• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Finally, you can manage your Google Docs, uploads, and email attachments (plus Dropbox and Slack files) in one convenient place. Claim a free account, and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) can automatically organize your content for you.



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Welcome to Clif Notes Newsletter

May 21, 2006




Hi Everyone.

Thanks for reading my newsletter. Each week, I will have freeware reviews, tips, tricks, news, and lots of cool websites for you to check out.

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




AirSnare - WiFi intrusion detector

tip from Terry at TerrysComputerTips, May 2006


from Clif

I recently read about AirSnare at Terry's Computer Tips. AirSnare can be used on home or business wireless networks (wifi hotspots) to detect connections by unknown or malicious computers. Since both Terry and TechTV recommend it, I'm passing this tip on to you.


While I was on vacation recently, my wife and I were able to detect dozens of home wireless networks that were wide open. Many home networks are "unsecured" and anyone passing by can connect to an unsecured network and use it.


If you have a home wireless network and you don't know if it's safe from attack, please see this article




Quote from AirSnare website

AirSnare is another tool to add to your Wireless Intrusion Detection Toolbox. AirSnare will alert you to unfriendly MAC addresses on your network and will also alert you to DHCP requests taking place. If AirSnare detects an unfriendly MAC address you have the option of tracking the MAC address's access to IP addresses and ports or by launching Ethereal upon a detection.


Download AirSnare



Outlook tool: DeskTask

update from Zia's CyberGuide, May 2006


Zia says:

I know, I know, I have been lazy this last 10 days, I have not updated the blog for a while ... I have been in beautiful Paris on business.


I tend to forget my friend's and family's birthdays so I found this convenient tool which sits on your desk so I can monitor Outlook tasks and calendar items ... love it!




Download Desktask


Quote from carthagosoft.net

DeskTask connects to Microsoft Outlook and displays your calendar and task items on the desktop.


  • Your tasks will always be visible, saving precious time to launch or switch to Outlook.
  • Just minimize every window, and see what are the items due for today or tomorrow.
  • DeskTask displays the whole week so you can be prepared to organize your work.
  • Besides the calendar items, the Outlook to-do list (Folder Tasks) is also displayed. If you work with Outlook, DeskTask is for you


visit Zia's CyberGuide blog for more cool tips


Internet Explorer 7 Has No Soul

article by Scot Finnie, May 2006


From Clif

Last week, I told you about my experience with IE7. Scot Finnie of Scot's Newsletter had a slightly different experience. He had no real problems with it as I did, but he has another issue with it that is often just as important.


From Scot Finnie

I'm definitely not excited. The sum of IE7's parts isn't greater than the whole. There's no there in there. It lacks soul. Although the Internet Explorer development team has done a commendable job of grafting Microsoft renditions of some worthy Firefox and Opera features onto IE6, as well as heavily revamping security, the forthcoming version of IE doesn't break significant new ground.


read the rest of Scot's article


QuickTime Alternative - put Apple's bloatware on a diet

old review from ClifNotes, updated May 2006


Some applications really get on my bad side. Apple's QuickTime does this in several ways. First of all it wants to grab all the file associations for audio and video that it possibly can. Secondly it always wants to connect to the internet. It wants updates or it wants to show you a website or it wants to get more information about media. It wants to drive me nuts. Last of all it tries to put itself in the autorun so it will launch faster. It doesn't take no for an answer. If you try to remove it's entry in the registry, it puts another right back in next time it runs. Shame on you Apple!


I found a way to avoid Apple's headacheware by using QuickTime Alternative. I've gotten no complaints from my OS yet. In fact, I think it breathed a sigh of relief.


It's been quite awhile since I've tried QuickTime by itself, and they may have improved some since then, but I was recently reminded of one of the reasons I use QTA when I saw an advisory from Secunia about QuickTime. See QuickTime Multiple Code Execution Vulnerabilities.


