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ClifNotesNewsletter050918

WELCOME TO CLIF NOTES NEWSLETTER

September 18, 2005

 

Hi everyone. I had to kill a hive of wasps in one of my bedroom walls this week. They kind of reminded me of viruses and spyware. Be careful out there. If you need help killing the bugs in your PC, I know people who can help you.

I hope you enjoy this week's letter. Be sure to email me for advice or to yell at me for messing up.


 

 

 

REVIEWS

 


Avant Browser - Single handed at it's best

Website - Screenshot - Download - FreeWare

reviewed by StevenBurn on 9/17/05

 

Listening to Iron Maiden this afternoon, I heard "Journeyman" and a phrase within the song jumped out at me - "I know what I want, I'll say what I want and no-one can take it away". This very phrase sums up my feeling towards Avant Browser, having tried almost all of the "IE" and Gecko shells available, I have found I know what I want, and have only found what I want in a browser shell, in Avant Browser.

 

This wonderful application, the sole creation of Anderson Che, provides everything you could want in a browser, for free!. Although susceptible to the same flaws as the IE core, Avant has something IE does not - a dedicated developer that actually cares about us, the users!. Having been an Avant user since late 2003, early 2004 I've found myself growing to love using it more and more with each new release. Avant Browser provides (out of the box) an MDI interface (allowing multiple web pages within a single window), popup/ad/flash/script/sound/image/video and ActiveX blockers, along with an RSS reader, groups, and a whole host of other additions (and as an added bonus, I can use the generic IE contexts and restricted/trusted sites features etc). Had Avant NOT provided this, though it would have been less useful in the eye's of some, it would still be the shell of choice for myself as I am not stuck having to go through a learning curve to figure out how to block this, where to download that, as is the case with the likes of Firefox, Mozilla and K-Meleon etc.

 

Being a moderator on the Avant forums, developer of Avant utilities and generally loving all things Avant Browser related, one could say I am completely biased (which strangely, I cannot deny) and thus, my opinions are inherantly flawed, however, having been an AOL user (with the exception of trying Tiscali, this was possibly the worst experience of my life), trying Green Browser/Maxthon/Firefox/Mozilla/Opera/[insert browser/shell name] et al, I'm afraid the only answer I would be able to give to this argument would be to try it and decide for yourselves.

 

Myself aside, those having trouble finding their way around Avant, are provided with a wonderful support team in the form of the Avant Browser Forum moderators and admin's. These gents (and ladies) work tirelessly to ensure you find the answer you require and thus, are able to utilize Avant to it's full potential.

 

Homepage: http://www.avantbrowser.com

Support forums: http://forum.avantbrowser.com

 


Drempels Screen Saver - a psychedelic celebration on your desktop

Website - FreeWare

If Drempels site seems to be down - try here

 

Jimi, a friend of mine recommended that I try this program. I'm not sure how to describe what happens after you run Drempels in desktop mode. Maybe I could say it's like a slow explosion of color and motion. If you are old enough to reminisce about the psychedelic 60's then this program will certain bring back memories.

 

Dremels is a small download and comes with an installer. Once installed you are sent directly to the setup screen where you can choose many different options. To run it as your desktop wallpaper, you just go to the start menu and find the program or you can use the shortcuts it placed on the desktop. You can choose to have it run on Windows startup if you really like the desktop mode. It also will become your default screensaver unless you choose to change it. During the uninstall it removed itself very well.

 

Quote from JimiPocius - no spyware or ads, just cool visuals.. I'm on a one man crusade to turn the world onto the world's coolest desktop

 

Quote from the website - Drempels makes colorful, swirling, hallucinogenic patterns that resemble a hurricane or tornado. It normally runs in your Windows background or "desktop", replacing your old still-image wallpaper with gently-animating visuals... and meanwhile, you can use your computer just like you normally would. It uses very little CPU overhead - so little that it even runs smoothly on a 233 MHz system!

