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The LangaList
Standard Edition

2001-10-01

A Free Email Newsletter from Fred Langa
That Helps You Get More From Your Hardware, 
Software, and Time Online

Please visit our sponsors and help keep the LangaList S.E. free!

Contents:

1) Instant-Messaging Security Holes
2) Free "Lost And Found"
3) One's Bug Is Another's Feature
4) Outstanding, Tightly-Coded Apps
5) More Weasel-Wording In User Agreements
6) New Month: New Chance!
7) OK, OK! I Give In! <g> (Re: The "!0000" Email Fix)
8) They Just Keep Coming And Coming...
9) Shareware That Helps The United Way
10) Just For Grins
11) Plus! Edition Highlights:
Updated Free Script To Clear Typed URLs;
Fat But Useful "XP Advisor;"
Advanced CSS-Layout Tutorial

For even more content, downloads and special services,
check out the LangaList Plus! Edition: http://www.langa.com/plus.htm

 

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1) Instant-Messaging Security Holes

You probably know about---and even use---"Instant Messaging:" a form of quasi-email that can be exchanged by PC users in near real time: IMs are a great way to get and share small bits of information, to quickly ask a question and to get an immediate reply, or to communicate faster than email and less expensively than by telephone.

But instant messaging can be a security nightmare; if you use IMs to convey any kind of sensitive, personal or private information, you're inviting big, big trouble.

You see, instant messaging tools are notoriously insecure. For one thing, IM'ing was never, ever originally intended as a secure channel for sensitive information. In fact, instant messaging's initial major application was for risque entertainment--- it was an online toy originally used mainly for dating and cyber s e x. (ICQ's name even derives from the phrase "I seek you.")

Despite these decidedly informal origins, huge numbers of people now routinely use IMs to discuss everything from sensitive business matters to the most personal or private topics. In this week's InformationWeek article, I'll show you the worst security holes that IM tools commonly open up, and even show you--- in the *vendors' own words*--- why IM tools shouldn't be used for sharing sensitive information.

But what's your take? Do you use IMs for sensitive communication? Were you aware of the risks? What steps do you take to prevent snooping, eavesdropping, identity theft, and the host of other problems that IM'ing invites? What secure forms of online communication do you use to supplant IMs?

Please check out the new article at
http://www.informationweek.com/857/langa.htm  and then add your comments at http://www.informationweek.com/forum/Fred Langa .

See you there!

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2) Free (Sort Of) "Lost And Found"

Hi Fred,  I saw this gem on http://www.techdeals.net (which is a terrific site for bargains) and thought I'd pass it on:

Powerquest Corporation has apparently decided to discontinue their "Lost and Found" file recovery utility. This is a well-known professionally developed program for recovering deleted files. Apparently, before it is completely discontinued they are offering it for free download from now until October 26. You can download it at http://www.powerquest.com/APC/lf/ . I would suggest that all readers download a copy and burn it for safekeeping. It may save your butt someday. --- Don Chapman

Thanks, Don. L&F isn't a full-blown backup/recovery solution, but it can help--- and you sure can't beat the price! <g> The catch is that you have to have an APC product in order to access the download: Check the page above for more details.

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3) One's Bug Is Another's Feature

Last issue's discussion of the Single Document Interface versus the Multiple Document Interface ( http://www.langalist.com/plus/newsletters/2001/2001-09-27.htm#1 ) brought some *great* mail, including pointers on tools and add-ins that can make Word work the way *you* want it to:

Fred, I am going to massively disagree with Daryl Elliott regarding the SDI Blues. Having separate task bar icons for each document is a huge plus. Previously, when you had several documents open, when cycling through the task bar you went back to the last document you used in Word and then had to use the Word Next Window feature or create a macro for the Next Window feature (and BTW, Visual Basic in Word still has the Next WIndow bug). Now, you can go to the specific document you want which, for me at least, is a huge plus. I am not a novice user. I bought Word 1.0 the week it came out (on a Mac, not a PC) and this is a definite improvement. It may also be the first (and last) time I have said anything nice about Microsoft. --- John Alvey

I discovered this very annoying "feature" of Word 2000 several months ago and after searching the web found a solution by Romke Soldaat. This gentlemen has provided many solutions for MS Office products and has a template file that can be placed in the Word "Startup" folder that will provide the desired interface. I use this daily - it is great. Follow the link to download this file: http://www.mvps.org/word/FAQs/Customization/SDIMDIContent.htm  There are possibly other links to take you to a download of this file but the one above will get you there.  Thanks and keep up the good work. (Plus edition is great!)--- Mike Goad

