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September 2002 Issue

 

Below, find our archived issue of the 5 Star Support Monthly Newsletter.

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August 2000 September 2000 October 2000 November 2000 December 2000 January 2001
February 2001 March 2001 April 2001 May 2001 June 2001 August 2001
September 2001 October 2001 November 2001 December 2001 January 2002 February 2002
March 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 December 2002 February 2003
April 2003 June 2003 December 2003 January 2004 March 2004 April 2005
May 2005 July 2005        

5 Star Support Monthly Newsletter  

September 2002 Issue:

Inside this issue:

1)  Notes from the editor
2)  Industry News
3)  Helpful Web Sites
4)  How Firewalls Work
5)  How computer viruses work
6)  Tips and Tricks
7)  Questions and Answers
8)  Contact Information
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[1]  Notes from the editor:

Welcome to all new subscribers and welcome back to all of you loyal 5 Star Supporters.  As always, I like to start my newsletters by inviting you to see the new techs that have joined, along with all of the ones that have been with 5 Star Support for a some time.  This team of technicians is arguably the most talented group of computer guru's ever assembled. See their profiles here:
<http://www.5starsupport.com/techs.htm/>

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The winner of the monthly prize drawing for the month of August is:
Charles Moyer of St. Paul Minnesota
Many thanks to Charles and the others for contributing to 5 Star Support!
========================

We now have LIVE technical support!  This new feature is very new and is in the testing stages.  If you find that there are no techs available when you visit the live chat, don't worry, we still have the email support to help you. You can find the live chat button here:
<http://www.5starsupport.com/support.htm/>

If 5 Star Support is able to help you, then please find a way to send us a couple of dollars to help ensure our Internet survival. I do not have any advertising banners that clutter up the site and no other forms of income other than your generous contributions. As you have probably seen, many free sites are starting to charge for their services or they are just going out of business. This is where my trust in you keeps my faith and our service alive.
Please make a small contribution to our cause at:
<http://www.5starsupport.com/donate.htm/>

Thank you!

Kind Regards,

Vince Underwood
President, 5 Star Support
http://www.5starsupport.com
vinceu@5starsupport.com
A Computer Learning Environment

Now...just kick back, relax and enjoy your newsletter...

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[2]  Industry News:

<> Napster to seek approval of Bertelsmann sale:

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - Bankrupt Napster Inc. on Thursday plans to seek a Delaware court's approval of its proposed sale to Bertelsmann AG, which hopes to revive the silenced Internet music-sharing service.

No other bidders emerged for Redwood City-based Napster after German-based Bertelsmann forced the company into bankruptcy in June. Bertelsmann values its bid for Napster at about $100 million, including debts that will be waived as part of the deal.

Bertelsmann's bid still faces a potential obstacle. The Music Publishers Association and the Recording Industry Association of America - two powerful trade groups that have fought Napster for years - have objected to the sale.

Before federal courts ruled Napster's online file-swapping service violated copyright laws, the service had attracted 60 million users and revolutionized the way people obtained music.

Although Napster's service has been idle since July 2001, millions of Web surfers still exchange music files on the Internet, much to the frustration of recording studios and artists who say they are being cheated out of sales and royalties.

If its takeover bid wins court approval, Bertelsmann hopes to resurrect Napster as an industry-approved subscription service.

<>Microsoft to release service pack for XP:

Microsoft said Friday that it will release the first service pack for its Windows XP operating system Sept. 9, adding new security measures and features to comply with proposed federal orders making it possible to remove certain programs.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft said Windows XP Service Pack 1, which adds features and patches problems with the software, would be available either through download from the company's Web site or via a CD.

The company said the pack contains all the security updates it developed as part of the ``Trustworthy Computing'' initiative it launched earlier this year, which Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said has cost $100 million thus far.

The company has issued at least 30 security bulletins for its software since the launch of that program.

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[4]  How Firewalls Work
by Jeff Tyson

What is a Firewall?:
Put simply, a firewall is a mechanism used to protect a trusted network from an untrusted network, usually while still allowing traffic between the two.

Why do we need them?:

Viruses:
Probably the most well-known threat is computer viruses. A virus is a small program that can copy itself to other computers. This way it can spread quickly from one system to the next. Viruses range from harmless messages to erasing all of your data.

Spam:
Typically harmless but always annoying, spam is the electronic equivalent of junk mail. Spam can be dangerous though. Quite often it contains links to Web sites. Be careful of clicking on these because you may accidentally accept a cookie that provides a backdoor to your computer.

Redirect bombs:
Hackers can use ICMP to change (redirect) the path information takes by sending it to a different router. This is one of the ways that a denial of service attack is set up.

Source routing:
In most cases, the path a packet travels over the Internet (or any other network) is determined by the routers along that path. But the source providing the packet can arbitrarily specify the route that the packet should travel. Hackers sometimes take advantage of this to make information appear to come from a trusted source or even from inside the network! Most firewall products disable source routing by default.
Some of the items in the list above are hard, if not impossible, to filter using a firewall. While some firewalls offer virus protection, it is worth the investment to install anti-virus software on each computer. And, even though it is annoying, some spam is going to get through your firewall as long as you accept e-mail.

