1. Welcome & What's been happening
2. Ask the Doc...
3. Making News Recnetly
4. Software Review
5. Web Sites of Interest
6. Book Review of the Month
1. WELCOME & WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING
With Computer Virii so much in the news in the last few weeks I thought it an opportune time to discuss a few of the issues related to them in this edition. Sometimes it pays to re-examine our understanding of what computing is supposed to offer us. Having to protect our computers against malicious evilness has become another necessity in modern day life. PLEASE: WHILE YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT IT, forward this issue right now to two of your business or personal friends. They'll thank you. So will I.
In fact they'll thank you doubly as one of the new subscribers between now and the next edition will win a FREE copy of ClipMagic! AND... one lucky existing subscriber will also win a copy of our new program WinRescue (see below). All you have to do to have a chance at winning is... already be a subscriber and you'll be in the running. Good luck! Remember to forward this to two of your friends so they have a chance of winning as well.
NEW PRODUCT: WinRescue95 and WinRescue98 Registry Crash Protection - Recover from a CRASH in two minutes!!! WinRescue 95/98 backs up the Windows registry and important configuration files, cleans up the registry, and provides five-fold protection from system crashes.
"I recently had a fatal crash of my computer. WinRescue 98 saved not only my computer, but it also retained all my files. If it wasn't for WinRescue 98 I would now be working on re-loading everything from scratch after formatting my hard drive." Robert Phillips
"I made a living for many years and still spend a great deal of time evaluating software of one type or another and I must say that WinRescue 95 is one of those gems every PC user should have." Skip Thompson
Protect your the Windows registry with WinRescue, a program that backs up and restores the registry and initiation files of Windows 95 or Windows 98. A special feature cleans up the registry and compacts it. Stop reinstalling Windows95/98 when you have a registry problem or system crash - use WinRescue!
Note: Separate versions are required for Windows 95 and Windows 98
Since the last issue there have been updated versions of:
ClipMagic (NEW version 2.0) The new and updated features are too numerous to mention here; save to say that this release of ClipMagic really does make it _the_ POWER tool of choice for serious web surfers and people doing Research - online or off! (See the "Software Review" this month for more details, AND a special offer:
Magellan Explorer (updated to 1.5)
Macro Scheduler (updated to 5.04)
There is also a new release from the developers of TypingMaster, the FREETypingMaster Games! Great fun for the whole office or family... see who can get their name on the Top 10 hall of fame lists :-) These games enable you to get extra typing practice whilst you try and build up a score by typing words on clouds, letters on bubbles and words in WordTris. You need to do this before they disappear off the screen and you run out of attempts.
As always, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions please feel free to drop us a line
2. ASK THE DOC...
Are you Happy? Specifically... Do you have Happy99? Now I'm not talking as silly as it may seem here. A while back some virus writer decided it'd be a good idea to infect the internet with yet another insidious virus/worm. I've received *several* (yet another one today in fact!) emails recently from unsuspecting customers with this Happy99.exe file attached to them. Upon writing back to one of them that they did in fact have this "problem". They asked me what to do about it. No, I'm not going to name names, nor give a prize to this months "Ask the Doc" person ;-)
Well, my first advice is to ALWAYS run a virus checker, preferably one that sits in the back ground and monitors what is going on all the time. They will generally catch these nasties BEFORE they can cause any trouble. I use NAV (Norton Anti-Virus) on the machine connected to the Net - and I have it do its LiveUpdate (where it downloads all the latest information on new virii and instructions on how IT can fix them) every week. Even that is not enough though. Common sense and caution will go a long way to avoiding being "hit" by a virus. See the "Web Sites of Interest" section this month for some more information on this matter. Briefly, though:
- Don't run attachments from strangers
- Don't run attachments full stop, without having at least scanned them with an up to date virus scanner.
- If you use Microsoft Office, don't turn off the marco virus protection options, and apply the same 2 rules above.
- Keep your virus program updated, and use it often.
Now, back to our friend who'd asked what to do. They weren't running a virus checker that could automagically remove it for them so I turned to a friend who knows about these matters for the details; Tom Simondi. Tom writes the Computer Knowledge Newsletter ( http://www.cknow.com ), and here is what he had to say about it:
Message attachments named Happy99.exe (expect other names) have been showing up regularly in newsgroup postings and in E-mail. If you see one of these do NOT run it; it is a worm. (Aside: There is some disagreement on the exact classification; most call it a worm, a few a Trojan, and some even a virus because of the DLL modification it performs.)
If you do run it you'll see a 1999 new year greeting with fireworks; but, while that is displaying the program copies itself to a file named SKA.EXE and extracts from itself a DLL called SKA.DLL which is placed into the Windows System directory. The program also changes the WSOCK32.DLL in the Windows System directory (the original is saved to WSOCK32.SKA in a polite gesture).
Since WSOCK32.DLL controls your connection to the internet, the modified version has control whenever you go online. When you connect to E-mail or a news server the modified program will create a new message with Happy99.exe attached and send it off under your name. This is how the worm transfers to other users who then run that attachment.
Anti-virus programs are being updated to detect the worm, but it can be removed manually. Delete \WINDOWS\SYSTEM\SKA.EXE and \WINDOWS\SYSTEM\SKA.DLL, and replace WINDOWS\SYSTEM\WSOCK32.DLL with a renamed copy of WINDOWS\SYSTEM\WSOCK32.SKA. Also, be certain to delete any downloaded copies of HAPPY99.EXE.
