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Sunday 06 August 2006 - Cheers NEDL!, Avant Browser 11: A first impression (sort of), Malicious e-mail update, Welcome Bartware!
Cheers NEDL!

Once again, NEDL have proven to be the bain of my existence, and once again I must apologise on their behalf for those of you that experienced problems accessing my site's between 22:00 - 23:00 (GMT London).

Unfortunately, due to what NEDL claimed to be a "wide area power failure", my network was offline for approximately an hour this evening, coming back online only 30 minutes ago. Though I don't expect a response, a complaint has been sent to NEDL concerning this (mainly because it is the 6-7th time this year that this has happened).

Thankfully, neither of the servers experienced any major issues due to this and are both back online and fully functional.

Avant Browser 11: A first impression (sort of)

Myself and the other admin's/moderators and staff at the Avant Browser forums, have been testing the new version of Avant for the past 4-5 weeks now, with the first public beta going live just a few days ago. But what is it actually like?Avant Browser 11

Well to be honest, I'm not too fond of the new version, and I'll tell you why.

The first thing I noticed with the new version, was that Avant no longer used the same favourites as IE, meaning I've now got to keep two different copies of the favourites sync'd (not an easy thing to do where Avant is concerned). Version 11 also introduces an "online storage" facility that allows you to store your favourites, RSS feeds and website login information, in a storage facility located on Avant's servers. Once this information is online, the only way to access it is via Avant itself, meaning it cannot be exported or saved to a backup location.

Most annoying however, is that it has essentially killed the functionality provided by the AB Edit program. Whereas before ABE had access to Avant's settings, and the user settings, it now has access to none of this as what is stored on the computer, is not in a format that ABE can actually read (I've dropped a note to Anderson Che (Avant's developer) to see if I can find out what format it is stored in, so I can modify ABE to accomodate it). If a future version includes the features provided by AB Edit, this isn't important, but for users of AB Edit at the moment, this is going to prove quite annoying.

Before you think I'm bashing the program however, let me tell you a few good things I've found.

Firstly, my AB Extension Pack still works with Avant (yipee!), had this not been the case, I would have had to go back to a pre-11 version as I use the extensions on a daily basis and would be lost without them.

Second, is the ability to import bookmarks from the likes of Opera (a much requested option on the forums). Though an ability to export again is missing for some reason (as this is still a beta, I'm hoping it will be in the final release). Unfortunately however, Avant 11 cannot import settings from pre-11 versions, such as the URL Alias's, or Quick Search settings, meaning these have to be manually re-set.

On the plus side however, version 11 brings with it both more speed, and more stability. Pre-11 versions, whilst being fast, would increase in resource usage over time. During testing, version 11 has not done that here, which is great. It also feels a heck of alot faster when loading website's.

Another plus that will please and benefit many Avant users, is the ability to use existing IE toolbars and add-ons. Unlike previous versions, users no longer need to depend on Anderson manually adding support - you can do it yourself! (though SiteAdvisor doesn't quite work with it yet). Again however, for some reason, whilst the facility is present, no information is given to users on exactly HOW to add add-ons at present (again, I am hoping this will come prior to the non-beta release).

Overall, whilst losing a considerable amount of usability over previous versions, the new 11 series provides some welcome features that are sure to please the majority of Avant's userbase, and even bring in some of those that either didn't like, or hadn't tried, the older versions.

Lets just hope the usability that has been taken away, is brought back.

Malicious e-mail update

This is just an update to the previously reported issue concerning e-mails that claim to have come from myself. Though older versions of these e-mails came with either the MyTob or Netsky infections, according to my investigation, the newer versions of these e-mails also now come with an infection known as "Win32.Bagz.[Letter]". The [Letter] seems to vary depending on which antivirus vendor's report you look at.

At present, I am unaware of a specific removal tool for this infection. However, the trial versions of the following programs, will remove it for you until a specific removal tool is found/developed.

NOD32 (recommended)
www.eset.com

Kaspersky
www.kaspersky.com

Avast
www.avast.com

The e-mail's I've received thus far with this infection, all came with an attatchment called "outlook.doc[many spaces].exe". If you receive an e-mail claiming to come from myself that includes an attatchment, delete it. DO NOT open it.

The following knowledgebase article has been updated with new information on these e-mails, including information on an e-mail that asks you to download a .pif file to verify your account information.

KBID# 26: [ALERT] E-mail claiming to come from Ur I.T. Mate Group
http://support.it-mate.co.uk/?mode=KB&kbid=26

Welcome Bartware!

BartWare is the developer of (amongst other things) a personal firewall, and a web server (the only free web server I've seen that seems to support ASP out of the box). Unfortunately until recently, Bartware did not have any web space to host either a website, or his software. Now he has both.

I'm planning on reviewing both of his programs for my next newsletter, but in the meantime, drop by his website yourself and take a look.

www.bartware.it-mate.co.uk

Note: Though I host his website/software for him, Bartware is not a part of Ur I.T. Mate Group, so please don't send him complaints/queries etc, concerning Ur I.T. Mate Group. Send them to myself instead.

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