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

  • Work with all your cloud files (Drive, Dropbox, and Slack and Gmail attachments) and documents (Google Docs, Sheets, and Notion) in one place. Try Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) for free. Now available on the web, Mac, Windows, and as a Chrome extension!



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Welcome to Clif Notes Newsletter

July 2, 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.

Click here to chat while

visiting this newsletter!




What is Cosmopod?

commentary by ClifNotes and Pierre at Les trouvailles de Pierre, Mar 2006, updated Jun 2006 permalink


I found a cool webservice called CosmoPOD that allows you to run a remote Linux PC from your PC without having to actually install a Linux operating system. Once you are connected to this remote PC, you are able to surf the web in complete anonymity and you are also immune to spyware or adware attacks. I sent a link to Pierre about this site and he likes it too ...


Pierre wrote a little about Cosmopod on his blog:

Using the NoMachine client, CosmoPOD will allow you to access an online KDE desktop as if you were using VNC. KDE is a desktop environment used mostly with GNU/Linux. GNOME and KDE are the major free alternatives to the conventional interfaces (Microsoft Windows and Mac OS). You will have more than 100 programs available as well as 1 GB of free virtual harddrive space. Here are some pictures:


Visit Pierre's Lucky Finds (French) or view it in english


I began using Cosmopod back in March, and I continue to use it occasionally. I recently was informed by Steve at Cosmopod that there are new methods to connect to Cosmopod now. In addition to the old NX NoMachine client, there is now a Java plugin and a Firefox plugin.


I use the NoMachine client at work because it allows me to surf the internet anonymously, and even though I have nothing to hide, my co-workers in Information Services cannot tell where I'm surfing when I use my Cosmopod account. I could chat in Instant Messengers, check my Email, and surf the web all in complete privacy. I also found the the NoMachine client works well on my USB thumb drive as a stand-alone program. No installation was needed on my work PC.




Back in March, I wrote the webmaster at Cosmopod to ask him a few questions.


From Steve at Cosmopod

Hi Clif


Thanks for your interest I would be glad to answer some questions.


  • How do you pay for this service?

We get payment through advertising you will notice when one launches a browser

there is a shopping page, we will be adding more advertising slowly.


  • How many users are there?

We have around 10,000 users so far and growing every day.


  • Is there a paid version?

We might launch a paid version where advanced users can install their own



  • How do most users use Cosmopod?

People are mainly using it for collaboration and office documents.


  • 1Gb is a lot of space, how can people get their files off of Cosmopod?

There is a file transfer link in the menu of the homepage, users can simply

login here and transfer files.


  • Just how fast is it normally? Do you need more users?

We have a nice fat and fast pipe attached and are always looking for more



  • What are your future plans for Cosmopod?

We will be implementing a seamless browser plugin which will make the

connection process much smoother, add native access to GDrive when it is

launched and get more users and applications running. Some companies are

just about to launch entire thin clients on 1 cheap integrated chip this

means we can provide a full managed desktop at the price of a computer

screen! We are moving quite rapidly along with the open source wave.


I hope you enjoy the service!





Thank you Steve, for the information and this fantastic free service.

Go and try CosmoPOD yourself, and see what you think.



Panda Active Scan - online malware scanner

review by ClifNotes, Jun 2006


Here's one of the few websites that gives me a reason to fire up old Internet Explorer. Panda Active Scan is one of the best malware scanners on the web, and it's free!


As I mentioned above, it does required Internet Explorer and the ActiveX download is about 8mb in size the first time you install it.





SpyCatcher Express - always protected

review by ClifNotes, Jun 2006


Ok folks, I've kept quiet long enough about this one. SpyCatcher Express is good! It's a anti-spyware program that I have always running on my PC and is there to watch out for malware I might accidently install. I've been using it now for four months with almost no problems. It seems to be very good at catching possible spyware. It is often warning me about stuff that could be bad, that I decide to use anyway. I understand the security issues behind some of the programs I use, and I understand why SpyCatcher doesn't like them.