The level of security you establish will determine how many of these threats can be stopped by your firewall. The highest level of security would be to simply block everything. Obviously that defeats the purpose of having a Internet connection. But a common rule of thumb is to block everything, then begin to select what types of traffic you will allow. You can also restrict traffic that travels through the firewall so that only certain types of information, such as e-mail, can get through. This is a good rule for businesses that have an experienced network administrator that understands what the needs are and knows exactly what traffic to allow through. For most of us, it is probably better to work with the defaults provided by the firewall developer unless there is a specific reason to change it.

One of the best things about a firewall from a security standpoint is that it stops anyone on the outside from logging onto a computer in your private network. While this is a big deal for businesses, most home networks will probably not be threatened in this manner. Still, putting a firewall in place provides some peace of mind.

Proxy Servers and DMZ:
A function that is often combined with a firewall is a proxy server. The proxy server is used to access Web pages by the other computers. When another computer requests a Web page, it is retrieved by the proxy server and then sent to the requesting computer. The net effect of this action is that the remote computer hosting the Web page never comes into direct contact with anything on your home network, other than the proxy server.

Proxy servers can also make your Internet access work more efficiently. If you access a page on a Web site, it is cached (stored) on the proxy server. This means that the next time you go back to that page, it normally doesn't have to load again from the Web site. Instead it loads instantaneously from the proxy server.

There are times that you may want remote users to have access to items on your network. Some examples are:

* Web site
* Online business
* FTP download and upload area

In cases like this, you may want to create a DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). Although this sounds pretty serious, it really is just an area that is outside the firewall. Think of DMZ as the front yard of your house. It belongs to you and you may put some things there, but you would put anything valuable inside the house where it can be properly secured.

Setting up a DMZ is very easy. If you have multiple computers, you can choose to simply place one of the computers between the Internet connection and the firewall. Most of the software firewalls available will allow you to designate a directory on the gateway computer as a DMZ. Once you have a firewall in place, you should test it. A great way to do this is to go to www.grc.com and try their free Shields Up! security test. You will get immediate feedback on just how secure your system is!

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[5]  How computer viruses work:

Almost every computer user in the world has heard of computer viruses. Many even have had the misfortune of experiencing a virus attack at some point in their usage.

Virus attacks are becoming more prevalent than ever before. Yearly thousands of people suffer often-irrecoverable damage to their systems and data. Yet many do not even know what hit them let alone what they can do to avoid a recurrence. It's time to fight back.

When it comes to virus attacks, ignorance is certainly not bliss. Indeed the best possible weapon against preventing a virus attack is knowledge. We need to know how virus enters into our computer system, how they infect our system and how they eventually spread and cause more damage.

Before elaborating on the modus operandi of the virus, it's better that we learn a little bit more about it. For starters, exactly what is a virus? A computer virus is most often defined as a malicious code of computer programming. What this means is that a computer virus is just another software only written with not so very noble intentions. A computer virus is designed to install, propagate and cause damage to computer files and data without the knowledge and/or express permission of the user. A computer virus can only survive, attack and propagate in computer memory. Computer memory is usually the RAM (and all different variations of it) and disk storage (hard, floppy and everything in between). Besides this you will not find computer viruses in your monitor, keyboard and certainly not in your own blood stream!

The first step in any virus attack is always the invasion. This is when the virus actually enters the computer system from an outside source. Much of the effort in preventing a virus attack lies in understanding what these virus entry points are and how best to monitor and block out any possible intrusion. All viruses enter the computer system through two main entry points: the disk drives and the network adapter cards. The disk drives may be any sort of disk drive (hard, floppy, CD, Zip, Jazz and what have you). This makes any disks or CDs that you insert into these drives a possible source of virus infection. The network adapter card is most likely your computer network and/or modem card connected to the local Intranet and/or the Internet. Virus enters through the network card most likely disguised in the form of attachments in e-mails. These attachments are often program files and office documents containing macros. Besides this, certain webpages that we visit on the Internet may also contain harmful programming codes that might transfer virus or virus-like codes into our system. To guard our systems against virus intrusion from these sources, many good anti-virus programs allows users to completely scan all files read form disk drives or downloaded from the Intranet/Internet.

How do virus infections occur? The act of infection often begins with a harmless looking action such as opening a file (like a video game or a Word document) that one often gets in e-mail attachments or while accessing any disk in a disk drive. These actions inadvertently activate the virus lurking in these files and disks. The virus then installs itself into the computers memory.

This is where things get nasty. After entering the computer memory, a virus often immediately sets out to multiply and spread duplicate copies of itself across the main data storage device (most often the hard disk drive). It does this by copying itself into as many files it can find on the disk drive. Later when users transfers or copies these files to their friends and colleagues, the virus gain entry into ever increasing number of systems. If the virus has found its way to this level of the users computer, the user runs a high risk of permanent damage to data and hardware. But such a level of infection only happens to two types of users. The first are those who do not employ any kind of anti-virus measures (or if they do, it obviously isn't doing a good job). The second are those who do have good anti-virus programs installed and running but did not bother updating their software with the latest virus data files. As a result newer viruses can actually use the anti-virus programs to infect an even greater number of files. So we can see here that having good anti-virus software isn't enough. One must constantly keep it updated (preferably on a monthly basis).