 

Drempels can also be used as a screensaver; in this mode, it goes fullscreen (like a normal screensaver) instead of rendering to the desktop/background.

 

Drempels works on Windows 9x, ME, NT, and 2000. It requires DirectX 5.0 or later and an MMX-capable processor.

 


The Freeware Book - the encyclopedia of freeware websites

Website - FreeWare

reviewed by ClifNotes on 9/15/05

 

I was talking to Scott the other day and I mentioned I was planning on writing this review. Scott is the webmaster of FreewareArena. He and some other people have gotten together and searched the web up and down for freeware sites, large and small. They put all of these into this downloadable browsing tool that they call simply the "Freeware Book". Download it, unzip it and run it. Soon you will be surfing into a freeware smorgasbord.

 

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

click to expand

 

Quote - The long term goal of The Freeware Book is to foster the growth of freeware and freeware sites. Also to 'level the playing field' for all freeware sites. To enable those that may not be as financially fortunate as others by providing a resource to be available to all without cost. Freeware sites would not exist were it not for the great works of the freeware authors who deserve full credit for the labors they perform.

 


Hoster - website blocking for everyday use

Website - FreeWare

reviewed by TeMerc on 9/16/05

 

This past week, I decided to try a few of the latest host file manager apps available.

 

I see recommendations for several, via the many security forums I routinely visit thru the day.

 

Hosts files, whose original was to intention was to resolve DNS and IP addresses, have developed into more of a security & privacy tool. They are an excellent way to block ads from appearing on your browser too.

 

As more and more servers began to host sites which were of a malicious intent, they have evolved to the security feature they are now. And with this newly emerging security feature, it has become almost a requirement to have some sort of a hosts file manager.

 

You can find a great bit of reading about hosts files here on Wikipedia.

 

After trying four of them I have come to the conclusion that Hoster seems to fit all of the things I thought would be handy for most users.

 

Firstly, of course, its free. Secondly, its an app created by someone in the security community, with a close ear to the ground for timely updates to add the most recently found nasty sites, or to add new advert sites which popup regularly.

 

Tho most have very similar options, Hoster is setup the easiest to use. Everything in one tidy GUI. It gives you a count of however many hosts entries there are. You can make the file writable or lock it. You can delete any selected line, and add line simply. Backing up your hosts file is another option.

 

Its especially nice if you do any amount of host file testing for compatibility. And what I think is the neatest option, is that you can revert your hosts file to what it came with from MS. If you do any amount of malware testing, this is a very nice feature. Say you're looking to get yourself infected. Well, you can't do it rightly if you're protected by a hosts file. So, first click the 'backup hosts file' button, then click the 'restore original hosts' button and you're ready.

 

About the only option that I'd like to see, and a couple of others have it, is an option to DL the latest hosts file from a number of selected host file sites.

 

And while some of the others have some more advanced options, for the everyday user, this app suffices quite nicely.

 

Here is a screenshot of the main interface:

 

Hoster screenshot

click to expand

 

Other managers I tried:

Hostsman

Hostess

Bluetack Hosts File Manager

 

These were also very good apps, and in some cases, a bit more advanced. Depending on your level of involvement with host files and editing and so forth, you will need to find which best suits your needs.

 

Quote from the author of Hoster - Hoster is an ultra-groovy Hosts file Manager, Editor and Helper-outter.

 


PCRestrictor - lock down your PC

Website - Download - OrphanWare (Windows 95, 98, ME)

reviewed by ClifNotes on 9/14/05

 

PCRestrictor was designed to give the owner of a PC, a greater amount of control over what programs or services are able to run on it. A quick look through the PCRestrictor screenshots will give you a good idea of the types of things that this program will allow you to disable or control.

 

The first screen you see after installing asks you to set your master password. Whatever you do, don't lose that password. Have you ever locked your keys in the car? The program will then step you through all of it's possible restrictions. The simple interface makes this program a breeze to use. Don't be fooled by that. PCRestrictor makes it possible to lock yourself out of your own PC. Be careful and be sure you understand what you are doing when you change settings.