I was spurred on by Daryl's plight and went searching for a utility to sort out his problem with Word 2000. It's at http://www.kfsoft.com/trayer/intro.htm  and is a shareware utility called Trayer. It costs $12. It does many things. Thankfully for Daryl, it will happily hide all instances of Word 2000 from the taskbar and leave one instance in the system tray. It's got a busy, complicated interface but a few minutes playing around with it was enough to figure it out. --- Mike Carey

Regarding the SDI blues there is a solution in the form of an Add-in. I haven't tried it myself yet but it is at
http://forums.compuserve.com/gvforums/UK/default.asp?SRV=MSOfficeForum&SEC=7&FID=3675
--- Henrik Norberg

Fred - Alas, Microsoft apparently mis-informed your correspondent about SDI and MDI in Word 2000 and Word 2002. Word 2000 does NOT spawn a new instance every time you open a new document. It just looks that way. Far as I'm concerned, Word 2000's designers blew it, big time. See my rant at http://www.woodyswatch.com/wowmm/archtemplate.asp?v1-n11  Word 2002 improves on the situation a bit, but Word 2002 still doesn't have "real" MDI. What is "real" MDI? Easy. It's the way Excel works, and always has worked. It's the way Word worked, prior to Word 2000. It's the way every good Windows program works. Let me show you how it works. Start Excel (any version). Click the New icon so you have two open workbooks. Click Windows | Arrange, pick Horizontal and click OK. Excel shows you two open workbooks, but only one set of Toolbars and icons. If you look down in the Windows Taskbar, you'll see one icon for each workbook. That's MDI. That's the way I like to work. If you do the same thing in Word 2000, you'll get one icon on the Windows Taskbar for each open document, but Word insists on splatting multiple copies of its Toolbar and menus on the screen. It's horrible. If you have three open documents, Word's stupid overhead takes up most of your screen - there's almost no room for the documents themselves. If you do the same thing in Word 2002, you'll also get multiple copies of the Toolbars and menus, along with one icon for each open document - stupid, just like Word 2000. If you then click Tools | Options, and uncheck the box marked Windows in Taskbar, you'll get one set of Toolbars and menus - but only one icon in the Windows Taskbar, no matter how many documents are open. That's better, but it still isn't MDI. Some day Microsoft will figure out a way to make Word work as well as Excel always has. Maybe. Ed Bott and I go into some detail on the topic in "Special Edition Using Microsoft Office XP," pages 354-55.--- Woody Leonhard

Thanks, Woody--- and all who wrote in!

There are large programmatic differences between an app that opens a new document window and one that spawns a true, separately-invoked, stand-alone instance; but in both cases the end user experience is quite close, and that's where some of the nomenclature confusion comes in.

One easy way to see if an app is opening new windows or spawning completely new instances is to check the Task Manager: If one app has opened many windows, you'll see just one instance of the app in Task Manager. If separate instances were spawned, you'll see each instance listed separately.

But in terms of function--- and eating your screen real estate--- the two are essentially the same. 8-)

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4) Outstanding, Tightly-Coded Apps

Plus reader Miles Wolbe put together a very nice little site:

Aloha, Fred, and many thanks for the awesome newsletter. It is one of the few pieces of email I am sure never to miss.

I have put together a small site which may interest you: http://www.TinyApps.org/  It's basically a collection of very small PC apps, from email clients to operating systems. The main criteria is that all apps must be under 1.44mb, though most are *much* smaller (in the 100-200k range). Anyway, please check it out if you are interested.

Thanks, Miles. Many of the apps there are very cool; amazing examples of what tight coding can do, even in this age of bloatware.

Please be patient when accessing the site: With many readers beating on the server, response may be slow. (Plus! readers learned about this site last week, so they could beat the rush and thus have less chance of encountering net congestion and delays: Early notice of popular downloads is one of the benefits of being a Plus! subscriber.)

Thanks, again, Miles!

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5) More Weasel-Wording In User Agreements

It's a growing trend: More and more companies are inserting really offensive terms into the tiny fine print of their user agreements. Here's another example:

Fred: I've started paying closer attention to my system and what is being installed after seeing some of the License Agreement changes you've shown us in the not so distant past.

