PuterGeek.Com News
Issue # 62
ISSN: 1533-1938

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                   The PuterGeek.Com News (PGCN)
                                date 04/14/2001
                                Issue # 62

 A casual newsletter that goes out 1-5 times per month.
 It contains excerpts and articles from all the newsletters I
 read condensed down to a manageable size. Plus info about
 PuterGeek.Com, as well as various tips and tricks I've learned.



Hello Everyone!

First, I'd like to welcome all the new subscribers!  Ezine-Universe http://ezine-universe.com/ has listed the PuterGeek.Com news (PGCN) newsletter on their website!  So now I'm getting slammed :-)
For those of you that haven't done so, please point your browser at http://www.putergeek.com/newsletter/ and take a look at what you'll be getting.  This is not your *normal* newsletter!  But most people tend to find it rather addicting.
PGCN is a work in progress.  Your input is always welcome.  If you have any ideas or suggestions please email me at webmaster@putergeek.com and tell me (nicely) what you think.
I do have a couple of favors to ask of all of you.  Yes, this newsletter IS free, but that doesn't mean it's ALL one way.  If you like the PuterGeek.Com website, this newsletter, or like the email or phone help you've gotten from me there are a few things I'd like you to do.
Please take the time to vote at InfoJump and Ezine-Universe for the newsletter.  Yes, it IS an ego thing for me :-)  Plus it is quite important to me for personal reasons.  You see, Amy and I plan to get off the truck in about a year and I expect to use the website, newsletter, etc... as my resume to get a job in the 'puter industry.
You can find links to vote in every issue of the newsletter, as well as at the top of every page on the website.  There are 1300+ subscribers, and at least half of you haven't cast your vote at InfoJump yet (new subscribers should NOT vote until they get a feeling for the newsletter).  Right now there is only two votes at Ezine-Universe and they're getting quite lonely :-)

I mentioned this in the last issue, PuterGeek.Com is looking for a new "link button".  All the possible choices are in and it's time to vote!   I have only received 137 votes so far, so please take a moment and go to http://www.putergeek.com/button/ look at the choices and vote for your favorite.  I NEED your help here!  This will be a permanent change, and I'm not artistic enough to make the choice.  The idea is to get recognized when people go to other websites.
Not much new right now.  I plan to do a lot of work on the site this coming week.  We have a couple of new Sponsors at the Sponsor page http://www.putergeek.com/sponsor/  Do you want more info on what a PuterGeek.Com Sponsor is and why I want them?  Go to:
http://www.putergeek.com/thanks/ for more info.
The new "Life On The Road" email list is getting some great feedback!  If you're interested in hearing about our life as a husband/wife over the road team.  Please NOTE:  This list is for adults only, due to mild profanity.  Go to http://www.putergeek.com/trucking/
Here's what a new subscriber wrote the other day...
I just subscribed to a couple of your newsletters.  I found your site through the Support Alert Newsletter and I haven't had much time to really dig into your expansive site yet.  I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your efforts, both in the newsletters and the "free" tech help.
I read several newsletters and have learned much about PC's in general.  If it weren't for you guys putting long hours into something that you really enjoy, I would not be able to enjoy the PC and the internet as much as I do.
I am not a wiz with 'puters, but I know a lot more than most users.  My goal is to learn more MS OS's and Linux.  I only need a few more PC's to work with, finances won't allow that right now.
Please, keep up the efforts, stay safe on the road.
A new subscriber,
Gary M.
Thanks Gary!  Your words mean a lot!
Two points here... no matter how busy I am I love to get email like this one.  Without feedback, I don't even know if any of you are even reading this.
The other point here is the PuterGeek.Com website and this newsletters is designed for novice to geek wannabe 'puter users.  I'm here to help people solve problems and help them learn.  This is not a "tweaking" site, nor is it designed for geeks/advanced users.
While I am willing to "geek speak" with people, that's not the focus here.  Many people tell me to add more registry tweaks and hacks.  But that isn't what all this is for.  Most of you just want to learn how to make your 'puter more stable and how to fix it when (not if) Windows dies.
I don't know if you have seen this yet, I found it in Fred Langa's newsletter. I find it very useful.  Maybe some of your readers will also.