 

This is definitely a good program to have around if you have kids or teenagers using your PC. I'm not certain how well this program will work on Windows 2000 or Windows XP but it worked flawlessly on my Windows ME machine. I was not able to locate the company that created PCRestrictor so there isn't anyone you can call up to help you if something goes wrong.

 

Thanks to the Freeware Graveyard for hosting this file.

 

Quote from an old copy of the website - PC Restrictor is a security program designed for use on personal computers running Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Millennium (ME) operating systems. The program follows a wizard format for the ultimate ease of use. This program easily gives control to parents and teachers to restrict what users of their computers will be allowed to do. One of the biggest features is that it allows the administrator of the computer to control what programs the users of the computer can run. The administrator can also restrict users from altering desktop properties and network settings.

webpage courtesy of web.archive.org

 


SendToFTP - right click and send files to your websites

Website - FreeWare

updated review by ClifNotes on 9/17/05

Note: the author's website has disappeared

 

This is a really cool way to upload files to your website. Say I've just finished updating my homepage and I've also made a few graphics that go with it. All I have to do is select the files and right click them, choose "Send To" and pick "SendToFTP" then zoooooom! Off they go via ftp to my webhost.

 

Quote from the author - SendTo FTP is an easy-to-use file transfer program for sending files from your local PC to a remote host, very handy and time saving for web page publishing and updating. It will make your file uploading one click away.

 


StartupMonitor - a watchdog against auto-starts

Website - Freeware

review by ClifNotes

 

This a great "watchdog" program, it doesn't allow any programs to "auto start" without you knowing about it. It does the one of the many things that WinPatrol and other watchdogs do, but is much smaller and faster. It's good on it's own but I recommend a full IDS suite in addition to this program.

Quote from the website - StartupMonitor is a small utility that runs transparently (it doesn't even use a tray icon) and notifies you when any program registers itself to run at system startup. It prevents those utterly useless tray applications from registering themselves behind your back, and it acts as a security tool against trojans like BackOrifice or Netbus.

 


10 Real PC Games

Website - FreeWare collection

reviewed by CyberGuide on 9/15/05

 

Now, don't tell me freedom does not exist in cyberspace... It is alive and kicking!

 

Presented here are 10 games you can play for free. And each title listed below is a complete game. There's not a demo, an expansion pack, or a browser-based Flash game among them.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIPS


Simple Notepad Snippet Store

Website - Tip

by ClifNotes and BrettsReviews

 

Thanks for this tip Brett. I've always kept a notepad just a click away. I don't use Windows Notepad any more. I use a better notepad called MetaPad. It lets me make and click on links in it. It also has more text editing features and a file viewer quick launcher.

 

When I'm working on my computer, I often need to temporarily store a snippet of information such as a web link, a reference to another document or just a reminder to myself to check into something later. There are a number of ways such a "snippet store" can be implemented, including the use of "Sticky Note" programs, some of which are quite sophisticated.

 

However, if you like to keep things simple, you can use Windows Notepad to create a quite functional snippet store.

 

Read the rest to find out how Brett does this.

 


SpamGourmet - spam tastes good to these guys

Website - Free Web Service

review by ClifNotes

 

This is a great way to give out email addresses to people you don't trust. Some of the services at this site are free. The fake email addresses can be a bit tricky to use, but they work well. See SpamhOle for a similar service.

 

Quote from the website - If you give your email address to everyone, you are bound to receive spam emails, and you won't know where they came from. Wouldn't it be convenient to give a different email address to every business or web site, while getting all your email as before? Wouldn't it be easiest to assume the address will be given to spammers, and have it work as a spam blocker by shutting off automatically unless you decide otherwise?

 

That's exactly what spamgourmet offers!

