's Edition
                    ========================
                    www.techsupportalert.com

                 Your pointer to the very best
                  tech information on the Web

                   Issue 98 - 27th June, 2003

     Support Alert is a 100% subscription-only newsletter.
 

                      <<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>

Quote of the Week
=================

"Reading computer manuals without the hardware is as frustrating
as reading sex manuals without the software."

Arthur C. Clarke.
 
 

<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>
 
EDITORIAL

I've got something really good for you.

Even better, it's free.

I've just completed a compilation of the best freeware utilities
available. The "best" in my humble position, that is.

I prepared this compilation specially for a promotion I was
doing with another newsletter and I just can't believe how much
positive feedback it's received.

One guy wrote in and said, "In my 21 years in I.T. this is the
best report of its kind I've seen." Another said "With this kind
of list, all I expect is to get a couple of good tips. But with
your report I've ended up downloading 23 great freebies!"  And
there are lots of similar unsolicited comments.

In fact, the feedback was so good that I was thinking that maybe
I should sell this report or reserve it for the lovely folk who
donate to this newsletter.

But I thought, "If it's that good, why shouldn't I just give it
to my readers for free. After all, they are the reason I write
this newsletter."

So that's it. It's yours for nix.  It's called "The 46 Best
Freeware Utilities of all Time" and you can get it here:

http://www.techsupportalert.com/best.htm

If you'd prefer to download the report (in Adobe PDF format)
then right click this link and select "Save as ..."

http://www.urltrim.com/best.pdf

Enjoy, but be patient if my web server overloads. Just try again
later.

Gizmo Richards
mailto:editor@techsupportalert.com
 

<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>
 

LAST ISSUE’S QUIZ: - How can Aunt Mabel email a 5MB movie file
when her ISP limit is 2MB?

Thanks, folks, for the many great answers. In total, readers
suggested more than 20 different solutions which is pretty
impressive.  But there can only be one winner and that's Bill
Eddins for his clever and humorous account. I've compiled a list
of all the methods readers put forward and you can find that
along with Bill's winning entry here:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/aunt-mabel.htm

BTW, the most common suggestion was for Aunt Mabel to ZIP the
movie file. There must be a lost of optimists out there because
movie files just don't compress enough to get a 5MB file down to
2MB. The best I could do with WinZIP was 2.6MB. WinRAR did a
little better at 2.2MB but that's still too big.
 
THIS ISSUE’S QUIZ: Win a free copy of PestPatrol!

This is a real question from a reader: "Gizmo, I've got a
problem. I was testing out a disk indexing program and after I
uninstalled it I found that it left a subfolder called "smidx"
in EVERY folder on my hard drive.  Worse still, that folder
contains a single file and that file is called something
different in every folder, though the file extension is always
‘.txt’.  What's the easiest way to delete all these folders and
files?"

Send your answer to this address and win a copy of PestPatrol.

mailto:editor@techsupportalert.com
 

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>

IN THIS ISSUE

1. TOP TECH SITES
 - Google's Gift to Stalkers Revisited
 - What Task is That?
 - Google on Steroids
 - Make Sure You Keep the Right Company
 - Wherefore Art Thou Access Points?
 - How to Maximize Your Download Speed (SE Edition)
 - Free Online Courses Offer High Quality (SE Edition)
 - Check Your PC for Trojans for Free (SE Edition)
 - Where to Check Your Wi-Fi Card Sensitivity (SE Edition)
 
2. UTILITIES
 - The Final Solution for Exclusively Opened Files
 - Image Converter Handles 340+ Formats
 - Read NTFS Disks From DOS ** HOT PRODUCT ALERT **
 - Free Sticky Notes Utility
 - Free Reminder Program
 - Free System Utility Suite (SE Edition)
 - Convert That Old PC Into a Router (SE Edition)
 - Best Free Newsreader? (SE Edition)
 - Convert Any Document to HTML (SE Edition)
 - Generate HTML Directory Indexes

3. SECURITY PATCHES, SERVICE RELEASES AND UPDATES
- Yahoo Instant Messenger Patch
- Apache 2.0.46 Released
- Cumulative Patch for IIS (MS03-018)
- Flaw in Microsoft Windows Media Services (WMS) (MS03-019/022)
- Cumulative Patch for Internet Explorer (MS03-020)
- Flaw In Windows Media Player 9 (MS03-021)
- New Release of POPFile Spam Filter
- WinZIP 9.0 Coming
 