Thanks to Eddie in Australia, for recommending SpyCatcher.




Quote from Tenebril, authors of SpyCatcher Express

SpyCatcher Express protects all Web surfers by providing the safest and most advanced antispyware solution available as a free service.


SpyCatcher Express protects against next-generation, mutating spyware and puts users back in control of their PCs. SpyCatcher Express enables even novice PC users to remove and block the most insidious spyware automatically, protecting user privacy and preserving PC performance.






Ewido Antispyware Micro Scanner

review by ClifNotes, Jun 2006, permalink


I recently noticed that Ewido offers an online scanner if you have a browser that uses ActiveX (Internet Explorer). If you don't use IE, then you can download and use their micro scanner. It's a very small download, and all you have to do is double click the file to run it. Once it's running, it downloads the latest malware signatures in preparation for scanning your PC. After I used it the first time, it found almost two hundred tracking cookies that I had neglected to remove over the last few months.





Here's the Micro Scanner page:



and here's the download link:



Trojan and Spyware Tool - Ewido Security Suite

reviewed by GeorgesFreeware on 9/1/05, updated Jun 2006, permalink


George writes

I counted the scanners on my computer and found that I actually have five different scanners installed. Three of them are spyware scanners; Spybot, Ad-Aware and Microsoft AntiSpyware. One of them is my virus scanner (one that I have purchased). The final one is Ewido. I installed it mainly because it scans for Trojans. Having five scanners may seem a bit extreme but they are not really that much trouble ...

full read and video demonstration at Georges Freeware Reviews


From Clif

Bryan J wrote in to remind me that Ewido is not truely free.


From Bryan

...perhaps you could have mentioned that it's only a 30 day trial and therefore, not really freeware.


(From Ewido)

This setup contains the free as well as the paid version of ewido anti-spyware. After the installation, a free 30-day trial version containing all the extensions of the full version will be activated. At the end of the trial, these extensions will be deactivated and the program will turn into a feature-limited freeware version. The purchased license code can be entered at any time.


From Clif

Bryan, you are correct, but after the trial period, you can keep the program even though it is "feature-limited" otherwise known as "crippleware" or "liteware". This limited version is still a very good trojan scanner, and the price is right!


Two more items, Ewido was recently bought by Grisoft, makers of the great free Antivirus program, AVG free edition. So far, it's been a good deal for everyone.


Also, for those who don't feel comfy using anything but true freeware, Ewido offers it EwidoAntispywareMicroScanner free for download and use.



Quote from Ewido

  • NEW Heuristics to detect unknown threats
  • NEW Scanning and cleaning of the Windows registry
  • NEW Support for NTFS-ADS scanning
  • Daily database updates
  • Patch proof by using strong signatures
  • Analysis tools (startup, connections and processes)
  • Intelligent online-update
  • Scan inside archives
  • Secure detection and deletion of DLL-Trojans
  • Generic crypter detection through emulation
  • Generic binder detection
  • Free E-Mail Support
  • Automatic Clean Engine
  • Quarantine for suspicious files
  • Multilingual User Interface


Ewido website


BigFix Consumer Edition - fix the security on your PC

reviewed by ClifNotes, Mar 2005, Jan 2006, Jun 2006




Many of us don't care much for the Windows Update website. If that's true for yourself, BigFix could be a viable alternative. The Big Question for BigFix is "Can you trust them?". My opinion is that you now have two companies to choose from when you update. Microsoft is in business to sell you more software. BigFix is in business to sell security systems for PC's. Now who would you trust more?


I tried out BigFix and it was easy to install and easy to use. I edited the startup entry in msconfig so that BigFix doesn't run on Windows startup. After searching my system, BigFix displayed 6 updates that I needed. I installed all the fixes and now I'm good to go until the next time I run it. So far, all the fixes that I have installed, are from Microsoft and are downloaded from their website by BigFix.