Download Quick Time Alternative


MSCONFIG - get control of your startup programs

notes from ClifNotes, updated May 2006


If you've never heard of MSCONFIG you might have a bloated PC. MSCONFIG is a small utility from Microsoft that's already installed on most Windows PC's. Using msconfig to take control of your PC is a great idea if you start noticing that it takes longer and longer for your PC to start up. NetSquirrel.com has a terrific tutorial I'd like to share with all of you.


Quote from the website

Most people know that the more programs you have running on your computer at once, the more likely it is that your computer will either run slowly or even crash. What most people don't know is that every time you boot your computer a whole mess of "hidden" programs load in the background. Some of these hidden programs are essential, but most aren't. Turning off some of these hidden programs can significantly increase your computer's performance and reliability.


See the MSCONFIG Tutorial


Mr Hyde - hide windows from your boss

notes from ClifNotes, May 2006


This is embarrassing... it's a slow day and you are playing Solitaire on your PC at work. Suddenly your boss walks over to ask a question. Even if you minimize the program, he might still see it on your Windows Taskbar.


He won't see a thing if you are fast enough and you use Mr Hyde ...




Quote from BrineSoft website

Mr Hyde hides all the specified windows on your Desktop on a user-defined hotkey.


It doesn't terminate any applications. It just sets the visility flag of the windows. Therefore, if the hotkey is pressed once again, all returns to the previous state and it is possible to continue seamlessly in work.


Mr Hyde can be started automatically with Windows. No shortcut on your Desktop, no shortcut in the Windows Start Menu, no shortcut in the Startup folder. No icon in the System Tray. Very little footprint in the system. Mr Hyde is discreete.


Download Mr Hyde


Winamp - multimedia player to the max

reviewed by ClifNotes on 7/26/04, updated May 2006


I've been using Winamp for years, from version 1 to 5. I've never found another player for audio or video that does all the things it can do. There are a large number of "fans" who write plug-ins and create skins and visualizations for it. Almost anything you could want to do with audio, someone has tried it with Winamp. You can listen to internet radio and watch tv stations, burn music CD's, watch movies, record streaming audio and a few more things than I could mention here. Winamp is constantly evolving.


Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

click to expand


Quote from Winamp

Well, the Winamp community is teeming with creative individuals just like you. They live to take the player to new heights of coolness. And the Nullsoft Developers Network (NSDN) lives to serve them. The NSDN portion of our site is full of useful tools and tutorials for anyone who wants to create things for Winamp. Make skins to dress up your player or code up a component to change how Winamp behaves. We leave it up to you to make Winamp exactly what you want it to be.


Download Winamp














Is it safe to meet with people you've met online?

article by ClifNotes, May 2006


Short answer: Maybe

Long answer below ...


from Clif

Is it safe to meet online people in person? My wife and I have met a few online people. We've met some that we'd been chatting with in IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and very recently we met with BillWebb in Florida while we were on vacation.


There are a few guidelines that I'll recommend when meeting people you've been introduced to online.


  • Get a phone number and call them to verify it's a real number
  • Meet in a public place in a good neighborhood
  • Make sure others know who you are meeting and where the meeting is
  • Don't meet people alone, if possible take another friend along

    here are some additional guidelines from a dating service


Now that I've given you these recommendations, I can tell you that my wife and I had an absolutely fantastic time meeting Bill. He took us on a tour of the Wakodahatchee Wetlands and showed us some birds and wildlife that we may have never seen on our own.


Here's what Bill had to say about our rendezvous:

Many of us spend so much time on the Web interacting with other Webizens that we have cyber-friendships with folks we’ve never met. I’ve been here at Backwash for over four years, and written hundreds of columns under this and other personae. I’ve interacted with many of the folks on this site so often, for so long, that I feel as though I know them - and yet I’ve never laid eyes on a single one. The same goes for my readers at Lockergnome, and the folks who honor me by reading and responding to my blogs. We have whole relationships, trusting that the people we meet online bear at least some resemblance in person to that of their role on the Web, never knowing whether or not we are right.


That’s why it was so delightful to actually meet, this weekend, one of my online friends face to face ...