4. OTHER USEFUL STUFF
 - Laptop Wi-Fi PC Card Handles All Standards
 - Your Minute of Fame Extended Forever
 - A 128MB Watch!
 - How Flash Memory Works
 - It's all in the Numbers
 - How to Lay Your Own Cable
 - Build Your Own Ti-Vo (SE Edition)
 - Cheap Utility for Server Partition Management (SE Edition)
 - Computerize Paper and Pencil Design (SE Edition)
 - Excellent Information Security Whitepaper (SE Edition)

5. FREEBIE OF THE WEEK

 - Kill Unwanted Processes Quickly
 - Confirm That Your Emails Have Been Read (SE Edition)

Items marked "SE Edition" appear only in the special Supporter's
Edition of this newsletter. This edition is reserved exclusively
for those generous individuals who have donated to this site.

 
1. TOP TECH SITES
=================

Google's Gift to Stalkers Revisited
Last issue I wrote about the Google service which returns a
physical address when you search on a phone number. Thanks to
those who wrote in to say that now you can have your phone
number removed from the service. Just click the link below.
Thanks, too, to those folks from outside the USA who wrote to
confirm the service only works for USA phone numbers.
http://www.google.com/help/pbremoval.html

What Task is That?
Whenever you bring up a list of running processes in Windows you
often encounter names that are totally unfamiliar.  At this site
you can look up those process names and find out what they
actually are doing.
http://www.thetasklist.com

Google on Steroids
Power searchers should try Fagan Finder, the "ultimate Google
search interface."
http://www.faganfinder.com/google.html

Make Sure You Keep the Right Company
Are you sharing web hosting with a known spammer? If so, that
may explain why you can't get decent search engine rankings. At
DNS Stuff, there's a free tool to check out your hosting company
along with 18 other site search and verification tools.
http://www.dnsstuff.com/

Wherefore Art Thou Access Points?
If you are planning on traveling and want to stay connected, you
can find available Wi-Fi access points at your destination from
this site. It covers locations worldwide.
http://www.wifinder.com

** Bonus Items for Supporters **

How to Maximize Your Download Speed
This site has a very useful tweaking guide for ADSL and cable
users.  Not for beginners.
http://www.tweaktown.com/document.php?dType=guide&dId=93&dPage=3

Free Online Courses Offer High Quality
Check out Hewlett Packard’s on-line university. There are a wide
variety of courses available and they are all free. They’re not
certified but the quality is excellent.
http://www.hplearningcenter.com/

Check Your PC for Trojans for Free
Security firm GFI is offering a free online trojan scan of your
computer. They have some free email vulnerability scans as well.
http://www.trojanscan.com

Where to Check Your Wi-Fi Card Sensitivity
How good is your wireless network card at picking up a signal?
Find out at this site.
http://www.freenetworks.org/moin/index.cgi/ReceiveSensitivity
 

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

 2. UTILITIES
=============

The Final Solution for Exclusively Opened Files
Subscriber Graeme Covey writes: "Gizmo, you've mentioned a
couple of different ways to delete files that have been locked
by Windows - so called 'undeletable files.' However, the very
best way is to use the free 'Move On Boot' utility that will
either delete or rename any file, next time you boot."  Graeme,
you are totally right, this is a terrific utility and a terrific
solution. The only problem is that the latest version is now
shareware, though I noticed that the previous version is still
free and available at the link below. It works fine. (644KB)
http://www.gibinsoft.net/gipoutils/fileutil/index.htm

Image Converter Handles 340+ Formats
Promoted as an advanced batch image converter for the 'Power
User', I found that this program lived up to the claims.  Almost
every conceivable image format is supported and a good basic
array of image editing tools is offered. This "no fuss"
converter uses script to perform high volume conversions and/or
combine batch conversion with image editing. A command line
utility allows the advanced user to process image files in
console mode. Anyone who works with images on a regular basis
should check it out. Shareware $39.95 (3.01MB) NOTE: This review
is the first from volunteer reviewer Annie Scrimshaw. Annie came
to my attention via her knowledgeable contributions as a
moderator at www.cybertechhelp.com and past moderator at
www.suggestafix.com. I welcome Annie to Support Alert and I'm
sure we'll all benefit from her future contributions. You’ll
know them by the initials A.S. at the end of her reviews.
http://www.reasoft.com/products/reaconverter