 


Current Email Hoaxes - from HoaxSlayer

Hoax-Slayer Current Newsletter - Tip

reviewed by ClifNotes on 9/17/05

 

When I look at the garbage that gets into my email inbox, I get really aggravated (to put it nicely). There's one thing that's worse than spam and it is something that you can change. Don't forward hoax emails to other people, and don't put up with getting them from your friends. Now you ask, what is a hoax email, and how can I tell if it's a hoax? I'll fill you in on that in a minute.

 

My friend Brett runs a website called HoaxSlayer and it's a great place to find out what the current hoaxes are. It's not just about email. He has lots of advice about a wide range of hoaxes and scams that occur on the web. Here is Brett's advice on how to detect a hoax email.

 

Another way I detect hoaxes is as easy as using a search engine. For example, I type in the word hoax and after it I copied and pasted just a few words from one of the hoax emails below and entered it into a search engine, like Google.com. The words must be exactly in the order they appear in the email, and they should be in quotes as I show you below.

 

hoax "Emails with pictures of Osama"

 

In this example, the first search result was from Hoax-Slayer.com, which is Brett's site. If you followed the search result to Brett's site, he would tell you that it is a hoax.

 

Some of these hoaxes are so far fetched that I just can't understand how an intelligent person could believe them for a second.

 

In any case, always check a story out before you pass it along. I will tell you something I've found by experience. Ninety-nine out of a hundred email stories you receive are totally false or only partly true. When a friend sends me a story like this, I send it right back with proof that it's false. Then I give them a lecture about spreading hoax emails. This works for me. Now I rarely get them from people I know.

 

Quote - Emails are circulating that claim that Osama Bin Laden has been captured or has been found hanged. The information in these emails is false. Bin Laden has not been captured. ... The emails warn recipients about the danger of opening messages about Bin Laden. Although the danger is real, the warning messages are seriously exaggerated.

One of these warnings is included below: read more

 

Just now a message was received from the Israeli police:

 

Emails with pictures of Osama Bin-Laden hanged are being sent and the moment that you open these emails your computer will crash and you will not be able to fix it!!!

 

This e-mail is being distributed through countries around the globe, but mainly in the US and Israel.

Hoax-Slayer Humor read more

 

Subject: FW: ***WARNING*** TO ALL DOG OWNERS!

 

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

click to expand

 


 

 

 

 

COOL WEB SITES


PhoneNotify - phone home from the web

Website - Cool Website

reviewed by ClifNotes on 9/15/05

 

This is fun. I now have a way to send prank calls to anyone and they can't tell who is doing it. (maybe?)

 

Actually, this is serious trial service by a company that specializes in connecting phones and web. All you have to do is fill out the form with the number you want to call, type in what you want it to say, choose a voice style between 0 and 10, choose what number you want seen by caller ID and finally put a "0" (zero) where it asks for a license key.

 

Don't try dialing 911. I'm just using this as an example.

 

I tried it and my phone rang immediately. If this a representative sample of the services these guys offer, then they are worth whatever they are asking for it.

 

Quote from CDYNE - This Method will call any phone number in the US/Canada and read the TextToSay to that phone number. Set ~VoiceID equal to 0 for TTS Diane to speak the Text. For a list of Voices with their ID look at getVoices. PhoneNumberToDial and ~CallerID must be filled in (They can be in any format as long as there is 10 digits). Use a LicenseKey of 0 for testing.

 


Meebo - an all in one web based chat client

Website - Free web service

reviewed by ClifNotes on 9/15/05

 

Have you ever been away from home and you want to use someone's PC to get in touch with your online friends? Now you don't have to download all of those chat clients. If you use Meebo, you can contact all of your friends on AIM, ICQ, Yahoo Instant Messenger, and MSN Messenger. You can sign in to all of them simultaneously. Don't expect to see many frills. This service is still in alpha testing so I'm really surprised it was working at all.

 

If you find that Meebo is down, and you still want to check out web based chat clients, see e-messenger for a similar service. These following links are for official web based chats, ICQ2Go, AIM Express, Yahoo Web Messenger, and MSN Webmessenger.