Bill Webb


read the rest of Bill's article and take a look at his beautiful pictures of our tour


System Information Tool in Windows XP

a tip from Brett at xp-tips.com, 2006


From Brett

Access Computer Information with the System Information Tool


Windows XP has a built-in tool that offers a wealth of information about your computer. System Information gives users rapid access to hardware resource and software environment information, component and application data, system history, useful tools such as Net and Direct X Diagnostics and much more ...


read the rest of this tip at Brett's website


Customize your own signs and other objects

a tip from ClifNotes on 7/24/05, updated as needed



Here are some cool places to make your own customized images. You can have a lot of fun with some of these.


Churchs Sign Generator

The ACME Label Maker

The ACME License Maker

Just for Valentine's Day: the ACME Heart Maker

Tombstone Generator

Button Generator

Logo Generator

3d Text Maker

Online Banner Makers

Error Message Generator

Email Icon Generator

Dancing Alphabet Names

Gmail Signature Generator

another Gmail Signature Generator

The Generator Blog

Custom Sign Generator dot com













Websites I've visited recently










BlueFrog Croaks - antispam service is pronounced dead

article at The Internet Patrol, May 2006


comments by Clif

According to the article, a firm named Blue Security has had their website shut down due to retaliation from a Russian controlled zombie PC network. The Blue Security CEO, Eran Reshef, is quoted as saying:


“We cannot take the responsibility for an ever-escalating cyberwar through our continued operations. As we cannot build the Blue Security business on the foundation we originally envisioned, we are discontinuing all of our anti-spam activities and are exploring other, non spam-related avenues for our technological developments.”


The website at http://www.bluesecurity.com/ was offering a program called BlueFrog, that allowed people to "spam the spammers". Once you signed up or installed their software, any email coming from known spam websites was return emailed with an "opt-out" email.


A Russian named PharmaMaster, who controls ten's of thousands of hijacked PC's, called zombies, launched an attack against Blue Security websites and he's won the battle.


An article at Digg also recommends that you uninstall BlueFrog immediately if you have used it.


If you really want to try and stop spam, I suggest less drastic methods, such as the email etiquette recommended by my friend Bill Webb, the spam control tips from my friend Brett Christensen and the use of "spam-eating" temporary email addresses such as SpamhOle, SpamGourmet, Spam.la and Trashmail.net.


read the source article at The Internet Patrol


Google Notebook Is Live

post by Sarah at Sarah in Tampa.com, May 2006


Google Notebook is the new bookmark manager from Google. That's right, Google wants to be your del.icio.us! With Google Notebook you can clip useful information gathered while surfing such as text, images, and links. You can create multiple notebooks, divide them into sections, drag-and-drop your notes to stay organized, and make your notebook public so you can share your bookmarks with the world. Google Notebook is not software ...


read the rest of this post at Sarah's blog


Google Desktop 4

post by Sarah at Sarah in Tampa.com, May 2006


Google Desktop 4 beta is now available. One of the new features of Desktop 4 are the "Google Gadgets." Like Yahoo's widgets, Google Gadgets let you personalize your desktop with mini-applications that deliver personalized content like games, media players, weather and news. Google Desktop can also recommend new gadgets and can automatically create a personalized homepage based on what you frequently search and access. (Kinda freaky, huh?)


read the rest of this post at Sarah's blog




Get Gmail!


You need a Gmail account to access many of the cool features at Google. I'll send you an invitation right away if you write me and say I WANT GMAIL.





















Frapper - you people live all over the world!

Wow! Over 300 people and still growing! I invite all of you to record your locations on this map. You can include as little or as much information as you wish. I think you'll enjoy seeing yourself there.


Here's a small look at my frapper map.



Chatting at Freewarewiki

review by ClifNotes


Now you can chat with anyone visiting a website by using Gabbly. To see who's gabbing at this website, try this link.


Find out more about it at Gabbly.com


Write your own review


I get many of the reviews in the newsletter from the readers. You don't have to be a genius or computer guru. Just answer a few questions and send me a review. I'll probably put you in the newsletter.






Have fun and surf safely.



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