PSE: General Purpose Internet Utilities

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Last modified 2001 JUL 31 17:56:16 GMT
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This page is simply a list of links to useful utilities for use with the Internet. With few exceptions, most of these utilities are not specific to anything which is limited to the Internet, but I've found them to be valuable when travelling the net. If you have suggestions, please EMail me at webmaster@mail.professional.orgwith a subject of "IUTIL.HTML update". After I check the reference, I'll update it here for others to see. Configuration pointers are also welcome, but PLEASE DON'T REQUEST config information. What I've got will be listed here.

PKZIP by PKWare

PKZIP for Windows

PKZIP is a must-have utility for just about anyone exchanging information via computer, Internet or otherwise. Many programs are compressed in ZIP format (thus the .ZIP extension you're bound to see everywhere).

For those who enjoy the power that the commandline offers, the current PKZIP for DOS supports Win95 LFNs.

There are also a variety of useful utilities for use with PKZIP or on ZIP files.


WinZIP

WinZIP is a ZIP compression tool (not made by PKWare, the originators of PKZip and the ZIP compression standard) which also sports support for manipulating UUcoded, XXcoded, MIME, and other binary-to ASCII coding formats. If you previously used WinCode (which is no longer supported by its author, who is nowhere to be found) this is the tool you probably want to migrate to.


GZIP (Gnu ZIP)


GNU ZIP is a FREEWARE/Public Domain compressor using compression algorythms similar to PKZIP, although the files created by it ARE NOT COMPATIBLE. GZIP files have a .GZ extension.

At the GNU Site you should find the distributable executable, as well as source code, if you're interested.


PGP - Pretty Good Privacy

A very popular encryption package. So popular in fact, that the U.S. Government was for quite a while looking to indict the author, Philip Zimmermann, under the "arms export law" because the U.S. Government has actually classified the technology as "munitions". Go figure. (If you want to learn more about this heavy-handed move by the U.S. Government, jump to the local document with more information). But, if it is good enough to get our government to want to limit its distribution, it is probably good enough to keep people from reading your mail, isn't it? PGP uses what is called "Public Key," wherein you make a "public" form of your password available (frequently in your .sig), and when someone wants to send you something, they encode it using that public key. Upon receiving the message, you can decode it with the private form of the key (which only you know). That is it in basic terms...

On Friday, 12 JAN 1996, I read the following on the AP newswire:

Feds won't prosecute encryption writer - Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO -- A software writer won't be prosecuted for a program he wrote that was put on the Internet and is now widely used by computer users to keep their communications secret, the government said yesterday.
Philip Zimmermann's Pretty Good Privacy encryption program turns computer messages into a jumble of numbers and letters unreadable to anyone except the intended recipient.
The code is so unbreakable that it is classified as munitions under the Arms Export Control Act, making its export without a license a felony. Federal prosecutors began investigating Zimmermann in 1993 after the program appeared on the Internet global computer network. Zimmermann said that others put it there, not him.
U.S. Attorney Michael Yamaguchi announced the decision not to prosecute Zimmermann, but didn't say why. If convicted, Zimmermann would have faced 51 months in prison.

PGP is a standard option for Qualcomm Eudora Pro 4.x, which allows you to nearly transparently add encryption to your email. If you work with eCommerce (receiving email from a SSL server that processes credit card orders for your company, for example), the PGP/Eudora combo is a must.

A FAQ is available. The PGP FAQ is also posted periodically to news:alt.security.pgp.
PGP.NET is a location to check out for keyserver information and some links to sources to PGP tools.
If you're interested in encryption in general, a visit to ripem.msu.edu will reveal a wide array of interesting tools.

A short while ago, someone notified me that apparently new measures have been installed at some download sites, in that the WWW page will ask you to attest that you are a U.S. citizen and further that you will not export the program (apparently in response to the above U.S. Government allegations that the Author is responsible for its exportation). If you agree on the form, it will then provide access to download links.


CyberComm

CyberComm is a replacement COMM.DRV for Windows 3.1, which handles higher speed modem connections much better than its Microsoft counterpart. Notably, the Microsoft driver has a lot of well known bugs, and doesn't handle the 16550 UARTs quite as well as CyberComm does. If you happen to be using Delrina WinFax PRO (or just about any Delrina communications package), you may not need this replacement driver, since WinFax comes with a replacement driver called WFXCOMM.DRV. The Delrina driver IS NOT Shareware, so don't expect to see it legally downloadable unless you are a user of WinFax. CyberComm, on the other hand is Freeware.
You can also get it from this alternate site.

QSORT


Ben Baker's QSORT (v3.20) is a valuable general purpose sort tool. It can efficiently sort very large files (larger than available DOS RAM), unlike the DOS SORT.EXE program. It has many field options for defining fields to sort on, and in which order of precedence. I use it all the time for sorting columnar reports.

It is available in the msdos/textutil/ subdirectory of any SimTel mirror site as qsort320.zip -- here is a link to it at the Oakland Site.


AntiVirus Software

Without getting into a political (or religious) discussion about it, let me say that the stuff you download from the Internet has been all over the place, and it is not impossible for some stuff to pick up viruses along the way (no, not just because it is on the Internet...). So, you'd be well advised to get yourself a good antivirus package. There are several, but here I'll give you a link to McAfee Associates. You should check the source for whereever you get your antivirus software periodically (at least every couple of months), to ensure you have the current version, since new viruses come out all the time.

I'll collect up some links to other antivirus tools sometime, and revise this link to point to an antivirus page then.


Windows encoders

FTP to the encoder directory at the SimTel mirror site at Walnut Creek CD-ROM to download various encoders and decoders for converting binary files (like programs, graphics, and sounds, and even word processing documents) to text capable of being exchanged over MAIL and NEWS.
In addition, you can also find a variety of utilities at the following sites:
Galt Shareware Zone
Inforamp Internet Essentials
Windows 95 Miscellanious Utilities
Jumbo (for Macs)
Jumbo Windows archivers
Jumbo Windows encoders


Internet access limiters / Parental control

New Internet users who are also parents sometimes post questions about "limiting access" for when their children use the Internet. While I have no need for such a utility (being a childless adult, responsible for my own actions), people do need them, and such software is much better than wholesale censoring of the the net. I'd much rather people policed their own actions than have the government plonk along and decide what we can and cannot say on the Internet.

In that vein, several programs have popped up offering to limit access to the Internet. I have NO experience with these programs, but I offer links to them so that you might learn more about them if you're interested:
Net Nanny
SurfWatch
iscreen!
CyberSitter
WebTrack

I used to list a link for CyberPatrol, but after the company who produces it spammed me advertising for another product of theirs, I decided that the net would be a much better place without assisting their kind. By coincidence, some months later, their parent company purchased the company I worked for, and I came to an even clearer realization that the world would indeed be a better place without their kind.

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