 

Quote - We’re three folks working to bring IM to Web 2.0. Hopefully this lets you get all of your IMing done in one place and makes it easier too. We know we’re missing a bunch of features, but we’re adding something new every day. Tell us what we should add in the forums, and check out the blog where we’ll keep you updated.

read more

 


The List of Lists - cool website links

Website - Cool Website

updated review by ClifNotes on 9/17/05

 

This list is a great resource for information and programs on the web. Bookmark it or download a bookmark archive to add all the links into your favorites.

 

Quote - To add all the links on the Lists of Lists site to the Favorites or Bookmarks folder of your browser, download Bookmarks.zip. The enclosed bookmark file is compatible with the Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator shortcut import feature. The bookmarks.htm file can also be viewed directly with your browser.

 


 

 

 

 

NEW NEWS


Yahoo is testing a new email service

Article from Lifehacker

reviewed by ClifNotes on 9/15/05

 

It looks like Gmail is giving Yahoo too much competition. I've heard that new signups for Yahoo email has fallen a bit, even though Gmail is still in beta testing.

 

So what will they do? According to Lifehacker, Yahoo is beta testing a newer email service that is supposed to more closely simulate the way that a person uses mail in tools like MS Outlook.

 

Here's a screenshot of the new interface that somebody snuck out of the testing site.

 

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

 

Quote from Lifehacker - The question is: will Outlook become obselete? Can Yahoo! Mail take on Gmail? Watch the battle of web-based email clients unfold! Step into my office for a little look-see of what’s to come for Yahoo! Mail users.

read more

 


 

 

 

 

FEEDBACK AND OTHER STUFF


Outlook - look out for a cleaner email

Chip told me about a cool Outlook Express add-on that I should try out.

 

For people that care about their emails looking professional

http://home.in.tum.de/~jain/software/oe-quotefix/

 

I haven't tried it. It looks very nice. I use Outlook Express and I get tired of cleaning up it's messy quotes.

Yankee Clipper

BillWebb wrote to recommend a good clipboard utility.

 

Best one I've found; free, easy to use, small footprint. http://www.intelexual.com/products/yc3/

 

You can trust Bill, I've tried earlier versions of Yankee Clipper and it's one of the best for sure.

Pix resized here

Bob wrote this about PixResizer - I too have been using this excellent software for a couple of years. I wholly agree with Jean from Montana - it is simple to use and does its intended job with no problems. I have been very happy with it.

CamStudio is free forever

George wrote to fill me in on the future plans that the author of CamStudio has for his great program.

 

... from Nick about CamStudio. The short version is that he intends to keep CamStudio freeware from this point onward.

 

Thanks George, I'm sure we are all happy to hear that. A special thanks to Nick. Keep on doing what you do best.

K9 email filter

Steven wrote in a comment on last week's feedback about pop3 email viewers.

 

With reference to "Popping headers on POP3 email" in todays newsletter, one of the best applications I've found for this kind of thing is K9 by Robin Kier

 

I've heard of K9, but I don't know much about it. It looks like it's for filtering out spam. Steven, if you recommend it, I'm sure it's one of the best.

To VPN or not VPN?

Rodney wrote in to recommend a new VPN service he's trying out.

 

I have two pc running xp pro and for the life of me I can't get the networking going properly. I'm new to this and have not found time to unravel the mystery when I ran across Himachi. VPN is ok but there are plenty other ways to go. I currently use logmein.com when I am away and turn my pc on thru the LAN http://www.tnk-bootblock.co.uk so I don't have to leave my pc on all the time. By the way I love your reviews and thanx for maintaining the archives.

 

I haven't tried the service. They say it's free and secure from outside intrusion. They say they only initiate the connections between PC's, so they can't see into your personal network. It looks very cool.

Clif's picture not winning any awards

Charles in Ohio wrote to tell me how great I look.