Have you ever watched a skilled computer user whipping though commands using keyboard shortcuts, and finishing a task that would have taken you much longer via the standard series of mouse clicks and menu-pulls?
Frank Marks knows their secret:
http://www.microsoft.com/TechNet/win98/Reskit/Part7/wrkappg.asp This link will explain some of the hot keys of win9X.  The title says for Windows 98 but they seem to work in windows ME and Windows 2000.

Thanks, Frank!"
Here is what I really like.  Even though I get the "Langalist", and the "Langalist Plus!", sometimes I'll miss something good.  This is why many subscribers (like MrMel) read the PGCN as well as other great newsletters.  Sometimes it takes a reminder to follow-up on something that would normally interest you.
I can't do it all, if any of you read or hear of something that you feel the rest should know about, please email me!
Thanks again MrMel!
Now on with the good stuff!
4) FROM PCIN http://www.pcin.net/
Napster Closer To Drawing Up Label Alliance
"Germany's Bertelsmann said Wednesday talks to convince music industry giants to work with Internet song-swapping service Napster are going well, and an industry source said they could be concluded soon.
'We are still trying to persuade all labels to work with Napster and give them a license, and the talks are going pretty well,' said Frank Sarfeld, spokesman for Bertelsmann's e-commerce group.
An industry source said the media giant's chances of convincing Sony Music Entertainment and Vivendi Universal's Universal Music Group to offer a license to Napster via their subscription joint venture, dubbed Duet, looked strong."

For more info:
5) FROM THE FUNNIES http://users.erols.com/hmmd
Here is further proof that people will try to sell anything on the internet.  Adam Burtle from Seattle put his soul up for auction on the trading website eBay.  The 20-year-old received bids ranging from $6.66 from an ex-girlfriend to a top bid of $400.  The sale listing has since been removed from the site, because according to eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove, "You have to have a piece of merchandise that a seller can deliver to a buyer." Items previously put up for auction include organs, drugs and even a person's virginity.
Editor's note: Slightly risque' but I just hadda...
Two bored casino dealers are waiting at the craps table, A very attractive blonde lady comes in and wants to bet $10,000 on a single roll of the dice.

And she adds, "I hope you don't mind, but I feel much luckier when I'm completely nude".  With that she takes off everything but her necklace and rolls the dice while yelling, "Mama needs new clothes."

Then she yells, "YES, YES, YES!!  I WON, I WON, I WON."

She begins jumping up and down and hugging both of the dealers.
Then she picks up her money and her clothes and quickly leaves. 
The dealers just stare at each other dumbfounded.

Finally one of them asks, "What did she roll, anyway?"

The other answers, "I don't know.  I thought YOU were watching."

Moral: Not all blondes are dumb
6) FROM TIPS AND TRICKS!! http://www.chimneygod.com/
From Thrity Tips For old pantyhose...  Got a garden planned this season?
That's great if you do!  It's fun, relaxing and saves on food costs.  Start saving your ruined pantyhose, as they work great in the garden for tying plants to stakes (especially tomatoes).  They are sturdy but stretchy and won't harm the stalks or branches.
For plastic wrap...  Don't tell me you've never had a struggle with the plastic wrap and wasted a bunch off the roll!  (at least once in your life.) A great way to avoid this aggravation and save on the wrap is to simply put the roll in the refrigerator.  When it is cool, the wrap will roll off and cut quite easily.
Intel juices chips near 2GHz Intel will release a
1.7GHz Pentium 4 processor in a little over two weeks.
It's another move in the ongoing game between Intel and AMD to determine who rules the performance roost.
Also: AMD unveils pumped-up Duron
*IE 6 upgrade From Techtv Rafay from Fords, New Jersey, wants to install the new version of Internet Explorer, IE 6.0.  For now the product is only in beta and we recommend waiting until the real version is released later this year.  Since most beta products haven't been thoroughly tested, installing them may do harm to your system.  Generally, most beta versions of any software title are for developers only.  Read this article to see the differences between update and upgrade.
** Just a Reminder**

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The PGCN newsletter is now listed at Ezine-Universe.  Please take
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this is just one way to keep your favorite PuterGeek happy.

