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Welcome to Clif Notes Newsletter

November 19, 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!




Happy Thanksgiving everyone!





MS Virtual PC - running a PC inside your PC

review from ClifNotes, Nov 2006, permalink _ Misc. Utilities


What is a Virtual PC (or virtual machine)? Wikipedia says:


A virtual machine is an environment which appears to a "guest" operating system as hardware, but is simulated in a contained software environment by the host system. The simulation must be robust enough for hardware drivers in the guest system to work. source


I think a simple explanation is that it allows you to run a PC inside your PC. Click on the picture below to see Windows 98 running inside my Window XP laptop.


I think I may find it useful for trying out programs that I don't actually want to install on my real PC. I can make backups of the virtual PC so that if I really screw it up, I can use an old copy of it to restart it fresh as new.


A friend of mine wrote me last week and wanted to know if IMVU's chat client was safe to use. I already had a virtual PC setup, so I made a backup copy of it and then installed IMVU's chat program. I then ran spyware scans and an analysis of the installed files. Verdict? It was clean as far as I could tell. After I was done, I just deleted the current virtual hard drive and replaced it with my backup. Next time I booted, it appeared I had never been to IMVU or installed anything from them.


What other uses does it have? Tom at TeMerc forums told me that his friend Suzi uses VmWare to surf a virtual PC into really bad areas of the net to pick up new trojans and spyware. They then use the stuff they pick up to help them create removal procedures and tools to help people who get infected by accident. They are both MsMVP's so ... "Don't try this at home!".


Microsoft released Virtual PC as freeware some time ago. According to Microsoft, it runs on Windows XP Professional, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Professional. However, I'm using it on Windows XP Home Edition and it works great. It's an 18.2mb download, so be prepared for an overnighter on dial-up connections.


Be careful to make sure you have a valid license when you run a virtual PC. You'll be installing your virtual OS from an installation CD just like any other OS. A Microsoft OS will ask you for your product key. Most people have old copies of their Windows 95 and 98 disks around. Just make sure they aren't being used anywhere else on a real PC. On the other hand, many Linux OS's are free and will run on Virtual PC just as well as an MS operating system.


Have fun if you try it. Your Virtual PC's are stored in your "My Documents" folder under a "My Virtual Machines" folder. To back one up, just copy the machine's folder to another location.


Many thanks to a few of the readers here, who suggested that I try this one out. I've had fun with it.



Quote from the website

Virtual PC is a powerful software virtualization solution that allows you to run multiple PC-based operating systems simultaneously on one workstation, providing a safety net to maintain compatibility with legacy applications while you migrate to a new operating system. It also saves reconfiguration time, so your support, development, and training staff can work more efficiently.






ImgBurn - an easy way to burn files to ISO images or disk

review from ClifNotes, Nov 2006, permalink _ CD-DVD Burning Tools


The main thing that ImgBurn does for me, is creating collections of files in ISO format. An ISO is a single file that's an "image" of a CD. I recently used this to create a virtual CD for one of my MsVirtualPc's.


After a little fumbling around, I went into the built in help feature to find out how to make my ISO files. It works great, and has lots of other features that I haven't tried.


Quote from the website

ImgBurn can write most types of CD / DVD images and it supports all the latest writers (including booktype / bitsetting on many of the major ones - i.e. BenQ, LiteOn, NEC, Plextor, Sony). You can even use ImgBurn to erase / format your rewritable media!






Autopatcher For Windows 98se - MS won't help but this might

review from ClifNotes, Nov 2006, permalink _ System Maintenance



What will you do? You've just re-installed Windows 98 on an old PC. You should get it updated at Microsoft ... uh, be prepared to spend several hours there.


Autopatcher for Windows 98se to the rescue!


I recently tried it, it took about 50 minutes, and it's just chock full of goodies to keep a new Win98 install from becoming immediately infected due to the dozens of security holes they've found in Win98 by now.


Naturally, just like a Win98 install, you'll be rebooting time and time again. But at least the autopatcher does it for you and you can actually go out and watch TV while it's doing it's job.


There is one downside ... it's a 182mb download. Oh well, just have a friend on high speed internet burn you a copy to a CD. You'll be wanting to keep it anyway.


