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Here are a number of useful applications and resources. Click on a category to see the list of resources in that category.


Privacy

Spam

You can't completely avoid spam, but there are things you can do to minimize the amount of spam you have to deal with.  Here are some suggestions:
  • Don't reply, or Unsubscribe, to remove yourself from spam email lists. It just makes it worse. Spammers often use Unsubscribe requests as verification that yours is a valid email address to be used (and sold) in the future. You can, however, unsubscribe from legitimate email lists that you trust.
  • Microsoft Outlook 2003 has excellent spam filtering. Set its Junk Mail setting to High. Although you may get false positives (identifying non-spam as spam), it is actually pretty good at avoiding this.
  • If you want customized spam filtering, use SpamBayes, a free spam filter for Outlook. The main feature of this filter is that it learns over time what you do or don't consider spam, so it becomes customized to your own preferences.
  • Use your email program's Rules or Filters mechanism to filter out spam and redirect it to a special folder. Then you can check it periodically for legitimate email. Be careful with this mechanism because it is very difficult to specify accurate criteria for what constitutes spam. Spammers work very hard to make it difficult to filter out their email.
  • Use multiple email addresses (or aliases), one for public use and one for personal or professional use. The public one can be given out freely and will (hopefully) be the one spammers find. When you start receiving too much spam, remove the public email address, create a new one, and start over.
  • If it is available, use your internet provider's spam filtering tools. See if your provider has such a feature and consider using it.
  • Don't provide your email address on a website. Many spammers use programs that scour websites looking for email addresses. If they find yours (whether it is visible or just a link), you'll get spam. Instead, provide a web form that allows visitors to type in a message, which the form can email to you (invisibly). Otherwise, display the email address in modified form, or as an image/picture.

Hang up on Telemarketers

Many states have lists of phone numbers that telemarketers are not allowed to call. Here is a link that gives contact info on how to place yourself on those lists.

There are now two lists that you can register with.

Stopping Pop-ups

There are two kinds of pop-ups:
  • Browser pop-ups
  • Messenger Service pop-ups
Browser Pop-ups

These are the kind that appear in a web browser, usually because you browsed to a website that started launching other windows, usually containing advertisements, and often too fast to close them all (they often launch other browsers as you close them).

The trick to closing them all is to not use the mouse to close the windows; use the Alt-F4 shortcut key.  You can close windows much faster this way than you can using the mouse.

Better yet would be to avoid the pop-ups altogether.  There are products that claim to do this, and I'm sure many do, but the ones I've tried all caused other problems, until now. 

The Google Toolbar is an add-on for the Internet Explorer browser that allows you to disable pop-ups (among other things).

Messenger Service Pop-ups

These can be easily blocked in one of two ways: use a firewall or disable the Messenger Service.  Using a firewall is preferred because the Messenger Service is used by other applications, such as anti-virus software, to warn you about system problems.  If necessary, however, disabling the Messenger Service will prevent further pop-ups.

For more details on preventing Messenger Service pop-ups, see this Microsoft article.

Business Info and Tools (back to top)

SuperPages.com

Looking for a phone number?  A company?  A person?  Have a phone number and want to see whose it is?  This is the ultimate phone book.

Industry Research Desk

If you're researching "specific companies, industries, or manufacturing processes," check this out. I'm not really sure whose site it is, but it's a list of industry research tools and information, along with some useful office tools (phone books, package cost and tracking, time and time zone maps, etc.).

Webster's Online Business Directory

Looking for companies in a specific geographical region?  From a specific industry?  This site has an on-line database that allows you to cross-reference companies by geographical location, product or service, company name, and by industry (using SIC and NAICS codes).

Small Business Association

There is a lot of useful information, including links to free software, on this government website.

Independent Computer Consultants Association

The ICCA is an association for computer consultants, but they have an on-line service for finding consultants.  Though we would like you to consider us for your consulting needs, we also realize we can't be all things to all people, so if you must look elsewhere, this is a good place to look.

Utilities and Applications (back to top)

Bandwidth Meter

Test your actual internet connection speed.