Want to say "Thank You" to the PuterGeek?  Just point your web browser
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7) FROM MIKE'S LIST http://www.mikeslist.com/
CNN Scoops Fox, MSNBC
IF YOU SAW LIVE FOOTAGE of the 24 U.S.  Navy crewmembers boarding their 737 to Guam in Hainan last night, then you were watching CNN, which was the only network to film the event.  I saw the footage, and was struck by how, well, Internet-like the quality was.  The video was jerky and grainy, just like low-bandwidth streaming video on the web.

It turns out, CNN used a cheap satellite phone to transmit the picture, according to the Washington Post.

Normally, news crews drive electronics-laden vans with giant satellite dishes on top.  That wasn't possible in Hainan because of location and tight security, and most other networks apparently came to the conclusion that live transmission was out of the question.  CNN, however, kludged together a low-tech solution that enabled them to use a standard camera and transmit the feed with a cheap, commercially available satellite phone sold to business people.  They powered the whole thing with a car battery.

While filming the event, Chinese authorities arrested the CNN crew, and they're still being held.  Despite strong protests from CNN, the Chinese military is likely dismantling the satellite phone to learn valuable American broadcasting technology secrets.
The Accidental Firewall A server at the University of North Carolina worked fine for four years, but nobody knew where it was.  Finally, with help from Novell, Inc., university IT staff painstakingly followed the server cabling until they disappeared into a wall.  Apparently, maintenance workers had mistakenly sealed up the server behind the wall four years ago, and nobody noticed.
MoD's Got a Brand New Bag In response to the loss of 204 laptops stolen since 1997 from British security ministries and the military, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) plans to buy 15,000 high-tech, bomb-proof laptop bags estimated to cost nearly $1,500 each.  The bags feature an auto-erase function that wipes clean the contents of hard disks if the person opening the case doesn't enter the secret code.  They also feature built-in tracking technology and pry-proof bars that protect the bags from being forced open.  Unfortunately, many of the laptops that have gone missing over the last few years were the result of officials too drunk, lazy or careless to protect their government's vital secrets.  The new bags are everything but idiot-proof.  And the auto-erase feature could do more harm than good if officials are too drunk to remember their secret codes.  Good luck!
8)  FROM THE LANGALIST http://www.langa.com/
IE6 Beta Warning
I'm starting to get emails from people having trouble using the Beta version of Internet Explorer 6.  I'll talk about IE6 specifically in a moment, but let's take a moment to look at Beta software in general:
Software is produced in three rough and poorly-delineated stages.
(There's no sharp edge separating from one step to the next; it's a continuum.)
Generally, the earliest builds of software are called "Alpha" versions: They're extremely rough passes at what may or may not constitute the final product.  As the Alpha version is refined, features and functions may be added or dropped, the entire look and feel may change, and in fact, the product may even be rewritten from the ground up over the course of successive builds.

Once a software product is more or less suggestive of its final form, it's called Beta.  This version is used for testing--- "Beta testing"--- to see if the features and functions are doing what they're supposed to; and to track down and kill bugs within the software.  Early Betas are often wildly unstable, and sometimes turn out in retrospect to be Alphas: Some feature and functions may not survive Beta-testing, and may be killed or radically redone during early Beta.

