December 1999

by Louis Bookbinder





My ISP has gotten me extremely angry. What happened is a classic case of failure to communicate caused by bureaucratic laziness. Dilbert's pointy-hair boss comes to mind.

I have used Earthlink for about 2 years now, with mostly happy results. Last month I requested an extra Email account for my wife, Donna. Since account ID donnab was already in use I asked for donnalb, which they had available. Only $5 more a month, which sounds good to me. So, a couple days later I worked with the original CD-ROM disk from Earthlink to set up the connection on my wife's Windows PC. It worked. But she was unable to access the account. Everything she sent bounced.

I called up Earthlink, and, after the obligatory 20 minute wait, got a real live person who said I was installing correctly and they could see I was connected, but not connected to the donnalb account and they would get back to me.

They did, about 2 days later, to wit: donnalb is not, nor has ever been a valid account ID.

Well, Duh! I had already guessed that it was not a valid account when I tried to send mail to it (as well as from it). So I wrote an Email back asking them to find out why this was the case.

They responded with a nice form letter saying they received my request and would I give them information about my system and software and the modem and the number it was dialing. I carefully gave them both MY information and Donna's information (not that they needed EITHER to settle an account mixup!). They sent a nice form letter saying they received my request.

Then nothing.

A week later I got tired of waiting so I wrote them again saying I was extremely agitated about their lack of support. They responded with a nice form letter saying they received my request and would I give them information about my system and software and the modem and the number it was dialing, etc. etc.

Does this sound familiar?

Has it happened to you?

What would you do in a similar situation? I suspect most of you would put up with it for a while, then find another provider. I am taking the additional step of telling you. I figure that you shouldn't have to put up with the same nonsense I have had to put up with. And if you have had better support from your provider, drop me a line!



This month's Free Sample Shareware has not been selected. -------------------------------------------------

SMUG December '99 Disk of the Month

Assembled by Louis Bookbinder

Holiday Lights 3.1.2
Holiday Lights places flashing light bulbs around the edge of your screen, as if a (well-insulated) elf crawled into your computer and stapled them there.

The lights flash in the background while you continue to work; it is not just a screen-saver! The "bulbs" include standard Christmas tree lights, Valentine's Day hearts, Thanksgiving turkeys, chili peppers, stockings, holly, snowmen, happy faces, and more &emdash; and you can create your own bulbs using ResEdit or a similar program. Is it useful? Well... okay, no. Is it wonderful fun? Absolutely!

For even more seasonal joy, Holiday Lights includes cheery background music and built-in festive screen saver to put you in the holiday spirit. $20

Manic Minefields 1.3.1
The game is your usual minefield game except you have a choice of 10 different minefields and 4 different sizes. The smallest size has 36 squares, the largest, 308. Each Minefield has its own exciting and fun set of cool graphics, sounds, scroll texts etc.The different minefields are unique designs, some have special rules (i.e. obstacles etc.), and some have odd ways of displaying the numbers (i.e. dice, Roman digits, foot prints etc.). $7

NGC 6543
This is a graphic suitable as a desktop picture. It is from the Hubble Space Telescope collection, and it shows NGC 6543, a "planetary" nebula cast off by a dying star. I chose this one because of its truly Christmassy colors! Free

PrintToPDF is a shareware Macintosh printer driver that creates PDF (Adobe Acrobat™) files from within your application programs. You can create PDF bookmarks to your section and subsection headings, and URLs will become hot links. PrintToPDF is not as powerful as the full Acrobat package, but it creates simple PDFs for a much lower price. $20

Snow 2.3
Snow is a small, FREE application for the Mac that drifts snowflakes down the screen accompanied by the gentle sound of sleigh bells and music!

The basic flakes and sleigh bells should work on any Mac. Includes QuickTime music files of jazzed up holiday favorites which requires QuickTime(tm) 2.0 or later, though QuickTime 3 or later is highly recommended. Automatic wake up requires System 7 or later. Did I say FREE?

Y2K Software Audit
Year 2000 Software Audit is a program for making a quick inventory of the software files you have on your computer: applications, control panels, extensions, libraries, and drivers. It breaks the file listing into 6 sections:

This program does not solve, or fix, the year 2000 problem on your computer. It helps you determine which files you should investigate first. Most Mac programs are unaffected by the upcoming year 2000. With this software you can isolate which software files might cause problems on your computer when the year 2000 arrives. Some software files which are not identified by this program may cause problems when the year 2000 arrives (an example would be data files which are used by a program [which isn't ready for the year 2000 and] which wasn't installed on the computer when the computer is scanned). $38

See also our 1999 SMUG CD-ROM.

Happy Holidays!!!!!!!