I was curious as to whether the following (appended) clips mean what I think they mean in that by using their software your computer becomes a server, but you don't know for sure (not stated anywhere in it) that the only files being served up are the ones related to this software.

2. vTrails Technology. vTrails provides Webcasting by enabling a Webcaster to serve a data stream to multiple viewers and by using each viewer's computer terminal to serve another viewer's terminal. You hereby acknowledge and agree that by using the Software, you consent to Your computer terminal being used as a server while You are using the Software.

8. ...You agree not to disclose the Software or any information relating to the Software (including without limitation, the results of use or testing) to any third party without vTrails 's prior written permission. Unauthorized use or disclosure of such information would cause irreparable harm and significant injury to vTrails that would be difficult to ascertain; accordingly You agree that vTrails shall have the right to obtain injunctive or other equitable relief to enforce the obligations under this Agreement without limiting any other rights or remedies.... .---www.vtrails.com

Their technology probably isn't directly harmful, although it might be susceptible to a kind of hijacking; it's also a potential drain on system resources and bandwidth because it sounds like you can't control when or how your system is used. That alone would make me steer clear of it.

But that "you can't tell anyone anything about our product's performance without our permission" is truly offensive--- although, again, more and more companies are inserting it into their agreements. To me, it's a sign of a weak company with a weak product--- a company desperately afraid of criticism, and desperate to ensure that they get only positive coverage. But it's a strategy that will backfire: As soon as some lawyer tries to enforce the "no talking about our product" clause, the company will immediately (and correctly) be seen as having something to hide. Who would trust a company that won't allow independent and unfettered review of its products?

In the US, there also are free speech/First Amendment issues; I don't know that a shrinkwrap software license can take away fundamental Constitutional guarantees.

But I'll leave that for the lawyers. Meanwhile, whatever "vtrails" is, I don't think it's worth opening either of the above cans of worms. I recommend you stay away.

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6) New Month: New Chance!

It's a new month, and right now your chances are the best they'll ever be! To have a shot at winning a no-strings $30 Gift Certificate for any item at Amazon.Com--- books, software, hardware, kitchenware, toys, and more--- just use the following link to recommend the LangaList to a friend. Your friend just may find a new source of useful information; I just may gain a new subscriber; and you just may win a mini-shopping spree! (Full details also available via this link): http://www.langa.com/recommend.htm#2

The more times you make a recommendation, the greater your chances are of winning!

Or, if you'd like to try to win $10,000(really!), try this link (full details also available here): http://www.recommend-it.com/l.z.e?s=143182

Either way, thank you, and good luck!

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7) OK, OK! I Give In! <g> (Re: The "!0000" Email Fix)

An amazing number of readers have written to ask if the following is true:

To avoid spreading computer viruses, create a contact in your email address book with the name !0000 (or similar) with no email address in the details. This contact will then show up as your first contact in your book. If a virus attempts to do a "send all" on your contact list, your PC will put up an error message saying that "The Message could not be sent. One or more recipients do not have an e-mail address. Please check your Address Book and make sure all the recipients have a valid e-mail address." You click on OK and the offending (virus) message would not have been sent to anyone. Of course no changes have been made to your original contacts list. The offending (virus) message may then be automatically stored in your "Drafts" or "Outbox" folder. Go in there and delete the offending message. Problem is solved and virus is not spread.

I wasn't going to cover this widely-circulated "tip" because it's so easy to check for  yourself: Just try it: Add the fake name, but enter no corresponding email address. Many email clients will allow you to do this, and indeed will complain when you--- or a virus or worm--- try to send email to that bogus name.

The other reason I avoided presenting this tip is because it only works if your online defenses have already failed: Yes, it may help prevent a virus from spreading from your machine, but by the time this trick works, your PC is already infected. It's far, far better to prevent such infections in the first place. Then, not only will your system not infect others, but *you* won't be infected either.

So add a fake "!0000" (or "AAAAAA" or whatever) name to your address book if you wish, but please realize that this does absolutely nothing to prevent you from being infected in the first place, and so is of limited utility, at best.

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8) They Just Keep Coming And Coming and Coming...