Official Time

Want to know what time it really is?  Check out this site.  It has the official U.S. time (± 0.2 seconds) based on the atomic clock readings that help define the official world time, known as the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

WinZip

WinZip is a utility for combining and/or compressing files into one file. This is extremely useful when you want to send groups of files via email or archiving files.

TextPad

TextPad has got to be one of the most useful general-purpose applications I have ever come across.  It is a text editor, much like Notepad, but far better, and far more powerful.  Or, as I've been known to say, "TextPad is the Greatest Editor in the Universe."  It's a shareware program, so you can try it out for free.

System Maintenance (back to top)

Norton AntiVirus

This is my new favorite anti-virus software.  I was wary of trying a widely publicized anti-virus package (which traditionally have not been as good as some lesser known applications), but Norton received countless positive reviews, so I gave it a try.  So far, I have been very impressed and happy.

Security Tests

This site contains a lot of great security tests and information to help you verify and improve the security of your computer on the internet, such as firewall tests, spyware tests, privacy tests and, of course, solutions on how to remedy any security holes you may have.

Diskeeper

This application is great for keeping your computer running fast by keeping your hard drives defragmented.  Fragmentation of files occurs over time, which leads to a gradual (and usually imperceptible) decrease in overall computer performance, contributing to the all-too-common "It seems like my computer used to be faster" phenomenon.  You can leave your computer on at night, schedule defragmentation for every night (along with your nightly anti-virus scan!), and never have to worry about it again.

PestPatrol

This utility is similar to a virus scanner, but it detects for "non-viral" malicious pests (known as "malware").  In their own words: "PestPatrol is a powerful anti-hacker utility that finds and eliminates hacker tools, spyware and Trojans from your personal computer or corporate network."

Backup MyPC

This is one of the best reviewed backup programs on the market for home and small office users. It can backup to CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW, tape, networked computers, and others. Just as importantly, it can run unattended, scheduled backups.  We've tried a number of backups, and so far, this seems to be the best.

Microsoft .NET Framework

If you want to run any .NET applications, you will need to have the .NET Framework installed on your computer.  If you don't have it already, you can download it from here.

Technical Info (back to top)

Virus Information

Think you may have a virus or worm?  Want to know if the email you just received is a hoax?  Find all kinds of information about current viruses and worms at this website. 

CNET

CNET is a great website for finding evaluations of various computer-related products and services.  I use it for everything from finding web host providers to hardware and software recommendations.

QuickBooks Solutions Marketplace

Check out the list of industry-specific applications that have been created for QuickBooks users.

Demystify a Few Computer Terms and Get On with Your Life

Here's an article written by the Crabby Office Lady at the Microsoft Office Assistance Center that defines some of the basic Windows terminology that we all think we know, but often forget.  This whole website has a lot of useful information for Office users (and aren't we all Office users?).

Microsoft Office Template Gallery

Here are a bunch of useful templates you can use to get you started on almost any kind of letter, document, spreadsheet, or anything Microsoft Office-related.

MSDN

OK, here's my all-time most used website.  I couldn't live as a Microsoft developer without the tons of information about Microsoft applications, APIs, tools, and technologies that this site has.  Of particular interest to developers is the MSDN Library.  Don't leave home without it.

Who owns that website?

Find out the owner of any website or email domain.  Just type in the domain name of a website without the preceding "www", such as "mydomain.com", and the WHOIS service will tell you who owns it, how to contact them, and other technical details.

Troubleshooting (back to top)

DirectX Diagnostic Tool

This is a utility I recently discovered that is probably already on your computer.  DxDiag.exe can be executed from a command prompt (or the Run... item from your Start button menu).  It shows you a lot of information about your computer system and runs some diagnostics, particularly concerning the audio and video hardware and software.

SysInternals

Here is a website created by Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell, authors and speakers on Windows system programming.  This site contains a wealth of invaluable utilities and articles, most for free.  Some highlights are:

I can't imagine programming or troubleshooting a program or computer without them.

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