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The first ever virus to strike Project98 has been found in the wild, P98/Corner. While it doesn't carry a malicious payload, it helps paves the foundation for new viruses that may attack all office products with macro encoded viruses. See

If you are worried about the new "bubbleboy" virus, don't be. It relies on scripting built in to Windows 95 or 98. It will not affect Mac software at all. Nevertheless, be wary of ANY attachments you get with mail. If you do not know your source, discard the attachments without doing anything with them. Bubbleboy is radical in being able to infect a (Windows) system if Outlook (Windows E-mail) merely displays the first few lines in your mailbox summary.



Tip O' the Month

From Your Shareware Team

Sending and Receiving E-Mail While Traveling

Before leaving home, get a free e-mail account, which enables you to send and receive e-mail from any place where you can access the Internet. You don't need access via your own home, nor do you need to carry a portable computer and modem; only find a computer with Internet access.You can register for a free e-mail account on Yahoo (, on Microsoft's Hotmail ( , or through one of several other services. To get a Yahoo e-mail acount, go to the Internet from your computer and service, then visit the Yahoo homepage, click on e-mail and proceed according to directions from Yahoo!Mail. You might even do some practice at home to be sure you know how to get on later. Also, before you leave on your trip, find and print a list of cybercafés and their street addresses in the cities you will visit ( . Photocopy shops in other countries have computers with Internet access too. (Occasionally, a hotel may offer Internet access for no charge, but this is rare.)

Once overseas, find a computer with Internet access. Help may be required if the instructions to connect to the Internet are in another language. Then, type in in the Internet address box. Fill in the box for your ID with your logon name and the box for your password with your password. (Use a phrase that you'll remember.) Then, click on the "in" box and get your unread messages.



Mac basics we sometimes forget

From Apple News:

You're up on the web, tooling around on your new iMac DV, and you stumble across a file with a ".gz," ".hqx," ".smi," or ".tar" suffix.

"Exactly what kind of file is that?" you hear yourself asking.

We can tell you. We have answers to a lot of your technical questions in our Technical Information Library. For example, the article, "Internet: Common File Formats," lists over three dozen file suffixes you're likely to encounter on the Internet, explains what they are, and tells you how you can open or use them. Find the article at: -- from Apple News.

(Incidentally, they are GZIP (a kind of compression), BinHex (Apple binary encoding), DiskCopy archive, and Unix Archive/compression. And Stuffit Expander knows about all of them!)

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(Well, so much for THAT millenium!)



My choices, only, out of hundreds of items every month. Drop me a note for YOUR favorite. Links below are either info about or actual downloads, and include commercial products, as well as shareware. These do NOT include demos or beta releases. You might check out Version Tracker for more.
® means update to recently released DOM item. Wish we could catch them all....

APPLEapple icon

AppleShare IP Update 6.3 - OS 9 only fixes for the server software

AppleWorks 5.0.4 - OS 9 fix (update already on OS 9 CD in the "CD Extras" folder)

MacsBug 6.6 - primarily used by developers for object-level debugging, OS 9 fix

OpenGL 1.1.2 - 3D libraries for apps that use OpenGL

Anarchie 3.6.2 - extensive file transfer (FTP) utility, resumable downloads & much more

FWB CD-ROM Toolkit 4.0 - driver & acceleration software for most CD drives, OS 9 fix & more

CopyPaste 4.4 - replaces the clipboard offering multiple clipboards & other useful features

DarkSide 5.0.6 - application based screensaver

Eudora Pro 4.2.2 - popular email client

Adobe GoLive update - CyberMovie QuickTime module update for G4 Macs

GraphicConverter 3.7.2 - view, edit, and convert most any graphic file format

MetaCreations Kai's Power Tools 6.0 - newest collection of popular plugins

Mozilla M11 - Netscape's next generation 5.0 browser for OS 8.5, sort of a working preview

Symantec NAV virus defs Nov - virus definition files for Norton AntiVirus 5 & 6

Symantec Norton Utilities 5.0.2 - disk repair & data recovery tool (only avail thru LiveUpdate tool)

CE QuicKeys 4.1 - excellent tool automates any task, multi-step or repetitive action

CE QuickMail Pro 2.0.2 - client & server updates for the email system

MetaCreations Ray Dream Studio 5.5.1 - tool for 3D design & animation, OS 9 fix

Snitch 2.6.5 - edit file attributes from the Get Info window (update from 2.6.4)

TechTool 1.1.9 - analyze system for damage, info, easily zap PRAM & rebuild desktop

MicroMat TechTool Pro 2.5.2 - fixes for the hardware/software diagnostic tool, OS 9 fix

Tex-Edit Plus 2.7 - excellent text editor with all the features for most text file needs

Virex Definitions Nov - virus definition file for versions 5 & 6


SMUG Navigation Bar

Andromeda Galaxy


©copyright 1999, Louis Bookbinder -
other sources credited where known. Trademark credits, where omitted, remain with their owners  -   updated 18 November 1999


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