Read NTFS Disks From DOS ** HOT PRODUCT ALERT **
Now here's a freeware utility that one day might just save your
bacon.  This NTFS reader fits onto a FreeDOS bootable floppy
which means that, should your NTFS based Windows system become
terminally corrupted, you can still access your disks. It even
includes a file search and copy utility. (832KB)
http://www.ntfs.com/products.htm

Free Sticky Notes Utility
ATnotes is a neat "Post-It" notes style utility that features
configurable alarms, resizable windows, variable fonts and a
host of other useful features. The product is remarkably similar
to my favorite sticky notes utility, TurboNotes. Is immitation
the sincerest form of flattery?  Maybe not. (723KB)
http://atnotes.fr.st/

Free Reminder Program
This utility falls into the “simple but useful” category.  It's
a screen saver with an inbuilt perpetual calendar. The calendar
shows the current month and you can add notes to any day in the
future to be displayed when that month becomes current. Like
writing on the calendar on the 'fridge. (1.75MB)
http://www.gotoscreensavers.com/screenscapes.html
 
** Bonus Items for Supporters **

Free System Utility Suite
Thanks to subscriber David Cohen for letting me know of an offer
at Rose City Software where, by registering, you can get "System
Workshop", a $29.95 system utility suite, for free. I'm not
familiar with the product but Rose City produces good software
so it's worth checking out. The suite includes a Startup
Manager, Disk Cleaner, Menu Editor, Windows Customizer, Icon
Manager, and a Program Cleaner. Reader feedback welcome. (2.4MB)
http://www.rosecitydownloads.com/systemworkshop/freeoffer.php

Convert That Old PC Into a Router
ClarkConnect is a free stand-alone OS/software package that will
convert any old Pentium class PC into a full featured router.
Although Linux-based, this impressive package requires little
Linux knowledge as the browser-based installation and
configuration buffers you from the OS peculiarities.  The
features are too long to list but include a stateful firewall,
intrusion detection, Apache web server with CGI and PHP, FTP
server and much more. With two network cards, you can use it as
an Internet gateway as well. Free for home use. (175MB ISO)
http://www.clarkconnect.org/

Best Free Newsreader?
Many folks love Forte's free Agent newsreader but I must say
that it's got some stiff competition from 40Tude. It not only
offers Unicode support, but also a number of other features
which Forte only offers in their full shareware version.  (5.3MB)
http://www.40tude.com/dialog/features.htm

Convert Any Document to HTML
Click to Convert 4 is a utility designed to convert just about
any Windows document to HTML format while retaining the original
formatting. Usage couldn't be simpler: you just drop and drag a
file into the CTC window or "Print" the file from its native
application using the special CTC print driver automatically
installed with the program. Conversion accuracy was impressive,
as was the range of file formats handled. In fact, the only
format I couldn't convert was Adobe PDF. On the downside, the
retention of the original format necessarily produced bulky html
files and the frames-based navigation is not ideal for indexing
by web search engines.  Nonetheless, it’s an impressive product
for those who need faithful conversion of their documents. Free
15-day trial. (4.0MB)
http://www.clicktoconvert.com/

Generate HTML Directory Indexes
A directory index is a readable list of files in a folder or
directory. Building them is common task for webmasters and even
end users who are putting together reports.  Art HTML Listing is
a shareware utility designed for this exact task.  It comes with
a set of features that provide almost total customization of the
output. The index can include files of any type and can
optionally include a JavaScript-based expandable/collapsible
tree of folder contents. The later feature broadens the
application of the product to include many reporting and
documentation environments, including program development. Art
HTML Listing costs $29 and there is free trial available. (754KB)
http://www.zzee.com/htmlist/#vs_web_server
 

Got some favorite utilities to suggest? Send them to
mailto:supporters@techsupportalert.com
 