SEE ALSO: The Unofficial Windows 98SE Service Pack


Quote from the website

Due to Microsoft recently officially ending support for Windows 98, it makes sense for me to do one more final update to the Windows 98 seven years later edition project. Now if you didn't know, half of that project is in effect already an autopatcher for Windows 98. It searches for updates and add-ons you haven't already got and applies them, and installs recent useful applications to bring Windows 98 into this millenium. And it doesn't just bulk update, it searches for what you need and gives you the option of installing it. Basically, if you have used any of the versions of the official Autopatcher to patch your Win2000/XP system you'll get the idea of what this can do.





Pixel War - destroy those aliens!

review from ClifNotes, Nov 2006, permalink _ Games


I found this game while browsing around a forum for amateur game designers. It won an award for best of 2005, so I gave it a try. It reminds me of Asteroids, but the dogfights are much more interesting. You can shoot your lasers or use guided missles. You can set the number of human versus alien ships. The object is to destroy those aliens and save your home planet. It has good graphics and the download is a single 1.3mb zip file which does not require installation. Just unzip it to a folder and run the exe file.


Quote from the website

Pixel War! is a simple game where you are the humans defending your solar system from aliens. It is quite addicting so give it a go and see how well you can do!






Muffy's Great Escape - fun 2d vertical scrolling game

review from ClifNotes, Nov 2006, permalink _ Games


Muffy's Great Escape is a very nice old style game which you may find very challenging. I plan on keeping it around for my nieces and nephews so that they can see what the old games were like. The game is downloaded as a zip file about 5mb in size. To install it, all you need to do is unzip it and double click on the exe file.


Quote from the author

This is my personal tribute to the games I used to play when I was young; technically it's a (quite unusual) vertical scrolling platform game, easy and immediate.

The purpose of the game is very simple: at the beginning of each level you are at the bottom of a "tower"; soon the screen begins scrolling down and you have to jump to reach the top and sound the bell which is there. If you fall down or touch the enemies, you'll loose one life. The game has 3 levels of difficulty which basically change the scroll speed of the screen (you can modify skill level in the option screen).










Old Newsletter


I like to look back and see what I was thinking about. Here's another letter from the wayback machine.




















MS Mole Report - Windows Defender only works good in Vista

tip from BillAllin, Nov 2006, permalink _ Adware & Spyware Removal


It looks like MS Mole is talking again. Bill listens and tells all.



Quote from Bill Allin

Hi Clif,


MS Mole reports from an insiders meeting at Microsoft that the company has finally admitted to its own people that Windows Defender will only work properly with Vista.


Though Defender is being sold as compatible with XP and 2003 server, it's compatibility with these platforms is around 30 percent. That is, Windows Defender will do on Windows XP about 30 percent of what it will do on Windows Vista.


Mole's advice is to stay away from Defender unless you run Vista. Defender simply won't do the protection job needed for any other system.






From Clif:

Thank you Bill. For those out there who aren't familiar with Bill's work in Education, see his article Your Most Unrecognized Need: Touch .



Business Email Etiquette - use these tips for most email

tip from Zia's CyberGuide, Nov 2006, permalink _ Email Tips


From Clif:

Here's a good tip on being nice when you use email. It's supposed to be for business, but most of it applies when you write to anyone.


Quote from Zia:



I am sure email tips and rules are as old as the internet but it is useful time to time to be reminded on simple rules of conduct when using business email...I got this from a colleague at work:


1. Use the TO: address line for people who you are expecting to read and most likely respond or action your message.


2. Use the CC: address line for recipients that are copied for information only but it is not necessary for them to take action. Don't overuse the CC: facility, this leads to time wasting and a lack of focus on more important work.


3. Don't use BCC: to keep others from seeing who you copied; it shows confidence when you directly CC: anyone receiving a copy. However, do use BCC: when sending to a large distribution list, so recipients won't have to see a huge list of names.


4. Be sparing with group e-mail. Send group e-mail only when it's useful to every recipient. Use the "reply all" button only when compiling results requiring collective input and only if you have something to add. Recipients get quite annoyed to open an e-mail that says only "Me too!"


5. Use the subject field to indicate content and purpose. Don't just say, "Hi!" or "From Ian". Agree on acronyms to use that quickly identify actions. For example, your team could use to mean "Action Required" or for the Monthly Status Report.


6. Be informal, not sloppy. You and your department colleagues may use commonly accepted abbreviations in e-mail, but when communicating with internal or external customers everyone should follow a standard writing protocol. Your e-mail message reflects you and your business, so traditional spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules apply.


