Read Part 1 of this story.
E-Mail and IM
The Internet is all about communications–but as we all know, it is not always as easy to communicate as we would like. These downloads will help you with e-mail, instant messaging, and social networking.
eMail Tracker Pro
Tired of being whacked by spam? Not sure if an e-mail message that you received is legitimate, or is instead a forgery or from a scammer? Then give this program a try. It gives you a set of tools for examining any e-mail message that pops into your inbox.
The program traces an e-mail back to its true point of origin, shows you the IP address and location of the sender, and tells you whether the e-mail header was tampered with in order to fool you. In addition, it provides contact information for the domain from which the message was sent so that you can report any abuse.
In order to use eMail Tracker Pro, you’ll have to copy an e-mail message’s headers into the program. These headers, however, don’t refer to the Subject line, From line, or such. Instead, they’re something usually hidden. How you find them varies according to your e-mail software. For example, in Outlook 2007, right-click a message and select Message Options; you’ll then see an Internet headers field.
One stumble I encountered: The program says that it integrates directly into Outlook, but I was unable to integrate it with Outlook 2007.
Download Email Tracker Pro | Price: $29.95 (15-day free trial)
If you’ve got multiple Web-based mail accounts, such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Windows Live Mail, you can easily spend far too much time checking each account for new mail. This simple freebie neatly solves the problem. It automatically logs you in to all your Web-based e-mail accounts, checks for new mail, then tells you how many new messages you have for each.
In addition, you can read the messages from right within ePrompter, so you don’t have to go to your Web-based mail account. You can also delete and compose mail. When composing or reading, you won’t get a full range of options as you would when you’re on the Web-based mail site. But for quick-and-dirty e-mail, it’s all you’ll need.
Don’t expect a fancy interface; this program is as bare-bones as you’ll find. Also, it may not be obvious at first how to set up a new mail account; select Menu, New Account, and follow the directions.
Note that this program works fine on Windows XP, but I was unable to get it working on Windows Vista. Also, if you have a Hotmail e-mail address, select the LiveMail option in ePrompter when you’re setting up the account to check; I was unable to get it working properly as Hotmail, but it worked fine as LiveMail.
Download ePrompter | Price: Free
The Internet was created as a way to bring people closer, but in some ways, it drives people apart. If you’re an AOL Instant Messenger user, for example, you can’t communicate with someone who uses Yahoo Messenger. And there’s no simple way from an instant messaging program to check your presence on social networking sites such as Facebook, or to check e-mail from a Web-based mail site not associated with your instant messenger.
Until Digsby came along, that is. This program is a universal instant messenger, like long-time favorites Trillian and Pidgin. But it does them one better because with it, you can also check your social networking sites and e-mail accounts.
It’s extremely simple to set up any instant messaging, social networking, or mail accounts from within the program. And it lets you use just about all the features of any of those programs, such as sending files via instant messaging. Considering that it’s free as well, there’s no reason not to give this tool a try.
When you install this program, by the way, it changes your home page to a Digsby home page, so if you want to retain your current home page, make sure to go into your browser and change it.
Download Digsby | Price: Free
Most of the time, sending e-mail messages goes off without a hitch. Set up your e-mail program to work with an SMTP server, send your messages, and you’re done. But sometimes SMTP–the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol–won’t work, and it’s almost impossible to figure out what’s wrong. Your e-mail program won’t give you any clue about what the error might be. All in all, it can be one of the most maddening of Internet-related problems.
SMTP Diagnostics helps. It performs a complete set of diagnostics on your SMTP connection and provides an in-depth report about any errors. You can then either use the report yourself to fix the problem, or send the report to your ISP or network administrator, who can track down the cause of the woes.
The program is particularly useful if you’re setting up an e-mail account for the first time and can’t make a connection, or if you’re on the road and can’t send mail through a hotel’s broadband connection or a wireless hotspot.
This free client is about as good as it gets when it comes to FTP. It has a simple interface that you can master in about 3 minutes, yet still has plenty of powerful features, such as being able to compare local and remote directories. It also lets you have multiple simultaneous connections, for faster transfers.
Download SMTP Diagnostics | Price: $12 (30-day free trial)
You need to protect yourself when you go online. Download the following programs, and you’ll go a long way toward making sure that the bad guys, and bad software, won’t get you.
Comodo Firewall Pro
If you’re using the firewall that ships with Windows XP or Vista, you’re not safe enough. They don’t offer customizable outbound protection–important in a world in which spyware is everywhere. This free firewall not only stops inbound and outbound threats, but also does such things as protecting selected files and folders so that malware can’t get at them or alter them.
Be prepared, when you first start this program, to spend a little time training it. Whenever a program wants Internet access, Comodo pops up and asks whether you wish to let the program use the Internet. To cut down on those pop-ups, run the program in Clean PC mode, which will scan your PC, find your existing applications, and register them as safe.
You then won’t see any pop-ups associated with those programs. And to make sure that Comodo doesn’t interfere with installing software, you can use its Installation mode, which will disable certain pop-ups for 15 minutes, so you can install new software without being annoyed.
Download Comodo Firewall Pro | Price: Free
To use the Internet is to put your PC at risk from spyware, adware, Trojan horses, and other malware. Your antivirus program by itself isn’t enough to protect you, because it misses many of these malicious programs. This long-time favorite offers a great, no-cost layer of protection.
It does a great job of scanning your PC for threats–including Trojan horses, rootkits, and other spyware–warning you about them, then deleting them. It can also put them into quarantine, disabling them but not deleting them, so you can decide what to do about them later.
Even if you already have antispyware on your PC, it’s a good idea to use Ad-Aware as well, because not all spyware scanners find all threats, so using more than one is a good idea.
Download Ad-Aware | Price: Free
Free Internet Window Washer
Your Internet activity leaves a trail–and one far more traceable than you might imagine. This trail includes cache files, browser history, auto-complete information, cookies, typed URLs, and more. This means that anyone with access to your PC can easily see what you’ve been doing online. In some instances, even Web sites can gather information about where you’ve been and what you’ve done.
Free Internet Window Washer ensures your privacy by cleaning all those traces, and more, off of your PC. Not only will it remove traces of Internet activity, but it will also clean traces of application activity as well, such as which files you’ve recently opened in Microsoft Office applications. And it works with multiple browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape, and Opera.
Download Free Internet Window Washer | Price: Free