Early Betas are usually tested by staff members and by a relatively small cadre of trusted external testers.  Late Betas--- once the product is more or less "feature complete" and ready for wider testing--- are sometimes released to the general public so the developers can see what bugs and problems will turn up under real-world conditions.  There usually are multiple Beta releases, each trying to correct previously- discovered bugs without introducing too many new ones.  As the Beta tests progress, a software vendor's Quality Assurance staff will categorize the products' bugs according to severity and the number of users likely to be affected.

At some point--- it's a judgment call--- the Beta software is declared good enough, and becomes the "gold code" from which the final, shipping version (sometimes called the "Gamma" version) will be produced.  The software still contains bugs--- all but the most trivial programs
*always* contain bugs, regardless of what software company or category is involved.  But software "goes gold" and is shipped to end users when the vendor makes the determination (for good or ill) that the worst bugs have been quashed, and that only a small percentage of users will encounter the serious bugs that are known to remain.

Yes, that's right: "known to remain." ALL software products from ALL vendors contain bugs, some of which the vendor knows about.  Some of these will be corrected in later patches or updates or new versions; some will never be fixed because doing so would simply be too difficult, time-consuming or expensive.  *ALL* commercial software is based on the "good enough" model, with each company setting its own standards for what constitutes good enough.

IE6 is in Beta--- by definition, it's not yet good enough to ship.  Thus, if you run IE6--- or any Beta--- you have to expect to run into bugs.
Many professional Beta testers use dedicated, sacrificial systems for their tests, and expect to have to reformat the test system's hard drive on a fairly routine basis.  Barring that, you should never, ever run any Beta on your main, must-use PC unless you have a totally bulletproof backup system that will allow you to prevent loss of any essential data.

For all the above reasons, I generally suggest that people avoid Betas unless you go in with your eyes open and expecting trouble; and are armed with a 100% reliable backup system.
Trojans Rampant
I don't know about you, but I've been on the receiving end of a spate of Trojan attacks--- where a malicious program arrives disguised as something else.
Most of them have been very clumsy.  One, for example, begins, "Thank you for your recent credit application.  After reviewing your information, I am pleased to inform you that we have accepted you as a credit customer..." and asks me to open and fill out the attached form, which is a Word document.  If I'd been dumb enough to open it, a macro embedded in the document would have run, triggering a second, outright malicious exe file to run: That malicious program would have attempted to steal information from my system and/or perform outright destructive acts.  (I don't know exactly what it would have done because (1)  my antivirus app did its best to deactivate the damaging payload and (2) I didn't open the Word document or otherwise let the malicious code run in the first place.)
If you have a good and up-to-date antivirus scanner checking your email; and if you make it a practice never, ever to open documents or spreadsheets or any file attachments of any kind from people you don't know and trust; and if you also virus-scan those you get even from people you do trust (hey, accidents happen); chances are you'll never be harmed by this kind of attack.
As always: Be careful!
More Fine-Print Follies
We've written in the past how failing to read the fine print on software licenses, ISP contracts and the like can come back to haunt you in a big way.  (See http://www.byte.com/column/BYT20010222S0004 ).  We'll it's worth mentioning again, as reader Jack Koestner found out:
I got a big surprise from AT&T Broadband' service this morning and thought you might want to alert your readers to save them from the same shock.

