Web Informant #94, 26 November 1997
Small but noteworthy products


One of the great things about the Internet is the ability for anyone to become a software publisher. Often the products solve small problems in very targeted and solid ways. So, this issue is dedicated to the efforts of these individuals and highlights just a few things that I've seen in the last month or so.

All of these products are pretty small in terms of disk storage, setup effort, price, and support involved.


Tired of getting all those annoying spam emails? Want to really do something about it? How about getting even by messing up the automated routines that the spammers use to collect addresses? You need to look at E-Scrub's Wpoision (free), which is a piece of software that runs on a Unix web server (others have ported it to other operating systems). The software puts these harvesting utilities into a snit, but is harmless to everyone else.


Here is the opposite problem: let's say you need to send out periodic mailings and want some software that can help you set up groups and messages. But you don't want each recipient to see the others that are on your list. It would also be nice to have visitors to your web site send email to groups within your company as well. I've looked at several of these kind of products but none really did the job for me until I saw this piece of software called NewsMail by Pacific Software Publishing. (Dick Stratton, richard@pspinc.com, $499) Newsmail does this easily, provided you are running a Microsoft IIS-based web server.


Have a bunch of web sites that you want to keep track of, but don't have the time to do so? Tom Boutell (boutell@boutell.com, 30-day free trial) has come up with a way to do this, without having to load a new version of your browser or upgrade your operating system on the sly. It is called Morning Paper, and while it doesn't replace my copy of the Times, it does do an admirable job of tracking a few of my favorite sites. Runs on Windows.


Tired of keeping track of your passwords at various web sites? If you are like me, I have given up trying to remember some of them and just merely re-register when it is time to revisit. Here is a solution, from the researchers at Bell Labs, called the Lucent Personalized Web Assistant. (Alain Mayer, alain@research.bell-labs.com, free) It computes usernames, passwords, and e-mail addresses on the user's behalf for sites that require registration. Think of it as a password proxy server, which is basically how it operates.


Want an easy way to keep track of your itinerant employees? Remember those magnetic In/Out boards sitting by the receptionist, with simple columns to track everyone's whereabouts? Why not have something similar that runs on your web site, so everyone can figure out where someone is? Try In/Out from Winter Park Construction. (Harry Rogers, Harry@wpc.com, $40/server + $5/user) Perfect for that simple intranet application. Runs on Windows.


Well, if you have made it this far you probably would like some comic relief, and I wanted to point your attention to Joey Skaggs' web site. I've know Skaggs for many years: he is a professional media prankster, creator of such memorable hoaxes as the portable and mobile confessional, the cat house for dogs, Sexonix (which I covered for Wired magazine) the first virtual reality sex scam, and others. He is a master at manipulating the media and a lesson to us all to not be so gullible. His site contains details on each of his hoaxes.

That's all for now. I'm on vacation till mid December, so don't expect any essays or email from me till then.

David Strom
+1 (516) 944-3407
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entire contents copyright 1997 by David Strom, Inc.
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