3. SECURITY PATCHES, SERVICE RELEASES AND UPDATES
=================================================

Yahoo Instant Messenger Patch
Yahoo has disclosed buffer overflow vulnerability in the Voice
Chat feature of Yahoo! Messenger and Yahoo! Chat.  The flaw
could lead, under specific circumstances, to an attacker
executing code of choice on a user's machine. A patch is
available here:
http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/mesg/use/use-45.html

Apache 2.0.46 Released
The Apache HTTP Server Project has issued a new release labeled
2.0.46. This is principally a security and bug fix release that
addresses two security vulnerabilities: one that could cause
system crashes and another that could facilitate a DOS attack.
http://www.apache.org/dist/httpd/Announcement2.html

Cumulative Patch for IIS (MS03-018)
"This patch is a cumulative patch that includes the
functionality of all security patches released for IIS 4.0 since
Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 6a, and all security patches
released to date for IIS 5.0 since Windows 2000 Service Pack 2
and IIS 5.1."  It also covers some critical new vulnerabilities
affecting IIS 4.0, 5.0 and 5.1.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS03-018.asp

Flaw in Microsoft Windows Media Services (WMS) (MS03-019/022)
WMS is used by Windows servers for delivering media content to
clients across a network. This "important" level advisory only
affects those servers with WMS installed. The flaw is in a
module nsiislog.dll that processes incoming requests. "A
vulnerability exists because an attacker could send specially
formed communications to the server that could cause IIS to stop
responding to Internet requests" Later, in MS03-022 Microsoft
added "... or execute arbitrary code."
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS03-019.asp

Cumulative Patch for Internet Explorer (MS03-020)
These cumulative patches keep rolling out.  This latest version
addresses all past sins plus two new "critical" vulnerabilities,
each of which could be utilized by a hostile web site or html
email to allow the attacker to execute their code of choice.
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS03-020.asp

Flaw In Windows Media Player 9 (MS03-021)
This "Moderate" level advisory covers "A flaw exists in the way
in which the ActiveX control provides access to information on
the user's computer. A vulnerability exists because an attacker
could invoke the ActiveX control from script code, which would
allow the attacker to view and manipulate metadata contained in
the media library on the user's computer."
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS03-021.asp

New Release of POPFile Spam Filter
Version 0.19 of our favorite free spam filter was released on
the 11th of June. It features many bug fixes and enhancements
including improvements to the algorithm, an improved Windows
installer and access to the user inteface from a system tray
icon.  Some re-training may be needed after updating. (2.5MB)
http://sourceforge.net/projects/popfile/

WinZIP 9.0 Coming
WinZIP has released a public beta of their upcoming version 9
and it appears to have overcome the three major weaknesses of
earlier versions: weak encryption, limited maximum file sizes,
and mediocre compression levels.  Encryption is now AES with
128- or 256-bit keys. File size is now essentially unlimited and
compression levels can be selected though these are traded off
higher levels against greater execution times. Current
registered users get a free upgrade. Get the beta here: (2.2MB)
http://www.winzip.com/betawz.cgi
 

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

Laptop Wi-Fi PC Card Handles All Standards
The Linksys WPC55AG is an interesting option for owners of older
laptops who want Wi-Fi connectivity.  It's a PC card that
operates on all three of the current standards, IEEE 802.11
a/b/g and has 152 bit encryption. Street price of around $85.
http://www.linksys.com/products/product.asp?prid=525&scid=36

Your Minute of Fame Extended Forever
If you haven't yet read about Trepia then I suggest you read
this item carefully. Trepia is a breathtaking new Wi-Fi network
application that lists other users of the network who are
currently physically nearby.  The program displays a photo and
profile of each user and offers an instant messaging facility so
you can contact any like-minded user who happens to be near you.
If this technology gets critical mass, it has the capacity to
transform our social interaction. Whether to the good or
otherwise, only time will tell. Get the free download here:
http://www.trepia.com/

A 128MB Watch!
Yes folks, you can now buy a watch with a built-in USB drive. A
128MB model costs around $100.
http://www.laks.com/

How Flash Memory Works
Ever wondered how flash memory can retain data even when the
power is turned off?  If so, check out this informative article
from howstuffworks.com.  The article includes lucid explanations
of the workings of RAM and other memory as well.
http://computer.howstuffworks.com/flash-memory1.htm

