October 2, 2000

By Karen Kenworthy


Did you get your invitation? Mine came on Thursday! I guess it's really going to happen. Lovely Monica, and her beau Bill, are getting married.

Long-time readers know Monica, who keeps my office under control. Lovely Monica and I have been friends since she was six years old. I won't mention how old I was at the time we met. Let's just say she calls me Aunt Karen. But since that fateful day, one of the delights of my life has been watching that wonderful little girl grown into the truly lovely woman she is today.

And now she's found the love of her life. I'm just beginning to know her beau, Bill. But he seems like a fine young man. No man deserves lovely Monica, but he might come close. He works with computers, as a network administrator and trouble-shooter. He's polite and intelligent, and as upright as he is tall. And he seems to realize he's the luckiest young man on earth, to have won such a wonderful prize.

If your invitation hasn't arrived, don't worry. You're still invited. Just tell the usher you're my guest. But be on time! The big event starts at 11 a.m. sharp, November 4th, at the big Baptist church downtown.

Cookie Hunt

In the meantime, I've been working on a new version of the very popular Winmag.com Cookie Viewer. It's not done yet, but I think this batch will turn out nicely. But while it's still in the oven, I need your help.

As you may recall, the Cookie Viewer allows you to see "Web Browser Cookies," the little bits of data stored on your computer by the Web sites you visit. Cookies allow sites to remember our name, address, and other information between visits. And while I think they're mostly benign, and often very helpful, others are concerned about possible privacy violations Cookies may create.

Regardless of how you feel, the Cookie Viewer is a useful tool. It removes the shroud of mystery surrounding cookies, by telling you how many cookies you have, which sites created them, and what data your cookies contain. And the Cookie Viewer will delete any cookies you find distasteful.

Like most of us, Web browsers have their favorite secret cookie hiding places. Netscape's Navigator Web browser stores all its cookies in a single file, named Cookies.txt. Over the years the exact location of its cookie file has changed, but it has always stored them somewhere near the directory where the Netscape browser itself is installed.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer (MSIE) Web browser stores each cookie in a separate file. Sometimes those file's names start with the word "cookie" but sometimes they don't. Usually, they're in a subdirectory of the \Windows directory, but not always. Sometimes the subdirectory where they reside is named Cookies, sometimes it isn't.

Fortunately, MSIE has as hard a time remembering where it left your cookies as the rest of us have finding them. So to jog its memory, MSIE stores its current cookie jar's location in the Windows Registry. Unfortunately, the Registry entry MSIE uses for this purpose changes from one release of MSIE to the next.

The situation gets even more complex when more than one person uses the same computer. In that case, both Netscape's Navigator and MSIE create separate cookie jars for each user. All in all, finding every cookie on a particular PC can be a daunting job.

The Search Is On

That's why the Cookie Viewer has an option that causes it to search an entire disk drive looking for likely cookies. That search usually succeeds where other cookie-location methods fail, especially when looking for cookies left behind by older browsers that have been replaced or uninstalled.

But searching today's large disk drives can take a long, long time. So the Cookie Viewer also looks at the Windows Registry for clues to where cookies might be found. It displays a list of cookie locations it finds that way, allowing you to quickly check their contents.

At one time, the Cookie Viewer was pretty good at finding traces of cookie hideouts in the Windows Registry. But over the last year or so the Viewer's knowledge of Web browsers' habits has become a bit out of date. As a result, its display of likely cookie locations increasingly misses large caches created by newer browsers, forcing a time-consuming search.

Now this is where you come in. If the Cookie Viewer has failed to automatically detect any cookie locations on your computer, I need your help. I'd like you to use another Power Tool, Karen's Registry Ripper, to locate all occurrences of the word "Cookie" in your Windows Registry. Then use the Ripper to copy those cookie-related Registry entries to a new file. Finally send me that file.

Now if you're not comfortable using the Registry Ripper, or don't like the idea of sending Registry entries to someone else, I understand. This is a favor I'm asking, and I won't mind a bit if you'd rather pass.

But if you do decide to join the hunt, I'll use the information you provide to improve the Cookie Viewer's cookie sniffing routines. Just send the file the Ripper creates (name it anything you like) as an attachment to an e-mail message. Send the message to this special e-mail address: cookies@teddybear.com


You can find the Registry Ripper at https://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptregrip. And if you'd like to download the current version of the Cookie Viewer, before its upcoming remodeling, you'll find it at https://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptcookie.

And while you're on the Web, you might want to pickup the latest version of the 'Net Monitor program we've been working on recently. I've just released version 1.5. It doesn't contain any dramatic new features, but it does fix a problem a few of you have had using the 'Net Monitor through a firewall or via a proxy. And I've made a couple of cosmetic changes to make the user interface more intuitive.

Whatever you do this week, take some time to get out and enjoy the changing of the seasons. It's a magical time of year. And if you see lovely Monica and her beau Bill this week, tell them "Congratulations," and give them a hug. They're embarking on one of life's greatest adventures. As for me, if you see me tooling around in my van, or on the 'net, a wave and a "Hi!" will do. :)


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