March 8, 2008 – 2:09 PM

The site is promoting security awareness by offering free an online security audit, firewall test, and research center. You can audit your firewall, do a port scan, or do a privacy test to get immediate results, with information about how to act upon problem areas. The site also offers a PDA / WAP security scan. It features full scans of all 65,535 ports and user input scans that allow a visitor to test only the ports he/she needs. There have been countless browser vulnerabilities in both code and browser misconfiguration. Rather than test for every possible vulnerability, the Privacy Section attempts to test for top-level vulnerabilities. The site has been designed to do speedy scans, which could lead to false readings, especially those on a slower connection. Reduce the errors by performing multiple scans and comparing results. The reading room offers more information and after performing a test, the results provide links to where you can read more about certain vulnerabilities. It’s set up to be easy to use and has features for advanced users.

Test your PC!

What to Expect in PHP 5.0

March 8, 2008 – 2:08 PM

This article is split up into two parts ? Life before PHP 5.0 and the future with PHP 5.0. This will hopefully exemplify how PHP has developed into the powerhouse that it is today. Most people enjoy programming with PHP because it is efficient and open-source. We all know that Apache is the most used web server in the world and that PHP is the most used scripting language. Scripts are continuously added to the versions and are downloadable at the PHP site.

Full story…

Pop-ups add new twist

March 8, 2008 – 2:06 PM

“Pop-up and pop-under ads open a new window when people visit many popular Web sites, often littering the computer desktop with multiple browser screens. Advertisers hope people will visit the promoted Web page by clicking anywhere on the window, although many simply close it by selecting the “X” box in the top-right corner. But a relatively new feature may make it harder for people to avoid these windows. Using a technique called the “kick through,” advertisers can direct a person to another Web site if they simply move their cursor across the pop-up ad–no clicking is necessary.”

Full article…

24 Microsoft products you can try for free!

March 8, 2008 – 2:05 PM

Check out the following trial versions of Microsoft products-including trial versions of the latest games, personal finance software, reference products, Web publishing tools, and more! Depending on the trial, you can choose to download the trial for free straight from the Web, or order the CD-ROM for a nominal shipping and handling fee.

Age of Empires
Spans ten thousand years, in which you are the guiding spirit in the evolution of a small Stone Age tribe. Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings
The award-winning, best-selling, real-time sequel to the original Age of Empires strategy game. Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion
Get a free taste of world domination, Mayan and Aztec style. Age of Mythology
Transport yourself to a world where heroes battle mythological creatures and gods meddle in the lives of mortals. Casino
The Microsoft Casino trial version takes you into the tropics with access to The Mirage? resort. Inside you can play either Blackjack or Video Poker, all within the excitement of The Mirage?. Close Combat III: The Russian Front
The latest in the award-winning series puts you in command in the epic Eastern Front struggle of World War II. Crimson Skies
The flight-combat game that features a fully interactive storyline right out of a 1930’s movie and an intuitive flying system that lets you command the air with ease. Entertainment Pack: The Puzzle Collection
An original compilation of ten puzzle games. FrontPage 2002 The latest version of Microsoft’s Web site creation and management tool. Links 2003
The newest version of the best-selling golf simulator of all time. Links Extreme
A golf experience like you’ve never seen before?exploding golf balls, wandering zombies, deathmatch play, and more! MapPoint 2002
The latest version of Microsoft’s business mapping and demographic analysis software. MechWarrior 4: Vengeance 2002
are pitted against deadly enemy AI bots in a wave battle scenario. Midtown Madness
Race through downtown Chicago during rush hour! Money 2003 Deluxe
A complete personal finance solution for managing day-to-day finances, PLUS investing, financial planning, and tax savings tools. Monster Truck Madness 2
Outrageous attitude, unrestrained racing and real monster trucks for a fun and exhilarating off-road driving experience! Motocross Madness
Be the first rider out of the gate for high-flying, wheelie-riding, off-road motorbike action. Office XP 30-Day Trial
Here’s your chance to try the smarter work experience with Office XP. Includes Word 2002, Excel 2002, Outlook 2002, Access 2002 and PowerPoint 2002. Pandora’s Box
From the creator of Tetris! With hundreds of the most beautiful puzzles ever created, it’s up to you to solve them and save the world from chaos. Pinball Arcade
A collection of seven licensed tables that represent the evolution of pinball in America. Publisher 2002
This latest version of the leading business desktop publishing program. RalliSport Challenge
Experience the white-knuckle thrill of off-road, hard-driving rally action in RalliSport Challenge. Return of Arcade
Puts you in command of four hot arcade classics: Pac-Man, Pole-Position, Galaxian, and Dig-Dug. Zoo Tycoon
This place is a real zoo and you’re the one in charge! Go wild building the most fun and beautiful zoo you can imagine.

Getting the Most from Windows Update

March 8, 2008 – 2:04 PM

Imagine having an assistant that helps you by keeping track of what software you have installed on your computer, letting you know when new versions are available, and alerting you to potential security problems. Sure, in a big company, people like this exist: they’re called network administrators. Unless you’re married to a network administrator, you might think that you don’t have access to the same capability when your using your home computer–but as long as you’re running Windows 98 or later, you do!