Conclusion: The average person should use BigFix as an additional source of fixes and should not replace going to the Windows Update website. BigFix is a great free program and doesn't seem to have too many problems. It should be a valuable source for security fixes and give you additional confidence in the security of your PC.


Update Jun 2006:

Since the addition of Windows Genuine Advantage to Windows Updates, many security experts are recommending that we stop using the Windows Update website. If you decide to follow that advice, then BigFix will come in very handy.



Larger images A B



BigFix is a program that can intelligently detect and correct all kinds of problems on your computer, usually before they get a chance to mess up your computer. With BigFix, you are protected from known bugs, security holes, and problems caused by outdated software, letting you do more and crash less every day.


BigFix usually runs in the background, monitoring your computer for problems and conflicts. You can be sure that BigFix is running if you see the blue icon near the bottom-right corner of your screen (called the system tray).


Every day, BigFix automatically gathers information about the latest bugs, security alerts, and updates from BigFix Sites around the Internet. This way, BigFix is always up to speed on the latest problems.


Whenever BigFix detects a problem, it alerts you by flashing the blue system tray. To fix the problem, click on that flashing icon to open BigFix.


BigFix has been designed to fully protect your privacy. No information about you or your computer will ever be sent off your computer by BigFix without your express permission.


BigFix Website - Download BigFix - Freeware (for non-commercial use)



Uninstall Genuine Advantage

comments from ClifNotes, Jun 2006


I often read a newsletter called Windows Secrets, authored by Brian Livingston. He recently published a letter all about the new Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA)program from Microsoft.


The WGA is loaded onto Microsoft Windows systems whenever a user gets Windows Updates. It is designed to more or less spy on your PC and notify Microsoft if your Windows system or it's components aren't properly licensed. I noticed it a few weeks ago when I suddenly started getting prompted to let it connect to the internet when my PC booted up.


What does Brian think about it?


No security-minded company or individual can allow a program to stealthily contact a distant server and morph its behavior at will. This principle holds just as true for people who think Microsoft is the world's greatest corporation as it does for those who deeply distrust the company's motives.


What does he suggest we do about WGA?

  1. Turn off Automatic Updates in the Control Panel.
  2. Get a patch management system for updating you Windows system.
  3. Uninstall Windows Genuine Advantage.

I agree with Brian's analysis and suggestions, but I don't agree with his recommendations for patch management. He suggested people use a program called NetChkPro which requires a one time license fee of $25 per computer.


I'd like to suggest that you try out the free version of BigFix. I did mention that it's free didn't I? It also works quite well.


Uninstalling WGA could be quite a chore. He mentions that there are 11 steps to doing it and gives you a web link to Microsoft's procedure for removing WGA. In case you are interested, here is the link to that procedure.




My wife, Respect2Glory, doesn't quite agree with Brian...


Note from Respect2Glory about the WGA update

No software is perfect. This is why we're using several security programs to protect our systems. I do not feel comfortable turning off Automatic Windows Updates. Mine is setup to notify, but not to download or install until I initiate it. I simply ignore WGA when it is the only item on the update list. Tedious? Yes, but at least I install other MS updates when they become available.


Take a look at Brian's newsletter, it's good reading and easy to follow.















Latest Updates from CyberGuide

blog article from Zia's CyberGuide, Jun 2006


Zia says

My friend Gizmo got a list of mostly free audio and video tools from one of his newsletter subscriber. If you have not subscribed to Gizmo's newsletter, please please do so! It's the best tech newsletter I am subscribed to so far.


