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 is 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 the 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 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’ve ever seen 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 the new Anonymizer, which lets you browse the Web as someone who just dropped in from Mars. The old one was confusing and some Web sites wouldn’t come up when they saw you were “”Anonymizing.””

That’s because some commercial Web sites want to know who’s coming aboard. Sometimes it’s just curiosity, but more often it’s to collect marketing data: 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 sends 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 addresses 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 to the Internet 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 IP address changes every time you log on to the Internet. But if you’re using a high-speed connection, like cable, the IP 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 IP 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 change. If you have trouble bringing in a particular Web site, try the “”refresh”” button on your browser or turn Anonymizer off.

Anonymizer is a subscription system. It costs $50 aear 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 www.anonymizer.com.

Spy-counterspy

CounterSpy is a new spyware catcher and blocker from Sunbelt Software (www.sunbelt-software.com), a company that started as a maker of educational software for children. It costs only US$20; Bob has been running it for several weeks and likes it. Other reviews are mixed.

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