It's all in the Numbers
I've long remembered an amazing question in a Mensa membership
test which asked, "What's the next number in the series
1,2,3,4,5,5… I finally found the answer at this site which
specializes in number sequences. There are several answers but
the most likely is 6 as part of the sequence
1,2,3,4,5,5,6,7,8,8,9,9,10 ...  where the nth term is the number
of prime powers less than or equal to n. Now you know why I
don't belong to Mensa ;>)
http://www.research.att.com/~njas/sequences/

How to Lay Your Own Cable
Threading cable in tight spaces is no easy task. Before starting
out, I suggest you consult this useful guide.
http://www.techrepublic.com/article.jhtml?id=r00320030218vgl01.htm&fromtm=e103-1

** Bonus Items for Supporters **

Build Your Own Ti-Vo
Why pay big bucks for a commercial digital video recorder when
you can build it yourself for merely twice that amount?  Yes,
it's true, it's more expensive to do it yourself but that isn't
stopping thousands of enthusiasts.
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,59088,00.html

Cheap Utility for Server Partition Management
Reader Paul Young writes, "We had a bit of a problem when one of
our engineers partitioned a drive incorrectly on a customer’s
site.  He only found out the mistake when trying to restore data
to one of the partitions. Anyway, to cut a long story short,
because this was a Windows 2000 server, he was somewhat stumped,
as the only product we knew of that worked on servers was
Powerquest Volume Manager (I think this refers to the price :-
>). I did a little research on the web and came across this
terrific product: 7Tools Partition Manager 2003 – for only
$29.95!  It even managed to solve another, unrelated problem: I
wanted to use Ghost on my office machine but I had converted to
dynamic disk. Partition Manager changed it back to basic for me.
I have nothing to do with this company; I’m just so pleased with
such a great product.” http://www.7tools.paragon.ag/

Computerize Paper and Pencil Design
Denim is an innovative web design package from the University of
California at Berkeley that allows the kind of conceptual design
normally done using pencil and paper to be handled using a
tablet connected to a PC.  This is a very clever piece of work
with potential application in other design areas.  Check out the
video - fascinating.  Denim is available for free.
http://guir.berkeley.edu/projects/denim/

Excellent Information Security Whitepaper
This free 25-page report provides a useful review of the major
issues involved in implementing a successful Security Policy. It
also lists recommendations for the creation of a Staff Security
Awareness Program. (Adobe PDF Format)
http://www.windowsecurity.com/pages/security-policy.pdf
 

5. FREEBIE OF THE WEEK
======================

Kill Unwanted Processes Quickly
Some applications like disk defragmenters, CD burners and
partitioning programs require all other applications to be shut
down.  Killing these processes through Task Manager or tray
icons can be tedious. TrayKiller is a free application that does
the job with a single click and will restart the applications
just as easily. (1.5MB)
http://www.students.uiuc.edu/~reichler/TrayKiller/index.html

** Bonus Freebie for Supporters **

Confirm That Your Emails Have Been Read
This is a free application that tells you when the emails you
send are opened by the recipient. This is very useful in a
variety of circumstances. For example, when someone is not
answering your emails and you don't know whether this is
deliberate or not.
http://www.msgtag.com/products/
 

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

Visit the Subscribers-only section of the Support Alert website
================================================================

You'll find all back issues plus a growing list of resources
exclusively available to Supporters.

The area is password protected.  Use the username and password
mailed to you when you first donated.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/supporters/private.htm
 

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

MANAGE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION
=======================

This edition of Support Alert is only available to those
generous souls who have made a donation to keep the newsletter
going. For donation details click on the following link:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/benefits2.htm
 
To subscribe to the standard edition of the newsletter, send a
totally blank email to supportalert-subscribe@webelists.com.

To unsubscribe from this newsletter, send me an email at
supporters@techsupportalert.com. Remember to state the email
address at which you are currently subscribed.

To change your delivery email address, send me an email at
supporters@techsupportalert.com. Remember to state the email
address at which you are currently subscribed and the new
address where you wish to subscribe.
 

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

(c) Copyright TechSupportAlert.com 2003