  • Best free MP3 codec

Lame - http://rarewares.org/mp3.html


  • Best free lossless audio codecs:

Monkeys Audio: http://www.monkeysaudio.com/

FLAC: http://flac.sourceforge.net/


  • Best free audio file normalizers

MP3Gain: http://mp3gain.sourceforge.net/

WaveGain: http://members.home.nl/w.speek/wavegain.htm


  • Best UDF/ISO file creator

IMGTool Classic: http://www.coujo.de/


  • Best free lossless video codecs

Lagarith: http://lags.leetcode.net/codec.html

Huffyuv: http://neuron2.net/www.math.berkeley.edu/benrg/huffyuv.html


  • Best DVD Copy protection remover

dvd43: http://www.dvd43.com/

DVDFab Decrypter: http://www.dvdidle.com/free.htm


  • Best free DVD Ripper

DVDDecrypter: http://www.mpegx.com/view.php?detail=323http://fileforum.betanews.com/detail/DVD_Decrypter/1011845169/1

SmartRipper: http://www.mpegx.com/view.php?detail=323


  • Best Free video file conversion

Super: http://www.erightsoft.com

MediaCoder: http://mediacoder.sourceforge.net/download.htm


  • Best desktop video capture

CamStudio: http://www.camstudio.org/


  • Best free IFO/VOB editors

VobBlanker: http://www.videohelp.com/%7Ejsoto/vobblanker.htm

PgcEdit: http://www.videohelp.com/%7Er0lZ/pgcedit/


  • Best free disc quality check utilities

K-Probe: http://www.k-probe.com/

Nero CD-DVD Speed: http://www.cdspeed2000.com/

~DVDInfoPro: http://www.dvdinfopro.com/


  • Best free media file information utility

AVICodec: http://avicodec.duby.info/

GSpot: http://www.free-codecs.com/download/GSpot.htm

MediaInfo: http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=86862&package_id=90341


© Gizmo Richards


Go to CyberGuide's blog to see more cool stuff!


Chatting at FreewareWiki


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


Find out more about it at Gabbly.com


Last week I had a great chat with Brad from Kansas and Rodney from New York. Rodney recommended a new security suite called Cyberhawk (free beta version). Brad and I talked a long time about many things. He showed me a Star Trek fan site that allows you to download some really cool amateur videos. We also got into a conversation about old music videos which led me to show some videos at YouTube. While we were at YouTube, I mentioned that I had seen a place on the net which allowed you to download those videos. Shortly after that, I went out and tried it. It really works, and they even have a Firefox extension.


Thanks for the chat Brad and Rodney!

If anyone wants to chat while reading the newsletter, then click here.



Freeware to solve 450+ common problems

tip from CC, comments from Clif, June 2006


CC sent me a link to this website. They provide a set of "I want to ..." tasks that can be done using freeware. Great list and great website. Thank you CC!



































Websites I've visited recently









Flocking out to get the new browser

news from ClifNotes, Jun 2006


Today I received a letter from the creators of Flock. Flock is a browser based on FireFox that is tweaked to let you socialize more easily, and they've released a new beta version.


I'm going to try it out for awhile and let you know what I think of it.



Here's what they say about the new Flock beta ...

Welcome to Flock, the safe, spyware free web browser that makes it easier to connect with your friends. With Flock it's a snap to upload, comment, and discover new pics. Read all the news you care about, in one place. Blog freely. Get search results as soon as you start typing in the search box, and much more.





Google Checkout

article from Sarah's blog at http://sarahintampa.com, Jun 2006


Sarah says ...

It's here! Google launched Google Checkout, an online payment system. Google Checkout is not a person-to-person payment system like PayPal, but a system for merchants and shoppers alike. Google Checkout can be used as an alternative to existing checkout options on a retailer's website. If you have a Google account (which you already have if you're a Gmail user), you can sign into your account on the retailer's website and complete the checkout process ...



read the rest at Sarah's blog


Thank you Sarah, you always find the best freebies.

I found a video TOUR for Google Checkout, It's very cool!




Get Gmail! and Get Firefox!


You need a free 2.7 GB 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.



I think Gmail works best in the awesome Firefox browser. It's free, easy to use, and it's way more secure than Internet Explorer. My favorite thing to do is to customize Firefox so that it does much more than IE ever could. You can select new button controls for your toolbars, install extensions to add new features, or change the look of your browser with themes - the way Firefox looks and works is under your control.


