June 2005, Week 1 --
Fire the Web-Site Designer
Macromedia has the niftiest web site control program we have ever
seen. It's called "Contribute," and it lets you dismiss the person
who updates your web site and make any changes on your own.
Using "Macromedia Contribute" to change a web site turned out to
be as easy as editing a page with a pencil. In fact, the icon you
click on to make changes is shaped like a pencil. Rest easy about
security: the only person who can make these changes is one who has
a password for the site.
Making changes turned out to be a piece of cake; you can even
make changes to pop-ups. And any number can play. A copy of the web
site can be made available to other people so they can make suggest
things they think would improve the site. The copies come with a
headline that says "Please review this page." Employees and
associates often have great ideas on how to improve a site; but only
you, the keeper of the keys, have the final say on which ones go in.
Contribute, version 3, lists for $149 at the Macromedia web site:
www.macromedia.com. This was not only the easiest way we ever
saw for updating and changing a web site, but the program came with
over 200 templates you can use to design your own site.
The trouble with spyware
We've written a lot about spyware and so has everybody else. We
hope these last few notes will settle the matter for a while. Then
we can go fishing, and we don't mean "phishing."
The trouble with spyware is it's like the old missile race during
the cold war. Every time there was a new missile the other side
would build an anti-missile missile. Then you had to build a better
missile, which led to building a better anti ... But you get the
idea. Spyware is something like that, but without the warheads.
The best anti-missile to date is probably "Anonymizer Total
Privacy Suite," which lets you browse the web as someone who just
dropped in from Mars. The program has been around for a while but
this recent version corrects a serious problem of the old one: that
some web sites wouldn't come up when they saw you were "anonymizing."
That's because commercial web sites want to know who's coming
aboard. Sometimes it's just curiosity, but more often it's to
collect marketing data -- like where you live, how old you are, what
you do for a living, and even how much money you make. Some people,
being basically innocent and nice, supply all that information. Then
the sponsor of that web site either sends you notes on stuff to buy,
and/or sells your information to someone else who send you notes on
stuff to buy. It is in this way that we accumulate spam and spies.
It didn't take long for companies to learn the "IP" address for
visits made using Anonymizer and they simply blocked those visitors.
The new version fixes that by changing the IP address every day. IP.
stands for "Internet Protocol" and every connection has a specific
numbered address. If you use what's called a "dial-up connection,"
which means you are connecting through a regular telephone line,
that I.P. address changes every time you log on to the internet. But
if you're using a high-speed connection, like cable, the I.P.
address remains the same for anywhere from a few days to several
weeks. The longer it stays the same, the better the chances of
someone placing spies or hacking into your system.
So Anonymizer makes you anonymous by changing your apparent I.P.
address every day and then guards you further by allowing you to
encrypt any information you do want to give out.
Along with identity protection, Anonymizer also detects and
removes spyware, key-loggers, adware, hijackers and other nasty
bits. It erases unwanted hidden files and tracking cookies, which
provide information on your movements. Once again, like the
missile/anti-missile problem, conditions are always subject to
Anonymizer is a subscription system. It costs $50 a year and that
includes any upgrades during the period. It also works best when
used with the Firefox Internet browser from Mozilla. You can get
that by going to
www.getfirefox.com. Over 50 million people have already
downloaded Firefox, which they typically use instead of Microsoft's
Internet Explorer. Anonymizer also works with Internet Explorer, but
you don't get as many features. It does not work with America
Online's browser. Find out about additional features at
"CounterSpy" is a new spyware catcher and blocker from SunBelt
www.sunbelt-software.com. It costs only $20 and Bob has been
running it for several weeks and likes it. Other reviews are mixed.
"PC World" magazine gave it their top rating and noted it caught
85-92 percent of all the spyware on their machines. "PC Magazine,"
on the other hand, rated CounterSpy as just "fair." A common
complaint from users is that the program "hangs" during installation
and won't continue. Bob had the same problem at first, but after
kicking the computer a couple of times he got it to install.
Microsoft recently came out with its own program, called
"Microsoft AntiSpyware," which is still in beta testing and so can
be had for free. It is available as a download from the Microsoft
www.microsoft.com under the heading "popular downloads." In
initial tests it has been catching over 90 percent of incoming
NOTE: Readers can search several years of columns at the "On
Computers" web site:
www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at
and Joy Schwabach at