Here are a number of useful applications and resources. Click on a category to
see the list of resources in that category.
|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
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
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
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
There are now two lists that you can register with.
|There are two kinds of pop-ups:
Messenger Service 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.
||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.
||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.).
||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
||There is a lot of useful information,
including links to free software, on this government website.
||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.
||Test your actual internet connection speed.
||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 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 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.
||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.
||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.
||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
||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
||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.
||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.
||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 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.
||Check out the list of industry-specific applications
that have been created for QuickBooks users.
||Here's an article written by the Crabby Office Lady at
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?).
||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.
||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.
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
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.
||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