7. Keep messages brief and to the point. Just because your writing is grammatically correct does not mean that it has to be long. Nothing is more frustrating than wading through an e-mail message that is twice as long as necessary. Concentrate on one subject per message whenever possible.


8. Summarise long discussions. Scrolling through pages of replies to understand a discussion is annoying. Instead of continuing to forward a message string take a minute to summarize it for your reader. You could even highlight or quote the relevant passage, then include your response.


9. Use sentence case. USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS LOOKS AS IF YOU'RE SHOUTING. using all lowercase letters looks lazy. For emphasis use asterisks or bold formatting to emphasize important words. Do not, however, use a lot of colors or graphics embedded in your message.


10. Remember that your verbal tone can't be heard in e-mail. Have you ever attempted sarcasm in an e-mail and the recipient took it the wrong way? E-mail communication can't convey the nuances of verbal communication.


11. Don't use e-mail as an excuse to avoid personal contact. Don't forget the value of face-to-face or telephone communication. E-mail communication isn't appropriate when sending confusing or emotional messages. Think of the times you've heard someone in the office indignantly say, "Well, I sent you e-mail." If you have a problem with someone, speak with that person directly. Don't use e-mail to avoid an uncomfortable situation or to cover up a mistake.


12. Remember that e-mail isn't private, you never know where a message may end up. Remember that e-mail can be forwarded, so unintended audiences may see what you've written. You might also inadvertently send something to the wrong party, so always keep the content professional to avoid embarrassment.


13. Don't send chain letters, virus warnings, or junk mail.. If a constant stream of jokes from a friend annoys you, be honest and ask to be removed from the circulation list.


14. Use a signature that includes contact information. To ensure that people know who you are, include a signature that has your contact information, including your mailing address, Web site, and phone numbers.



Zia's Cyberguide: http://ziarezvi.com







Comments last week

Thanks to everyone who commented on the articles last week. You gave me more ideas and some good advice. If you see comments on an article, you will be missing out if you don't click on them to take a look.


If you commented last week, check to see who commented on your comment!


Here are the comments from last week.

Deskloops - better than ALT-TAB, but has adware •

Inline Search Add-on - make IE search like Firefox •

Merge - blending two images into one •

R-Firewall - better than ZoneAlarm? •

DocPad - a superior alternative to notepad •

StatBar - toolbar shows an overview of your system's condition •


MS Mole report - continuing problems with IE7 •

A Free Online Room Planner




















Aninote.com - customized website for friend or foe

by ClifNotes, Nov 2006, permalink _ Cool Website


I first saw this website while looking over the comments at PaperGhost's blog. I saw how the name of the person kept appearing and I was thinking it must have been a lot of work to put together. After a few minutes of tracking down where the website was hosted, I found Aninote and discovered just how easy it was to make a custom website to send a message to your lover, your friend, or your foe.


Here is a message for all of you, my friends: http://my.friend.youaremighty.com




Quote from the website

What is an Aninote? Aninote is short for ‘Animated note’, which is different than a legacy e-card. Aninotes are musical animations that are customized to display the name of the recipient in the animation. Customized Aninotes will allow additional content to be modified for the recipient. Another important feature of an Aninote is that the web address for the Aninote (e.g. http://Robert.Blake.YouAreMyFriend.com ) contains a summary of the overall message contained in the Aninote. In this example, the Aninote would be about Robert Blake being your friend.






Hometips.com - best do it yourself for the home

review from Tiffany, Oct 2006, permalink _ Cool Website


From Tiffany

The very best site I've found on how to do just about everything! An excellent, helpful site full of useful information & problem solving tips. Definitely one to save, and share with friends:


Hope you enjoy it,

Tiffany C


Quote from the website

Home Tips articles on home improvement, house remodeling, home repair, decorating,

DIY, and buying appliances and other home products.







Websites I've visited recently


Have you seen any cool websites you want to share with us?









SnapFiles.com - new and updated freeware

Source - http://snapfiles.com/freeware





News from Sarah in Tampa



Security news from Malware Advisor

blog by TeMerc Internet Countermeasures, source

Infected? Go to http://temerc.com for help





























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!


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 Gabbly.com





Frapper - you people live all over the world!

Wow! Over 400 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.



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

Devoted to promoting Freeware and Free Information

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Email me here.






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