Note: Windows tends to use the WSOCK32.DLL file and so may not let you copy or rename it. In order to use the manual technique you may have to exit Windows to DOS mode first.
By now, all the major anti-virus programs can handle this worm. You should use them to get rid of it.
As a side note: I read the other day that Windows 2000 will not allow you to write files to the System Directory, thus adding yet another layer of protection to help prevent problems like the above. Of course, it will also open another "can of worms" in terms of programs that have always written information there in the past. Sounds like a mandatory upgrade for some programs I use regularly <sigh>...
Each Edition we select one of the requests to research and report back to everyone what we recommend. So save yourself some legwork (fingerwork?) and solve some computing ills at the same time - Ask the Doc soon.
3. MAKING NEWS RECENTLY
ClipMagic - The Australian: IT Section
- Australian Reseller News
Repligator - PC User
Space Watch - The Australian: IT Section
If you see a write-up of one of our products somewhere, please send us a quick email to say what it was and where you saw it.
4. SOFTWARE REVIEW
Yes, I know it is a product that we sell, but, I believe it is well worth the effort to review it this month as it REALLY is a very handy tool to have available for making your computing time much more productive.
ClipMagic is the highly rated Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP information manager that lets you capture text and images from any application, including the Internet, and automatically store the information for easy retrieval. That stored information can be automatically grouped into category folders when it captured without any help from you. You can also file your clips manually, or drag and drop them to different folders.
More than a clipboard manager that only lets you edit, save and print multiple clips, ClipMagic has rules and filters that let you automatically categorise incoming clips. Based upon keywords in the text, the size of the text or image, the program that you copied them from, or their location on the Internet, you can file them automatically in the appropriate folders for instant retrieval. Eg; you could configure it such that every time you copied some text from a web page, it was filed in the "Web Clippings" folder, unless that text contained the word "joker" in which case it could put it in the "Humor" folder.
If you're doing research on multiple topics on the Internet, pressing Ctrl-C both copies the text and saves it in the appropriate category, based upon simple rules and filters that you define. In addition, ClipMagic stores the address of the web page where you found your clip, and lets you return to that page with a single click. ClipMagic 2.0 now includes a built in web browser to make internet research even faster, and you now have the choice of launching clip URLs in your main browser or in the internal browser.
Faster than its predecessor, ClipMagic 2.0 also includes powerful new functionality to further increase your productivity, including the ability to merge clips, send clips by email, convert bitmap images to JPEGs, and enhanced memory management.
ClipMagic makes it easy to retrieve, copy, paste, edit and even add comments to your clips. To save time and increase your accuracy, you can assign hot keys to your text clips, and play them back by pressing a single key whenever you need them.
Combining a clipboard extender, a productivity enhancer that keeps you from having to type the same text over and over, a quicker way to copy and paste large numbers of images, and a fast way to store and track Internet information, ClipMagic takes the drudgery out of storing and retrieving information.
It is installed permanently on all the machines in the office here. Several times it has saved my bacon when I've needed to recall something I typed earlier in the day (or week sometimes!) only to find it was not saved to a file. A quick Search in ClipMagic will often turn up the information I was after as part of a clipboard copy/cut operation. Ah... Saved the day again :-)
All the details are available here:
I give it an 8.5
With some of the things planned for the next major release that would probably push ClipMagic to the highest rating we've ever given!
5. WEB SITES OF INTEREST
How to Identify a Virus Hoax
There are several methods to identify virus hoaxes, but first consider what makes a successful hoax on the Internet. There are two known factors that make a successful virus hoax, they are: (1) technical sounding language, and (2) credibility by association.
For an up to date list of current hoaxes doing the rounds check this link whenever anyone sends you an email about some new virus. If it is NOT on this list, then it probably is real.
And lastly, for another Hoax checking site vist here:
What to Do If You Have a Macro Virus
"The first macro virus was discovered in the summer of 1995. Since that time, many others have appeared. This article describes what to do if you think you might have a Word macro virus, or if you want to ensure that your documents never become infected with one." There are countless workarounds listed here--don't panic.
Protect yourself from the NEXT Melissa
Virus-fighters urge automatic updates and other preventive measures.
The Myth of Order
The real lesson of Y2K is that software operates just like any natural system: out of control.
Major Security Flaw Present In IE5
Speaking of Clipboards... by default, IE5 gives any web site access to your Windows clipboard data. Yes, you read correctly. IE5 has a security flaw that allows web servers to log the contents of your Windows clipboard cache to their server, without your knowledge or consent.
Shareware Discussion Newsgroups
Don't forget the new Newsgroups setup especially for YOU! These are moderated groups (moderated by a fellow Australian, Scott Kane) so are free from flames, spam and other forms of abuse. For on topic, helpful and prompt help and advice on any matters to do with shareware software you really should consider having a read of the new moderated newsgroups at:
6. BOOK REVIEW
Sorry, all the reading of late has been work focused :-( I'll have something worthwhile to report on next month though... In the mean time here's something I found online about Bill Gates recent release:
THE SPEED OF NAUGHT
The friends of Bill get another book to ponder, but it's long on platitudes and short on things you don't already know.