Get Firefox!































Comodo Personal Firewall - review at PC Magazine

tip from reader, comments by Clif, Jun 2006


From Jim H

Hi Clif ... In case you didn't see the article, here is an excellent review on a free, personal firewall that gets high ratings from PC Magazine: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1969207,00.asp


I've downloaded but not installed it yet. The free version of ZoneAlarm, which I'm presently using, does a good job also, so I'm not sure yet which one I'll end up with. Would be interesting for you to take a look at it and let your readers know your thoughts..


Best regards, and thanks for a great newsletter ... Jim H


From Clif

Thanks for the letter Jim, I've been hearing some good things about this firewall. Don't forget you can get older versions of Tiny, Sygate, and ZoneAlarm at Oldversion.com.



SUPERAntiSpyware - reader recommended antispyware

letter from a reader, comments by Clif, Jun 2006


Randy B recently wrote me about this security program he's been using.


From Randy B

Clif knows how I am about security, tight, but not paranoid. Here's a program I ran across and it should be a definite addition to your security arsenal.


Fast scan engine, picks up things Spybot S&D, AdAware miss, no false positives after 1 week of using daily, easy to configure, lite on resources, supports 9x-XP, Free & Pro[$29.95] versions. My evaluation is based on Free version on demand scanner. 4.91mb download





From the site:

SUPERAntiSpyware is the most thorough scanner on the market. Our Multi-Dimensional Scanning and Process Interrogation Technology will detect spyware that other products miss! SUPERAntiSpyware will remove ALL the Spyware, NOT just the easy ones!


Easily remove pests such as WinFixer, SpyAxe, SpyFalcon, and thousands more!







PayPal phishing trip

comments by ClifNotes, May 2006, permalink


What is a phishing email?


Edgar in the Philippines received a letter appearing to be from PayPal:


Clif, I got this today in my bulk folder. I'm sure this is spam or a hoax or what, cause there is the UNEXPECTED_DATA_AFTER_ADDRESS@.SYNTAX-ERROR after the email address; I am not a member of PayPal; and I do not know a Bill Chang.


What should I do with this email?


I took a quick look at the email and I was able to quickly confirm it is a phishing email. Edgar noticed that there was something wrong with the email address, but the true nature of the email was revealed by a link at the bottom that offers you the chance to dispute the charge. In this case, they claim Edgar purchased a cell phone for nearly 800 dollars. Gee whiz Edgar, I could have gotten you a better deal (LOL).


Here is the "hook" on the phishing line:


If you haven't authorized this charge, click the link

below to cancel the payment and get a full refund.

Dispute Transaction


The bold text "Dispute Transaction" in the email was a link to the phishing page where they hope people are foolish enough to login to this fake PayPal home page so that they can capture their account email addresses and passwords.


The website was so realistic looking that the only way to tell the difference was to look at the internet address. The fake website was apparently hosted by a travel agency's website in Taiwan at (ns1.eztravel.com.tw). Below are side by side screenshots of the fake and real PayPal home pages. I bet you can't tell me which one is real.



The one on the left is the real one. Here are links to full size images of the real and fake websites.


Edgar, here is the answer to your final question, "What should I do with this email?"


This email was in your bulk folder and you should only report email that makes it into your Inbox. In the future, you can safely assume any email that is in your Bulk folder is spam or a scam, unless you recognize the sender and you know it doesn't belong there. This is especially true of any email from PayPal, Ebay, and many banks or other online financial businesses.


If it is in your Inbox, then you should forward the email (including full headers) to spoof@paypal.com and also report it as spam to your email service provider.


Brett Christensen of HoaxSlayer tells us what to do with scam emails such as this one in his Scam FAQ page.



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.



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.


What do you have to say?


Just tell me what article you are talking about and leave me your comment.



Have fun and surf safely.



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