 

I like your new picture. The other one of you slouched down in the chair with that silly grin looks like something taken just prior to you passing out... HaHa! Maybe I like the new one because it resembles my own handsome face. No, on second thought... neither one of us will ever be in "PlayGirl".

 

Thanks Charles, you are right, I won't win any beauty contests.

SendToFTP is sent nowhere

Edilberto wrote to tell me about a bad link.

 

I was rummaging in your list of recommended or reviewed freeware. SendToFTP got my attention and clicked to download it but it went to a website called PCLightning.com and I did not see any downloadable program there, just like an ordinary site with different items. Is there a mistake in the linking or I did something wrong ?

 

No mistake, the website changed for some unknown reason. I wrote back giving him a good link and I'm currently trying to help him use it. You can now see a corrected review of SendToFtp.

Gary's custom databases

Gary at InternetFixes wrote to tell me about some MS Access databases he has for free download. If any of you work with Access, you may find these useful.

Welcome to all Hoax-Slayer readers

Thanks to Brett at HoaxSlayer for mentioning my newsletter in his newsletter. Welcome to those of you who came here from HoaxSlayer.

Follow-up with Scotty's master

Last week I mentioned that BillP, the creator of WinPatrol was interviewed at Temerc. Bill later posted a reply there and asked if anyone had any follow-up questions. I asked Bill a question and you can see his answer below.

Clif: One quick question in two parts, do you have many corporate clients for the full version of WinPatrol, and have you ever considered making the full version free for home users?

 

Bill: I have very few corporate clients because there is no WinPatrol national sales team. We do have a few that have purchased site licenses for the PLUS version. A couple are well known organizations. We also have companies who request the free version in a corporate environment. We allow it as long as they promise to notify each user that they installed it, not us. We've also provided PLUS site licenses for some non-profits. The kids attending Hole in the Wall Camps have WinPatrol PLUS installed.

 

I doubt I'll ever be able to provide the full WinPatrol free to all home users. I do expect to continue making the free version full featured. You'll never see any time limits or nag screens. It will always have the functionality to remove threats and not try to scare people into upgrading. I don't check on membership status when I provide personal responses to Email questions. I like providing as much as possible for free.

 

I look at the differences in WinPatrol PLUS as bonus features. I've tried shareware in the past and it never worked well. PLUS memberships are for life so it's not going to make me a millionaire. Our PLUS supporters provide enough incentive for me to continue to make improvements to the software. They also pay our researcher to build our online database so we can explain what programs are doing in human terms.

 

Clif: Thank you for your answer Bill. I am only surprised that more companies haven't been using WinPatrol. I understand your reasons for offering WinPatrol the way that you do. It all makes sense, and I'm sure I'm not alone in quietly saying thanks to the author of WinPatrol for helping to keep our PC's safe. Ok, a little more loudly now, THANKS BILL!

To everyone: I like getting messages from you. Don't hesitate to EmailClif with your comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Have fun and surf safely.

 

Clif

http://clifnotes.net & http://freewarewiki.pbwiki.com

Devoted to promoting Freeware and Free Information


INDEX

  • Reviews

AvantBrowser - Single handed at it's best

DrempelsScreenSaver - a psychedelic celebration on your desktop

FreewareBook - the encyclopedia of freeware websites

Hoster - website blocking for everyday use

PcRestrictor - lock down your PC

SendToFtp - right click and send files to your websites

StartupMonitor - a watchdog against auto-starts

TenRealPcGames - freedom in cyberspace

 

  • Tips

SimpleNotepadSnippetStore

SpamGourmet - spam tastes good to these guys

CurrentEmailHoaxes - from HoaxSlayer

 

  • Cool Websites

PhoneNotify - phone home from the web

MeeboChat - an all in one web based chat client

TheListofLists - cool website links

 

  • News

YahooTestingNewEmailService

 

  • Feedback

FeedBack050918

 

 

 

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