Well over a 1,500 of your fellow readers have "Loaded the code." Please click over to http://www.langa.com/code.htm , and maybe you can join them! (If you've already "Loaded The Code" and are wondering if your site will appear here or on the Langa.Com web site, please see http://www.langa.com/link.txt )

Speaking of which: Here's another eclectic sample of reader sites--- some professional, some very personal:

View A Randomly-Chosen Reader Site
http://www.langa.com/randomlink.htm

Manually Browse All Posted-to-Date Sites Starting At
http://www.langa.com/readersites.htm

Iron And Wood (sculpture, furniture)
http://home.earthlink.net/~rushd45/

Fubar News
http://www.fubarhq.iwarp.com/index.htm

Netsurfer Portal (many interests)
http://www.televar.com/~stevemr2/

Small Business Help
http://www.geocities.com/paulhlong2000/

Curly's Landing
http://www.curlyy.com

Let It Be Free (Music)
http://www.letitbefree.com/music.htm

Amazing Grace World Mission
http://amazinggrace.0catch.com/

Low Cost Web Hosting
http://www.hosted.net/index.html

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9) Shareware That Helps The United Way

Reader Howie Uman writes:

Fred, I would just like to inform you that all proceeds we receive from our sales in September and October of our product, Windows Sniper, will be donated to the United Way 9-11 fund. A Windows Sniper 30-day trial is available from our web site at http://www.unhuman.com Please check it out and let your readers know.--- Thanks - Howie

"Windows Sniper allows you to manipulate (almost) any Window on your screen: Hide it, click it, change its properties, close it, encapsulate it, reveal passwords, enable objects and menu items. If a program teases you with powers that you can't access the way you want to, use Windows Sniper to give those options back to you. The new power of version 2.5 allows you to teach Windows Sniper to do these tricks for you, automatically."

Thanks, Howie. The software costs $15; by taking advantage of Howie's offer, you can not only get the software, but also contribute to a good cause.

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10) Just For Grins

Reader "Mary C" sends along this US-centric bit of regional humor:

HOW TO IDENTIFY WHERE A DRIVER IS FROM

1. One hand on wheel, one hand on horn: CHICAGO
2. One hand on wheel, one finger out window: NEW YORK
3. One hand on wheel, one finger out window, cutting across all  lanes of traffic: NEW JERSEY
4. One hand on wheel, one hand on newspaper, foot solidly on accelerator: BOSTON
5. One hand on wheel, one hand on nonfat double decaf cappuccino, cradling cell phone, brick on accelerator, gun in lap: LOS ANGELES
 6. Both hands on wheel, eyes shut, both feet on brake, quivering in terror OHIO, but driving in: CALIFORNIA
7. Waving at everyone that you pass, eating a moon pie, sipping an RC, smiling and chewing and talking to yourself: TENNESSEE
8. One hand on 12 oz. Double shot latte, one knee on wheel, cradling cell phone, foot on brake, mind on radio game, banging head on steering wheel while stuck in traffic: SEATTLE
9. One hand on wheel, one hand on hunting rifle, alternating between both feet being on the accelerator and both feet on brake, throwing McDonald's bag out the window: TEXAS
10. Four-wheel drive pick-up truck, shotgun mounted in rear window, beer cans on floor, squirrel tails attached to antenna: ALABAMA
11. Two hands gripping wheel, blue hair barely visible above steering> wheel, driving 35 on the Interstate in the left lane with the left blinker on: FLORIDA
12. Knee up against steering wheel, one hand on Tim Horton's coffee cup, cell phone in ear, accelerator to the floor, applying makeup,doing crossword puzzle, reading morning Free Press, knocking down orange barrels, changing lanes without turn signals: MICHIGAN
13) Both Hands on wheel, pointer finger goes up when they see you to say "Hello:" NORTH DAKOTA

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11) Plus! Edition Highlights:

  • Updated Free Script To Clear Typed URLs;
  • Fat, Useful "XP Advisor;"
  • Advanced CSS-Layout Tutorial

Today's LangaList Plus! Edition contains all ten items above, plus about 30% more content including: a collaborative project among Plus! readers that resulted in a free script that lets you selectively clear the URLs you've previously typed into your IE browser address bar; info on an  "XP Upgrade Advisor" tool; and a site offering a free tutorial in advanced CSS layout.

Plus! Edition info: http://www.langa.com/plus.htm 

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See you next issue!


Best,

Fred
(fred@langa.com)

Please recommend the LangaList to a friend! (And maybe win $10,000!I)

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