If a virus were to just spread itself, users might not have much to worry about. But the worst is yet to come. Many viruses contain what is called a payload. This is the destructive sequence that is activated on a certain trigger. The trigger may be the arrival of a particular date or an action done by the user. The effect of the payload can be anything as benign as some harmless message appearing on screen to as frightening as the destruction of the disk drives boot record making it completely unusable and in most cases completely irreparable. Indeed it is the later that causes permanent lost of data and hardware and which is responsible for the virus notorious reputation. If a virus is capable of unleashing its payload on the users system, this indicates a serious breach of security on part of the user. It's time for the user to learn from the experience and never let computer virus have a second chance.

What has been attempted here is to give the reader a quick run down of how a virus attacks our systems. It is not meant to be exhaustive as the subject matter is very broad. In short the best cure for a virus attack is a good prevention plan coupled with knowledge, caution and good anti-virus software!

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[6]  Tips and Tricks:

<> Disable Modem sound (Windows 95/98)

In Windows 98 you can disable the modem sound by going to Start> Programs> Accessories> Communications> Dialup Networking. Right-click on your typical internet connection method then select Properties. In the "Connect using" box select  the "Configure" button. In the "Speaker Volume" box, select the lowest setting (slide the bar to the left). Click OK twice then exit the Networking window.
Note:  Each of the Internet Connections in the Dialup Networking window must be modified separately.

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<>  Speed up IE6

There is an easy way to speed up IE6, here's how:
1) Run IE and choose Tools> Internet Options. 
2) When the Internet Options dialog box opens, click the Connections tab.
3) Click LAN Settings. 
4) Deselect the check box labeled "Automatically detect settings" 
5) Click OK to close the dialog box and keep your selection. 
6) Click OK again to close the Internet Options dialog box. 
Note:  If "Automatically detect settings" is already deselected, then you can just click Cancel.

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<> Read Receipt In Outlook Express

If you would like to know if the mail you're sending is actually being read by the recipient, just activate your read receipt feature.  Here's how:  Click on Tools, choose Options, then click on the Receipts tab.  Put a check in the box that reads; "Request a read receipt for all sent messages".
NOTE:  Outlook Express only supports the read receipt feature in version 5.01 and later. You can upgrade Internet Explorer to upgrade Outlook Express.

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<> HTML Tip: Remove the underline from links

You can remove the underline easily by adding the following code between the </title> and </head> tags in your page.

<style type="text/css"><!--A:link {text-decoration:none}
A:visited {text-decoration:none}--> </style>

Note: This effect will only work with Netscape 4.0+ and Internet Explorer 3.0+ 

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<> Windows NT Tip: Avoid Lockups

Having each Explorer window run as a separate process is a good work around for a Windows NT Explorer crash. Here's how to set this up:
* Run the Registry Editor and follow this key:  HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Explorer. 
* Create a new DWORD value called DesktopProcess and set its data field to 1. 
* Quit the Editor, log off and log back on again. 
Note:  You can still get access to the taskbar and Desktop whenever a particular window freezes up.

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[7]  Problems and Solutions:
Compiled from 5 Star Support

<> Problem:

Hard Drive won't defrag

<> Solution:

1) Go to Start the type in: msconfig
2) Click on the selective startup tab
3) Uncheck the box for "load startup group"
4) Reboot and defrag
5) Then simply repeat the steps above and set to normal then reboot

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<> Problem:

Computer crashes & reboots automatically

<> Solution:

Turned off everything in the start up group, uninstalled Norton utilities 2002 and went with Ontrack System sutie 4.0. Seems to be ok now. Hasn't crashed in 3 days. If it does, I'll be back.

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<> Problem:

When I re-installed Windows 98/98 Plus I could only get 2/16 color and I could not change my screen size.

<> Solution:

I had to remove display adapter and re-install.

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<> Problem:

my CD-R wouldn't burn or read cd's

<> Solution:

Ok to fix this problem, please try the following steps. Take the disk out of the drive. THEN restart the computer. put a real music CD into the drive ONLY after Windows has completely loaded. If you can listen to the CD, everything is fine, or it should be, eject the disc and start Roxio. THEN put a blank CD into the drive. That should work. If that does not work, try cleaning your CD-R(W) drive with a special cleaning CD you can pick up at Wal-mart or other related stores. Your laser could have dust on it.

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<> Problem:

Getting rid of Internet cookies

<> Solution:

Settings, control panel, Internet options, view files, press & hold CTR-A, press delete.  MAGIC!!

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[8]  Contact Information:

This Newsletter is brought to you by 5 Star Support - Free Technical
Support. If you find this newsletter helpful, please help support it by making a small one time donation.
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contact: admin@5starsupport.com

I would love to hear from you!

I hope that you found my newsletter interesting and informative!
Thank-you for subscribing to the 5 Star Support Monthly Newsletter.

Regards,

Newsletter Staff

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