As I fired up MS Outlook, I received 101 new email messages, some almost a month old.  Since establishing the account, I had been receiving some messages, but here were all the ones that had apparently gotten lost in the ether.
I phoned my local service office to complain that some were business communications and the late delivery could mean lost business.  I was then told that the service agreement states that the service is meant to be "for entertainment purposes only" and not for commercial purposes.  Imagine my surprise that the foremost name in telecommunications, AT&T, would consider email communications to be for entertainment purposes.  We should be glad they don't look at long distance telephone service the same way.
So for those considering an AT&T Broadband account, I suggest you don't rely on it for critical communications that require immediate attention....
Believe it or not, many ISPs have similar clauses or policies.  Cable companies are among the worst; many refuse, a priori, to provide cable modem service to businesses, period.  (Home-based or small offices may be able to squeak by this restriction.)
Email is notoriously unreliable at best, and when you add in a systemic bias against serious use--- well, it's probably unwise to fully trust email for anything critical unless you take special safeguards (see http://www.langalist.com/newsletters/2001/2001-03-26.htm#6 )
And if you really need dependable email, it makes a lot of sense NOT to rely on your ISP's mail service at all.  A better idea is to rent space (it's cheap!) from a major web host: Along with a place to put a web site, you'll usually get in- and outbound email service *through your web site.* This way, you'll only need your local ISP to provide basic connectivity; you won't need their email servers at all.
Web hosts make a big deal of keeping their servers running, and that usually translates into fewer email problems.  And basic service is not at all expensive: For example, HostWay.Com (a large web host) offers a basic website package for about $9.00 a month.  As part of the deal, and besides all the normal web hosting stuff, you get 1 POP3/SMTP account (that's inbound and outbound email), Web-based email (SiteMail), a catch- all default account, unlimited forwarding, unlimited email aliases, and unlimited autoresponders.  All these email tools can make you essentially independent of your ISP's mail servers.
So if you need more reliable email, you might want to consider getting yourself your own web site!
(NOTE:  That's what I did, PuterGeek.Com has it's own mail server.  I control it, and it's only for my use.  So I don't have any of these problems.  BTW, I do offer @putergeek.com email addresses for sale.)
9) FROM LOCKERGNOME http://www.lockergnome.com/
BG_ASCII v1.3 [355k] W9x/NT/2k FREE

{Interactive ASCII graphic tool} Put on your artist's cap and give this imagination-swirling sucker a spin. GIFs and JPEGs are so 1995. ASCII art is timeless. And what about colored ASCII art? It's... just as timeless. Feed this thing a graphic or two and watch it pump out a bandwidth-friendly translation. Believe me, you can design some really nifty images this way -- and export 'em as HTML files, too! Or don't believe me; see for yourself. I'm trying to teach Sprocket the basics... or maybe it's him who's teaching me? You can't ASCII for much more. Sorry if you're getting ANSI; you can download this utilitoy at any time.
Pixia v1.9a [2.9M] W9x/NT/2k FREE

{Digital painting and retouching} Ancient Chinese secret, eh? Oh wait, this software actually came from Japan. It's called Pixia, and it... is awesome. It's an editor that was designed specifically with full-color images in mind. Er, in memory. This has been regarded as one of the best free image editors out there. There are a few subtle quirks, but after playing with it for a few minutes, you'll uncover features other apps don't have. Think of it as a new box of crayons... ya know, the cool kind with cerulean. And the built-in sharpener that we've come to know and love. In this case, change is definitely cool.
Working Efficiently with Windows ME

"Tips for Working Efficiently: Run programs from the Address bar, Get back to the desktop quickly, Browse the Web and your files with one program, Close several programs at once, Set system date and time, Ways to delete a file or folder, Explore more with Explorer bars, Undo actions in Windows, Turn on file name extensions, Move or copy files to subfolders, Rearrange programs on the Start menu, Set your windows so they all have the same view, Show hidden program or system files, Use single-click everywhere, Speed up your programs, Open a Web page from the Start menu, Surf your computer the same way you surf the Web, Customize the taskbar, etc."
Microsoft Security Bulletin Updates & Search

"No vendor can develop security patches overnight. Microsoft products run on thousands of different manufacturers' hardware, in millions of different configurations, and in conjunction with countless other applications. Our patches must operate correctly on every single machine. This is a significant engineering challenge under any conditions, but it is even more difficult when details of a vulnerability have been made public before a patch can be developed. In such cases, speed must become our primary consideration, in order to protect our customers against malicious users who would exploit the vulnerability."

Peter Crockett - webmaster
mailto: webmaster@putergeek.com
Need some 'puter help?
website: http://www.putergeek.com/
Please send me email in "plain text" only.

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Last Revised: 04/14/2001