June 19, 2000
By Karen Kenworthy
IN THIS ISSUE
I spent last weekend in, and around, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. This farm and ranch land is beautiful this time of year. Calving time is over, and the new calves are enjoying their first Spring. Their pastures are filled with a combination of lush grass, and late-blooming wildflowers. Most of the hayfields were recently mowed, with round, brown bales punctuating their trim green surfaces.
I have a lot of connections to this part of the world. When he was a boy, my father lived on a farm in nearby Wynnewood. On special occasions they'd hitch their two mules to the wagon, climb aboard with a picnic lunch, and travel down the road through the town of Davis, to the spectacular Turner Falls. Today, my mother's oldest surviving brother lives with his daughter in Davis. The historical society of the nearby town of Ardmore displays a two-room ranch house built by my father's ancestors, the Roff family. It's one of the oldest permanent structures in the area.
This corner of the world almost feels like home. If you get the chance, you should spend some time here. The people are even more wonderful than the scenery.
Speaking of people, I heard from a lot of you last week. One of the first messages to arrive came from reader Jon Gunther. He pointed out a typographical error in one of the Web links in last week's letter.
The links he corrected were supposed to take readers to pages on the Microsoft Web site. The pages contain information about the new Outlook Security Update, designed to make it more difficult for computer viruses to hitch a ride on email messages. Once this update has been installed, users of Microsoft's Outlook email programs cannot receive certain "unsafe" types of files attached to email messages.
Thanks to Jon, here are the corrected links:
The top link describes the changes to Microsoft Outlook 2000, and allows you to download its Security Update. The bottom link provides the same information, but applies to Microsoft Outlook 98.
Reader Kevin Whited wrote with some good news: "I just wanted to let you know that I was able to uninstall the security update from Microsoft without any problems. I have Windows 2000 and Outlook 2000. I installed it and saw how much of an over kill it is so I promptly removed it. The attachments that were in my inbox were hidden with the patch installed but they were still there will I uninstalled the patch."
That is good news indeed, though not everyone may be as lucky as Kevin. Microsoft still maintains that their Outlook Security Update should not be simply removed. To properly disable the update they recommend uninstalling all Microsoft Office components (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.), then reinstalling those components from their original CDs. Just one more reason to avoid this update, in my opinion.
Another reader, John Shaw, offered a good suggestion. He noted that Microsoft has identified 38 types of files it considers potentially "unsafe." These are the types of files Outlook refuses to deliver once the new Security Update has been installed. These files, plus more than two dozen types Microsoft overlooked, are now highlighted by the latest version of our Directory Printer Power Tool.
"If you have the space in your next letter," John wrote, "would you mind greatly listing, or pointing to an .htm that lists the extra 'two dozen' as well as any other executables or extensions with bits of code that you know of? I have been using these to update my virus scanner, since it only came with about 16 extensions in its default mode."
John, I don't mind at all. Microsoft got the ball rolling, by posting their list of potentially unsafe files. You can see it on their Web site at http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q262/6/31.html, or checkout the list below:
Microsoft Access project extension
Microsoft Access project
Microsoft Visual Basic class module
Compiled HTML Help file
Microsoft Windows NT Command script
Microsoft MS-DOS program
Control Panel extension
Internet Naming Service
Internet Communication settings
Jscript Encoded Script file
Microsoft Access program
Microsoft Access MDE database
Microsoft Common Console document
Microsoft Windows Installer package
Microsoft Windows Installer patch
Microsoft Visual Test source files
Photo CD image, Microsoft Visual compiled script
Shortcut to MS-DOS program
Windows Registry entries
Windows Script Component
Shell Scrap object
Shell Scrap object
VBScript Encoded script file
Windows Script Component
Windows Script file
Windows Script Host Settings file
In addition, the newest Directory Printer highlights these additional types of executable files:
A device driver written for Windows 2.0 and 3.x real mode
A device driver written for Windows 3.x
Virtual device Driver, a program that emulates hardware
A Dynamic Link Library, contains reusable small routines
An ActiveX control, a small program used by other programs.
An early, 16-bit predecessor of ActiveX controls
A Windows or DOS device driver
A type of DOS program file, similar to Windows .DLL files
Windows Explorer Command
An extension to DOS, loaded when the computer boots
A program that adds features to Apple's QuickTime program
Older TrueType font files. These are actually programs
A copy of a program normally stored in ROM (Read-Only Memory)
Java Applet (small program written in Java programming language)
A list of programs to be run at a specific time
Directory Printer also highlights several types of files that can contain scripts or other types of small programs. Some scripts can do harm directly, while others can call DLLs and other types of executable files, to do damage.
Web page, which may contain scripts
Same as .htm
HyperText Template, which can contain same information as .htm
Microsoft Word document
Microsoft Word add-in
Microsoft Word template
Microsoft Word Wizard
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or worksheet
Microsoft Excel add-in
Microsoft Excel add-in
Microsoft Excel template
Microsoft Access add-in
Microsoft Access database template/wizard
Microsoft PowerPoint template
Microsoft PowerPoint add-in
Microsoft Internet Explorer single-file HTML archive
Even this list is not complete. Our disk drives are chock full of executable files, and files that can trigger programs to take potentially destructive actions. If you know of other types of files that should be on our "watch list" drop me a note at email@example.com. You can find our latest list at my Web site at https://www.karenware.com/powertools/filetypes.
I received a lot of other messages last week, too many to answer here. But one bunch I have to mention commented on my announcement of lovely Monica, and her beau Bill's, upcoming nuptials. "Who," one asked, "are they?" A reader who goes by "Shorty" tipped me off to the source of the confusion. "Poor Monica and Bill." he wrote. "One of them should change their name to avoid what must be a constant barrage of torment through unwanted association with the infamous!"
Now my Monica is a delightful and gracious young woman of just 18 tender years. Her beau Bill is slightly older computer programmer and network administrator of some renown. Neither have any interest in politics, and no association with the infamous pair with the same first names.
In fact, my Monica and Bill are so unlike the other pair, the fact one could be confused for the other never even entered my mind. Until last week. I promise to make all my references completely clear in the future. :)
And until that future rolls around, feel free to visit my Web site at https://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptdirprn and download the new Directory Printer and any other Power Tools you like. As always, the programs are free. If you'd like to see beneath the surface, maybe even create a Power Tool of your own, download the programs' free Visual Basic source code too.
And if you think of me this week, offer up a prayer. I'll be attending my 30th High School reunion, and I'm nervous. And excited too. I made a lot of good friends during my school years, but most of us have drifted apart. It should be a special time when we're all together again. If you see me there, be sure to come over and give me a hug. If you see me on the 'net this week, be sure to wave and say "Hi!"