Windows Update is a built-in feature of Windows NT 4.0, Windows 98, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. At your command, it can check the software you have installed on your machine against the list of current versions from Microsoft, letting you know whether newer versions are available. The update service works for Windows system components, Microsoft applications like the Windows Media player and Windows movie maker, and many Windows device drivers. As a bonus, Windows update also includes early access to beta versions of selected applications and components.

Action go to the Start menu and find the Windows Update item. Select it, and wait for the Windows Update page to load in Internet Explorer’s window. If you’re using Windows XP, find the “Scan for updates” link; for other versions of Windows, look for the “Product Updates” link is. These links are what you’ll use to see what new components are available.

How It Works

It’s important to understand that Windows Update doesn’t send any information about your computer’s configuration to Microsoft. The first time you run Windows Update on a computer, you’ll see a prompt asking you if it’s OK to install the Windows update ActiveX control. When loaded by a Web page, this ActiveX control gathers information about the versions of software installed on your machine, then downloads a list of available components from Microsoft. By comparing the two lists, the control can figure out which versions of components you don’t already have. You simply have to scroll through the list of available updates and decide which ones you want. Be default, all critical updates are selected automatically for download. To read detailed instructions about how to use Windows Update on a computer that is not running Windows XP, see the Knowledge Base article Q198344.

Of course, if you’re using Windows 2000 or Windows XP (Home or Professional), Windows Update will only work if you’re logged in as a user that has administrative privileges.

What You’ll Find on Windows Update

When Windows Update shows you the list of available updates for your machine, you’ll see that the updates are grouped into several different categories. Of course, the exact contents of each of these categories can be different on two seemingly identical machines, since they might actually have very different Windows component configurations. Here are the categories you’ll see:

  • Critical updates and service packs: 8200549You should always install pertinent items in this category whenever they’re offered?this is where Microsoft puts important security fixes so that they’ll be immediately visible. 8200549If you install it, the critical update notification tool will alert you when new critical updates are released. (Note that TechNet also has a spiffy service pack finder that you can use to find service packs for applications that run on Windows). It’s not necessary to install updates for programs that you aren’t using; for example, if you’ve disabled Windows Media Player, you don’t need to install updates to it.
  • Picks of the month: Items here are featured programs or components that Microsoft thinks you’ll like. For example, as I write this the pick of the month is the latest version of Windows Media Player; the contents of this section will change as Microsoft releases new programs (and new versions of existing ones).
  • Advanced security updates: When a new security problem is found in Windows, Microsoft responds as quickly as possible with a security patch to fix the problem. Although Microsoft diligently tests these patches, due to the need for a rapid response, they are not as tested as service packs or product releases. Because of this, it is recommended that you only install the patches when they solve problems with programs or features that you are using or have enabled. If you are not using the feature that the patch fixes, it is recommended that you wait for the fix to come in the next service pack release.
  • Recommended updates: Updates that fall into this category update existing functionality in Microsoft Windows. These updates are not necessary, but as they are improved versions of software already on your system, it is recommended that you download them.
  • Additional Windows features: These are new features that you don’t have installed. They are not necessary in order for Windows to run, but provide additional functionality that you may be interested in taking advantage of.
  • Device drivers: A device driver is a program that allows the Windows software to talk to your computer’s hardware such as a sound or video card. Often new versions of these drivers will be released to take better advantage of the hardware in your computer. If Windows Update finds a new version of a device driver for a piece of hardware that is installed in your computer, it will display it here.

Checking For and Downloading Updates

If you are running Windows 2000 or Windows XP you can launch Windows Update from the Start Menu. However, for any compatible OS, you can launch Windows Update by loading Internet Explorer and navigating to There are several applications that may interfere with the Windows Update service. These are listed in the Microsoft Knowledge Base in article Q241234.

To Launch Windows Update on a computer running Windows XP

Point to Start All Programs and select Windows Update.

If this is your first time running Windows Update, you will be prompted to download an ActiveX component. This component is necessary in order for Windows Update to run. Once the component is downloaded, it starts to scan your computer. If you have already downloaded the component, then you are given the choice to “Scan for updates”.

When the scan is completed, you can chose which updates you want to install. By default, all of the critical updates have already been selected to install. Unless you have a reason not to install critical updates, you should always install them. However, none of the other updates are installed by default, so take some time to read through their descriptions and decide what you want. Most updates have a “read more” link that gives you a little more detail about what the update is for and what benefits it will give you.

Once you have decided what you want to install, click “Review and install updates” from any of the update pages. This will take you to a summary page showing you all of the updates you have chosen to install. If you are happy with your choices, click “Install Now”.

Using the Critical Update Notification Feature

Windows Update is a handy tool, but getting the most from it requires you to do? nothing special! Actually, there is one small thing you have to do: turn on the Critical Update Notification tool. The notification tool periodically checks for critical security updates on the Windows Update site, then notifies you by flashing a small icon in the system tray. If you click on the icon, you’ll be taken to the relevant Windows Update page; this cuts the time it takes for you to learn of, and install, new security patches with zero additional effort on your part.

How do you get this wonderful tool? From Windows Update, of course! Look in the “Recommended Updates” section for a tool named “Windows Critical Update Notification 3.0”, then check the box next to it. When you click on the Download button on the Windows Update page, the notification tool will automatically install.

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